She knows what’s coming in the way dogs know before we do.
About a dangerous stranger, earthquakes, or bacon.
She’s gently letting me know it will soon be time for her to go.
It’s one of an infinite number of brilliant conversations I’ve had with my best friend.
The friend who has never uttered a word in our more than 15 years together, but has taught me so much.
“She’s not going anywhere,” Husband tries to soothe and reassure me.
I appreciate this man who is wise in so many things. I also know he doesn’t speak Dog.
She’s letting me know in the way she’s eased me back from three, to two, to one walk a day, like weaning a toddler from multiple naps.
The way her back legs get a little weaker every day.
The way she’s had a few accidents.
Hers is not a straight decline.
She’s had some senior moments followed by some almost puppy like days, well, moments actually, if I’m being honest.
More than anything, it’s the look in her eyes. The look that says, “You’ve done so much for me these last 15 years, but you’re going to have to do one more. I didn’t sign up to be here as long as you did. You’re going to have to let me go.”
I know she’s not the dog who will want heroic measures.
The folks down the street are paying huge vet bills to give their dog chemo. I get it.
I’ve had that pet.
My first 3-legged cat was that way. A trip to the vet was an excuse to go for a ride in the car and get cuddles from the vet techs. He was up for every treatment to keep him here 20 years.
Not this dog. She has hated the vet since her first puppy shots. Any trip there has always been agony.
Even my wonderful vet reminded me of this when I called him a couple weeks ago when Darla was having a bad day.
“I’m happy to look at her,” he said. “But if you’re clear she won’t want anything done, why are you bringing her in?”
Thank God for a vet who turns away a chance to make a buck, who helps save Darla from my selfish wish to keep her here forever.
I know there’s a chance, you understand, Dear Reader.
That you’ve had to say, “Goodbye” to your best friend, too.
If you’ve done it before, like I did with Tripod, you can see signs you denied the last time.
Now, I can listen.
The master teacher is giving one last lesson.
Make her comfortable.
Enjoy every single walk, snuggle, and slurpy kiss.
It could be our last.
I look deep into her cloudy chocolate brown eyes, pools of love and wisdom, for the strength to give her the gift she’s earned a million times over the last 15 years.
I imagine most husbands’ idea of some time away means a few days at the beach? Couple days at a cabin?
I’m not really sure, as I’m very late to the marriage game and Miles Chasing Mad Scientist Husband is my entire husband sample.
Beyond family, MCMSH’s passion is collecting frequent flyer miles without flying and cashing them in to travel the world First Class on the fanciest planes, fanciest airlines, which he likes to point out upfront are not going to be US-based carriers.
So, buckle your seat belts.
Here’s the 12-day, around-the-world trip we just took.
Just the facts:
12 flights, 5 airlines, 2 boat rides.
31,754 miles flown.
Would’ve cost $87,532 for two if MCMSH was the type to pay cash or had that kind of disposable income. Neither of which will probably ever be true.
Instead he paid a whopping total of $383.45 per person!
Yep, flew around the world first class for less than it would’ve cost us to fly to California in Coach.
Husband complained when we landed in Abu Dhabi 13 1/2 hours later. “Flight wasn’t long enough,” he bummed, to enjoy all the fun stuff on board!”
Plenty of fun ahead. Spent the night in Abu Dhabi, flew out next day to Male, the capital city of of The Maldives, a nation of 1,192 islands spread over 35,000 in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I think MCMSH picked one of the most remote. From Male, we had another hour flight in a tiny plane and across the dark, choppy ocean in this tiny boat.
This resort was the original inspiration of the trip. MCMSH earned us four free nights by signing us up for the Chase Hyatt Visa. (See ** below for MCMSH’s rec on best way to sign up for this card.)
He wanted to spend those nights at one of the most expensive properties in the world.
Expensive with reason.
Check out our over-the-water villa:
Resort takes up the entire tiny island. No need to go anywhere, just step down off the ladder of your deck for the best snorkeling ever.
After 4 days in the Maldives it was time to get back on that darn boat.
Male-Doha-Abu Dhabi, where Husband revealed the trip’s big surprise. He’d planned the whole thing, but waited until the middle of the night, just outside the Etihad First Class Lounge to tell me where in the world we were headed next.
I now know one of the big reasons, MCMSH picked our next destination–Etihad had just started flying their A380 First Apartments on the Abu Dhabi-Sydney Route.
