Today's thoughts

Category: TRAVEL (Page 1 of 28)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Green #1653

Our schnauzer pup Tally is not fond of the tough southern fauna, as opposed to the soft Oregon grass where she’s used to doing her business. The blades are thick and pokey in Florida, so it will take some getting used to in our move. We did finally arrive in Venice with no further delays. I thought of many things that could go wrong on our cross-country journey but never once kidney boulders. To be honest, I did imagine car break-downs, accidents, speeding tickets, flat tires, credit card problems, theft, and even snow. However, we were lucky to avoid them all.

There were many scary moments of pain for my wife along the way, but one funny story emerged from the adventure. She innocently asked the parking valet at our downtown Atlanta hotel last night where she could find some “green.” She of course meant a grassy area for Tally to pee, seeing nothing but asphalt and concrete surrounding us. He noticed our Oregon license plates and commented, “you have access to the good stuff back home, but I can hook-you-up if you want.” She chuckled and didn’t know quite what to say, but clarified by asking for directions to the nearest park. Far from what he was thinking!  I did see that same valet later that evening sharing a joint with a buddy down the street. I guess we’re lucky to have been reunited with our car this morning, worried that he might have rummaged through the dirty laundry bags in the trunk looking for our stash. After all, we were looking for grass!

Tally is still looking for the “green,” scared by the loud clomping sounds of a horse pulling passengers along the brick street in front of our hotel last night. She was absolutely petrified! She then refused to lift a leg, tugging frantically on the leash to get inside and away from the scary downtown noises. I eventually had to lift her up into an elevated planter so she could ultimately do her business. She’s a worried puppy thirteen states from home and confused about the long car rides that used to be fun. Tomorrow, we’ll get her settled into a new home, but it will take some time to adapt, especially in anticipation of the further  disruption associated with unpacking and new faces. Hopefully, she’ll find green pastures again! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dog Days of Travel #1652

We’re about to cross the Georgia-Florida line, as my wife takes over the driving responsibilities. It looks certain that we’ll arrive in Venice before our stuff, delayed because of the unavailability of drivers. North American Van Lines faces monetary penalties for not delivering according to the contract, while we will undoubtedly spend the first nights on our inflatable bed. Is this too all Covid related? Fortunately, we had the foresight to bring the blow-up on our last Florida flight a few months ago. It was the last live look at the construction progress that has since been solely through  Facetime or photos. Tomorrow we move in!

Our schnauzer Tally does not yet realize that this will be her last full day in the car. Last night was an absolute hassle, staying at the downtown Residence Inn. We tried yo get a dog-friendly hotel near the home of my wife’s niece. With our ER and medical delays, we arrived at a time that interfered with her evening Asian conference call, so she was unavailable to visit. We spent most of our hotel stay arranging for valet parking and hauling our valuables up to the 20th floor. First, we had to navigate the uneven brick sidewalk and then lug our numerous boxes and bags up a set of stairs to get to the elevator. All this coupled with Tally’s dog bed and overnight supplies. Mother Marriott should have been paying us rather than an outrageous $100 pet charge and $50 for parking, plus tips for very little help. Hardly – dog friendly or even handicap compliant.

We won’t get to our new Venice address until after the gates are locked this evening and the office where we pick-up our keys was closed. This means another night in a hotel with more luggage hauling and pet fees, not to mention forking out inflated Spring Break rates for the crappy room. The bath towels will probably be like tattered sweat rags, and the neighboring Cracker Barrel will have to suffice for take-out since dogs are not allowed. The good news is that this is one Florida vacation where we will never make the return drive. Yes Tally – the dog days of long distance travel will soon be over!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Georgia on my Mind #1651

Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida are the last 5 states on our 13-state cross-country journey that started in Oregon. Atlanta, Georgia is tonight’s goal, as Tally continues to wonder where we are going? She looks content in the back seat bed, but it’s really boredom. She isn’t getting her long walks and has so little room to stretch. Occasionally, she’ll ride on my wife’s lap. We drive in 3-hour shifts between food and gas stops, putting more and more miles in the rearview mirror. This is her first day of not experiencing pain, following the kidney stone surgery in Indianapolis. I’m sure that’s a huge relief for her.

