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Posts tagged ‘travel’

On Losing Things and How to Find Them

WTAD-White Pages-6/15/17

Bobbe White

Are you acquainted with the prayer to St. Anthony, the patron saint of all things lost? St. Anthony is currently the one praying…for a rest. He’s worked overtime for me lately. Those of you who have confused look on your face may not understand; St. Anthony is available to all faiths. Trust me. Here’s how our son, Nick, explained it, eighteen years ago.

Skip: “What religion are you, Nick?                                                                                                                      Nick: “Well, my mom’s Jewish and my dad fishes.”

I digress. Back to topic. Last weekend, I attended a terrific women’s conference, “LET’s RISE”, in Austin, Texas. Our kids gave me the best Mother’s Day gift: Austin gift cards, to experience the food and charm as I moved about the city. With just five hours to redeem these on Friday, mission control ignited. I walked a mile to Terry Black’s BBQ, with objectives: (1) quickly learn the menu (2)  manage ravenous hunger and (3) spend the card. I failed miserably on #3. I realized I’d left the cards in my hotel room. Yes, I did. When I pull a “Schecter move”, I get REALLY mad at myself. This is what I’ve come to call them. That’s my maiden name. We just get excited or in a hurry to go and we don’t do the mental checklist. Always have. My other side, the Whites, have yet to experience a Schecter moment. This includes in-laws, out-laws, my husband and children. They just would not. Back to the hotel I trudged. Time is evaporating. It’s hot. With cards secured, I UberX takes me to the BBQ, because now I’m hot, tired and mean hungry. (Worse than hangry.) BEST BBQ EVER! Next, I went to the fancy, Driskill Hotel, with my cocktail gift card. The Driskill’s couches, chairs and coffee tables are covered in cowhide. Giddy-up! I rested on a cow, recharged my phone and my own battery. Next, I walked a mile to Amy’s Ice Cream. They prepare food fast, because it’s hot. As the waitress kneaded my order, she flipped the ice cream into the cup. And some residue into my hair. That’s how you remember your order. Ahhh! Chocolate, check. Coconut. Check. Almonds. Check. Oh well, I would shower before dinner anyway.

The rest of the weekend was seamless. Until I returned to St. Louis Sunday. I couldn’t find my car key. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I pray the abbreviated version:  “Tony, Tony, come on down. Something’s lost and must be found. Amen!” The only thing I found was a locksmith through AAA motor club, who could make me another key for $165 and a two hour wait. There are no other options. Steven had been super busy, “People are crazy today, losing keys in lakes (and Austin…).”

On Monday, my key search in a little red zipper wallet began. I called all over Austin, retracing my path, which was everywhere. Let’s pull my agony to a quick resolution, shall we? Tuesday noon, I checked messages at lunch. “We have found your red zip purse and key at The Driskill. Please call 512-391-7078. YEE-HAW! A cowboy found my stuff? Don’t know. Don’t care. I have to follow an email link to: ILEFTMYSTUFF.COM.  (I’m not kidding!) For $18.95, cough, cough, they’ll return my stuff. And my sanity. I love Austin. I love The Driskill. And Terry’s BBQ and Amy’s and Torchy’s Tacos and Mozart’s coffee and my feet, which hurt like the devil.

The Comfort of Travel Routines

Bobbe White

3.2.17

written for wtad.com

itll-do-motel

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there are limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, before working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I have saved the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. (Drive on.)

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. (Still not tired.)

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. (We’re a little tired.)

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “But that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

We recently drove to Denver, for about the 37th time or so. As routes go, there’re limited options from Quincy IL to Denver. Whichever way you go, it’s like going to Subway. Order #34; it’s about 7 feet long and 3 feet high. Slice the bread lengthwise down the middle with a saw. Flatten it on a big piece of paper. Squirt a mustard stripe down the middle. That’s your center line. Nothing else goes on it.. And that’s #34. Also known as “the Kansas”, because that’s what the drive is like. Or take the northern route, it’s like ordering #37, a/k/a “The Nebraska”.

