I Hate Travel Day

I love being on vacation. I love heading out to visit family for the holidays. I’m not fond of a nine-hour drive, but that isn’t the main reason I hate travel day. I hate travel day because of the very different ways my wife and I feel travel day should go.

Me – Pack your suitcase with enough clothes and toiletries for the trip. Make sure you have a book for the car and enough books to last for the entire trip. Make sure you have your phone and your phone charger. Throw the luggage in the car. If Christmas, pack the gifts as well. Start driving.

Her – Wait until the last minute to pack. Decide we need to vacuum before we go. Possibly schedule a work conference call that morning. Pack clothes and phone as above. Also pack enough food for the car to ensure we don’t suffer the same fate as the Donner Party. Walk through the house and possibly decide more cleaning needs to be done before we can leave. Triple check doors and stove. Now we can hit the road.

Me – Let’s drop the dog at boarding the day before, pack the car that night and hen get up and leave early so we can drive mostly in daylight.

Her – Let’s drop the dog off the day we leave, pack the day we leave, sleep in and leave midday and drive at night.

Me – In the summer it might be fun to drive another route and maybe stop to see some sights on the way.

Her – The goal is to get there as fast as possible. Let’s take the same, shortest route and only stop if absolutely necessary.

Her way always wins. I’m still struggling with not being cranky about it.

 

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Tater’s 2017

The first part of these posts is always hard because I can never remember what I did at the beginning of the year. I should start keeping note. I do think, though, that part  of it is that we really don’t do much in winter – that or I’m old and forgetful. Maybe both.

I can recall two things from January/February 2017 – I chaperoned a youth group weekend trip to a conference in Ocean City and I did my free food tour for my birthday. The conference was fun, but I can’t help comparing it to when I used to work regularly with a youth group.  In the olden days youth events were easy for me because I knew most of the kids and their families. I was a regular presence in their lives. Now, I’m just a random dad who pops up on occasion as a chaperone. I don’t know the kids. It makes a big difference. The free food tour is just me going to all of the places that give me free food for my birthday because I signed up for their email list or rewards program.

March 2017 had two major events – my daughter turned 17 and we held my Human Library event at the library. The Human Library is an event where people come to the library, but people are the books. We had people from a wide variety of backgrounds who acted as books. The customers could “check out” a book and have a conversation with them about their experiences. It was well received and we are planning another one for this coming March.

April/May – I went to see Bowling for Soup in concert again. I went alone because I have no friends. You should feel sorry for me here. It was once again a great show and I will be back the next time they come to town. In May I was once again the emcee for the library’s professional development day. I really don’t understand why they keep asking me to do it. There has to be multiple better choices. I also attended the Maryland Library Association Conference in May. It was at a swanky hotel in Cambridge this year so I booked an extra night and my wife met me for the weekend to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It rained most of the time I was there.  I also bought a new car around this time so I could give my daughter the old one. I make sacrifices like this all the time.

Summer was eventful. My daughter got her driver’s license and her first job. We went on college tours in the midwest, spent some time in St Louis(where we got the greatest family photo ever) and then spent time with family in Kentucky. While I was there I also attended my 30 year  high school reunion. I still don’t understand how everyone else got old and I’m still young and handsome. It is a mystery.

We had a fall full of travel. My wife had a conference in Manila, so we tagged along. You can read more about that here.img_2616

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In November we went to New York City. I love the city and I was happy to have time to walk around and enjoy the sites, but the main reason we went was to see Hamilton. I had purchased the tickets way back in March. It was a long wait to finally get to go, but it was so worth it. My son went with us and said that he might want to go see more shows now after seeing it. It was phenomenal. We also stopped at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken on the way out of town. You can read more about the trip here.

So far in December the most exciting thing to happen is that my daughter received her first college acceptance letter. We are one step closer to an empty nest. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

If anything exciting happens over my Christmas vacation I will be sure to post about it. I’m sure you are all so relieved to have that news.

All in all 2017 was a good year. It was much better than 2016. 2016 sucked and the worst part of 2017 was dealing with the depression caused by 2016. Did I mention 2016 sucked? It did. A lot.

My Busy Christmas Schedule

We had our holiday party at work yesterday. I’ve got one week left before I am on vacation until January 2.  Here is our busy schedule:

Friday – 9 hour drive to my mother-in-law’s house

Saturday – Bonus rest day since we are arriving a day early. Hoping to see Star Wars in the morning and then watching the UK basketball game in the afternoon. Downside – watching the game on a terrible TV.

Sunday – Christmas Eve with one side of my wife’s family. Gifts and food! It is at my mother-in-law’s house this year so no driving for us. Possibly another movie that morning.

Monday – Christmas morning at MIL’s house and when we open all of our immediate family gifts. Hour and a half drive to have lunch with my wife’s dad’s side of the family and then hour and a half drive back.

Tuesday – Two and a half hour drive to my brother’s house to have Christmas with my family. More gift exchanges and more food. Much noisier and chaotic than the previous day’s gatherings and I like it that way.

Wednesday/Thursday – undetermined. We used to go to my mom’s house each day but now that she’s gone we have to find other ways to spend the days.  Last year we did indoor mini-golf and ice skating.

Friday – back to MIL’s house. Still hoping to be surprised with tickets to the UK/UL basketball game.

Saturday/Sunday – one of these day will be the 9 hour drive back home. If we go back on Sunday, maybe a movie again on Saturday. New Year’s Eve will be at home watching TV.

Monday – probably a lazy day at home and then back to work.

A lot of driving, but it is a nice end of the year. Family, food, movies, reading. and no work. My kind of life.

ps. If you look at the left hand side of the blog you will now see a link to Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook link is to my Tater page that I created and abandoned. I am going to attempt to remember to post there more. Like it if you are so inclined and follow me on Twitter. I will try to be more interesting there.

Our New York Adventure

Everyone got a break from the month of Tater this weekend as my family embarked on a New York City adventure. I’m back!

We had to wait until Friday afternoon to leave as we were waiting for my son to arrive so he could go with us.  We got to the city around 7pm and checked in to our hotel. My wife saw the room and immediately said he was not spending the weekend there. She called the hotel we used last year, confirmed they had a room and then told the front desk to refund our money. I admit that I was really irritated during this. I was hungry and wanted a little time to explore before sleeping. I will also admit that it was a good decision. The person at the first hotel refused to answer questions about parking and the room was tiny. The people at the Chelsea Savoy were very helpful and the room was a good size and cheaper than the first hotel. They recommended a local diner(where they gave us free cookies as we left), we had dinner there and then it was time to sleep.

Saturday was a long, busy and faun day. We started the day walking the High Line, an elevated railway turned in to a park. It was a nice walk and a good way to start the day.

We then circled up to Macy’s and then to Times Square. We wandered around a bit, had lunch and then went to our reason for being in the city: Hamilton!

The show was great. I already knew I loved the music, but it is so much better when watching the show. Such a great experience and I was happy to be able to share it with both of my kids. We left the show, went to the Christmas village at Bryant Park, walked up to 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center and then headed back to the hotel. It was a long day, it rained for a good portion of the walk after the show, but it was a great day.

Sunday we checked out of the hotel and drove up to Central Park to explore some before leaving the city.  It was a cold and windy morning, but we survived.

We left the park and headed out of the city. We stopped in Hoboken for lunch and some goodies at Carlo’s Bake Shop.

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It was a quick trip and we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to see, but it was a nice break from life and it was really good to have both of our kids with us again. I can’t wait to do it again.

Tater Takes Manila

My wife’s job takes her to a yearly conference at an overseas location. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to tag along with her on trips to Helsinki, Santiago, Seoul and Livingstone(Zambia). The most recent conference was in Manila last week. I’m really bad at blogging my travels, but I will attempt it here.

