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Flying With a 2-Year-Old and 2-Month-Old

As of mid-September we’re now a family of 4! Since then life has been a little crazier than usual, and having my hands full with a 2 month old baby girl (and her 2 year old brother) is part of the reason I haven’t been flying, blogging, or blogging about flying as much as I used to. Slowly but surely though, things are getting back to normal, if there is such a thing, and it’s not like we were going to stay home forever! Travel is a way of life for our family and two weeks ago the time (finally) came to pack up our s*** and make our way to the airport for Baby K’s first trip to Maui.


My Little First Class Travel Buddy

So what is it REALLY like to travel with a 2 year old and a 2 month old? To be honest, I’m not really sure. I mean, I was there, I survived it, but I still don’t know what to make of the experience. It’s like a paradox. There’s the sheer bliss of taking my two kids to same beach where I learned how to swim paired with the agony of trying to shove a double stroller into our Hyundai-Santa-Fe-of-a rental car. I’m sure most people came here expecting to read about crying on the plane (there was some of that), getting peed on (that happened too), and what an overall pain in the ass it is to travel with two small children (to a certain extent this is true), but somehow it wasn’t that bad. Two of us got upgraded, I took a nap, and then enjoyed a lovely lilikoi ginger creme brulee for desert. Clearly, life doesn’t entirely suck. To be honest, taking two kids on an airplane isn’t that much harder than taking them in a car to Walmart, and Maui is so much better than Walmart. If nothing else, I feel like traveling the world with our older son had prepared us well. At the same time, we learned a couple of new things:

  • Always get to the airport a few minutes early…to take pictures in front of the giant red bunny, of course!
    Baby K's First Trip

    Baby K’s First Trip

    Seriously though, this is good advice for everyone, not only those traveling with small kids! Travel is more fun when you’re not in a rush.

  • More babies. More crap.
    With Grandpa (and the rest of our crap) at OGG baggage claim

    With Grandpa at OGG baggage claim

    I used to take pride in the fact we could fit a pack n play (travel crib) inside our ginormous Dakine Split Roller suitcase. Then sometime during the process of shuffling a double stroller, 2 car seats, our bags (one of which was full of LED light bulbs from Costco) and a box with a pack n play in it (since the suitcase our pack n play goes in was already full) 10-feet-at-a-time across the check in area and through agriculture inspection at OGG, I came to the conclusion that we need to travel lighter. With all the money we saved thanks to Hawaii’s generous energy rebate, we’ve since purchased an extra pack n play to leave with family on Maui. Next time (next month), we’re only taking with one bag.

  • If there is any chance of rain in the forecast, you might want to send one adult to get go get the car…


    Right as we all got off the parking lot shuttle a red cell passed over the airport. How do I know it was a red cell? My son decided he wanted to jump in a giant puddle and I felt the appropriate action was to take a picture and tweet about it. It was then I saw the radar map the local news had shared. See that red spot east of Woodland? That’s us getting rained on! So there we were, huddled in the little bus-stop/shed in economy parking waiting for the storm to pass, while my two year old son excitedly splashed water all over the place. What did I do about the situation? I laughed. It was right in the middle of this FML-moment that I concluded there was a high probability that traveling with two kids had indeed made me lose my mind. Then I realized, our son has lived through a drought his entire life; He’d never even seen a puddle before! It’d been a long day for all of us, we were almost home, so I let him play. The huge smile on his face, the shrieks of laughter, the contagious joy of discovering something new in the world around him…the journey may not always be easy, but little stuff like that is a big reason why we travel with kids.


National Park Week 2014

April 19-27th is National Park Week and in celebration you can get free admission to NPS sites across on the country this weekend on April 19th-20th. For more information visit Last year my family and I took advantage of the opportunity for a spur-of-the-moment trip to nearby Yosemite (you can read our trip report here). This year, we’ll be headed to Japan, but that doesn’t mean I can’t join in on the fun by looking back at some of our favorite trips throughout the years!

Yosemite 2013

National Park Week, Yosemite 2013

Mai Tai’s Favorites:

Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Both of these Wyoming parks hold a special place in my heart due to the large amount of time I’ve spent there thanks to having family in the area. Yellowstone is of course America’s First National Park and a definite must-see. While the main (and most famous) attraction is Old Faithful, I’ve found the nearby geyser pools to be equally, if not more spectacular, and the wildlife viewing is unrivaled.

