Four Days of Vacation: A Thanksgiving Story

I drove down to Florida Wednesday afternoon to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I’ve realized over the past few years that usually my “vacations” are always fun, but more exhausting than my “real life.” This trip was no exception. Here’s my family.

At first I was worried about traffic because the day before Thanksgiving is busy on the roads and highways. You know it’s true. Just outside of Nashville was bumper to bumper on Interstate 65 heading south. That cleared up rather quickly and it was smooth sailing all the way to Birmingham, Alabama. I made it through the city fast enough, but then all I saw were long lines of red lights. Makes me thankful I have a Droid with Google navigation. I avoided 90% of the traffic by splitting off to a side road.Saved me at least 30 minutes. From there on, traffic was smooth, though there were more cars than usual. I can’t say enough about 5-hour energy drinks. I’m the exception to the rule that soda or coffee or cold air or music will help you stay awake. But the 5-hour energy drinks? Work every time. On this trip I brought 2 DVDs with me so I could listen to them through the car stereo. The first was “Fast Five.” Lots of action, I couldn’t follow the plot (probably because I was busy, you know, driving), but all in all a good movie. The 2nd movie was “Trespass” featuring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman. For a movie I had never heard of, it was pretty good. Much easier to follow along with because there wasn’t a terribly high amount of locations or details. It didn’t do well in the theaters, probably because there was practically no promotion for it. Those 2 movies, along with the 5-hour energy drink made the trip easy, even with the heavier traffic.

The trip took 8 hours and 15 minutes, which was not what I was expecting given that it’s the day before Thanksgiving. I thought it would take over 9 hours. When I got to my parents house, there were a few people still awake. After a little bit of visiting, we all went to bed.

Thursday:
Thanksgiving day. First I went to the dog park with my 2 dogs, my parents dog, 2 of my nieces, and my brother-in-law. We spent about 2 hours in the park, first letting the dogs run around in the fenced-in area, then taking them out on a trail for about 30 minutes.

Our big lunch was scheduled for early afternoon, so once we got back, it was almost time to eat. The meal was very good. My favorite this year was the cornbread stuffing with turkey gravy poured over it. Then we watched NFL football for the rest of the day. AT 1145 that night we went to Target to take advantage of their black Friday deals. Mistake. Remember how I was excited that I avoided the long lines of traffic on the highway? There was no avoiding long lines at 1230am in Target. I made it to bed by 130am.

Friday:
Went to play disc with my dad and brother-in-law. We didn’t have legitimate discs, so we used ultimate Frisbee discs. Not nearly as effective as discs made for golf. On the second throw of the first hole, my Frisbee hit a tree and shattered into 3 pieces. My dad and I shared his Frisbee and we finished 14 over. My brother in law finished 5 over. A disappointing result for me personally, but it was fun to play. On the way home, we stopped by Play It Again Sports and picked up a black Friday deal on disc golf discs… Saturday, it’s on! Later Friday afternoon, I recorded the cutest video of all time. Check it out here:


Friday night we celebrated my oldest sister’s 40th birthday. To surprise her, my parents set up a dinner at the restaurant inside the Florida State football stadium. Needless to say, my sister was completely shocked and giddy. A stretch H2 Hummer brought us there. So this is how it feels to be a famous person. The birthday party was awesome, had great food, great speeches, and my sister had a great time. We had the limo till 930pm so we rode around town then ended up back home about 945pm (not sure how much that extra 15 minutes cost, but oh well! P-Diddy wouldn’t complain, so I won’t either).

Saturday:
Another round of disc golf, this time with legitimate discs. Muuuuuuch more effective and resulted in more fun for all 3 of us. My brother-in-law won again, finishing at… oh I don’t remember, but he won. We got back to the house in time for the OSU/Michigan game. My sister and I drove quickly over to my 100-year old grandmother’s house to visit with her for a little while.


We couldn’t stay long because my sister and her family were leaving town that afternoon. When we got back to my parents house, we saw OSU lose, then watched Alabama beat Auburn. My sis and her family left and I took my dogs to the dog park one more time. Then at 7pm, game time. FSU vs. UF and the Noles won with ease. A good end to a good weekend, if you ask me.

