Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Foliage

This might be a sign of old age, but I have to say how much I enjoyed driving through all the fall colors. It was interesting that driving home -- just five days later -- the leaves had gotten more colorful.

So here goes:

This is a place where I stopped to use the restroom, and these were just plain old marigolds, but they
were so bountiful and so brightly colored -- really pretty.

This was from an on-ramp and I pulled over to take a photo just for Fran. The photo
doesn't do justice to the colors of this grand tree, but it really was this
magnificent old tree.

This is more of that red hedge like I saw in the rest area of the Delaware Water Gap.
This is in the hotel parking lot.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Home Again

Had a glorious morning to drive home -- I even opened the sun roof -- will get caught up with photos etc in the days ahead.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bad Internet Access

Really week connection so I just want to quickly say that I'm alive and well and heading East. Home tomorrow, with pictures and boring travel anecdotes!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Food Truck Friday Lunch

Don't think I've ever eaten lunch from a food truck. I have had food from one selling Mexican food at 86th and Lexington and I got a big burrito.

Anyway, this food truck parks in this little area my client has on the airport where they put up some picnic tables and you can watch the airplanes -- and it comes to my client on Fridays.

Here's the menu -- proofreaders will notice one big spelling mistake:

This is my pulled pork sandwich -- very juicy and good.
One of my colleagues ordered the "Trifecta" which is a hamburger with bacon,
 pulled pork  and cheese. The Trufecta is below. He liked it
 (after removing the wilty lettuce!)

Choice of French fries or Saratoga chips -- I figured FFs you can get anywhere so
 I had the chips --  sort of a slightly  softer version of a potato chip -- really good.

AND THEN... I left my client around 4 to drive for about 4 hours and had to stop at a Culver's for an ice cream cone under the philosophy of EAT DESSERT FIRST .,,
 and I did.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

K-cup Exchange

I first heard about Keurig coffee makers here at this client where one of the men I work with kept raving about it -- so much so that I bought one. In the past few years, we've exchanged K-cups -- I don't like really strong coffee and he does so this trip I brought him the "extra bold" cups I got in sampler packs.

When I told him I had some K-cups for him, he said someone had given him some pumpkin-flavored coffee and asked me if I wanted to try it. I have to say it doesn't immediately appeal to me, but I said sure so I will be reporting on pumpkin-flavored coffee when I get home.

Had a good, productive, creative day today -- it was another beautiful day even though I didn't get outside all day. Nice in the morning and nice driving home.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Healing Power of Showers

When I got up this morning, I felt really bad -- clammy and feverish -- and I hadn't felt totally well last night -- didn't eat dinner and went to bed early. I even considered not coming to work today. Decided to take a shower and see how I felt.

One thing I love about the hotel where I stay is the very strong water pressure in the shower -- I hate some hotels where the water dribbles out and it take 10 minutes to rinse the shampoo out of your hair.

I took my shower, loving the way I felt, and realized the shower had cured whatever ailed me. Today I have been particularly creative and productive.

Out of curiosity, I googled who invented the shower. I learned that the first showers were waterfalls where people realized it's easier to get clean under running water than still water. Then there's the usual band of suspects -- ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans. The French army was the first to attach showers to the barracks in 1860.

So God bless showers, one of my favorite things. Entered clammy and weak; emerged pink and pleasant!

Right before I left, I got a free sample of this fancy face cream in the mail and I threw it in my bag. Since I wear make up only when I have to (like today), I took this out and had looked at my face which looked blotchy and old. I forget the trade name of this potion, but it said "Rapid Collagen Recovery" and I thought "Hmmm... I wonder how rapidly this could work??"

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bunkered in Ohio

Another beautiful day -- really just bright and sunny and mild. This car has a sun roof that you can uncover (slide back a cover) and then the whole thing can be open sort of like a quasi-convertible or a limited convertible and I think I  can cross convertible off my list -- too noisy, too windy, too whooshy.

