Why the A319 is My Favorite Commercial Plane

The A319 is my favorite commercial plane. I realized this after flying on four different models of commercial planes on my recent trip to Los Angeles.

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Flying economy is a lot more bearable when you have your own individual TV screen.

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I took advantage of mine and watched an Elton John concert.

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My most favorite part of the A319 is the power outlets in the back of the seats. You don’t have to reach under your seat to find an outlet now. And, it’s a real power outlet. Not one of those 12V adapter outlets.

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Or, better yet, there are a couple of USB ports on the bottom of the TV screen. So you can just plug your phone directly to it using your USB cord. You don’t even need to dig out your power cable.

This is awesome because if you’re using your mobile device during the flight (which you can do now) it’s going to run out of juice. Well, now that you can plug it in during the flight, that’s no longer an issue. So read your ebooks, listen your music, watch you videos, and play away.

The only down side is that not all commercial planes come equipped with these features. So far I’ve only come across them on the A319. This plane didn’t have them.

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I told Brian that I wished that in the future I could book my flights based on the model of airplane I’ll be flying in. I’d pick an A319 every time.

My Fancy Dinner with Jane at Fleming’s

This dinner was 20+ years in the making so it was only fitting that we went to a fancy schmancy restaurant. Oh, yes. Only the finest for my dear Jane. ;-)

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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The spreads are tasty, but the bread got cold too quickly.

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This is a picture of Jane’s filet.

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Jane’s baked potato.

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My chicken, which was surprisingly very good. But for the price, it better have been. LOL. I think I could feed 4 people at Applebee’s for the price of that piece of chicken.

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This is the most delicious sautéed spinach I have ever tasted. I don’t know what Jane thought of her dinner, but I was very, very happy with the food that I ordered. My food was so good that the price didn’t even bother me and you all know how much of a cheapskate I am. LOL.

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Fleming's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

The dessert was great too. In the middle of our meal, our server asked if we wanted dessert because they had one particular dessert that takes 20 minutes to make. When she gave us our options, that was the exact one that we wanted. I told her the 20 minutes didn’t bother us because we’ve waited 20+ years to see each other. Twenty measly minutes is nothing.

The last time I saw Jane was March 1993. That’s when my family moved from Las Piñas (a city located in the island of Luzon in the Philippines) to Colorado. Jane moved to the US in 2000 but we never had the opportunity to see each other until now. It’s funny because our mutual friend Sheryll only lived in the US for three years or so and yet I saw her four times. Jane has been in the US for 14 years and this is the first time we’d gotten together.

I initially planned to take her to dinner at Yard House because their food is familiar to me. There’s one at Legends that I’ve dined at a few times and I really like it. The prices are pretty reasonable. I planned to buy dinner so that was a factor.

My friends who attended the Zumba Conference with me wanted to go to dinner before the theme party on Saturday night. We initially thought we would go to Fleming’s but then nixed the idea after seeing the prices. Everything is a la carte so the cost of dinner would add up really quickly. After considering our other options, we ended up at Yard House where I had originally planned to take my friend Jane. Anyway, it worked out for the best because, out of all our restaurant options at LA Live and Nokia Plaza, Yard House seemed to have the best vegetarian selections. One of the women I traveled to the conference with is a vegetarian.

That meant no Yard House on Sunday night. Jane wanted steak so that really only left one place: Fleming’s. Oh, irony! LOL. I was trying to be cheap on Saturday night and managed to avoid Fleming’s only to end up there the next night when I was actually footing the bill. The universe is funny that way.

Of course, the food was really good and I hadn’t seen Jane in over 20 years so it was totally worth it. Don’t ask how much it was, though. It actually cost more per person than our dinner at Duck City. At least there we got appetizers and soups (the best soup ever) and I think Lance even had a glass of wine. I don’t think Brian and I have even come close. Well, maybe once. LOL.

I hope Jane knows how truly special she is to me. She managed to get her cheapskate friend to buy a really expensive dinner and spring for an extra night at the JW Marriott at LA (also not cheap) just to make dinner happen. And, what a delightful dinner it was. I had a great time catching up. Hopefully, it won’t take another 20 years for us to get together again.

Yard House at LA Live

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Here are some pictures from our dinner at Yard House.

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Yard House on Urbanspoon

I love Yard House because the food is reasonably priced and reasonably good and they have great reasonably priced drinks. Reasonable for LA anyway. LOL.

