Thursday, December 17, 2015

Travel Back to Panama City

Panama City, FL
Dec 17, 2015

We started our journey back home on Thursday morning. We decided to vacate the hotel and go to the South side the island before dropping off the car at the airport in the afternoon. So we packed our bags, returned our towels, and checked out of the resort one hour earlier at 10 AM. However, when I tried to start the car it won't start due probably to a dead battery. That meant we had drop our plans to visit the south side.

Even though the Hertz representative up-sold all amenities (s)he rented me a bad car. Fortunately, it happened on the last day in the resort. We called Hertz and within 20 minutes (that was the good part) a tow-truck came gave us a jump start. We didn't want to take anymore chances of getting stuck in a remote place so we went directly to the airport.
We told the Hertz rental about our problem and went into the airport and the Delta counter was not even open since we were at least 3 hours earlier. So went to 14Bis Restaurant and ate lunch there.
We went through customs and immigration in Aruba itself instead of Atlanta. That meant at least 1 1/2 hours of lines and checking. Finally we left Aruba's Reina Beatrix Airport toward Atlanta. We left at 4:45 PM AST and arrived earlier at 7:10 PM EST in ATL. We didn't eat food during our flight of 3 1/2 hours. We went from Gate 4 to Terminal E Gate 2 (the same gate we left three days earlier)

At Atlanta we went Terminal E food court and had our dinner. Our next flight to Panama City was at least 2 more hours away in Terminal B.

We then waited for our plane which was delayed in arriving from Oklahoma City and left at 10:30 PM EST at Atlanta and reached Panama City 10:40 PM CST. We then collected our luggage and went out to the long-term parking lot. 

We then went to the hotel for overnight stay.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Travel to Aruba

Oranjestad, Aruba
Monday, Dec 14, 2015

We woke up very early in the morning at a hotel in Panama City, Florida and drove to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP). We parked our car in the long-term parking lot and took our luggages to fly to Atlanta. We were at Central Standard Time Zone.
Panama City (ECP) airport
Our flight was by Delta Airlines and we checked in early with Zone 1 boarding and headed off to Atlanta. Unlike previous night we could feel the skies were getting cloudy and there was a possibility of rain. However, we arrived in time in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. We flew an MD-88 and there were no beverage services. We left at ECP Gate 5 and arrived at ATL Gate B11 after an hour. We were at Eastern Standard Time Zone. 

We had plenty of time for our next flight via Delta to Queen Beatrix Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Renia Beatrix) in Oranjestad, Aruba. So we stopped by the Terminal E food court and had our breakfast. The rain that was delayed in Panama City caught up with us and started to rain. I was lucky to see that our luggages were being loaded into the belly of the airplane. Then we took our flight to AUA around 10:30 AM and arrived at Oranjestad, Aruba late in the afternoon. 

Our luggage (blue bag) being loaded to our flight
As we started to fly the rain stopped and I could see the blue green seas of the Bahamas on our way into Aruba.

On the way to Aruba, the Bahamas can be seen below

During the 3 1/2 hour flight there was no free food but only snacks. We, however, ended by buying some food. We flew on a Boeing 737 with movie entertainment. I watched one movie and some others segments. 

The flight was okay. We left ATL Gate E2 and arrived Gate 6.

We then went through some customs and passport checks. Once outside the airport, the Hertz Car Rental was walking distance. We picked up our car and took full protection and gas tank surcharge (the latter was unnecessary as there were pumps next to the airport).
Queen Beatrix Airport, Oranjestad, Aruba
We then drove few miles to get out destination hotel Tropicana Resort. It turned out there was a big super market for food called Super Food Plaza and Taco Bell fast food just next to our resort. We had dinner at Taco Bell and purchased groceries as our room was a full fledged one-bedroom apartment with separate bedroom,  bathroom, living room, kitchen with stove, fridge, microwave, coffee machine, toaster, plates, cups, knives, pots and pans. We also got local currency (Aruba Florin and cents)
Aruba Florin (Afl or Awg) and cents 
We then went to bed at a new time zone (Atlantic Standard Time)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Head back home

Travel back home

Friday, November 27, 2015

After spending few days at Novi, Michigan and visiting Ann Arbor, MI, we headed back home on Friday evening. The snow in the ground started to melt yesterday and had completely melted by this morning. There was intermittent rain throughout the day.

