GOOD RIDDANCE 2020!


WOW! What a surreal year! I can’t even believe I just lived and survived through everything that was 2020! I was at least fortunate to get to kick off the year at home in Chicago… little did I know at the time though, that would be how I would spend most of the year! In 2019, I flew 330 flights, but in 2020, I didn’t even fly half of that, as I flew a total of 156 flights through 40 airports across just 3 countries (U.S., Mexico, & Costa Rica), 25 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. It has been bitter sweet nonetheless spending more time on the ground in 2020 than I have in the past 5 years.

Ringing in 2020 with James at home in Chicago!

In January I flew 31 flights and solo traveled around Costa Rica for my vacation time! I flew into San Jose, spent a couple of days there including a day trip to Tortuga Island on a catamaran boat, and then ventured on a stifling hot bus ride for 7 hours to the beautiful Tamarindo Beach, where I spent most of my time relaxing on the beach, drank lots of fruit smoothies, ate lots of seafood, and met lots of interesting people at the multiple hostels I stayed at. I had such an incredible and unique experience exploring Costa Rica!

Isle de Tortuga, Costa Rica

One of my favorite days was when I went on a Guachepelin Adventure which included tubing down the Rio Negro River with class III rapids, zip lining and rappelling through the Rio Blanco Canyon, a horse back riding adventure where a girl was flung into barb wire, and then finished the day relaxing in volcano-heated thermal waters, steam, and a mud bath at the Rio Negro Hot Springs after eating a delicious lunch at the Hacienda Guachipelin Restaurant!

Meanwhile, Australia was experiencing brush fires that were ravaging the country; Trump ordered the killing of Qasem Solemani which almost erupted in World War 3 (01/03); Prince Harry and Megan Markle stepped down as Senior Royals on 01/08; a Ukrainian plane was struck by an Iranian missile killing 176 passengers and crew (01/08); the first case of COVID-19 in the USA was discovered on 01/20; Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi along with several others were killed in a helicopter crash on 01/26; and the UK withdrew from the EU on 01/31. Whew!

Fortunately, the worst that happened to me in January was leaving all of my carry on items on my flight from Liberia, Costa Rica to Miami due to helping another passenger with their luggage and wasn’t allowed to get back to the plane to get my belongings due to U.S. Customs. Therefore I had to spend the night in the Miami Airport in a hard fought battle to get my suitcase back, but failed to get the hat I bought in Costa Rica back. Oh well…

In February, I worked a whopping 37 flights and traveled to several cities across the USA, including Charlotte, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Buffalo, Newark, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Ft. Myers, Tampa, Hartford, Washington D.C., Miami, Denver, Atlanta, New York, and Austin. Highlights included having Alicia Keys on one of my flights and I attended one of my best friend Tori’s Bachelor party in New Orleans at the end of the month! Little did I know at the time the magnitude of how much a deadly virus known as COVID-19, was spreading and beginning to cause the world to shut down.

Tori’s Bachelor party in New Orleans was very eventful… lots of heavy food, hurricane drinks, long nights out on Bourbon & Frenchmen Street, and even a swamp tour through 20,000 acres of cypress swamps on an air boat where we saw gators and had a very entertaining tour guide, who himself had been attacked by a gator before. I also got to visit my cousin Kara and her boyfriend Bo and their awesome son, Trey at a crawfish boil… if you have not been to an authentic crawfish boil in Louisiana, I highly recommend it! Little did I know, this would be my last social gathering for the year!

Meanwhile, in other news, Locusts swarmed across East Africa; Trump was impeached, but acquitted on 02/05; the first “recorded” death from COVID-19 in the USA was on 02/06; the Oscars continued on 02/09 with Parasite winning Best Picture while COVID deaths surpassed SARS on the same day; Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy amid hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits, suspending those claims on 02/18; the first major coronavirus outbreak in Europe in Italy with 152 cases and three deaths occurred, which prompted emergency measures, locking down 10 towns in Lombardy on 02/23; and then Harvey Weinstein was finally found guilty of rape on 02/24! African American Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death after being chased down by two white men in Brunswick, Georgia on 02/25. So much happened in the months of January and February, I had a bad feeling that the year was not heading in a very positive direction, to say the least. I didn’t completely lose hope though, until March!

In March… I worked 19 flights and was stressed out of my mind as the world really started to shut down because of COVID-19. I had inquired about wearing face masks while working flights, but was not permitted to do so, as the CDC had not yet recommended the public to wear face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 as a way to preserve face masks for health care workers. I became very overwhelmed while working flights around the USA and Mexico, that I felt it was only a matter of time until I would get infected with the virus.

On March 8th, America registered 521 cases of COVID-19 with 21 deaths across 33 states, yet travel continued and no action was taken by the government to slow down the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, on March 9th, Italy announced it was locking down their entire country due to the spike in coronavirus COVID-19 cases with 10,040 cases and 630 deaths. Finally on March 11th, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the head of the World Health Organization, as 121,564 cases had been reported world wide resulting in 4,373 reported deaths. On the same day, the NBA suspended the basketball season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Since the NBA season was halted, everything else began to cancel. It wasn’t until March 13th when President Trump declared a national emergency. On that same day, Breonna Taylor was murdered by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky while she was at home sleeping and awoken by under cover police busting down her apartment door, which later led to national protests.

As the world began to gradually lock down due to the coronavirus COVID-19, flights continued to fly which meant I had to continue to fly as I increasingly became worried about my health and safety. On March 19th, the USA-Canada border was closed to non-essential travel and California began stay at home orders with 910 cases and counting spreading through the state. By March 23rd, the World Health Organization reported that the virus was spreading more rapidly as the first 100,000 cases took 67 days, the second 100,000 cases took 11 days and the third 100,000 cases took just 4 days. By March 26th, American cases of COVID-19 exceeded all other countries, with 81,578 cases and 1,180 deaths. The next day, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package was signed into law.

My “PPE” working in March. No, I didn’t actually wear a trash bag over my head while working, but wanted to since I wasn’t allowed to wear a face mask.

Sure enough, on March 29th, the inevitable happened as I began symptoms while on a layover in Miami… the same day disease expert Anthony Fauci warned 100,000 to 200,000 people could die from COVID-19 in the USA. I started struggling to breathe, experienced severe migraines, had hot flashes, and became very achey and fatigue. At the time, I feared the worst but hoped I was just being a hypochondriac. These symptoms though would worsen and go on to last for the next 6 months on and off … which explains why I didn’t work flights in April, May or June. I had to call out sick for multiple flights in April before I was cleared for the “Pandemic Leave” that my job was offering for two weeks of paid leave which covered me for the remainder of April.

Fighting COVID while being in isolation at home in Chicago made for an extremely tough April, little did I know, things weren’t going to get any better just yet.

On April 1st, not only was Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War II, but Trump said the US Strategic National Stockpile was almost depleted amid widespread shortages of medical equipment to fight COVID-19. By April 2nd, the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed one million world wide including 51,485 deaths, all while Brazil’s President downplayed the virus by saying “it’s not all it’s made out to be”, a similar sentiment as that of Trump. On April 3rd, US aircraft carrier captain Brett Crozier was cheered off his ship after being fired for a letter demanding more help for his sailors infected with COVID-19. Every single day in April, life around the world just seemed to deteriorate day by day as I personally battled the virus. It was a very challenging month for me in particular as I had zero in person interaction with anybody and continued to struggle breathing day in and day out with no medical assistance aside from an inhaler, Olbas Oil, and Tylenol.

As my trouble breathing became worse and worse, I finally couldn’t take it anymore and went to Northwestern Medicine Emergency Room with hopes of getting tested for the virus so that way I could get excused from work and not have to keep burning up my sick hours at work. In doing so, I not only was denied a test due to having no previous health conditions and not being over the age of 65, but I was then billed a hefty Emergency Room bill since Northwestern Medicine refused to code my bill as COVID related since I technically didn’t get tested, but I did get diagnosed by the doctor as being COVID positive due to my symptoms and vitals. I would go on to fight that bill hanging over my head for the next 6 months in fear it would be sent to collections.

By April 23rd, Trump unbelievably and foolishly suggested injecting bleach into the human body as a way to fight the virus. Meanwhile, the USA’s case count surpassed one million on April 28th and reached 58,365, surpassing the amount of US soldiers killed during the Vietnam War. As soon as I thought the situation couldn’t get worse in the US, sadly I was very wrong. With failed leadership and no end to the virus in sight, I feared for my future. My health took a steep decline and the airline industry began to drastically take a financial hit, putting my job on the line.

On May 1st, armed protestors against stay-at-home orders gathered at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan as Governor Gretchen Whitmer reinstated a State of Emergency. Trump called the protestors very good people through tweeting, further encouraging the protests. On May 4th, world leaders pledged $8 billion to research treatments and a vaccine for coronavirus, with the exception of the US and Russia. Meanwhile, on May 5th, global confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 3.65 million, while US cases surpassed 70,000 cases.

Fast forward to May 25th, a man by the name of George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis by police officers kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This tragedy wasn’t shocking, but the video footage of him being murdered was beyond horrific and sent shockwaves around the world. Protests erupted everywhere and although I felt like I was being dragged into hell by the lingering symptoms of COVID-19, I couldn’t just sit in silence and knew the right thing to do was to join in the fight for human rights and equality. I felt very angry, yet very motivated to get up, put on my face mask, and join in the peaceful protests and marches that occurred here in Chicago.

I marched for hours upon hours, days upon days, weeks upon weeks… alongside fellow Chicagoans, to do whatever I could to do what was right, not just for George Floyd, but for the many other Americans like Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and the list of names sadly goes on and on. On a more positive note, I had never been so uplifted and inspired by the millions of people across the world that stood up for what was right and who joined each other in demanding law enforcement accountability, human rights, racial justice, and a much, much need for complete societal change.

