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Travel Reading: The Assassin Chronicles – Chapter One

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     Palm Springs, California; it had everything. The rolling, maroon mountains in the rural areas contrasted sharply with the sun-baked estates of the rich and famous far off in the distance. From his view on the aerial tramway of Mount San Jacinto, The Assassin – Smith – could just make out both. The tram ride was one of the most popular attractions in Palm Springs. He admired this canvas before business grabbed his attention.

     “Is it feasible?”  This was his handler, Mr. Wolf. He was an attractive man with wafting, golden hair and sparkling emerald eyes. Unfortunately, the red blazer he wore didn’t do a thing to showcase his muscular build nor add any degree of menace to his five-foot-seven stature.  

     Smith, a handsome forty-something year old man with jet black hair and a very demanding face, had quite the crush on his boss. The relationship oozed sexual tension, but Wolf suffered from a horrible disease – he was debilitatingly heterosexual!

     “Well?”

     With a sigh, The Assassin nodded once. He was a man of no words. In fact, for the rest of the gondola ride, he ignored Wolf. He peered out at a gorgeous sunset that few places in the world could rival.  

     After the charming sky-ride was finished, The Assassin climbed inside his very tasteful candy black Mercedes SLS. He opened the glove compartment, removing a silenced Colt M45 pistol from its depths. Smith tucked the weapon into its holster beneath his pristine white suit jacket.

     The car’s engine roared to life, like a pouncing lion leaping from the bush. Smith piloted the car past a string of golf courses and shopping malls which he was sure housed only the best designer brands. That reminded him: He needed to pick up an Armani tux for his mother’s vow renewal.

     As the sun continued to set, it was clear where Smith was heading; the annual White Party. The fireworks could be seen throughout the Springs, exploding in majestic whites and pinks.  

     The main event took place where it normally does, White Party Park. More than twenty thousand men, some half-naked, a few totally naked, ate, drank, made out, and partied around the giant Ferris wheel.

     Smith was both enthralled and disgusted. He loved gorgeous, sweaty men, but loathed gratuitous promiscuity at the same time. It’s true; The Assassin was a walking conundrum. Pity he forgave his own quirks. The quirks kept him single and lonely.  

     If a person were to wonder how he entered the party armed and without the complete pat down, the answer would be simple.  Security tends to become slack when Greek Gods prance around in tight white speedos.  No one detected him clambering over the scaffolding set up beside the Ferris wheel.

     Work then replaced his view of the delicious debauchery and he set his gaze on a massive VIP tent.

     Inside that tent, Fred Robertson and Graham Phelps discussed what to do with the charitable donations.  Both men were shrewd in business, but only Fred could be called unscrupulous.  He was an overweight smoker battling inoperable lung cancer.  His partner in crime, however, was one of the healthiest men in America and the owner of the largest pharmaceutical company, BioScience Labs.

     Halfway through Fred’s plan, Graham interjected.  “Won’t work, no sir.”

     “I organized the event,” Fred shot back between coughs.

     “Which is why you’d be the only suspect, you idiot.”

     “That’s why our friend’s out there.”  Fred lit another cigarette.  “I’m not gonna die for enjoyin’ life.”

     Graham chortled.  “You do know they do put the warning labels right on the package now.  In bold.”

     Fred simply glared.  “I pull this off, we got a deal?”

     “My company could always use more cancer funding.  Although, you’re screwing over your own community.”

     “I don’t have HIV.”

     Smiling and shaking his head, Graham shook Fred’s hand and left the tent.  He almost bumped into Wolf.  His odd proportions made the white BDSM outfit he wore look laughable.

     Fred put out his cigarette.  “That’s not exactly subtle, son.”

     “He’s here.”

     Wolf snatched Fred’s collar, nearly dragging him out of the tent.

      Smith was waiting.  He grabbed Fred’s head and snapped it backwards.

     Briefly stunned, Wolf watched Fred’s lifeless body fall to the floor.  He growled and reached for his gun.  Smith already had his in hand and was about to take Wolf down when Wolf grabbed the nearest bystander.  The bystander took the bullets.  Smith disappeared into the crowd.

     Wolf went another direction, but the pair of them had falcon vision.  Neither lost sight of the other.  They made their way through the crowd and into a gay bar.

