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Category Archives: Travel

You’re NOT in Control

Why do we let things bother us when God is in control? Of course, there are things that we feel are out of all control… like the flight I am on this morning. (I’m typing on the iPhone as we fly)

There is a line of thunderstorms moving across the country and they are meeting my flight near the Atlanta airport. Air Traffic Control (ATC) still has the skies open, so there has to be some not-so-rough air around. Hopefully the pilots, their navigation and their skills can find it.

Nervous? Yes. I am. I travel a lot and it never gets easier. You have the smooth flights but they don’t make up for the ones where weather is not on your side. I trust the system that they would not put planes in the air if it were an unsafe situation. However, that doesn’t help my heart and breathing rates!

My life is about short prayers. My longest prayers are right before bedtime and they are not that long. Those are the ones where I thank God for the day and everything He provided. Most of my other prayers are quick thank-yous.

These thank yous are for the things God has given me (or got me out of in some cases!). They are thank yous for blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family. They are, at times, personal. I believe in short prayers because I am not a professional at this, by any means. Add to that a good dose of ADD where my mind starts to wander… eh, you get the picture!

Right about now my legs are glued to the floor and my CrossFit squatting muscles are pushing against the seatbelt and I try to counteract the forces of nature and a multi-ton MD88 aircraft. This must be the line of storms the pilot said we had to cross!

I can honestly say that I have been through some harrowing situations… another flight that was 10x worse when we hit a snowstorm at 30,000 feet… emergency landings due to fires in the cockpit… gear lights not indicating if we have landing gear. But through it all I knew that God was in control.

He gives us these instances to knock us back down so we will realize it’s not about us. He also gives us these instances to kick me in the behind for not writing blog posts as often as I should! (I write on airplanes to pass the time and to alleviate stress from the unknown).

Funny… literally, as I wrap this up, the lights of western Atlanta appear below.

No one said you had to be a pastor, reverend or preacher… say short prayers for what you have been given! If nothing else it will keep the lines of communication open with the Man upstairs!

Post your thoughts below…

Darron Meares, MBA, CAI, MPPA, BAS
Asset Appraiser/Auctioneer/Speaker

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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Just Me, Motivation, Travel, Writing

 

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Labor Day is always surreal to me…

Labor Day is always surreal to me…

Living close to the coast gives me the ability to go whenever I have the time.  I actually should go more than I do, but sometimes life gets in the way.  You never can get enough of the coastal air, the sand, the waves, the water… it’s a cleansing for the soul.

Labor Day always feels surreal to me… you know it is the official end of summer.  You stand on the beach and watch the crowds begin to thin out as they pack up and start their travel back to reality.  They’ll have to wait in eager anticipation for school to end and vacation time to being anew.

It’s always given me a sad feeling, like it’s hard to breathe when you think about the scene unfolding.  Not sure why. It’s like you don’t even want to see it happen… It’s funny, I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear Don Henley’s Boys of Summer. I guess I am one of those that wishes summer would never end.  Nostalgic even.

Jimmy Buffett sums it up quite well here:

When The Coast Is Clear

Lyrics to When The Coast Is Clear :They’re closin’ down the hangout
The air is turnin’ cool
They’er shuttin’ off the superslide
The kids are back in school

The tourist traps are empty
Vacancy abounds
Almost like it used to be
Before the circus came to town

That’s when it always happens
Same time every year
I come down to talk to me
When the coast is clear

Hello mister other me
It’s been a long time
We hardly get to have these chats
That in itself’s a crime

So tell me all your troubles
I’ll surely tell you mine
We’ll laugh and smoke and cuss and joke
And have a glass of wine

That’s where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

It’s the only place he knows
Where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear
They’re closin’ down the hangout
The air is turnin’ cool
They’er shuttin’ off the superslide”
The kids are back in school

The tourist traps are empty
Vacancy abounds
Almost like it used to be
Before the circus came to town

That’s when it always happens
Same time every year
I come down to talk to me
When the coast is clear

Hello mister other me
It’s been a long time
We hardly get to have these chats
That in itself’s a crime

So tell me all your troubles
I’ll surely tell you mine
We’ll laugh and smoke and cuss and joke
And have a glass of wine

That’s where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

It’s the only place he knows
Where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Just Me, Travel, Writing

 

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There’s No Button for That!