On June 1st, Trump threatened to employ the military to quell protests across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, then walked with staff to St. John’s Church to pose for a photo, resulting in having armed forces tear gas and beat protestors in the street. On June 3rd, former Defense Secretary James Mattis says in The Atlantic: “Donald Trump is the first President in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tried to divide us.”

By June 10th, statues of Confederate figures and explorers became the focus of protests, with many removed including of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and of Christopher Columbus, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. By June 18th, global coronavirus cases surpassed 8,421,357 with a death toll of 451,118 according to Johns Hopkins figures. Despite the global pandemic ravaging the US, Trump held a re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20th. One of his many super spreader events. By June 23rd, COVID-19 cases rose sharply again in America with the 3rd highest daily total of more than 35,000.

On June 25th, I was interviewed by NBC News’ Regina Waldrup in Chicago in regards to my horrific experience fighting medical bills that I incurred when I attempted to get tested for COVID-19. I still haven’t been reimbursed for the $108 portion of the $915.44 bill that I paid, when 100% of COVID-19 screenings and testings should have been covered by my health insurance through my job, but Northwestern Medicine has failed to return my money that I paid to them. Since being featured on NBC News, I have been contacted by several journalists and producers to share my story and am so beyond grateful that we have so many news outlets in the USA to hold failed systems accountable, like our failed health care system.

I briefly began to feel a little better in July, which is when I flew back to Southern California to celebrate my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary with my family at a vacation home on the Newport Beach peninsula. I hadn’t seen my family in 6 months and after battling COVID, I felt I really needed to see my family. Spending time with my family was exactly what I needed after going through such a scary experience with COVID and feeling like my life was being gradually destroyed by what the virus was doing to my body. Luckily, we had a great time getting to spend quality time with each other and soaking up the sun on the beach and in the water! After the week celebrating my parent’s wedding anniversary, I returned to Chicago since I was scheduled to work 31 flights that month. 

Working in July was very challenging! On July 1st alone, the US confirmed more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day for the first time. On July 7th, Texas recorded more than 10,000 daily cases of COVID-19 for the first time, a time when I had to fly in and out of Texas 4 different times. I carried a pulse oximeter with me everywhere I flew as I continued to have trouble breathing, especially while in the air. I worked a lot on practicing breathing techniques and just tried my best to stay calm. I was terrified to be around people again, but at least I was permitted to wear a face mask and everyone was forced to wear one in order to fly which helped me feel much better protected than I felt back in March. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the month if it wasn’t for ASPIRE healthy energy, providing me all of the vitamins and nutrients my body needs to get me through each flight that I have to work. By July 23rd, US confirmed cases of COVID-19 passed 4 million with the death toll over 143,000. Real number of cases was likely up to 13x higher according to the CDC.

On July 15th, I received a letter warning me that I would most likely be getting furloughed when the Payroll Support Program was set to expire on October 1st. The stress of knowing my future well being was in the hands of politicians, I had a bad feeling that I would most likely be out of work for a while, which was a lot to cope with mentally, all while I was still struggling to recover physically from the residual affects of COVID-19 and still having to battle medical bills with Northwestern Medicine.

August was a slower month for work as the virus continued to spread rapidly, but I did have to go to Dallas for a two day continued qualification training. Global COVID-19 cases passed 20 million. The first 10 million took 6 months, the 2nd 10 million took just 43 days.

I did everything I could possibly do to stay safe. On every single flight I had to report passengers who failed to follow our mandated face mask policy. I at least had the pleasure of working flights to and from Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I got to spend 27 hours hiking, swimming, relaxing in the hot tub, and ate a delicious steak dinner. It was my first time in Wyoming and it was absolutely stunning! Later in the month, I flew to Bozeman, Montana (also a first experience), where I got my first engine photo (sitting in the engine) and got stuck in Bozeman for 6 hours due to a mechanical delay!

I continued having trouble breathing, mostly at night when I would lay down, but I felt my breathing problems were overall not really getting any better, even though I so badly wanted to be able to breathe without having to gasp for air. I was recommended to see an acupuncturist who I began seeing towards the end of August. I went to Division Chiropractic & Acupuncture in Chicago for 5 weeks and gradually started breathing better, thank heavens!

In some more positive news, Joe Biden was formally nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate during the second night of their 1st ever virtual convention on August 18th. In some not so positive news, the same day California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as 27 fires burned across the state amid a continuing heat wave.

On August 20th, Kamala Harris accepted her nomination for vice-president, becoming the 1st US woman of color on a major-party ticket saying “there is no vaccine for racism”. Unfortunately, on August 23rd the US Republican Party began by formally renominating Trump for a second presidential term. On the same day, US black man Jacob Blake was wrongfully shot and injured by police in front of his children in Kenosha, Wisconsin, prompting more protests.

By August 31st, US cases of COVID-19 passed 6 million with 183,300 deaths with California and Florida recording the most.

Once September rolled around, I knew it would be my last month flying for a while unless Congress could come to an agreement on a second COVID-19 relief bill, which I wasn’t going to hold my breath for. I flew 16 flights, visited home for my mom’s birthday, and tried to make the best of my last days of work! Meanwhile, wildfires had burned a record 2 million acres in California’s 2020 fire season by September 7th, more than the state of Delaware. California’s August Complex wildfire became the largest recorded in state history at 471,000 acres. By September 14th, the WHO reported the largest-ever one day COVID-19 case rise of 307,930, daily death toll of 5,500, and an overall death toll of 917,417. On September 22, America’s death toll passed 200,000, more than any other country. On September 23rd, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the US November election at a White House press conference.

Getting furloughed from my job was bitter sweet as I needed some time to fully recover from COVID and get away from the virus, but I also was concerned about being able to survive financially as I had no idea how long I would be furloughed for.

In early October, I flew back home to California to vote for the Presidential election (Biden/Harris of course). I spent weeks studying all of the different voting measures and researched all of the different candidates for both local elections and of course the national election. After having experienced the majority of 2020, never in my life did I feel so motivated and empowered to vote. With that said, never in my life has so much been at stake in a presidential election. This election, literally was the difference between life and death for me. Voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris gave me so much hope and excitement for living a better life for everyone, starting January 20, 2021! Although I feared Trump would do anything and everything to rig the election by way of voter suppression, I held onto faith that the majority of American people would do anything and everything to end the disastrous and failed leadership run by Trump.

On October 8th, the FBI charged 13 men with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmore and storm the Michigan Capitol, an event Trump had incited.

In positive news, the LA Lakers beat the Miami Heat in the NBA finals, the perfect way to honor the life of Kobe Bryant.

On October 17th, Chicago was declared the “rattiest city” in America for the sixth year in a row by pest control service Orkin, a declaration I was less than thrilled about, to say the least! Although I have seen rats running around the city from time to time, I have never seen one in my apartment or building, thank heavens!

Once I returned back to my place in Chicago, I went on a road trip to the beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Never had I been to Door County before, but I was so excited to get out of the city, away from people and into nature where I could get a breath of fresh air and witness true fall colors. I went with James who booked a cottage on Sturgeon Bay, where we went hiking in Potawatomi State Park, played lots of Pickle Ball at the Bay Shore Inn next door, went to a few apple orchards, had an enjoyable experience wine tasting at Door 44 Winery, and had the pleasure of being able to easily avoid other people! The getaway was exactly what I needed to escape my worries, even if just for a few days!

While enjoying my time on Sturgeon Bay, I excitedly watched the LA Dodgers win the World Series for the first time in my lifetime. The last time the Dodgers won, was less than month before I was born! Ironically, the last time the LA Lakers and LA Dodgers won in the same year, was also in 1988, my birth year!

After my mini getaway to Door County, I had to turn in my work badge/ID credentials by the 31st to officially, but temporarily, cut ties with the company. Once November arrived, the highly anticipated Presidential Election was by far the biggest news. I couldn’t sleep at night leading up to the election on November 3rd, as I was so anxious due to its significance and how it would impact my life in so many different ways. After days of ballot counting, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were officially named the United States President-Elect and Vice President-Elect, respectively, on November 7th, and I was so beyond relieved and elated, I charged the streets of Chicago! While safely celebrating, I ran into CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, the journalist who was wrongfully arrested while covering the protests in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s murder was shown on social media/TV. It was an honor meeting a journalist who makes the sacrifice of his personal safety and well being in order to share what’s going on out on the ground and in the streets!


On November 8th, global recorded cases of COVID-19 passed 50 million, with the known death toll at 1,245,240 according to John Hopkins data. On the same day, the election was officially called and Kamala Harris made US history as the 1st woman and 1st woman of color to be elected to the vice presidency, giving me lots of hope for a better future! It also happened to be the same day Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani held his infamous Trump Campaign press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia to contest the US election results. Meanwhile, on November 9th, the US recorded COVID-19 cases passed 10 million, with 1 million new cases recorded in 10 days, and a death toll over 237,000. Fortunately, drugmakers BioNTech and Pfizer announced their COVID-19 vaccine to be over 90% effective in a first look at the results from their phase 3 trial involving nearly 44,000 people. By November 14th though, a record global daily total of 660,905 COVID-19 cases was declared to the WHO, with total known infections over 54 million.

On November 15th, Trump tweeted “(Biden) won because the election was rigged,” while still refusing to concede the election, which only fueled Trump’s delusional fan base. In better news, on November 16th US drugmaker Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in early data.

