Back in early October I had the pleasure of visiting Salt Lake City once again on a business trip. The trip was very much like my previous trips to Salt Lake City during 2012. The flight was with Southwest, which I’m finding is the preferred method of flight when no layovers are required, but less than ideal when going cross country. Having flown Virgin American a few times this year I now realize layovers are a waste of time, assuming the cost of a direct flight isn’t outrageous. The hotel of choice was the Fairfield Inn in South Draper, which is about 30 – 40 minutes south of the airport. The hotel isn’t much to look at or stay in, but they have one feature that will probably have me staying there during future trips. The internet connection at the Fairfield Inn was noticeably better than any other hotel connection I’ve had in the past. It was quite impressive. My mistake was not completing a speed test of the connection to prove my opinion. The rental car was from National Car Rental once again. A month later I don’t remember what car we rented, but I do regret not getting an SUV. Having to squat getting in and out of the car is not easy in my old age.
The one new activity during the whole trip was visiting Scheels Sporting Goods store. The store is impressively large. So large they have a Ferris wheel inside the building. I tamed (stuffed) wild animals and went (fake) fishing, where I caught a (fake) great white shark. It wasn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours before departing for the airport on Friday.
Tuesday, January 3 – Flight 1582
Depart Los Angeles (LAX) at 09:10 AM
Arrive in Sacramento (SMF) at 10:30 AM
Friday, January 6 – Flight 2545
Depart Sacramento (SMF) at 06:50 PM
Arrive in Los Angeles (LAX) at 08:10 PM
Lost in the shuffle this past week between updating the blog with the 2011 Year in Review and 2012 Goals was the fact that I traveled to Sacramento, California. This was a follow-up business trip for a project I started during August 2011. The usual suspects were in place as I flew with Southwest, rented a car through National Car Rental, and stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. All of those were the same as the trips that occurred in August. However, there was one big change to how it all happened. With all the travel last year I was able to gather enough points to get status with Southwest and National. As a Southwest “A-List” member I’m guaranteed priority check-in, allowing me to board with the first group and get the best available seat. No more having to check-in 24 hours in advance to get the best boarding number. I was also able to use a special baggage check line allowing me to cut the whole line of other people looking to check-in. The perks don’t stop there. I was also allowed to use the priority security lane access, allowing me to again cut the whole line of people going through security. If you’ve read any of my posts about dealing with Southwest on a Monday morning at LAX, you’ll understand how big a deal that is. The perks of traveling also made its way to the renting a car. I’m now an Emerald Club Executive member with National, allowing me to rent the mid-size car and get an automatic upgrade to a full size car. This week I had the pleasure of driving a Dodge Charger. I thought it would be fun to drive a fun/fast car for once, which is about as far from a Jeep Wrangler as you can get. And it was a nice ride. The hardest part was figuring out how to open the gas tank.
A small piece of advice for people that don’t know or don’t rent cars often. Have you ever rolled up to a gas station, parked, the figured out the tank is on the other side of the car? Well, I learned last year that the answer is right in front of you. Located in the middle of the gas gauge is a picture of the tank and an arrow pointing either left or right. The arrow is pointing to the side of the car the gas tank is located. And you thought there was nothing to learn on my blog!
My next travel for business isn’t scheduled until mid-February, so I have another small break from the travel life… assuming I don’t take a much needed vacation at some point in between.
Depart SACRAMENTO CA (SMF) at 5:40 PM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES INTL (LAX) at 7:00 PM
The last time I travelled to Sacramento for more than a day trip was over 10 years ago. At the time I worked for the Office of Personnel Management, lived in the DC area, and had bundles of energy to enjoy it. Problem is, other than a day trip to Lake Tahoe and the extreme heat, I don’t really remember much from that trip. There was no day trip to the lake this time around, but the heat was still alive and kicking.
I spent the majority of my time this week on the south east side of Sacramento in the Rancho Cordova area. There were two things I noticed about the area. First, they’ve done what they can to make their roads biker friendly. There are bicycle lanes all over the place. Second, the economy has hit the area hard. There wasn’t a strip mall I passed that didn’t have a major space open for rent. Also, other than a single Chili’s, there was a lack of casual sit down restaurants for a decent dinner. And Hooters doesn’t count as an option. After work dining turned into more of a fast food affair, with Chipotle being my favorite.
I liked the Fairfield Inn. It looked like the hotel was relatively new, which also means is was still relatively clean. They offered after work snacks and beer. I took a break from the usual Captain and Coke for a free beer a couple of times.
The car rental was through National, who I’ve been using the past few times for travel. The Mazda 6 was a nice option. I was surprised when they gave me a $15 discount after making a comment about the key holder getting stuck. The comment was not made in frustration, just in general so they can switch it out for a working key before they rent it out again. The discount was not in my thought process and was totally unexpected. Kudos to National for giving their employees that leeway.
Oh, and I almost forgot, the Sacramento Southwest terminal (#1) is about as opposite as you can get from LAX airport. Considering the time I’m leaving Sacramento, you would thing getting through security would be a pain, but I made it through in less than 10 minutes.
Well, it’s time for me to make my way to the gate for boarding. It looks like the flight is going to take off about 25 minutes late as of right now. Hopefully that won’t get any worse.