Why I Hate It

Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Why I hate to travel, all the time and every single time I do it. After nearly a year of not traveling, I had forgotten just how much I truly hate to travel. I spent more than twenty years as a road warrior, every week on the road, Sunday night out and usually, if I was fortunate Thursday night back home with Fridays spent catching up on expense reports, conference calls and all the rest of business activities necessary to keep my life in order. This was my life for over twenty years. I wanted out, I made a conscious decision to get out, that did not quite work. Now I am reminded why I wanted out.

All the reasons why I Hate Travel, in no particular order.

There is the schedule itself usually dictated by clients leaving you with approximately 16 waking hours unless previously scheduled on Friday to see; doctors, hair stylists, manicurists, dentists, friends and family. Of course, did I fail to mention during this short time home there are also things screaming for your attention such as house cleaning, laundry and shopping because frankly whether or not there is a spouse or family one still must have at least some food in the house and in my experience, no one but me is ever going to put it there.

Why do I Hate Travel? Because this is absolutely no way for a normal person to live, it is not romantic, it is not exciting and it surely does not make me at all happy.

Let’s talk about hotels, just for a brief moment. When you travel for business you are not staying in Five Star hotels, no most of the time you are staying in chains, sometimes they are fallen stars. If you are like me, you only have a few 170380_13053106480012593076_STDrequirements some these days are harder to meet than others. I don’t want to leave my room in the middle of the night for a cigarette, don’t hate me I smoke and believe I should be able to do so in the privacy of the room I am paying for. But let’s talk about the rest, shall we? Starting with closets without enough hangers and those f’ng hangers that do not come off the rack, I am constantly fighting them. Then there are the mattresses, has anyone ever slept in a hotel and gotten a good night’s sleep, I toss and turn all night and wake every morning feeling like I have run an Iron Man. As a coffee drinker, I ask only one thing please, leave me more than one small packet of real coffee; I have learned to ask for more on check-in and every single night when I arrive back. Then there are the dangerous as all hell shower/baths, why in all that is holy don’t hotels simply install showers stalls rather than these tubs with showerheads? Narrow tubs, no traction and add to this flimsy curtains that stick to your skin actually climbing into your crevices when you are trying to bath, gad I hate bathing in hotels.

Finally, why do I Hate Travel so completely and entirely?

Airports and flights, it is getting worse and worse. No matter where I travel, I notice the ‘cost cutting’ measures first, the lack of human interaction when checking in. If you need assistance, you had better plan on a long wait. Then there is Lines form at the security line at Denver International Airport at as the TSA works to clear passengers for their flights.TSA and the security process, come on boys and girls, you have anywhere from 3-5 lines you could open up and you have a line of people waiting to get through security, tell me again why is only one of the lines open? By the way, please explain to me why I have to take my computers out, my shoes off, my coat off, my sweater off; damn do you want me naked? By the way when it comes to TSA, could we please have a line for seasoned travelers and another for those who are on vacation with families, I know very elitist of me but really the next time I am behind a family of four struggling with children, strollers and too much carry-on luggage I think I will scream, loudly.

Finally, we get to the airlines and the flights themselves. They are in another round of cost cutting and they are idiotic in their methodology. I can only talk about the one I fly the most often, bet you can guess given I live in the Dallas area. Now I have flown this airline for most of my career, I am a Million Miler on them, retain my Gold status for life even if I never fly again. In truth I have flown more than 1.5 million miles on this airline alone, this doesn’t count other airlines, all together between the four primary airlines I fly I have well over 2 million air miles, this means miles I have flown not all the additional miles I collect in other ways. The benefit of being an ‘Elite’ member of the club is upgrades when they are available, when they aren’t the flights are even more miserable. These days though even First Class flights are fairly low class, there is no service unless you ring your bell repeatedly and demand attention from the apathetic attendant’s, there is no meal service for any flight under 2.5 hours, even if that flight is during the dinner hour, if you are lucky they will throw you a bag of peanuts. Drinks are served in plastic cups, coffee in paper.

Don’t get me started on Coach where you are kicked in the back, stuffed together as if you are an anchovy and must keep your elbows so close to your ribs you can’t breathe for an entire flight. Service? Forget about it.

So far, no flight has left on time and thus no flight has landed on time!

Now I remember I hate travel; truly, I do. I want a real life. I want to be home after a day at work. I want to write and read, sleep in my own bed. I want the opportunity to have dinner with friends, family or someone I love. Hell, I want to enjoy travel because I am going someplace romantic to get away from it all.

