Friday, September 21, 2018

30 Hour Layover: Vacation or Work? (And a Sasquatch Sighting)

Base of Mt. Helena; Helena, MT
Can you call it a vacation if you're working?  Typically on my trips I have anywhere from 11 to 16 hour layovers in a city.  Circa 8 of those hours are for sleeping... another 0.5 for getting ready for bed/wake up routine... and whatever is left over for food consumption and/or personal interest.  Well this month I landed a 30 hour layover in Helena, Montana. 

Captain Sara
30 hour layovers are either something you're into, or not.  With a family at home, I try to avoid these trips because I want the time I spend away from them truly to be productive and work related.  But these are also opportunities to explore, while being paid!  

Our last leg of the day was from MSP to HLN.  My wife listed to fly standby on my flight and was able to join me! We had care for our boys for a couple nights which gave us the opportunity to have some quality respite... all while being "on the clock."

We learned Helena was a gold rush city... once one of the wealthiest cities in America... Wikipedia says $3.6 billion extracted in gold over 2 decades.  We took the hotel shuttle downtown to grab some breakfast and hot coffee, and then set out to hike up Mt. Helena.

Breakfast Sandwiches and Coffee @ Park Ave Bakery

Walking through Reeder's Alley

Hiking and biking in the Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix had become such a regular part of our lives there, we seemed to have forgotten how much we missed that kind of slow and steady work that hiking is... that affords so much wonder and marvel in the midst of God's creation, and time for uninterrupted conversations... well between the catching of our breath. Oh and we also met Sasquatch at the summit.

WARNING: Extreme Fun Ahead

Sasquatch Sighting

View from summit of Mt. Helena

After hiking we spent a few hours at the local library. What set out to be our "Pimental Planning Day" (our monthly planning of next month's work and life schedules for our family...since no two weeks are ever the same), became a full on reflection on where we are in work and life, sharing our anxieties and fears about what is next, and remembering God's faithfulness to us all along.  

October Scheming

Eventually we got hungry again and walked to lunch at a bar/restaurant that used to be a brothel up until the 70s.  Good food though... and enjoyed some local beers.  We grabbed some homemade chocolates from the Parrot Candy store and then visited the Cathedral of St Helena.  It was such a quiet town every where we went, and especially the cathedral... we took a moment to kneel and pray and thank God for the way he has been providing.

Cathedral of St. Helena

One of the *perks* of a job in the airlines is the flight benefits... we've been looking forward to taking advantage of these, and have here or there as time allows, but this was the first time Sara and I have been able to go out on an adventure kidless.

A Flower

Some Grass
Man, respite is wonderful! Who said it? "Take breaks, but don't turn your life into a break."  Does this count as a break though if I was technically working?? 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Hawaii Vacation & Some Thoughts on Family Generations: Looking Back and Looking Forward [Pictures Included]

With a brief break in our schedules, open seats on a direct flight from MSP to HNL (Honolulu), and gracious hosts--my family and I were able to escape to Hawaii for vacation.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant
This was only my second time in Hawaii; the first visit played an integral part in my decision to begin flight training back in 2013.  So I'd like to say that Hawaii has become a place of much reflection and rest for us, and hopefully a place we can continue to fold into our family traditions over the years.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant

During our last visit, I called my Grandpa from Diamond Head because I recalled how he had grown up on the islands.  In fact, as I spoke with him, I learned that my great great grandparents moved to the Hawaiian islands from Portugal.  "Hilo Grandma" lived on the Big Island (Hawaii--where all that volcanic activity is happening that you've heard about in the news). Her son, my great grandfather, was a Forest Ranger in the National Forest there.  We heard stories about how Hilo Grandma would make Portuguese Sweet Bread in a mud oven with giant banana leaves, and how my grandpa was caddying at a golf course on the Big Island when the bombs hit at Pearl Harbor.  They later moved to the island of Oahu.  When Sara and I visited in 2013, we stopped by the home to meet a few relatives and even ate an avocado from an avocado tree that my great grandfather planted!  Surprised and mostly unaware of all these family connections in Hawaii, I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the history of the islands and how three generations of my family called Hawaii home.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant

This trip was not so much about career reflections as it was about faith and community reflections with our close friends who were a part of our Bible study when they lived in Minnesota several years ago.  My current seniority has made it difficult to get the weekends off--which as a result means I have not been able to be a part of a local church in the way I would like to.  The time in Hawaii and conversations with our friends allowed me to be reflective and leave with a renewed spirit to be intentional about the way in which I can bid for a schedule that allows more opportunities to be a part of a local church.

