Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On the Road, Day 1

What I'm reading: Forever Blue, by Suzanne Brockmann

After three checks to make sure the air conditioner was really off, we headed out, fingers crossed that Fay won't wreak havoc in our neighborhood while we're away. There was no hurry, no pressure. We opted for my car, a Honda Fit Sport, rather than hubby's Toyota pickup. More comfortable, and a heck of a lot better gas mileage. We're hoping we won't have to do too much driving in the rain on the way back, because it's a low-slung little baby, but we've long since learned there's very little point in basing any decisions on weather predictions. Seems that most weather forecasters would be hard-pressed to give accurate reports on yesterday's weather, and hurricane tracks are always full of surprises.

For some reasoning known only to the local school board, they've switched start times for the high schools and middle schools. Something to do with saving money on busing, but I didn't follow the initial story. Seems to my mind, if you have X number of students to transport, the time of day you do it shouldn't matter. Nevertheless, it's a done deal, and that meant that we hit the first day of school traffic backup at the high school. After that, traffic was never an issue, at least not in our direction. We did notice numerous convoys (or caravans?) of utility trucks headed south toward central Florida, to be ready for any storm-related problems. It's nice to see TPTB taking action, and realizing that central Florida is a logical place to stage disaster relief. We hope it's not needed, and they'll be using it as a test.

We rolled into Charleston on schedule, checked into the hotel. Since this is a government sponsored meeting, they had the say in the hotel and the room blocks. No king room, and no desk, only a small round table and two uncomfortable chairs. A dearth of open electrical outlets. I'm working from one of the beds. Tiny bathroom, but we're on different schedules, so that's OK. Points for the free bottles of water, pretzels and chocolate chip cookies. Bonus points for the lighted magnifying mirror in the bathroom, even if there are 3 appliances (hair dryer, mirror & coffee maker) and only 2 outlets. Minus points for absolutely no hooks in the bathroom. So much for my handy-dandy toiletry case that's designed to hang over a hook. No real closet, just a 'wardrobe'. Loud air conditioner that seems to have two choices: meat locker or clammy. And drapes that don't cover the window so the street lights outside shine right into my eyes. I woke up and thought I'd had an amazing night's sleep, looked at the clock and it was 2:33 AM. Shades of Alaska.

Nice view from the bar atop the hotel. We took advantage of their happy hour prices and watched dolphins in the river below. Free bar snacks. Should have had more and skipped dinner, but we didn't. Luckily, we brought our cooler and I saved half my dinner which will be today's lunch. After years spent finagling per-diems to cover expenses for two, I know to bring enough breakfast and snack items, and can usually get by buying only one meal a day.

I slept in, went to the hotel's fitness center, and hung in the lobby while the maid cleaned the room. The Olympics are tuned to the men's triathlon, something I would never have paid attention to until my daughter decided to become a triathlete. But now, it's nearly noon, and time to tackle the WIP.


Ray said...

There are some beautiful views in Charleston.

In the mid nineties I stayed at the Comfort Suites in Mount Pleasant, SC at government expense. I had a full kitchen, office desk, a sitting area with a couch, love seat, recliner, easy chair, bedroom with dressing room and separate bathroom. I was right next to a shopping center with everything I could ever need. I was on a two week job at the Naval Weapons Station. I even had a Buick rental car with only 700 miles on it when I picked it up.

I guess we got the good room by group rate. There were probably about fifty of us at two hotels side by side.

Hope you have a great time while your husband is working.


Terry Odell said...

So, Ray, did you eat at Sticky Fingers while you were in Mt. Pleasant. Really good ribs. We ate there last night. It's a 'must do' when we're in this part of the country.

Ray said...


I don't eat beef or pork if I can help it. My wife is an ovo lacto vegetarian. I also eat fish and poultry. When I was in Charleston I was trying to live on my per diem. By fixing my own meals I had enough money left over that I didn't have to use any of my own money unless I really wanted to splurge.

I loved that shopping center in Mount Pleasant. We have a new shopping center built in a similar pattern next to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. Next to the Farmers Market there have been a number of boutiques for several years. The new center fits right in. I don't know if Mount Pleasant was the first, but it sure made for a nice neighborhood.

The First Atlanta Bread Company restaurant and bakery I ever went to was in Mount Pleasant. Now we have one in Virginia Beach that I go to often for their wonderful pumpernickel and for their avocado sandwiches for my wife.


Terry Odell said...

Ray, I addressed much of this in today's (Tuesday) post. I rarely eat red meat; I figure this covers the entire year. And we calculated the per diem -- which is also why I don't pay for breakfasts or lunches, but make do with what we brought from home.