Just a slice of life!

Fall Flash 13

It is past boarding time, the departure lounge was full of people waiting for the flight to be called. The attendants rested heads upon hands not even pretending interest.

Infants squall, hungry and hot their parents ignoring the angry glares of others. Children run wildly, tripping over luggage and legs sprawling across open spaces. The air grows fetid with each passing minute, sour milk, half-eaten lunches and unchanged babies filling the lounge with its own pungent mixture.

Glancing around Demi wonders why she agreed to this trip, zip lines through jungle canopies and Rum Punch by the pool doesn’t seem worth this hell.

Finally, the speaker sputters, “ladies and gentlemen, we are ready for boarding, do not get in line before your row is called, we are warning you.”

Demi sighed, “Row 45, travel isn’t what it used to be. It will be at least another hour.”

FlashinthePan

Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the amazing Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The Flash word is Travel . The word limit is 150 words. This one comes in at exactly 145.

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Everything is not You

The Wild Child returns or was it truly the Prodigal Daughter

My annoyance is at a high point, really, I don’t tell others what to do with their lives I would prefer if others would show me the same courtesy. I am going to rant this morning; I might even descend into raging. This may indeed be one of my off the grid, not so politically polite vents. If I offend you, well not going to apologize for it.

Let me say up front, I am a smoker. I have been a smoker for 45 of my 56 years on earth. Yes, you read that right I started smoking when I was eleven (11) years old. I quit one time in all those 45 years, it was the most miserable two months I spent. Smoking is part of who I am. I enjoy the taste of my cigarettes. I enjoy cigars too. Hell, I was shot because I stopped for cigarettes. After I was shot, I had to give up drinking for the most part, the one vice I kept? Smoking!

I am not stupid. I fully understand the risks and I accept them for myself. I also happen to know, I do not have a genetic predisposition for any of the normal outcomes of smoking including cancer.

Don’t smoke? Good for you, if you never smoked even better for you really. If you are an ex-smoker, you did a great thing for yourself, you quit when you were ready. There you see I can be polite. Now, please keep your non-smoking / ex-smoking opinions and self-righteousness out of my face and air space.

It is already true I cannot go out for a meal and enjoy coffee and a cigarette afterwards. The non-smoker brigade has stripped me of that pleasure. It wasn’t enough for restaurants to provide a segregated smokers section, no indeed you wanted more dammit you wanted it all. Then you went after bars and billiard rooms, now I can’t go play pool and fire up a cigar while I rack’em up and play. Another tick mark on your side, never mind smoky pool halls were once de rigueur or that they are privately owned not public places and you could choose to not patronize those that allowed smoking.

I just spent a week looking for a hotel in Duluth, MN for a two (2) day stay, I looked at my normal chains, nothing. I looked at some others, nothing. I looked at three stars, then two stars, then even one star nothing. I thought maybe it was Duluth.

After my search yielded terrible results, I called Intercontinental, owners of Holiday Inns and other properties. I am an Ambassador member of this chain, supposed to yield me privileges, not so much. I asked if their holidayinnproperties were now smoke free and was told yes, they were moving that direction, while some of the older properties still allowed smoking all new properties would be smoke free. New properties included properties that had undergone renovation.

I will be cancelling my membership with Intercontinental and moving all my points to my airline miles, currently I have over 100,000.

Marriott_NoI wasn’t really shocked when the Marriott chain went entirely smoke free. This was years ago and after all it is owned by Mormons, why wouldn’t they take the first opportunity to jump on the Smoke Free bandwagon. It should be noted, their Asian and European properties are not smoke free, only the North American.

When they went smoke free I moved all my points to airline miles, at the time I had over 800,000.

On average, I stay in hotels 170 days per year. Yet the on-going campaigns of vacationers have driven many hotel chains to become “Smoke Free”. This creates unsafe environments for women who smoke, forcing us out of our rooms at night onto city streets or unguarded front entrances for a cigarette. There we are, huddled on a bench 50’ or more from front entrances out of the light and unseen by the front desk  the perfect target for perverts, rapists or other unsavory characters because you want to make certain entire hotels are smoke free and could care less if we are safe. Your drive for smoke free hotels for your 5-day vacation has created an extremely high-risk situation 170 nights per year for me.

I smoke. It is my choice to do so. I don’t smoke in your house nor would I ever think to do so. I don’t throw my butts on the ground; I have an ashtray in my car. When I smoke outside I make certain I am not near a crowd, I stand downwind whenever possible and throw my butts in the nearest bin.

