Oct 2007 14

I am sitting in the Boise, Idaho airport right now (which has free WiFi – how great is that!) and in look back over the past week of travel it is all kind of a blur. I left Dallas to go to Salt Lake City for a couple of days to do some work in the RunPolitics home office. Salt Lake City has a great walkable downtown, but a severe lack of Starbucks locations due to the Mormon church not having an appreciation of the joys of caffeine:

“We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used.” LDS Info

From SLC I took a round about trip to Reno. Reno is a one hour flight from SLC. Southwest Airlines only has one direct flight on that route each day, so I took a one hour flight from SLC to Las Vegas and then another one hour flight from LAs Vegas to Reno creating an equilateral triangle of flights.
For three days I attended the Conservative Leadership Conference and represented RunPolitics to those in attendance. Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, Dick Armey, and Alan Keyes were some of the speakers. There were a lot of Libertarians in attendance and the speaker’s messages were tailored accordingly.
I was suppose to fly back to SLC through Las Vegas again this afternoon, but then I saw that the Cowboys/Patriots game was going to be on while I was in the air, and that just wasn’t going to work (esp. since I watched the Cowboys’ amazing Monday night comback on ESPN gamecast and had no idea how amazing it was until I called my brother back in Texas, where they actually appreciate competitive sports and not just the Olympics) So I caught the earlier flight from Reno to SLC, but this time it took me to Boise. But I will be on the ground in time to grab a beer and plop myself in front of a TV and cheer on my hometown team.
Traveling leads to so many great stories and such a great understanding of how huge and diverse the world is. I am very fortunate to have grown up traveling and knowing how to travel is a great skill to have. There are so many idiots at hotels, in airports, and on planes it amazes me. I saw a guy argue with a TSA representative in the security line that his watch didn’t need to come off and that it didn’t have a bomb in it. She quickly yelled “Male Assist, double code blue” and ushered him into the glass cubicle where he was greeted by two very large and none too happy TSA men that keep him there for another twenty minutes. When he ran past me to make his flight I couldn’t help but laughing out loud. Just take off the watch!
For some more incredible stories about the amazing people you meet when traveling, check my girlfriend Annie Fitzsimmons blog. She is a magnet for incredible stories and Good People.

Oct 2007 27

As I write this, I am about to get on my tenth flight of the month and I have been watching the trends of my fellow travelers and I am constantly amused by who shows up for the flight and even more entertaining is how they show up. Knowing that I don’t know what their actual story is, it keeps me constantly laughing to myself as I imagine who they are and who they think they are. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

Some of my fellow passengers aren’t just flying, they’re making a statement and you had better pay attention.

Professional Traveler: Now, I am not just talking about the guy wearing a suit because he is headed to a meeting as soon as he lands. No, I am talking about the guy that wants you to think he is closing a multi-million dollar deal at Gate A24. Bluetooth, oversized laptop, and notepad stacked on top of his matching rollaway carry-on luggage (bigger than the allowable size, but since he is “The Man” he doesn’t care.) When you get on the plane he will sitting in first class still yammering away on his blackberry about the TPS reports that are due while motioning to the flight attendant to bring him the head of a pig on a platter.

Trendy Traveler: The guy and girl that want to make sure that you know that they know how to travel. They are the ones sitting at the gate with matching LV luggage (his and hers sets), big sunglasses (even though it is a cloudy day and they’re inside) and only one ear bud of their ipod actually in their ear so they can talk loudly to each other while they text and they wait for their flight to Topeka. Additional standard markings of a trendy traveler include, but are not limited to: Viente Caramel Frappuchinos, iPhones, and the newest accessory – a small dog in a pink mesh purse.

Grunge Traveler: Perhaps the most interesting statement being made at airports, and anywhere for that matter, is the grunge statement. The passengers that look like they just woke up, picked up whatever clothes were in between their bed and the door, and showed up for their flight. But in reality, they spent more time than me to get their hair to look that messed up. And I have always wondered if there are magazines out there that teach how you to get your clothes to be that wrinkled and expertly layered. Whether or not to sit next to them is a gamble also. 80% of the time they are the grunge traveler, but from time to time they might not actually be the calculated grunge traveler, but merely the dirty traveler and that is a whole new blog waiting to happen.

