Travel Adventures, on the Road in Charleston, SC

Industrial Fumes, Sluggish Drains, and Wasps

The afternoon we checked into our hotel, it was filled with young baseball teams and Sweet 16 Party guests. The hotel was overflowing with people, young and old. Leaving for dinner, we watched eight moms in trendy boots and casual slacks walk through the parking lot. Welcome to Charleston. Our dinner was at a place receiving high marks on a website we frequent when traveling. My highest marks for this establishment were for my table location. I faced the women’s restroom.

The next morning we drove to one of the historic areas of Charleston, leaving our hotel room window open for the day. Returning to our room after sightseeing, a chemical smell stung my nose the second my husband opened the door. He didn’t notice. I hurriedly re-opened the window and door, propping them open to get rid of the odor. I called the front desk. They sent the housekeeping director to see us. She said, “Oh, now I remember, there was a bunch of wasps in the room. Maintenance sprayed to kill them.” I thought great, now what? She offered us dinner while she brought in an ozone machine to deodorize our room. “Give me 45 minutes,” she said. “This is a powerful machine.” The odor still lingered when we returned from dinner. Deciding to change rooms to get away from the smell, we quietly moved to the vacant room next door during a lively reception two doors from our now chemically enhanced room. The door to the reception was open. Reception guests probably didn’t realize that a nearby neighbor had moved.

View from Fleet's Landing Restaurant, Charleston

View from Fleet’s Landing Restaurant, Charleston

The next morning, my husband took his shower in a growing pool of water. The tub drain was clogged. He went to breakfast leaving me to wait for maintenance to clear the drain before I showered. A mid-thirty year old man who could have been a double for actor Peter Lorre arrived. He left the security latch open, keeping his hands clasped like a clamshell both times he walked out of the bathroom carrying something. “The drain was clogged with hair. I cleaned it out, he said.” I imagined the dripping water from his clamshell hands hitting the carpet like breadcrumbs dropping through a hole in the bottom of a bag. Never forget to pack flip flops in case a Peter Lorre look alike shows up posing as a maintenance man.

The maid arrives early. “I’ll need five minutes,” I said. I open the door to leave, she is sitting on the couch, in the smelly dark room we evacuated the evening before. I interrupt her time on her cell phone to tell her I am leaving. I check both ends of the hall to make a quick dash for the elevator. I’m going to Starbucks, looking forward to finding some normal people.

Night three, we discovered that the toilet leaks Our friendly neighbors are hosting another reception. We can’t change rooms. An unsuspecting guest has occupied the fumigated, now ozonated room we evacuated. We’re sleeping with the window open, thinking the wasps that survived the Peter Lorre and associates fumigation will be sleeping unless the neighbor’s party wakes them.

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Road Trip Gifts

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A luncheon guest gave me a copy of her recently published book. At a Maryland rest stop, Black Eyed Susans were in full bloom. 

Hosting gatherings of family and friends were priceless gifts.

The house at Ocean Grove turned out to be a near-perfect place to host family and friends at God’s Square Mile on the Jersey Shore.IMG_2457

 

 

 

Shopping for groceries at Wegmans was a gift. We looked forward to our daily trip to Wegmans.

We adjusted our original road trip schedule to attend Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit at Ocean Grove. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear Louie Giglio, GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, Tyler Perry and many more leadership experts.

Road Trips can be a quiet time away from over-scheduled calendars, telephones, emails and to-do lists. One never knows what kinds of gifts wait to be opened.

Are you familiar with the movie Soul Surfer, the true story of Bethany Hamilton who was attacked by a shark while surfing in Hawaii? A speaker at a recent writers workshop is an editor for a Christian teen magazine, Sisterhood. Her presentation was great but I had no idea how it would impact me in the days to come. About a month after the workshop, I learned my granddaughter liked surfing, then I recalled the presentation. The speaker talked about Bethany Hamilton. During coffee with the mom of a 12 year old, I asked her if she knew about Bethany Hamilton. “We just finished a study of the movie. I have it. Would you like to borrow it?” she replied. I purchased the movie bundled with the downloadable study guide and gave it to my granddaughter, along with the magazine article and a subscription.  What happens next is in God’s hands.