You don’t own the public parks though you want too, I know. When you stop driving your cars and polluting the air, I will consider not sitting on a public park bench and smoking. My taxes, by the way pay for that bench. My taxes from cigarettes, my hotel taxes in your cities as well contribute to your parks, roads and other comforts.

I don’t complain when your children rampage up and down hallways when I am trying to work or sleep. You are on vacation, your 5-day holiday and I understand you might not be up to controlling your monsters. I don’t complain when you’re next door having that party you always wanted, I get it really I do. It is the first time you have been away from the family and the conference is great, free alcohol and that girl you met at the bar looked great after your seventh martini.

What the hell though, why is it you insist on smoke free hotels? Is it really too much to ask that I am allowed a room somewhere in the hotel with an ashtray? Up to now most hotels put their smoking rooms at the end of a hall on a single floor usually in a place well away from other rooms. Why can’t you be satisfied with that? Why do you need the entire f’ing hotel?Kickm

In fact why do you need everything?

#smokefree #smoking

Home Again Holiday Endings

My rolling storm front

The last day of any vacation, especially those vacations when I am leaving the Bahamas are supposed to end with rain. It is a tradition in my mind. I am not at all certain this is how every trip to the Bahamas, or for that matter any Caribbean island vacation ends, but in my mind it is how they should end. Rain and clouds, gray skies and chill winds should see me off the island and in this way I am not so reluctant to return to the mundane of real life.

I am packing bags now, looking out my picture window to the turquoise waters past the break and wondering where that rain cloud is. This is my last day and though the wind blowing across the sands below, the palms fronds are clapping and bending to the west, as yet there is no sign of my desired rain to see me off the islands. Dammit, how can I leave happily without the rain to send me off?

www.bahamasforvistors.com

Courtesy of Bahamas for Visitors

Last night we enjoyed another of our traditions, dinner at the Poop Deck a ‘famous’ Nassau restaurant with spectacular views of the Nassau Marina where everything from small fishing boats to grand yachts dock. The Poop Deck has been in the same location since 1972 serving local cuisine including Bahamian Spiny Lobster, Grouper, different types of Snapper and of course Conch. The Poop Deck is never a disappointment; we never miss our traditional dinner during a trip to Nassau. I will admit there are times I would wish it wasn’t quite so loud, quite so crowded but no matter the day or time we pick to enjoy our meal, well it is always the same. Tables are jammed closely together and you can’t help but hear what the table behind you is discussing. Of course with the Marina directly outside, if there are children nearby they will be undoubtedly bounce on their plastic chairs, point and screech (oh my bleeding ears). I love the Poop Deck, but admittedly it is difficult to have a real conversation beyond, “what do you want to drink?”

Today we return to our real lives. This isn’t an entirely bad thing in all honesty, after some time on holiday I tend to grow bored. Inactivity, lack of access to friends, even the limit of access to news sources, all lend themselves to my readiness to return to real life after a time. I think I   am not really great at enforced idleness, even when I volunteer for it by planning a holiday. While I might be somewhat sedentary due to physical limitations, I am not intellectually indolent needing constant stimulation for my happiness.

Real life, what does that mean? Is it just infrastructure and access or something more? Here are some things I must identify as part of my internal angst and why after seven days I am grow ready to return home, despite my love of The Bahamas.

www.thebahamian.com

One Way, I might be successful at this

  • They drive on the wrong side of the road and I have yet to learn how to shift to the Left, this creates a dependency I am unused to and distinctly dislike.
  • Only one real source of news, I am a news and political junkie so the lack affects me after a time. In fact the lack causes me withdrawal symptoms similar to those of a Heroin addict. It is beyond the official news outlets though to simply having some of my friends and family members to talk to about observations.
  • Food, as much as I love the food of the Bahamas there is so much of it that is fried and I find I am not tolerant of this as a steady diet any longer.
  • Finally, I find the changes currently underway in my favorite place in the world to be disconcerting. I don’t know what to make of what is taking place across New Providence today. In many ways I find the current Bahamian government has taken a page out of the GOP page book, sold the people and nation to the highest bidder (China) where only those in power are thus far benefiting.
www.travellanguist.com

Who wouldn't love pink?

