Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hawk Blogger Journal: Toronto Bound

Saturday, December 15th, 10:13 AM - Bellevue, WA
Pandora Station: The Killers
26 hrs 47 mins until kickoff

Crazy. Spontaneous. Irresponsible. All words that are rarely used to describe me, until roughly 48 hours ago. I woke up Thursday morning after getting a rare full night's sleep, and headed off to work. Things are slowing down at the office ahead of the winter shutdown that happens the day after the Seahawks/49ers game (I tell time based on Seahawks milestones). I have one more business trip I need to make before that happens early next week down to the Bay Area.

I travel a lot for work, or at least more than most. Last year was the first time I reached Alaska Airlines MVP Gold, and it's been a damn nice perk. Nice enough that I had looked a few months ago to see how many more miles I would need to reach that level again this year. This trip next week was the one that should have put me over the top, but I had not checked for a while, and decided to open up my status. My heart stopped. Something was wrong. I was over 4,000 miles shy of the level I needed to reach, and my trip was going to be well short of that. It turns out that Alaska Air uses a different mileage calculation that I had been basing my estimates on.

It is ridiculous to react so strongly to something as trivial as mileage status, but you can't control emotions, only how you handle them. I wrote a quick note to my wife saying I was freaking out a bit. We have a family vacation planned in the new year, and we were all looking forward to making the trip a little easier by bypassing the long security lines, and potential upgrades.

Many wives who spend a fair amount of time taking care of two kids, including one with special needs, while their husband travels would predictably have a hard time feeling empathetic for something like this. Not mine. She picked up the phone and called me at work to tell me I should plan a trip. That's love, folks! I figured out that a round-trip to Chicago would get it done, and was considering a day trip there, but finding a time to do it would be tough since I am coaching my son's basketball team now.

Then, it dawned on me. The Seahawks are playing in Toronto. That'd do it. Alaska flights to Toronto were running $2000-$3000. That was not going to happen. I hung up with my wife and started searching around. I found some flights on partner airlines like Delta and American that could work. The one I liked best was a red eye leaving Saturday night that would have me arriving in Toronto on game day about 6.5 hours before kickoff.

If everything goes off without a hitch (knocking on wood now), I should be able to get to the hotel, change, and get to a bar to watch the early games. Click. Bought. I found a hotel that works, and is near the stadium. Reserved. I put in a feeler about tickets with a few folks, but came up empty. No worries. Craigslist, the ticket brokers, and scalpers should be flush with options. I eventually find a nice VIP ticket that is selling below face. I always worry a bit about these electronic tickets. We had a terrible family experience of buying electronic tickets for Disneyland through eBay that turned out to be forgeries. We had traveled all day and got the kids up to the turnstile, only to be turned away. I had to go drop a grand on real tickets while my kids were melting down. Never again.

The sports tickets seem to be reliable, and are backed 100% by the brokers that sell them. I have not had a problem with them yet. Let's hope that streak continues.

In order to make all this work, I needed to connect my Toronto trip to my Bay Area trip. So, now I am flying out 6:40AM Monday morning (3:40 AM PST) through Dallas to get to my meeting by 1PM in San Jose. If I am going to be this silly, I better call all the airlines and triple-check that my mileage plan is linked to the flights. It would absolutely fit my life to go through all this and still miss the MVP Gold status. Okay, those calls are done.

I did my best to convince my buddy Aron, who shares my season tickets, to join me. He's a principled man. There is work he had on Monday that he could not miss, so I'll be flying solo. There are pros and cons to having someone travel with you. I am used to planning my business trips down to the minute, and changing my plans at the drop of a hat. That's harder to do with someone else. I will find some Seahawks fan pre-game to hang out and watch the early games. I'm not the most extroverted person, so part of me likes the idea of laying around in my hotel, but the lure of Red Bull, Vodka and NFL Sunday Ticket easily overcomes any thought of going it alone.

So now it is Saturday morning. I am writing this journal entry while my family is getting prepared to drive down to Olympia so we can visit my wife's mother. We will hang out down there for a few hours, drive home, and then I will need to drop off my car which has about five recalls due to be addressed. I am supposed to play a soccer game at 7:40, but am leaning toward skipping it.

My bags are packed. The game is just over 24 hours away. It is every bit as important as the 49ers game next week. In fact, without this win, next weeks game loses much of its meaning. Speaking of meaning, I am finding it hard to escape the events of yesterday. We should all face them and work to keep anything like that from happening again, but I also need football to be an indulgence that allows me some peace of mind away from the real world. This particular event is making it hard to think about much else.

I will have a lot of flying time in the next day, and will be sharing more thoughts as the game gets closer. 

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