We continue to look forward to seeing our new home and addressing any unfinished business. At least two more nights of hotel living now stand in the way. We can pick up the keys on Wednesday morning, but still have now idea where are possessions are sitting. Presumably, they are still in the Portland warehouse awaiting a driver. At least, it’s not a frantic race to the finish line. We might even have a few days to get organized before the unpacking process begins. Plus, it’s another blue sky day for driving.

I got to visit with all my Indy friends and enjoy time with my wife’s family. They were very gracious about our extended stay, giving two sisters a chance to catch-up after almost two years of separation. It also gave me a chance to play my newest role of GUM -Great Uncle Mike. It was a good visit for all of us -long overdue. Back home again in Indiana with Georgia on my Mind.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Maskless #1650

We start the final 1000 mile drive tomorrow morning after a few extra days in Indy. My wife and I are headed to two separate restaurants this morning to meet friends – Wolfie’s and Izzy’s. It’s the final day of farewells before we hit Atlanta tomorrow evening – another eight hours behind the wheel. All of our travel days have been under blue skies, however yesterday it poured buckets as we tried to navigate the local streets. Last night, we dined at Murphy’s where my wife had the traditional Hoosier Tenderloin sandwich. I settled for a steak and two XXX martinis – a drink favorite I haven’t enjoyed in a bar setting for some time. Masks were still required although the state has made them a personal choice outside of Marion County. 

The further south we travel, the more maskless individuals we’ll encounter. This will be a challenge for my wife who has yet to become eligible for the vaccine. We’ll finally get this taken care of in Florida, after going to a maskless birthday party for a 3-year old yesterday here in town. My wife wore hers, especially after just getting out of the hospital, but no one else did. Plus, we were all stuck inside an apartment with the downpour. It was an odd experience for us, and hopefully there will be no consequences. All of the young parents in attendance had already been vaccinated, indicating once again how far behind the curve we are in Oregon getting the vaccine in arms. 

Mandatory mask use in Indiana was abolished effective yesterday and people were out in masses. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for business owners and the protection of their employees or customers. If you’re already vaccinated, a mask is no longer supposedly necessary to protect you. However, you can still spread the virus to others – so we still need to mask-up for folks like my wife that remain vulnerable. It all comes down to being polite – but that won’t go far without the law behind it. Please don’t go maskless!

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Indy #1649

We should have been back on the road today headed south. Instead, we’re taking a prolonged pit stop in Indianapolis, a month ahead of the “Greatest Spectacle.” The focus of the city has changed from basketball to Indy car with plans for fans in the stands. There were cars on the track these past few days as preparations begin for the Month of May. By then, we’ll be in our new Florida home watching the quals and race on TV, knowing we were just there. In fact, it’s my second trip into town during the past few weeks.

My wife is healing from her kidney stone battle and we’re good to go on Monday, following a birthday party and several bar meetings with friends. The surprise surgery only delayed us two days before we meet the moving truck in Venice. Fortunately, they have also been delayed getting out of Portland. We’re supposed to pick up the keys to our forever home on Tuesday and start the unloading process. However, we’ve yet to get an update on the van driver and his or her cross-country plans.  If we arrive before they do, it could mean several nights on an inflatable bed, living out of our suitcases. Atlanta is our next stop. All of us are grateful to have had an extended break from the road. 

Florida is calling and I’m getting itchy to start our new life there. It’s been so strenuous this past month getting ready for the move. At this point, I just want to get the entire ordeal behind us. By tomorrow, I’ll be really anxious to hit the road despite other engagements to keep me here in town. It’s always good to be back in Indy, but also time to get those last one thousand miles behind us. I don’t know when we’ll be back again in our once Indy home?

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Extended Stay #1648

Our possessions apparently have yet to leave the Portland warehouse, so we’ve got time for extended stay in Indianapolis. Two extra days are now in the plan before we head to Atlanta, one step away from moving into our new home. The troublesome kidney stone was extracted yesterday and my wife is feeling much better. Even though the doctor has cleared her for travel, we decided it’s best to rest for a few days here and reschedule what we missed with Indy friends. Getting back behind the wheel can wait. 

