De-Icing in Tucson! Really??

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We have flown ~2,000,000 air-miles all over the world and the FIRST time we have to be de-iced…Tucson, Arizona! We can hit the Mexican border with a rock and we’re in ice; 28 degrees.

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If you’re not using Points and Miles, you really should be!

Ritz-Carlton, Marana Az. (Tucson)

Booked a room for 3 nights using 70,000 Marriott Points and a free night certificate. This place is a bargain at 35k points per night! The value of the Points and free night certificate is ~$945.

I checked the non-Points value to make sure that using points gives the better value…

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Looks Good. ~$945 in Points to get $1249.74 in value. If you have the Amex Spg Luxury Card, you’re automatically Gold with Marriott. If you travel or spend enough, you can become Platinum. Either way, when you check in, you’re eligible for an Upgrade. I checked in and was upgraded.

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~$945 in Points/free night certificate and now $3833.99 in value! Wow!

How did I earn the points? Spg Luxury card with 75,000 point sign up bonus. $450 year fee. WAIT! You get $300 of that back as a credit to pay a Marriott Hotel charge(s) and $250 of it back for airline incidentals (fly Delta and use it for gift cards to help pay for your flight). You also get a free night certificate and Marriott Gold status. Do the Math!

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved! http://refer.amex.us/MICHAmOzEI?xl=cp33

 

 

Do you have what it takes to pursue the Points and Miles challenge? I’m not so sure…

Three years ago, I decided to take the “Hobby” of earning Travel Points and Miles seriously. I immersed myself in learning the “in’s & out’s” and after formulating a mediocre plan, I leapt from the proverbial edge and went all in. Three years, 14+ credit cards and 3,500,000 various points/miles later, I’m exhausted.

There is NO rest in this pursuit. Deals, opportunities, angles and tactics changes hourly. You must read, research and learn the nuances of every credit card, hotel chain, airline and car rental perk, challenge, coupon, offer and status opportunity available for the program that meets your goals. You must also learn about programs outside your sphere as they are often a “back door” to a program that is within your focus ie. booking with Alaska Air for an American Airlines flight when Alaska, who will take American Airlines Miles, requires less to do the same thing, yet you still board an American Airlines plane. It is literally like drinking from a fire hose.

The resources are easily available, but if you want to be at the “top of your game,” you must put in the time and effort. This, plus maintaining websites, blogs and writing books about what you’ve learned and experienced, make for a full day.

The reward? I have the ability to travel anywhere, in any way, for free; like I need more demands on my time. Ironically, the pursuit can become more interesting that the actual reason you started; to see the world in ways that most are unable; the most exotic cities, the best hotels and flights etc.

Having said all that, I do love it so. There is no greater thrill than to obtain top-tier hotel status, fly first class and see the world “simply” by accumulating points and miles. It becomes a type of currency that you earn through hard work, effort and being a step ahead. It can be glorious, but be warned, it is all-consuming and definitely not for the faint of heart. You’ll go to bed thinking about it and you’ll get up thinking about it. If your fortunate though, the bed you’re in will be in a place that is absolutely incredible.

 

The Point of the Highland Thistle

TheSunflowerMuse.com

“The Point of The Highland Thistle”

At the Vernal Equinox, the Scottish Highlands have always yielded before their Dark and Mercurial Sky, who once again is forced to endure Lady Spring’s conspicuous and gaudy arrival.

As She approached, the curmudgeonly Sky, turned and peered into the distance, greeting her only with silence.

Lady Spring, irritated by the tepid reception and the Sky’s obvious lack of deference, gazed disapprovingly upon the Highlands and its dull and dreary pallor.

“The only signs of life are these prickly Scottish thistles that rise from the snow,” she said, as she tugged at her robe, which had become entangled in thistle and was refusing to yield. Frustrated, she took off her robe and tugged as hard as she could, pulling the whole plant from the soil which then caused her to fall backward onto the ground; her robe now completely covered in thistles. “I’ll banish…

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Could you imagine? The most expensive nap ever taken🌻

I love this question: Should I wait to have children until I can afford them? Academically, sure; but most likely, nobody would ever have kids.

Waiting until you can “afford” to travel follows the same path. It’s the land of “I wish I had but now I can’t.”

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Somehow, if we’re careful, we manage to have children and thrive anyway. Following your travel dreams is no different, You just “make it work” or alternatively, you roll the dice and wait until you retire. Good luck with that…

  • No, this isn’t a crime scene, they’re asleep!🙄

 

Miami, Florida. A Snapshot of Biscayne Blvd from 81st to 6th Street Downtown

To Quote Henry David Thoreau:  “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”

From 81st to 6th (Downtown) is about a 20 minute drive.  We’re here for 3 days.  I wanted to see things which are usually overlooked while driving this route.  Traffic can be quite harrowing so my gaze rarely strays from what lies straight ahead.  This Sunday morning though, I was at my leisure and decided to go and look for unnoticed gems.  I started at 81st and worked my way south towards the Bayside Market at 6th.  It didn’t take long before I came across this dumpster dominated by a group of aggressive pelicans.  I was expecting cats or squirrels.  I got pelicans.