They’re aptly named for the order in which they entered the Union. Took us a while to decide if we really wanted them, but some great athletes and comedians came from those states, so the powers said, “Sure, let ’em in.” Anyway, you get the picture. Long, ho-hum, hairy-dog drives.

Each state has a unique place in our routine:

Missouri, Macon McDonald’s: We order the same lunch every single time: Filet-o-Fish medium meal deal, with an extra fish and Southwest Salad. That’s it. Bingo-Bango-Bongo. They never get it right. Ever. Jeff vents about this situation, every time.  “We ought to make every kid in America set up a lemonade stand three times, working at McDonald’s. They’d learn how to take orders and make change!

After Missouri, is Kansas and our multi-town hotel quest. I save the monologue in my phone notes for quick referencing.

1st: Seneca has the Althoffen Inn and McDonald’s, but we’re not tired yet. Drive on.

2nd: Washington has the Oak Tree Inn and Casey’s. Still not tired.

3rd town: “Belleville’s got squattum”, Jeff says. We’re a little tired.

4th: Mankato hasn’t got sh*t!  (Uh-oh.)

5th: Smith Center has a Dollar General, “but that does us no $&?#*% good.” (Somebody’s cranky…)

6th: Phillipsburg has a spankin’ new Rodeway Inn. (Got our second wind. Keep driving.)

7th stop: Norton-“Oh Honey, they’ve got a Dairy Queen! Sleep Inn looks nice.  (But, nope! Onward…)

8th: Oberlin-“Oh boy, they’ve got a Chesters and a Subway. Comfort Inn too.”

9th: St. Francis-“Look at that!” Jeff says. “The It’ll Do Motel.” Photo opp stop.

I must’ve fallen asleep after that…

Colorado: Giddy-up! We stop at the first and only gas station in the Colorado plains. The Rockies are still hours away. Looks like Kansas. We request the restroom keys. It’s seriously attached to a billy club. I feel like a Bobbe, the London Bobby, with a billy. “Who’d want it?” we ask the clerk. She says we’d be surprised.

Fast forward three days and the man at the Denver Residence Inn desk asks, “Leaving already?”

“We only reserved two nights…”

“Hmmmm,” he says. I just remember you two. (Really?) We blink at him.

“I remember people who talk to me.” He says to us. We love this place.

“We’ll be back!”

We head home and stop at the same cafe near the Colorado-Kansas border. I don’t even recall the town, at this point. All we know is, the woman who is owner/waitress/cook is still crabby. But the eggs are good and the bacon is crisp.

Nice to know some things never change.

bathroom-keys

Why Do We Live Here?

scrape-windshield

Written by Bobbe White for “The White Pages”  WTAD.COM

Why Do We Live Here?

Frankly on weekends like the last one, I do not know.  It was simply too cold and icy to justify; too treacherous to visit family, stay upright while attempting to walk into work or do anything, really. All of this on the weekend before Christmas! What rotten luck for us procrastinators.

It all started Friday after work. Here we were: coats zipped, gloves on and remote start buttons activated. Unless you’re like me, without remote start. We had a windshield scraping fest instead. But, it was as if Santa’s elves – with and without remote start- had descended upon our parking lot!  Even though it meant the remote starter people would have had to stay late, they did! It was the coolest thing ever. No, actually, it was cold as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks! And hockey players are the only ones who would’ve found our parking lot remotely enjoyable. Anyway, everyone helped everyone else get the icy buildup cracked enough to drive away safely. It was heartwarming and almost great fun. Almost.

Saturday was colder and windier. Ice drizzled on our cars. I chose to use floor mats on the windshield, to minimize scraping after work. It worked well on the left side, but the wind swooped in and took the right side mat, which found me executing a double-twist, triple Salchow* jump on the iced parking lot, to retrieve it.

*Salchow (sal’– kau): a figure skating jump with a takeoff from the back inside edge of one skate followed by one or more full turns in the air and (ideally) landing on the back outside edge of the opposite skate.