Yellowstone 2004

Yellowstone 2004

Grand Teton also has some incredible wildlife opportunities as my mom and I found out during an early-morning airport run in 2010 (fun fact: JAC is the only major commercial airport within a national park in the US). Other favorites in the park include the very photogenic Oxbow Bend, Snake River Overlook, and Jenny Lake. The mountains after which the park is named are pretty nice too. ;)

With 6 Month Old Baby CJ at Snake River Overlook in 2012

With 6 Month Old Baby CJ at Snake River Overlook in 2012

How to get there: Your best bet and closet airport is Jackson Hole, Wy. Also nearby: Cody, WY and West Yellowstone, MT.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (Pearl Harbor)

I could never get sick of going back to visit Pearl Harbor and it has been subject of numerous trip reports here at Miles, Points, and Mai Tais (here, here, here, and here). If you’re ever on Oahu, make time to go learn more about our nation’s incredibly history and pay your respects the the thousands of Americans who lost their lives there on December 7th, 1941.

Pearl Harbor 2013

Pearl Harbor 2013

How to get there: Pearl Harbor is just minutes away from HNL by cab, take a bus from Waikiki, or parking is available on site.

Pu’unoa o Honaunau (CIty of Refuge)

An unsuspected favorite on the Kona Coast of the Big Island, we visited here in 2009. Tikis (or rather “ki’i”) and turtles adequately sum up the attractions, yet there was something more about this place. In ancient times anyone sentenced to death for breaking kapu (sacred laws) could seek refuge here and be given a second chance. As screwy as it sounds, there is an incredible aura of calmness and sense of peace here that needs to be experienced in order to be believed.

Turtle (Honu) Seeking Refuge on the Beach at Pu'uhonoa O Honaunau

Turtle (Honu) Seeking Refuge on the Beach at Pu’uhonoa O Honaunau

Closest Airports: KOA and ITO


This is perhaps my all-time favorite park after 3 visits. By far my favorite area of the park is the Island in the Sky district, which is 1,000 feet above the rest of Canyonlands, overlooking the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Mesa Arch at Sunrise is worth getting up to see, and if you’re up for a real adventure, there’s some cool secret stuff to be explored here as well.

How to get there: About an hour away from Moab, UT and Arches National Park


It’s hard to mention Canyonlands without talking about nearby Arches, which is probably the most accessible park I’ve ever been to. It is small, easy to cover in a half day, yet with plenty to see. Most of the parks attractions can be seen from the road, but if you’re looking to dig deeper and get up close and personal, consider the short hike to Delicate Arch at sunset; it’s well worth the effort.


Delicate Arch at Sunset, 2004

How to get there: Just minutes outside the small town of Moab, Utah. Closest Airport: Grand Junction, CO. SLC is about 3 hours away.


Another unsuspected favorite, this place is arguably much more impressive in person than in pictures. Also there’s plenty more to see in the Black Hills area of South Dakota that makes it worth the trip: Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave, the world’s largest (and kitschiest) drug store- Wall Drug, the Minuteman Missile and America’s First National Monument- Devil’s Tower, which is just across the border in Northeastern Wyoming.

Closest Airport: Rapid City, SD


Maybe I’m biased as a California native, but this park will make every list I ever compile simply because it’s awesome! I don’t know what more I can say that hasn’t been covered in earlier trip reports other than try go to Glacier Point if it’s open (seasonal). The birds-eye views from up there of the high Sierra, giant rock monoliths and cascading waterfalls almost don’t seem real.

Making Friends at Glacier Point 2009

Making Friends at Glacier Point 2007

How to get there: About 3 hours driving from SFO and 4 hours from SMF. Also consider Modesto (MOD) and Fresno, CA (FAT).

Virgin Islands

I’m a sucker for nice beaches, and Trunk Bay did not disappoint. My husband and I visited in 2010 as part of a Eastern Caribbean cruise (we day-tripped over from nearby St. Thomas) and I’m still obsessing over that white sand and warm turquoise water.

Still Dreaming About This Beach Day in 2010

Still Dreaming About This Beach Day in 2010

How to get there: A short ferry ride from St. Thomas (STT) and catch a ride to the beach in the back of a truck (available near the National Park Visitor Center)

Also check out: Last year’s Best of America’s National Parks


Welcome to the New Miles, Points, and Mai Tais

Aloha and welcome to the new!

