Today's thoughts

Category: TRAVEL (Page 1 of 33)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Marriott and Root Beer #2026

I knew there was something special about the Marriott brand, dating back to my childhood and the downtown Elkhart Root Beer Barrel. I was recently made aware of the connection by a Facebook friend from my home town who posted a picture of the iconic A&W Root Beer stand and provided a little history:

It all began in 1927 with an A&W root beer stand. Founder J. Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, got their young business off the ground by quenching people’s thirst during Washington D.C.’s hot, muggy summers. Good food and good service at a fair price became a guiding principle for Hot Shoppes restaurants–and for Marriott International as it grew.”

As time went on, “the Marriotts added hot food items to their menu–a first for A&W franchises–and the name “Hot Shoppes” was born, opening two more locations, including the East Coast’s first drive-in restaurant. By 1937, in flight catering debuted when Hot Shoppes begins delivery of boxed lunches to passengers at Hoover Airport, south of Washington, D.C.”  The stock became public in 1953 at $10.25/share and sold out in two hours of trading.”

“Marriott made a historic shift into the hotel business in 1957. The world’s first motor hotel opened in Arlington, Virginia, under the management of J. Willard Marriott’s son, Bill. Over the next 25 years, Marriott became a diverse global enterprise, and Bill Marriott became a visionary CEO whose leadership transformed the hospitality industry. The first international property then opened in Acapulco, Mexico in 1969 while a partnership  with Sun Line in 1972, allowed the first lodging company to enter the cruise business. Also that year, J.W. Marriott, Jr. was named Chief Executive Officer of Marriott, adding the Courtyard brand for business travelers by 1983 and by building the first JW Marriott in Washington DC.

One company, many brands–that’s the innovative model that Marriott began building in the late 1980s. From pioneering the extended-stay business to launching distinctive brands geared toward the business traveler to increasing its presence overseas, Marriott International broke new ground in its quest to become the #1 hospitality company in the world.”

“In 1987, with the opening of the first Fairfield Inn and Marriott Suites hotels, Marriott become the first lodging company to offer a portfolio of brands, also acquiring Residence Inn to pioneer the extended-stay lodging business. 1988 then saw Marriott open its 500th hotel in Warsaw, Poland, the first western-managed hotel in Eastern Europe. By 1995, a famous, historic luxury brand  was added into its portfolio when it acquired a 49% interest in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Two years later Renaissance and TownePlace Suites were part of the group, followed by SpringHill Suites by Marriott in 1998  and ExecuStay corporate housing in 1999,”

Alice Sheets Marriott – “Mother Marriott” – passed away in 2000, but growth from her A&W roots continued as the first Bulgari Hotels & Resorts opened in Milan, Italy in 2008 and the EDITION brand was launched in 2008. “Marriott was on a mission to shape the future of travel through technology and innovation. From mobile check-in and lobby Greatrooms to transforming the meeting experience with the Coat Direct app. Gaylord, MOXY HOTELS, AC, Protea in Africa, Delta Hotels in Canada, and  Starwood positioned Marriott as the world’s largest hotel company in 2016 with over 5700 properties, 1.1 million rooms, and 30 brands in over 110 countries.  It was the year that my wife and I joined the Marriott Vacation Club, using our Bonvoy card to travel the world under the care of Mother Marriott, to whom we raise a frosty mug!

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Great New Friends #2023

I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer reference things that happened in the year related to my post number.  Here I am writing Post #2023 and thinking about the future. We do have certain plans for 2023 including an Arizona Spring Training trip, a Nile River Cruise, a long drive into Maine, and maybe a family get together in Tahoe to make up for the 2021 fire that caused us to cancel. My health will be the biggest concern, and I will know more after next weeks consultation with a cardiologist. I’ve yet to have any kind of surgery in my life, but coming up soon is a minor eye procedure that will require some skin removal and the potential for repairs to a lower aorta aneurysm that was discovered years ago. I also face my ten-year colonoscopy that will put me under for a short time. In other words, my future involves a lot of poking and prodding.

I would much rather focus on the travel rather than the doctor appointments. However, my seventy year old body does require some attention. I will continue to try to run every day despite these obstacles even if it means a treadmill or ship deck. Even though I fight the urge to quit every single morning, it’s the positive  force that keeps me going. The Florida heat and winds are now a factor but this morning it was overcast with the threat of rain. I finished my familiar 5k route to make it 4,878 consecutive days. It did start to pour in the middle of my swim, so I did cut that a bit short. 

