From the category archives:

THE JOYS OF TRAVEL

Back from BlogHer and OMG do I have stuff to share with you. So much that I don’t even know where to start. I can do one really long post or break this into four smaller ones. Let’s be democratic about this, all if in favor of four smaller posts raise your hand. ::counting:: Okay, good, that’s what I was thinking too…this is why we all get along so well.

Let’s call this: The One Where I Overpack And The Airline Tries To Turn Me Into A Professional Assasin By Losing My Luggage And Also Wherein I Meet The Craziest Woman At All Of BlogHer. (Long title with serious run on tendencies, but I like it so it stays.)

I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about the luggage other than to tell you many profanities were uttered at O’Hare airport in the two hours it took them to find my bag, but take a look at this picture and you will understand just how deep the emotial distress was:

overpacking-stinks

Thankfully my roommates, Jen from Sprite’s Keeper and Mary from Unmitigated knew what they were getting into with me and no one was too shocked when I opened up my suitcase and a thousand shiny stilettos came flying out all over the room. Also, upon arriving, Sprite’s Keeper and I were greeted with this lovely gift from Michele at It’s a Dogs Life and I can promise you I have never needed a glass of wine as much as I needed it then…

wine-and-cheese

Now I know you want to know the dirt. And I’m going to give it to you over the next couple of days but it’s going to take a while to process it all. So I’ll share this one story with you for now where I met the craziest woman at BlogHer (and trust me when I tell you that was a very high honor to achieve with some stiff competition).

The first day I was sitting at a table with Mary from Unmitigated, Amy from OutdoorDogs, Jen Lancaster (and if I have to tell you from where, you really should not be here), Cassie Boorn and Mrs. Fussypants herself, Alli Worthingon. We are all sitting there having a great conversation when this woman who clearly had a high dose of the crazy going on walks up and sort of stares at us until we stop talking. To give you a visual, on her head appeared to be something that was a cross between a poodle and a really pissed off cockatoo. We all sort of blinky stared at her for a few moments until she spoke.

Crazy: Are you guys mommy bloggers?
All of Us: Yes. (Well, except Jen who obviously is not and I think was still trying to process her hair…)
Crazy: Do you guys make money?
All of Us: No. (Well, except Jen and once again if I have explain why she is the exception to the rule…you need to leave now.)
Crazy: Then why do you do it?
TSM: Um, because we enjoy it and we all got to be friends through it.
Crazy: Pausing for some thought here as she looks at her food…then: Well, I guess I’ll still sit with y’all.
All of Us: *blink blink*

So we go back to talking and trying to pretend like craziness is not sitting right there with us. (Hello, Uncomfortable…so glad you could join us.) A few minutes later, she fires up again.

Crazy: So you guys really don’t make any money?
All of Us: NO!!!
Crazy: Then why do you do it?
All of Us: *begin collective banging of heads on tables*
Crazy: Y’all must not be doing it right then.
Alli: Excuse me?
Crazy: I said..If you aren’t making any money you must not be doing it right.
Alli: Do you realize you are sitting at the table with Jen Lancaster who is a NYT Best Selling Author of four books?
Crazy: Yeah? Well she didn’t make any money off her blog though….

At which point, Jen quietly got up and excused herself while the rest of us sat there with our mouths hanging open. I cannot make this stuff up people. Bitch be crazy.

Come back soon and I’ll tell about how in 24 hours I managed to have encounters with Carson Kressley, Paula Deen, Mrs. Potato Head and a streaker which truly taught me the meaning of “bad naked”.

…and I have the pictures to prove it, you have been warned.

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Y’all sick of my travel stories yet? Yeah, me too, trust me.

At this point, all I do is travel. This week, I was off to lovely Hot-lanta again. I was doomed from the start on this one. For starters, I missed my first flight by THIRTY SECONDS. That’s right, a mere fraction of a moment. Slid my passport (not that I need one for Atlanta but I look so cool when I whip it out, you know?) into the little machine at exactly 12:05, the clock turned to 12:06 as it processed my itinerary at which point the machine stuck it’s tongue out at me and said, “Too late loser!” This of course, is no ones fault but mine so I can’t really complain. What I didn’t need was Joe, the kindly security guy who I see every week at Terminal C in DFW who looked at my standby status and said, “Well, well, well….look at who didn’t make it on time today…” Thanks Joe, you are totally not getting that batch of homemade chocolate I was thinking about handing out over the holidays…

Here’s where it got tricky….went to the new gate to make sure I was on standby and that my upgrade request was in process and was told not only would I clear standby but would clear for First Class as well. HUZZAH!

Go hang out at Chili’s, watch some of the MJ Memorial service (which by the way, very touching indeed but in case you haven’t been watching the news, he is STILL DEAD today…move on people, move on…), go to the gate where I am told yes, I will still likely clear First Class but in the meantime, here is my boarding pass so I should kindly go take my seat and they will retrieve me for my rightful upgrade to the land of free food and wine.

Get to my seat and realize I am sitting next to a woman who has traveled from Mexico to DFW and is on her way to Atlanta with her two adorable children, age 3 and 11 months. “It’s okay” I tell her as she tries to shuffle things around without dropping the baby “I’m being upgraded to first class and you will have this row all to yourself!”

Famous last words.

Waited patiently for said upgrade which I don’t think I need to tell you never came through. The kids are starting to get restless at which point I tell her, “It’s really okay, I’m a Mom, I’ve been where you are….they can’t bother me.” She looked doubtful, I felt confident. That is, until they told us we had to hold at the gate for an hour due to bad weather in Atlanta. I can’t be positive, but I think the baby knew what the pilot said because at that exact moment she decided to begin howling. You could just see the pain on this woman’s face…and I have had this same expression. For some unknown reason, the baby started reaching for me and the Mom was trying to do damage control holding her back. The baby? Was having none of it. Again, I looked at the Mom and said, “Seriously, don’t worry about it, she’s not gonna bother me!”

What I didn’t know is that baby was out for blood.

Oh sure, she looked innocent enough. Probably one of the cutest babies I’ve seen in a while. However, the only thing that would make her happy was pulling my hair and being a Mom and knowing how stressful the whole plane thing can be, I let her. She calmed down after a while and we pulled back from the gate.

But then we got to the runway. And we got held again. For another hour. Mind you, I’m not complaining because given the choice of flying through rough weather and sitting next to Hair Pulling Baby? I’ll take the Hair Pulling Baby, thankyouverymuch. But what I didn’t know was hair pulling is apparently the gateway drug to another variation of torture, Claw Baby. Claw Baby was only happy when she was dragging her sharp little baby nails down my arm which greatly alarmed her mom. Again, I’m all about trying to maintain peace on the airplane so I said, “It’s okay, it doesn’t hurt that much and she’s not crying…don’t worry about it.” The squeals of glee from Claw Baby should have alarmed me but no, her cuteness was like Kryptonite is to Superman and I was totally defenseless to her spit bubble charms.

We finally took off and the mom and her kids all fell asleep. Claw Baby looked a little bit like this:

sleeping-angel

Possibly even cuter. Bless them, they had had a very long day, traveling since 7 am that morning and it was now 3:00. I settled into a really good book and enjoyed the silence. Claw Baby was asleep, looking like an angel when the guy next to me started talking really loudly and I was all, “OMG MAN…STOP TALKING….DO YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME IF SHE WAKES UP????”

Wake up she did and this time, with a look of zealous glee she realized that if she grabbed the back part of my arm with her two tiny fingers and squeezed really hard, that was even more fun than clawing me and thus was born the scariest of all baby variations, Pinch Baby.

I was not fond of Pinch Baby at all.

So she pinched and she pinched and she pinched pinched pinched. And she laughed and she squealed, and then she pinched some more. And I gave the man next to me some really dirty looks.

We finally got to Atlanta and the mom asked me if I could hold Pinch Baby for just a minute while she gathered her stuff. Apprehensive, bruised and just worn flat out, I agreed even though I was fairly sure that the next iteration of this baby morphing would involve fire or at the very least blood, I put her on my lap. And you know what she did?

She grabbed my nose and pulled me down to her face and blew spit bubbles on my cheek and giggled.

And the world was good again.