Ah well, there are likely other things I am no longer as tolerant of that once upon a time did not faze me. The truth is I love the downtime, perhaps just not seven days of downtime. Perhaps as my dearly beloved says to me, learn to drive! Perhaps on the next trip, but then not learning to drive keeps everyone else safe. There are so many things I love about Nassau, what is not to love about a country that paints their government buildings Pink.

The clouds are rolling in now, perhaps it will start to rain soon and my departure from one of my favorite places in the world will be as it should be, cloudy and slightly cool. I will not be near so unhappy at leaving the island paradise that is Nassau, Spring Breakers notwithstanding.

Love the Bahamas

Junkanoo Dancers

Day four of eight days of sun, beach and yes family. Actually it is six days of island sun and two days of ridiculous travel. By this count it is still the beginning of day four and it is a beautiful day, the clouds are lovely, white and fluffy; the sky is blue above them and the water is that perfect Azure Blue out to the reef break. What more could I ask for?

Let me say what I love about The Bahamas, about Nassau its capital. I have been coming here since my twenties; my first trip with a group of girlfriends for a long weekend of sun, fruity rum drinks with paper umbrellas we rarely left the resort and had a wonderful time. My next trip was a day trip was part of a cruise taken with a group of friends from the neighborhood; Nassau was one of the stops. I think this is when I really begin my love affair with the island. From this time on I begin to take somewhat regular trips, sometimes with friends other times alone simply to take a rest. Always I saw a little more and always I fell a little more in love. So what do I love? I love the people. They are smart, funny, engaging and engaged. In many cases the people I have met both casually and those I have come to know in a more intimate sense have the same issues and concerns we have in the US, they seek the same opportunities we seek. Because their nation is so much smaller the outcomes of decisions are felt more immediately and thus they can’t hide from the actions of their government. Of course their relationship with the US is interesting, better than 60% of their economy is tied to Tourism and thus to our economy. They watch us, our systems and actions in dismay I think as we struggle through some of or political idiocy.

Anglican Church Drummers
Marching Band

I have a love/hate relationship with some cultural aspects of the Bahamas. There is a strong underlying moral nature to the Bahamian people, with 95% of Bahamians identifying themselves as practicing Christians predominately Protestant; the highest membership being Baptist, but with large populations in some of the Pentecostal and  Charismatic churches. This of course creates some underlying issues for those of us with a more liberal bent; there are several issues including civil rights for the LBGT community, Choice for Women and overall Poverty that continues to be a plague most across the island nation.

Junkanoo Brass

I love the music, different from that of Jamaica the Bahamian music is somehow more joyful and more accessible. I hear Bahamian Calypso, Soca and the Rake n’ Scrape of Junkanoo and immediately my body moves to the sounds, my heart soars a bit and I always smile. There is something absolutely infectious, difficult to ignore when you hear the sounds of Bahamian music your hips move to the sinuous sounds and rhythms, winding through your soul. Walking down Bay Street, the main downtown street for shopping music subtly streams from every store you can’t avoid the sounds. From the restaurants and bars above Bay Street Soca and Calypso blasts, your feet move in rhythm without your conscious effort.

Finally and not to be ignored is the food. I love Bahamian food, first how can you ignore the fact this island nation has access to fresh seafood, Grouper, Conch, Snapper and Spiny Lobster cooked a variety of ways and served from breakfast to late night dinners. Stew Fish, Fried Conch or Conch Salad all choices not to be missed, all served with a bit of Bahamian Bird Pepper and a squeeze of Lime. Then there is my absolute favorite breakfast, one I send my husband out for every single morning possible, Chicken Souse a protein rich broth made up of Lime juice, Allspice, celery, carrots and the all-important Bird Pepper (my husband likes Sheep’s Tongue Souse). Not to be missed are the native deserts, Guava Duff is just one of these. Finally, of course if you are interested in the alcohol drinks available these are all the normal drinks available fruity concoctions made with rum, there is one though native to the Bahamas most tourists miss, that is Sky Juice a drink in my opinion every person should try at least once.

Courtesy Uncommon Caribbean

SKY JUICE: Heavy on the Gin, Sweetened Milk, Coconut Water. Mixed in large batches for the day and served primarily down at Arawak Cay. This treat should not be missed! Never mind the froufrou drinks served in all the traps, the Bahamas’ Mama’s and Daiquiri’s these you can get anywhere even in the US, take a trip to Arawak Cay for fresh made Conch Salad and a cup of Sky Juice.