     Thankfully, the gay bar was tasteful and not at all what one would expect.  Like most restaurants in Palm Springs, the bar had class and a classy clientele.

     Smith entered the men’s room right before Wolf.  He sauntered over to the urinal.  Wolf joined him.  They were waiting for a man in the middle to finish.

     After some extended eye contact, the third wheel turned to them and baited them in a butch voice.  “Want some privacy?”  Both killers almost made him their next target.  He scurried away, his pride crippled.

     Smith and Wolf still just stared at each other.  They were hesitant to even flinch.  Then, Wolf’s arrogance got the better of him and he drew his gun.  His opponent grabbed his arm and shoved it in the urinal.  When Smith flushed, he rendered the weapon useless.

     It was time for him to use his own.  Wolf countered by tackling Smith to the ground.  More punches and kicks were thrown.  While unclear, one of them managed to slam the other’s head into a sink.

     Playtime was over.  Wolf, now scared, dodged a couple punches that Smith smacked right into the bathroom mirrors behind them.  He didn’t have time to avoid the glass shard Wolf wielded.  Smith’s jugular was the intended target, but Wolf managed only to get Smith’s arm during a block.

     Another kick landed Smith on his back.  When he stood up, the bathroom door creaked closed.  Wolf ran.

     The next morning felt like Hell.  Deep bruising and bandages stretched over Smith’s face, mocking him.  He slithered up to his car, a tux slung over his shoulder and a tourist pamphlet in one hand.  The shop from earlier didn’t have Armani as he predicted; he settled for Versace.

     Smith opened the pamphlet and marvelled at all the tourist attractions he was missing out on.  Palm Canyon called to him.  He loved to hike, and these rocky mountain trails with views of palm trees and subtle peaks ignited a primal fire within his soul.  Then he took a gander at the information on the art museum in the city itself.  It featured classic and performance art; the former his favorite.  His inner child wanted to visit Soak City and ride the 70-foot twin scorpion water slide.  At times like these, Smith wished he was normal.  However, he knew he’d never be back here.  He would never enjoy these things.

     For just a minute, The Assassin examined his car, then the tux.  It almost seemed like he had grown distasteful of extravagance, too.  What else would he do with the money he made, he asked himself?  Not that it mattered.  Smith was heading for a crisis of self and he didn’t even know it.

     With that, he got into his car and headed into the mountains.  His final destination was the airport on the other side.  After showing his ticket, he headed through the gate.

      “Enjoy your trip to Switzerland, Mr. Kowalczyk,” the stewardess called out.

     Smith grinned.  It was dangerous using his Christian name, but he enjoyed hearing it.  Actually, in truth, he barely remembered it.

     Meanwhile, in the middle of the Sea of Japan, Wolf reported his failure to his superior aboard a freighter.

     If this mystery man had a physical form, it was well hidden by the shadows of the cargo hold.  “What made you think I’d sign off on this?”

     “There’s something you need to see.”  Wolf pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.

     “Is this credible?”

     “Yeah, boss, it is.  I triple checked.”

     The mystery man sucked his teeth.  “Have everyone waiting for us on the dock.  Dear God, how did I not see this?!”

     Wolf nodded and backed away respectfully.

FADE TO BLACK.

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for next week’s story, full of more international intrigue, travel ideas, style, and fashion.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 22:49:12.

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Brands We Love

Top LGBTQ Travel Bloggers You Should Be Following

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June 21st was the officially the first day of summer and it got me thinking about my summer holidays, despite the fact that I’m now a fully-grown adult and can go on holiday whenever I want.

So, I did what any millennial does when looking for travel inspiration; I turned to Instagram and ended up down a bit of a hashtag rabbit-hole from #paris to #parispride to #lgbtqtravelers. There I stumbled across some incredible LGBTQ+ travel bloggers that I think you should know about.

Dopes on the Road

My best friend

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Meg Cale started Dopes on the Road as a means of connecting with friends and family when she lived in South Korea but she began to get questions from other queer folks who were looking to travel in Korea and the surrounding area.

Meg, who is also an LGBTQ+ activist, doesn’t sugar coat the realities of travelling as a queer person including the possibility that you might feel more comfortable passing for straight/cis in a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal or very close to it.

