Texas on my Mind

Dad’s got Texas on his brain and can’t seem to get Plano off his mind…

A few weeks ago, I spent about a week in Dallas, Texas. This was both a personal and business visit. Personal first, business last. My brother and family live in Plano, Texas and they always show me a great time.

This time was extra special because, I got to eat the cheapest and most delicious Indian Food I’ve ever had. As my friends know me, my mantra is always “if it’s cheap or free it’s for me”. I try to be the ultimate in frugal. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m pretty proud of the ability to find deals.

In the Plano Area I’ve found 2 places that fit the bill for me for cheap and good eats

  • Mexican Food – $1 for a sit down meal for tacos. Chito’s has fresh chicken, fish, pork and beef tacos, you can’t go wrong. The salsa combinations are to die for as well
  • Indian Food – 99 cent daily specials at India Bazaar in Plano! Every day a special that you don’t want to miss. These are not just samples, but a full serving of amazing vegetarian food like Paani Puri, Bhel, and the topper, pure sugar cane juice
  • Beer and Darts – $2 dollar drafts and free games of Darts at Fox and Hound.. You can’t beat that. I’ve never played darts, but when you get a bullseye, that is worth the price of admission. Oh by the way, there is no admission charge! Only problem with this place is that it allows smokers and it doesn’t have a non-smoking section.. I gotta remember the name of this place. Highlight of this place was and I swear this would never happen to me in NJ.. A guy I just met sees that I don’t know how to set up the darts says.. let me help you and he gives me the edges to the darts out of the kindness of his heart. In NY/NJ.. they would tell you to go to..

After my awesome visit with my brother, I went to the pinnacle of luxary: The Hilton Anatole , in Downtown Dallas.Let me tell you I’ve been travelling for so many years for both business and pleasure, this hotel is #1 on my places I’d like to stay again in. From having the beautiful artwork (Including having 2 pieces of the Berlin wall, multiple Buddha statues, the Indian artwork, the pictures). This place is state of the art and huge! I felt like I died and went to heaven! You gotta see it to believe it!

I have to tell you, If I had my druthers, I’d be planning my relocation to Plano Texas.. Every one of my financial issues would be solved instantly. Yet I know, my Kismet/Karma is not that good. I’m destined to continue struggle daily in the Garden State.. oh well such is life.

Oh wait, I can close my eyes anytime and I can visualize myself living in Plano and being Dad’s taxi driving my daughter from activity to activity!

Perils of flying Stand By

If you really want to see the country and see multiple airports, be sure you fly stand-by at least once in your life!

Today, my younger daughter and I left early in the morning for a trip to visit my brother and his family. We decided to fly “stand by” since my wife had a few extra passes from her stint at an Airline she worked for last year.

We started our adventure in the wee hours of the morning (4:30 AM) from the suburbs of Middletown, NJ to Newark Liberty Airport in Newark. Being optimistic I figured with a changeover in St. Louis, we’d be arriving in Dallas by 10:30 AM Local time.. Wrong!

We got to St. Louis and that’s when our gate shuffle started. Our intended flight to Dallas was full and we were told to go another gate (10 Gates over) to try for the next connecting flight.. We get to the second gate and we are told by a very very nice gate agent that there is not much of a chance of us to get on THIS flight. Yet I have to tell you something, the gate agents at Southwest are one of the most helpful gate agents you will ever meet. Honest Truth!

They must have seen my pathetic and futile expression and the gate agent scoured all the flights that would enable me to get to my destination in the easiest manner. She sent us BACK to the gate we came from to get on another flight to Tulsa to connect to another (wide open) flight to Dallas! Yes! we were now back in business!

I have to tell you, the helpfulness of “Joy” was truly a joy for us. She fought with her stuck stapler and got us the necessary paperwork, so we could go back to our originating gate and get on the flight to Tulsa!

So we go back to Gate 10, and wait patiently as all the “paid” passengers board the flight to Tulsa.. With dread a sense of despair, I tell my daughter “Well I guess we will have to keep trying”. That’s when the gods of “stand by travel” shined on us.. We were the last 2 seated on the Tulsa flight! Year us!

We got to Tulsa, Oklahoma and jumped on the next connector flight to Dallas! Lucky for us, the Tulsa to Dallas flight was wide open! Oh Happy days!

We finally get to Dallas by 1:30 PM CST and the only casualty of this endless journey is one broken wheel on a checked bag in St. Louis!

Lessons to be learned from this adventure about the perils of flying stand by:

  1. Don’t travel stand-by during the summer months! You are guaranteed to get “bumped” on full flights.
  2. Leave plenty of time, for the fact that you are at the mercy of flights being full.
  3. Don’t travel on Monday’s! Monday is known to be one of the most heavy days for air travel with commuters and vacationers traveling
  4. Develop patience and accept the fact you will be sitting somewhere, waiting for some flight to open for you to travel on!
  5. Avoid stand-by Travel if at all possible!
  6. Pick locations that may be easy to get to.. the larger the city.. the less likely of success in stand-by travel.