I started Miles, Points, and Mai Tais in 2012 to share my love of travel, adventure, and all the miles and points that make those things possible. After nearly a year blogging with First2Board, I decided it was time to be back out on my own. If you followed me from my previous site(s), just a few items of important business before we get the party started: If you subscribe to my feed you might want to sign up again using one of the social links on the right, and if you have previously linked to any of my content, the pages are the same just at instead of

I really hope you like the new look and I encourage you stay and take a look around. Over the  coming days I’ll be working hard making sure all the links work and the pictures look their best, but if you come across something that needs my immediate attention (or have any other suggestions) feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for exciting new stuff along with some old favorites like Manufactured Spending Mondays, and Special Livery Sundays returning this week!


National Aviation History Month: Exploring Hawaii’s Aviation Heritage

November is National Aviation History Month so in honor of that I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite websites. The State of Hawaii runs an incredible archive of photos and facts covering the unique aviation heritage of the Aloha State. To view the photos, go to the side menu and select “Aviation Photos” and then the decade you are interested in. Most photos are further categorized by island and airport. Some of my favorites include construction pictures from Honolulu’s reef runway from the 1970s, Kahului in the 80s, and photos of the Pan Am Clippers from the 1930s. There is also an extensive collection from Hickam Airforce base in World War II. The website also includes a lot of information about Hawaii’s airport system, pioneer airlines, as well as major events. So whether you’re looking to re-live your first trip to the islands or just want to see what life was like back when United really was the Friendly Skies, be sure to check out this site!

Happy Aviation Heritage Month!

Pam Am Honolulu Clipper 1939 (

Pam Am Honolulu Clipper 1939 (

A Father’s Day I’ll Never Forget

Not to brag or anything, but my dad rocks! Seriously! He is one of the coolest people I know and just an incredibly fun person to be around. We even share a lot of the same interests- most of them having to do with flying. He’s a Million Miler with United (which I someday hope to be) and had the good sense to sign up for a lifetime membership to the Red Carpet Club back when they offered it for only a few hundred bucks. If that wasn’t enough in itself to make me think that he’s totally awesome, he holds a commercial pilot’s license for both helicopters and airplanes.  He was also very supportive of me when I decided to go for my private pilot’s license back in 2009.

Father's Day 2010

Father’s Day 2010

Seeing as how today was Father’s Day, I wanted to share a story of the very special day we spent together in 2010. It was during the US Open at Pebble Beach and my dad volunteered to provide aerial support for local law enforcement. Father’s Day 2010 turned more into take-your-daughter-to-work day, and my husband and I were able to hitch a ride in his helicopter to one of the biggest sporting events of the year. We landed on the football field of my alma mater (about 10 years too late) and then were transported to the venue in the back of a cop car. Talk about arriving in style!

Unfortunately, my dad was working most of the day, so we didn’t get to spend it all with him…but we did get to watch someone sink a double eagle on the sixth hole at Pebble Beach. The crowd went absolutely crazy! I don’t know much about golf, but from what I understand that’s kind of a big deal. If it wasn’t for my dad so selflessly giving up his time to serve the community that day, we never would have been there to experience it.

Later in the afternoon, after my dad fulfilled his duties, we all flew home, got drunk, and watched the end of the US Open on TV. It was a little surreal watching it air live after we’d been there in person just a few short hours before. It was kind of like leaving the Super Bowl at the end of the 3rd quarter, but at least we did it together as a family! I wouldn’t have traded that day (or its ending) for anything.

I don’t think my dad reads my blog (in fact I’m pretty sure he doesn’t), but I still wanted to say thank you! I know I’m the luckiest little girl in the world! Happy Father’s Day!

Carmel Valley on the way to the US Open

Carmel Valley on the way to the US Open

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach

About to land on the football field of my alma mater

About to land on the football field of my alma mater

Leaving the US Open to go home and watch it on TV

Leaving the US Open to go home and watch it on TV

I’m in! My Craziest Adventure So Far (At Least This Month)

Looks Tame, Right?

Looks Tame, Right?

I just signed up for my second paddleboard race of the season! This time it’s an 8-miler along the beautiful east shore of Lake Tahoe. The 2013 Thunderbird Run is an out-and-back paddle between the beach at Sand Harbor and the historic Thunderbird Mansion. These two locations are among the most scenic in Tahoe and I figured what better way to see them than from a 10’6″ surfboard. This might very well fall under the category of “what the hell was I thinking?” as up until now the farthest I’ve ever paddled is 5 miles…and that was just a few weeks ago! Who knows, maybe it will be good training in case I decide to tackle bucket list item #70.  Either way, I’m registered, excited, and can’t wait to share my experience once I get out to explore the most beautiful lake in the world.