On November 18th, I turned 32 years old and enjoyed celebrating the day safely at home with James, in Chicago! I was treated to a Jamba Juice smoothie in the morning along with a Cinnabon cinnamon roll! Afterwards, we walked a couple of miles to play Pickle Ball in Lake Shore Park, followed by a polar plunge in Lake Michigan at Ohio Street Beach! Every year on my birthday I like to do something that makes my adrenaline rush, and due to COVID my options were limited, so I hopped in the freezing cold lake! After walking home and taking a warm shower, we relaxed at my place before walking to Fulton Market District where we enjoyed a delicious dinner in a private green house at The Publican Restaurant, where we ate frites with garlic aioli, pork and dumplings with fennel and salsa verde, wild striped bass with red kuri squash, basque pine nut relish & endive, and lastly, country rib with cabbage, coquelicot spice, bosc pear, & pistachio. It was the BEST dinner and I felt extremely lucky to be able to enjoy my birthday during an otherwise challenging time.

Unfortunately, on my birthday the US COVID-19 death toll passed 250,000, recorded cases at 11.5 million, hospitalizations at 76,830 amid a country-wide surge.

Just a couple of days after my birthday, I put on three face masks, a face shield, and equipped myself with lots of hand sanitizing wipes and hopped on a flight home to Southern California to spend a week with my family since my grandma wasn’t doing well in her 5 year battle with cancer and my mom had the week off from work for Thanksgiving. I was hesitant about flying home, but made sure I took every possible safety precaution and felt confident in my safety as I had my own Exit Row on a rather empty flight from Chicago to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

I’m so grateful I was able to see my grandma one last time before she passed away at home in bed on Thanksgiving Day. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch my grandma pass away, as she has been such a major part of my life ever since she held me in her arms in the hospital room on the day I was born. My grandma was always present throughout my entire life, attended many of my school events, sporting events, and we always enjoyed eating brunch together on the patio of Schooner or Later. She has always been a rock in our family and has always played an active role in getting our extended family together for the holidays. I will forever cherish all of the love and support my grandma provided me and will forever hold onto the endless memories shared with her throughout my 32 years of life. I love and miss you, Nana!

After Thanksgiving, I had to get back to Chicago as I had my first ever flying lesson scheduled in Chicago out of Chicago Executive Airport, on December 2, 2020! James had gifted me the experience for my birthday, a gift I will forever be so beyond grateful for. I rented a Camaro convertible from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (former employer), picked James up, and headed to Wheeling, IL where the Chicago Executive Airport is located. There, I met my flight instructor, Jordan, who was super personable, professional, and made me feel at ease flying a plane for my first time! We jetted off in the late afternoon and flew along Lake Michigan to Downtown Chicago during sunset and it was the most incredible experience! I would love to continue to learn how to fly, but just have to figure out the finances first!

I spent my down time in December trying to improve my health by working out and relaxing at home. Meanwhile, on December 2nd, US Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, despite the continuous claims made by Trump. That same day, the US recorded its largest daily death toll for COVID-19 at 2,885 and for the first time patient numbers in the hospital exceeded 100,000. On December 7th, most of California began a second lockdown as hospitals came under strain and the state recorded an average of 21,000 COVID-19 cases per day. Luckily, by December 11th, America’s FDA authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. On December 14th, American began its first COVID-19 vaccinations using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on the same day it records over 300,000 deaths. On that same day, the US Electoral College votes 306-232 to officially affirm Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, despite Trump continuing to lie to his base that the election was stolen while simultaneously Attorney General William Barr resigned.

I nervously flew back to California for my grandma’s burial on December 16th. I spent almost a week at home playing pickle ball with my family, taking my mom’s fitness classes, babysitting my niece, going on walks to see Christmas decorations, and just making the most of my time home.

We were planning as a family to go to Big Bear Lake in the mountains for a week leading up to Christmas, but due to COVID-19, our plans were squashed as our reservations got canceled. I had planned a week of outdoor activities with the family, but since our accommodations got canceled, I instead took my mom to Big Bear for a day to surprise her with a helicopter tour over the lake and surrounding mountains. It was such an awesome experience and I’m so happy I got to have that experience with my mom!

Since our plans to spend the rest of the week in Big Bear were cancelled, I decided to help my cousin Krista who was planning to move by herself from Denver to Charleston driving a U-Haul about 1,800 miles. My family and I didn’t want her driving all that way in a U-Haul by herself, so I hopped on a couple flights to Denver, packed up a U-Haul truck, and spent a couple days straight driving through Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and finally South Carolina to Charleston, where my cousin bought a house on John’s Island. It was an exhausting adventure, but we made it!

During the drive, we had to pull over in Knoxville, Tennessee where I did a ZOOM interview with CBS This Morning News. A producer had seen an article that was written about my COVID experience and urging Congress to pass a COVID relief bill to help everyone in need and to in turn stimulate the economy. Never did I ever think I’d make my national news debut while sitting in a U-Haul in Tennessee!

I flew back to LA on Christmas Eve, but due to COVID concerns, I stayed masked up and wore a face shield when around my family and just spent Christmas Day at home before flying back to Chicago the following morning! Although I didn’t get to enjoy Christmas brunch with the family, we did play some socially distant pickle ball later in the day and it felt nice getting some exercise!

Upon returning to Chicago, I started shopping for New Years Eve decorations! Although I couldn’t go out and do anything to ring in the new year, I wanted to make it the best possible at home celebration as I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a year to end!

As 2020 concludes, I have never been so relieved. I have come to terms this year with the reality of life and at the end of the day, none of us know why we are here, what our purpose really is, and why we are faced with the challenges that come before us. I have learned to really treasure every second of every day, make the best of every moment we have to experience, and do what we can to spread love, joy, and be there for each other. I’m hopeful for a better future, although I realize there will continue to always be many hurdles to overcome. The day I currently look forward to most, is January 20, 2021. I hope we can come together not only as a country, but as a world, to overcome hate, division, and the demons within the people who try to destroy our democracy and our lives.

Good riddance 2020 and cheers to 2021!

2019 In Review

This year has flown by… quite literally, as I have flown 330 flights, 366,549 miles through 59 airports in 13 countries… which is good for 14.72 times around the world and 1.545 times to the moon! I departed from 2018 by celebrating the arrival of 2019 in Chicago with friends at a Gatsby themed party!

My very first flight of 2019 was ironically to Los Angeles… where I’m from! I had a feeling it was going to be a great year, and a great year it was indeed! January flew by as I worked 31 flights!

I started to get a little worn out from returning home to negative temperatures, especially at the end of January when temps were nearing -50… so in February, I set out for new experiences in New Zealand and Australia where it was summer time, to visit places in each country that I had not been to before… such as the South Island of New Zealand and Melbourne in Australia, and I’m sure glad that I did!!

I flew into Auckland where I had celebrated my birthday just a couple of months prior. I stayed for a couple of days with a couple of friends who live in the city! Then I flew to Wellington where I stayed in a hostel for a few days and visited the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and experienced the fascinating Gallipoli exhibit, I hiked Mount Victoria for beautiful sunset views of the city, explored the Wellington Botanic Garden, hiked to the top of the cable car, went to the historic Wellington burial ground and Bolton Street Cemetery, walked around Oriental Bay, and pretty much toured the entire city on my own by foot! Then, I flew down to Queenstown, which was arguably one of the most beautiful flights in reference to the spectacular views from my window seat!

Queenstown just might be my favorite place in not only New Zealand, but the world, as it is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been to, full of nature and outdoor adventure! I did lots of hiking, took a cable car up to the “Skyline Luge” where I tobogganed down the mountain, I went on a pub crawl which included an ice bar, took a bus tour to Milford Sound where I went on a boat cruise and took in the absolutely breathtaking and stunning, serene views of waterfalls and mountains surrounding the lake. Lastly, I did the thrilling and daring Nevis Swing, upside down, which was absolutely terrifying as I swung 300 meters across the Nevis canyon hanging upside down attached to cables. It was so exhilarating and I was so, so happy when I finally was brought back up to solid ground after they very slowly reeled me back up… which I feel like was worse than the actual drop!

In Melbourne, I reunited with my mate Peter, whose wedding I attended in 2018 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Peter took me on a walking tour of the city and we saw some awesome art graffiti throughout the city, went to St. Kilda Beach where we had lunch and walked around the town. We had drinks at the end of the pier where penguins migrate everyday at sunset! I also did a full day tour all along the Great Ocean Road to the “12 Apostles”, which was an incredible experience!!

I reunited with my mate Nejc, who played volleyball at the University of Hawaii when I went to school there my freshmen year of college. He and his girlfriend met up with me at the Brighton Beach Bath Houses and then we met up for a beer in Albert Park another day too! It was great seeing him and catching up!

I had an extraordinary experience in Melbourne reuniting with friends and making some new friends along the way! My favorite city in Australia though remains to be Sydney, where I went to for a night in order to fly back home the following day.

After I returned from my three week vacation, I had to get back to work and traveled to Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and back fo Cuba on my first trip back to bring me into March! I got to meet up with my friends Brooke & Gabi while I spent all three nights of the trip in Miami!

I made it home to Chicago for my first St. Patrick’s Day weekend home where the river is dyed fluorescent green! I had a great weekend celebrating the Irish, meeting new people, and making new friends!

Later in the Spring, I was able to go home for Easter, attend my sister Nikki’s baby shower, spend Mother’s Day with my mom and grandma, cheered on one of my best friends Nick’s Long Beach State 49ers win their second consecutive National Championship in Men’s Volleyball, and at the end of May, I met some family in Oklahoma City for the spreading of my Uncle Scot’s ashes on the site of the race track where he won his first national championship in BMX!

Soon after, came summer time! I thoroughly enjoyed my rooftop pool in Chicago and the perfect weather!! All summer long in Chicago there are so many fun events every single day that you never run out of things to do! I frequent the many food festivals (sometimes several different ones in the same day), weekly music festivals, movies in the park, runs along the lake, walks through the Lincoln Park Zoo, etc!