Updated on 7/30/2012:

The follies continued on my way back to Newark from Dallas. I gotta tell you one thing, if you ever fly standby, you should never fly an airline that doesn’t have direct flights (Southwest). Don’t get me wrong, the Southwest employees are really helpful and sympathetic both on board and on the ground..

So thing about this trip. We started from Love Field in Dallas at about 8 AM and we landed   at Newark at almost Midnight. Yes 12+ hours for a trip that should normally take 3 to 4 hours if you flew direct!

Our original flight to Chicago (Midway) was sold out so we went to the next gate so we could find an alternate route. Even the gate agent was frustrated yet she finally got us on a flight to Houston, TX, so we could at least have a better chance of getting home as a stand-by passenger

So we get to Houston from Dallas and now we are looking for an alternate route. We get on a flight from Houston to St.Louis via Birmingham. Remember if you can get bumped at any stop! We got lucky and ended up at St Louis by Mid-Day and felt lucky.

We were put on a flight to Chicago (Midway) and we got there by Mid Afternoon. After about a 2 hour layover and a boarding pass for a Newark flight in our hand, we felt that we were almost there! Not!

Our flight to Newark was delayed by 2+ hours due to T-Storms in Newark area. Yes the news gets better and better!? so the flight that was to leave at 6:30 PM left at about 9 PM for our final destination: Newark NJ!

We finally arrived to Newark by Midnight! So our long journey for day into night was finally over!

‘We went from Dallas –> Houston –> Birmingham —> St. Louis —> Chicago –> Newark NJ in a period of 15 hours! We changed planes 3 times and I think we must have traveled over 3 thousand Miles! This journey took more time than a normal journey from US to India!

In all my years of traveling standby, this had to be the longest journey I ever had! All I could say was Wow! I think I am now a veteran of flying standby. If you ever fly standby:

  • Be flexible and leave yourself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B
  • Be prepared for detours!
  • Don’t travel during the Summer vacation times
  • Don’t travel during Monday or Saturday! Almost every day has a heavy load, but these 2 days happen to be the worst
  • Be nice to the Gate Agents. Almost everyone will empathize and try to get you on board if they can!
  • Get used to overpriced Airport Food!
  • Be prepared to Sit and wait!
  • Be prepared to walk from gate to gate to find an open flight!

Have you flown standby? If you have, I’d like to hear your story!

 

Blogging Hiatus

Normally, I try to blog at least once a week, but for the past few week it’s been totally crazy.. I just came back from Dallas from an employee resource group conference.

I tell you Dallas just continues to amaze me at the size of the malls and the number and variety of restaurants that are available in almost any neighborhood and mall. I found a little strip mall which had 10+ small restaurants in Addison, Texas that were all different (Mexican, Italian, Tex-Mex, Grill, etc..)

Another thing is the size of these malls, the sizes are just huge, I guess when they say “Things are bigger in Texas” they must have meant the shopping malls!

The more I go to Texas, the more I realize, I don’t think I could live there. It’s just different. Yes there is diversity, but just the general mood of the city is different. I’ll go into that more in other postings.

Anyway, Dad’s taxi is back in operation and has to hit the road to drop off the younger one to school. I’ll post more later.

Almost forgot to add that the amount of spam that I continue to get on this blog is mind boggling.. People don’t leave comments (that’s ok), but I was gone for 2  weeks and I had over 30 SPAM comments.. How many pairs of UGGS shoes can a person buy?

TTYL for now!

Deal Sites for NYC Restaurants

Here are some new sites for improntu discounts on restaurants in NYC!

Image representing ScoutMob as depicted in Cru...

As you know two things that Dad loves is a bargain and he loves food. I was reading the daily email from Clark Howard and came across some sites I wanted to share with you.

I’ve used Restaurant.com to get some amazing discounts but you have to check out these sites which offer you discounts in NY, Dallas and some selective markets.

These sites are pretty new and were discussed on Clark Howard’s site:

  •  DailyGobble.com – Only in New York and San Francisco at this moment.  Restaurants block off discounts based on specific times of day or days of the week when they need the foot traffic into their restaurants. I especially loved the discounts for Indian Food in NYC. Gives me a reason to go to NYC soon!
  • ScoutMob.com – Available in  a dozen or so cities and coming soon to more! What I liked about this site was the simplicity where you don’t pay up front like Groupon and other sites require you to. You only get the savings when you take advantage of one of the offers. I also liked the map based navigation of the cities that the offers are available in.

Of course doing the above does not preclude me from my obsession with using my local Entertainment Book for local food coupons!