Tag Archives: travel

Five Star Hotel

My brother-in-law, Arni, has a rule when it comes to choosing hotels, “No colors, no numbers.” I’ve stayed in a wide variety of hotels in my life. I have even had to disregard the number and color rule. I’m looking at you, Upstate (really upstate) New York. Usually, I can avoid colors and numbers by booking a room at a Fairfield or a Hampton. These hotel chains have consistent quality and moderate price, and you don’t end up paying for extras like internet connection, breakfast, or a bottle of water.

Unfortunately, there are places in the world where the most you can hope for is clean accommodations. Now, I’m looking at you, Wisconsin. This week’s travels take me to one of those such areas where you just have to cross your fingers. I’m in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

Today’s hotel is old but, yes, the accommodations are clean as long as you ignore the obvious crack in the toilet bowl that produces a puddle of water on each side of the base after every flush. I’m sure it only leaks the clean water that comes in after the flush. This hotel is just about the only game in town. And, well, it doesn’t have a number or color in the name so at least I’m in the clear there.

So, if the title is correct, how can I give this hotel a five star rating after what I just reported? There are two things.

 

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1. Beer vending machine – I have to be honest, the beer vending machine alone catapults this hotel to five stars. I never stop being amazed at the things I experience when I travel the world.

 

2. High pressure washer- The shower is Kramer worthy. It is so strong I won’t need to exfoliate for six months. It’s strong enough for elephants.

Still, its a place I’ll be happy to leave when I do.

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A Snowy Paradise

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If there is no snow, you’ve got to go!
To the snow that is. Sunrise on Lake Superior.

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When you have to go… You hope one of theses beauties shows up on the trail. Porta-potty intersection on Trail 452.

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Everyone wants to go to the beach on vacation. So do we! Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, MI

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These waves are so cool, four can hang ten at the same time.

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I hope you weren’t looking for a place to park your car.

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How far is it to home? Can I run that far? Probably not even in a whole year.

I spend all winter hoping and praying for snow. After a few days in Paradise, I’m satisfied. Bring on spring and all that barefoot weather!

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Sisters, Sisters

As my Aunt Rachel said, “She does so many wonderful things for us but there is only so much complaining one can take.”

My mother was born and raised in a very close, large family of all girls.  They all like to let you know, “Daddy never once complained that we were all girls.”  There were six sisters.   

This is when the family starts singing

Sisters..Sisters… There were never such devoted sisters

It’s been a big deal to be born a girl or give birth to a girl but even a bigger deal to be a sister/ have a sister on that side of the family.  One aunt produced three sisters, who then produced a set of sisters and a single girl.  It took four generations before a boy came along in that line of the tree.  Another aunt produced a set of sisters.  My mother produced a set of sisters (and a brother…shhhh).  Her older sister produced a set of sisters…. well, you get the idea.  Every year since the 70’s, the sisters got together for a few days in the summer to shop, do crafts, eat and laugh, laugh, laugh at the Sisters’ Bash.  At one time, we had a wooden pig as our center piece for the bash.  A humorous outlook at our ability to eat for three days straight.

My mother died ten years ago of pancreatic cancer.  She was the baby of the family so she had a close relationship with each one of her sisters.  She’d be happy to know that the bash is still happening and that my sister and I haven’t missed a bash since she died.   She wouldn’t be very happy nor would she be surprised to find out that it took about 30 minutes of being together before the Sisters (as in, the remaining original sisters) started going after each other’s throats.  Of course, it’s all done in a passive aggressive way, so, it all works out in the end. 

One thing I like about my generation of the sisters is the focus on exercise and activity.  Or, maybe we do it just to get away from the others so we can freely talk about them.  One of our activities this year was to hike the ridge behind my cousin’s house.  It gave me an opportunity to actually use my Merrells on a trail instead of just urban walking.  My cousin K moved into the mountainous (well, mountainous to someone who lives in the prairie) area south of Louisville.  Hello, instant cardio workout!  The steep ridges had my heart popping right out of my chest before we’d made it half way to the ridge.  The fragile shale rock crumbled with every step keeping my core taut and ready.   My legs were challenged with steep ascending then descending not too quickly.   I might be biased but I’m fairly certain that my Merrells out performed any other shoe worn on the ridge that day.

K’s sister has lived in the city so long that she was excited just to see a cat out-of-doors.  She was constantly on the hunt to see and perhaps better able to flee from any type of critter.  We happened upon a very unusual ‘critter’ that none of had seen before and were quite interested to view. 

Red Velvet Ant Wasp

This thing was huge.  It looked to be about 1 inch long and so bright it looked like it was some type of stuffed animal or puppet.  Luckily, K’s sister may be a city girl but she’s also from Texas.  She warned us that red usually means poison.  This ant is really a wasp and is sometimes called a cow killer.  Their stings aren’t poisonous enough to actually kill a cow but those that  have been stung by them report them to be the most painful sting they have ever experienced. 

Hmmm, a wasp that looks like an ant that has the most painful sting ever?  Bold. Beautiful. Stings.  Sounds like we have a new mascot for our bash.

Truthfully, the laughs at the bash outnumber the stings.  Being with my mom’s family is the closest I’ll ever get to her again.  Some of my cousins have turned into my closest friends.  We laugh until deep into the night.  And, I always want more time with my sister.

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Multi-tasking Son of a Run

There are times when you just push through the run. There are times when you get on the treadmill and run till Biggest Loser is over. Then there are the runs that make you get up everyday just to run again.