Stopped for lunch at a Taco Bell and there was a deer on the edge of the parking lot -- headed for the adult book store which was next door (really).

When I come here, I think I am so damn clever with this hotel. I have it down to a system. Whgen the reservation is made,  I request the same room which is right in from a side door. No one parks by this side door so I always get a space right in front -- I open the outside door and my room is like 5 steps from the outside door. I remember the room number because it's the same number as the main route number to my client's. It's like having my own private entrace. And they slide the bill under the door so I never even have to go back to the lobby.

I got the room I wanted, but I still have one little complaint (of course) and this is not just about this hotel. I imagine that the bulk of people want to accesss the Internet. RARELY are you told the username and password -- you'd think they'd either tell you when you check in or have it by the phone in the guest room or something, but I had to call the front desk for it.

Here I am until Friday.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Western Pennsylvania for the Night

It was really a spectacularly beautiful day today -- and driving through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the leaves are just beginning to turn in some amazing shades of red, gold, and orange. I wished I could have gotten a photo of this one area of wildflowers where there were two kinds -- like a golden rod that was a lush gold and then some purple flowers -- together they were an amazing combination.

I easily got a cab this morning, and while I was waiting for my car -- got upgraded to "superior" from full-size -- my friend at Dollar did that for me. I had told her (by way of earning my keep) that I always say good comments about her in the post-rental evaluation form I get. She said the company puts a lot of stake in those -- and then said that Hertz has acquired Dollar and so the Dollar people are afraid they are going to lose their jobs so she joked you can expect good customer service from Dollar people as the new owners are definitely watching.

Anyway, on with the show:

I make it a habit to stop at the Scenic Overlook at the Delaware Water Gap. Some day I'll have a picnic there.
Entering Pennsylvania

These bushes lined the road out of the scenic outlook -- really beautiful. I have no idea what they are. I believe they are green in the summer as I'd never noticed them before.


Despite the desk, I typically lie on the bed instead.

Big screen TV

The little card says you have your choice of pillows -- the ones in the back are firm and the ones in the front are soft. Actually there's not THAT much difference. I think I like firm mattresses and soft pillows.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Latest (ongoing) Annoyance

In my various travels, I have to be extra-vigilant at toll booths as more and more CASH is sometimes just one lane and you better be headed toward it. Just got a confirmation for my trip tomorrow from the rental car place, urging me to rent one of their EZ-Pass type devices.

After explaining "cashless tolls," toll places where you can't even pay cash and have to use an EZ Pass, this email goes on to say:

If your travels take you to a destination where these Cashless Tolls exist and you are renting one of our cars, you need to rent Pass24 from Dollar or contact the applicable toll authority for other alternatives. For an all-inclusive price, Pass24 covers the cost of the unit and the tolls you encounter.

If a toll is violated, customers will be responsible for toll costs as well as an administrative fee for every toll violation. Please ask for more information when you arrive at the counter.

List of Current Markets with Cashless Toll Highways:
Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Miami, Tampa

I got caught in one a few years back and later got a charge for something like $25.30 -- 30 cents for the toll and a $25 fee. My complaint here is just one more thing we have to pay for, and these destinations are mainstream ones.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Day of Summer

It's the Fall Equinox tomorrow -- in New York, that happens at 4:44 pm -- who knows what actually happens at that point?

It was a beautiful day today -- mild and breezy and I spent some time outside. It's hard to put much effort (Ok, no effort) into my garden, but there's still some summer lushness out there.

Petunuias are a big straggly, but still blooming.

Begonias can bloom almost up to the snowfall... and that's a lighthouse/garden ornament Mary gave me a number of years ago which has been nicely weathered.

I think this is called Vinca.

I love my morning glories -- to give them some credit, I took this in mid-afternoon so this one was not in its full morning-gloryness.