We had nice breakfast with the family and played some carrom board with the kids. Then it was time for lunch and packing. We showered packed our belongings and put away several winter clothing inside the luggage as the temperature was going to warm at home.

By 3:15 PM we were at the DTW airport and we checked our luggage and went inside. The crowd was very thin as most of the Holiday travelers will be hitting the airport 2 days from now. Inside the McNamara North Terminal airport we took the Express Tram to reach our gate.

We then took our flight back to ATL. The flight was supposed last 1.45 hours and due to heady thunderstorms the flight flew at lower altitude of 28,000 ft (8.5 km) rather than normal altitude of 32,000 ft (9.7km) to avoid turbulence. So we arrived 10 minutes early at ATL.

We had few hours at ATL and since we already knew going on an early but empty flight will not only be costly but also means that we have to come back to the airport claim our baggage (we were told about this in no uncertain terms at the central check out area). So instead of paying the airline exorbitant money (they would rather fly empty but not make reasonable accommodation for passengers) and having to come back to retrieve the luggage we spent our money on a fancy restaurant at the airport and had satisfying dinner in a relaxing atmosphere. 

Our flight back home was fine and we retrieved our luggage and arrived home just before midnight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Travel to Novi

Visit Novi, Michigan

November 25-27, 2015

We traveled to Novi, Michigan during the 2015 Thanksgiving Holiday break. We left on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 from home to Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) via Atlanta (ATL). We flew in Delta flights as that is one of the few flights out of our hometown.

Our early morning flight was pleasant and quick, however, we had to have our bag late-check in and that would make it hard to get the bag on our arrival in DTW. We had to come back to the airport for the next flight to get our bag.

We reached ATL by 8:00 AM and our next flight was only at Noon. So we checked to see whether we could go early but the cost of changing the flight was very expensive. So we went to TGIFriday and had breakfast. Even though the food was good it was very expensive with coffee costing extra $3.00/person even when we had breakfast!

Then we boarded our flight to Detroit and as we reached Detroit our plane flew over the Lake Michigan. We arrived in time at the Metro Airport. As expected our bag didn't make it even though our wait time at ATL was more than 3 hours long. We went and grabbed some lunch and picked our bag before heading home in Novi, Michigan.

Detroit airport Holiday decorations were nice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cody To Gillette

Cody to Gillette Wyoming

Monday, August 10, 2015

We woke up at the Cody Super 8 Motel. There were lots of Asian travelers and hence had to go to the breakfast table many times to finish the breakfast.  Then we showered and packed the bags and left around 9 AM.  From Cody we went to the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone river toward YSNP and spent sometime there. We then drove back to Cody and went to downtown and shopped and took some pictures. Then we ate an Italian restaurant and the food was very good.
We the drove to Cody Post office located at Stampede Avenue and sent some post cards to friends and family. We went to Cody public library and took some pictures. Then we drove via 14/16 to Gillette via Emblem, Greybull and finally took I-10 at Sheridan, Wyoming.
On the way between Greybull and Sheridan we stopped at many places and took photos. We stopped at a Shell falls in Bighorn national forest. Before the falls we stopped by the shell falls creek and Madison Limestone took some photos touched the water. We drove via Wyoming picturesque road.

