A Quick Trip to Colorado!

Hi Loyal Readers,

I just got back from a very quick trip to central Colorado to deal with some family matters.  I haven’t been to Denver since I was born there (my parents left Denver when I was just one year old).    I must say, Colorado is a beautiful state.  Denver is sort of like Seattle, only with not quite so many wacko drivers, and much drier.  I visited Boulder and Estes Park (the Santa Barbara of the hills) before driving through Rocky Mountain National Park.  I am still amazed at the stunning scenery, both the rolling hills and meadow of Denver to the peaks and rock of the Rocky Mountains!

The wildlife was very lively as well (maybe that’s why they call it wildLIFE?) Above the tree line on the open tundra along the ridge, three elks made a showing as they grazed on the flowers.  I really think the elks came toward the road to laugh at the traffic jam they would create.  Tourists will do anything to get a picture, including stopping in the middle of the road suddenly without warning because the woman screamed Elk!  Anyway, I actually parked, changed lenses and walked to where the elk was to get the below picture. Yes, I am a nice obedient tourist that is considerate of others.

Cheers!

More pictures to come as I process them!

Flying on US Airways… Nothing Special.

Well, I made it to Texas for the holidays.  I arrived Friday night, but couldn’t get internet access until today.  The flight was uneventful and worked out really well, getting from Santa Barbara, CA to San Antonio, TX with only one stop in Phoenix, AZ.  I had never flown US Airways, but since their recent acquisition of America West, this was the perfect opportunity.

I drove down to SBA and left my car in their long-term lot.  I ended up hiking in from the far end of the lot to the terminal building.  I think the better option is to park in the off airport long-term lot and take the shuttle, which drops you off in front of the terminal building (greatly reducing the walking time).

Once at the terminal, there was no check-in line.  Since I had already checked in via the web, I handed over my two bags and sat outside in the cold.  SBA is one of those airports that hasn’t realized that its not 1920 anymore.  Unfortunately, the times, security, and the passenger traffic has exceeded what the terminal was designed for.  The crappiest thing about it is that once you go through security, there are no bathrooms!   So, you end up crammed in a tiny, smelly, stale room waiting to board the airplane.  Come on! I think I would rather deal with LAX than go through SBA again!

The flight from SBA to PHX was uneventful and short.  We flew in a new CRJ900 that still had the red America West Express logo on the seats.  Apparently, someone forgot to tell the interior guys that they had been bought out by US Airways.  😉

Approaching PHX, I got confused on where we were.  It looks like we flew south and then did a 180 for runway 25R.   I have never done that before, as I usually get to see downtown and the two stadiums as we approach the 08 runways.  However, the landing was hard and I got to see a beautiful Delta 757 on the tarmac.

I had a short layover in Phoenix, just long enough to get some food and hike over to the gate.  I stopped at Burger King in terminal B for a Whopper. I wouldn’t recomend it to anyone.  The airport Burger King is not the same as the stand alone version and uses microwaves in their preparation.  Honestly, it was food so I was content.

Just as it looked like we were going to board our flight to San Antonio, they announced that they had a “maintenance issue” with the aircraft and that boarding would be delayed. However, just as I sat down to watch the mindless stream of images on CNN, they announced the boarding for my flight!  Once on board, it was clear that they probably had a number of “maintenance issues” to deal with.  This was probably the first ever CRJ200 that was ever built, or at least it looked like it.  The seats were old and the leather cracked, the seat numbers were rubbed off, the overhead bins were badly scraped and dented and there was a smell that only Mike Rowe would relate to.

Despite all of the “issues” the plane landed at San Antonio.  The pilot only used a very small portion of the runway by jamming on the brakes and planting our heads into the seatbacks.   However, the strangest thing about the entire flight was not the ghetto plane, but the robotic flight attendant that could only utter phrases from the handbook, and lacked any and personality.

Overall, I would give US Airways a passing grade, thats it.  The flight were overbooked (something that really pisses me off), but the planes arrived and departed on time.  The service was nothing special and was a far cry from how I remember the America West service.  US Airways turned America West into an American or Continental copy cat. I will never forgive them for that.