While the blog was originally Meg’s domain, her wife Lindsay, who does a lot of work behind the scenes, is now joining her as a joint contributor as they begin their next adventure in Mexico.

Travels of Adam

Yep, I never get tired of this view #berlin

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In 2009, Adam Groffman quit his job as a graphic designer to begin travelling. After a 15-month round the world trip, Adam settled on Germany as his new home but continues to travel across Europe and across the world.

In his latest blog post (as of this article being written), Adam has put together a guide to the ultimate resources for LGBTQ+ travellers. It takes you through everything from where to find travel inspiration to connecting with other LGBTQ+ travellers to safety advice if you’re travelling to a place where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.

My Normal Gay Life

 

Jose Harvey is an out and proud gay man who sees visibility and representation as one of the most important issues for LGBTQ+ people in the world today, especially when the media so often fails to portray three-dimensional queer people.

That is why he started My Normal Gay Life, which originally just focused on his day-to-day life, but soon became about his travels around the world. He covers everything from quick city guides to LGBTQ+ advocacy while working his way through a pretty fantastic travel bucket list.

Two Bad Tourists


Auston Matta and David Brown are a married gay couple who like to travel in their own way, by taking things slow and really soaking in the atmosphere of a place, rather than getting caught up in the peer-pressure to hit all the sights in just a few days.

They have guides to LGBTQ+ friendly cities across Europe and the Middle East, provide info about queer hotels and travel companies, and show how you can travel on a budget.

Globetrotter Girls


Dani believes that all travellers really need is an innate curiosity about the world around them and the passion to explore, whether that’s living as a location-independent world traveller or taking a long weekend your country’s capital.

Since quitting her full-time job in 2010, Dani has published destination guides, documented some of her biggest travel mistakes, and shared her experiences as a lesbian traveller. Bonus: she also has guest posts from other LGBTQ+ travellers because experiences can differ within our community.

Now, you may notice that my list is missing trans travel bloggers and that is simply because I could not find any actual travel blogs run by a trans person and I know that I have to be missing something.

If you have any trans travel bloggers to recommend, please let me know in the comments so that I can rectify this at a later date.

Other than that, what did you think of my top picks? Do you have any more to recommend?  Let me know in the comments below.

Originally posted 2017-06-28 14:47:03.

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Skip the Credit Cards — Get Airline Miles Without the Debt

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This article was originally published on TiplrMag.com by Robert Coles. Download Tiplr here.

5 Secrets to Obtaining Diamond Status, Companion Passes, and Premium Features

I hate credit cards and absolutely refuse to sign up for one, but my lust for travel has always been present. I’ve often thought of signing up for cards for a quick 50,000 points to take a free flight, but for me the costs don’t outweigh the rewards. Now, before you go off on me and say it’s just about being responsible, I get it. But they’re not for me. So, I’ve spent the last few years figuring out the best ways to get all the airline miles I need every year to maintain status on two airlines, Delta and Southwest, without opening a single credit card.

Here are my top 5 tips for obtaining status and getting airline miles without obtaining credit card debt!

1. Mileage Boosters — Delta

This may sound crazy, and it’s not free, but it’s a great way to get that reward flight much faster. When you’re booking your flight, add in Mileage Boosters on Delta. They aren’t really that expensive when you spread it out over time per flight. For example, I’ve been trying to get my 2017 travel paid for in full and am adding a Mileage Booster to every flight for about $59 which adds 3,000 reward miles. Just tack on the purchase with your ticket and suddenly you’re earning the reward ticket over time without large purchases.

2. AirBNB Hosting

This one might sound even crazier, but it’s a great way to make money and earn points while you travel. If you sign up to host on AirBNB through Delta’s partnership website, you get an additional 25,000 miles on Delta.When I leave New York , I always list my room on AirBNB. I’m averaging about $140 a night (I live in Times Square), around $180 a night during peak seasons, and I’m paying for my trips with that income. Plus, you get points for every dollar you spend on AirBNB for your vacations.