I travel a lot… for me, that is. There are people that spend more time in the seat of an airplane than any other and I am in no way envious of them! Last year I’d say I was on 30-40 different airplanes taking me to all points in the US – to me, that is a lot of seat time.

Over the past four to five years I have noticed that common sense is gone… vaporized into thin air. Of course I have seen this around the places I frequent at home but, as I travel more often, I see the problem is all over. My biggest joke is, “there’s no button for that!”. Hence the name of this post.

Go to any fast food restaurant and give the cashier an overage of money… say, $10.25 when the meal is $7.25… and watch the reaction. Or try this – give them additional coins with the currency – you know, so you can get a quarter back instead of a pound of coins. I love it when I get the “you gave me too much”, to which I respond, “you’re right.” This just muddies the water even more, but I love it!

Now, I will say the restaurants have gotten smarter and trained their cashiers to ring in the amount tendered so the register shows the amount to give back (it’s all part of accounting, they say). IT IS TAKING THE COMMON SENSE OUT OF THE WORLD.

My second grader can make change. He does it because he likes math problems and trying to figure things out… Oh I hope his generation helps to change the path we are on!

So, back to buttons. I am a picky eater and will pay more for service when a waiter/waitress “makes it happen”. The worst thing about a meal is when you can’t get what you want. “Ribeye, medium rare to medium, Caesar salad with dressing on the side and water with lemon to drink.” Sounds easy, right? At most places, yes… but where is the button for ‘medium rare to medium’? There isn’t one, which requires COMMUNICATION with the chef instead of pushing a button… communication is another skill that is quickly going to way of the dodo.

The path of least resistance tells the waiter to say, “we don’t have that” or “it has to be done this way” or, better yet, “we can’t do that.” Why? Because there is not a button for it.

Why, as a society, have we allowed this to happen? We are a part of a free-thinking society, last I heard. Are employers really handcuffing their people this much or has common sense alluded these folks and they have no way of thinking for themselves?

I’ll leave it to you to decide.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Just Me, Travel

 

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The weekend before vacation

Mr Work, whoever and wherever you are, I appreciate you making yourself known right before I take a vacation.  My vacation is already shortened due to my second nephew getting married at the end of the week… now this!

The four auctions I have this weekend benefit ultraworthy causes… a church, JDRF and children’s programs in South Carolina, so I am not wholly complaining.  It’s just a pain in my butt that you decide to stack all of this right before I head out of town.

And to top it off – I drive to Charleston on Friday, then back home on Saturday to conduct auctions before driving BACK to Charleston for the vacay on Sunday…

Mr Work, you are an evil man.  I will forget all about you next week.  Promise.

Love you, mean it,
Darron

PS – I am glad to have you and know you even though I hate you from time to time!

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Just Me, Travel, Writing

 

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My Four Corners is COMPLETE!

With a travel trip last week, I have completed MY version – yes, Darron’s version – of visiting the four corners of the United States. Here is how I see it… we have four corners of the contiguous United States, right? These are Washington, California, Maine and Florida. At least in my non-geographical I-am-a-visual-person mind.

So, here goes:

I visited Seattle, Washington for a board meeting a few years back. I rode the roller coaster under the Space Needle, visited the Experience Music Project (saw Kurt Cobain’s Blue Mustang guitar he used in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and some SWEET Jimi Hendrix video and concert footage) and some other cool stuff.

Visited San Diego, California for a convention a few years back… went to the shore, visited La Jolla and a Padres game.

For my honeymoon in 2000 I visited Key West and the southernmost point of the US. Key West is one of my favorite places that it have visited… Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, the wreckers, Duvall Street, Kelli’s Flight Club… It’s all good!

And to finish up… Maine. Portland, to be exact. Live. Lobsters. Yep, I had them. Two to be exact. I cannot say I enjoyed the work. The lazy-man’s lobster the second night was so much better. But, when you go to Maine you have to try it at least once.

So – that concludes MY four corners of the US. I’m sure some travel expert has latitudes and longitudes to be exact… who cares? I had fun!

Oh yeah, for good measure… I added Cabo san Lucas to the mix to complete the Baja peninsula! That’s another story for another post!

Have fun wherever you go, whenever you get there!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Travel

 

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Comps, gift cards and tipping

As you can see from the tagline of my blog, I travel a lot.  In doing so, I have been afforded some very nice comps along the way… in addition, I have been given gift cards as thank-you gifts for various items where I have donated time or expertise.  These are great to have and use, but they come with a price.