I love the Bahamas; I love the color of the island. The colors of the homes painted all hues from the artists’ palette from pastels to bright’ taken from nature. I love the sea the perfect blends of turquoises to azures and even the pale greens. I love the sounds of the ocean, the music drifting up from the pool somehow blending perfectly with the waves. New Providence, the main island where Nassau is located is undergoing major changes right now. I was stunned by the changes having not been back for nearly two years. This small island nation is undergoing major changes right now, trying to upgrade infrastructure and partnering with other nations to fund those upgrades. I wonder will the Bahamas lose what makes it truly unique and wonderful, will Nassau lose the history, culture and beauty that makes it spectacular and gives it a flavor all its own? I for one hope not.

Vacation, Why

Holiday, many of us take one a year and spend a not insignificant amount of our hard earned cash to enjoy some time away from our everyday lives. I am no different, though my husband and I tend to have a couple of favorites and we stick to them. We both like Caribbean Islands, the ocean, the sun and breezes from the sea.

Vacation…time away from the mundane, the daily drag of life, you can’t wait for the first day despite knowing you still have to get through airport security and porn x-ray machines. Crowded airplanes full of families with children struggling with far too many over-packed carry-on bags. If you travel out of country you will need to traverse Immigration, with Passport in hand queuing up to await you turn up to 30 minutes, if your luck though it will be far less.

Astonishingly, it seems no matter how long you might have waited at Immigration when you arrive at Luggage Claim, your bags will not have started on the round yet. What you find instead is courtesy of Bleacher Reportnotification your luggage will be arriving at Claim number X, all your plane mates will have their children lined up at the front of the claim like the Defensive Line of the New York Jets; keeping this blocking line does not a bit of good, bags come down when they come down, if your bags come first you must either knock them down to reach your bags or wait for them to leave. Your choice, I choose to politely ask once for them to MOVE and then mow them down.

Before you can finally exit the airport and begin your well-earned holiday the last obstacle is Customs, if you are lucky you look innocuous and touristy enough for you and your bags to pass through without much more more than a cursory question and answer regarding the contents of your bags and your purpose, with the right answer and a lack of shiftiness on your part they will pass you through to your well-earned and much anticipated holiday. Well, this might not be entirely true if you rented a car you might still have a wait. Not necessarily a wait in line, just a wait while your car is located and you are then transported to wherever your rental car might be off or on airport grounds.

Finally though the true holiday begins, bags are flung into the rental car and you are on your way. So why then are we usually somewhat disappointed by what we find upon arrival?

Lumpy beds, too soft or too hard pillows, bathtub / shower combinations with plastic shower curtains that chase you around the shower sticking to your wet  body, towels that feel as if they are made of Luffa and sheets that feel as if they are in fact fine grained sandpaper. Those are just the beginning of the disappointments. Disappointments you always forget when the holiday is over. Unless the hotel is truly ghastly you forget the truth of the room and amenities that did not live up to the trailer provided by the hotel that convinced you to pre-pay for that miniscule discount you received for doing so.

Did I forget to mention if you travel to resort areas this time of year you will also face the dread Spring Breakers? Oh yeah, this is my favorite. Barely out of diapers and out of their parents supervision, wandering the hallways and beaches drinks in hand and generally bad behavior close to the surface, Spring Breakers. Wandering out of elevators where they have lit up their first cigar, thanks. Spring Breakers, who failed to understand yet the idea clothing, even bathing suits are intended to cover our most private parts from public consumption, public exposure while certainly good for tan line control leaves you open; yes really open. By the way did I mention most of you young women have put on that Freshmen 15 and should likely considered something a bit less revealing or at least a trip to WalMart for a larger size before Spring Break.

These were just my general observations. First day observations at that. Yes, we are on vacation, some place I love in fact, Bahamas, yes that is where we are this week. For seven hopefully sun soaked days we will sit on the beach, visit with family, eat wonderful foods straight from the sea and possibly do a bit of shopping.

We are at the same hotel we stay at most times we travel here; the same hotel we met at nearly 15 years ago. We know what we get here; there are rarely surprises for us. I think though we forget the things we don’t like in favor of the reasons we stay, the tradeoff’s.  We like this part of the island, we like the convenience and the beach. I like having a deck where I can enjoy the view of the ocean, my morning coffee and a cigarette without disturbing my non-smoking husband. Works well for us and I enjoy sitting outside listening to the waves, watching people on the beach and huge ocean liners coming in to dock for the day.

Before the week is out I will share some of the reasons I love it here, probably some other caustic observations.

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