I was scheduled to travel to Hong Kong in April to watch the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament. It’s a “bucket list” trip for me and I was looking forward to visiting Hong Kong for the first time. I also purchased the trip as a gift to myself for my fiftieth birthday, so I splurged and chose the swankiest ticket package available short of renting out a suite. I’m staying at a fancy hotel nearby, too. I enjoy traveling and try not to get too excited for visiting new places, but I have to admit I was starting to become giddy with excitement for this trip.
After the beginning of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is now officially named, I scoured the news for any indication it would impact my trip. I was nervous when U.S. airlines stopped servicing mainland China, and when Untied Airlines announced they were reducing flights to Hong Kong to once daily I was even more concerned. The director of the Hong Kong Rugby Union adamantly announced two weeks ago that they were holding the tournament as planned in April despite the outbreak, noting the tournament went ahead in 2003 during the SARS outbreak.
This past Wednesday evening I was browsing through my Instagram feed when I came across a post from the Dubai Rugby Sevens account consoling the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens tournaments regarding the postponement of their respective tournaments.
I could not find any information regarding the postponement on any of the sites I expected (Hong Kong Sevens or World Rugby) to corroborate this information. Interestingly, that Instagram post was subsequently deleted by Dubai Sevens — probably because the decision had not been officially released at that point. I did come across a New York Times article suggesting the tournament would be postponed, though.
It wasn’t until the next morning (in the U.S.) that the official announcement was released by World Rugby and the Hong Kong Rugby Union that the tournament was being postponed until 16-18 October. This was disappointing news for sure but definitely necessary to preserve the health of the players, staff and the fans.
I had to begin the process of shifting my travel reservations to the new dates. I purchased my tournament tickets and accommodation package via Keith Prowse Travel out of Australia. I have greatly enjoyed working with my agent Dave there and was planning to reach out to him regarding the process of rescheduling… when he called me and confirmed everything was going to be handled appropriately. Since my package did not include airfare I still needed to change my flights with United. I decided to call UA on the phone to speak with someone in person. UA posted flight waivers for existing booked flights but those waivers only accommodated rebooking into June. I wasn’t really in the mood to pay a change fee for my fare because the HKRU moved the tournament to October. When I first contacted a representative at United I was informed that because the changed flight date was outside the wavier period it would potentially cost me US $200 to change the dates, but the rep did “get permission” to waive that fee due to the special circumstances. I am unsure who gave him this permission but I won’t complain. In the end I was informed the change would cost about US $5 to process… but I have not yet seen that transaction come across on my AMEX account.
I still look forward to visiting Hong Kong in October and hope that I can contain my excitement until then. I also hope that there are not many more deaths from people suffering in the region where COVID-19 is running rampant. This outbreak will have a major impact on travel to the region.
I travelled out to San Francisco for the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament. I had a fantastic time at AT&T Park watching the best sevens rugby teams in the world play for the title of World Champion in Sevens Rugby. The New Zealand men and women’s teams both won the title this year.
I also explored the Mission District of San Francisco and some of the local craft breweries, as one would expect me to do.
I traveled back to my home town this weekend for my thirty-year high school class reunion. It was great seeing old friends again even though I had not kept in touch with most of them.
We started with a welcome mixer at an outdoor local bar where even the locals were sweating through their shirts. I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to live in the Denver, Colorado, area where it is rarely over 20% humidity and the temperatures rarely exceed 95 in the hottest part of the summer. I am also happy that we have outlawed smoking in most public places — I had to wash the clothing I was wearing twice when I made it back home to rid them of the nasty smoke odors.
On Saturday night we moved to an indoor venue, the local Country Club, for drinks, appetizers and an 80s tribute band, ostensively for dancing. Two of my favorite teachers from my high school years were also in attendance, and it was great to see them again!
I spent a few days with my father as well on this trip, which was wonderful. I am finding that spending time with family becomes more important as I get older.
I was attempting to purchase a good airfare deal to Vancouver for the Canada Sevens rugby tournament when I was reminded that my current passport expires next January… meaning I cannot book a trip in March without a valid passport at the time of the flights.
Considering how many sycophantic donors have been elevated to federal government positions I expected my passport renewal to take at least six weeks to complete if not double that. The State Department apparently has not succumb to this disorder yet, at least not the Passport Service. They were quoting routine renewal processing times of four to six weeks.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed my bank had cleared the check within three business days, then even more surprise when I received the new passport in the mail within two weeks including weekends. Wow!
Kudos to the State Department Bureau Of Consular Affairs!
I took the dogs hiking in Georgia Pass today. The pass is about ninety minutes west of Denver on US 285. We have hiked the area before but it is close enough to home to be an easy drive, especially with good weather.
Our target today was a ridge opposite Mt. Guyot that I have been unable to ascend in the past — a sprained ankle and impending thunderstorm prevented climbing it in the past.
At the top of the ridge we were at about 12,400 feet elevation. Sadly the wildfires in the Pacific northwest were sending a large amount of smoke our direction which prevented the glorious views we would normally see.
I didn’t intend to hike more than five miles but once back at the truck my GPS app registered 7.6 miles. Surprisingly both dogs handled the distance well, at least until Sunday morning when Lucy was sore and unable to walk more than a couple blocks. She recovered by Monday, though.
Unfortunately on the drive back down the hill from the pass I hit a sharp rock on the gravel road and ended up with a flat tire. The flat was complicated by the fact that Discount Tire decided to over-torque the lug nuts to the point where I literally twisted my lug wrench ninety degrees. I was worried I would snap the top of it off and not have a means of tightening the lugs on the spare.
Needless to say on Monday morning I had a conversation with the guys at the tire shop about not torquing the lug so tightly. I also picked up a heavy-duty lug wrench at AutoZone… hopefully I won’t have to test it out any time soon.
My friends Joanie and Dave recently purchased a campground in southern Colorado between Ca ñon City and Salida, the Sweetwater River Ranch. I had not been down for a visit yet so the Independence Day weekend seemed like a great time. Luckily, Dave was able to find a tent spot for me and the dogs across the river (the Arkansas river).
I wouldn’t normally stay at a campground when I can camp in a spot away from other people so this was a bit of a change for me: no climbing out of the tent at 3 am to have a pee, at least not close to the tent. I also couldn’t just open the tent flaps and let the dogs roam at 4:30 am — but that was not an issue as they were so tired from swimming in the river.
The tent spots across the river are accessed by a 100-yard suspension bridge. Once you have crossed a few times you’ve learned how to walk to prevent the bridge swaying from side-to-side. Lucy had no issues with the bridge but Fabi was hesitant to come back across the bridge to the office buildings so she swam instead. Multiple times, in a swift current of high melt-off water.
We visited some other friends that live in the area and hiked a bit but the majority of the weekend was spent next to the river, or in the river diving for rocks in Fabi’s case.
I attended a technical conference in Miami this week. It may have as well been held in Alaska because we were indoors in the air conditioning all day long. I did take a few walks along the bay early in the morning, though.
I am not a fan of Miami, by the way. The city itself is too superficial — everyone worries about what statement their clothes and car make, contributing to a spiraling competition to the top. I overheard some stock-broker types in the hotel bar one-upping each other regarding where they lived in the city and to which gym they belonged. They were starting to get very upset with each other and it may have come to blows — I don’t know because I went back to my room. I do know they were very disrespectful to the bartendress who is not a native english speaker and didn’t get their slurred jokes. If I had been her I believe I would have spit in their $20 martinis.
I’m very happy to be back in Colorado with my dogs and actual craft beer choices other than Sam Adams.