I haven't posted a TR in a while because, I haven't taken a trip that was worthy of writing about. But, an opportunity popped up for one. Note, the first part of the trip has hella pictures, and the end part doesn't due to my camera deciding to die on me.
I live in the East Bay, and I got a phone call for a job interview in Des Moines, IA. Having lived in Iowa for a while as a kid, having gone to Iowa State for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and with a large part of my family still living in Iowa, it was a great opportunity to go to familiar territory. Plus, the job had great potential for growth, so as my father would say, "never turn down a shot for good things". However, my current employer only granted me two days of leave (I work for a school district that's stingy on personal leave), so it would be a quick two day trip in the middle of the week.
31 JAN 2012
Since I had a very early flight, I decided to get up around 4AM, take a shower and shave, then get on the road. I live in the East Bay, so commuting to SFO meant driving down the I-880 and taking the CA-92 (San Mateo Bridge) over to the Peninsula. At 5:30 in the morning, it was fairly easy to get to the SFO long-term lot. I parked, took the shuttle, and made my way to Terminal 1. I checked in the morning before, so I had plenty of time to hang out. The last time I was at Terminal 1, I was space-A commuting between MSP and SFO, trying to woo a particular lady (who ended up becoming my wife). Fond memories are to be had there!
Delta Check-In Counters
Nice Art Display
Security took a long time, even though the line was pretty short for this time of the morning. The contract security at SFO seemed to take their time running the scanner, and conducted a lot of bag checks. Plus, there were a few agents just standing around doing nothing. I guess they had their early morning rush and decided to take it easy. Once I got through my body scan, I stopped to grab a San Francisco Chronicle to read about the Occupy Oakland protests and wait for boarding.
Gate area...not much to see
I got to Gate 47, and there was no opportunity to take pictures. Delta had a dual ops going, with our flight to MSP and one to DTW going. Once boarding was announced, it was a pretty orderly process. However, once they scanned my boarding pass, they said my seat was taken and gave me a new seat assignment. But, when I got on the plane, there was somebody sitting in my seat. He and I had the same assignment, so I fought my way back through the aisle and let the flight attendant know. She immediately called the gate agent, who realized that the guy in my seat was given an upgrade. I told the gate agent, "he doesn't have to move...I'll sacrifice and move to first class", but to no avail. He moved to first class, and I had an entire row to myself, so I couldn't complain too much.
View from window seat
Pushing back alongside company
We taxied down to 1R and waited for an Ameriflight Metroliner to depart. We were alongside a UA 767 on 1L on the taxi.
UA 767 in new colors
Turning onto 1R
Once traffic cleared, we rocketed off into the marine layer and on our way to MSP. It was an awesome takeoff with a sharp angle of attack, and those engines have one great sound to them. I tried out the video function on my new camera, and here's the experiment:
Climbing above marine layer...somewhere over the Bay
Mt. Diablo peeking through
Passing Carquinez Straight towards Suisun Bay
We got to a cruising altitude pretty fast, so I moved to stretch out and starting some additional preparation for my interview. It was great to spread out and drop a tray table to do some last minute examination of data and job description. When the flight attendants started their service, I got a cup of coffee and some Biscoff cookies. I fell in love with these cookies when I worked ground crew for FL, and the flight attendants would give me cookies to take home to enjoy with coffee or tea.
The inflight meal
We got to a cruise altitude of 35000 ft., but the captain moved us to 37000 ft. over Utah for smoother air. The ride was for the most part smooth as silk, with the occasional cross wind bump or two.
Over Utah...nothing much to see
I hadn't flown Delta in a very long time, but I was impressed with their in-flight entertainment options. Once I was done with my prep, I played around with the Delta On Demand and satellite TV. I watched Beverly Hills Cop 2 on Comedy Central, some of the Florida primary coverage on CNN, and some of the Super Bowl coverage on ESPN. I also played around with the music options, including the full-length CDs available on demand. I was incredibly impressed with the music selection. I sampled some LMFAO, Beyonce, Nicky Minaj, Marsha Ambrosious, John Coltrane/Kenny Burrell and most of the Jay-Z/Kanye West album "Watch the Throne". Let's just say my head was bobbin' to "Otis" as I was looking over some data. I also had one screen at an empty seat tuned into Delta's moving map. We flew a routing over Nevada and northern Utah, making a turn over South Dakota and direct towards Minneapolis.
"Watch the Throne" on demand...nice work Delta!
Snow (!) in South Dakota
We began an eventual descent over South Dakota, and the track to MSP had us flying over Chaska, Shakopee and Valley Fair (visible to my eye, but not to my camera). We made a turn close to MSP to get us in a pattern to make a 180 degree turn to land on Runway 30L.
Approaching outer suburbs of Minneapolis
Zoom of Downtown Minneapolis with Lake Calhoun (at top) and Lake Harriet (at bottom)
Overview of MSP
Over Eagan approaching MSP
The pilot punctuated a great flight with a smooth landing on 30L, though my video might not show how smooth the landing was.
We eventually taxied to gate C9, and I entered back to my old stomping grounds, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport!
MN ANG Hangar with C130
Our bird...one fine aircraft!
Now, I hadn't been to MSP since 2008, when I worked at the Humphrey Terminal as a ramp rat. It was a little weird to see all the Delta signs, since I was so used to seeing NW signage everywhere. My layover wasn't very long, but I had some time to get some Godfather's Pizza and an IBC root beer (Godfather's isn't in the Bay, and it's hard to get IBC root beer).
Yummy lunch...not healthy though
I also had a minute to get some Dunn Bros coffee. My full time job in St. Paul was off Grand Avenue, and I used to head towards the Mac-Groveland neighborhood and a Dunn Bros and chocolate babka roll at Breadsmith every morning. However, the coffee I got at MSP was pretty weak, so I headed to Caribou (man, do I wish we had Caribou in Oakland...people would calm the hell down real fast!) and got a vanilla latte. It was just as good as I remembered it...brought back great memories with good people.
Once my food and caffeine fix were over, I took the tram over to Concourse B to my next flight.
31 JAN 2012
Delta 4115 (Operated by Pinnacle)
This flight was nothing spectacular, to be honest. It was a quick jump towards DSM, but the flight was completely full. As I was taking pictures, my camera just up and died on me. In addition, the window was incredibly dirty, not worthy of taking pictures out of. Here is the one lone picture I could get before the batteries lost all their juice.
Such a wonderful picture, don't you think?
We took off from Runway 30L, and the pilot was pretty rough on the controls. The first flight involved smooth movement and ease on the controls; this captain seemed to jerk the plane around every turn. There was no service on this flight; once we got to cruise of 20000 ft, we were descending. We flew pretty much down parallel down I-35, so Mason City, the US-20 intersection towards Fort Dodge, Roland-Story City, and Ames and Iowa State University were pretty visible. Our descent took us over Ankeny, slight left over Pleasant Hill, and a VERY sharp right towards Runway 31 and a rough touchdown in DSM. I got off the plane, thanked the heavens we landed safely, and met up with some family. I spent the evening getting my suit ready, gossiping with my grandmother about family happenings, and watched the Iowa State-Kansas State men's basketball game on TV with my grandfather. If you haven't seen the end of the game, it was pretty good:
1 FEB 2012
Delta 3350 (Operated by Pinnacle)
My interview took most of the day, starting at 0730 and going until 1600. It went pretty well, but I met with a lot of people and ate very little. My grandmother dropped me off at the airport, and I ran to their cafe to get a "Southwest Salad". Let's just say it was little on Southwest, little on Salad, and did not agree with my palette and my stomach. I approached a very empty security line, and I noticed these TSA agents took their job VERY seriously. They ran my bag through the x-ray, did a bag check, and eventually confiscated a non-TSA size compliant tube of toothpaste I forgot I had. I told the screener that it cleared at SFO, and she replied "I can't speak to how they operate". It's just a tube of toothpaste, and I wasn't going to complain nor get myself arrested and on CNN for creating a ruckus.
One thing I noticed at DSM...the great presence of security. I saw more visible police at DSM then I ever have at SFO. I also saw uniformed TSA agents patrolling the terminal, including two doing post-security ID checks at the gate. Maybe it's a different tactic on security, but the visibility was very noticeable to me.
My camera had a little bit of juice, as the only batteries I could get were at my grandparent's house, and they were of the non-Duracell and non-Energizer kind. I wanted to conserve battery space, but I wanted the Airliners.net community to see the bustling DSM terminal at night. Get ready for the scenery!
The every busy Concourse C at Des Moines
Novelty glasses for sale. Sure some of my family have these.
Ad for Templeton Rye...Al Capone's and this author's favorite Rye Whiskey
There wasn't a lot of traffic at this time of the evening. There was a UA A320 arriving, but not much after that. Our inbound flight came in 15 minutes late to Gate C1, but the inbound load was light, and our outbound load was lighter. We boarded and rocketed off Runway 31 for a smooth flight into MSP at 24000ft. Once again, no service, but the pilot was gentler on the controls. We landed on Runway 12R and made a spirited taxi to Gate A4.
1 FEB 2012
Seat(s) 21 D,E,F
I only had a few minutes to traverse the entire terminal, but I remembered there is a connector between Concourses C and G. That shortcut cut down on my travel time, and I had enough time to get a bag of Caribou Coffee's newest light roast for my wife. I got to Gate G10 and saw very little people for this flight. Viewing the overhead monitor, there were roughly 63 cleared passengers on this flight to SFO. So, once again I had an entire row to myself. I was starting to get incredibly tired and was very ready to go home and sleep. Plus, I had to be back at work at 9am the next morning, so no rest for the weary.
We got on board, had a cabin crew, fully fueled, and bags loaded. But there was one problem...no pilots for our A320. The crew came on board around our departure time, so we left a few minutes late. We eventually made it to 12R for a smooth takeoff into a cloudy Minnesota night.
Nothing much to write about this flight...there was no entertainment ("got to be an NWA bird", I told myself), but I had my copy of the Des Moines Register, my Kindle Fire, and an iPod touch full of podcasts. I actually fell asleep for about an hour, and the whole row to myself made this flight more comfortable. We made a smooth landing on Runway 28R after a mostly smooth flight at 36000 ft. We pulled into Gate 45A, and I ran to catch the next shuttle bus to the long term parking deck. I probably drove about 90mph across the San Mateo Bridge to get home, get a few hours of sleep, then be back at work by 9am.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. I MIGHT have another interview somewhere else in the Midwest, so be on the lookout for that TR. Cheers!