The trip from DC to Manila takes 24 hours. We left DC at 9AM Saturday and arrived in Manila at 9PM on Sunday local time. All of our flights were on time and had in-seat movies. I don’t know how people ever flew this long without all of the movie selections to take your mind off being trapped in a tiny seat for this long. The travel experience on United and ANA were the best that can be expected with economy fees.

Our first day in the area, our assigned driver and guide took us to Tagaytay City. We went to a hotel overlook where it was too foggy to see the view, a puzzle museum, a country club and a nice lunch at a Filipino restaurant. The puzzle museum was odd, but it is in the Guinness Book of World Records. In retrospect,  I wish we had not let them talk us out of taking the boat out to the volcano. It was a decent day, but nothing exciting.

The next day we went on a tour of Manila. We went to Intramuros(the historic walled area within Manila), Ft. Santiago, and Rizal Park. This was the only day we really had to deal with rain and it rained quite a bit. The rain did give my daughter a chance to make fun of my poncho. This was much more what I was looking for in a tour. I love walking around historic areas. We learned the history of Jose Rizal, saw his cell, his place of execution and his monument. In the middle, we had lunch at Jollibee, a fast food restaurant based in Manila, for which my wife has a weird love. It was a good day.

The next two days my wife was in conference so we were on our own. We could have asked the drivers to take us places, but we opted to stay within a walkable area of our hotel. It turned out that the only thing within walking distance of our hotel were hotels, restaurants, malls and one small park. The first day we walked around for about an hour and went back to the hotel because the heat index was 115-130 degrees. That night, my wife and I went to the official welcome dinner for the delegates. The food was good, but I found it odd that they had karaoke set up and people sang throughout dinner. They also only served water with the food and only asked if we wanted something else to rink after dinner. The official dinners are usually much more wine filled than this. The second day we went to the SM Megamall(the 4th biggest mall in the world) and another upscale mall across from our hotel. We also went back to the Megamall that night with my wife for dinner and to buy some souvenirs. I made sure to get a picture of the Christmas decorations that were already up.

The final day is always the group social program. They took us to Nayong Pilipino, a theme park dedicated to Filipino history and culture. We were greeted with a parade and lunch with entertainment. We toured replicas of traditional Filipino villages and shopped for souvenirs again. It was interesting, but as with the rest of the trip, it was a guided tour.  I’m generally not a fan of guided tours. I feel like I can see and experience more of I do it at my own speed.  We then went back, packed, slept and headed back to the US. img_2686img_2685-1

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Overall, it was a nice trip and I’m glad we were able to go. I wish our hotel had been closer to more than just shopping. I wish the tours had been less restrictive. Next conference is next summer in India.

Travel Stress

We leave tomorrow morning for Manila. We will be on an airplane or in an airport for 24 hours. While I am looking forward to the Manila, despite the fact that it is rainy season, I am stressed out about the travel portion.

I don’t mind flying. When I am taking simple trips back home to KY or for vacation out west I’m fine. I still get stressed about getting to the airport on time and the security line, but once I’m through security and at the gate, I’m fine. Especially if it is a direct flight. I don’t have any trouble at all with the actual flying part of flying. It’s the process of flying that drives me crazy. Security lines, transferring planes, etc.

This trip will have two connections. Two short layovers. Two opportunities to miss a flight. Then, at the end, we get customs. I wish the government in the Philippines were treating us the way the Chilean government did. We got off the plane and there were people waiting for us at the gate. They took us to a nice room with cookies and TV while they cleared us through customs and retrieved our bags. The same happened when we left the country. Same nice room, they checked our bags and then we went through a back portion of the airport right to our gate. If every country we visited treated us like VIP’s flying would be much more pleasant.

I’m still dreaming of a first class upgrade on a flight. 13 hours on a plane would be so much nicer if I was rich and could buy first class seats. I hope my family realizes I would abandon them in coach if given the opportunity.

I’m sure I won’t sleep much tonight. That might be a good thing. Maybe, for the first time, I can actually sleep on the plane.