Full foliage, and you can see how the bugs had a buffet of the plant on the bottom. About six of seven years ago, I bought these fairy figurines on line and I thought they were going to be metal, like burnished copper, but they were resin plastic -- and I paid $39 for six of them and when I got them delivered I felt totally ripped off. But I have to say that over the years I have no doubt gotten my moneysworth out of them. I do enjoy hiding them and see when people notice them. I think I'm down to four -- they are very breakable but here's one of them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What I'm Reading

I am not sure how I knew about this book, but I bought a copy of it for one cent (plus shipping) via Amazon. It's the story of a woman who has been married to a very famous author for 35 years where the whole marriage was about him. The book opens as they are flying to Helsinki so he can be awarded some big literary award and she decides she's going to leave him... and then the book goes back in time to his childhood, her life, how they met, their early years of marriage. That's where I am now.
I don't know this author, but she is really a wonderful writer, and I've enjoyed it so far.
One odd thing is that since I bought this book as a used copy, it has writing in it -- the person who owned this book first must have been in a bad marriage... every time there's a negative description of the husband and his personality she underlines it and puts stars and exclamation points. Whenever the wife is presented in a sympathetic way, she also notes that.
I am basically reading this book and a mystery at once. Who owned this book? Who was her husband? Did they ever get divorced?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dodging a Bullet

Got a letter today from Citibank saying there was suspicious activity in my account and I should call them immediately. I had deposited some money, paid bills on line, etc. and I hadn't noticed anything. I also get "alerts" when a check I've written is cashed. Even though I got the letter today, it's dated September 6.

I went to my online account and the relative amounts in various accounts looked accurate so I started looking at my checking account -- and decided I'd go back to August 1. Well, I didn't have to go back that far. Everything looked kosher and then on September 4, I saw the problem. I had gotten cash from an ATM on the Outer Banks... and a North Carolina ATM (at a gas station) withdrawal would certainly be suspicious. That never occurred to me that it could kick off a problem.

So I called the number in the letter and the Citibank woman said that yes, that would be the culprit. We went through various things -- and then she thanked me for being a Citibank customer and said something like "and I see you've been a customer for a very long time -- I don't often see that."

Yes, it's true. I opened my Citibank account when I first moved to New York in 1974. I said to her that I am so old I remember Citibank when it was First National City Bank and that my first PIN was three numbers. She said, "You were a customer before I was born."

I then told her to shut up and that when Citibank sends me an email about how I was treated, I am going to note that the woman was rude and my problem wasn't resolved. Of course, we were both laughing.

I said I appreciate Citibank's vigilance, and I do. What I am happier about, though, is that unbeknownst to me, I had a "fraud alert" on my Citicard and couldn't use it. It's now lifted, but I told her I had used the card to make a deposit and get cash bank at a Citibank branch -- she said that would still be possible, but if I tried to get cash from a non-Citibank ATM, it wouldn't have worked and I would have stood there totally puzzled as to why.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Friend in Boulder

I have an old friend who lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his family. I don't know if you've seen on the news the terrible flooding they've had. I emailed him to see how they were faring, and here's his response:

Overall we are luckier than some. Had to dig some trenches in the backyard to divert water and our basement flooded so today is carpet rip up day. But so far that's the worst if it. 

Still soggy but ok. 

Thanks for asking. 
I know everyone feels the same, but my heart always goes out to people whose homes have been assaulted by natural disasters. Same thing with that boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The town just got the boardwalk on the beach back and in service after Hurricane Sandy, and Thursday there was a huge fire and the same businesses were destroyed for the second time. I just can't imagine what those folks are going through. So let's send out some good energy today to people going through bad times today. Hey, it can't hurt.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Home Again

I am always concerned in the last mile that I have successfully not gotten a dent or ding in the car and then driving in Manhattan with cabs sideswiping you and anything goes that I don't want to blow it in the last few blocks.