The absolute best day was when my first niece, Gigi Simone Yerelian, was born on June 15, 2019 and has been a pure joy for us all! Her first words were “Funcle Troy” and she is beyond precious! She loves to touch my beard, tug on my fingers, and bury her face into my shoulder and chest! She is definitely a keeper!

In July, I went on work trips to Barcelona, where I studied abroad back in 2010, and also went to Paris! Being back in Barcelona was very nostalgic! Memories came flooding back and I continue to miss living there very much! I walked over 20 miles all over the city to my old apartment building, strolled down Passeig de Garcia, walked through Las Ramblas to the Port of Barcelona and all the way to la playa!

Paris wasn’t too bad either as my hotel was about 50 feet from the Eiffel Tower! Over looking the tower at night from my balcony and seeing it all lit up was pretty cool! I also walked about 20 miles in Paris as I strolled to the Arc di Triomph, the Louvre, and was blown away by all of the work they are doing to restore the Notre Dame Cathedral! I enjoyed exploring all over Paris, but was completely drained afterwards!

Soon came August and I worked flights all over the USA and went to London three times! London has been the international destination that I have worked flights to the most and each time it feels more and more like a second home! I always stay in South Kensington next to the Gloucester Road tube station that has been my gateway to exploring the city! I tend to gravitate to strolling along River Thames and making pit stops along the way to all of the adjacent neighborhoods! I usually make a visit to Buckingham Palace in hopes of bumping into some royal… but no luck yet!

With that said, I kicked off September in London and finished the month off in London too! In between work trips though, I took off for Vegas on September 19th where I met with my mom and sister, Mandy, to celebrate my mom’s 65th birthday that was on the 20th! I know… I can’t believe she is 65, when she looks like she is younger than me!

On my mom’s birthday, we spent the beautiful day by the pool at Treasure Island Resort and then went next door to the Bellagio for an incredible buffet dinner followed by Cirque du Soleil’s fascinating and awesome Beatle’s LOVE show!

We thoroughly enjoyed the show and then strolled the strip afterwards with a nightcap at New York New York where my mom won some birthday money at the roulette table and then we celebrated by riding the front row of the Big Apple Rollercoaster! We had a blast, but couldn’t stay up too late as we planned to set out for Zion National Park the next morning!

When we arrived to our hotel just outside the gates of Zion National Park, we had to quickly run over to our appointment with the Zion Adventure Company where my mom booked a “Canyoneering” adventure, of course! And an adventure it was, as we hiked up a canyon and rappelled down! Our guide, Mike, was awesome and helped us calm our nerves a bit. We survived and finished the day with a swim in the hotel pool followed by a hot tub session and dinner at Bit & Spur Restaurant & Saloon!

The next morning, we headed to ANGEL’S LANDING before the crack of dawn and little did we know until the bus ride to the hike, it is one of the world’s most renowned hikes and is dubbed as the scariest hike in America! Angel’s Landing is a 1,488 foot tall rock formation and a trail was cut into the solid rock in 1926, which leads to the top of Angel’s Landing with unparalleled views of Zion National Park! The views of Zion Canyon’s 270 million year old rock layers time travel you back to the Triassic period when this section of the Colorado Plateu was a flat basin at sea level. Since 2004, 10 people have died from falling while hiking the trail, with the most recent fatality being in November of 2019(!).

“Most of the trail is uphill on the way up to Angels Landing. As the trail gets steeper and leaves behind the river, it becomes paved. After a series of steep switchbacks, the trail goes through the area between Angels Landing and the Zion Canyon that is a gradual ascent. Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks, are the last hurdle before Scout Lookout, which is generally the turnaround point for those who are unwilling to make the final summit push to the top of Angels Landing.”

I was ready to turn around when I saw the dangerous terrain up Scout Lookout, but my mom was determined to make it to the top, and I couldn’t let my mom and sister go all the way without me! So I very hesitantly continued along the very narrow, slippery, heart thumping trail!

“The last half-mile of the trail is strenuous and lined with numerous sharp drop offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,790 feet (1,760 m).”

The last half mile was my worst nightmare and I almost slipped to my death numerous times thanks to wearing old running shoes with no traction on the bottom of them! Luckily for me, we all survived, and conquered Angel’s Landing. I will never do it again, but for those of you daring enough, it did make me feel a great sense of accomplishment and I’m forever changed after having done it! I really, really, really am grateful for the ground and will never take it for granted again!

After surviving my mom’s birthday celebration, I returned back to Chicago and got back to work! In October, I worked 41 flights and even snuck in a quick road trip to Wisconsin where I experienced my first apple orchard, a cheese castle, explored all of Milwaukee and enjoyed a couple of brewery tours, including Pabst, where I learned a lot of interesting history!

Then, my birthday month arrived (November) and I contemplated for a while on how to celebrate turning 31… after all, it’s just another reminder that I’m no longer in my 20’s! I have made it a tradition though to try and get as many days off from work as possible around my birthday so I can go somewhere new and exciting to help keep my life interesting and adventurous! This year, I was able to get 10 days off. When I woke up on the first of my 10 days off, I decided to fly to Atlanta in order to try to get on the only flight from the USA to SOUTH AFRICA!

I nervously awaited my fate and right before they closed the boarding door to the aircraft, my name was called and there was no turning back! I nervously hopped on the Delta flight and off to Johannesburg, South Africa I went!

I arrived to “Joburg” in the late afternoon and Ubered to my hostel, which I was not aware, was located in a quite dangerous area! I spent two nights in Johannesburg and went on a full day city tour which included going to the top of Africa’s tallest building, visited Constitution Hill where Nelson Mandela spent time jailed during his hearings, toured the very moving Apartheid Museum, stopped by the National Football (soccer) Stadium City, the Stadium that hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup, visited Nelson Mandela’s house as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s house in Orlando West, Soweto; took a tour of the Hector Pieterson Museum, and lastly, got a private tour of a township, which is a shanty town where you can find very awful living conditions for the poor.

In the evening, I got picked up from the cousin of the husband of a girl I went to high school with, who saw on Facebook that I was going to Johannesburg. Long story short, this man was kind enough to show me to all of the nice parts of Johannesburg and at sunset took me to the very top of a mountain over looking the entire city! It was incredible! After, we had a very delicious dinner and then I went to bed since I had a day of traveling to Cape Town ahead of me!

I made it to Cape Town in the afternoon, Ubered to my hostel, and then explored around the city thanks to my hostel being located in one of the best neighborhoods in the city, Green Point! I loved everything about Cape Town and was so blown away by the city’s natural beauty. From African penguins frolicking all over the pristine beaches to hang gliders soaring overhead to intense hiking over looking the city landscape, and beautiful “wine farms” just outside the city in Stellenbosch.

For my first dinner in Cape Town, I ate in the hostel’s restaurant which served up “Braai” every Wednesday night! “Braai” is South African BBQ food and came with sausage, steak, corn on the cob, coleslaw, and some sort of mash with a slice of toasted garlic bread… it was delicious!

While in Cape Town, I met so many friendly and gracious people who were beyond hospitable and welcoming to me. I honestly don’t think I have been somewhere where everyone has been so inviting and genuinely nice. It truly was so refreshing to be somewhere full of so many kind people, especially after South Africans have been through a pretty tumultuous recent history of apartheid. I know a couple of past political prisoners I met on Robben Island just feel so grateful that things in South Africa have slowly but surely been improving, thanks to all of the hard ground work of Nelson Mandela and his comrades, who really set the tone for this new culture and way of life.

After having the best ever 10 days spent in South Africa, I had to fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg to London to Chicago, all at once, in order to make it home in time to work 6 days in a row. In the span of a week, I flew 19 flights across 21,568 miles through 12 airports in a total of 4 countries. I was exhausted by the time I made it home for Thanksgiving, but still managed to run the Long Beach Turkey Trot with the fam!

I celebrated Christmas with the family in Long Beach for my niece’s first Christmas and hope you all a very happy holiday season and wish you all a happy new year in 2020! Peace, love, and CHEERS!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2018!

2018 was one for the record books! It was my GOLDEN birth year (just made this up) as I turned 30 on the 18th of November in 2018! The year started out slow as I got strep throat from a jam packed holiday season in 2017… but quickly turned into one of, if not the best, year of my life! After spending the first week of the new year in bed… I kicked off my first flight of 2018 to Pittsburgh, where my dad was born, on my way to Orlando where I spent my first “layover” of the new year under the warm Florida sun! In a matter of no time, I spent many nights away from home in countless cities and countries around the world! I even visited four new countries this year, bringing my total to 32!  

One of my highlight domestic layovers was in Baltimore, where I reunited with my best friend from when I lived in Hawaii, who I hadn’t seen in 10 years! I met Sergio when we worked together at Abercrombie & Fitch at the Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu. No, I wasn’t the guy hired to stand in front of the store with his shirt off… but Sergio was and I’ll never forget him trying to teach me how to twist my torso on our nightly runs along Waikiki Beach in my efforts to get a six pack! That is probably the best shape I ever was in! 

Originally from New York, Sergio moved to the DC area after spending time in combat with the US Air Force. He drove over to Baltimore to pick me up from my hotel and we had the most incredible dinner at a local seafood restaurant… I can still taste the lobster and crab!

In March, one of my best friend’s who I met in a hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina back in 2014 during my 3 month South American exploration during the World Cup, invited me to his extravagant wedding in Hanoi, Vietnam! He is from Melbourne,  Australia, but moved to Vietnam shortly after our month traveling together, to work for the Australian Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City! There, he met the love of his life and after 3-4 years of dating, tied the Ngoc! (knot, but his wife’s name is pronounced nop) 😉

My experience traveling through Vietnam to celebrate Peter and Ngoc’s wedding was MIND BLOWING! Never had I ever had such an enriched cultural experience and will forever cherish the memories made that will last a lifetime! 