On Sunday, Andy Stanley said, “You have no idea and I have no idea what God is up to in the world.” Stanley said, “I can’t, He can, He can through me.”

When you are on the road, look for what God is up to in the world. The 12 year old’s mom calls moments such as these “God winks.”

Paydays

“For everything you do in life, you get a payday,” he said. Driving through the West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland mountains, I reflected on his words.

My day often starts with listening to pray-as-you-go.org. One day’s reading featured  The Parable of the Vineyard that is recorded in Matthew 20:1-16. To summarize, a land owner hires workers early in the morning, hiring more workers at 9am, noon, 3pm and 5pm. When the vineyard workers collected their wages, each received the same amount whether they started early in the morning or at 5pm.

I thought about my prayer time. Do I clear my calendar to pray early in the morning, at 9am, noon, 3pm and 5pm? Parables speak to us in different ways. There is a payday for what we do with our lives. Some of us begin work early, some begin late in our “days.” God is generous no matter when we begin. “Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.” (Matthew 20: 14-16, CEB)

Paydays start any day. Through prayer, we get to know our generous God whenever we begin, early or late in the day. After all, we belong to God.  Start now.

 

 

Dining Around

Dining Around

Our route would take us on a few of Florida’s less traveled highways. The plan to stop at a Starbuck’s en route never materialized. Instead, plan B took us to a breakfast cafe in a tiny town’s historic district. I was unsettled about the looks of the place before I opened the car door. No, I don’t think I want any coffee as I watched my husband pour something white into his coffee that came  from a foot-tall plastic blue bottle straight from a wholesale store’s shelves.

Checking in to the resort, the desk assistant’s attitude was a trite unfriendly. I whispered to my husband, “We’re not at Disney World® anymore.” Our room wasn’t available. We headed to lunch over roadways packed full of tourists like us. There was a long waiting list for a table at Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon. My husband remarked that he didn’t think there was a person under 60 years old in the restaurant besides the staff. The grouper sandwich was worth the wait. We split a slice of homemade key lime pie.

Back at the resort, we checked into a spacious room, heading immediately for the screened private balcony. A clear sky and the sun’s rays lent a warmth to our spot 12 floors above a marina.

That evening, we dined at the resort’s poolside restaurant. The waiter brought my husband’s white wine in a giant sized plastic communion-looking cup. My husband waited for a clean wine glass, telling me he would not be pleased if it were plastic as he poured the wine into the stemmed glass… it was plastic. But wait, we were poolside. “They’re not going to give you glass barware by the pool,” I remarked as I sipped my club soda from a plastic hurricane “glass.”

At Doc Ford’s the following day, we noshed on my husband’s favorite, Yucatan Shrimp. My husband kept saying, “They don’t taste like yours.” There’s no jalapeño in the shrimp at Doc Ford’s.

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green

The Foodie in Me

The Foodie in Me

In January, we dined at the Walt Disney Resort’s California Grill.  It was the first time we had been there since its re-opening. A few years earlier, we celebrated my soul sister’s February birthday at this renown restaurant.

February is a busy time in our home. My husband is preparing for the annual conference of an organization he manages. During his preparations, he thinks we should have a nice dinner before he boards his plane for the conference. I’m up to my elbows with my own “stuff” to do, to file, to clean, to prepare but my “stuff” is nothing compared to his conference preparations.  “Okay,” I say.  We went to the Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk.

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

I was reluctant, not so enthused because of “stuff” on my overflowing plate that I could better manage if put on a large platter.  The Flying Fish is a favorite of my husband’s.  He wanted to sit by the kitchen. We sat at the restaurant’s bar, side by side, noshing on food worthy of any fine restaurant in the country, reminding me of a favorite birthday spot in New Orleans, Peristyle, where the portions were refined, delicate, and filling. After dinner at the Flying Fish a few nights ago, I have decided that it is a personal favorite in the world of the Walt Disney Resort.

On our ride home, I began to reminisce, thinking of Colorado and the Arapahoe Cafe where we met a young waitress I will call D. D is the mother of an  8-year old son who loves to read. She is a Christian mother living and working in a secular environment. We had a lovely visit, chatting more than we probably should have. D’s faith leads her life. Her son’s full name is made up of three prominent names that are in the Bible’s Old Testament. Remarkable. We pray for D and her son, thankful that our paths crossed. By the way, the Arapahoe Cafe serves good food. We noshed on some spiritual food while dining, thanks to D.