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Ah, where did the time go? When I last left this little blog of mine, I was sharing with you my ugly little fit that lead to an upgrade in our room status from prison cell to executive sweet suite. After getting all checked in, The Man and I decided to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the view from our room:

napa-1

Nice, huh? Now y’all can say all you want about my, *ahem*, personality but sometimes it does pay off in spades. After the sun set and we were thoroughly relaxed, we went to dinner. Ten points if you can figure out why I liked the name of this restaurant so much:

napa-2

I love that the steak was heart shaped. Also, you should know that I spent the better part of dinner at this very nice restaurant working because nothing says I love you like clicking away on your blackberry all through dinner. I am all about the awesome, just ask my husband.

After taking a steak knife to my blackberry at the end of this romantic, relaxing, working dinner, our vacation really started.

Here’s the thing I didn’t know, Napa is every bit as relaxing as a beach. The manicured vineyards rolling by as you drive, sipping (no really…I sipped!) wine during the day, the laid back attitude of everyone up there, it is simply heaven on earth. At some point on day one I’m fairly sure I forgot I had children (pfft…ignore that sobbing mess you read about in the previous two posts) and really let myself get into the one thing I had set out to accomplish, learning to really love red wines.

We toured several vineyards but one was my favorite and our most interesting experience. On the first day, thanks to an old boss and wine afficiando, we found a small vineyard called August Briggs.

napa-3

I was already enamored because my birthday is in August and I figure anything that has that month in it much be FANTASTIC because in addition to being awesome, I am also all about the humility.

Anyway.

We got there and it looked like everyone was on vacation. Then this guy Matt comes downstairs and not only does he manage a lot of the operation, he also participates in tasting the wines as they age. At first, he was all business, explaining the different wines we were tasting and not talking much. Could be because we had a really strange woman in the tasting room with us at the time, very unkempt and left lots of icky finger prints all over her glass while guzzling samples. Call me crazy, I think she was in it for the freebie and was stopping at every vineyard on her way to a friends house a little north. After she left, an adorable couple from London joined us and all of a sudden the atmosphere turned lively. We went through all the different wines, Matt got pretty animated telling us stories about the vineyard and the process of making a great wine. Next thing you know, he offered us a barrel tasting of a Pinot Noir we were having shipped to us.

napa-4
AMAZING. The funniest thing about it was that it smelled exactly like a banana peel because it wasn’t totally aged…but still delicious. Trust me, if you ever see any of their wines on your shelves…try it…every single thing we tasted out of this world and I have not received any type of payment to tell you this.

It helped that Matt was very nice looking, sadly for The Man, no hot chicks pouring wine at any of the vineyards we stopped at during our tours. ::snicker::

napa-6

Here’s where it got funny. After that amazing experience…the barrel tastings, the education Matt shared with us, all the fun…another group walked in. An interesting group. Four overly made up young girls (Hello…it was 90 degrees, full on war paint and stilettos are not exactly Napa friendly) bellied up to the bar for their tasting. With them was one (how to say this gently…) MATRONLY woman. The girls all insisted they only wanted to taste one wine, not the flight. As Matt tried to figure out which would be best suited to their tastes, he asked the MATRONLY woman what she might like.

Matronly Woman: Oh, I don’t drink any of that stuff
Matt: Stuff?
Matronly Woman: Yeah, wine, I don’t like it.
Matt: You don’t like wine?
Matronly Woman: Nope. It all tastes like medicine.
Matt: Medicine?
Matronly Woman: Yeah, Robitussin to be specific.
Matt: ::blink blink::
TSM: WOW.

We hightailed it out after that for fear of what may come out of my mouth next. When we got outside the doors, I immediately said, “What a bunch of white trash!” (Moment of prayer: “Please God, let my loud voice have carried through that door, Amen and Thanks!”) At which point The Man laughed and said, “Yeah, but they are white trash in a Rolls Royce…” Which yes, they were and it was parked directly next to our Kia. (Hey, would you like a side of irony with that remark TSM?) Just goes to show you, money can’t buy you class…not even when you are rolling large in a Rolls.

The rest of our trip looked like this:

napa-8

..and this:

napa-9

…and this:

napa-11

To say this was a great trip would be the understatement of the century. Only 342 days until my kids go to summer camp again.