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​Next came three Hotel’s, one of which is a Hotel/Carwash combo, that just say “welcome to Florida”, followed by a misunderstood kind of place named “Wonderland” and a Coppertone Ad that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager.  Memory Lane.

At about 38th street, this caught my eye.  Now where did I leave that damned car?  I know it’s here somewhere!

As I get closer to Downtown, the  homeless begin to increase in numbers significantly.  I parked and decided to walk the rest of the way.  The Gentleman on the left had no less than six watches on his arms,  The young man in the middle seemed to move about constantly from place to place but never took the guitar out of his backpack and the third Gentleman, was missing his legs and just sat there, not speaking, watching the traffic go by.  I wonder what he is thinking…

A tragic side note:  I’m see a man, white in color, mid-twenties with an obvious physical disability, trying to make his way through the crowd from one side of the shopping area to the other.  A group of people are yelling and heckling him.  He is trying to get away from them, his speech garbled, yelling that “it’s not his shirt and that he doesn’t know what it says”.  The “group” failed to let up.  He kept repeating that he had to get to the other side to get his money.  The shirt, black with white letters said “Black Lives Matter”.   He appeared to be part of the local homeless community.  My impression was that someone had offered him money to wear the shirt and run through the large crowd of African-Americans which had gathered there.  The sick Bastard(s) got what they wanted, it was ugly and the young man ran away trying to take the shirt off as he fled.  I never saw him again.  He won’t be hard to spot, he has a noticeable limp and is very thin.  I watched the group return and I didn’t gather they ever found him.  I am thankful for that.

If the recession of 2009 slowed down Florida’s construction industry, it sure doesn’t show here.  New Skyscrapers are being built all over the downtown area.  I have never seen so many individual construction projects happening at one time.  Miami is Booming!  If you possess the skills to do this kind of work, get down here!  Unfortunately, the dichotomy between Miami’s large homeless population and the strong demand for construction labor have me a bit baffled.  I can only assume that many of the homeless suffer from various types of mental and physical illnesses which, unfortunately,  deny them the benefits of employment.

Miami Dade College Museum of Art and Design.  At night, this is a beautiful sight to see.  I had to include this picture!

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And finally, I reach 6th street at the Bayside Market.  Shopping, Eating and Music await your arrival.  In addition, you get a beautiful view of the Harbor and Marina.  Below, the “One man Band” plays beneath a 115 year old Banyan Tree.

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One 20 minute drive, so much life.  Come to Downtown Miami and see what you find.  Enjoy!

Academically, it Was A Good Idea. No, Not Really.

I’m curious, with the back and forth between the US and Cuban Governments, what do Cuban-Americans think about it.  I went to Miami Florida’s Downtown to interview Cuban-American passer-byes.

But first, a brief history of Cuba:

1492  Christopher Columbus arrives in Cuba and they now become a colony of Spain.

1792  Great Britain occupies Cuba but later trades them back to Spain for Florida.

1898  As a result of the Spanish-American war, the US Military now occupies Cuba.

1902  Cuba gains their Independence.  A succession of despotic leaders follow culminating in the overthrow of the Batista regime by the “26th of July Movement” led by Fidel and Raul Castro.

After that the US and Cuba more or less isolated themselves from each other until…

2014  President Obama restores Diplomatic Relations and our Embassy in Cuba is ultimately reopened.  Travel to Cuba is allowed.

2016  (December) Raul Castro announces the death of Fidel Castro.

2017  (June)  President Trump changes the new US policy and restricts travel and trade with Cuba.

2017 (July)  I’m in Miami and seeking opinions from the Cuban Community regarding this back and forth.

Talk about showing up unprepared…

I went to where the people are, a good plan I thought. Went to the Bayside Outdoor Market and over the course of a few hours, spoke with four people.

I learned two things relatively quickly: The first, that of the four, two of them were actually Brazilian but had heard of Cuba, the third had vacationed there once but is from the Dominican Republic and the fourth, a man who appeared to me to be from “somewhere” South America, was actually Asian; he did let me know that if it helps, he is fluent in Korean, French and English.  The second thing that I learned is that I’m apparently an idiot and can’t seem to tell the difference between a person of Cuban descent and a Palm tree.   With that, I’m 0 and 4, game over.  Maybe I’ll go to a shopping mall in Missouri and try and spot people in the crowd who are from Illinois.  We really should all have to wear team so and so ball caps…

I’m still curious though, but today is not the day for answers, at least any from me.  I do wish for peace for all the people of Cuban descent who have fought for it for such a long time.

Cute Cat Video vs Travelinggump.Com

So about the cat video.  I’ve been told repeatedly that if you want more “traffic” on your site, add a cat or puppy video. My jaw hit the floor at the mere thought that this could have merit.  I take my website seriously (although I do occasionally go off the rails) and it frustrates me that anyone would prefer a pet video over…well…me.  It’s an ego thing, apparently.

Well, I had to know the answer and yes, I’m aware that I may have altered the end result with the way that I intro’d the video, blah, blah, blah.  Anyway, here are the twitter results…Cat Video on left, prior article on right, similar time frame.

Also, the Cat Video received a tepid response on Facebook but did above  average on Instagram.  My guess is that each venue has a somewhat different type of user which could account for the differences.   All said, my delicate ego remains ridiculously intact.