Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Vegas, Here We Come

Travel There – Getting There Is Not Half the Fun

There was a time when flying Southwest was a blast, but that was a long time ago. They’ve “improved” things since then. By flying Southwest you were doing a very Dallas thing and you were rooting for the underdog, both of which I loved. Now, it’s just another airline and the whole “no assigned seat” thing, which used to be sort of fun, has morphed into an absolute pain in the neck. The only thing Southwest has going for it, as far as we’re concerned, is that Love Field is a lot closer to Heath than DFW.

Thankfully, this was an easy trip. Early, but somehow they all seem to be. We sort of miscalculated the time, but it worked out ok, because we were able to walk from the car onto the plane with virtually no stops. At the Las Vegas end, the package we won included transfers, so with minimal hassle we were dropped off at the Paris resort to begin our vacation.

Welcome to Paris!

Though we were not guaranteed to have any particular resort in Vegas, they said it would be on The Strip and they asked where we’d like to say. I said Paris, because I always thought that would be a cool place to stay.

I’d been to Vegas before, but never for pleasure. Once, when Bill and I were on the way to California, he stopped in for some stock traders event at the Flamingo and we stayed off The Strip. Another time we stayed in the Sahara, also for a stock trader’s event. That was a bad choice. Cheap and convenient, but way past it’s days of glory. The only other time I was there, Bill had been in Iraq and I went to a convention with my sister-in-law. We somehow managed to stay at the Luxor and that was very nice.

I’d visited the Paris on one of those trips and for some reason had been impressed by it. I also liked the picture of the rooms I looked at after I knew that’s where we had been booked. Arriving for our stay, I couldn’t imagine why I’d been so impressed with the Paris in my previous visit. In my memory, the lobby had been grander and not stuffed in every corner with slot machines and gaming tables. I guess they had “improved” it at some point. At least the registration area held on to its grandeur.

It probably didn’t help that our van dropped us off at some ignominious back door, instead of the glitzy art nouveau main entrance. We had to drag our luggage all the way across the casino to find registration. That did not jive exactly with the entry into our glamourous Las Vegas vacation I had imagined.

It was still morning when we arrived and let’s face it, unless you’re up for a buffet, there’s not much to do. Bill was not up for a buffet, so we paid $56 for early check-in and my disappointment continued. Shabby chic was once a decorating trend, but these sad, worn out furnishings didn’t qualify and the trend has passed. Our rooms was sort of like a furnished apartment in a college town, but the furnishing had happened decades before and since then everything in the room had been abused. Even the carpet looked as if it should have been replaced several years ago.

However, it was clean, so we counted our blessings and reminded ourselves it was free. Had it not been, we would have probably demanded a refund and moved over to the Bellagio. We also had what must be the worst view in the hotel. We could only see the roof of the casino and all the equipment on it. We closed the curtains and went in search of some coffee.

Come back next week and have coffee with us in the Paris lobby.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

The Covid Effect & The Drawing

Travel There – We’re Not Going Anywhere!

Covid 19 became a thing in February of 2020, while Bill and I were on a vacation in Arizona. Little did we know it would be our last travel experience for a while. In fact, I already had plans to visit NYC with my bestie in April. We’d also signed up for one of those “Vacation Club” deals and planned to go to California during the holiday season. Instead we stayed home with the rest of the world. NYC was an impossible destination and while I planned various variations of the California trip, we went nowhere during the holidays.

In July of 2021 we made the trek to Michigan to visit family, but the pandemic certainly took a bite out of our time together. The whole air travel experience was awful and ridiculously expensive. The Grand Hotel, usually bustling with trade, was almost a ghost town. We didn’t have to wear masks, but the threat hung over everything.

When we came home from Michigan, we started talking about how to use our “Vacation Club” deal. We set things up for early October, but we could never agree on what to do with our time. Masks were still a thing in California, Bill had family he wanted to visit and I had friends I wanted to see. Because of our business we couldn’t stay away from home for long. In the end, we just decided to blow it off. In fact, it just seemed like too much trouble to travel anywhere, so we decided to blow off travel altogether until the world was better.

And the Winner of the Las Vegas Vacation is Jane Sadek

If you read any of my “At the Whim of the Gods” narrative, offered serially in the absence of any recent travel stories during the pandemic, then you know I often feel as if the gods are tossing me about for their own entertainment when I travel. It’s the only way some things make sense.