Ngoc’s family was beyond hospitable and put me up in one of their family hotels for 10 days, where they fed me home cooked meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (including dog), every single day! Other dishes I was served included but not limited to, snail noodle soup (first breakfast), pigeon head, cow udder, blood pudding, vegetable spring rolls, lots of seafood, beef, duck, and chicken! I was spoiled with tours of the city by the family and even was paraded through town while sitting in a Vietnamese Xich Lo (pronounced Sik-lo) the morning of the wedding day, which is a contemporary practice to feature the “happy days” of marriage couples. “It is exciting, jolly and a strangely unique wedding ceremony to recall the old days of plain and lovely memories. They want to harmonize the dynamism of modern society and the sincere, peaceful life of the old days.”

To give Peter some time with his family once they arrived to Hanoi, I went on a bit of a daring getaway with my British mate, Max, who I happened to have met the day before I had met Peter in our hostel in Buenos Aires. Believe it or not, Max is even more of a ballsy world traveler than I am. He influenced me to take a leap of faith and hop on this rather rickety and doddering bus to set off on a roughly three hour wild ride to Ninh Binh, which is a stunning and exotic town/province southeast of Hanoi and is the place to go if you want to “take the road less traveled” and take in the most unspoilt parts of Vietnam. 

Once we made it to Ninh Binh, we had to get off the bus and flag down a taxi to take us to the hotel we booked online. Leave it to us, to book the most secluded and lush bungalow hotel. So of course, our cab driver got miserably lost and what was suppose to be a 10  minute drive, took over an hour! I thought we were being kidnapped, especially when we drove into a dodgy town off the beaten road and then stopped while the driver tried making some phone calls and then had to ask a few locals for directions.

The Emeralda Ninh Binh Resort though was worth the wait as it sits on the edge of the Van Long Nature Reserve, a primeval tropical forest. The drive to the hotel took us through a picturesque landscape of wetlands with caves and hot springs, and the towering mountains of Non Nuoc and Canh Dieu nearby. We only stayed for 24 hours… but hesitantly rented motor bikes for the entire duration of our stay and the next morning rode them across miles and miles of fields and wetlands surrounded by the most astonishing mountains. We rode to Trang An and hopped on a canoe boat where we paddled vigorously through a dozen caves that were dominated by the large limestone karst peaks which create steep vertical cliffs covered in plants. It was a 3 hour boat ride where we stopped at several temples along the way and really enjoyed the serenity of the water and surrounding nature. 

Motor biking back to the resort, I never thought we would make it as I left the directions up to Max  and he insisted we go off the grid and take random dirt trails through farmland populated by pigs, horses, cows, and… wild dogs! At one point we were clearly lost on prohibited land, which was made clear when a local sent their dogs to attack Max, who was “leading the way”. I quickly tried turning the motor bike around on a narrow path surrounded by ponds on both sides… nearly crashing into the water, but managed to get turned around and take off in the opposite direction. Max somehow managed to escape without getting eaten alive, and we eventually made it back after much uncertainty.

When we eventually made it back to Hanoi alive, we met Peter’s two best friends from Australia and took Peter out on the town for a Bachelor party. It felt too similar to the Hangover II movie that was filmed in Thailand, but we all prevailed and the next morning we all were safe and sound… with no missing teeth or mysterious face tattoos! 

The wedding was the most spectacular production I have ever experienced. With over 300 guests in the courtyard of Ngoc’s grandparents hotel, which sits along the Red River, fireworks burst into the air as Peter & Ngoc exchanged vows and said I do! The wedding was not even 100 yards away from the famous Long Biên Bridge that was bombed in the Vietnam War… but to my relief, the grandparents showed no animosity when they were told I was an American and shared photos with me of places they have visited in the USA and told me through a translator that they love the states… at least according to the translator!

On my way home from Vietnam, I stopped in Narita, Japan! I’ve had the luxury of traveling to Narita for work before and am familiar with the city, so I went and meditated at the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which was built in the year 940 around its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. The temple grounds are beyond peaceful and beautiful. It was the perfect way to end the trip of a lifetime!

When I returned to Chicago, I went straight back to work before getting to go home at the beginning of April to celebrate Easter and my grandma’s 87th birthday with the family! Being back home in Long Beach always gives me the chance to recover from my travels and feel refreshed!

Shortly after my visit home, I was called upon to work multiple flights to Shanghai, China that really tested my patience as a flight attendant. It wasn’t until later I found out that my Chinese pronunciation of saying thank you to hundreds of passengers made it sound like I was telling them that I had to pee, which explains all of the strange looks I received in return! 

 

Nonetheless, Shanghai is such a fascinating, chaotic, and bustling city with one of the largest populations in the world. I’ve enjoyed my multiple visits to Shanghai over the past two years, but it seems I won’t be going back for a while since American Airlines is eliminating the Shanghai route from Chicago. Not too disappointed though as those flights are quite long, especially when given only 2 hours notice that is where I’m being assigned to fly to!

The month of May came around quickly, but I was ready to say farewell to the cold winter months in Chicago and bring on the warmth of the sun! Which means it was time for visitor season to begin!  After piling up work trips in the beginning of the month, I was excited to welcome my sister Mandy and grandmother, Nana, to town! It was my grandma’s first time really getting to explore the city and see where I live! Although the first night my grandma banged her leg on the end of my bed frame which created a deep wound and would have put most people on crutches… she was the warrior that she is and fought through the pain and found a way to enjoy her visit the best that she could! 

We toured the beautiful surrounding parks and visited the “bean”, indulged in mimosas on my rooftop overlooking the city and even hopped in the pool and hot tub! We ate at my favorite brunch spot (Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe), took the train to Wrigleyvilled and walked around Wrigley Field, went to Second City theatre for a late night show, stuffed ourselves with Deep Dish Pizza from my favorite spot Lou Malnati’s, took the elevator in the Hancock Building up 96 floors to the Signature Lounge, went on an architecture boat tour along the Chicago River and really had the best time getting to spend time together in my new home town!

Later in the month, my cousin Krista came to visit, where we partook in similar activities as I did with my grandma and sister, but luckily the Cubs were in town and we got to go to a game to celebrate Krista’s 29th birthday!  

Just a few days later, I had a work trip to New Orleans where I got to visit Krista’s sister and my cousin, Kara, along with her almost one year old baby at the time, Trey, and her boyfriend Bo! It was just a quick visit, but always have the best time visiting them, nonetheless! To finish the month, I got a work trip home to Orange County Airport and got to play a game of racquetball with my mom! She is still a force to be reckoned with and I’m pretty sure she beat me, per usual!

In June, I was assigned a work trip to Atlanta where I visited friends there who took me on a bike ride along the Atlanta Beltline! For those not familiar, the Beltline is a former railway corridor around the core of Atlanta! It has been redeveloped into one of the most comprehensive urban renewal efforts in the United States, repurposing 22 miles of unused railroad corridors into a network of parks and trails for bike riding, running, walking, skateboarding, etc., circling the core of the city’s in town neighborhoods! Many restaurants and bars and markets have been built along the trail, and we had a blast stopping by a few, including the Ponce City Market, which consists of many delicious dining spots, retail shops, art exhibits, and spectacular views of the Atlanta skyline! 

Later in the month, I worked a trip to London, handling the International Business Class Galley position for the first time! Thanks to an awesome crew, the flights were seamless and I had a great time going out in London with a couple crew mates! 

To kick off the heat of the summer in July, I worked a trip to DUBLIN, IRELAND for the first time and volunteered to take on the “Purser” position since the scheduled Purser called out and the flight attendant who replaced the Purser did not feel confident in working the role, so I stepped up and was gratefully recognized by upper management for doing so! I had a blast exploring the city by foot, visiting the Guinness Storehouse, having a pint in the Temple Bar District, visiting the Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library, and walking around the grounds of the Dublin Castle!  

Upon landing back in Chicago, my sister Mandy had so much fun in Chicago in May, she came back to celebrate the 4th of July with me! The next day, I got her a First Class seat on my working flight to Seattle, where we met up with our cousin Jaclyn and her husband Travis, to meet their newborn one month old baby, Emerson Mae! Our Aunt Debi and Uncle Chris were there too, which made for the perfect gathering on Lake Washington in O O Denny Beach Park!

When I returned from Seattle, I had a work trip to Tampa Bay, Florida where I reunited with an old Enterprise colleague, Chris, and his wife Tiffany! We had a delicious dinner at Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar! I  always have the best time with them and am grateful we have continued our friendship after both having quit working for Enterprise!

My summer in Chicago consisted of lots of beach volleyball, riding bikes around town, and running along the lake in preparation for the Chicago marathon! In the middle of July, I got to meet up with my pregnant cousin Dani (Jaclyn’s sister) and her husband Mike while they were in town for a wedding! That same day, my cousin Trent (brother of Krista and Kara) came to visit and we enjoyed going to the Taste of Chicago (slated as World’s Largest Food Festival) as well as rode bikes all over the city from Downtown along the lake through Lincoln Park on our way to see Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville, as well as attended the Chicago Burger Fest! Good thing Trent is Gluten Free, it made for a fun experience trying to search for Gluten Free foods at the multiple food festivals we went to! Although he couldn’t eat Deep Dish Pizza, I ate Gluten Free thin crust pizza with him so he wouldn’t feel left out! 

After Trent’s visit, it was back to work, where I got to visit Seattle again, and this time I was treated by Jaclyn, Travis, and Emerson Mae to the Seattle Aquarium and a delicious meal afterwards at Biscuit Bitch (a must eat in Seattle)! 

