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Tag 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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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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Travel… and naming rights

So, here we are… 38,000 feet above the Arkansas/Oklahoma border on a flight to Las Vegas. We are flying out for the Barrett-Jackson Collector car auction. Most of you know I am an auctioneer and love seeing other events in action – this helps me to write my auctioneer Continuing Education (CE) classes and prepare for my auctioneer consulting clients.

Anyhow, this is more about travel than business… even though they go hand in hand for me. We are seated First Class on AirTran flight 775 from Atlanta to Las Vegas. Great seats that were picked up at a fundraising auction I conducted in February 2011… Anyhow, we are seated behind a lady that we will name Stoli for her love of vodka drinks. Of course, nothing wrong with that if it is your choice of alcohol.

Stoli started her flight early (from a drinking perspective, that is). She and her date were two drinks down before the wheels left the ground. Vodka and cranberry with a splash of orange juice, to be exact. Once we were above 20,000 feet, the flight attendants began beverage service and she and date were tugging at the bit ready for round three…

So, for the record, here is the scorecard:
Two drinks before wheels up
Two drinks in flight up to this point… 1:20 into flight
One Bloody Mary for her and Jack and Coke for date… 1:44 into flight

Stoli made a very prolific comment a few minutes ago… “damn, I’ve drank more today than I have in a month”. Shocking? No, not from where I am sitting.

So, the stage is set… Stoli updates will be added as she adds more revelations to our flight.

A few months ago, I began a saga with a man we will call BBQ Sandwich. Yep. Him. That guy that feels the need to bring a full-on barbecue sandwich onto a flight from Atlanta to Greenville, SC. For those of you out of the loop, the flight is 28 minutes wheels up to wheels down. So, this guy had to scarf this thing down just to finish it before the flight ended. He did his best… and won in the BBQ Sandwich World Finals.

THOUGHT: Do they have a BBQ competition like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Challenge? If so, my $$$ is on this guy!

When you travel as much as I do you pray that BBQ and hot dogs don’t make their way onto your flight. Seems my luck is in the gutter as I have had to experience both. Memphis, with their barbecue, and Cincinnati, with their Skyline Chili, are the two worst for unplane-friendly meals… at least in my opinion.

UPDATE: Stoli is nursing the Bloody Mary like an infant on the teat

Where am I going with this? Who knows. This is like people watching at the mall or on a crowded street. You know you want to say something, but you stand back and just revel in the sights you see… or experience. Air travel has changed over the past 11 years since 9/11. Security measures, bag checks and other requirements have made people feel they are entitled to something… What are they entitled to? We all buy tickets. We choose where we sit. However, I guess in all of that, the entitlement comes in due to the hoops we have to jump through for our seats on the cylinder with wings hurtling us to our destination at 500 miles an hour.

I my opinion, this is the world we live in. The problem is, when we travel, we are now confined to a small area with the people we hear about (the one’s your mother warned you about). I think it is that confined space that gives us the ability to see the humor God gave all of us – if we choose to see it. Otherwise, our world comes to an end when the flight is delayed or our bags get rerouted or a myriad of other issues.

My thought is this… I’ve said it before… A smile in an airport, or on a flight, gets you more than a stack of bills or the price you paid for your first class seats!

UPDATE: Stoli and her date are discussing the intricacies of mini bottles. Yep. I think I will sign off, lean my head over the seat and see if I can pick up some gems for my next blog post!

UPDATE #2: Stoli has puffed on her inhaler more on this flight than I have this month on mine! Maybe that is like the alcohol-reducing pill Lambda Lambda Lambda used in Revenge of the Nerds!

UPDATE #3: Stoli and date are discussing mixers… As in the difference between seltzer and tonic… Stoli: there isn’t a su-uuu-uper big difference, but you can taste it (elongated super to emulate her speech at this point).

Love ya, mean it!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Travel

 

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Travel on 9/11… deep thoughts

Here I sit at the Delta recharge station near gate B24 at ATL. I am heading to Philadelphia for a consulting visit with a nonprofit raising money for 9/11 support personnel and public service workers (ie. Police, Fire and EMS). Quick up and back flight – getting back in time to go to Clemson v Wofford game with the fam tomorrow.

That is not why I am writing. Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11. Many items come to mind when I think about this date… I remember where I was, what I was doing, what I did for the remainder of the day… the questions, the fear, the uncertainty… the F-16s scrambled to the Oconee Nuclear Station that night (when there are NO planes flying anywhere, a military plane has a very distinctive sound… as we found out on the news the next morning).

Still not why I am writing this. I am flying on Sunday – THE anniversary. On the same type of plane used in the attacks. To one of the three airports serving Washington, DC.

My mother is not happy. I heard that today when I let her know about the trip. Yes, I do let people know where I am going and even email itineraries to those that need them. This was just one of those times where it would be better to discuss the flight after the fact. Well… it didn’t work that way and I wound up telling her today.

Am I worried? Sure. A little. I have faith in God and know that if it is my time to go, it is my time… whether that be in an airplane, my car or crossing the street. That is out of my control. God has given us mechanisms to help us go through life and not focus on those items… be it work, extracurricular activities, family or what have you.

I travel a lot. I have seen the influx of security at checkpoints, bag checks and walking the hallways of the airports I have traveled. Of course, it doesn’t fully reassure me, but it gives a greater level of comfort.

So, where do we go from here? Right where you are. Stop and thank God for what you have, who you are and what the future holds for you. I know I am richly blessed with family, friends, work and health. That is enough for me. If I can help make each of those individually and collectively better, I have done my job.

I am not here to preach… Lord knows I am not that person. But, you know, hearing it from someone other than the pulpit could be the spark that helps someone make a change in their life.

We are about to board…

Part 2: 32000 feet about South Carolina enroute to Philadelphia.

Don’t you just love inflight Internet?!? Coupled with my iPad it makes for a quick trip! Now if they will add 110 volts plugs to each of the rows (like Virgin airways, I might add) it would be a sweet trifecta.

This is my second plane of the day and second of the eight I will fly between now and Tuesday.

What a beautiful day to fly:

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Yes, a little cloudy, but it is a nice view nonetheless.

Parting thought: enjoy your day. Think positive thoughts, no matter how bad that person makes you feel. They may need a smile more than you know. I know that a smile in the airport is worth more than a stack of bills when you want something done… but that is another story!

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Writing

 

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