Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Mar 10 2014

Modernism

Published by under Snippets,Travel

Conversation held in a rural flea market in Tennessee, between me and the two elderly proprietors…

Man: I was telling my wife, you have a real different kind of hair cut.

Me: Oh?

Wife: It’s modern!

Man: You don’t see hair cuts like that around here.

Me: Hmmm. Well, it’s short.

Man: Yep, different.

Neither one of them mentioned the nose piercing.

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Jan 03 2014

Gonna have a bad time.

Published by under Parenting,The Boy,The Fam,The Man,Travel

We tried to go to Tennessee to visit Dr. Mom and Moll the day after Christmas. Well, no. That makes it sound like we didn’t make it. We made it to Tennessee just fine. We chose to do the drive in one go, so we didn’t get there until about 12:30 AM, Central time (we are in Eastern). The Boy was so excited. He was amped up, running around, freaking out, just being happy. I knew it was because he’d woken up after sleeping for five hours, and that it was, shall we say, false enthusiasm. Of course, he didn’t want to go back to sleep and he didn’t sleep very well after being interrupted like that, but we expected it. The unexpected horror show started bright and early the next morning.

Since this was a Christmas trip, all of us were there. That means me, The Man, The Boy, Lucky, Galleta, and of course Dr. Mom and Moll. All of the dogs, seven in total, were also there. And I think the combination of lots of people and lots of dogs snapped The Boy and broke him. He did NOT want to leave our bedroom. If we took him out into the main part of the house, he was freaking out. We tried to take him outdoors, once, since it was 50 degrees. He freaked out. If we were in our bedroom, he would happily play with dust or his cars, and he would be happy. If we went out of the room, he freaked out.

Also, he would not sleep on his own. He has always been a great sleeper. If you lay him down, he will usually just be quiet and go to sleep quickly. Not so much in Tennessee. He would not sleep in his travel crib. If you put him in there when he was awake, he would scream hysterically. For every nap and every night, we had to lay him in bed with one of us and snuggle with him until he fell deeply asleep. Then we could transfer him to the crib.

We only lasted two days.

There was no way either of us was going to spend better than a week cooped up in a bedroom and taking two hours out of every day in order to cuddle a toddler to sleep. It was ridiculous. On the third morning, we packed up and drove home. The drive home was also fairly miserable. The Boy was fussy…and when we tried to stop for dinner, he had a full on meltdown in Steak N’ Shake. Like, he cried for 15 minutes and The Man finally said “To hell with this” and took him to the car. I tried in vain to tell our server to just box up our order, wolfed down 1/2 of a sandwich, and we left.

Now we’re home and working to repair The Boy. The unwillingness to sleep has come home with us, but we aren’t putting up with it here. He goes into his crib and we check on him at five minute intervals (which is how we sleep trained him to begin with). He’s finally to he point where, although he still protests being laid down, he only cries for a minute before calming down.

His behavior is also somewhat deplorable. I don’t know how much of this is leftover freak-out from our trip, and how much of it is just him being almost two and probably starting to test his boundaries and being normally defiant. It’s draining, most days.

However, he continues to be my super smart genius baby. He knows the names of many shapes, numbers, colors, and letters. He will often count very fast under his breath, so sometimes he’ll be running around going “eight, noine, teen, leven, telve, tirteen”. It sounds very funny. He’ll pick up one of his shapes and say “Dimond!” and it is, in fact, a diamond. Colors are more hit and miss. If I ask him to point to the pink one, sometimes he will, sometimes no.

The meltdowns are a trial. I know that this is just how toddlers are. They don’t really have the capacity to process strong emotions properly, so fits and meltdowns are just a matter of life. But it really seems like someone flipped his switch into demon mode sometimes.

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Feb 08 2010

The Florida Trip, in detail.

Published by under Friends,The Fam,The Man,Travel

We went to Florida, and the place we stayed didn’t have internet.  Or rather, they DID have internet, but it wasn’t wireless, and you had to pay $10 per day to access it in your room.  Instead of that, I kept my journal on my desktop and am uploading it now, from home.

January 29, 2010
We fly out of MBS at around 10:30 AM.  We thought we’d have a 40 minute layover in Detroit, but as it turns out, we just reach our gate as they’re beginning to pre-board.  So, we hustle to the bathrooms and get on a big ol’ jet.  As The Man and I sit down, I realize that we are flying to Orlando, home of Disney, and that’s why there are approximately 8000 children on the plane, none of whom want to sit down, and who all have parents who apparently think “treats” and “candy” are the answers to any misbehavior.  I personally don’t care, as long as they all shut up, and they do as soon as we take off and the crack – or candy – can come out of the carry ons.