When it comes to crazy-fun adventures, I’m not the only one here at First2Board who takes it to another level. Currently, Point Princess is riding her bike across the country, Jason at Food, Wine, and Miles just set a personal record for most airports in a day, Points Summary is in a different country every week it seems, and I’m sure Kathy (Will Run for Miles) is training hard for her next marathon. So what’s the craziest thing you’ve done so far this month?

2013 O’Neill Tahoe Cup Donner Lake. Last Month.


Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going (and How I Paid For It All)

When things go unexpectedly quiet here at Miles, Points, and Mai Tais you can figure I’m either on a trip or up to no good booking another mileage run. In the case of this last week, it was both. Less than a day after I finished flying SMF-IAH-LGA-DEN-ANC-SEA-IAH-LGA-IAH-SMF, I stumbled across what I’m calling the deal of the year- SMF-PHL/CLT from $170 round trip on United! Already exhausted, I stayed up well into the morning hours holding as many tickets as I could using the trusty phone order trick. At one point I think I had 18 of them. I know confessing to moments like this only perpetuates the stereotype that mileage runners are crazy, but at less than $.028 CPM, I mean, who wouldn’t get excited?!? I am now booked just shy of United Premier 1K  for 2013 (putting me at around 900k lifetime miles towards Million Miler). :)

This is What 93,919 Miles on United Looks Like

This is What 93,919 Miles on United Looks Like

The Booking Process

An important rule when it comes to booking fares like these is if you see a deal you like, jump on it! They rarely stick around and this one lasted just around 24 hours (although as of this morning SMF-PHL/CLT could be found from $240 which is still a good deal). In order to find what I didn’t know I was looking for (i.e. a mileage run), I followed the usual clues: @TheFlightDeal, Airfare Watchdog, and Mileage Run Deals on Flyertalk. That is how I found out about Philadelphia. I used ITA Matrix to piece together a plan and then used’s “Multi Destinations” option to replicate the results. As for the Charlotte fares, I just got lucky. At around 2am when all of this took place, I lacked the mental capacity to recognize that there was a US Airways hub attack going on at United. I randomly chose CLT on my next search, and sure enough- $170 rt fares there too! As a general rule though, if a competitor’s hub comes up as a cheap destination, check the other ones too. Found a good fare to/from MSP? Also check ATL. DFW? Try MIA.

Sample Itinerary

Sample Itinerary

Of course after going on all-night mileage booking binge, there was some fallout to deal with the next morning (and about 35 United emails). It took the better part of another day to sort through what I’d snagged and refine my itineraries. Undesirable layovers, red-eye flights too short to sleep on, and itineraries that don’t get the most miles (i.e. pretty much anything through Denver)- all gone. I booked all of my trips for later in the year, which leaves me the entire summer to stay home travel to other places, spend time with my family, and pretend that I’m normal.

How I Paid

Here in the Mai Tais household, we’re a real family with real expenses, meaning I’m not about to go spend all of our hard earned cash to go fly around the country. Now that I’m running low on e-certs, the original plan was to start using Ultimate Rewards points to help pay for my trips. It may not the best use of points (to each his own), but the lifetime status I’m chasing has to be earned through revenue tickets, and I’m not about to pay full price for them. By booking through Ultimate Rewards, I still get my miles, and because we have the right credit cards, I even get a 20% discount. All I had to do was simply copy what I’d found on ITA/United on Chase’s site, and theoretically those $170 rt tickets would only cost 13,600 UR points. Too bad the Ultimate Rewards booking site was down at 3am the other morning!