We had another successful “Meet The Neighbors” gathering last night. A year ago was the very first Borrego Street party in a driveway down the street. We then hosted the second one in the sweltering June heat with a band playing in our garage. My wife then volunteered to organize our regular get togethers at the nearby clubhouse in air conditioned comfort or under the poolside pergola with a breeze off the pond. The band played again last night to celebrate our ninth time together as a group. In addition, there have been community functions, Borrego Boyz luncheons, a retirement party, a brunch, dinner parties, impromptu driveway meet-ups, and several birthday parties where we’ve had the opportunity to make great new friends. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: A Busy Year #2021

The year 2021 was filled with great expectations as we made our move from the cramped Portland apartment to our new Venice, Florida home. This would entail hiring a moving company, packing up all our belongings, and making another 3,000 mile drive. We were actually concerned that the moving company might beat us to the final destination. Instead, they were delayed by nearly seven weeks, as Covid continued to affect truck driver availability. My wife also encountered another unexpected obstacle along the way when she developed a painful kidney stone issue. It required an emergency stop in Burlington, Colorado and minor surgery in Indianapolis. 

Although we arrived in Florida after just a few days delay, our furniture came much later. We had fortunately had the foresight to have sent ahead our inflatable bed on one of our 2020 flights. After a few weeks of discomfort, we then went out and bought a bed that we needed for the guest room. We also borrowed from my son a table, some folding chairs, and an aquarium stand that was used for the TV. My wife and I were also quick to jump at an opportunity to go to Marco Island with some friends for a few days while we continued to wait for our furniture to arrive. 

Finally, in the third week of May the long lost moving truck finally arrived. After getting our home semi-organized, we went back to Portland for the U.S. Olympic Trials, another event that had been delayed by the troublesome Covid virus.  A trip to Amelia Island followed, so we could see the twin girls born to my wife’s nephew along with our very first visit to Singer Island. We returned there last week for a longer stay. In September, we also squeezed in a family excursion to Pittsburg for a ball game before our very first houseguests began to arrive. They’ve kept coming ever since between visits to the Kennedy Space Center and Disneyworld. I’m not sure how we would have worked in Spain, Tahoe, and Hawaii that were originally scheduled but cancelled. It was a busy enough year already!

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Other Side of Florida #2018

It’s trash day with no bin to take to the curb. It takes me back to the Portland apartment and dumping it down the shoot. Next Monday we’ll be back to the routine with the Dog Park, Trash, and Movie back in the picture. Today, we’re headed to the beach, a short walk from the pool, to claim our overpriced beach chairs for the day. No scrambling for a precious spot by the pools that all seem to be claimed by 9 a.m. Tomorrow will be our last full day of vacation before we head home on Wednesday to reclaim our dog. 

Surprisingly, we didn’t get out to see much of the sights around Singer Island. We fully expected a rain day to visit the Flagler Museum and other nearby historical landmarks. Although rain was in the forecast, it never really disrupted our day and we only went out to eat three times, including the resort tiki bar for lunch. My wife has been very good at preparing meals in our kitchen, saving lots of money compared to our usual vacations. I was reluctant to use the word “vacation” in these days of retirement, but these two weeks have been different. We did need a break from the routine outside of house guests. Getting our home put together this past year has been both stressful and expensive. We were glad to get away from everything but Tally. The main distinction is that we don’t have to go back to the office!

It will be good to see my son and grandkids again, get back to my running routine through the neighborhood, and reacquaint ourselves with the neighbors. I’ve also missed a few episodes of Winning Time and Curse of Oak Island. We did get to watch Billions and Ozark when we weren’t reading by the pool or mesmerized by watching the Atlantic Ocean waves crash against the beach from our patio. The Gulf Coast is much more peaceful and the water much warmer. However, it’s always fun to get a taste of the tropical winds and massive waves on this – the other side of Florida. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Who Knows What Will Happen? #2017

In the year 2017, I was fully retired but my younger wife was still working. I had the advantage of accompanying her on many business trips primarily to LA, Seattle, Chicago, and NY while enjoying the free accommodations provided by her company. While she was out making calls, I would go for a run, visit a museum, have lunch with a friend, or go to a ballpark or historical landmark. As of three years ago, we both were retired and then Covid struck so this kind of business travel would have likely been limited to Zoom conferences. The two-week getaway that we’re currently taking, is probably the longest either of us have been away from home at any time in our lives. We will do the same thing in August, September, and December if all goes as planned. In retrospect, we were essentially homeless during the long drive from Portland to Florida when we settled into our new place a year ago. 

