Category: Vacation

Recharge the batteries

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’re spending a few days on the beach.  We haven’t been on a vacation since last May, so it was time to load up the new SUV and strike out for someplace we’ve never been.  That’s usually how vacations work for us, we try to find a place that we’re both interested in going to, and preferably someplace new.  Find a house to rent, or a suitable hotel with the right amenities (not a Super 8 or Motel 6) and use it as ‘home base’ while we explore the countryside or museums or whatnot.  We’re both interested in the history of the US Civil War (not the current one, the 19th-century version) and have been to Gettysburg and Antietam in this decade.  

‘Christabel’ had been to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware when she was a child.  Me, I’d never even been to the state of Delaware.  Passed it more than a few times driving to NC or VA, but never been through it.   Consequently, it seemed like the right place to go, it was past Labor Day so we’d get a financial break on the room, there’d be fewer people in the area, and most of the local restaurants would still be open.  Granted a lot of the tourist’y’ businesses on the boardwalk would more than likely be closed for the season, but since we’re not big aficionados of Skee-ball, it wouldn’t be a huge disappointment.  And neither of us are in the market for a tattoo.

Getting here was a bit of a pain since I was driving a  new vehicle that I wasn’t completely comfortable with how it all worked.  It has a navigation system, but of course, the default was set to ‘Economy’ not ‘Fastest Route’ so when it came time to get us somewhere, it kept sending us on unfamiliar local routes, that were away from the major highways and byways.  And that takes time, so we spent about 6 hours in Pennsylvania when at most it should have been 4.  Once I finally got the nav system to behave, it got us on the PA Turnpike and that saved a good deal of time and angst.  70 mph will get you where you’re going much faster than two lanes that have 25 & 35 mph zones every time you hit a hamlet.  

When we got to Delaware, we stopped at one of the DOT’s rest stops and had a nice walk through the area before getting back on the road.  While we were there, we called the hotel we booked to be sure they knew we were coming, and not to give our room away.  We didn’t actually hit town until after dark, so it was a little bit of a problem getting to the place, as again the nav system wasn’t well suited for where we were.  But between it, Google Maps and a little cursing, we managed to get to the hotel.  

It’s been a whirlwind several days.  Some ups and downs, and a few headaches along the way, but that’s traveling for you.  Yesterday I was feeling a little homesick, and missing my cat, but I know he’s at the spa and probably having a good time with all the other kitties and puppies there.  At any rate, we’re headed back to New York tomorrow, and we’ll collect him on Saturday.  So we have a little more time here on the coast.  Then it’s back to reality.

Kink wherever I go

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve had guests of the vanilla persuasion here this week, so my kinkified living situation (ha, I made a funny) has been on vacation as well. Even so, my BDSM addled brain continues unabated and I can confirm that due to something that happened yesterday while we all were out running errands.

After visiting a strip mall to get cat litter (Petco has a deal where one can get 35 lbs./15.87 kgs. of litter for $10) and discovering a women’s clothing store was closed/vacant that one of our out-of-town guests had intended to shop, we jetted down to the local Kohl’s and shopped there instead. Having finished that errand, we still had some time to kill waiting for the appropriate hour for going to dinner.

We have a Hobby Lobby here, and admittedly I’ve never been in one. It’s an experience to be sure. Similar to Michael’s (coincidentally there’s one of them nearby) in that they sell all sorts of items from picture frames to knick-knacks, baking supplies, model kits, painting supplies and so on. The owners of the company are religious, so the store is closed on Sundays (like Chick-fil-a) and they have religious Muzak playing over the sound system. At least its not so annoying you’re going to wish you were deaf. The staff are friendly, even to the point of ebullience.

While we were all there, we pretty much went our separate ways. I just flitted from one area to the next, looking for things that appealed, always keeping an eye out for bargains. Even so, my kinky underpinnings were having a good time. There were plenty of crafty items that could be repurposed, though a Lowes or Home Depot would make many things easier. Wrought iron bars with accompanying elbows could easily be transformed into restraints or even tie down spots on a bed or chair or even a floor or wall. For many years Kink.com and Insex made a mint showing how simple items could be bastardized into something very kinky and extremely versatile. Just have to possess the right imagination and see beyond the original intended purpose.

In the end, I only bought a couple of things. A trivet for my personalized cutting board, and a dual 5×7 picture frame with matting board at 75% off. I can print my own pictures on my inkjet printer and they come out pretty flawless, especially on glossy photopaper. I know a photographer would be able to tell the difference, but I’m not opening a photo gallery anytime soon. I opted not to get the wooden or steel letters that could spell out BDSM somewhere in the house, that’ll be a project for another time.