Nov 2007 11

In the summer of 2004 I lived and worked in London. It was quite an adventure and something that I think back to quite often. I was thinking this morning as I walked to Starbucks about the hike that I took during the end of my summer. I hiked from the northern most point in England across the border region and into Scotland following St. Cuthbert’s way. It was on a whim that I decided to do this hike and it was the first time that I had ever hiked for four days straight on my own. (for more about my hike, check out some of my older blogs about it)
On the third morning of my hike I had gotten a little turned around as I was coming down from the highest point on the hike. The trail had been rerouted due to a local rancher not allowing the trail to cut across his pastures any more. The detour was not as obvious as it could have been and I lost quite a bit of time trying to make sure that I was indeed headed in the right direction. On the other side of a valley I saw another group of hikers and felt confident that I was headed in the right direction. As I came to the point where I had seen them standing I saw the trail marker that I was indeed on the correct path. I continued on through a grove of trees. As I was walking through my pack shifted as I stepped over a fallen tree and I lost my balance. I reached out for something to steady myself and grab a tree of thorns. The entire stalk of the tree had thorns sticking out of it and I plunged my hand right in them. I looked at my hand to see how bad it was and I used a cloth that I had with me to absorb the blood. I didn’t have anything that I could put on it, so I just kept walking. When I came out of the woods, I past by a home next to the road that I needed to take to get me to the next small town on my map. I sat down on the side of the road to have a sip of water and a piece of fruit. A moment later when I looked up from my water bottle I saw a small old woman walking toward me from the house. She motioned for me to come with her and asked if I had had lunch yet. I set my pack in their entry way and was introduced to her husband who I found out had spotted me from their living room as I walked by. I chatted with him for ten minutes before his wife reemerged from the kitchen with a tall glass of juice and a ham and cheese sandwich. I found out that they had been retired for six years and their hobby was counting the number of hikers that walked past their window everyday. They had meet people from over 50 countries, but I was the first Texan they’d meet. And that summer there had been 450 more hikers than there had been the year before the man told me as he looked at his record book. Before I got back to my hike, the wife gave me some salve for my hand and a bandage to keep it clean. Just spending twenty minutes with this kind old couple got me reenergized to get back out on the trail and to forget about the bumps that I had had along the way. I took down their name and address and sent them a post card from Texas when I got home. So go do a random act of kindness today, you never know how much it might mean to someone.

Nov 2007 14

Yesterday the stock for Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (OWW) closed 10% higher than the day before. Not too shabby. As a frequent visitor to online travel websites I was interested to hear that. What happened? Why the good day? Well, Orbitz filed their 8K and their revenues beat the Street expectations. Not by much, but enough to give the traders something positive to trade on for a change.
Okay, so that is all well and good, but since I am pretty familiar with these online travel websites, I find it interesting that Orbitz was up. I have never found the best fares on Orbitz. In fact, they are rarely in the running for finding me what I need and when I need it. While I like the site layout, it is all about the bottom line. The best travel website that I have found is Kayak.com They go to all the other sites and tell you which site has the best rates for the exact flights or hotel you are looking to book.
So the only other option that came to mind for why Orbitz might have traded up was that they have the absolute best pop up ads on the internet. I don’t care how busy I am, I always have time for a round of Orbitz golf.

The trick on this one is to ramp it to the apex of the slope and bounce it off the bottom wall back into the hole.
As you can see, I am a “master in the making.” And with shameless compliments like that, Orbitz can expect their stock to continue to rise in my portfolio.

Dec 2007 17

ONE KEY ANNOUNCES NEW DALLAS VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES

Andy Ellwood Launches the Dallas Office of One Key

MANSFIELD, MA — Continuing its expansion, One Key is pleased to announce Andy Ellwood has been named the Vice President of Sales for the Texas & Midwest region. With an office in Dallas, Mr. Ellwood will be focusing on expanding the membership of One Key through its innovative product, the Travel Card.

“Andy is the perfect fit for One Key, hard working and trustworthy. Future One Key members in Texas are very fortunate to have someone of his diligence caring after their vacation solution,” said Jay Sapovits, Founder and CEO of One Key.

Following five years of successfully exceeding business objectives for The Texas Financial Group, Mr. Ellwood joined Korem & Associates where he held an adjunct faculty position for workshops and seminars, and trained individuals and groups on the Korem Behavioral Profiling Systems.

“The opportunity for the discerning traveler to have the level of flexibility and personalized service One Key offers is such an attractive offering. One Key not only has access to some of the world’s most incredible homes, we understand what a great vacation is all about. It comes down to being able to enjoy the people you are with and not worrying about the details. The One Key model is the future of luxury travel,” said Mr. Ellwood.

Mr. Ellwood received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and resides in Dallas.

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For more information about One Key, visit our website at www.onekeyworld.com or call (877) ONE-KEYW.

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One Key is a Travel Card company which provides the consistency and quality across a global portfolio of destinations without the long term commitment and onerous deposits of a destination club membership. The Travel Card offers discerning travelers the option of either 15, 25 or 45 nights that may be used in any increment to get away with family and friends in the finest homes in the world, typically averaging $3 million. Currently, One Key is in 25 destinations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.