Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer Trip 2016, #1 - Westward we go!

Six years into our time in Germany, we three travel as ex-pats when we go back to the USA, especially to places we've never called home. Often enough, our August travels follow Markus to the annual Academy of Management meeting. This year's meeting took place in Anaheim, California, where conference center and hotels accommodate 10,000 business academics in Disneyland's backyard. Anaheim is part of the eastward sprawl of Los Angeles. This AoM destination was a repeat for us: we watched the Beijing Olympics from an Anaheim hotel eight years ago (traveling from Salt Lake City) and arrived this year in time to see glimpses of the games in Río. Miriam was eight last time; now she's sixteen, going on seventeen.

Like several of Markus' colleagues from GGS, we found a decent price on a flight from Frankfurt to Las Vegas. We tend to choose non-stop itineraries that may involve a bit more ground transportation instead of connecting flights. For example, we fly non-stop from Frankfurt to Detroit and use a rental car to reach my parents near Cleveland (where nothing flies direct). Ditto for Stuttgart, which is closer than Frankfurt but has lost its useful direct flights to the USA. Stuttgart remains handy when we travel within Europe, though.

As licensed German drivers, we fall into an ex-pat category when renting a car. We need full insurance on the rental, since our own insurance covers the vehicle, not the driver. Miraculously, prices tend to be lower for foreign travelers than what we find on US rental agency websites. We had a standard SUV to get us around on our 16-day trip, waiting for us at the Vegas airport.

On the way to Frankfurt to catch our flight, this happened in our 2010 Prius:

Odometer hitting 100,000.
Hybridsystemanzeige=hybrid system display

I was driving, so I asked Markus to grab a photo. Miriam shrugged. But I was trained from a young age to defeat boredom on long drives by watching the odometer. Of course this fanfare number was preceded by a solid palindromic: 99999. You have to be alert to spot trickier ones, like 98389. The 1.75-hour Flein to Frankfurt route (longer in traffic) is one I've grown accustomed to driving for my monthly-ish meeting with the Frankfurt Writers Group. I am hugely grateful for quality podcasts from people who are masters at using words: current driving favorites are Poetry Off the Shelf, Dear Sugar Radio, and, of course, This American Life.

But back to our trip. On August 3rd, we parked our car comfortably at a friend's, took a short cab ride to the airport, and flew at a civilized time mid-afternoon (no crazy 4:00 am wake-up) on Condor to Las Vegas. All went well in flight. Here's a tip for flying Condor. The only way to get gluten-free meals for me on the plane was to pay a 15 Euro upcharge for Premium food. Guess what? The food was pleasant and inspired Markus to consider ordering Premium for himself next time.

I've decided to take this trip report as a series with short-ish posts. To be honest, the Great Poetry Disruption remains in force. My reading and writing life is a poetry life these days. I've begun to wonder if can still write prose...

Here's where we landed. Stay tuned to see where we went!

Next post in series: Summer Trip 2016, #2 - Conferenceland

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