We arrived in Gillette via I-90 and had to figure out our hotel because the GPS didn’t indicate it. By putting the Gps in map mode and looking for route 14-16 we drove to that road and went up and down. We were originally in 14 West and even though numbers decreased they never got to the 1020. Then when we crossed downtown Gillette the numbers went correctly and we found Hotel 9 West and stayed there. The room was good with 3 pillows and two big beds.
We went to Taco john for dinner and came home and went to bed. The next morning we woke up at 6;30 Am and went for breakfast after shower


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Visit Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone, Wyoming

Sunday, August 09, 2015

We woke early and since there were no place to eat breakfast at Wapiti, WY, we had coffee and pancakes from the Green Park RV Park's owner's food truck. It was windy and cold in the morning and earlier in the night it has snowed in Yellowstone.

We then vacated the place and drove to Yellowstone National Park about an hour away west. The climate started to get better and we took some pictures at the entrance. There were many bikers traveling to the park too.

Then at the East entrance we bough a Yearly National Park Pass and drove inside. It took about a half hour before we arrived at the Steamboat Point and at one of the hot springs spewing sulfur vapor and steam that was on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

We then went to see the West Thumb

At the center we went to the bathroom and drove first to the west thumb (we took the south loop). The variety of springs and geysers were great and the weather was getting better with lots of sun but some wind.

Then we drove toward the old faithful arriving around 11:30 AM. We parked the car and ran toward the main office and found out the next eruption was 30 min later at 12:15 so we went and sat on the left side of the geyser in front row. There were some small eruptions in the other areas. Then at around 12;15 we witnessed the old faithful. It was nice and beautiful and it lasted for about 4 minutes. We took some photos and videos


Then we went inside the old building to eat. There was lot of crowd . So we ate at the deli and got some ice cream. The weather was becoming better. We sat outside and inside the building. V and B bought some gifts.  Then it was time for the second eruption. We were able to see the 1:50 eruption from further away and then we drove.


We then stopped at the poly chromatic spring place and took lot of photos and saw all the boiling pools and river. Then we went to village and drove back. There were two road congestions. The first was due to a vehicle problem. The second was due to bison. Then we stopped and took lot photos and video of he bison and came to the visitor center bought some gifts and left toward Cody, WY.

The night before we were unable to get the name of the hotel or reservation since neither my notes nor Google docs had the information due to late reservation. Finally after arriving in Cody around 8 pm we went to McDonalds and used its free Wifi to log into my Gmail and found out it was Super 8 motel and we had aleardy passed it onece. Anyway we went and checked in . The room was big with 3 pillows and we had shower and went to bed around 10 PM . we were very tired after a long day.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

To Billings Montana

Travel to Billings MT
Saturday, August 08, 2015

We traveled to Billings, Montana from our home town by taking Delta Airlines and stopping at Atlanta, Minneapolis-Saint Paul,  The total flight and waiting time was about seven and half hours. Our Atlanta flight was early in the morning and we arrived okay at Atlanta.

Our next flight to Minneapolis-Saint Paul was very quick and lucky it was in the same terminal since we had only about 30 minutes after we got out of the flight.

We were lucky and there were no delays or cancellations. When we arrived in Billings, MT, however, we noticed constant drizzle.

Billings, MT airport is small and similar to our Tallahassee airport. The first thing I noticed was neither of our T-Mobile prepaid or Virgin Mobile prepaid had any signal. That meant we won't be able to call anyone nor we could use the GPS of the neither of the phones. We were happy that our luggage made it to Billings, MT.

We then rented a car with Avis and soon rented a GPS device from them since our phones were not going to be helpful especially the rain started to pick-up the sky was cloudy (even though it was only around 1;30 PM MDT).

Then we drove toward Wapiti, WY in the rental car first via I-90 and then local routes. At Laurel, MT we stopped and grabbed some lunch at the McDonald's.  We were able check our e-mail using our Smartphone using McDonald's Wi-Fi.

We stopped to take pictures in Montana-Wyoming border and other unique places. We then arrived at Cody, WY. We stopped at the Buffalo Bill of the West museum and spent sometime looking at various attractions.

We then drove via the Buffalo Bill Dam and reached Wapiti, WY and checked into the hotel. There was only one gas station/general store nearby. The only way to get more food was 20 miles west at Cody, WY.