If make a commitment not to travel for a year to afford a special cruise, the gods arrange for me to win, not one, but two vacations. I book that special cruise and a few days later we have a disaster at a rent house, that takes a year to resolve and during it all, the last thing Bill wants to do is talk about which shore excursions we’ll take or to help plan our vow renewal. So, Bill and I argue about travel and decide we’re just not going to go anywhere, and what happens, I win a trip to Las Vegas.

Oktoberfest at Hyatt Place Rockwall

It happened like this. Through my networking connections I was invited to a grand opening celebration at the new Hyatt Place in Rockwall. It was in October, so there was an Oktoberfest theme with pretzels and beer. We had a grand old time. There was also a sort of scavenger hunt that sent you throughout the hotel to discover people and areas of interest.

I take my games seriously anyway, but the prize for this was a trip to Vegas. I have already been to Vegas and it’s really not my kind of town, but a free trip is a free trip. I finished up the scavenger hunt, with Bill scoffing at my heels, and went back to eating pretzels and drinking beer. There was a big roll up to the drawing and we were feeling a little silly, so when they called my name, we couldn’t even believe it – especially since we’d already won a couple of other prizes.

I chatted with the nice people who were sending me to Vegas and found out it wasn’t just a hotel room. Our airfare would also be included. OK then, we’re going to Vegas. We decided it would be fun to go during the holidays, so we chose four days in early December.

Come back next week and find out all about VEGAS BABY!!

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

A Gastric Disappointment

Travel There – Chicago’s Millennial Park

The Bean

As I’ve mentioned before, Bill and I travel differently. I have my list and I want to check stuff off. Bill likes to meander. It’s not that I don’t like to meander. It’s just that I want to meander around something on my list.

At this point I wanted to meander over to Millennial Park and eat at Park Grill, but Bill just wanted to meander. He had no clue about where he was, what he was looking at or what was missing that might be more enjoyable. He just wanted to meander. So we did – for a while.

A Gastric Disappointment

One of my favorite memories from a previous visit to Chicago was lunch at the Park Grill in Millennium Park. Bill had been in a training class, so he had not joined me, but the memory of that lunch stuck with me. Yes, the burger had been good and the service attentive, but the real treat had been sitting in the middle of everything, watching it go by.

I’d done my homework and according to their Facebook page, Covid had closed down the Park Grill, but it was supposed to open just in time for me to share it with Bill. Not only was I getting hungry, but the meandering had not exactly offered up much in the way of entertainment. We finally turned towards my destination.

But wait, what’s this! I could see Millennial Park across the street but we had happened upon Chicago Cultural Center. As much as I wanted to get over there and find Park Grill, I took a deep breath and agreed we should go in and look around the Cultural Center. It is a remarkable building with beautiful architectural feature. Should you go to Chicago I think you should take a look at it, so I was not going to deny Bill a peek, just because I was anxious about what was next.


Awestruck by what we’d seen, we finally headed across the street, but there was no Park Grill. Their Facebook page had promised they’d opened a few days before, but there was nada. Now, I felt as I did when we stood at the empty showroom at the Merchandising Mart. Had I made a mistake about where it was? I didn’t think so, but just like at the Merchandising Mart NO ONE was there to help us. Of course, there was an app for the Millennial Park, but it told me less than I remembered from my previous visit.

The schism continued. Bill was still in meander mode. He hadn’t been to Park Grill, so he didn’t know what he was missing. He also wasn’t hungry yet, so he he wasn’t suffering in any way. I was desperate to find any food, but in particular I wanted the damned Park Grill to appear before me. Instead we discovered all the lovely sights below.

Bill was happy to wander all over Millennial Park and to watch the fountains forever, but finally I made him understand I was about ready to start chewing off my own flesh, if he didn’t feed me – and soon. Using good old google, we located a Shake Shack across the street and went for it.

Now, you may be a big fan of Shake Shack and probably don’t even have to look at the menu when you walk in to get your burger fix. Well, we didn’t know our way around and the wall full of icons and pricing didn’t help us one bit. We stood there lost as we had been for most of the day.

I am a Texan. I grew up in Dallas and now I live out in a teeny town on the edge of suburban Rockwall. Down here, we keep an eye out for one another and if someone looks the least bit as if they’re not sure where they are, someone offers to help them out. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Chicagoans don’t seem to have a ready eye to help anyone. Their eyes are glued to their phones. They don’t even look at each other. They may have to walk around you to get by, but they are still not going to talk to you. Heck, they won’t even look up from their phone!