Once I woke up, I could order anything I wanted off the four page menu.
Apartment sets up so that you can invite a friend over to share a meal.
Did I mention, there’s a shower on board!
Etihad First Class ticket includes getting picked up at the airport in Sydney by Mercedes limo with driver.
And taken to our hotel, which was the incredible Park Hyatt Sydney right on the Harbor! Again, MCMSH cashed in points for a free stay.
So glad Husband picked Sydney!
My one job before this trip was to give MCMSH a list of names and email of friends I have living around the world. He used the info to set up dinner with Bruce and Teresa who have been living in Sydney since we were next door neighbors in Phoenix 20-years ago.
Time to leave all too soon. That means not going home direct.
And finally ride home, the next day from Seoul to Atlanta.
Complain about airplane food? Without a doubt Korean Air First Class had the best food of any airline we flew over the trip. Only complaints here–they don’t stop feeding you! 3 meals over 14 hours. First meal alone, was 7-courses of fine dining.
By the way, does it look like I’m wearing a lot of the same clothes in many of the shots? One of the rules of traveling with MCMSH–everyone goes with carry on luggage only! Just in case, he gets wind of an even better flight we can catch, he doesn’t want us beholden to already checked luggage. This means squishing 12 days of clothes into one small suitcase and one backpack. That includes making space for my “Big Girl Camera,” laptop, and bag of electric converters to fit in an of the six countries we passed through over the 12 days. So, yeah, fashion takes a hit.
((For the credit card that gets you the free nights at any Hyatt property in the world. MCMSH recs that you got to Hyatt.com. Start process to book a room. Select city, dates, room type. That will take you to the “Complete Your Reservation” Page. At the bottom of that page, you’ll see an ad for the same card I mentioned above. This time, though, it has a “Get a $50 Statement Credit.” Click through there to apply. MCMSH says this is the best offer out there for this card. Once you’ve applied, you can cancel that fake reservation you were making. If you and your partner, spouse, or friend each get a card, you suddenly have 4 nights paid at any Hyatt property in the world, including Park Hyatt which are nicest hotels. Yep, this is the brain I live with.))
I hope this gives you a taste of our different way of traveling. How luxury travel can be fun and affordable. For more tips on how you can get on board check out my regular website, DarynKagan.com.
He tries to wow me once a year with some over-the-top experience.
Let’s just say sitting on our deck in The Maldives over looking the Indian Ocean as I write this, he done pretty darn good.
For him, it truly is not the destination, it’s the journey. He wants to fly on the fanciest plane of the fanciest airline, all while paying pennies.
For this trip he booked us on Etihad Airways 787 Dreamliner. First Class Suites. We flew from Atlanta to Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport where we boarded the fantasy airliner.
The tickets to get here for the two of us would’ve cost $46,000.
That’s just one way!
Mad Scientist Miles Husband paid $7.
This is what $46,000 plane tickets look like:
Coffee was just the beginning. Anything you can think of that you would want to drink, they have on board. The man pouring the coffee? He’s the personal chef on-call for the 13 1/2 hour flight who will cook up anything the eight passengers in First Class can think of ordering.
Kinda makes MSMH crazy, but with this flight taking off at 10 pm est, I was more excited to catch some sleep. I skipped dinner and made use of the lie-flat bed.
The flight was so awesome that MSMH was bummed when it landed in Abu Dhabi.
“13 1/2 hours is too short to enjoy everything!” he complained.
“Enough, already, Daryn, stop teasing and show us how MSMH pulled this fantasy trip off!”
Here you go:
We use credit cards for everything we spend, making sure to pay off all balances each month and making our money bring in additional value. For this trip, MSMH says he signed up for three credit cards like the AAdvantage Aviator Master Card.
He redeemed 180,000 AAdvantage Miles. Yes, you can use American miles to redeem on other international airlines with better service.
That’s the earn. Anyone who has tried to redeem frequent flyer points lately knows “the burn” is even harder. MSMH figures he spent 12 hours figuring out how to piece together this trip, knowing which airline websites to search for award space and which airline currency to use.
This man is nothing if not determined.
And I do have to say, hanging with this miles-crazed man is not for the faint of heart. Little domestic trips don’t float his boat at all. We stayed overnight in Abu Dhabi, took another 4-hour flight to Male, the capital of the Maldives. 2-hour layover we took a regional jet to an even smaller island, where we boarded a speed boat for a one hour crazy ride across the Indian Ocean to get to the luxury hotel on a small coral reef atoll. We are frankly, a dot in the ocean in the middle of nowhere.