It was also a good "moment" for me to reflect on fatherhood.  My friend Jonathan asked me what I hope for my grandchildren and the question caught me off guard! I hadn't really thought of such a thing--even for my sons, other than your basic I hope they grow up to be good men and follow God.  Noble aspirations, but at least something I'd like to think more about.  His question has challenged me to think more deeply on these topics.

Our family has been through so much change in the past few years it has felt hard to think beyond what's happening next month, let alone a couple generations from now.  But I think that is what breaks are for... time and space to be reflective, maybe realize some regrets you have, but move forward and make changes, think more deeply on what you believe and how to align your choices more closely with those beliefs. And what a gift it was for us to do all that in Hawaii... thank you to our Hawaiian Uncle and Auntie Keizer for hosting us and good food and time spent with our friends, the Fants.

These photos became a fast treasure to our family from Jessica, and so I gratefully overshare with you a bit of the joy we had on this trip.

All photos by Jessica Fant, used with her permission

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We are Homeowners! [Before & After Flip Pictures Included]

After over seven years of living in different apartments, I am so proud and grateful to say that my wife and I are officially homeowners!

I cannot say enough about what a pleasure it was to work with Theo Sandburg of the Kris Lindahl team at Re/Max.  With the market having such a low inventory right now, we were so grateful to have a realtor who helped guide our offers and help us negotiate on our behalf.  

My favorite part of this process was the home inspection with Structure Tech.  No, seriously.  Our inspector Jim, made it such an educational opportunity for us... the inspection made me feel like now I am an expert on the property's condition and needs.  Shoutout to my brother in law, Ryan, for recommending them.  They are the highest rated home inspection company for good reason!

As a result of what we found during the inspection, Theo was able to negotiate on our behalf for a new sewage pipe and furnace! Grateful to move into a home in which we get to mitigate a ton of risk just by having new appliances, and strong bones.

I also would like to mention how grateful I was to work with John Hastings at Guaranteed Rate. We have met with John on several different occasions since being married... considering purchasing a home and each time we truly felt as though he was true to his tagline: looking out for our best interest! If you want a smooth financing process with someone you can trust... look no further!

We found some pictures online of before the flip, so although we can't take credit for the updates ourselves... who doesn't appreciate a good before and after look?

Before & After Kitchen Flip
For those who are familiar with my upbringing, home ownership has been one of my lifelong dreams... I have longed for a place to call home and plant roots and feel a sense of security.  My Christian faith reminds me that ultimately this world is not my home, but owning this home is a wonderful shadow of the joy that is set before me in the hope of an eternal home with Jesus Christ.

Oh, and my three year old is pretty stoked to have a playroom. 

We've received so much support and blessings in this process. So grateful for our families who have gifted us in different ways to make this dream a reality. 

Shoutout to my brother Aaron who is an extremely gifted woodworker... making us this dining table...

Farmhouse Table handcrafted by Aaron Studt
And to Tim for making sure our clothes will be washed by the best American made laundry machines out there-- a Speed Queen washer and dryer! Shoutout to my hometown company Alliance Laundry Systems of Ripon, WI-- who is best known for their commercial grade laundry systems you see in laundromats across the globe... we know that these are literally manufactured to last longer than anything you'd buy at Home Depot or Costco or Lowe's or Best Buy... oh yes and the man behind the design is someone who has counted me as a son and I could not be more grateful for him.

Speed Queen Washer & Dryer

Come on over sometime. Or help us move this week! :)

Update: Also want to thank my brother Brad...  he and his wife went to showings with Sara while I was out of state working and gave us a nudge on this whole thing.  By the way I only recently found out he is alive and well, but that is a story for another day.