Eventually, we did figure out something to order. I really wanted to try one of those Shake Shack Shakes, but Bill believes all fast food should be consumed with free tap water. I thought that after watching them go by during our entire meal, he might be tempted to share one for dessert. I may have even suggested it. He probably said, “Maybe next time,” which in Bill speak is, “Tough beans. I’m never darkening the door of a Shake Shack in my life!”

To start the day with dreams of re-living my Park Grill experience with the man I love and find myself at Shake Shack without the hope of a shake is a long way to fall in one day. It was time to meander back to our car, find our way to the airport and play that game. By the end of the day, we were home.

Come back next week and see where we are headed next!

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Surprising a Friend

Travel There -Evanston to the Chicago Merchandising Mart

Ludger and Bill Swap Tales

Breakfast at Le Peep

This day had a treat waiting for us, but the first stop was breakfast. For for that, we went to the Le Peep we’d found the night before. Delightful Evanston remained delightful. We walked to the restaurant and like Terra & Vine, it was a neighborhood thing. The waitress knew everyone and all the patrons knew each other. The food was good and so was the service. An added pleasure was a community group having a meeting over breakfast and we enjoyed the dynamics of their decision making. It made for an interesting meal.

Our day’s treat was a good friend: Ludger! His wife is Tammy and the four of us have been friends forever. Ludger, Tammy and Bill have known one another even longer than I’ve known any of them. We see one another infrequently, but the love never fails. Tammy keeps an eye on us via Facebook and when she saw we were going to be in Chicago, she let us know Ludger was planning to be there at the same time. She helped to plan a surprise for him.

The Chicago Merchandising Mart

After Le Peep, Bill and I checked out of the hotel, loaded up the car and headed towards the Chicago Merchandise Mart where Ludger was managing his company’s showroom during some market days. We found someplace to park and started looking for Ludger.

When Tammy told us there was a show going on, I imagined a huge convention center type of show with lots of booths and people and badges. “Show” means something different at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. In fact, things were so low key I’m still not convinced there was a show. We were able to walk right to the elevator and make our way to the suite number Tammy had given us. The front entrance of Dallas Trade Mart has a huge desk inside and you’re not going anywhere until you show some credentials. That’s not the case at all in Chicago. No one cares that you are there and you can’t find a soul to help you either.

The “can’t find a soul to help you” part became important when we arrived at the suite number Tammy had given us. There was nothing there. It was an empty, locked up room.

First, we doubted ourselves. We must have just arrived at the wrong place, because we didn’t know where we were going. We couldn’t exactly call up Ludger and say, “Where are you?” It would ruin the surprise.

Then we looked for someone “official” to help us. The closest we came to that was part of the cleaning staff. Let’s just say they were less than helpful. We found an open showroom and asked about Ludger’s showroom. The staff had barely roused themselves to greet us when we walked in and when they found out we were not there to look at their stuff, they proved to be as helpful as the cleaning person.

So we communicated frantically and furtively with Tammy. She communicated frantically and furtively with one of Ludger’s employees. The showroom had moved and soon we were armed with the correct suite number.

We strolled into his showroom and he was giving direction to some of the employees. He politely acknowledge us as if we were potential clients and then did a double take. He said he’d thought to himself, “How odd, they look like my good friends Bill and Jane.” Then he instantly realized it was his good friends, but his mind couldn’t quite accept it.

It was such fun. We had the opportunity to do a little catching up, but he was there to do business and had an appointment. We were there for some sightseeing, so it was just a short visit, but it was wonderful.

Come back next week and we’ll take you to Millennial Park.

Accommodations, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, United States

Terra & Vine – A Sad Tale

Travel There – Evanston, Illinois

So, I sat down the other day to tell you all about this great restaurant in Evanston, which was just down the street from our hotel. I decided to google it, just to do a little fact checking and make sure my memory matched the experience you would have if you went there. That’s when I found out the restaurant had just recently closed. This was heart-breaking news.

I wanted to tell you about the warm neighborhood feel the restaurant had and about the great patio where we ate our meal. The food was great. The service was great. We were treated like we were one of the valuable locals who frequented the place, even though we weren’t. We hoped we’d be able to come back some day, but we didn’t get back in time.