I think it’s going to be tough for you guys to figure out which plate is mine because I didn’t order my usual mac and cheese. Even though I deviated from my usual, I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed my dinner so much that I actually want to drive out to Legends in Kansas City and take Brian to dinner at the Yard House there.

Have you figured out what I had for dinner yet?

2014 Zumba Instructor Conference — Day 3

Day 3 consisted Aqua Zumba training. Yes! I am finally licensed to teach Aqua Zumba. Finally! I really wanted to get my Aqua Zumba at the 2013 Zumba Instructor Convention but the training sessions were full by the time I registered. I’m so glad I was able to get in the training this time around.

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Here’s a photo of me with out instructor Caroline Parsons. She is the new lead Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) for the Aqua Zumba training program.

As they say, things happen for a reason. I never did catch Beto at the convention last year but this time he actually got in the pool and took the Aqua Zumba master class with us. What at treat!

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Not only did I get a photo with Beto, I got photo with Beto with his shirt off!

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I caught a glimpse of the Zumba Step demo during our lunch break. I was too late to participate in it, though. I think I’m going to ask for the Zumba Incridible Results DVD set this year for either my birthday or Christmas because I doubt that any of the gyms here in town will pick it up. It’s just too much like other existing group exercise formats. At least, I don’t think the YMCA will offer it.

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Oh, and guess who I ran into while I was watching the Zumba Step demo. None other than the handsome David Velez, of course. You might recall him from my post about day 2 because he helped Steve Boedt with our Pro Skills training.

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Besides photos with Caroline, David, and Beto, I also got a photo with Richard and Jill from the Aqua Zumba team.

Actually, practically the whole Aqua Zumba training team was there on Sunday afternoon. I wish that I could have gotten a photo with all of them.

2014 Zumba Instructor Conference — Day 2

I missed mentioning the Burlesque and Fierce Funk workshops that I took on day 1 of the conference because I didn’t have any photos. My phone ran out of battery.

Burlesque was awesome. Gina Grant taught it along with Betsy Dopico and Melissa Chiz. They showed us five Burlesque routines. I wish there were choreo notes because I can’t remember any of them to save my life. They were super fun, though.

Fierce Funk with Pepper Von was great too. Check out his Fierce Funk web site for links to music and choreography.

So those two workshops happened between the kick off session and the Augie’s Quest fitness concert. The fitness concert was great but it wasn’t half as good as the one in Orlando. It was still a lot of fun, though.

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Day 2 consisted of Zumba Pro Skills with Steve Boedt. He is beyond amazing. Seriously. What a treat too because Gina Grant, Donna Giffen, and David Velez all helped with the training. How many people can say they took Pro Skills with four of the best Zumba Education Specialists? LOL.

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And the best part? I was third in line so I was front and center during the training. In other words, I was in the splash zone. Literally. Steve sweats a lot. I actually got some of his DNA on me and I almost didn’t want to shower at the end of the day.

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Here are some of the photos I took during training.

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This is where he showed us how the A/V team used condoms to keep the mic receivers from getting gross. I guess condoms were the best way they could think of to keep sweat and dirt off the technology. Interesting.

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This is my favorite photo of the day. For obvious reasons.

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Here’s a picture of the theme party. This one wasn’t as cool or as fun as the one in Orlando. There were entertainers working the crowd. No photo booth. No face painting. The conference hall decorations were sparse. Actually, other than the lighting, I’m not sure there were any. No big name performers. Not even an impersonator. LOL.

The party was fun but pales in comparison to the theme party at the 2013 Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando. If you guys get a chance, I highly recommend attending the conference first before attending the convention that way you’re building up. After attending the convention, you have such high expectations that it’s hard not be disappointed.

The event itself was fantastic and the trainings and workshops were high quality but the fitness concert and the theme party were not as elaborate as Orlando. That’s all.

2014 Zumba Instructor Conference — Day 1

Here’s a photo of my travel mates — Lisa, Pat, and Stephanie — at breakfast.

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The three of them traveled together because they flew through United. I used Brian’s frequent flier miles (thus, my airfare only cost me the $10 handling charge roundtrip) so I had to use American Airlines. I arrived only an hour behind them so it wasn’t too bad. Although, they had a nonstop from Los Angeles to Wichita on the way home so that was nice. I, on the other hand, had another layover in Dallas.

I can’t complain, though. Even though my choices were limited, using the frequent flier miles saved me almost $500.

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I’m glad that I saved money on airfare because our hotel was not cheap. We stayed at the JW Marriott at LA Live which is right across from the Staples Center and just a short walk from the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC). That convenience came at a price. It’s worth every penny, though.

