Tag Archives: Hotel

Road Trip: Grand Adventure

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

I missed Southern siblings and friends. I’d signed up for a writers’ retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Time for a road trip!

Why not fly?

I dislike heights. And oxygen masks. I’d rather wear a parachute.

Second, flights are delayed, cancelled and rescheduled ad nauseam. Would a camel prove more efficient?

Image by Christel from Pixabay.

But camels spit. Ergo, I drove.

Third, I felt old. I craved adventure.

So, I packed a huge suitcase. “Ha! No charge!”

Hubby couldn’t leave, so he demonstrated — again — how to operate Lavinia, my snooty GPS. With a goodbye kiss, I began my Grand Adventure.

Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay.

I conquered a high, Ohio River bridge without hyperventilating. Kentucky and Tennessee’s hilly terrain didn’t faze Lavinia and me. However, she now refused to talk, and I nearly bypassed my Tennessee friends. Eventually, we enjoyed our visit.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Did Lavinia navigate the Appalachians?

No. We both freaked. Hoosiers shouldn’t be allowed to drive through mountains when roads under construction teem with a million semitrailers.

Whew! I arrived alive at my sister’s and celebrated a fun reunion with siblings.

Attempting to reach Savannah, though, I wandered in the wilderness. Not 40 years, but it seemed like 100, thanks to Lavinia, who still sulked in silence.

The elegant entrance to a Savannah home.
Fellow authors Gayle Roper and Janet McHenry and I at the Books & Such Literary Agency retreat.

Eventually (a key word), I found the Savannah retreat. Writing friends and I learned lots and cheered each other on.

I wanted the flattest route home — hopefully, without detouring to Kansas. Though a major storm occurred at night when every motel posted “No Vacancy” signs, the return trip proved easier. Hubby welcomed me, even with a huge suitcase of dirty clothes.

And a huge Visa bill. Given gas, hotel and food costs, driving hadn’t saved money. Semis nearly nosed my car over cliffs without offering either oxygen or parachute. I risked my life crossing bridges.

Siblings who once lived together wished each other on the moon, but now brave even miles through mountains to see each other.

Yet …

I’d embraced the freedom of the open road.

Mountains stunned me with beauty. I crossed five high bridges without needing an ambulance. Motel clerks, though unable to offer a room, refreshed this tired traveler.

Plus, the blessings of connecting with family and friends cannot be measured.

John Steinbeck journeyed with a friendly poodle and I with hostile Lavinia. Still, we shared joys he expressed in Travels with Charley. Though old, we risked adventure. I think Steinbeck would agree our journeys were grand.

But coming home was grander.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Was your last road trip a grand adventure?

Spring Break R&R?

Image by Monika from Pixabay.

You’ve just returned from spring break. True respite, right?

For some college students, the answer’s a resounding “Yes!” Unlimited sleep where no drum fests are held at 2 a.m. Mom’s cooking. Free laundry.

Pure bliss.

For one day.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Until Dad gets possessive about car keys. Until Mom wants help cleaning the garage. Until both demand, “Where were you last night?”

However, most students who escape to Daytona remember zero. They return with seasick stomachs and third-degree sunburns to face 23 books they should have read during spring break.

Spring break doesn’t live up to some employees’ expectations, either. If a worker forgets to schedule days off, he’d better be prepared to skip lunch several days. All the other employees remembered.

No mother believes spring break will act like spring break, with sunny days in which kids power-wash the house. Instead, she accurately anticipates weather-induced cabin fever, with nonstop video games and violent sibling behavior that surpasses them all.

Image by Clkr-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

If parents head for Florida, they, like college kids, will remember spring break in a blur — but for different reasons. A 16-hour car trip resembles a rolling animal cage, especially if Mom and Dad have condemned teens to family togetherness, a fate worse than death.

Hotel rooms resemble animal cages sans wheels. Children don’t sleep, except with Mom and Dad, their sharp, little knees implanted in parental backs. Spring break trips comprise the most expensive birth control method known to humankind.

Also, if we read resort ads’ tiny print, we discover disclaimers about prices. About “luxury suites” with roaches the size of snapping turtles.

Staying with Aunt Maudie and Uncle Snerd may reduce costs, but added therapy fees may continue for years (for hosts, as well). Do spring breaks not only break the bank, but break us all?

Image by D. Apolinarski from Pixabay.

Rumors persist, though, that some spring breaks meet expectations, with endless sunshine, three-person lines at Disney World, and hang gliding without encountering a single power line. Tanned bodies resemble those of the Kardashian clan.

Image by Nowaja from Pixabay.

Because we’ve seen it on TV. And on the Internet …

Give me a break.*

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your plan for spring break?

*This blog was written by a grouch who has stuck it out in Indiana all winter. If snow shows up in April, she will ditch cynicism and go on spring break anyway.

Been There, Done That, Don’t Want to Do It Again

Have you created a bucket list? I’ve considered it.

Image by Tatyana Kazakova from Pixabay.

Instead, I recorded what I’ve done and would rather not repeat:

  • Buy stupid shoes. At 20, I wore platforms with heels so high they gave me altitude sickness. Repentant, I then purchased “healthy” earth shoes — hideous footwear with nonexistent heels and built-up soles that tilted me backward. Either way, I risked possible surgery.
  • Attend the Indianapolis 500. Amazing, but the cars’ incredible speed and incessant roar made me crave 30 quiet seconds inside a refrigerator, away from sizzling heat.
Image by Pexels from Pixabay.
Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay.
  • Tour France without knowing the language. My French, limited to “bonjour” and “french fries,” invoked eye rolls, especially on Petite Street, where shops sold clothes that fit only Tinkerbell.

Other remembrances make me shiver. I never again want to:

  • Camp next to someone a sheriff greeted by name.
  • Read Ku Klux Klan recruitment posters.
  • Lodge in a Honduran hotel room with broken locks.
Our baby liked the red and orange shag carpet, but it wasn’t my first choice.
  • Accept rides with strangers.

Nor will I:

  • Endure red and orange shag carpet.
  • Allow a closet-sized kitchen whose fridge froze lettuce and melted ice cream.
  • Sample saki. It tasted like turpentine.

Finally, I won’t challenge anyone to a doughnut-eating contest. Ronnie, a street kid who attended my Bible club, claimed he could outeat anyone. I devoured twice as many. Humbled, Ronnie went home, sick. Humbled, I realized the Bible didn’t recommend this form of evangelism. I called Ronnie’s mother to apologize.

Silence. Then laughter. “Glad you called his bluff.”

Still, I couldn’t look a doughnut or bathroom scales in the face. God, either, but soon I realized He’d forgiven me and had taught Ronnie and me to engage brains before mouths.

God isn’t limited by clueless mistakes. Amazingly, the kid still attended Bible Club. Decades later, I pray doughnut disaster memories have faded. That Ronnie clearly recalls Jesus loves him.

In reviewing my once-but-never-again list, I realize God’s protected me big-time. I never fell off my shoes. I haven’t been abducted, joined the Ku Klux Klan, or worn French Tinkerbell clothes.

I now can look doughnuts in the face.

Scales? Still working on that.

And God’s bucket list for me.

Image by Edward Lich from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s on your once-but-never-again list?

“We’re Stranded!”

Even spelled on a SCRABBLE board, the word “stranded” packs enough panic power to send us to our vehicles with snow shovels, boots and sleeping bags as well as food, water and Prozac.

Image by Bindue from Pixabay.
My parents and older brother in 1952.

We Midwesterners have two words for those “stranded” in the tropics: oh, please. That goes for you, Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Hanks, and snowbirds who grouse about sand in their bathing suits.

My family and I have collected a portfolio of strandedness Gilligan wouldn’t believe.

My parents, newlywed missionaries in New Mexico, were gathering firewood atop a mountain when the year’s only rainstorm struck. Torrents washed away the road, leaving their Model T half-buried in mud. Having left coats at home (they’d anticipated a three-hour tour), Mom and Dad spent the subfreezing night there. They burned the firewood to stay alive and dug out. Thus, began a long, creative career of strandedness, generously shared with five children.

Fast-forward two decades. My medical student husband and I skated our car down interstates between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Muncie, Indiana, where Hubby would work in a clinic several weeks, staying in a decrepit, deserted dorm. I’d planned to drive home to Indianapolis, but remained until conditions improved. Much skinnier then, we fit in his twin bed. Sort of. Glad to be alive and together, we decided that despite resident ghosts, being stranded wasn’t half bad.

Image by parker from Pixabay.

Sharing the Minneapolis airport with thousands of angry people — including our teenagers — during a nationwide blizzard wasn’t nearly as much fun. Snarling, would-be passengers formed mile-long lines at ticket counters, restaurants and restrooms. Areas under drinking fountains morphed into sleeping quarters. A stranger accosted me:

Strange Woman: Where did you get that shirt?

Me: Um, at a consignment shop.

Woman: I gave my husband a shirt exactly like that for his birthday.

Me: The consignment shop was in Atlanta.

Woman: (baring her teeth) I’m from Atlanta.

That encounter, along with a 24-hour TV loop featuring the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition, didn’t brighten my day. Leaving Minneapolis never felt so good, though our trip home from Indianapolis would have proceeded faster if a single sled dog had towed our minivan.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay.

Years later, amid another hair-raising drive during an ice storm, Hubby and I managed to reach a hotel. Fortunately, our room featured a king-size bed, not a twin. I could banish swimsuit models from our TV with a single remote click. Nobody demanded the shirt off my back.

The aforementioned folks marooned in the tropics might question my strandedness. Too bad. They should write their own blogs. Since this is mine, I affirm my official status: stranded.

Though, sometimes, stranded isn’t half bad.

Image by Olichel from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever been stranded?

Hotel Versus Home

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

Everyone knows the opening words to “Home! Sweet Home,” penned by John Howard Payne in 1823. Few know that Payne, an American whose family opposed his theatrical career, wandered Europe most of his life, dying in Tunisia.

What did he know about “home”? Payne rarely stayed around long enough to pay for trash pickup and roof leaks.

No doubt, his home-sweet-home fantasy was fed by the reality of 1820s lodgings, in which guests often shared rooms with scary strangers. If Payne were traveling today, he’d discover modern hotels present their own unique challenges.

For example, the more expensive a room, the harder it is to operate its coffee maker. Ditto for the clock — at least, I assume it’s a clock. Both devices appear to have been designed by NASA.

Likewise, nice hotel rooms feature remarkably complex TV remotes … whose batteries are always on the blink.

Given all this advanced technology, one would expect more than two clothes hangers in the closet, right?

I do appreciate hotel rooms’ multiple electrical outlets, as our 1960s home features one extra, originally intended for summer’s single oscillating fan. In most hotel rooms today, I’m not surprised to find outlets in the ice bucket.

But where the heck are the light switches?

John Payne probably took baths in a horse trough. Unlike us, he never faced crucial questions: will turning the faucet to red guarantee tepid or scalding water? Even worse (gaaaaahhh!), was the installer color-blind?

Payne surely couldn’t have imagined hotel grooming aids labeled “Clean Sand Spa.” Racier names almost prevent me from taking them home, for fear grandchildren will discover them in a bathroom drawer: “Grandma, what’s a French Fruity Massage?”

The French factor in today’s hotels does seem overdone. Who uses a duvet at home? Why do we need more French stuff in this country? Aren’t fries and toast sufficient?

I do, however, laud hotel king-size beds, loving those 26 pillows.

Did Payne pay extra for breakfast? Probably. Past, present, or future, nothing’s free. However, some modern “free” breakfasts are worth the hidden cost. Others feature orange water and cereal resembling kitty litter.

A less familiar verse of Payne’s song reveals his mind felt at ease at home. Is this true in my case? Not always, especially as I’m eating while sneaky ants pursue “free” breakfasts.

They picked the wrong ant hotel.

For me, though, it’s home. I can make coffee here, find light switches, and sleep well, even without French influence and with only one pillow.

“Be it ever so humble,” there’s no other place I’d rather be —

If only a housekeeper would show up.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hotel amenity?