A Small Town Feel

Now we had just driven through Chicago’s rush hour traffic. As a matter of fact, we got caught in some crazy detour that sent us around and around. All of that was just a few blocks away, but somehow we’d ended up in what felt like a small town.

After our delicious meal at Terra & Vine, we decided to take a stroll. Among the things we found was a Le Peep, a restaurant we loved but had not made it in the Dallas market. We made note for our breakfast plans and continued our very pleasant stroll.

It was really amazing. People would smile, nod their head, even say hello. Even the younger ones, which attended college in nearby buildings, interspersed with residential and business establishments.

Too Much Suitcase Time

When we returned to the hotel, Bill decided to check out the amenities and I took on the job of getting our luggage ready for the next leg of our journey. He came back to the room and decided to take a shower. Then he approached the suitcases and the straw that broke the camel’s back brought some friends.

Mr. Bill is a little bit spoiled. When we arrive at a destination, it is my habit to get us moved into our accommodations, by hanging his stuff in the closet, setting up his toiletries and arranging a drawer for his necessities – only on this trip, we didn’t stay anywhere long enough for that to happen and he’d been living out of our suitcases.

Apparently the biggest problem was that he couldn’t discern any differences in our packing cubes. His are green and black, while mine are solid black, but he’d never realized that. I kept finding my cubes laying open on the bed and wondered if I was losing my mind, but in hindsight we discovered that Bill had been frantically trying to figure out what was mine and what was his for the whole time. All that’s been resolved now, but that evening it was a storm in our teacup.

Come back next week and let’s see some of Chicago!

TRAVEL

Back to Chicago

Headed Towards Home, the Long Way

Luckily the road back to Chicago was not as grueling as it had been in the other direction, perhaps because the bad construction was earlier in the day and Bill was driving.

We arrived in Chicago late afternoon and headed towards our hotel. I used the Hotel Tonight app for the very first time and found a deal for a Hilton Garden Inn in Evanston at a pretty decent rate. I had downloaded the app a long time ago full of hopes of quick weekend getaways. That had not materialized, but it came in handy for this use.

There was one little hitch in our get along. Chicago was under construction. Our GPS would send us in one direction and the detour sign would send us in another. Can you say annoying? I know we went by one particular area at least three times. Mr. Bill was not a happy camper.

Our arrival in Evanston was a little happier. It was calm and charming. We found our hotel very easily, but we chose not to take advantage of the hotel’s valet parking (for which there was a charge). Instead, Bill dumped me and the luggage at the curb and parked next door at a municipal parking lot.

Once we were in our room, it was definitely time for Mr. Bill’s nap. Perhaps I was reading or catching up with social media, but what I should have done was catch up with my travel journal. My last entry had been leaving the hotel on our way back to Clarkston. That should tell you just how disruptive that little business related snafu was. My vacation had been derailed and a day later I still had not picked up all the pieces. I was merely doing what came next.

A Little Surprise

Thanks to social media, we had learned that one of our very best friends was going to be in Chicago the next day. Ludger (He was the one getting married in my At the Whim of the Gods Tale.) was going to be at the Chicago Merchandise Mart for a show the next day. The reason it could be a surprise was because while Ludger has no social media footprint, his wife does keep up with us on Facebook. So, as Bill napped I was cooking up the details with Tammy.

Next up was dinner. Come back next week and I’ll introduce you to Terra & Vine, a great place for a meal.

TRAVEL

Vacation Interrupted

The Trials & Tribulations of Small Business Ownership

And now let us interrupt your vacation and drive you to madness! People who work for others often think how lucky those business owners are. The employees have visions of them taking off whenever they want, never having to ask for a raise, always having someone else to do the dirty work and getting downright rich. Granted there are probably some of those business owners out there, but the rest of us poor stiffs are lucky when our income beats our expenses, we have to worry about all kinds of compliance issues and we work virtually all the time. Even when we are away on vacation, the phone rings and we have to put on our professional voice.

We’ve owned Spot On Images since 2017. Slowly and carefully we’ve built a reputation for providing great real estate marketing images to some of the best Realtors┬« in our area. I already shared the nightmare I went through trying to get out of town, but I thought we’d gotten the kinks out. I really didn’t anticipate much of a problem.

However, when I got back to my family’s house and tried to download the images our photographer had sent, it just wasn’t happening. Thank goodness, I have forgotten every little detail of the headache, but I don’t know that I’ll ever forget what a headache it was.