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Check out the view of our hotel from the LACC.

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The one nice thing about the Los Angeles Zumba Instructor Conference compared to the Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando is that there were no lines at registration. Probably because the conference is a much smaller event consisting of only about 5,000 or so Zumba instructors.

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We got badges and goodie bags in no time. We didn’t get free conference shirts this time. However, we did get free Zumba sweat towels in our goodie bags.

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The goodie bags are just like the backpacks they gave us at the convention except they’re in the conference theme colors. Lisa is modeling hers below. She must have a sixth sense or something because her day 1 outfit perfectly matched the conference colors. Even her Asics and cellphone case matched!

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Here’s a photo of Stephanie, Pat, and Lisa, on our way to the kick off session.

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And then here they are at the kick off session.

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It was insane! I think there was enough energy packed in the conference hall to power a small village for a month. LOL. Zumba instructors are so energetic!

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There was an LA Lakers game that same night at the Staples Center but we had a date with the Augie’s Quest Fitness Concert. A basketball game would be something fun for Brian to do if he does go with me next time so I made a mental note of it.

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Here are some pictures from the fitness concert…

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If you think this is a lot of people, wait until you see the size of the crowd at the fitness concert at the Orlando convention. This is nothing compared to that.

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That was pretty much all of day 1 in a nutshell. I’m amazed that I lasted the entire fitness concert considering I was running on 3 hours of sleep that day and I was up for almost 24 hours the night before. I must have absorbed some energy from my fellow Zumba instructors. What an amazing experience!

A Break — Finally!

As you all know, I didn’t get a break last weekend because I attended the 2014 Zumba Instructor Conference in Los Angeles. What a crazy, busy weekend!

It all started with me being up almost 24 hours on Thursday. I didn’t want to miss more than two days of work so I decided to work the full day on Thursday and only take vacation on Friday and Monday. Well, Brian and I both go to work at 7 AM so I was up from 5 AM until almost 5 AM again the next day. Why?

I headed straight for the airport after I got off work at 4 PM. My flight didn’t actually leave until 6:30 PM or so but Brian and I are really OCD about being early for stuff. After a layover that lasted almost 3 hours in Dallas, I was aboard my connecting flight and arrived in LA at midnight.

I was originally just going to get a cab, because I wanted to save money, but Brian insisted on getting me an Execucar. It was expensive, but my flight only cost $10 so I was still way ahead. LOL.

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I’m really glad that Brian talked me into reserving an Execucar because Abraham (car #25) was waiting for me as I descended the escalator, before I even got to baggage claim. I’m so glad I didn’t have to track a cab down because I was completely exhausted. Mind you, 12 AM in LA is 2 AM in Wichita so I’d already been up for almost 24 hours at this point.

Abraham was nice enough to stop at a gas station with a convenience store so I could get a case of water, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and some plastic utensils. Yes, I’m a Zumba convention pro. I know to pack things like protein bars and buy snack stuff that need no refrigeration. But not unhealthy things like candy bars or potato chips. I got stuff that’s actually good for you. Had there been fruit at the gas station, I would have gotten some too.

Abraham was very nice. He didn’t seem as friendly at first but he quickly warmed when he learned that I spoke Spanish. He even offered to drive me back to the airport at the end of my stay.

I was like, “Are you sure? I’m leaving here at 4 AM.” He assured me that is when he usually starts his day also. He said, “Just ask for Abraham, car #25.” Worked for me. I’d rather have someone familiar drive me than get a new driver.

There are rumors that there will not be a conference in LA next year but if I’m back for the 2015 Zumba Instructor Conference, I’m totally requesting Abraham again. He was professional and prompt and very nice. If you’re ever in the area and in need of a driver, I highly recommend him.

Blackhawk Bowl & Martini Lounge

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Blackhawk Bowl & Martini Lounge is definitely one of the best features of Hotel Blackhawk. And, Laura, our bartender, was fantastic.

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I had fun hanging out with Faith and Lance and sampling their delicious martinis the first night. I didn’t stay out late, of course, because Brian and I always video chat whenever I travel. I heard that Faith and Lance had a jolly good time with Laura after I left, though. There may or may not have been sing-a-long at the bar that night.

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Here are some drink photos. Why? Because you can’t go to a “martini lounge” and not have any martinis. LOL.

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You can’t go to a bowling alley and not bowl either and so we did.