Tally was with us on that long drive, but will be left behind several more time during the rest of our travels this year. It’s not our choice but dogs are simply not welcome! This is also the longest stretch we’ve ever been away from her, so I hope she recognizes us when we pick her up at Schnauzerville next week. I’m sure she’d be disappointed if she knew that the next two trips will be close to a month in length each, followed by two weeks in Hawaii. She’ll be left behind, but hopefully her schnauzer buddies will keep her happy. I’m grateful that all this travel has prevented my wife from getting another puppy, something she’s had her eye on for some time now. We had to pass on the three recent litters that produced eighteen tiny, black bundles of fur. Her favorite was the one with a small patch of white.

Next year, will be equally “busy” with travel to Phoenix, Tucson, Egypt, Tahoe, and the East coast to Maine. Maybe we can put off the extra pup for another year, but when travel time has run its course, then puppy time will take its place. Perhaps, no lengthy trips will take place in our distant future with more time to enjoy our resort community. Plus, money will certainly be a factor. We’ve spent a lot of our once aggressive travel budget on projects at home. Tally is probably happy that trips that we once had planned to Bali, St. Kitts, Russia, and China may never take place. Tahoe, Kauai, and Egypt adventures have been rescheduled. Puppies and Travels -who knows what will happen?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Lovin’ It #2016

I started this blog in 2016 in anticipation of retirement at the end of the year. It was part of my plan to keep busy, hoping that my daily writing efforts would lead somewhere. Now, after 2,016 attempts, it’s still a quest as part of my daily routine, but has yet to amount to anything but a tool to keep me entertained. Today, my effort will be cut short by the resort’s cleaning service for fresh sheets, towels, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping that used to be a daily task pre-Covid. They agreed to come in after our first week here at Singer Island. Plus, we have a house guest for the night.

We’ll grill steaks on the outdoor grills after a day in the sun – not much different than being at home. I’ll continue my reading the book, Once We Were Brothers, while the girls catch-up on their long-term friendship. I did get my full 5k in this morning, but will be at under 85 miles for the month after several 1.1 mile setbacks due to time restraints and dizziness. Normally, I’m well over 90 miles each month, exceeding 1,000 miles a year. I never really thought of this as a milestone until a close friend joined a 1,000 mile walking club. My next goal will come in September, five months from now, when I surpass 5,000 consecutive days as part of “The Streak.”

Another day has gone by in a flash, as boats pass in the distance from our balcony view. My skin is now as brown as it was when we returned from Thailand a few years ago. I did have a head start this time due to living in Florida rather than Portland, where the sun only came in short breaks. Four more days of sun worshipping before we return home for even more sun. We’re Lovin’ It!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Twist in the Routine #2015

Over the past few days here on Singer Island, I’ve continued to log our Marriott and Marriott Vacation Club journeys over the past twenty-three years. I’ve consulted reservation histories, personal notes, poems, and my daily journal for clues as to Marriott owned hotel/resorts stays all these years. An Excel sheet now lists them by date and occasion. We even collected more reward points by sitting in on a sales presentation this morning, electing to not invest any additional dollars in this program going forward.

The “early” meeting disrupted my routine of running and writing, as has been the case with our first week here. Once again, I only managed the minimum mile for the third time this week and missed another blog entry. I guess there actually is such thing as a vacation in retirement, especially if you define it as a complete modification of daily habits – like Thursday’s change in our normal sunbathing schedule to accommodate the weather forecast. Routine-less days make the hands on the clock even harder to track.

Yesterday, we went to the grocery store for the second time since our arrival, in anticipation of company this weekend. We also have free Showtime, so we’re catching up on the Billions series. Rain is once again in the forecast but it’s surprisingly sunny by the pool as I write these words. No, wait now it’s suddenly cloudy! A storm sent us packing early yesterday, but stopped just before we walked down the block for ice cream – just another twist in the normal routine.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Points #2014

The dizziness has passed, but I still have a sinus headache. I was able to return to running a full 5k this morning although my pace was awkward and sluggish. Nonetheless, consecutive day #4,868 is now behind me and another sunny afternoon ahead. We’ll be back in our expensive beach chairs in a few hours once I catch up on my writing. Yesterday, I was distracted on the computer with a silly project, listing all my stays at Marriott properties over the last twenty-two year. This includes Vacation Club, Ritz Carlton, Marriott, JW Marriott, Spring Hill Suites, Towne Place, Westin, Fairfield, Courtyard, Sheraton, and Residence Inn overnights. We honestly haven’t paid directly for a room at any of these brands in at least the last fifteen years. Some were corporate reimbursements but most were based on points collected from credit card purchases and membership in the Marriott Vacation Club. Of course, I pay a small related mortgage and maintenance fees, but it’s much more practical than a second home. Plus, it’s not a fixed location. 