This time? I’m totally hitting the passenger eject button.

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Hotel, Motel…Holiday Inn?

by Mary Anne on July 2, 2009

As I mentioned in my previous post, immediately upon ejecting dropping our darling children off at camp, The Man and I hightailed it to Napa.

The flight itself was uneventful, the drive to Napa beautiful. We got to the hotel? It was SPECTACULAR. Lovely Woman at the counter checked us in. Everyone was all smiles.

Got the keys, headed to the room. And that is when the smiling stopped.

The Man had booked a room with a patio because at night in Napa it can get down in the 50′s. Coming from 100 degrees in Texas, this, in and of itself, is a big tourist draw for us. We had packed our sweats to sit out on the patio at night. However, a patio was the one thing we did not have upon arrival.

We went up to our room, room 203 to be exact, and opened the door. It was really dark. I mean really, really dark. I’m all, “Honey, where is the balcony and what is that tiny window looking thingy?” Go to the window thingy and realize it is actually what they consider to be a patio. It’s a small window leading to a space that was about 6X6 and WALLED IN. No air, no natural light. It was a slightly nicer version of what they subjected Heidi and Spencer Pratt to on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.” (Not that I watched it….)

And I? Looked like this:

heidi-montag-pratt

…well, I mean minus the the Playboy body, blonde hair, retarded husband and shiny shiny skin.

The Man was looking quite concerned as I searched for a brown paper bag in which to hyperventilate. (Have I mentioned I’m slightly claustrophobic?) This room was sending me over the edge of reality STAT. So after going all Rain Man and turning in circles saying eleventy million times “This won’t do, this just won’t do…” we headed back downstairs.

The Lovely Woman who checked us in was standing there with the Desk Manager, almost as if they were waiting for us. Following is a snippet of our conversation.

TSM: Hi, we just checked into 203? And…NO.
Lovely Woman: Oh yes, I told Desk Manager here that I had just checked you in and I felt bad about it.
TSM: Did you also take bets on how long we would take to come back down?
Lovely Woman: Um….
TSM: Who had two minutes?
Desk Clerk: Well, that room can be problematic indeed.
TSM: Yes, indeed. Is this where you send the guests you don’t like?
Desk Clerk: *Deer in headlight look*
Lovely Woman: *Hides under desk*
TSM: This room? Will not do, we booked a room with a patio, not a prison cell.
Desk Clerk: Well yes, but technically it has a patio.
TSM: Right. Let me say it again. This? Will. Not. Work. For. Us.
The Man: *Pulls out reservations that show beautiful room with expansive patio* This? Is a room with a patio. That? Was NOT.
Desk Clerk: Yes but we are sold out…
TSM: No.
Desk Clerk: …and there are no more rooms.
TSM: No.
Desk Clerk: …because you see, we are at capacity.
TSM: NO.
Desk Clerk: But there are no other rooms…
TSM: Let me make this clear. We have two children, they are at camp. We never get away from them. EVER. We are now away and to put us in a room that looks like a prison cell that you reserve only for the guests you hate DOES. NOT. WORK.
*Side note: Guest in lobby are starting to look concerned…*
Desk Clerk: The only room we have available is the Executive Suite.
TSM: That sounds divine.

So Desk Clerk kindly takes us on a tour of the Executive Suite to make sure it is to our liking. Which, in fact, it was.

It looked like this:

p6240268

..and this:
p6240275

and this:
p6240279

and with a view of a vineyard:
p6240227

Now before you think I’m kidding about the first room, here is a shot from the pool area. That wall up in the corner was our “Patio area”:
p6240280

That whole Bitch on Heels thing I have going in my nav bar? Pays off sometimes.

The rest of the trip was AMAZING. So romantic, so beautiful, so….to die for.

For those of you that wonder what hotel we stayed at? I won’t say. They messed up our reservations but then they took care of us which in my mind means a neutral rating…no dissing needed…or praise for that matter.

Come back next time and I’ll tell you about a very exclusive vineyard we went to where one crazy woman compared the wine to cough syrup.

Oh, I’m not kidding….

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