Arapahoe Cafe

Arapahoe Cafe

Rocky Mountain Mayhem

Rocky Mountain Mayhem

How Do You Spell Relief?

We took a ride on the two lane road through the Arapahoe Basin, Route 6, stopping to take photos along this route over the Continental Divide.  At the end of our 45 minute ride on the narrow road, I noticed that my Livescribe pen was MIA.  I searched the car.  The pen had vanished.  As I retraced our ride’s miles, I realized that the pen must have been sitting on my lap when I leaped out of the car to take photos.  My generous husband suggested we circle back on the route to search for the pen, using the camera’s photos to help identify a possible vanishing point.

Livescribe Echo Pen

Livescribe Echo Pen

We pulled off the road at what had been our first stop.  A dark object lay on the ground.  It was my chubby black pen, safe from sudden death from a car’s tires.  I grabbed it, putting it in a secure place for the ride back.  The question from my husband for the rest of the week has been, “Where’s your pen?”  The often-used pen has been secured.

Renegade Tree on the Snake River

Stylized Target Entrance, Silverthorne, CO

Stylized Target Entrance, Silverthorne, CO

We stopped at Target to look for a fishing rod.  The rod was the hot agenda item for the day, thinking we may have an easier time of catching dinner than finding open restaurants during the off season.  He found the perfect fishing rod at Sports Authority.  Over lunch, he mulled over the purchase.  He bought it, hook, lure and line.

All was well at the fishing spot until the fishing line drifted into a felled tree across the Snake River.  Trying to retrieve the fishing line, the tip of his fishing rod came off.  The tip of the rod rode down the fishing line, landing on the tree where the lure sat.  While attempting to retrieve the tip of the rod and lure, the fishing line broke.  Stranded on a dead tree floating in deep water, hope dimmed for a fishing rod tip rescue or a fresh catch dinner.  After an hour of rescue attempts, the law of averages worked.  He recovered the tip of the rod from the lifeless tree.  The tree owns the lure.

Hostage Taking Tree

Hostage Taking Tree

The fisherman treated himself to a Margherita Pizza for dinner since area fish fled during multiple rescue attempts.  The fisherman rolls with the river, happy with a frozen catch instead of fresh.

No Sense of Direction Leads to Wrong Destinations

I noticed an outlet mall advertising outlet stores I don’t often see.  A day later, we went to the mall but couldn’t find the stores or the signs.  It must have been an altitude mirage I thought.  Returning from a visit to Vail, I saw the signs again!  Turns out, there are two outlet malls.  I found the outlet stores I had been sure I saw earlier in the week.  I power-shopped while my driver sat in the car reading a novel on his Kindle.

In the Garbage

It isn’t unusual for us to ask for the location of garbage dumps ever since a trip to a dump in the Canadian Rockies turned out to be a good location to observe wolves.  In Jasper, Alberta, Canada, we spent hours watching a wolf pack around a garbage dump.  In Summit County, Colorado, the garbage dump is off the main road, up a steep mountain.  Before dusk, we drove up the dirt road to the dump.  Ten-foot high chain length fences surrounded the dump but a road to the right continued, to a shooting range!  Oversized trucks and SUVs were parked at all sorts of angles.  Shots were being fired.  No wildlife would dare be in the vicinity of bullets piercing the air, nor would sane adults unless they were gonzo or members of the shooting range.  No wildlife stalking was a disappointment for my driver.  I was relieved when he turned to exit the county shooting range and garbage dump.  We haven’t spotted much wildlife other than large numbers of magpies or their crow cousins.

What kind of mayhem have you experienced lately?

Train Travel Adventures

Kale Chips Do Not Travel Well by Train

Visiting family spring breakers insisted on shopping to supplement and fortify a stash of snacks, almonds, pretzels, string cheese, peanut butter, snow peas, and cucumbers. House guests often buy more than they consume. The house was full of March Madness mayhem, recording games to watch after returning home from theme park marathons. Spring break brought family restful hours by a community pool. Heavy eyelids made their way downstairs for breakfast and trips back to the grocery store for more, donuts! Full from adventuresome days, family departed to return to not so warm temperatures of their hometown. After their departure, we readied for a brief train trip to Savannah, GA with Hilton Head Island as our final destination.