I finished the month of July with my first ever trip to SCOTLAND, where I explored both Glasgow and Edinburgh! The landscapes of Scotland are majestic with spectacular wildlife and the cities are both very green, yet are crammed with castles, ancient architecture, waterways, magnificent universities, exquisite museums, traditional foods, and hands down, some of the nicest, hospitable, down-to-earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting!

After Scotland, I kicked off the month of August with work trips to San Diego (where I got to reunite with two of my best college friends Hannah and Elyse), Omaha, Raleigh-Durham, Boston, Dallas, New York City, and then made it home to attend my best friend from high school’s wedding at Lago Vista Ranch in the desert south of Palm Springs!

Nick married his love Ashley where we celebrated all weekend long on the ranch enjoying the warm weather and beautiful scenery of the ranch and surrounding desert mountains! I loved getting to spend the little time I got with Nick, his wife Ashley, and his entire family! 

Once September rolled around, my awesome friend Geena and her volleyball partner came to visit for the annual AVP Beach Volleyball Championships in Chicago! They stayed their first night with me in preparation for their big tournament! I unfortunately couldn’t stick around the entire weekend, as I had to go on a work trip from Chicago to Dallas to Raleigh to Charlotte to Austin to LA and back to Chicago (over the course of three days)!

One of my favorite work trips in September was when I flew on the anniversary of 9/11 remembering my American Airlines family who were killed in the attacks. I fortunately had safe flights en route to Cancun where I enjoyed body surfing and eating Mexican food, and then to Nashville where I stayed close to all of the honky tonk bars along Broadway Street!

Later in the month, I flew home to Long Beach to surprise my mom on her birthday with flowers and a delicious dinner in Shoreline Village! We rode bikes along the Long Beach  bike path and had the best time laughing together at my dad’s obsession in guarding our bikes during dinner. 

When I flew back to Chicago, one of my best friend’s Tori and his fiancé Jamie came with me to spend the weekend visiting my stomping grounds! Tori treated me to the best steak dinner at Chicago Chop Steakhouse before we caught a theatre show at Second City!

A couple days later, my cousin’s Kara, Bo, and baby Trey came to visit for a week! I gave them my usual tour of the  city and even got to babysit Trey for my first solo time babysitting and changing diapers while Kara and Bo attended a wedding! The experience truly introduced me to parenthood and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend quality time with baby Trey! 

Before I knew it, OCTOBER arrived and it was time to run my first major marathon (second full marathon overall)! My mom and dad came to cheer me on in the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon! I finished in 4 hours and 30 minutes… and now I’m determined to beat 4 hours! Running the marathon was very exhilarating and gave me quite a sense of accomplishment! I was so grateful to have my parents there to share such a proud moment for me! My parents have always been the most supportive throughout my life and needless to say, I wouldn’t be able to do all that I do without them. 

I spent the rest of October continuing to travel all over for the country for work, and by the time November rolled around, I was ready for my next big adventure!

To kick off November, I set my work schedule up to work back to back to back trips so that way I could jet set to the majestic country of NEW ZEALAND for a week to celebrate my 30th birthday! Little did I know, I was in for a life changing experience. 

I took off for Auckland, New Zealand with literally no set plans, but with the hope of discovering more of myself while letting go of my 20s and kicking off my 30s with a bang! Upon my arrival to Auckland, I was searching for a way to truly make the most of my time there and experience everything New Zealand has to offer. 

That is when I met Jade, who offered to take me on a late afternoon hike up Mount Eden to a look out spot overlooking the entire city of Auckland. It was the perfect way to kick off my New Zealand adventure and I could not have been more grateful to have met someone who was so nice and generous to show me around!

The next morning, I sprung out of my hostel bed to go on a Black Labyrinth Caving adventure (black water rafting) in Waitomo Caves. I went tubing through the stunning underworld of Ruakuri Cave! We weaved, jumped, climbed and floated through a glowworm-studded wonderland. Ruakuri Cave is  the LONGEST cave in the Waitomo area of New Zealand! It was discovered by the Maori some 400-500 years ago as they discovered wild dogs making the cave their home. The Maori used the caves as a sacred burial site! Today, the cave is well preserved and filled with glowworms, limestone formations, underground rivers and hidden waterfalls! 

Afterwards, I visited Hobbiton, which is where the movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings was filmed, as well as The Hobbit film series. It was more phenomenal than I could have ever imagined and I simply marveled at the spectacular landscapes and hobbit sized cottages situated on this family run farm in Waikato, New Zealand.

That night, I had a beautiful dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Auckland Harbour with a friend I made on the tour that day who is from the Netherlands.

The next morning, the sun rose early with perfectly clear blue skies, so I hopped on a boat to Waiheke Island, where I went wine tasting, ate the best fish n’ chips I’ve ever had, and enjoyed the sandy beaches under the radiating sun! Waiheke Island is New Zealand’s most densely populated island and is truly incredible. The wineries were beyond beautiful  and the atmosphere of the island was so relaxing! It is ranked as one of the best islands in the world to visit by several publications!

On my last day of my 20s, Jade drove me to New Zealand’s most famous surf beach, Piha Beach! It was the perfect day as I got to go body surfing in some nice rips and currents (I was eventually told to come out of the water by the kindest lifeguards due to not swimming in a “swim zone”), swam in pools through caves, and  hiked up Lion Rock overlooking the beach and the backdrop of the Waitakere Ranges, a protected parkland of sub-tropical forest! We ate lunch at the Piha Surf Club restaurant located on a cliff overlooking the water, and took a nice nap on the beach afterwards which led to a bit of a sun burn from the powerful New Zealand sun! It truly could not have been a better day!

 

The next morning, I kicked off my 30th birthday by leaping out of a plane soaring at 16,500 feet over the north island with the astounding backdrop of both the west and east coasts of New Zealand. The views were beyond breathtaking! Although it was my third time skydiving, it was my first time in 10 years feeling that sensation of freedom falling through the sky. The feeling is like no other, as nothing else can seem to clear my mind and take my breath away as free falling at 200+ km/hour.

When I returned back to Auckland, I went and relaxed at Lady Bay beach with Jade, his roommate Robbie, and friend Lars. Later, we celebrated my birthday dinner at a phenomenal restaurant, Chop Chop, which had the tastiest food and most refreshing drinks! We ate a Twelve Hour Organic Beef Brisket Noodle Bowl which includes bacon, shiitake, sesame, spring onion, black garlic, and rye noodles, as well as had Koji Fried Chicken with chili sauce, crushed peanuts, and yum yum mayo! The restaurant was located in the charming Ponsonby neighborhood of Auckland which made for the perfect last evening in New Zealand!

I was beyond sad to have to leave the next day to return to Chicago for work, but will forever cherish the memories made and look forward to returning to New Zealand again, hopefully sooner than later! As I’m now 30 years old, I feel like a new man and  can not wait to see what’s in store for my near future! 

I’m enjoying this 2018 holiday season trying to spend time with loved ones every chance I get.  I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a refreshing start to 2019 filled with great health, happiness, adventure, and most importantly, love!

Thank You, American Airlines – CHICAGO MARATHON 2018

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Running across the finish line of the Chicago Marathon drenched from the rain with my muscles giving out on me, is one of the best feelings I have ever felt! To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself in the last couple miles to finish, makes it all worth it! HUGE THANK YOU, to the million plus supporters including my parents cheering the whole way along the course, selflessly handing out Gatorade, water, gummy bears, bananas, licorice, etc… without all of you, this wouldn’t have been one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had!

This wasn’t just a race for me as I saw the experience as an opportunity to represent American Airlines and honor my grandmother who began her career with American Airlines back in 1950 as she graduated training at Chicago Midway Airport from Class 50-07. Ironically, 66 years later I graduated from American Airlines Flight Attendant Training in Class 16-07 and was selected to be based in Chicago, a city I had never been to before, but always wanted to visit!

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It was my grandmother’s dream to have one of her children or grandchildren to become a Flight Attendant for American, so I was beyond elated when she was able to see me in action on my work trip in training to Palm Springs, just a few months before she passed away. She was so proud to tell all of her Kiwi friends about me, and it was quite special getting to meet all of them at her funeral. Before her passing, she phoned me every single day to see how training was going, and then once I hit the line, she wanted to know my every move! I’m pretty sure she was more excited than I was, but her excitement motivated me to work hard for American in her honor.

 

She taught me many lessons in life, one being to always fly high with pride and to be sure to always look my best, act my best, and be my best, while walking the path of life. Therefore, I set out the goal to fly high in running the Chicago Marathon when American sent out e-mails promoting the Chicago Marathon and that they were accepting applications to be selected as a sponsored runner. Although I had run one marathon before and said I’d never do another one again, I felt there was no way I could turn down the opportunity given to me!

After having been a spectator at the Chicago Marathon in 2017 and watching an American cross the finish line first, I knew I had to run the marathon in 2018 amongst some of the world’s greatest! It was such a surreal experience running amongst Olympians and World Champions. The marathon also attracted celebrity runners such as comedian actor Kevin Hart, who finished close to around the same time I did!

 

The men’s race was won by Britain’s Mo Farah, and the women’s race was won by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei. Prior to winning the Chicago Marathon, Mo Farah won the gold medal in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in both the 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter races! He finished 2nd in last years Chicago Marathon. Brigid Kosgei was no stranger to the Chicago Marathon as she placed 2nd in 2017 as well! She came back with gold on her mind and won it this year!

“Running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners alike. On race day, runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries set out to accomplish a personal dream by reaching the finish line in Grant Park.”