Not only do I like to run but I like to travel too. I love when I get a chance to combine the two together. It’s like multi-tasking in the best way possible. Who wouldn’t strive to be a better multi-tasker if involved your favorite activities?

I woke up with a free morning in the quaint town of Winchester, VA. My feet were restless after 6 hours of travel related sitting the night before. I needed to bring an end to a two day running draught. A few months previously, I had stopped for lunch in Winchester so I knew that I wanted to see more.

Eagle Heights Presbyterian Church

Winchester provided quite the scenery. My only complaint would be the brick surfaced sidewalks. Many decades of earth settlement created rolling surfaces. Really, it wasn’t a problem for my VFFs other than I spent more time watching the ground than I would have liked. My barefoot strengthened ankles handled it just fine.

I live in the mid-west because it is close to family. If I could live anywhere and be able to visit family frequently by flue powder or a port key then I would live somewhere on the east coast. I love the connection to history and structures that have stood the test of time. I enjoy the coziness of close-knit quarters. (which in the mid-west just feels like overcrowded, over-developed land)

Civil War Court House and Museum

On paper, my run was nothing to brag about. I ran short of 3 miles in 40 some minutes but, when my rabbit jumped out with his pocket watch, I was disappointed to have to head back. A friend recently completed her first marathon and said afterward that she thought runner’s high was a bunch of horse hockey. I have to disagree. I was slow; it was short; but that son of a run had me floating on air. I’m practically getting a contact high just writing about it.

-Get on your feet and fly.

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Lady Bird

Austin may not be my kind if town but I can’t help but be awed and impressed with the bodies of the women here. Tuesday morning, I ran along the trail that goes around Lady Bird Lake. A group of women from the University of Texas were also out for their morning run. I could not keep my eyes off their abdomens. I have never seen a female six pack in real life before. It was incredible. All the women in that group were strong and toned. (It actually feels like an understatement to describe them that way) I guess, before that moment, I thought fitness of that caliber was just a myth.

I was a little envious but mostly just impressed. In my own college years, I collected layers of fat everywhere. Not only were these college women skinny, they looked fit to complete an Iron Man. Even the waitress at lunch today possessed a sculpted body such that would make Michelangelo ogle her. Smooth skin laying taught over long, lean muscles. My hat is off to these women who really know how to live healthy.

For all the runners I passed on Lady Bird trail, only one wore VFFs. A bright red pair. Much nicer than mine.

…I wonder what the college girls thought of me…

“Did you see that slow lady wearing the weird shoes?”
“yeah, did you get high off the alcohol vapor cloud she was running in?”

I was slow due to the hangover and my 30 layers of fat.

The catch phrase in Austin is “Keep Austin Weird”. I was amused when I first saw it on a souvenir T-shirt but I didn’t grasp the meaning. After being here for two days, I think weird is the appropriate way to describe Austin. I can’t come up with another word to describe it nor am I able to explain it to you.

The weirdness of Austin overtook me last night as I mangled up my hand riding the mechanical bull. It’s not serious enough to warrant a picture. It’s bruised, swollen, and hurts to bend my fingers. I made it for 3 minutes since the operator let me right myself a few times after a near fall.

Yes, I was drunk. I was being weird.

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I chicken out

One thing I like about traveling for work is the opportunity to run in other cities/states/ landscapes. When I pulled into the hotel in Frostburg, MD, I knew there was a high probability that my VFFs wouldn’t meet the Allegheny Mountains.

First of all, I was starving. The screwy flight schedule eliminated my lunch. (except for a small bag of walnuts I had purchased for $4!) I needed to eat and soon or turn into the raging Frederica. Frederica isn’t that scary unless your a Dietitian on a mission to prevent the diabetes epidemic. If I ate first, there wouldn’t be much daylight left for running on a trail.

Next, the hotel was located next to the highway in an empty area. The road it was on was one of those country roads that wouldn’t be very safe for runners due to no sidewalks, unlawful speed of oncoming cars, limited visibility, and improbability that other runners had ventured there before.

Could I have steeled myself and faced the Allegheny country roads or the setting sun? Perhaps, but I didn’t. I was chicken. I justified it by saying I wasn’t scheduled to run that day anyway.

Instead, I ate a grilled chicken topped with maryland crab sandwich down at the local Sands Saloon. Which unless you are actually on the Maryland coast, I wouldn’t bother with Maryland crab. I have been known to be a bit particular about my crab. To me, it might as well have been fish flakes for all I could taste.

After dinner, I walked down the hill from Sands Saloon into the heart of Frostburg. They had all the Sookie Stackhouses except the one I wanted. So, I bought book 7 of the 39 Clues where Dan and Amy discover which branch if the family they are from. Then retreated to my hotel room for a restful evening. (no bedbugs there!)

This morning I visited the dinky hotel workout center. There was one treadmill squeezed in between an elliptical and a stair machine. Wasting no more time, I started out bare for the first mile until I began to feel the skin becoming raw from the rough treadmill belt. Then I donned my favorite shoes, VFFs, to complete the 5k. It has been a long time since I’ve run in stagnant air. I considered taking off my T-shirt but I didn’t want to scare any old ladies walking by. It wasn’t exciting or refreshing but the run was done.

I don’t have any scenic pictures to share because the best views I had were while I was driving and my hands were gripping the steering wheel very tightly.

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