Once we get to Orlando, we get our bags and get to the car rental, where we have a whole bunch of cars to choose from.  We almost grab a very boxy looking Scion before settling on the Prius, basically because none of us have ever driven a hybrid and we’re curious.  It’s black and very insect-looking.  BIL christens it “The Dung Beetle”.  It’s surprisingly roomy, and as it turns out, the ideal car for city driving.  We don’t even make a dent in the gas tank until we get onto the freeway, and that won’t be until Sunday.

We get to the resort – Blue Green’s The Fountains, if you’re curious – check into the room, stash the bags, and head out in search of food.  Since it’s already pushing 5:00, we decide just to eat at one of the restaurants on site, and head down to the outdoor bar and sandwich place.  One yummy Cuban sandwich and a much needed rum and coke later, and I feel tons better.

After dinner, we head out in The Dung Beetle to cruise International Drive.  Traffic is intense.  It’s barely even stop-and-go.  It’s mostly stop.  As it turns out, something is letting out at the convention center (which is ENORMOUS, seriously Orlando, it’s OK to stop building once something takes up like five blocks), and once we get past that, it’s pretty normal “Friday night in a large city” kind of traffic.  It seems like every road here is divided, which means lots of “Michigan lefts”, only everyone kind of piles into the turning area willy-nilly and it’s like Russian Roulette deciding of you’re going to Turn, Wait, or Crash.  Driving in Florida is nuts.  I’m glad I’m not the registered driver on the car.

January 30, 2010
It’s supposed to rain today, so we decide to head to Wonder Works, which is a crazy building that looks all upside down.  None of us know what it is.  We kind of assume it’s going to be optical illusions and tomfoolery, but when we get in, the greeter tells us it’s more of a laser tag, arcade, weird simulator place.  We decide that the outside is probably the coolest part of this thing, and opt out of paying $20 per person to feel a hurricane.  This leaves us at loose ends, so J-bird checks radar on her iPhone and figures that any rain won’t be until way later, so we all decide to head to Sea World.

Did you know it costs nigh on eighty bucks to get into Sea World?  And another twelve bucks for parking?  We did not, so there was some sticker shock.  After we coughed up the dough, we headed inside, grabbed a park map and plotted our course.  We saw two shows:  The dolphin show was outstanding, and the Shamu show was only so-so.  The exhibits were very cool.  My two favorites were the sting ray pool and the manatee rescue.  The sting rays exhibit was all open, and there were like a billion rays swimming around, and you could put your hands in there and pet them.  One of them grabbed onto my hand and I was like “OH MY GOD, I HAVE A STING RAY STUCK TO MY HAND IT FEELS LIKE A KOOSH BALL EEEEE!”  Petting them was like feeling a big, wet mushroom.  If you stuck your hand in the water, some of them would veer right for you, I guess because they thought you had food.  This freaked J-bird right out, and everytime one homed in on her, she would scream a little and pull her hand out.  The manatees were in a tank where you could stand at the top and look down on them, or go underneath for underwater viewing.  There were some young ‘uns sectioned off from the adults, and when we got there, they were all sleeping.  We took some pictures up top, and watched them sleep, and come up for air, and generally look like big rocks.  Then, we went to the underwater viewing and they all woke up and started moving around.  Some of them would come right up to the glass and look at you like “Yeah, so what?  I’m a manatee.  My top speed is 2 mph and I have no neck, what of it?”  And I could NOT STOP SAYING, “You live in the ocean ’cause you ain’t got no job, sea cow!” which no one got, and I had to explain, and it really did not translate well.  (It’s from “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” and me and the Youngest Miller Boy used to just go on and on with that bit).

While we were watching the Shamu show, it started to rain, and it rained off and on for the rest of the time.  Lucky for us, the rest of the stuff we wanted to see was inside, so we hustled from place to place until we were all done.  Then we went back to the resort, cleaned up, and headed out for dinner.  We ate at some Caribbean place, where we waited on the patio for a table, and all wished they would have just served us out there, because there was a dude playing steel drums, torches burning, and those nice infrared heat thingys.  But, they took us inside, and I got a delicious seafood paella that was about twice as big as I needed.  The Man had jerk chicken and cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes, and he said it was good, but everything was very sweet.  After dinner, we headed back to the resort and sat in the hot tub for awhile, even though it was really more like the tepid tub, because I swear the heat was not going at all.  It was warmer than the outside, but since the outside was like, 55 degrees, that’s not saying much.