Sunday:
130am, I’m in the car on the way back to Nashville. The 2 movies I got for this trip were “Hall Pass” and “Rango.” I couldn’t even make it half way through Rango, so I can’t recommend it. Hall Pass was ok, a little more raunchy than I expected. I laughed a few times, but only because I really like Owen Wilson. I’ll say this, the movie helped me stay awake, but would I rent it again from Red Box? No. I made it back to Nashville in time to go to church that morning then catch the afternoon NFL games. I took a fantastic nap and the dogs behaved quite well, even though they were cooped up inside because of a cold and rainy day.

Monday:
Back to work with some of my favorite people!

Here’s one of my beagles chasing a rabbit… enjoy!

Hotel Reviews: The Millennium UN Plaza in New York City, New York

Another trip and another hotel, this time in the city so nice, they named it twice… New York City! My colleagues and I arrived on a Wednesday. On a late flight in, we checked in around midnight thirty. The hotel staff greeted us quite pleasantly. There was only one hiccup in the process, but I don’t imagine this happens to everyone (because this week was also Fashion Week in Manhattan, so the hotel was pretty full), the following day we were told we’d have to switch rooms. Could be an inconvenience, but for making us do this, they gave us passes to the buffet breakfast at the hotel on the main level. Score! With that said, there were a few decent restaurants close to the hotel, including a Sushi Time, a few pizza places and a number of grocery convenience stores. However, the breakfast was a fair and pleasant compromise. Plus, we didn’t even need to ask for any kind of compensation, they simply gave us the breakfast. They also promised a robe in my room, which leads to the next critique.

Robes: No robes! I won’t say this is a deal breaker, but it’s up there close to the top. They may offer robes, but you definitely need to ask at the desk to make sure your room includes them. Neither of the two rooms I stayed in had robes.

The beds, one of the most important features of any hotel, were quite comfortable. I read many reviews of area hotels about the comfort of the beds they offered, so when you go to NYC and beds are important to you, the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel should be at the top of your list.
 The view from the rooms was good. One room’s view was almost completely taken up by the building next door, but the other room had an amazing river of the Hudson (I believe that’s what river it was).
Another important factor in your choice of room is the shower. This shower was quite nice. The water pressure was good (better in the second room I stayed in), and the shower head was the detachable kind (see picture) so that was an added bonus if you’re caring for a small child and need to wash their hair. The water stayed hot for as long as I needed it. There was no bathtub.
Internet was not free in the hotel. You could pay by the hour or by the day, and I believe it was available only in the lobby.

As far as size goes, the first room I was in must of been a suite, because it was very nice and extremely roomy. You’ll notice in the pictures it even had a spiral staircase up to the next level which included the bed, another bathroom (no shower) and another entrance door. The second room was not as big, but still had plenty of room to spread out. Given the choices you’ll have in New York, these rooms were quite big and for the price, were better than 90% of what you’ll find at that size.
To sum up, I was pleased with my stay at The Millennium UN Plaza. Something that should be mentioned is what one of my colleagues informed me of upon our return to Nashville. Throughout the stay in his room, he consistently heard a pitter patter of little feet. I assumed he was going to say he could hear the people in the room above him, but he clarified by saying it was the sound of the four-legged nature. Yes, mice. So that is a major issue. If you are looking at this hotel, be aware this might occur, but my guess is that if you mention it to the front desk they will be more than happy to make you comfortable during your stay.

As always, if you have stayed at this hotel and care to offer some feedback, it’s much appreciated!
 

 

The Three Star-Spangled Banner: Nashville

As our nation celebrates it’s independence on July 4th, I’m celebrating the city I love. Those that live here understand there’s something special about Nashville that makes us proud to live here.

With verse one and four of our National Anthem, here’s a tribute in pictures to the great city of Nashville, Tennessee.

sun setting over 2 Rivers Greenway.
a lone tree on the shore of Percy Priest Lake.

O say can you see, by the dawns early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight.

fans crowd together for 4th of July fireworks, downtown Nashville.

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

steps at one of the entrances to Percy Warner Park.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

flyover at LP Field.

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

hot air balloon floating over middle Tennessee.

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

a church in downtown Nashville.

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

statues downtown.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

*All photos were taken by Ben Wilder*