3. Company Travel, Personal Mileage

I travel a lot for work. I’m a marketing consultant, I have clients all over the world, and I bill them for my travel expenses, to a reasonable amount. I book all my travel myself and choose my airlines and tickets. I send over a report of what I spent and why I spent it to ensure they know they aren’t getting billed for first class tickets. I use my own rewards accounts. I started this with Southwest Airlines for domestic travel and have earned my Companion Pass for 2017 and 2018 just through work travel. I’m seeking status on Southwest and Delta, so Delta is my airline for international travel.

4. Buy them from the airlines

If all else fails, buy the miles you need. This is helpful if you’re only a couple of thousand miles away from a vacation rewards flight. They aren’t exactly cheap, but spending a couple of hundred dollars to get the reward flight that would otherwise be a thousand dollars is worth it.

5. Inherit

The passing of a loved one is always sad, but I am able to see the world now using my dad’s airline miles he saved for years. My dad passed away almost 7 years ago, and recently I was only 4,000 miles away from not paying for a single flight the second half of 2017, so I started asking friends and family if they would sell me their miles (better the money go to a family member and have them transfer than to Delta). Then, my mom texted me and told me I should contact Delta about my dad’s rewards points.

After spending almost 2 hours on the phone, and going through all the possible security questions and answers, I was able to get into his account and find a whopping 196,000 miles sitting in his Delta account. To transfer these to me would be about $2,000, but I’m able to go into his Delta account and book travel directly there for myself. 2017 is going to be a great year of seeing and exploring the world, thanks to my dad. I’m dedicating all my trips to him.

So, don’t take on credit cards to get your rewards travel. Use these methods to get where you want to go for less!

If you want more travel advice, check out my book, I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year Long Journey of Self-Discovery, where I recount traveling North and South America while working virtually for a year. You can purchase HERE.

Originally posted 2017-06-18 10:49:19.

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5 Travel Brands I’m Currently Promoting (And Why)

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As you know by now, I cannot seem to travel enough. Seriously, it’s in my DNA. I have wanderlust. And I’m only able to travel as much and for as long as I do with help from various brands that make products that just enhance my experience and make it easier for me to enjoy the adventure. So, here are five travel brands I’m currently promoting, and why you should, too!

1. Tiplr – Travel App for Tips and Local Secrets

I know you’ve heard me feature this app before when I talked about the must-have apps in any traveler’s toolkit, but it needs repeating. This app has gotten me through several trips now, both in the planning phase, and the “saving my life when I can’t seem to find anything fun to do” phase. This app features tips on how to live like a local in any city, and it’s all user generated content. That’s half the fun. The other half comes from creating tips and collections yourself for others to see and experience the world like you. I personally am enjoying creating different tips everywhere I go and am getting “hearts” from people telling me they’re enjoying the place, too! It’s gratifying knowing I made someone’s trip a little more fun!

2. Eagle Creek

This is your one-stop shop for all things travel gear. From backpacks, to luggage, to accessories, they have it all, and I’m in love with it all. I currently use the Mobile Office Backpack for travel because I work on the go. It’s great to organize client files, my computer, hard drives, notebooks, and office accessories in one location that I can grab and go. While their packs can be a bit pricey, I guarantee you’ll find the value after your first trip with any of their gear.

3. The Container Store

You thought they were only for organizing your closet, didn’t you? Nope. The Container Store has taken the travel industry by storm in recent years by offering a full line of travel accessories. I’m obsessing over my Reisenthel Multi Dot Hanging Toiletry Organizer (in black!) which keeps everything nice and neat. I’m not much of an “unpacker” when it comes to settling into hotel rooms and AirBNB’s so this keeps everything in one convenient place.

4. AirBNB

Not only do I travel with AirBNB, but I host with them, too. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because we’re all familiar with the way things work, but consider putting your apartment or home up for rent when you’re gone. It’s a great way to cover some of the expenses of traveling!

5. Tempur-Pedic.

Trust me. Do not go on a long flight without a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow. It’ll save your life and your neck. The wrap around neck comes with an optional clasp to keep it in place (it’s a bit like wearing a necklace with really big, fluffy jewelry on the back of the necklace!) and the padding is firm, yet contours to your neck.

There you have it! My current list of travel brands I simply cannot get enough of right now. What are some of your favorites?

Originally posted 2017-06-15 01:56:13.

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