What I learned on my summer vacation.

What I learned on my summer vacation.

Last week was my summer vacation.  I say vacation – but it wasn’t your typical, go-to-the-beach, drink-umbrella-drinks, type vacation.  We live in a different state than our extended family, so we took the week off and went home to visit. It was good to spend time with family, and as always, I learned a few things while we were on the road.  I learned about lizards, little league baseball families, and the importance of really LOOKING at a sign before you put it up on the side of the highway.  It was an interesting week…

Evidently, I am now a travel snob.
I wasn’t raised to be a travel snob – I think I was raised to be pretty down to earth.  We would always drive somewhere on our family vacations when I was a child.  Without the DVD player or the Nintendo DS that my kids now enjoy, my brother and I would spend our time annoying each other and our parents to pass the time.  Car safety was much more of a suggestion than a law back then, so we would fight over who had to sleep on the floor in the backseat of the car – both foot wells filled with pillows to even out the “hump” in the floor.  This was in a variety of cars over the years, and I can tell you – the floor of a Dodge Colt is not somewhere you want to sleep if you can help it.  But I digress.

We never stayed at the Ritz on those vacations.  Now that I’m an adult, however, I’ve had the opportunity to travel for work a good bit.  Evidently, all that time traveling on an expense account slowly turns you into a travel snob.  You begin to expect things like elevators, and non-smoking rooms, and breakfast buffets with bowls for the cereal.  It’s easy to become a diva.

As is our custom, we chose to drive home to visit – a 13-hour trip, usually broken up over the course of 2 days.  Here’s a bit of advice for everyone; if you happen to be driving through Mississippi in July – specifically Tupelo – you might run into the Dizzy Dean 9-year-old World Series.  This event takes place over a full week in late July, and draws people in from all over the country.  Sounds like fun, right?  Wrong.

Every hotel within 20 miles of Tupelo was booked solid, but we managed to get a room at the Hampton Inn.  (Were it not for my travel status with Hilton, we would have been totally out of luck.  I guess being a travel snob does have a few perks). Now, I’ve stayed at a fair number of Hampton Inn’s over the years, but this was the first one I’ve ever been in with outside entries to all of the rooms.  It was like a bad Motel 6.  Outside entry means a few things.  First – no elevators.  Of course, we were on the second floor.  Second – you unload the car and trudge to your room outside.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Mississippi in July.  Even at night – outside is not the coolest and most refreshing place I can think of to be lugging bags up a flight of stairs.  Third – their no smoking policy only applied if you were IN the rooms.  Given my elite status with Hilton, we were afforded a corner room on the aforementioned second floor.  This room had the added bonus of being located right beside the outdoor ashtray that had been generously supplied by the management of the Hampton Inn as a service to all of the smoking guests.  We were treated to 4 years worth of second hand smoke over the course of one night.  I had no idea that so many little league parents smoked – I thought baseball was a sport built on chewing your tobacco, not smoking it.

To put the cherry on top of this particular hotel experience, there was no lobby to speak of at the hotel.  Since this meant there was no easy gathering place, the enterprising baseball families in residence at the hotel decided to pull all of the chairs out of their rooms onto the 2nd floor walkway.  Evidently there weren’t quite enough chairs, so they also set up a few lawn chairs as well.  They them topped it all off with a few coolers full of beer pulling double duty as foot rests.  It was every bit as classy as wearing your “fancy” overalls to your mom’s wedding.

Even from the “comfort” of our room, we were able to enjoy the conversations of these entertaining and engaging families.  We learned about the finer points of little league tournament brackets, how to REALLY get mud stains out of a pair of uniform pants, and best of all – were treated to a dissertation on the relative merits of Old Milwaukee versus Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR for the hip new kids).  I dare anyone to learn more about the subtle differences between adult beverages on your average wine tasting trip through the Napa Valley.

Reptiles are Cool
While at home, my brother’s family and I decided to go to the zoo.  It sounded like fun, and the kids were very excited.  Here’s the thing you have to remember about the zoo – it’s outside.  That seems pretty self evident, but we must have glossed over it, because we decided to head out to the zoo at high noon, during the middle of summer, in the deep south.  Here’s the other thing about the zoo – you have to walk a lot.  There’s no train to ride, no cushy seats to recline in, no escalators – there’s just a lot of walking, and standing, and more walking.

I did learn something valuable at the zoo.  The reptile house is both indoors, and air-conditioned.  You would be amazed at how interesting the 327 varieties of spotted tree frog are when it’s 103 degrees outside.  Even the kids feigned interest.

“Look dad, it’s a diamond patterned, Vietnamese stalking turtle. Let’s see how long it takes him to walk from one side of the display to the other”.

“Look mom – they are feeding the lizards.  Let’s see how long it takes them to eat all 1,232 crickets that were just released into their display.”

Yes, it’s amazing how much you can learn about our friends the reptiles.  They are very cool creatures.  Very cool indeed.

What did that sign say, again?

Driving back home, we again passed through Mississippi.  Just outside of New Albany, there is a restaurant name Flicks.  We’ve never stopped to eat at Flicks, but we know right where it’s at.  I’m not sure if they are a family restaurant or not.  What I do know is that their sign on the highway will definitely grab your attention (at least it grabbed mine – but I’m easily distracted, so maybe that’s not saying much…):
I have to wonder, when designing their logo – the billboard they put out there for the traveling public to see – did anyone take the time to really LOOK at it?  To really ask themselves – how will this look from the highway, driving by at 70 MPH?  I’ll let you be the judge – epic fail on the logo design, or brilliant use of subliminal advertising to catch your eye?  If it’s the latter, I’m not sure that I want to know what’s on their blue plate special…

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2 Replies to “What I learned on my summer vacation.”

  1. awesome! great sign language, reptiles are the luckiest bunch at the zoo, and most any car in the 70’s was hard to sleep, in the floorboard. nice job! laughed my ass off. i needed it.

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