Redeeming United Miles for a Chase Statement Credit

Redeeming United Miles for a Chase Statement Credit

Plan B meant I put all those tickets on Chase United MileagePlus Select Visa (no longer available). I still earn 3x’s miles for United purchases (which in this case isn’t much) and up to 5,000 EQM (which helps), but I lose the 20% discount from UR. The next morning when Ultimate Rewards started working again, the deal was gone and let’s just say the difference in fare was a little more than that 20%.  It was a no-brainer. When it comes time to pay the bill on my MileagePlus Visa, I can cash out some of my United miles via Chase Choices, or request a check for my points from Ultimate Rewards. I value them around the same and in both cases a $170 ticket costs 17,000 miles/points. With my Premier Platinum 75% RDM bonus, I figure I’ll actually earn back most of those miles once I go flying. The rest are easily replenished with a little online shopping and a few trips to Walmart/Staples/CVS and the grocery store. ;)

Related Posts:


Miles, Points, and Mother’s Day

Mark your calendars- Mother’s Day is coming up on May 12th. That’s less that 2 weeks away! But first, a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the upcoming miles-and-points earning holiday.


Whether you’ve found the perfect gift for Mom or you just plan to do a little shopping for yourself (guilty), there are plenty of ways to save money while earning valuable miles and points. I’ve already shared some of these in How to Earn Miles and Points for Holiday Shopping and Make The Most of Your Labor Day Shopping, but I figured we could all use a refresher course and I’ve also added a couple new ideas to the list.


  • Consider Buying Online- This is the best way to take advantage of coupon codes and shopping portals. Worried about shipping costs? Many retailers offer free shipping for spending a certain amount or free in-store pickup. If you do a lot of shopping online, you may also want to consider a subscription based service like Shoprunner or Amazon prime.
  • Search for Coupons- Try Google or visiting a coupon site like to see if there are coupon codes available for where you will be shopping.
  • Use a Shopping Portal- Many popular mileage and points programs offer bonuses for using their referral links. is a great comparison site that allows you to search by retailer to see which program’s shopping portal is offering the best deal. Just for Mother’s Day several portals have doubled some of their regular bonuses (United MileagePlus Shopping is offering up to 8 miles/$ instead of the regular 4 at Sephora). Not all of these changes are reflected on the evreward site, so be sure to double check before proceeding.evsephora1
  • Use Your Favorite Miles and Points Earning Credit Card- This may seem obvious, but get to know your credit cards before choosing which one to use. Several offer category bonuses (like 5x’s at office supply stores and double miles/points and the grocery store).
  • Consider Paying With a Gift Card- Many grocery and office supply stores sell gift cards for other popular merchants. If you have a credit card that gives you a category bonus you can earn more miles for buying gift cards there, then using them where you actually intend to shop. I like Safeway because of their Gas Rewards Program on top of 2x category bonus I already get from one of my credit cards. Gift cards of course always make great gifts!
  • NEW- Register Your Credit or Debit Cards- If you must shop in store, check with your program of choice to see if you can still get bonus miles. Cartera operated portals (United, American, Southwest, US Airways) also let you earn in-store with a lot of the same partners featured online, as long as you register your card first. Looking to double dip? Other loyalty programs like ShopKick and Plink (HT DealsWeLike) offer their own points (redeemable for gift cards) when you shop with popular merchants like Best Buy, Target, and Old Navy.
  • NEW- Don’t Forget About the Cash Back Portals- Ebates, TopCashBack, Mr. Rebates…to name a few. Consider them a viable alternative to miles and points earning portals. You could always save the cash back you earn…or reinvest towards other more lucrative miles and points earning opportunities. (HINT: See How to Earn 12 Miles Per Dollar For Shopping at Sephora and Million Mile Secrets’ Gift Card PIN Number for ideas)


Take your mom out to eat, but first…

Rewards Network Dining

Rewards Network Dining

  • Sign Up for a dining rewards program- The popular ones (Alaska, American, United, Delta, US, Southwest, Hilton, and IHG) are all run by the same Rewards Network, so choose a favorite or register different cards with different programs- sorry, no double dips here, unfortunately. A lot of these programs offer a first-time 1,000 mile/point sign up bonus so check your inbox.


  • Buy restaurant gift cards from merchants offering category bonuses. Think about it, if you get 5x’s miles/points at the office supply store, then you also get 5x’s points any of the restaurants they sell gift cards for.


Earn 30 Miles/$ with American Airlines and FTD

Earn 30 Miles/$ with American Airlines and FTD

Earn up to 30 miles/$ with the following airlines:

(HT: elena for some of these, see her post for even more deals including Ultimate Rewards and Priority Club)


Take Mom on vacation or get her what she really wants- miles and points! Ok, maybe that’s just me ;) While I normally wouldn’t advocate simply going out and buying miles/points (after all there are so many fun and creative ways to earn them), here are a few promotions that just might be worth looking into (HT Frugal Travel Guy’s Deal of the Day).