I was in Las Vegas for my 40th birthday a few weeks ago and stayed at The Cosmopolitan and fell in love with the place – I highly recommend it.  Being my 40th birthday, the hotel gave a few comps here and there – better seating at restaurants, credit for meals, etcetera.  Las Vegas is the land of comps (short for complimentaries) and many people talk about them on websites, blogs, Facebook and the list goes on.

One of the first comps you think of in Las Vegas is a free drink when you gamble at the casino (no, those standing behind the gamblers don’t get one, so don’t get cheap and ask).  Gamble a little more and you may get a comped dinner or show.  A little more may get you a free night on a return visit… all the way up to comped rooms AND airfare.  But, you have to gamble a lot to be the next Nick Papageorgio!

It takes some heavy gambling to be here!

Still, these are not totally free… even if you DO gamble like a World Poker Tour ace, someone has to take care of you.  In speaking with people in the service industry members of the public, in general, are cheap and feel like they deserve something for free.

Yes, the drinks are free in the casino… however, the cocktail waitress is working.  Making money.  So, that means you need to get off your cheap butt and at least give a few bucks to the cause.  I saw waitresses at several casinos when I went to bed AND the next morning when we went out to breakfast.

Sure – free casino drinks are easy enough… how about that waitress handling your table at the restaurant where you received the comp?  You live it up and order $200.00 worth of food and walk out… yes, she IS getting paid for her services (a measly $2.13 plus tips), but not much more when you walk out.  I’m not getting into the area of good or bad service – YOU GOT THE FOOD FOR FREE!  You should at least give the customary 15%, or $30, for that $200 worth of food you just gouged yourself on.

Free hotel rooms?  Someone has to take care of you during that time as well.  How many times have you left a tip in a hotel room?  If they bring you towels… do you tip?  Forget your toothbrush and someone brings you one, do you tip?  I personally feel it is customary to do so… so do most in the hospitality industry.

The bellman carrying luggage.  The taxi stand operator that hails a cab and opens the door.  The cab driver that gets you there early.  If they do their job – or go above and beyond – they are serving you… and should be compensated.

Have you ever been on a cruise?  For some reason, the cruise lines make sure to give guidelines on good service tips…

Gift cards are another area where I see people being cheap.  Just because the meal was $100 and you had a $35 gift card doesn’t mean you leave a tip on the $65 you had to pay out of pocket.  I applaud the waiters and waitresses that give the original receipt with the new one minus the gift card… educate the people, I say!  Quit being so freaking cheap!

As to tipping, everyone has their own “philosophy” about how to do it: before the tax, after the tax, I start at 100% and work my way down, give the customary 15%.  Whatever.  Just do it.  Personally, I give 20% because I like easy math… it also gives me the opportunity to reduce to the customary 15% if the service is bad for some reason.  Many times it is out of the server’s control and they get gigged for it… think about the old adage and don’t shoot the messenger!

Just think about it the next time someone offers you something for free.  You may live it up at someone else’s expense… just make sure to take care of those around you!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Travel

 

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Knockin’ on 40’s Door

Bob Dylan and Guns N Roses had their time with Knocking On Heaven’s Door… For me it’s knocking on 40’s door. A 39 year journey that many people thought I would never complete- actually, as the years ticked off, there were people losing bets year-in and year-out!

To frame this, the first 25 years were tough with losses of family members, divorces to contend with and my wild, push-the-envelope nature. I’m sure there were those that thought this was a sure bet. Which leads me to where I am today. Sitting in The Cosmopolitan is Las Vegas. Literally. I just checked in and am doing the touristy thing of exploring the hotel. The place is worlds different than the Venetian/Palazzo (I have been there since Thursday attending/speaking at the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees Spring Seminar).

The tag line Just the Right Amount of Wrong fits the hotel and sort of works as a tag line for my life.

I chose to come to Las Vegas because I was already here for the seminar, the date fit with Spring Break on the calendar and it was just time to come back. St Maarten was on the list, but we chose otherwise – Orient Beach and hanging on the fence at Princess Julianna airport are still on my to-do list.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still have the celebration on April 10 when I actually cross the line, but this will serve as the jump-off point.

As I finish this quick post I have to think back… I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I feel my greatest accomplishments are being a good husband and father. As long as I can continue to live up to those two titles the next 40 years will be a breeze.

More to come… A. Lot. More.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Just Me, Travel

 

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