Then we found a dinner place about a mile east and had dinner before going to bed around 8 PM MDT (10 PM EDT).

Sunday, June 7, 2015

From Saskatoon

From Saskatoon


Sunday, June 7, 2015

I arrived at Saskatoon International airport around 3:15 AM using a taxi cab. Since it was so early there was no one at the Delta counter. Then around 4 AM people came and I checked my luggage and got the boarding pass. The Starbucks opened around 4:00 AM too and got coffee and waited at the gate.

We boarded the plane on time around 5:50 AM but never took off for another hour or so as the pilot needed to get some clearance from the ground and main office due to some problem with a light. Finally we arrived at Minneapolis-St Paul almost one hour late. The Delta people requested that those who had connecting flight to leave early.

At MSP, I had to go through both immigration and customs. Fortunately, the Automated Passport Control (APS) and the airport helped me finish the process quickly. Then I had to wait for the luggage to arrive and cleared through customs and rechecked the bag. Fortunately, again the my gate was literally next to the plane from Canada. I then arrived at ATL around 1 PM.
My final flight to Jacksonville was at 3 PM and that arrived at JAX by 4 PM. I was surprised to see my luggage make it all the way from Minneapolis especially when it took a long time before everyone had collected their luggage.

I paid for the parking fee and headed home and arrived by 8 PM.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

June 1-7, 2015

During my stay several things I noticed in Saskatoon that are different from the US. Some of things I saw are posted here.

Since I was in Saskatoon in June there was lots of light both at the end of the day, say till 8:30 PM and early in the morning, say 4:30 AM.

View of downtown Saskatoon, SK from the South Saskatchewan River 
Post Box in Canada

There were lots of gophers in the University of Saskatchewan Campus. The South Saskatchewan river flows through the city.

Gandhi Statue in Saskatoon, SK

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Canadian Light Source

Canadian Light Source

44 Innovation Boulevard, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

June 2-6, 2015

I came to the Canadian Light Source (CLSI) last night and stayed at the Ogle Hall. The taxi driver dropped me off around midnight and the CLS has provided the codes to open the door and arrangement has been made for me to enter the room.

I was kind of sleep deprived since I was still in ED Time Zone and Saskatoon was in MD Time Zone, so I had shower and went to bed quickly.

But around 4:30 AM there was lot light out since it is summer time and the latitude is around 62 North. So I woke up early and went to registration office by 7:30 AM and met with Shaun and got everything situated by 8:00 AM.

The Data Collection Workshop began by 9:00 AM and went on until 4:30 PM with lunch and coffee breaks. Then we toured the Facility and adjourned late in the evening.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Onward to Saskatoon, Canada

To Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Monday, June 1, 2015

I arrived at Jacksonville International airport around 4 PM. Parked my car in the Economy Parking Lot 1 and took the airport shuttle to get to the JAX airport.

Then my Delta flight to Minneapolis-StPaul left Jacksonville airport around 6:30 PM EDT and scheduled to arrive at MSP at 8:40 PM CDT. The flight was about 3 hours long and it was okay flight. Due to summer there was sunlight as we landed in Minneapolis-StPaul. I had to run to new terminal to catch my next flight to Saskatoon, SK.

My next flight was from completely in a different part of the terminal so I ran from F terminal to C terminal and there was only about an hour time and I had to have something to eat. I grabbed some sandwich at the C terminal and soon boarded flight to YXE. The flight was 2 hours long and arrived at Saskatoon, SK around 11 PM.
I had to go through both immigration and customs. Since it was a small airport there were only two agents and by the time everything was over, it was almost 11:40 PM MDT.

Unfortunately neither of my cell phones worked (T-Mobile prepaid and Mobal International). So I tried to log into Gmail. That got rejected because I was logging in from Saskatoon far away from home. So not wanting wait I took a taxi and went to Ogle Hall at the University of Saskatchewan campus. The ride was quick and costed C$22.