January 31, 2010
Today, we get off to a late start.  We were supposed to be on the road by 8:00, because that’s what we told Dad, but after we get up, and get around, and have breakfast at IHOP, it’s 10:00 AM and we’re just setting out on I-4, heading toward Tampa.

We get to Dad’s house in New Port Richey at about noon, and not long after that, he starts the grill.  We sit around BSing for about three hours about who knows what, and checking out his house and yard, and looking at old pictures, then we eat and BS some more, and then we head out to a beach in Tarpon Springs so that The Man and I can see the Gulf, because neither one of us ever has.  Unfortunately, it’s only 50 degrees and there is a nice wind a-whipping, so it’s not ideal beach weather, but it’s still gorgeous scenery and I get some nice pictures of the sunset, and the ocean, and Dad before we have to leave because the park is closing.

This area is full of gorgeous live oaks just dripping with Spanish moss, and Dad warns us not to try to grab the moss because mites live in it that will burrow into our skin and cause Pain and Suffering.  Anyway, that’s what he’s heard from the people who’ve lived here their whole lives, and it’s not a theory we’re anxious to test, so we leave the Spanish moss on the trees and just look.

At around 7:00 PM, we all realize that it’s going to take us two hours to get back to Orlando, so we say goodbye to Dad and get in The Dung Beetle.  We get back to the resort at around 9:00, order a pizza, and chill out for the rest of the night.

February 1, 2010
Today, the plan is to head to Winter Park, which is this little community somewhat north, which is supposed to have museums and all kinds of shops and great houses.  We do get there, after only a little confusion, and it is a very pretty place.  It’s very European in feeling, not that I’d know first hand what Europe is like.  However, all the museums and many of the shops are closed on Mondays, and before too long it starts to downpour rain.  we head back to The Dung Beetle and drive around the town for awhile, looking at all the mansions and the campus of the private university (Rollins College) which is in the town.  We head back to the resort and decide to spend a few hours in the pool before heading out for dinner, which tonight is going to be at Medieval Times.

I’m actually the only one who’s ever been to Medieval Times, although I went to the one in Toronto, so The Man is asking me all sorts of questions that I can’t answer, because I was there when I was 18, which is a long time ago.  The dinner is good, and the show is not too bad, although our seats are not the best.  We’re in the front row, but way on the end, and pretty much right in the path of one of the spotlights.  Everyone agreed, it was something fun to do ONCE, but nothing we’d go back to again.

February 2, 2010
This is the first of our two Disney days.  Jimmer, who moved to Orlando a couple of years ago, works for Disney and can get us all into one park for free.  We decide to go to Magic Kingdom, partly because J-bird and BIL have never been to that one, and partly because if you go to Magic Kingdom you can also get into Epcot, so it’s a two for one deal.

Jimmer meets us at the resort and we all ride over in The Dung Beetle and park at Epcot, since we plan on ending our day there, the parking is easier, and we don’t have to tram in as we would if we parked at Magic Kingdom.  It is raining at the beginning of the day, but that’s all right because we’re all armed with rain ponchos and umbrellas.  After we ride the monorail and get into the park, the rain is pretty much over, so we stash our rain gear and start hitting rides and attractions.  The rain has scared off a lot of people so we never have to wait for anything.

We go on the Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain, and then start working our way around, hitting the Snow White ride, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion.  We get to see the Hall of Presidents, which is pretty impressive.  We get a good spot for the afternoon parade, and then get on the Jungle Cruise and walk through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.  After that, we head back to the monorail to get back to Epcot.

By the time we get back to Epcot, it’s about 6:00, so we get onto Spaceship Earth and then start hitting the countries.  We do a lot of walking, checking out the shops and different buildings, and some snacking, but we kind of have to rush through the last two (Norway and Mexico) because the fireworks start at 9:00 PM, and that’s also when things shut down.  We watched the fireworks, the theme of which was “Reflections of Earth”, and then headed back to the resort so Jimmer could get his car and go home.  After Jimmer took off, we headed out for a late supper (it being about 10:30 at this point), and had a very unsatisfactory experience at a Friendly’s.  We got back to the resort at around midnight and collapsed into bed.

February 3, 2010
Disney day number two is taking us to Animal Kingdom, so after breakfast, we head out.  Today is sunny and not raining, so we know there are going to be a lot more people.  Jimmer recommended we get a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, but since we got kind of a late start, Fast Pass distribution was over by the time we got there.  None of us really cared, though, since Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00 PM.  We didn’t want to waste a lot of time waiting in lines when we could be looking at animals.