I placed a package of Kale Chips into the beige-trimmed navy canvas satchel that contained a writing journal, camera, iPad and other travel security items I felt necessary to bring along, but I forgot the binoculars. After boarding the Amtrak Silver Meteor train for Savannah, I threw the satchel into the overhead rack. The inexpensive Kale Chips turned into crumbs. I thought they would be a perfect snack while reading the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, but since Kale Chips were crumbs, I would need a spoon. I had packed two bags of a favorite comfort food, Cheez It crackers, (left behind by family spring breakers). One of the bags had turned into crumbs like the Kale Chips.

The train ride was relaxing until across the aisle, a frantic voice connected to a friend screamed into her phone, “The ADT alarm is going off at my house, the police are on their way. I’m tired of buying things for thieves to steal.” She got off the train before I heard if her friend went to her home to meet police.

We were 6 cars back from the train’s engines. I didn’t hear one whistle as we traveled over railroad crossings. I never heard the crumbling of Kale Chips or Cheeze It crackers either. A train stop in Jacksonville turned into a long delay when the crew made the decision to ditch one of the sleeper cars for safety reasons. People carrying pillows joined us in coach class when they had to be relocated from their roomy sleeper cars.

This is living large

Living Large

My husband, sitting by the window, was glued to his iPhone, watching every inch of terrain on a satellite map he downloaded. With the rocking back and forth of our train, I read and read and read, sometimes gasping at Dr. Davis’s statements meant to bring a laugh. I disrupted my husband’s map adventures more than once with “You’re not going to believe this…” statements as I read portions of the book’s pages to him.

We seldom miss a meal in the dining car when traveling by train. I ignored what I had read minutes ago when a warm sour dough dinner roll was set before me. Dining car meals bring adventure, one never knows who a dinner partner is going to be. We shared a table with a Connecticut artist traveling home from an extended family visit with her son and grandson. Her interesting clothing and jewelry gave me a clue that she was probably an artist. Roosters, she had been painting roosters, 68 of them so far. How many roosters have you seen walking around your neighborhood? Me, none but I do like roosters.

Serene Marsh Veiw

Serene Marsh View

We were going to Hilton Head by way of Savannah, taking a taxi from the Amtrak station to the Savannah Airport to pick up a rental car for the one hour ride. Our Amtrak scheduled arrival time of 7:15pm turned into 9:15pm, altered in part by the sleeper car’s ditching a few hours back. Type A personalities may not do well traveling by train. After arriving in Savannah, we took a taxi to the airport (no charge) to pick up a car.

Driving in the dark Georgia night, my husband begins to fiddle with his iPhone. He was searching for a map to our final destination while driving on the interstate! I’m a “Type A nervous nellie.” Minutes passed. He pulled over to the side of the road to figure out the map. As second-class navigator, I made an executive decision. It was time to consult a professional, Siri, who lives and breathes to get me out of nervous situations, especially when the situation relates to directions. I voiced my request like Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise might command, “Get Directions to …” Siri’s audible commands navigated us to the resort at Hilton Head where we spent several days relaxing and enjoying South Carolina’s coast.

We went to a favorite spot for dinner. The Sunset Grill, a fine dining waterfront restaurant rests on top of a self-service laundromat in an RV park. Floor to ceiling windows on three sides offer breathtaking views. We appreciated the view of a vibrant sunset, unlike the time we had dinner during a heavy fog. Facing the Intracoastal Waterway at the Hilton Head Harbor Marina, one never knows what you may see in the calm waters. We’ve never been disappointed.

Fast forward to the end of August. We are ready for another visit of family. Will they make a trip to the grocery store, shopping to supply snack cravings? I’ll encourage them to buy some Kale Chips and Cheeze It crackers, secretly hoping for leftovers. (I won’t be saying a word to the author of Wheat Belly.)

Welcome to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

Welcome to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

Look for Shadow when you visit

Look for Shadow when you visit

Mileage from Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
Mileage from Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort