Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Long car time = long talk time

And while that is not exactly the most fun thing in the world with little children it can be one of the best experiences of your life when it is a grandparent or parent.

Several years ago I bought Houston Astros tickets for my family and asked my grandfather to go with us. He loved the idea. It's a 4 hour drive from San Antonio to Houston with traffic and my grandfather opened up to my husband and me in ways he never had before. It was obvious that with the death of his wife a couple years earlier he was in need of someone to just talk to. We learned so much about him in that time. Things my husband and I still talk about today.

We missed Christmas at my husband's grandmother's housr this year and instead I asked if she would like to travel to Shreveport to go to her favorite casino. She jumped at the idea. In fact she is so excited about this my mother-in-law and her sisters are wondering why they didn't think of this before either. I am looking forward to this for a couple reasons. First and obvious is that we are going to a casino (whoop there it is!). Secondly I am hoping this trip will afford a chance for my mother-in-law to talk to her mother like she normally cannot.

Plus I get to see my Urban Dare buddy :)

So if you plan to travel with a gtrandparent or elderly parent (Meme is in her 80s) let me give you a few tips:

1. Plan bathroom breaks. Don't make them ask. Most are proud and don't want to trouble you so be sure to stop because "you" need a drink or break.

2. Plan your questions ahead of time. Take something to record their responses. It will probably freak them out a bit at first, but once they open up and start sharing stories they will get into it as well. My grandfather talked for 3 straight hours on the way home. My husband barely got any words in LOL!

3. Take them a place THEY want to go. It let's you know more about them by seeing them in situations they are more comfortable with. Plus they are more likely to go if they get to choose!

4. Don't go too far, but make sure it's far enough to get talk time in. This is a tricky balance. Try to get at least an hour and a half one way in the car. But make sure if you are in heavy traffic it isn't so heavy it requires all your attention...this would defeat the purpose!

This is such a fulfilling experience for everyone. I hope you take the time to do it as well!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

for those visual learners (like me!)

Just found a super cool site called See Your Hotel. I really to know ahead of time exactly what my hotel will look like on the outside so I'm not trotting my luggage up and down the street for hours trying to ask for directions in a foreign language arguing with locals on how to pronounce "Vert." It happens.

The site was not completely intuitive so let me give you some pointers. At the top of the site near the title type in your city. I typed in Prague, Czech Republic. You can navigate the map or zoom in if you know the exact location, but if you are like me and don't know where you are staying then type in the name of your hotel in the GOOGLE box at the bottom left of the map. I typed in Park Inn Hotel. This will book mark it for you. Once it is bookmarked, zoom in until the SEE YOUR HOTEL pin shows up in orange.


The pop up shows you tabs for hotel detail, price, photos, reviews and for some cities a Street View so you know EXACTLY what you are looking for!



How cool is that? Now strangely the street view was not available in Berlin, but the photos and reviews are all located in one great site. Check it out!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I have no words,,,

to convey the depth of my sympathy for the Haitians. I have no medical expertise but still have been very interested in combining travel with service. I bookmarked this site when I found it on the Lonely Planet Blog.

From lonely planet blog:

Hands On Disaster Response ( is at work on a volunteer hurricane relief project in Gonaives, Haiti. We are currently accepting volunteers and will end our project on 28 February 2009. We recommend arriving by the 20th of February so that you're able to work before we close out the project.

This small island nation was pummeled by the 2008 hurricane season; tropical storm Fay and hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike hit the country in rapid succession over a two week period in Aug/Sept 2008, causing massive flooding and damage. Currently, we're clearing mud from homes, supporting distributions, and partnering with other NGOs on water projects.

No special skills are needed and there is no minimum commitment - give us one day, one week, one month! HODR provides food, shelter, and a rewarding work experience, at no cost to our volunteers. Come join the 111 volunteers from 14 countries who have pitched in so far here in Gonaives!

HODR's previous projects include work in Thailand, USA, Indonesia, the Philippines, Peru, and Bangladesh. Please visit our website at for Haiti volunteer information, photos, and video, or contact for more information.

I'm NOT endorsing this organization as I have never used it but I wanted to show options for those of us who aren't search and rescue or medical teams. People who want to help with the food distribution and care of (what has to be dozens) orphans the country will have.

My prayers are sent to all those who are looking for family, mourning for family and travelling to help those in need. God Bless you all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

When you have a schtick why not use it to beat a dead horse?

Can I seriously have ANOTHER Vegas post? Why yes. Si, yo puedo.

What with the multiple trips to Vegas last year I actually created a Playlist on my iPhone of my Vegas songs to listen to on the way. Some are obvious others have inside meaning for me but I thought I'd list it here:

Wild as a Turkey (Hayes Carll)
All I Wanna Do is Play Cards (Corb Lund)
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley)
Leaving Las Vegas (Sheryl Crow)
Poker Face (Lady Gaga) which I know isn't about Poker but whatev.
Las Vegas Nights (Hootie & the Blowfish)
Waking up in Vegas (Katy Perry)
Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus)
Drink to Me Only (Dean Martin)
Vegas (Nico)

Also, our Vegas goto movie has always been Ocean's Eleven (the new one) but with the Hangover we are torn. Mostly we watch both is a movie marathon right before we leave and I squee on the couch during CSI as well.

ah the nostalgia...I need to plan a trip!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Casinos- caveat emptor

I'm booking our rooms for our trip to Shreveport today and I thought of a couple things to make sure to list here. If you are planning a trip where you will stay in a casino, plan to have smoke blown in your face. Repeatedly. This is the last bastion of play for smokers and they work it for all it's worth. Because of this when you book a room be SURE to specify that you want nonsmoking. Stale cigarette smoke takes over and the next thing you know you are febreezing your shoes. Forty times. Six months later.

Also people drink in casinos. A lot. It's free when you are gambling so people tend to jump on that like a duck on a june bug. Early morning isn't necessarily safe because it means you have all the drunks on the casino floor who haven't yet passed out, taking at you thisclose, with whiskey and cigarette breath. And they don't make sense but get pissy when you don't respond.

But despite all that i'm looking forward to my trip :) The first time I went to Vegas (and the second time I went to a casino) this all bothered me greatly. But then I learned that 10 am is the best time for me to play. The drunks are passed out in their rooms, the day shift is nicer, the tables are cheaper and nobody cares that you are drinking heavily. Also a reason I haven't taken my mother!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Miami the base and the sunset glow

Hot Property (Book 1) and Hot Schemes (Book 4) in the Molly Dewitt series by Sherryl Woods.

I have to start by saying if I had known that the books would stop right in the middle and never end I would NEVER have picked them up (even if they were $1 each at a UBS) It's like I have to sneeze and just can't get it out. I can ONLY imagine what it was like for the poor followers in 1994 (which can I say YOWZER was 16 years ago!!!!)

Southern Florida is a character in her own right in these books. From Miami to Key Biscayne it is apparent that Woods lives in the area (and I'm not talking Tiger). Several of the locations she lists are real (like the cafe mentioned in the article linked). It's funny how after reading the books my knowledge of Miami suddenly clicked. The sun, the hot people, the beach. Television shows and songs came rolling to me as I read the books. From Golden Girls to Miami Vice to CSI:Miami there is a reason this location is picked for a setting. It's vibrant and mulitcultural and alive.

Living in south Texas is an multi-cultural experience of its own, but reading these books made me want to visit to compare and contrast the differences. The interaction of cultures and blending of society to form their own unique brand of life in the 305. The books definitely made me want to visit Miami but less for the beach and more for the culture. I wish I had a friend who had family in the area to show me all the REAL places. I'd definitely add this to my places to see in America column (minus Craig who had a bad experience there). Cruises do leave from Miami's port so maybe some day I'l combine a trip.

I glossed over a lot of the story line because
a) it never ends and I didn't want to get emotionally attached to the characters
b) reading about Miami was more fun than the sexual angst anyway.

Overall, I'd recommend Miami but not the books!

Miami, Will Smith

Calle Ocho, Pitbull

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Travel Plans

January: Shreveport with Craig's grandmother and mother. There is also a threat that I will have to travel for business to New York City or Cincinnati. What a choice. Dear madam, would you like the filet de bouef or the dog sandwich?

February: Said work trip may also occur here (it if occurs at all)

March: Cruise to the Bahamas with Craig


May: Denver for professional presentation (paid by my university...does it get any better? Ok maybe in Rome? Or Tahiti? Why can't AERA be in Tahiti?)

June: Seattle with youngest then Victoria/Vancouver with Tracy


August: Berlin/Prague with son

September: Las Vegas with Craig's work

October: San Francisco for Nike Women's marathon. Maybe should decide soon if I want to do the half or full marathon.


December: Las Vegas for NFR?

Bucket List items I would like to complete this year:

Sky dive... My son's girlfriend is an avid skydiver. Maybe in 2010 I can lose enough to comfortable do this!

Learn another language...which ties in with:

Visit Prague

Give my mother a dozen red roses and tell her I love her. It is very possible that I will be in Washington on her birthday. I'd love to give them to her in person.

Spend 3 months getting my body in optimum shape

Make yourself spend a half-day at a concentration camp and swear never to forget I've planned to visit one with my son outside Berlin.
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