Entry #5 - Pensacola, FL
This week was interesting because I had to drive to the Chicago area, fly from there to Florida, then make it home in time to take A to her first day of Kindergarten. It involved a lot of flying, but not a lot of sleep. Whenever I go to Florida (and I spent about four months commuting back and forth last year), I'm always torn. On one hand, there are beaches, palm trees, and tons of stuff to do. I usually feel like I should be taking advantage of those things. On the other hand, I'm not a big "stuff doer". Plus, no one wants to sit next to the guy on the airplane that spent the day at the beach, but didn't have the opportunity to shower. That's one of the biggest problems with being on the road. Once I check out of the hotel in the morning, I'm essentially homeless until I fly out that evening.
I had a large block of time to kill between my assignment and my flight home, so I had to decide what to do with myself. There were beaches nearby, but unfortunately (or for me, fortunate, as it made my decision much easier) it was raining most of the day. So, I spent a an hour at Starbucks, getting work done...super exciting! Then I decided to see a movie. I've become accustomed to eating alone, so seeing movie is just a natural progression. What I wanted to see was the new Batman movie, but I had promised B that we'd see it together, so that was out. And since it was three hours long, I didn't want to watch it twice in a week. I ended up seeing The Campaign. It was so funny, I found myself laughing hysterically (and alone), in a theater crowded with retired couples. I highly recommend it if you aren't easily offended...it's rated "R" for a reason. Here's my Hampton!
Entry #4 - Plainfield, IL
My trip to Plainfield was one of those rare visits that actually allowed me to drive my own car, as it's just a few hours from my house. I have a fairly strict 6.5 hour rule. If I can drive there in 6.5 hours or less, I do so, otherwise, it's a flight. Of course, for this trip, I had to be in Florida the next day, so I parked my car at Midway and was back on a plane. Before that, however, I had a few hours to kill. I kill a lot of hours between assignments. If you're ever "on the road" with a few hours to kill, there's really only one place to go to get any sort of work down...Starbucks. They have free Internet, are very understanding of a random guy nursing his drink for a few hours while answering emails and such, and of course, they have coffee. I spend a significant amount of time in Starbucks around the country.
Being a suburb of Chicago, the Plainfield area is also confusing. Every time I turned around, I was in a different suburb (Romeoville, Joliet, etc.). I don't know how people keep those straight. One bonus of my wait time was that I had the chance to stop by a Marshall's and pick up some "school clothes" for P and B...as well as a couple coffee mugs for myself. Here's my Hampton!
Entry #3 - Wichita, KS
After a few days in the "big city" of Boston, it was nice change of pace to touch down in Wichita, KS. For those unfamiliar with the Midwest, you should know that most states are remarkably similar. They are mostly flat farmland, broken up by slightly rolling farmland, with a few small cities mixed in so that we have someplace to congregate.
I actually had plans for Wichita. I finished my meetings and had a whole evening ahead of me, so I spent a solid half hour researching restaurants, shopping, and movie times. Long story short, I ended up in a bathrobe and slippers, watching the Olympics while knocking out a shocking amount of room service food. Such is my life. As a change of pace, I stayed at a DoubleTree, mostly because it was across the street from the airport.
Entry #2 - Boston, MA
- Someone I work with suggested that I stay at the Taj Hotel, which is a change of pace for me, as it's not a Hilton property. While it was really nice (they offered a bath service! they would literally come to your room, draw a "theme" bath, and then leave you to your enjoyment. I almost ordered one with rubber ducks and hot chocolate), the Taj had one critical, unforgivable problem. There was NO COFFEEMAKER in the room! I looked everywhere for it and finally called the front desk. Apparently, they offer free coffee in the lobby from 5am-7am or they can have room service send you a carafe for $20. Being that I have a morning routine that involves coffee, Woot.com, Grantland.com, and ESPN.com, before I can transform into a functional human being, I had to sneak down to the lobby every morning at 6:30am in my gym shorts. While there, I would exchange grunts with older gentlemen in suits, worrying that one of the hotel staff would peg me for a homeless person trying to make off with free coffee. So, I enjoyed the Taj, it was historic, sophisticated, and comfortable, but if I go back, I'm bringing a coffeemaker with me.
- Boston animals are apparently unafraid of humans. In Indiana, if you see a squirrel, deer, bird, duck, etc., you can admire them from a distance. Get too close, though, and they bolt. They probably assume that we're all hunters (safe assumption, but still). I went for a walk through the Boston Gardens and the animals did not care about my presence at all. No one else found this odd, but as someone who's used to the opposite, it was unnerving. I kept expecting them to attack. They broke my will with their twitchy little eyes.
- I often use the fact that I travel as an excuse for eating poorly. When you're traveling down an interstate or around a city, you're going to see a bunch of McDonald's, Wendy's, and other fast food "restaurants". Eventually, hunger will get the better of me and I'll hit a drive-thru. Of course, at the next exit, there would be something better, but just as unhealthy. Turns out, I just have no will power when it comes to food. I was walking through Boston, thinking that I would find someplace local and healthy, and I must have walked by 10 places that fit that bill, but at the end of my walk...the fried seafood platter at Legal Seafood. So, given unlimited options, I chose an extremely unhealthy one. On the bright side, I did walk about 3 miles that night. The first mile and a half were full of promise and optimism, but the last half was a bloated walk of food shame (with brief stop at Starbucks).
|The Taj Hotel in Boston - Not for coffee lovers|
|I kept getting closer to this squirrel, expecting him to scamper away. I think he was some sort of squirrel superhero, keeping tabs on his turf. You know, like Batman. Maybe his squirrel parents were murdered in front of him years ago?|
|There's just so much cool, old stuff in Boston, I gave up and joined the throngs of foreign tourists, snapping pictures with our phones.|
Entry #1 - Jacksonville, Florida
This week, I was in sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Since it has been in the high 90's and overwhelmingly humid here in Indiana over the past month, the low 90's and normal humidity of Jacksonville was actually a relief.
Apparently, Jacksonville is the 10th deadliest city in America. I didn't look this fact up, but it was relayed to me by the sales rep that I was working with. She told me that the Hampton Inn that I was staying at wasn't in a bad neighborhood, but it was on the outskirts. I wasn't supposed to worry, though, as I guess most of the murders occur in conjunction with failed drug deals. It was difficult, but I fought the urge to get involved in any drug-related altercations, so I went unstabbed.
On a somewhat unrelated note, I had my third buffalo (or bison) burger in a week at a restaurant called Seasons 52. So I've now sampled the bison of Missouri, Georgia, and Florida. If it wasn't for the guacamole (is that something one puts on bison?), the Florida would be the definite winner. I could easily change this page from "Oh, the Places I Go" to "Oh, the Things I Eat", but that page would fill me with regret. Some things were not meant to be documented.
I'm going to start posting pictures of the hotels I stay in, too, as I think it'll be interesting to see that nearly all of them are identical. I try to stay only in Hilton properties (gotta bank those points!) and Hampton Inns are everywhere. Here's the first...