It was too rainy yesterday for Tally and I to sit outside and wait for the urologist to complete surgery. Instead of TD Alibi’s as planned, we drove up to a friend’s house in Noblesville. We dropped my wife off at the hospital downtown and spent three hours in waiting. Texts and phone calls kept me up to date on the procedure, since we were not allowed to stay. As she begins to heal, the freedom of retirement allows us the flexibility to adjust our schedule to eventually hook up with the movers, provided my brother-in-law can tolerate my presence for a few extra days. We’re in no rush – at least today, but house guests can begin to stink like dead fish when they overstay their welcome. Glad to have great, tolerant relatives!

I have a Leadership Zoom meeting this afternoon, continuing the once face-to-face Friday lunch tradition started back in Portland years ago. I can still be with my friends despite being thousands of miles away from them. I’ll catch them up on the trials of tribulations of moving to Florida and we’ll certainly discuss the fate of the I.U. basketball program that has been gaining credibility these past few weeks. Xaviar Johnson from Pittsburgh will take Armaan Franklin’s guard position as he moves to Virginia. Dane Fife joins the coaching staff and there’s no one from last year’s IU roster left in the transfer portal. The next step will be finding a big man or two to make us more competitive under the basket. The future of IU basketball has grown from dismal (almost as painful as a kidney stone) to bright in just the past two weeks. I’ll continue to monitor it in the local papers as we’re now in for an Extended Stay. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Easter Leg #1644

Today’s Easter leg (not egg or even leg of lamb) of our cross-country trek takes us from Utah into Wyoming with an overnight stop in Burlington, Colorado. My wife continues to battle a painful kidney stone, but made it through her two driving shifts. The scenery through Oregon was spectacular as usual and not as burnt-out in the Eastern section as it was seven years ago when we first crossed the state line. Idaho was short and sweet while Utah had some long stretches of boredom as the day wore on. We did catch a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake just before arriving at our hotel about 9 p.m., despite an hour loss from the Time Zone change.

I was monitoring the UCLA vs. Gonzaga NCAA Final Four match-up, hoping to get in front of a TV for the overtime. There were unfortunately too many hassles getting checked-in and hauling all our luggage to the room. As a result, I just missed the Zags buzzer-beater to remain perfect. I still have mixed feelings about their quest to tie the unbeaten 1976 Indiana 32-0 National Championship, but with the fortune of that final bank shot, all they have to do is beat Baylor Monday night. From the beginning of the 2020-21 season, this pairing has been on everyone’s radar since it was cancelled back in December due to the pandemic. We’ll soon have the answer. I did watch the White Sox blow an 8th inning lead against the Angels before I turned in for the night on a sour note.

The Sox have started an ominous 1-2 despite some record breaking performances by Yermin Mercedes – 8 for 8 in his first two games and the first grand slam of 2021 by Jose Abreu. Mercedes has filled in “perfectly” at DH for injured slugger Eloy Jimenez, who could be out of the line up for most of the regular season. Basketball, baseball, and the map app kept me occupied while I navigated 1-84 from Portland to Ogden/Layton. Today, as we cross the Continental Divide, it’s I-80 through Cheyenne, I-25 into Denver, and I-70 to our Burlington bed – the Easter Leg!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Marriott Millionaire #1585

Marriott Millionaire

 I’m a Marriott Millionaire,
With points to burn.
Always anxious to find,
Creative ways to earn.

Mother Marriott,
Is my second home.
Provides a bed or beach,
Even a misplaced comb.

I can check-in on my phone.
Platinum service at any hour.
Special upgrades to a suite,
It’s like a Superpower.

Travel almost anywhere,
From Bali to Orlando.
Dine in my pajamas,
Or use credits for a show.

I’m a Vacation Club owner,
With condos worldwide.
There’s few places I can’t go,
When Mother’s at my side.

As a Bonvoy card holder,
More rewards go in my bank.
With everything I buy,
I have J.W. to thank.

I rarely use my wallet,
They know me everywhere.
From Maui to Bangkok,
I haven’t got a care.

I might be in the pool,
Or sunning on the beach.
A sandwich or a cocktail,
Is never out of reach.

My wife is almost jealous,
And sadly would agree.
She says, “you love your points,
More than you love me!”

Copyright 2021 johnstonwrites.com

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Miami Memories #1584

Before the plane ride home from Miami yesterday, my wife reminded me that I typically write a recap poem after each of our adventures. I went to work during the nine hours it took to get back to Portland. 

Miami Memories

Flew into Miami Beach,
Airport for the night.
Unlike the gloom  left behind,
The skies were blue and bright.

Rental Hertz to Adam’s,
Dance Recital to attend.
Fairfield our Venice home,
Marriott points to spend.

A reunion with Lexie,
Sidewalk Chalk to buy.
Birthday boy is fourteen,
And wants that Cutout, why?

Dining out every night,
Seven to a table.
No longer stuck inside,
Glad to cut the cable.

Golf for the guys,
Neighbors to greet.
Sun baked skin.
Sand under feet.

Saw our new roof,
Begin to take form.
The beach gave life,
A sense of norm.

Subway picnic on Manasota,
As chilly waves rolled in.
Seashells and shark’s teeth,
Glad we didn’t see a fin!

The Sarasota Emersons,
A couple biker bars.
Alligator sighting,
A home we’ll soon call ours.

Cracker Barrel stops,
A dent In the hood.
That crazy coconut,
Was it up to no good? 

Enjoyed a Dolphin sunset.
The Berry’s our hosts.
Spooner in Vero,
Dodgertown ghosts.

Too much driving,
We have a tanning date.
The Deco District calling,
The Keys will have to wait.

Pacific in our front yard.
Chairs strapped to our back.
Raven’s streak to watch,
Stone Crabs yet to Crack.

Sancerre and martinis,
Setting back our clocks.
The only real problem,
Was finding missing socks.

Though without a pool,
We’ll soon have our own.
Another presentation call,
Don’t answer the phone.

We finally ate,
Some key lime pie.
And went to bed,
With a sugar high!

The Betsy for a steak,
Walgreens for gourmet.
Except for that sand storm,
Another sunny day.

Pizza in the toaster,
Fire Alarm goes off,
Please keep your distance,
And mask that cough..

The scene on Ocean Drive,
A tropical path to stroll.
South Beach paradise,
Popover not just roll.

We might stay forever,
But Tally wants us back.
My belly fat is burning,
And just too much butt crack.

copyright 2021 johnstonwrites.com

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Fountainebleau #1582

It’s Friday in Miami with cool temperatures now that the wind has died down. Yesterday, was unbearable on the beach like being sandblasted, my sunburn-sensitive skin pelted with granular pellets. We retreated to the deck of our hotel as the palm trees were whipped into a frenzy resembling one of those inflatable advertising figures perched on the roof of a store. I fell asleep early last night, bored after another do-nothing day. There’s even less privacy and space in this hotel room than in our apartment, although the deck is great for morning sun.

I was in search of the Fountainebleau on this morning’s run, a historic hotel where I once stayed with my mother-in-law and son (See Post #151). I can’t remember why I selected it after a business trip to Ft. Lauderdale, but I promised my young son, an avid Dolphins fan, that we would stay in Miami. I dropped the two of them off at a Boca Raton beach while I made my lunch call on the now defunct  Levitz Furniture, and I recall them being soaked by an unexpected afternoon shower once I came back for the rescue. This has been at least thirty years ago when he was a teen, so early 1990s. I must have made a reservation because the famous fountain was under construction along with the beachfront swimming pool, and I remember joking that we must have pulled  into “the Blue Fountain” instead. I did find a ladies watch in a drawer and thought that this was why the room was so pricy. The experience was a total disappointment after feeling like a bigshot advertising executive in anticipation of luxury accommodations on glitzy Miami Beach.

The fact that it was featured in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger must have been one of the lures for booking it. The hotel opened in 1954 on the site of the former Harvey Firestone estate. Al Capone died in 1947, but there were other mob associations with the Fountainebleau and other Miami hotspots. Capone’s estate, built in 1928, is on Palm Island near where we ate at Joe’s Stone Crab the other night. It was one of the few Miami restaurants that would accept his business once he was released from prison. I always find myself drawn to these Mafia connections when I travel and Miami is no exception. The Fountainebleau turned out to be out of running range this morning. I missed it by three blocks, so maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. 

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