A dot with wifi, thank goodness, so I can share this journey.
The luxury hotel? Paid for with points, as well. I’ll share pics from here and how MSMH pulled this one off, as well, in a later post.
For now, I hear the coral reef right off this deck and rainbow fishes calling my name.
So many folks asking for Mad Scientist Miles Husband’s tips. You’ll find more miles content at DarynKagan.com
Story goes back to a few years ago when we were dating, snuggled up on the couch watching “Dancing With The Stars.” He sweetly asked me, “Would you ever want to take ballroom dance lessons?”
I thought about it a second and said, “You mean, together?”
He still howls at this because, as he points out, how else do you take ballroom dance lessons? Who takes ballroom dance lessons alone?
Uh, that would be me.
When you’re single as long as I was, when you constantly picked guys who didn’t do more than toss a few cookie crumbs of their time your way, you learn to do a lot of stuff by yourself.
Yes, including sign up for ballroom dance lessons.
I got thinking about this the other day when I came across this study which confirms Husband’s theory that he married a different bird. A business professor at the University of Maryland says Americans are not going out, if that means having to go out alone.
Does this sound like you, Dear Reader?
Where do you draw your line in the comfort zone sand?
Would you go out to a restaurant by yourself?
To a movie?
Take dance lessons?
According to this study, most of you won’t if it means going solo.
You’re too worried about what other people would think when they see you out by yourself.
Here’s the punch line on that one—
Another study shows people aren’t watching you. They’re not judging you, probably because they’re too busy being self-conscious about what people are thinking about them!
Seems to me, we all have some kind of challenge to overcome to live our lives more fully.
For me, it has been getting used to a whole cookie kind of guy. A man who wants to spend a lot of time with me and go do stuff.
They really do make guys like that. Who knew? Certainly not me until well into my 40’s.
You need to get over yourself and those imaginary people who, I promise, will not be judging you if you get out there by yourself for dinner, a movie, or even dance lessons.
And then there’s this—
When that hottie instructor is twirling you across the dance floor as the music makes a symphony in your heart, the last thing you will be thinking about is being alone.
Some wives nag their husbands to take out the trash.
These days, around our house, it’s me nagging on behalf of you.
“Husband! Your Miles Newbies want the next step!”
Trash still has to go out, but Mad Scientist Miles Husband (MSMH) has produced for you!
Of course, you read my last post and did your dreaming—where do you want to go with these zillions of miles you are going to collect without flying? That’s really important because it is going to help direct how you’re going to collect.
MSMH has put together this handy guide:
Continental US: Southwest, British Airways
Hawaii: United, British Airways
Australia/Asia: Delta, United, Korean, Singapore, Alaska
Europe: United, Delta
Africa: Delta, American
Middle East: American, Alaska
South America: American, United
* So one disclaimer on Delta SkyMIles (MSMH is coaching over my shoulder) skip Delta if you want to fly First Class to any international destinations. You are not able to use SkyMiles to get First Class tickets. Wife adds: This will be an ongoing theme you will hear many many times from MSMH–how bad the SkyMiles program is, how Delta has devalued this currency to depressing levels. This will be huge shock to many of our friends who live in Atlanta who think this is the only airline to fly anywhere. Oh, how your world is about to open up!
Let’s Talk Numbers!
How many of these miles are you going to need?
MSMH encourages you to look this up for yourself with the individual carriers you’re focusing on. In general he says to plan on
For International trips: 60-100K per person round trip in Coach, 125-160K/Business, 200-240K RT international First Class.
For Domestic trips: MSMH says to look this up for yourself. He’s an international travel snob because he loves world travel and you get the most value for your miles by using them on international trips.
Finally! Your “To Do” List
This is where you’re going to start feeling like you’re doing something!
1. Sign up for your free frequent flyer account on the website of your targeted airline(s.)
3. Sign up for Rewards Dining. Going out to eat is about to become even more fun and lucrative. You can find each airline’s dining rewards program here.
4. Check CreditKarma.com to get an approximate idea on your credit score. It’s free.
Coming up next from your favorite Mad Scientist Miles Husband–let’s go shopping and earn a bunch of miles! He’ll show you how to use those shopping portals to get a bunch of miles for stuff you were going to buy anyway!
Still intrigued? Your eyes aren’t crossing? Then, check out more miles content at DarynKagan.com