Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Black Hole Day

For those of you who follow my escapades on Facebook you already know that I was much delayed on my way back home from a recent business trip. In all it was about 27 hours, but what's a day lost if you can turn it into an adventure (compliments of Delta airlines), right! I offer you a pictorial of Memphis:
After running out of rooms, Delta upgraded the remaining passengers to this lovely hotel (I even had a balcony) which made the Extended Stay America in Durham look like a dump, oh wait, it was.
The trolleys run in downtown Memphis - the only sad part is that they all seemed to be going in the opposite direction that I wanted to go in so I never got to ride one. But if you're ever there it's only $1 to ride.
Famous landmark of Memphis. I walked around downtown with a pharmacology professor from KU who was also stuck and trying to get back to KC.
The ducks inside at the Peabody Hotel.I would stay here if I ever came back - http://www.peabodymemphis.com/.
 Even though it was 3pm, there was live blues all around. I can't really zoom in on this photo but the bass player's belly was hanging between his knees.

As we finally left Memphis we were greeted with what I can only assume was an all-plane mister. I thought the plane was on fire when I got on but it went on the whole flight and people seemed to act like it was normal. I found it distracting to read while sitting in a simulated bayou. Has anyone else ever experienced an all-plane fog machine?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tip #2

So, today is a "weather day" for traveling - when everything across the country is affected by one crazy storm - today in Atlanta apparently. We just got an update that our three hour layover has turned into four. This leads me to share another one of my travel "gems" with you. I always travel packed as though I am traveling with a two year-old. By this I mean I have enough snacks, books, videos on my iPod, magazines, chargers and backup chargers to keep me going through whatever layover-land can pitch my way.

For those of you who know me well, this is probably not a surprise, but I highly recommend the method to you as well. It is truly amazing how much more tolerant I can be when I can keep myself fed and busy regardless of what is closed in the airport, how annoyed the people are around me and how badly I would rather be anywhere but stuck in an airport. There are a few people around me right now that I am considering offering a magazine or a granola bar too as I am not sure I can handle to hear them call another person to hear how - "OMG, weather happens". At least I have my trusty noise-canceling headphones which are going to come in handy...right...about...now...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off Road

Today, as I was following my GPS directions, I was led onto two different dirt roads. I got the feeling initially that I was some place I shouldn't be - but sure enough, eventually, I ended up on an actual, paved road that took me where I needed to go. As my week in North Carolina dies down, I can't help but compare this area to Maine (although I think I am in a city here - Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, etc.). The only difference being that also feel like I am back in southern Mississippi. So, landscape of the former, social graces of the latter.

I guess I always thought the mid-Atlantic states were less southern, but I guess not. Last night I got to experience some redneck fun when I went to Danville, VA to meet up with my friend Ellie for dinner. A small boy with a mullet was driving the family car up to the restaurant door in the rain because his dad didn't want to get wet. The dad stood on the sidewalk and yelled driving instructions to his son, who could barely reach the gas, so he just sort of rolled across the parking lot. A little scary for me as he was next to my rental car.

I have been at Duke all week taking classes towards my Certificate in Nonprofit Management and took part of the afternoon today to walk around the campus. Here are some pictures:
I discovered the difference between D1 and D3 tennis - at least for the fans.
I would also like to point out one of the lovely features of my hotel. The room next to me looks like it was broken into last night (bent screen and broken glass). That, along with the people sitting in chairs they brought out from their rooms so they can smoke seated, kind of keep me up at night. Maybe avoid the Extended Stay America on Tower Blvd if you can. I will be back in a week and a half to finish my classes and will be trying a different area of town...

In conclusion, and the hotel aside, this is a rather lovely area. I can understand why people want to live here and I would suggest it for a visit or if you are looking for a college, as there are many to choose from. Thanks for catching up with me!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spread 'Em

I have often said to myself, and other fellow passengers, that I would much rather be delayed, have my bag ripped (which has happened to me thrice), hassled and annoyed than unsafe. "Get me there alive" is really all I ask from a variety of airline carriers that I patronize. However, I had my hopes up in the past six months that things were finally going to change for the better - due in part to these two articles - http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-03-02-shoe-scanner_N.htm (talks about new scanners that will allow us to stop taking off our shoes) and this one - http://www.eturbonews.com/15849/eu-end-restrictions-liquids-carry-luggage-april-2013 (a possible end in sight for the liquid ban, even if just in the EU).

The last one was particularly exciting because as many Americans know, the EU comes up with a good idea and we follow about a year later. It's not that I mind shoving tiny liquids into one tiny bag - it's just that we have to stoop to that rule to begin with. I'm sorry, if someone wants to be harmful bad enough, they're going to find a way. (Btw, that is not ME, TSA, I'm just saying.)

Anyways, I have deviated off of today's point. I just checked in (for a flight to Durham, NC) and cleared security and am now sitting in my gate area. But not before receiving a lovely grope session. Seriously, flying when it's not busy is a curse - it's like they want to pretend things are safe all the time by using their fancy safety tricks when the airport is dead.

The TSA agent looked at me going through the metal detector and then said, "Hm, yeah, okay, let's do a full body pat-down." I was thinking, do I have a choice? Can I just strip for you and we'll call it even? Anyways, I stood there while I was checked for whatever I could be concealing, which was nothing. I can't decide which I hate worse - the pat-down or the digital full-body scanner machine, which I am still pretty sure they haven't resolved the retaining of captured images issue with yet...I'll save that rant for another time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

KS Adventures

First off I want to recommend a book series - Day Trips from (you fill in the city) by Shifra Stein. They aren't available for every city of course but I've seen them for quite a few (Austin, Baltimore, Phoenix, K.C., Minneapolis, etc.). I love them because they are full of places you can go for one day (or longer if you want) within a short drive from your house (in today's blog exactly 50 minutes from my house) that are a little off the beaten path.

Anyway, we headed out yesterday morning to the Moon Marble Factory in Bonner Springs, KS (a place not in the book but it started us off). This is a great place to visit because it's free, houses one of the best toy stores I have ever seen (not huge but great variety of classics and bizarre offerings) and is in the business of keeping an old world trade and game alive. Bruce, the demonstrator, is not only a great marble craftsman but also the owner. It's worth the drive.
(This shopping tote boasts the phrase "First Lady of Fabulous")

After that we headed off to the Holy-Field Winery, which in the Day Trips book boasted 10 varietals. It was a quaint vineyard with a storefront that had tastings, so we partook in that. We purchased a bottle of their driest red - a Chambourcin. The best part about the winery is that they let people help harvest grapes every late summer/fall - the only drawback is that they only do it on Sunday mornings.
The lady at the winery gave us a restaurant recommendation which led us to Kelley's (in Basehor, KS). A friendly, local bar and grill where the guy answering the door greeted every guest (except for us) by name. Our waitress was friendly and attentive and the food was good. They even had veggie burgers!

After that we decided that our trip needed one more stop to wrap it up and we headed to the Grinter House - a historic mansion that was built by a couple in the 1850's. The site marks the first ferry crossing on the Kansas River (all 100 feet of it).
So, that about wraps it up. If you are ever looking for some foreign adventures in your own backyard, K.C., check some of these out. If you don't live here, consider looking for a guide for your city or pick up a book for a city you'll be vacationing in. We have had some unique adventures courtesy of this book. Ciao!