We headed off toward the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is a nice walk-through exhibit of Asian animals.  After that, we booked over to the Africa section to get on the safari.  We had to wait in a little bit of a line – only about 30 minutes – but it was worth it.  We got lucky, and a lot of the animals were out and active.  Several of them came pretty close to the vehicle, which was cool.

After the safari, we walked through the Pangani Forest trail, and saw some more African wildlife.  Next, we jumped on the train up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which sounded MUCH cooler on the guide than it ended up being.  It was more of a spot for smaller kids.  The petting zoo (called the Affection Section, of all things) had the standard goats, sheep, and llamas.  We got out of there pretty fast, rode the train back to the main section of the park, walked around the big Tree of Life in the middle, and that was it.  We got out of the park just before the ending parade, and we didn’t want to see any of the shows.  It was a relatively quick park day, but it was still five hours, and all of us were dead on our feet.

We drove back to the resort, changed into jeans, and had dinner at Benihana.  After that, it was hot tub time to soothe our aching everythings, and then back to the room for relaxing.  The Man and I headed back early, J-bird and BIL stayed to sit in the sauna and maybe swim in the pool.

February 4, 2010
On our last full day here, we head back to Winter Park to go to the museums and see the shops that we were denied on Monday.  The weather is gorgeous, and I’m glad that we did all our parks early, when the weather was not so good, because the crowds today are probably horrible.  Winter Park is busier than it was on Monday, which makes sense, because not only is the weather nice, but everything is open.

We head first to the Morse Museum, which has a large collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass, and some oil paintings.  Then we decide to walk around the shops and see what there is to see.  The shops are very upscale, and no one buys anything, but we stop at a cafe and sit outdoors eating ice cream, and in The Man’s case, the biggest piece of carrot cake EVER BAKED.  Seriously, his piece of cake took up the whole plate, and they served it on a dinner plate.

After that, we head over to the Cornell Museum, which is on the campus of Rollins College, to check out the small exhibits of fine art.  Once we’re done with that, it’s almost 4:00, and we head back to the hotel to figure out what we’re doing for dinner.  We decide to head to Bogard’s, which is supposed to be a seafood/steak/BBQ place.  The food is all right, nothing to write home about.  We stay at the resort for the rest of the night, reading and packing.

February 5, 2010

Everyone is ready to go early in the morning, which turns out to be a good thing.  We’ve decided not to eat breakfast until we’re through security at the airport.  When we get to Orlando International, we find out that our flight has been delayed, and delayed again, and we’re likely to miss our connection in Detroit.  J-bird and BIL find a Delta agent who shoehorns us onto a flight to Detroit that is leaving in the next few minutes, so it’s fortunate that we got to the airport so early. The only downside is that our bags have already been assigned to the other flight, so if it is canceled or delayed more, they might not be waiting for us at our home airport.  Nothing we can do about that, and as The Man and I live ten minutes from our home airport, it’s not that big of a deal to drive back and pick them up later, if we need to.

The flight into Detroit has a lot of turbulence, but nothing too hair raising.  We land at DTW at the time our other flight should have taken off from Orlando.  We’re not due to fly out of Detroit until 4:20 PM, so The Man and BIL try to get us onto an earlier 2:00 PM flight, but the Delta agents in Detroit are nowhere near as helpful as their Orlando colleagues, and the two boys are told to use the Help Line, which of course never even gets them to a real person.  J-bird and I, meanwhile, are sitting in a pub across the way, and once our food arrives, we kind of motion “never mind” to the boys.

By the time we’re done eating, we are all pretty well resigned to waiting for the later flight, and head to the gate to wait.  The flight is only delayed ten minutes, and pretty soon we are flying home.  When we land, we head straight to baggage claim, where by great good luck, our bags are waiting for us.  We load up the car and J-bird and BIL drop us off at home.

I am avoiding doing laundry by rationalizing that it’s all summer clothes and therefore not stuff we need right away.  Let’s see how long that will last.

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Dec 17 2009

Thank you, sir. May I have another?

Published by under Stupidity,Travel

Out of curiosity, I was just pricing flights to NYC, because “Love Never Dies” is coming to Broadway in 2010, and that is worth me going back to the Land of Stench and Overcrowding.  So, I hop on Orbitz and put in the mandatory “Leaving From” and “Arriving To” and the travel dates.  I get a bunch of results that pretty much all look the same – you know $250 RT, one stop, blah blah blah.  But then, I see a flight that costs $1147.  PER PERSON.  And, I think, “That must be just an AMAZING flight.  I mean, no way am I going to shell out a grand for airfare, but I have to know what wonders await on Delta Flight 4240, non-stop to New York City!”

So, I looked.

It turns out, $1147 will buy you one ECONOMY CLASS seat on a Boeing DC-9, leaving good ol’ Detroit, Michigan at the eminently reasonable hour of 9:40 PM.  Yes, dear friends, for slightly more than a thousand dollars, you too can fly coach and arrive at your destination just before midnight.  And, on your return voyage, you can look forward to more leg-cramping economy accomodations.  BUT – with a bonus layover in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to sweeten the deal.

Also, your trip will shuttle you between not one, not two, but THREE different airlines!  Yes, on your flight out you are going non-stop on Delta.  But on your return trip, you’re flying Midwest to Milwaukee, and then Northwest from Milwaukee to Detroit.  Now, I know that Delta and Northwest are technically the same thing now, and I’ve never really heard of Midwest, so for all I know they fall under the Delta banner as well.  But, you’d think for $1147 (I can’t get over that), they could at least keep you with the same BRAND the whole trip.

Anyway, I’m wondering who the people are who are going to go to Orbitz, check out all the nice $200 – $300 flights leaving at a normal time, and then veer right for the flight of the damned over there.  If you are one of these people, please leave your rationale in the comments.

EDIT: When I went back to double-check and make sure I hadn’t misread the price, and it was really $147, I noticed that the outbound information had changed.  IN TEN MINUTES.  Now, you fly out on Northwest instead of Delta, and there’s a new flight number.  I’m thinking something very sinister will happen to you if you take this flight.  They’re already laying a false trail.  Beware.  By the way, the price was correct.  $1147.   Bon voyage.

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Nov 23 2009

Unplanned up north trip.

Published by under The Fam,The Man,Travel

We were up north this past week, at Dr. Mom and Moll’s.  I had offered months ago to come up anytime they needed me, and this week, they called me on it.  The Man came along mostly so that I didn’t have to drive on opening day of deer season, in the dark, in deer country.  He was NOT on vacation.  He worked all week from Moll’s soon-to-be bakery, where the internets are speedy.

I was up there to do some work on a room in the barn that The Man and I had framed in this past summer.  However, we didn’t get to that until Thursday.  Let’s see if I can remember what we did all week…

Sunday:  Driving up.  Driving, driving driving.  Arriving and eating.  Sleeping.

Monday:  Collecting wood from the cow pasture – several trees had been cut down and sawed into logs, but not picked up.  We picked them up, Dee and I (Dee is Dr. Mom’s sister and The Man’s aunt) split and stacked the first load together.  I split and “stacked” (aka threw into a trailer) the second load alone so that Dee and Dr. Mom could do something to the pig pen…I’m not exactly sure what.  I was too busy singing songs to myself and splitting wood.  Before you get a totally inaccurate picture of me weilding an axe with any sort of strength and precision, let me just say that I was using a hydraulic wood splitter.  That evening, Dr. Mom and I unloaded half a load of hay and stacked it.

Tuesday:  Took Teddy and Pepper (Pepper is Dee’s schnauzer, who was also dog-bit) to the vet to get stitches removed.  Teddy had to have a drain put back in to one of the bite sites, as it had swelled.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you must not be one of my Facebook friends.  The short version is that Mr. Ted was bitten half to death two weeks ago by another dog.  He is recovering, but it’s slow.  He looks kind of raggedy right now.

Wednesday:  Both Dr. Mom and Moll had to work (at their “real” work, which is being psychologists) so I was alone on the farm.  I did chores and bummed around all day, mostly.  I made carnitas for dinner.

Thursday:  Worked on the room!  I was surprised at how easy it was.  The exterior walls are tongue-and-groove, so it was simply a matter of cutting the pieces to the right length (using a miter saw) and them screwing them to the stud frame.  It went fast and we got ALMOST all of it done.  Dr. Mom still has to frame in a window and there are two pieces that need to go up on the side facing the goats.  We’ll probably finish that over New Year’s if it hasn’t been done by then.

Friday:  Dr. Mom, Dee, and I unloaded the rest of the hay.  We took the dogs for a nice long walk.  In the evening, there was a family dinner party.

It was a pretty fun week.  Busy, but fun.  I feel like we got a lot accomplished, even if it wasn’t exactly everything we planned on getting done.  Now, I’m back home and this week is Thanksgiving.  I’m contemplating making a batch of brickle or peppermint bark for one group and pound cake for the other.  I also need to do laundry and start cleaning up the bedroom.  Lots to do, and here I am typing away.  Feel lucky!

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