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After seeing this photo, dad said there was probably more martinis than bowling going on. But, in my defense, I didn’t actually bowl my best game until after two martinis. Thanks, Lance!

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Here’s Lance trying to figure out what to do with this split.

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We played guys vs. gals. Isaac was feeling pretty confident after the first game because he and Lance obliterated Faith and me.

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It was a friendly competition and both teams were cheering each other on. The guys won the first game. Faith and I won the second game, but we were still seven pins behind in overall total. That’s when we decided to bowl another — deciding — game.

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Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge on Urbanspoon

It was Isaac’s worst game and he wasn’t very happy. Guess who won our third and final game. Yup. Faith and I did. We’re awesome that way.

We had such a great time that it made me wish we had a place like Blackhawk Bowl here in town. The closest thing we have is The Alley and it’s just not the same. Blackhawk Bowl has a cozy, intimate feel. I love that they only have a few lanes so you don’t have to deal with huge crowds.

The only downside about Blackhawk Bowl is their rates. Five dollars per game and three dollars for shoes is a little expensive. The hourly rate of $35 is more reasonable but still up there. We were lucky that Laura hooked us up.

I’d probably go back to Blackhawk Bowl if I’m ever in Davenport again. The bowling is expensive but it’s a really cool experience. Totally worth it. If you’re ever in the area, you’ll have to check it out for yourself. Be sure to say hi to Laura for me!

Hotel Blackhawk

I wish I had another reason to visit Davenport because I’d stay at Hotel Blackhawk again. It’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at for work. Of course, my room wasn’t as nice as Darcy’s which had the adjoining parlor room and balcony access. Why is it that smokers always get the best rooms? LOL.

Anyhow, here are some hotel photos.

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I think that might be a pullout couch. I’m not sure. I didn’t check. I did like the separate living room/sitting area.

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The mini bar was stocked with drinks and munchies.

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Personally, I prefer a single king bed but the double queen rooms were all they had available. I can’t really complain. The beds were comfortable and the room was clean. What more can you ask for?

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Darcy got a double queen room also, but her room was far superior.

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Not only did she have access to a separate parlor room with a balcony, her room also had a tub with better water pressure. My room only had a stand up shower with really weak water pressure.

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But, hey, at least the bathroom mirror had a built in TV like the room that Brian and I stayed in at the Peabody Orlando when I attended the Zumba Instructor Convention back in August. That’s a plus.

The hotel also has a gym, a couple of restaurants, a barber shop, a spa, and a bowling alley. Every hotel has a gym and all that other stuff but the bowling alley is pretty special. That’s a pretty unique amenity. We don’t have any hotels here in Wichita with an onsite bowling alley.

The location of the hotel is great also. It’s walking distance to business and restaurants. It also has skybridge access so you don’t have to walk outside as much when it’s cold. It was freezing when we were there last week.

MidAmerican Energy let us use their corporate discount so our rooms were actually reasonably priced. The hotel is an excellent value, given the rate we paid. The property is clean and beautiful and the staff is fantastic. It’s the kind of place where they always say “My pleasure” whenever you thank them for anything.

Hotel Blackhawk also offers shuttle service around the area, not just to and from the airport. I really have no complaints. Yes, the water pressure in the shower was weak but it seems like that was only true for certain rooms. Isaac, Lance, and I were the only ones who had water pressure issues. Faith and Darcy had good pressure in their bathrooms. They both had tubs in their bathrooms, though.

If I had a tip to share, I’d say people who are particular about their water pressure should ask for a room with a bathtub. Some rooms also had better views, but I wasn’t really concerned. I would be happy with any room at this place.

Breakfast in Bed

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This was my breakfast on my last day in Minneapolis: Minnesota Eggs Benedict, Hashbrowns, Bacon, and Fruit. I thought they were just going to give me a cup of fruit on the side. Instead I got this amazing fruit plate. The fruits were delicious!

The Minnesota Eggs Benedict is an eggs benedict with walleye cakes. Walleye cakes are like crab cakes, except instead of crab meat they use walleye. Apparently walleyes are abundant in Minnesota because they serve it everywhere. Some sort of walleye dish will be listed on the menu no matter where you go. At least that was my experience. I think the only place I didn’t see it was at the sushi place.

With the exception of the mixup with breakfast delivery my breakfast was fantastic. The Depot did a wonderful job. I just wish it didn’t cost so much. If room service wasn’t so expensive, I probably would have had breakfast delivered to my room every morning. LOL.

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