 

On the morning of the marathon, I had endless nerves of both excitement and dread as adrenaline rushed through my body! I could barely sleep the night before as I tossed and turned in anticipation of running my first Chicago Marathon. The thought of running through 29 diverse neighborhoods and experiencing the history, rich culture, renowned architecture, and vibrant spirit that makes Chicago so incredible, was the most exhilarating feeling I have felt since jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet skydiving when I was 18.

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“The 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon generated a record-setting $338 million in estimated business impact to the city of Chicago, with the 2017 race delivering a $56 million increase from the previous year. This is the largest amount ever generated by the marathon and marks the first time the marathon’s economic impact has exceeded $300 million. It’s the fifth consecutive year this world-class event provided more than a quarter of a billion dollars to the Chicago economy.”

 

To be a part of such a monumental day in Chicago in honor of my grandmother is a memory I’ll forever cherish. Without the sponsorship of American Airlines, I’m not sure I would have been able to indulge in this life changing experience. I feel beyond grateful to work for a company that provides so many opportunities for it’s employees and will forever fly high with pride as an American Airlines Flight Attendant.

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FLYING HIGH THROUGH 2017

“Time is the pivot of life activities. When you miss a second, you miss a time in your lifetime! Time is undoubtedly the greatest asset one can ever acquire. The ultimate and real time is in the mind. Time is thought and thought is time. To mind your time, mind your thought! To mind your life, mind your time!”
Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

I kicked off 2017 in my home of CHICAGO rehabbing a back injury! I have loved living in “ChiTown” where I have resided for almost two years in the heart of the city in a beautiful neighborhood known as Lakeshore East Park, located in the “New East Side” downtown on the lake between the Chicago River and Millennium/Maggie Daley Parks. I’m in love with my condo building and my neighbors in the building whom I continue to meet at our building social events, at the pool, in the hot tub, at the gym, or simply in the elevator! I had many friends and family visit me in Chicago in 2017 and look forward to many more in 2018!!

Time really does fly when you’re having fun! As I have had the fortune of adventuring all over the world and meeting all sorts of new people in the process, looking back it all seems so surreal. I feel time gets faster and faster as I get older, and sometimes I forget to pause, and take the time to reflect on all that I have done over time and how much I continue to grow as a person.

The year 2017 was nothing less than incredible and I attribute that to living each day in the present and to the fullest.  From reveling in the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras to relaxing on the beach in St. Maarten to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Miami… to so many more experiences and memories that continue to shape who I am as a person.

Living life as a flight attendant is full of so many ups and downs both literally and figuratively.  Luckily, its the ups that make the downs worth the while and I could not be more grateful for each new day that provides me the opportunity to go after my dreams!

Unfortunately I kicked off 2017 recovering from a back injury and spent the first couple weeks on bed rest. It was kind of fitting as I needed to prepare for a whirlwind of traveling which included achieving my new years resolution of stepping onto continent #6!

When I recovered from my back injury after almost two months being grounded in Chicago, I soared into the new year with my first flight of the year to New York City where I ran into one of my best friends, Hannah Nancarrow Woods, who I hadn’t seen in probably 2 years! What are the chances?!?

Shortly after, I was able to visit my cousin Kara Breithaupt and her Bo, in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, where I also ran into several old friends and celebrated up and down Bourbon Street!

From there, I traveled well over 500,000 miles to 50 different cities across 25 states and 7 countries. I achieved my 2017 new years resolution in traveling to my 6th continent being Asia, off my bucket list as I had a work trip to Japan in the summer time and took my mom Lynda Muenzer to China in the fall!

My first time in Asia was perfect, as I got to explore the Naritasan Temples, meditate with the monks, enjoy the serenity of the Japanese gardens, and taste foods very foreign to me! Then, I had the opportunity to take my mom anywhere in the world she wished to go and fulfill her lifetime dream of climbing the Great Wall of China! We explored all of the historical sites of Beijing, visited the site of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, and explored both the new and old areas of Shanghai. It was the adventure of a lifetime that I will never forget and I would not have wanted to do it with anyone else but my mom.

Although my mom and I had a few mishaps which involved a severe language barrier and resulted in getting lost numerous of times, getting scammed by locals, as well as to my mom losing her train ticket back to Beijing from Shanghai and having to leave her behind in Shanghai to ensure I would make it home in time for work! At the end of the day, we learned many life lessons and survived the journey much wiser and well traveled.

I frequented London more times than I can count, and enjoyed making many new friends all over the world. From watching Wimbledon in Moorgate, London atop the rooftop terrace of the One New Change building across from St. Paul’s Cathedral to watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, I now know London like the back of my hand!

What was suppose to be a family trip to Puerto Vallarta, I ended up traveling there for the first time alone and spending a week at our timeshare with two rooms! I enjoyed a week of relaxing on the beach, exploring the town, zip lining through the jungle, and made friends with Canadian brothers who showed me to the Puerto Vallarta night life! I also snuck into their all inclusive resort and had the best time! Don’t worry, I had enough margaritas to make up for my family’s absence!

I attended my very first NFL game, watching the Bears lose a heart breaker in the last minutes to the Denver Broncos in their first game of the season with my life long friends Bailey Schafer & Kelsey Schafer. I was also treated to my first Blackhawks NHL game thanks to Dulce Lopez!

Not only did I frequent major cities I’ve been to numerous times now such as Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Miami, Nashville, Dallas, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Austin, Phoenix, Orlando, etc., I also spent time in cities I hadn’t been to before such as Houston, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Omaha, Des Moines, Providence, Chapel Hill, Tampa, Indianapolis, and many more! I have just 13 states to visit until I conquer my 2018 resolution of traveling to all 50 states before turning 30 in November! I also plan to accomplish visiting at least 30 countries before 30, where I’ve currently been to 28!

Hoping to make it to Vietnam for one of my close Australian friend’s wedding, whom I met in Argentina at a hostel and traveled with for a month, is getting married in March!

May my safe and exhilarating travels continue into the new year and may you choose to fly American Airlines, the world’s largest and best airline, and you may find me on your next flight! Cheers to 2018… a happy, exciting, and hopefully prosperous New Year for you all!

 

 

LIFE on the MOVE in 2017

“Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.” – Seneca

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From Chicago to New York to Orlando (Day One) to Miami to LA (Day Two) to Chicago (Day 3) to Philadelphia (Day 4) to Chicago (Day 5) to Palm Springs to Dallas to New Orleans (Day 6) to Dallas to Nashville (Day 7) to Dallas to Chicago (Day 8) to New York City (Day 9) to Chicago (Day 10)! Since my first trip back to work, I haven’t looked back and flew for every day for 10 days straight! Non stop movement can physically and mentally take a toll, but I feel stronger than ever and have never felt better on the move!

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Starting with last Friday after my initial work trip back to working, I decided to take an impromptu adventure to dinner in Philadelphia where some of my closest friends currently reside! Since I had been hibernating in Chicago for so long without many friends around, it was quite liberating to finally get back on the move and explore a city I’ve never been to before.

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Philadelphia is flooded with US history and was truly inspiring to visit various landmarks where our founding fathers once lived and created history. From the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, to the National Constitutional Center to the United States Mint, to the nation’s first university, to museum after museum, Rittenhouse Square, the Masonic Temple, City Hall, to the grave site of Benjamin Franklin. I was truly fascinated by all of the rich history throughout the city.  I enjoyed walking through Reading Terminal Market which is in fact the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market since it was established in 1892! Today, the market is one of the best public markets in the country and I was in absolute awe everything it has to offer, from every type of cuisine to more than 80 unique merchants.  We didn’t have nearly as much time as we needed to fully experience the market, but had more than enough time to give me an incentive to return to Philadelphia soon!

My friends and I ate at Tio Flores, a delicious Mexican style restaurant located on South Street West and wandered the beautiful streets of historic Philadelphia. I indulged in the most amazing Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from Cleavers on 108 S 18th Street and walked upon the nation’s first university, the beautiful University of Pennsylvania, or also referred to as UPENN! I walked the entire campus admiring all of the Gothic style architecture designed by the Cope & Stewardson firm, whose “principal architects combined the Gothic architecture of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge with the local landscape to establish the Collegiate Gothic style.” The extraordinary campus has the most incredible buildings stemming from the mid-1700s. Two of my friends are attending the Wharton School of Business at UPENN which is the world’s first collegiate school of business and is currently ranked as the #1 Business School in the World according to Business Insider and QS.

My friend Coleen and I took a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley, which is “an exceptional collection of early American structures, built 1720s-1830s, the alley contained the homes and shops of diverse artisans.  Later, working-class immigrants lived here and labored in nearby industries. Residents began preservation efforts in 1934.”  People today live in the houses as people visit Elfreth’s Alley daily to witness the history and beauty of the homes. Coleen was truly the best host as she helped show me to the entire city and is what made my experience so priceless.

After exploring Philadelphia, I hopped on a plane back to Chicago, only to embark on an adventure the following day from Chicago to Palm Springs to Dallas/Fort Worth to New Orleans, where I stayed in the historical French Quarter!

My cousin Kara is a very successful real estate broker in New Orleans and took me out on Bourbon Street for Hurricanes at Patty O’Briens to Hand Grenades at Tropical Isle! We were entertained by jazz music and dueling piano bars galore!  I really, really value family time and enjoyed getting to spend time with Kara, as we never get enough time together!

The next day Kara picked me up from Jackson Square, drove me to one of her current homes to pick up her boyfriend Bo, and then we drove to a food coma inducing restaurant where we ate the very best Creole food including grilled oysters, fried shrimp, and po boy sandwiches! After a paralyzing lunch, Kara took me to the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden.  We went on a very lovely stroll around the five acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden which holds more than 60 sculptures collectively valued at $25 million. The sculpture garden encompasses a lake and lagoon which is extraordinarily peaceful to walk around.  After exploring the sculpture garden and enjoying the art, Kara drove me back to my hotel in the French Quarter where I had to get ready to work a flight to Dallas and then Nashville!