I wanted to go home. Customers had been sparse during work and Broadway was ghostly quiet, but while I was out, I went to the cleaners, the liquor store and the mall. Fortunately, I’d dressed warmly in my down-filled parka. I became uber toasty inside the mall. Then the zipper broke. In order to take it off, I struggled to slide it over my hips. Forced is closer. WD-40 anybody?  And I thought the Salchow was difficult!  When it was time to go outside and wiggle back into my coat, it was exhausting. A woman watched me curiously. I made eye contact with her and said-as if I always put my coat on over my hips, “My zipper broke, okay?” She smiled and edged away from me.

Sunday, was more of the same: icy roads, frigid temps, and the addition of a few inches of snow. A winter trifecta! I stayed home. The end.

Wait! I need to answer the first question: why do we live here? We live here because when the temperature rises to 23 degrees, everyone loosens their woolen scarves a bit and remarks, “It’s nice out today?”  And they mean it.

Happy frantic shopping week! Stay warm and safe.

DON’T TOUCH THAT SEEK OR SCAN!

Don’t Touch That Seek or Scan!

Written by Bobbe White for WTAD.COM

Christmas Holiday isn’t everyone’s favorite –or happiest- time of the year, but there’s something remarkably intriguing about the music, which accompanies the season.

In the olden days –eight years ago- before Sirius, we used to dial in our favorite radio stations in our cars and homes. I think there’s still a dial, but it needs some WD40, seeing as nobody knows where it is. During Christmas we get to tap into Christmas past and feel the familiar emotion of those tunes. Some songs ALWAYS anchor memories, for example: sitting on my daughter’s bed, unpacking stuff in her sorority house, circa 2008, listening to “Game, Game, Game”, from Mamma Mia. I don’t know why exactly, but it does and always will.

The same thing happens with certain holiday songs. We’re magically transported back to a time, when the song hits a chord in our heads –or hearts-even if you or your family didn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe your family –like ours- celebrated a secular Christmas. We were Jewish, but when you’re retail merchants, like my parents were, you still doll up the displays and the Musk (Google it) drums the Little Drummer Boy for weeks. And we can’t help but hum or sing along, regardless of our beliefs. Songs of the season tether our heads to our hearts.

Irving Berlin’s, “White Christmas” premiered on radio at Christmastime, in 1941, just 18 days after Pearl Harbor.  It was only when Armed Forces Radio began to play the song overseas, for American troops that images of the kind of Christmases back home became more memorable. 1942 was the first winter that American troops spent overseas. “White Christmas”, among other carols, spoke to the nostalgia and homesickness of Christmases past, as they longed for a return to home in particular; hope in general. Back home, sweethearts, wives, parents and families were trying to have a semi-normal holiday with hope, too.  It is said that the camaraderie and hopefulness of our troop’s enthusiasm, even in this dark period of history, propelled White Christmas to be a hit, and today it is still the most played Christmas song ever. It’s the glue that connects the past to the present, and the old to the young. Amazing. Never mind it only has 54 words; it both takes us back to a place – and propels us ahead with positive expectation. Never mind Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. How many cool Christmases do you think he celebrated there? Uh, not many. But it works and it plays and we leave our radios on the station for the first time all year, every year, without surfing for something else. Each Christmas song celebrates a meaningful theme:

-One Horse Open Sleigh: friends and family gather together.

-It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: regardless of belief, tell me you don’t feel the endorphins swimming when you see beautiful displays of lights around the city. Add snow and WHOA!

-Santa Claus is Coming to Town: kids believe that magically, somehow their wishes will be delivered. (Oh boy, the pressure is on the parents, ugh….)

-Feliz Navidad: even if you’re not Hispanic, you know what this means, and you know every word.  That’s integration and acceptance of the world differences, before it was even a top issue. Jose Feliciano. Haven’t thought of that name forever.  How do I still know this?

-Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Christmas Song. You don’t remember it? I’ll give you two hints:  hula hoop.

Jubilee. The art of celebration. A hopeful look to the future. An appreciation for the past. Songs let us possess these things forever.

This month, drive around your city, town or the countryside some night close to Christmas, find a Christmas station and I dare you to tell me you don’t feel a little something resembling hope and good will towards men, women and children everywhere.  Double-dog dare ya. It works, like magic!

I LEFT MY PANTS IN POLAND! January 2015

It’s Thursday, January 15, 2015, and in the news,
•Al Quaida in Yemen takes responsibility for Paris Attack; Belgium thwarts attack
•Gas leak on space station forces US astronauts into Russian quarters.
•Puppy piddles a puddle during premier appearance on the Today show.

It’s a tough world out there, and sometimes, you just need to laugh. I’ve rewritten this blog 3 times, unsure about which direction to take. We’re on top of the Paris situation, in a “wait & watch” mode and we’ll never grasp ISIS’ mentality. But the puppy. Now there’s something we can use. The teaser previews made us anxious. I mean, who doesn’t love a Lab pup, in training for service? Jeff stepped closer to the TV. Impatiently, he said to Matt Lauer, “C’mon, nobody cares about the gas leak. GET TO THE PUPPY!” And the laughter was good.

After much thought, I’ve decided to ditch the heavy stuff and share some observations of our recent trip to Europe.
•Hint: don’t use “GEEK FARE” for tickets. We were routed from Chicago to LaGuardia, NYC, then JFK to London. What, pray tell, is enough time to jaunt across NYC? But, we made it. And that’s a BIG but, because we almost didn’t.
•At Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guard, everyone jockeyed for position. The best place for me was to squat down and peer through others’ legs. A guy above observed me and barked at me. The nerve.
•Liquor store signs in Cracow/Warsaw, Poland are called, “ALKOHOLE”. Yes, some people are Alkohole’s, too.
•12/26/14, everyone in Warsaw walks. Nothing is open for business, so where’s everybody going? Not even TK Maxx is open.(Yes, it reads TK). We learn it’s “Walking Day.” Just get out and walk. To nowhere. So, we did. Great concept after a holiday laden with too much of everything.
•Our French kids – Chloe, Charlene, Valentin and Amely- shared their Paris apartments for the week. Get this: Chloe’s was just 17 sq. meters. Charlene’s was a mere 15 sq. meters. The other two apartments were a smidge larger. Convert meters into feet and it sounds bigger, but it’s not much. These tiny spaces are so efficient. Nothing’s missing. Except wasted space. There’s a teeny-tiny bathroom, teeny-tiny kitchen, teeny-tiny washer and an itty bitty closet. Sofa = bed. Even coffee pots are petite. And, yet, it works. Charlene loves the size, “Less to clean,” she says. We laughed at the surfboard, in Chloe’s apartment. Of all things, right? And the elevator. Oh, that elevator! Picture two average sized Americans in a Campbell’s soup can. Lid on. Tight, very tight.
• New Year’s Day meant ten of us for breakfast. Jeff sends me out for paper towels. Outside, I ponder direction. Left I went; walking in a square, as much as you can on Paris streets, so as to find my way back. No stores were open, so I took a side street. Big mistake. Oh, I found paper towels, all right, but was now off course, with no clue how to get back. I looked at the sun, certain I was on track. Walking with positive expectancy, I was sure our street was nearby, so I kept walking, wondering if anyone was worried about me yet. I can DO this! But I can’t. After 1½ hours, I texted Korey. “I’m lost, I’m afraid.” I gave her the intersection and she demanded, “DO NOT MOVE!” So I waited, like a small child, lost in WalMart. Ironically, a couple approached me for directions and I set them straight. In a bit, Korey found me. I followed her back, head hung in shame. She wouldn’t talk to me; I wallowed in my pity and I missed breakfast on top of everything. So I ate cookies and chocolate.
• And sadly, I left my pants in Poland. So if you happen to go abroad and you see someone in a grey, comfy, one-piece jumpsuit, it’s mine. It wasn’t expensive, (TK MAXX), but I was down to one pair of jeans. We pack light and throw half of it out, so we can carry on our bags. Because if you’re going to transfer between New York airports you’ve got to grab your bag and go!