I have accounted for over 200 stays all over the world so far with some as much as 14-days long. When all is said and done, I will have spent more than a year of my life in Marriott rooms from Hawaii to Bangkok. It’s rewarding to look back on all of our travel adventures. It really started back in 2005 when I took the TV General Manager’s job in Decatur, Illinois. The first few months of living there was at a Fairfield Inn where I began to accumulate points, and corporate meetings around the country allowed me to stay at pricier Marriott hotels for even greater points. Next, I got a Marriott Credit Card where purchases also earned points. Ultimately, we joined the Marriott Vacation Club about 5 years ago. The main benefit is consistency in our lodging as we travel. No surprises and first class accommodations! Points, Points, Points. 

My wife claims that I love my Marriott points more than I love her, but the truth is she never complains about where we stay. There are no more “Third Room” hassles that used to plague our adventures. (See Post #503). She’s usually content under the care of Mother Marriott and has collected thousands of points on her own through her own business travels. We’re in mutual agreement on something for once! There are of course other expenses involved in travel like the beach chairs that we rent. The fact is that they cost more per day than Fairfield rooms we used to rent twenty years ago. However, we charged it on the credit card, so we’ll also get some points. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dizzy #2013

Yesterday, we lunched with our Ft, Wayne friends that we affectionately call “Neighbors,” even though we’ve technically never been. I once lived within running distance of their house but since then have settled in Indianapolis, Zionsville, Decatur, IL., Austin, TX., Portland, OR., and now Venice, FL. In this case, they were being snowbirds in Sebastian, FL. while we were staying at a Marriott condo on Singer Island. We got together near the half-way point, Jensen Beach at Conchy Joe’s, a restaurant/bar on the Intracoastal Waterway. I picked the spot randomly on the map, knowing little about the destination. It was quite eclectic with a thatched roof, open air seating, and giant overhead fans. We hogged a table for several hours playing catch-up and then moved to the parking lot for another hour or two. Back in the day, we used to joke about being “Garage People,” since at most parties we always seemed to hang out in the garage. Most likely, it was where our hosts preferred us to be with a house full of people. A couple of chairs in the dirt parking lot was our comfort zone, as we continued to share memories. 

We had planned to go to a movie on the way back but we ended up staying too long and headed straight “home.” My wife also wanted to stop for fresh seafood at an off-road stand. We loaded up the Yeti cooler and were on our way when I had a sudden dizzy spell behind the wheel. It came and went, so I sought a place to park and recover. I’m still not sure of the cause but it gave me a slight headache, an uneasy feeling, and made me even more unsteady on my feet. When we got back to the condo, I gingerly sat on the couch to watch the final episode of Inventing Anna and the movie Project Adam. When I woke up this morning, I still did not feel well and shortened my run to a mile. 

I had forgotten part of my medication, so this might have been part of the problem. I also both ran and walked on the beach the last few days, so dehydration may have been an issue. The last time this happened was several years ago when I got dizzy during my morning run and ended up in the Emergency Room (See Post #808). They could not determine the cause for this disturbing episode either. I’ll take it easy today, as is typically the norm in retirement, and hopefully I won’t continue to feel dizzy.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Relax and Enjoy Life #2012

Another windy day at the beach today, enough in fact to literally stop me in my tracks during this morning’s 5k run. At least, I didn’t sleep late, completed the full distance, and was finished by 9a. Tonight, we meet my wife’s friends for dinner in Jupiter Beach, but the rest of the day remains unplanned. If it’s anything like yesterday, the sheltered pool chairs will all be taken since no one will brave the windy beach. It’s definitely still Spring Break considering the crowd and their youthfulness. 

Back in 2012, I was in Austin working for American Cities Business Journals and earning my second Eagle Award for sales excellence and my Distinguished Toastmaster medallion for public speaking. We traveled to New York City and San Antonio to receive these honors. However, I soon began to experience some throat problems that was diagnosed as a wart on my vocal cords. It interfered with my abilities to speak or even network, so my business skills and confidence began to wane. Laser surgery would give me temporary relief but the problem persisted in the long run. My wife continued her television career with LIN Television that evolved into Nexstar and Meredith Broadcasting. Change was inevitable

It’s now a decade later with moves to Portland and Venice, Florida now behind us. Twenty-one years of marriage, six years of retirement, and a year in our new house have led us to this Marriott resort on Singer Island for two weeks to recharge our batteries. Watching the waves crash on the beach is our chief form of entertainment. Puzzles, books, and Netflix are the extent of our activities until the wind finally dies down. It doesn’t get any better than this -Relax and enjoy life!

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