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In Nashville, I caught some Dolly Parton on the radio and embraced the rich country culture. I didn’t have as long of a layover in Nashville as I did in New Orleans, so I spent most of my time resting and enjoying the relaxing hotel ambiance.

The next day, I flew from Nashville to Dallas and back to Chicago, where I spent the night before taking off for NEW YORK CITY the next morning to visit with more friends!

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From LaGuardia Airport, I hopped on the Q70 bus to the metro station, took two trains and found myself in the famous Times Square! I walked south all the way from Times Square to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village where I met my friend Michol for a delicious steak dinner at the new Quality Eats restaurant, located at 19 Greenwich Avenue, whose Executive Chef ironically hails from Chicago!

After indulging in the most tasty steak dinner, Michol and I met up with my hometown friend Paul and his girlfriend at a near by bar where we reminisced over old times and enjoyed getting to catch up on each other’s lives a bit.  By the end of the night, I was ready to get some sleep and am very fortunate to have a friend like Michol who hosted me at her beautiful apartment in the Murray Hill district of Manhattan with an incredible view of the Empire State Building.

The next morning, Michol and I grabbed a quick breakfast on her way to work, and on my way to explore the city.  I ate my bacon and egg croissant in Madison Square Park while watching thousands of people walk through the city on their way to work.  Then, I walked about 2.5 miles down 5th Avenue/Broadway to the Financial District to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum!  The newly built One World Trade Center is absolutely spectacular and the museum that was built in the same exact location as the former World Trade Center Twin Towers, was the most phenomenal museum that I feel I’ve ever been to.  I’ve been to the Vatican, the Louvre, the Smithsonian, Musee d’Orsay, the Ufitzi Gallery, the Museo Nacional Del Prado, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Acropolis, the Van Gogh Museum, the Getty Museum… all some of the top ranked museums in the world, but I have never felt such a connection before than I did when exploring the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  I guess because I was alive to see the day of 9/11 and remember watching the attacks transpire on TV, the museum just really brings back memories of the confusion I felt and the fascination I had with everything that happened and what was going on in the world.  I’ll never forget receiving the TIMES magazine September 11, 2001 issue in the mail and being so completely captivated by the most revealing photos of the attacks and to see the expressions on the people’s faces who were at the scene of the Twin Towers was truly moving and inspired me to want to become a photo journalist and a writer, so that way I could maybe someday capture such an emotional event and share with the world what is going on.

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After spending a few hours in the museum, I walked into the newly built Freedom Tower, the tallest building in the United States, and then walked across the street into a newer mall, the Brookfield Place, which was a very nice, classy, and modern mall with expensive shops, priceless views of the Hudson, an Equinox luxury fitness club & shop, the Institute of Culinary Education, an ice skating rink, and exceptional chef driven restaurants with a massive food court for everyone’s desiring taste. I ate at Dos Toros Taqueria, as I was starving after walking miles and spending hours in the museum, so I devoured a carne aside burrito (naturally raised steak) with rice, beans, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa. It was completely satisfying and I was so hungry I ate the whole thing!

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Since I stuffed my face with a delicious burrito, I was ready to fully charge the city again and walked around the Brookfield Place Ice Skating Rink to the walking path along the Hudson River, down to City Pier A in Battery Park, overlooking the Statue of Liberty.  City Pier A is the last surviving pier in New York City and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, as well as was designated a New York City landmark in 1975.  Back in 2003, I went to Battery Park and Pier A by myself as a 14 year old, on my way to visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island!  So this time around, I didn’t go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but enjoyed seeing them from Pier A.

I then went down into the Bowling Green subway station and hopped on the metro to Central Park where I explored the southern edge of the park and then stopped by Trump Tower on my way to grab coffee with my friend Peter at a coffee shop across the street from Grand Central Train Station.  After grabbing coffee with Peter, I walked to the Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.  I will be back soon as it’s a dream of mine to see The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!

At last, I walked back to Times Square where my NYC adventure began and was selected to appear in a street performer’s show as he flipped over me and three other guys.  Lastly, I hopped back on the subway to make my way back to LaGuardia Airport and flew back to Chicago, First Class and all!

I have spent the past week in Chicago and look forward to what’s to come next!

“TRAVEL – As much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”

FINALLY AIRBORNE IN 2017


I spent 48 long, painful, hopeless days practically on bed rest after I had to take time off from work to heal a severe back injury.

On January 22, 2017 though, I finally returned to work and departed on my first flight since taking the time needed to heal my injury!
Ironically, my first flight in 2017 was to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, an airport I hadn’t worked a trip to yet, and ironically, one of my closest friends from college was flying out of JFK at the same time I was!
Getting to spend time with Hannah in the airport was the perfect surprise and welcoming back to flying! I hadn’t seen Hannah in a year and a half, so it was awesome getting to catch up in person and have her to make me laugh and enjoy working again.
Unfortunately, I had to work the trip alongside another Flight Attendant who was very unpleasant to work with, but reminding myself to just let go of my frustrations and do my best to focus on doing my job, helped me to stay positive and survive the long three day trip!


Day one we traveled from Chicago to New York to Orlando, which wasn’t too bad, but then on day two we traveled from Orlando to Miami to Los Angeles, which made for a very long, challenging day! Getting through it though felt like a major accomplishment, and when I reached to LA, I got to have dinner with my parents in the hotel we were staying at in Downtown LA! Day three, we just flew from LAX back to Chicago!


It was definitely a bit of an adjustment working again and my body felt in shock, but I’m currently recovering and excited to visit close friends in Philadelphia tomorrow (Friday) before working my last trip in January with layovers in New Orleans and Nashville!
I’m back in action and can’t wait to take you along with me on my journey to explore the world! CHEERS!

Discovering LIFE in the “WINDY CITY”


Growing up on the beaches of Southern California, I always dismissed the idea that living anywhere else could be comparable. I’ve had brief stints of living in Hawaii, Barcelona, Virginia, & Sydney, but have always returned home to Southern California! 


It wasn’t until I was in Flight Attendant training when I was given the ultimatum to make a preference list of where I wanted to be based for work between Miami, Chicago, Dallas, New York, and Boston… in that order. Well, I was assigned to Chicago and on the day of graduating from training, I was given 5 days to find a place to live! Mind you, I had never been to Chicago before!Just a couple of years prior, I traveled through South America and met a group of people from Chicago, who referred to it as “Chiraq”… which had only confirmed my previous notions about Chicago, that it was one big war zone filled with trash, crime, & “windy” corrupt politics. I had always had this horrible perception of Chicago based on the nightly news reports on frequent shootings, killings, and other crime. In fact, an old co-worker of mine had moved to LA from Chicago, and would always tell me how great Chicago was, but I never believed him as I thought he was just being defensive of how bad it was in comparison to LA.


Little did I know, once I moved to Chicago and moved into the most beautiful and extraordinary condo in Downtown on Lake Michigan in the newer and more luxurious neighborhood of Lakeshore East, I quickly learned my friend from my old job couldn’t have been more right!


Now that I have lived here for the past 9 months, I’ve fallen in love with this city and continue to learn more and more about Chicago every single day, which is why I wanted to share my experience and show others what an unbelievably incredible and extraordinarily beautiful city that is Chicago!


Incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, which started as a city with only about 200 people. Today, Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States with over 2.7 million and has a metropolitan area that is also the third largest in the U.S. with nearly 10 million people! 


Chicago is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. I work out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport which is the second busiest airport in the entire world when measured by aircraft traffic. Just in 2016, Chicago hosted more than 54 million international and domestic visitors, a new record for the city making it one of the top visited cities in the nation.


Just in early November, I attended the Chicago Cubs World Series Championship Parade and Rally which turned out to be the 7th largest gathering in human history with 5 million people, which was in fact the largest gathering in US history! It was one of the best days of my life and I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have had that experience. Who would have thought the year I move to Chicago that their historical Cubs baseball team would win its first World Series Championship in 108 years?!?! Completely mind blowing and I’m now the biggest Cubs fan who is not originally from here!

Living in Chicago during the Cubs’ World Series Championship season really taught me a lot about Chicago and Chicago sports. The sports culture in Chicago is second to none, and yes I lived in LA during the Kobe era leading the Lakers to multiple championships. With that said though, I have never experienced an entire city coming together in such a passionate way as a community in support of not only the Cubs, but of each other. It really makes it hard for me to understand the daily struggle Chicago fights everyday on the streets with violence and crime, when I’ve only been exposed to the beauty of Chicagoans and the love they all have for Chicago sports. Between the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, the Blackhawks, and the Bulls, Chicago sports teams are collectively one of the most successful in the world!


Wrigleyville, home to the historic Wrigley Field, has hands down the best sports atmosphere I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Wrigleyville is an electric and iconic town surrounding Wrigley Field; providing the city a place to gather to watch games in restaurants and bars for a much lower cost than paying for season tickets. When in Wrigleyville, you still get that magical feeling in the air as if you were sitting right behind home plate, and that’s what makes it so special. Most baseball stadiums around the country are surrounded by massive parking lots, which makes the experience less special and energetic. The fact you can just hop on the train wherever you are in Chicago and get off right at Wrigley Field is something I will always value and never take for granted.


Chicago is more than just dominant in sports though, as this city has provided some of the most incredible events on a daily basis whether it be music festivals, theatre productions, world renowned museums, jazz clubs, comedy shows, farmers markets, marathons, fundraisers, conventions of every sort, or parades and firework shows! This city provides something for everyone and is impossible to not find something fitting to your desires.