After getting the images sent off, I relaxed, watched a movie with my family and enjoyed the pizza we ordered for dinner. Since this time we did work out all the kinks, I anticipated getting all the photos delivered without a hitch the next morning. Then we were planning to go to Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. It was going to be great – right.

Well, thanks to Murphy’s Law, for the first time in I can’t remember when, the editors did not get the images back to me early in the morning, as they always did. When Bill woke, I was on pins and needles. He tried to scrape me off the ceiling, but it wasn’t doing much good.

I am deeply invested in the well-being of our clients. It’s why I stayed up the whole night before we left on vacation. I’m not the sort to say, “Gee sorry, the photos came in late, you’ll just have to wait, because I’m getting on a plane.” To make matters more personal, our clients are my friends. Our marketing plan is me. I went out and found these people myself and made promises to them. They aren’t faceless names who chose us off the internet.

In this case, the photos came so late that my friend was already wondering where they were. We have a 24 hour turnaround and the 24 hours had passed. I had let her know we had run into some problems, but she’d made promises to her clients that their listing would be up. We were late.

I sent the photos off as soon as they came in, but our rather new photographer had not satisfied our client with his shooting skills. Had we been at home, there were so many things we could do to resolve all this, but as it was, there were only so many things I could actually do. I did all of them and the listing went up, but not to the standards my friend and client expected.

By now, the whole morning was gone and I was literally sick from dealing with all the stress. Greenfield Village was not in my future. The guys and the kids found things to do, like tennis and other activities at the neighborhood’s country club. Maggie took me to a really cute shopping center which focused on local craftsmen. However, the day had been ruined. Too much stress and frustrations for a shopping trip to fix.

That evening, all of us had dinner together at the club. Things were winding down. It was time for us to head back to Chicago.

TRAVEL

Our Day on Mackinac Island Winds Down

Strutting and Putting

After our “witty” carriage driver dropped us off at the tourist trap terminal, another carriage took us into town where we reconnected with the rest of the family. The girls were shopping and the boys had found some putting greens. After buying up some obligatory Mackinac Island fudge, Bill and I strutted off in the direction of the putting greens.

Were I the type to wear sensible shoes, this little stroll would have been a lot more fun, because the scenery was charming – one lovely Victorian home after another. As I’ve mentioned, the Grand Hotel has a dress code and in honor of my mom, I held myself to an even higher fashion code. I’d worn a pair of strappy, high heeled espadrilles to go along with my large-brimmed sunhat and floral dress.

Now on a normal day, these shoes serve me well. In my experience with them, they had qualified as comfortable shoes. Stomping up and down the hilly streets of Mackinac Island they were torture chambers.

I wasn’t totally insane. I had put a pair of flip flops in my back pack, but I’d waited a little bit too long to change into them. By the time we met up with Shad and Daniel, I had blisters on the bottom of my feet. Every step was miserable and quite frankly there were a lot of steps.

Please, I Just Want to Sit Down

Bill scurried down to the putting greens as soon as he saw the guys and I trudged on to a promising looking patio. You can see the yellow umbrellas in the first photo above, it was near by, but to my poor sore feet, it felt like another mile.

As I approached, I observed a couple of tables with patrons, but the balance of the tables were empty. So, I imagined being able to sink into a seat and take the load off my poor tired dogs almost instantaneously. However, the restaurant was not exactly happy to see me.

In fact, they really didn’t want to seat me. At first, they just shuffled me back and forth between an outdoor hostess station and another one inside. I’m not usually the pushy type. Tell me no and I will go away, but a quick survey of the area told me these were the only seats within sight line of the golfers.

The only options I could imagine to relaxing under one of those yellow umbrellas was either plopping down in the grass, which I am allergic to, or figuring out someplace else to go and then walk there. Desperation was setting in.

The people in charge had left me standing somewhere in between the two hostess stations without any indication of what their problem with me might be. A waiter approached and asked if I was there for dinner. I said no, I just wanted to have a glass of wine while my family played on the putting greens. “You leave by seven?” I looked at my watch. Seven was still hours away. “YES! I leave by seven!!”

The waiter led me to a table and I wanted to kiss him. Instead, when it was time to go I left him an obscenely large tip. Come back next week and find out what happened next!

