01 January 2009

Thankfulness x1000 miles

I love to travel. It delights me to wake up somewhere else, no matter where it is. I especially love hotels. I know half the world is freaked out about the germs on hotel bedspreads and remote controls, but I'm not. As long as the room looks clean, I can settle in and relax in a way that I can nowhere else on earth.

A hotel room is a blank slate, a place where I can kick back and enjoy goofing off with no responsibilities and no demands.

It has always been that way. When I was a little kid, I saved and saved my money. When my birthday rolled around and I got a few checks from aunts and grandparents, I could finally tell my mom what I wanted to spend the money on: a night in a hotel in the nearest tourist town with my best friend Marcy.

I think I was nine, and I remember how shocked I was when my mom said "no." I had already planned how much fun we were going to have bouncing on the double beds and going to the swimming pool by our 9-year-old selves. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the idea of two unaccompanied children spending the night on their own in a motel.

For the week between Christmas and the New Year, I took a thousand-mile road trip. I first went to my old town, San Luis Obispo, then saw my nephew in Santa Rosa, went to Sacramento to see both blogging friends and old IRL friends, travelled back south to spend a really quiet New Year's Eve with my brother in Coalinga, then back home today.

I have never been filled with so much gratitude for my many blessings. I have a job that gives me paid vacation and allows me to afford to travel a bit. I have a car that could make the trip. I live in a gorgeous state that is lush and green with winter growth. I am healthy enough to travel. I have parents who love to take care of my dog. I have friends and family who want to see me. All of those things added up to a journey that reminded me, mile by mile, of how fortunate I am.

I saw: my sister Paula and her family; my college roommate Stacy and my old friend and ex-boss and supergenius Brian Lawler; pals Curt and Gael and their Airedale Gracie; nephew Lyal and his dear 4-year-old daughter Bethany; Suzanne and Husband and Count Mockula and Zadie (with a special guest appearance by Monkeygirl); my former love and longtime friend Joe; and my sweet brother Al. I talked my mouth off.

There are many, many details (photos, mostly of things not people, are over at Flickr but I am tired and just glad to be home and in my jammies. I had a great time, and I wish you a wonderful, fun 2009.

30 December 2008

Blame it on Bonaduce

I was relaxing in my 9th floor hotel room when I thought "Why does my room smell like a Top Sirloin?"

Now, many people might be delighted to inhale the fragrance of slabs of meat grilling over a wood fire, but not Little Miss Sensitive "All the Baby Calves Must Be Saved" Vegetarian. I walked over to my window and looked out:
The smoke vent

Right below my window, a big square vent coughed out clouds of smoke. I called the front desk and explained the problem. The woman at the desk was skeptical.

Suebob: There seems to be some sort of smoke vent right below my room.
Desk Lady: Smoke vent?
Suebob: Yes, is there some kind of steak house downstairs?
Desk Lady: Not that I am aware of.

I finally conveyed the message that I was not willing to stay in a room in a 100% non-smoking hotel where I would be breathing smoke all night. Or so I thought. Jason, the nice bellman, came up to help me.

Jason: We're moving you to 602, which is just 3 floors down.
Suebob: Is it on the other side of the hotel?
Jason: No, it is right below this room.
Suebob: Come here.

I made him look out the window and showed him the vent and explained that, if I was objecting to breathing smoke from the vent, maybe moving CLOSER would not solve my particular problem.

He got the picture and after about 10 minutes on the phone with the desk, they understood too. We headed 10 floors up to the other side of the hotel, and walked into a room that reeked of cigarette smoke.

"Uh oh," said Jason, and got on the phone. He said to the desk clerk, "This room totally smells like smoke even worse than the other one. Yeah, I know. Yeah. It was him all right."

"Isn't this a non-smoking hotel?" I said. "What happened?"

"Danny Bonaduce," said Jason. Apparently either the notorious Mr. B had spent the night in the room before, smoking his butt off, or else they just blame him for everything that goes wrong at the hotel, which is wise.

I mean, if I called to complain that the plumbing was backed up and they said "Oh, Danny Bonaduce spent the night in that room last night," I would totally believe them, wouldn't you? That will be my new life motto, I think: if something is messed up - blame it on Bonaduce!

We finally struck it rich with room #3. Same nice room, no smoke smell.

I walked over to the window, looked out and saw this:
Fire near 13th and K Streets, Sacramento Dec 30, 2008

A building about 2 blocks away was fully engulfed in flames. Fortunately it was only a block from the fire station, so trucks were on the scene within minutes and it was out quickly.

Still, what are the chances? I guess the moon phase must be in "combustion."
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