I had a really surprisingly good homecoming. The car was actually due tomorrow, but I brought it in today at 12:30. Because I had taken the car out at 10:30, the rental car place said they'd have to charge me for being late -- so it was an extra day (those two hours) and then some sort of fee. I was ready to just accept it when the clerk said she'd take it off -- and originally the whole rental fee was supposed to be $735 but she took off various things and the final bill was $585. I would have been grateful for $20 less, but this was a big deal. I was genuinely grateful.

Then I walked out to the street to get a cab and I see my favorite -- the Crown Vic -- sitting empty across the street with no cabs coming down the street. Just then, the driver came out of a building (I think it was a check cashing place) and there you go. It was like I had ordered a Crown Vic and it was waiting for me. So that I was feeling lucky -- $130 off and a Crown Vic and friendly driver waiting for me.

I unpacked about 80% of my bag, got a load of laundry done, glanced at the stack of mail and then turned to work-work. I'm easing myself back in to my old life. An apple ugly would have helped the transition.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Almost Home

Sunday night in Dover, Delaware. Am about three hours from NYC so I hope to be home by lunch.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

Our last full day of vacation was a relaxed one. We got some fried chicken for lunch from a convenience store where the woman offered to make fresh chicken if we came back for it. It was really good, moist, tasty.
 Mary made potato salad to go with the chicken.
And tomatoes....

My plate half-way through lunch...

I had attempted to lure birds to the outside deck to photograph them, and this was my third attempt with bread.

Finally got one -- have no idea what kind of bird this is.

This is the view outside my bedroom window (through the screen) where you can see the ocean.

This is about 7 pm tonight -- so beautiful... so peaceful, breezy and refreshing, not cold.

The combination of blue, gray and pink was so beautiful.

From our deck

From our deck the other direction

Total leftovers for dinner tonight.

And as the sun sets on our lovely week in Rodanthe, North Carolina, I polled all participants for their favorite parts. Michelle liked not having any schedule to follow. Mary like the waves. Me? I liked having a week where I felt transported from my own life to something totally different.

Tomorrow, we have to check out by 10 am, and we'll all head North. Mary and Michelle will get back to DC tomorrow, and I'm drivng as far as Dover, Delaware.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Celebration with Leftovers

So even though it was leftovers for dinner tonight -- the lobster mac and cheese and green beans...

We were celebrating the birth today of Mary's niece's new baby -- or Mary's grand-niece. The baby was supposed to be born yesterday, but came in her own time. So welcome to the world to
We toasted your arrival with a bottle of Proseco. Mother Amy and daughter doing fine.

Friday Outing

We ventured out for another roadtrip/lunch today. I had stoipped at the Wright Bros. site on my way down, but Mary and Michelle hadn't seen it so we returned. I was so thrilled that I kept my receipt from last Sunday which was good for entrance for seven days so we got in free. But first we stopped at another lighthouse.

Then it was on to the Wright Bros. and Mary liked the Wilbur quote ("We intend to be comfortable while we are here") which mirrors our feelings exactly.

But this one is Mary's favorite: Orville said, "Isn't it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we could discover them."

Enough of history -- it's lunch time! And what better place than Dirty Dick's? As I was photographing this sign, I said what's Ayce Crablegs? What's AYCE, and Mary confidently said, "All you can eat" which amazed me -- had never seen that abbreviation before.

And here's the (ahem) funny tagline on the napkin: I got my crabs from Dirty Dick's crab house.
Here's what we ate: Mary's first and she had shrimp/scallops on a skewer with rice pilaf. (Note: I forgot to photograph until we were already into the meal!)

Michelle had shrimp etouffe which was very good.

I had a lobster club sandwich which was lobster tail and bacon with lettuce, tomato and pickles and some sort of spicy mayo. It really was delicious -- good roll and then their house-made potato chips.

Then it was home again. This is what you see when you get out of the car. The house is on stilts, and the ocean was beautiful today -- surf was bigger than usual.

More ocean.

We love watching the people walk by and especially those with dogs... we've seen some real water-loving dogs.