Any fun plans for Mother’s Day? Have any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

Just Another Heavenly Day Skiing at Lake Tahoe

As many of you who follow @hulagrrl210 on twitter already know, I like to ski. In fact, I might even like skiing as much as I do flying. During this time of year it is always a struggle to choose between two competing interests, and after I missed most of last season because of my pregnancy, this year spending time on the mountain has won out over spending time on a plane; I actually haven’t even been on a mileage run since November. There still were a few trips to Hawaii, and one to Asia, but the rest of my free time has been spent a little closer to home enjoying on of my favorite places in the world- Lake Tahoe.

With Views Like This, No Wonder They Call It Heavenly

With Views Like This, No Wonder They Call It Heavenly

There’s no question that my favorite place to ski is at Heavenly. It boasts the highest terrain in Tahoe, and probably has the best views too. The 4,800 acre resort straddles two states, California and Nevada, and most, if not all of that terrain is accessible. If you enjoy tree skiing and off piste adventures, this is the place to come. I learned to ski there when I was a young kid and have been going back ever since. When I moved to the Sacramento area shortly after college I bought my first season pass, and each year since it has been a challenge to rack up more and more vertical feet than before and spend as many days on the mountain as I can. When I’m not busy working, traveling, or at home spending time with my kid, that’s probably where you’ll find me.

Throughout the year Heavenly puts on different fun events, the most recent of which was the #GoProHunt scavenger hunt. Anyone could register to search for one of three empty boxes hidden somewhere on the mountain. Find one, turn it in, and you got yourself a brand new GoPro Hero 3. After losing my GoPro surfing in Bali last month, I thought why not test my luck and try and win a new one. I’ve been skiing at Heavenly since I was 5 (and with more than a few spent days there this season alone), it’s safe to say I know my way around the mountain. That camera was mine!

Registration started at 10 and the first clues were tweeted out around 11. At 11:01am when I received the first hint on my iPhone, I was on the Nevada side at the top of Dipper Express Chair.

Clue #1

Clue #1

The highest lift at Heavenly- that’s easy, Sky Express! Too bad it was all the way on the other side of the resort from where I was. I quickly hopped on California Trail and headed in that direction. When I finally got to the top of Sky I noticed a few other people searching for the coveted GoPro we were all after. Once you get off the chairlift, the whole area is like a scenic viewpoint, but with so many people there looking in one place, obviously the camera wasn’t in plain sight. What a lot of people don’t know about Heavenly though, is that Sky Chair is not actually the highest point on the mountain; Monument Peak is and from there it’s possible to get a 360-degree of Lake Tahoe and the Nevada Desert. The only problem is, at elevation 10,067 feet, you have to hike  to get there. It’s still in bounds though, so fair game according to contest rules. What a great hiding place! I followed Skyline Trail back towards to Nevada side until I found the secret boot path that I knew was the trail to the top. I popped off my skis, threw them over my shoulder and began my trek up to the true mountain top. No GoPro. There were however a lot of rocks, trees, and other obstacles…and not a lot of snow coverage. I take that back about this being a good hiding place.

Hiking to Monument Peak

Hiking to Monument Peak

Just then another tweet came in…clue #2 and this time I knew EXACTLY where it was.

Clue #2

Clue #2

It was the Fire Break gate on the side of Olympic Downhill. If you’ve ever wanted to ski down the Gondola line back towards the casinos, this is how you get there. The only other place marked with a skull and crossbones “you can die” sign is the top of Gunbarrel/The Face and with the Gunbarrel 25 also going on today, there is no way they would hide it there. It had to be Fire Break. I was already halfway back to Nevada at this point anyway, so I decided to go for it. Normally it would take a least 2 lifts to get there, but after I traversed through some trees and went for another little hike, I skipped a 4-minute Comet Express ride and was able to get straight over to the bottom of Olympic. It still took 3 minutes to ride to ride back up and as I got to the top of the lift, I saw a group of kids hovering by the gate. I skied over and confirmed that someone had just found the prize; All that was left was a small indentation in the snow.

Fire Break Gate

Fire Break Gate

After that I skied back over to Tamarack Lodge and the GoPro tent to see if someone had found the first camera yet. They hadn’t! But with one more clue to go, I didn’t know if should go back to Sky Express or wait for another tweet. I decided to go for a quick lap on nearby Tamarack Express and stay close for clue #3. Just after I got on the lift, the next tweet from @SkiHeavenly came.