TRAVEL

Carriage Ride on Mackinac Island

Not What Mom Had in Mind

One of Mom’s fondest memories of Mackinac Island was a carriage ride around the island, so of course, I wanted to take one, too. I am quite certain things had changed since Mom visited, because I do not remember my carriage ride with same fondness she remembered hers.

To begin with, I think her ride was on a Grand Hotel carriage, driven by a member of the excellent Grand Hotel staff. Mine was not. We caught a carriage downtown that took us to the tourist trap of all tourist traps. Little did I know that short trip would be the best part of the experience. Our carriage driver for that short hop was a Mackinac Island long-time resident. She knew and loved her horses. Her carriage was pristine. She knew and loved the island.

Then we arrived at the terminal. In non-Covid times it is probably a bustling building. For us it was an empty barn-like place with a tacky souvenir shop. Like most Covid-related disappointments, I just tried to ignore it. The carriages bringing customers from downtown dropped people off on one side and the tour carriages were loaded on the other. We went through the building, to the tour side and waited for our carriage to arrive.

I have nothing to say about the carriage ride except that the driver was a disaster. Some kid from someplace else and limited carriage driving experience was our driver. He didn’t know or love the horses. He certainly didn’t know or love the island. What he loved was himself and his wit. Yep, it was miserable.

However, Mackinac Island was beautiful and much of it I would not have been able to see without the “witty” carriage driver, so I am glad I went – this time. I would never do it again. I would ride bikes like my family did while we took the carriage.

I’m not going to let a bad driver keep you from seeing the beauty of the island though, so here are some pics.

The day isn’t over, yet. We got back together with our family for some final moments on Mackinac, so come back next week for some more fun (and no “witty” carriage drivers.

TRAVEL

On Our Way to the Grand Hotel

An Exciting Day Begins

For years, it didn’t matter which exotic and exciting place I told my mother we were about to visit, her response was the same, “I sure wish you’d go to the Grand Hotel.” Well, when I woke up in the Marriot Courtyard Inn in Petoskey, Mom’s wish was about to come true.

I was up early like I always am and hit the shower, because we had tickets for the first Shepler Ferry Boat of the day. Then I went down to the cafe where I’d already scoped out the fact that they had Diet Dr Pepper. Returning to the room, I helped Bill get ready for the day, because we all had to report to the lobby at 7:30 AM sharp. Our ride on the ferry was without incident and we were soon on Mackinac Island.

Welcome to Mackinac Island

We made our way down the gangplank and onto the island. The one thing everyone knows about Mackinac Island is that there are no motorized vehicles allowed. Near the pier you can catch many types of horse drawn vehicles, but we opted to walk up the hill to the Grand Hotel.

What a charming place it was! My excitement was building with every step. I was nearing the place my mother had recommended to me for years on end.

Then suddenly the wait was over. I was at The Grand Hotel.

If you’ve never been, then be warned, you can’t just waltz in for a visit. There’s a $10 per person fee for everyone. And you can’t show up barefoot in your bikini. Proper dress is required. After 6PM men require a jacket and The Grand Hotel does not believe women should wear slacks. I guess we passed muster, because they gladly took our money and allowed us to take our self-guided tour of the grounds.

My mother had told me all about rules and for her sake I’d dressed up for our day on Mackinac, from my full brimmed sun-hat, to my floral dress, to my snazzy shoes, I was intent on making Mom proud.

The place has a huge visual impact, but I just couldn’t wait to get out on that long front porch and sit in one of their rocking chairs. Mom loved everything about The Grand Hotel but she loved those rocking chairs best of all. I finally planted myself in one and whispered to my mom, “Well, Ruth, I made it.”

Emotion swept over me in a way I never expected. Tears began to run down my face and my shoulders shook, from my sobs. I guess everyone else thought I was crazy, but Mom and I were having a moment.

The tears passed and the moment was over. I was ready for my self-guided tour. Bill and I headed one way and the rest of them headed in another. Here’s a sample of what we saw.

After walking around inside the hotel, we set out to see something of the grounds. Everything is immaculately maintained. I saw no leaf out of place, no paint beginning to peel and every single piece of grass seemed to be part of a large shag carpet. Here’s a few of those exterior shots, including our fellow travelers and us.

Our sweet nephew had arranged for us all to have the amazing buffet lunch. Soon it was time to make our way back to the dining room to be seated. I was really excited, because my mom had certainly been fond of the meals at The Grand Hotel. Come back next week and find out how it was.