Clue #3

Clue #3

Of Course! Ripperoo’s Dog House- right at the bottom of the lift I had just got on…and FEET away from the GoPro tent and the lodge. #$%#! Not like I was going to jump off the chair (although to be honest the thought did cross my mind). What followed was the longest 2 and a half minute lift ride of my life! When I got back down to the bottom, sure enough, camera #3 was gone…I even checked the mailbox.

Ripperoo's Dog House

Ripperoo’s Dog House

With cameras 2 and 3 now spoken for, that still left number 1. After all this time, I knew my chances were slim, but I didn’t want to give up. @SkiHeavenly released another tweet making it painfully obvious where to go.

Clue #1.2

Clue #1.2

It was the scenic lookout on Ridge Run just below the top of Sky Express. It’s clearly marked from the trail (and on the map), and is along the side of perhaps the most popular run at the resort. I found it impossible to believe that no one had found that camera yet, but sure enough, when I made my way there, people were still looking.

Sky Chair

Sky Chair

"Scenic Viewpoint"

“Scenic Viewpoint”

#GoProHunt 2013

#GoProHunt 2013

Whoever found the case never turned it in and what happened to camera number 1 is still a mystery…all I know is that I didn’t come home with it. After my losing day of skiing, I eventually came down the mountain and reluctantly made my way back through the casino where I had parked my car. With $5 cash in my pocket, I thought wouldn’t it be fun to try my luck again…

I won!

I won!

Yeah, I didn’t win. But wouldn’t that have been great? That picture is actually from a few years ago, taken after some other fabulous day at skiing at Heavenly. Today I just wasted a half tank of gas driving up to Lake Tahoe, spent hours of my time searching for an empty box and then pissed away my lunch money in a $1 slot machine (luckily that sandwich place I stopped by on the way home takes credit cards). I still however feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

There’s a saying that goes something like- a bad day of skiing is still better than a good day doing anything else. I couldn’t agree more. While the spring conditions weren’t the greatest and I didn’t win a new GoPro, I still had a lot of fun. I skied 16,246 vertical feet, and as promised, that contest took me all over the mountain. I crossed state lines more times than I can remember, and after that little hike to the top of Monument Peak, which I’ve only bothered to do one other time, I took in one of the best views in the world. As the season draws to a close next week, I can’t help but look back on what a great year it has been. I’m truly blessed to have such an amazing place just two hours from home. I’m also lucky to have an incredibly patient and understanding husband who loves to spend time with our kid, and who puts up with me and all my crazy pursuits in life. Without him, none of this would be possible.

Up To No Good

At the end of this month, I start flying again. Instead of vertical feet, I’ll be chasing miles, and instead of pins on my EpixMix, I’ll be adding new lines on my FlightMemory. I now realize I have two incredibly different and very diverse hobbies. One of them takes me all over the world on a totally different kind of scavenger hunt for miles and points. The other keeps me a little closer to home, and for that I am grateful. All too often I think we overlook some of the fun that can be had playing in our own backyard.

A Better Deal for United Elites?

Namaste from India! My family and I just landed in Delhi yesterday after spending a few days in Singapore and Bali. We’re here visiting relatives, and today was the first day I’ve had with a little downtime to catch up on literally the hundreds of emails I’ve neglected since we left home. That’s when I came across this…


No, it’s not a mistake; My son CJ may have his own Mileage Plus account but we share an email…seeing as how he’s only a year old and doesn’t read and all that yet. Anyway, it’s not uncommon to see 2 identical emails from United show up in our inbox at the same time…but these ones were different. I immediately opened the first to find out more- a 5,000 bonus miles for joining some sort of wine of the month club!


Then I opened the second. Sure enough, it was the same promotion, same price, just offering more miles. I always knew as Premiers we earned more miles than our GM counterparts for getting drunk up in the sky, but now we get more miles on the ground too?vinoplatinum

So aside from soliciting my underage son to buy alcohol (United knows how old he is!), they’re kind of giving him a bum deal! I think he’ll pass. As for me, I’m sure I’ll get my fix of moderately priced vino on board the aircraft next time I fly (hey, some of the stuff actually isn’t that bad). Anyway, I guess if you’re into that kind of thing, here’s just another example of why it pays to have a little status ;)