Contractual obligations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’m on vacation again.  But this time I’m using up my vacation days before I lose them from not using them. [Say that 5 times fast]  It’s something I go through every year around this time, due to the fact through my work I’m due 4 weeks of time off yearly.  Technically it’s 160 hours of vacation and 24 hours of personal time.  According to the union contract, (fortunately) it doesn’t have to be taken a week at a time (40 hours).  I can use it sparingly, or in larger chunks.  However, due to the nature of where I work and how short-handed we are (didn’t use to be this way), if I were to try to take off 2 weeks at a time, there would be several peeved off managerial types.  So I make every effort not to rock the boat in that aspect.

It just so happened that this week coincided with monthly inventory, so in theory this could have been a problem taking the time off.  The department manager prefers to have me present for inventory, so I make it a point to be at his beck and call and keep things on the level.  Consequently, this week I worked Sunday & Monday and took off the rest of the week for 3 vacation days and my normal 2 days off.  Next week I have 2 days of vacation and 2 days off, then back to work on April 4-7 to round out the week.  So, 9 days total.

As with all my other vacations, I have lofty plans, which usually almost never come to fruition.  If someone were to give out awards for laziness, procrastination and stubbornness in not getting things done, I’d have a basketful.  Certainly much to the chagrin of the wife, and my slave.  I’m not always spot on with keeping my promises, even if initially they’re made with good intentions.  As always, something to work on.


This morning while I was scanning through blogs I’ve started to follow, I came across one entry where the owner of the blog was railing about the necessity for contracts in BDSM.  Not just railing mind you, but making it quite clear that she believed they were essential for any BDSM relationship to be successful.  Furthermore she seemed quite convinced that the Fifty Shades model of contracts was the best one to be used.  Add in a link to a PDF she’d created with the contract in question (blank of course), and I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked to find there were a litany of responders to the post all pretty much agreeing with her.

Honestly, I couldn’t just let that one go.  Had to put my own take on it, though when I looked through the homepage of the blog, it hasn’t been updated since January, so it’s entirely possible my comment is falling on deaf ears.  Furthermore, since all comments to the blog are moderated, it would have to be approved in order to be seen by someone from the outside.

4 days down, 5 to go.

Let Down

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’ve been on vacation from work for the last week.  And I’ve been rather purposefully sedate, almost to the point of being lazy.  But then again, I don’t usually do much on my vacations, normally because I work so hard on the weeks when I’m on the job.  Too, neither my wife nor I are big on traveling.  Sure we’ll make little forays out of the house for shopping, going out to eat, appointments and the like, but we don’t normally travel all that far from home base, unless it’s a special or unexpected occasion.  We’re homebodies, for the most part.  Always have been.

Even so, we’ve been discussing off and on about going to Rochester, NY for a shopping trip together.  It’s about 2 hours distant, and there’s an Italian bakery we’ve been going to for many, many years.  It’s the bakery that made our wedding cake 26 years ago, and they make the most delectable butter cookies you could imagine.  On more than one occasion I’ve mentioned that if that place was closer, I’d easily creak the floorboards at 500 lbs (or more).  Yes, they’re that good.  Last year we both bought a Groupon for $30 worth of baked goods for $15.00 (USD).  A nice bargain and we’d done the same thing a couple of years back.  Of course we both spent ours on cookies.  They freeze well, if they make it to the freezer that is.  The deal expires at the end of March, and since I had vacation, we figured “why not?” and decided to make the trip.  The wife checked their website to be sure we’d be there at the right time, and yesterday afternoon we set off for the city.

We’d considered going the day before, but the weather report was saying that it was snowing in the city, even though it was sunny where we were.  Personally I don’t mind driving in the snow at any time, unless it’s really a white-out or blizzard.  Even so, driving with the wife can be a little more problematic, since if the wheels start to slip, she has a tendency to go into full panic mode.  And no one wants someone to have a screaming fit in their ear when they want to concentrate.  So we postponed the trip.

The trip was uneventful, though when we reached the area, we decided to eat at the local Olive Garden, so when we got to the bakery, we wouldn’t have the urge to buy everything not nailed down.  Dinner at OG was very nice, we had a very engaging waitress, enjoyed our meal and tipped her accordingly.  When she asked about dessert, I mentioned casually that we were going to the bakery (mentioning it by name) and she recognized the name and said that she loved their baked goods.  Leaving the restaurant, we continued down the highway looking for a suitable place to turn around, since the bakery was in a plaza on the other side of the road.  As we passed the plaza, I noticed something rather odd….the sign that advertised the bakery was missing on the building.  Or at least I thought it was.  Perhaps I had the wrong plaza?

After turning into a small strip mall and making our way to the right plaza, my worst fears were confirmed.  The sign was indeed missing, and the place looked like it had been closed for several weeks.  The windows weren’t boarded up, but you could easily tell that it was no longer in operation.  There was a computer printed sign on the glass door that announced they were “now in California!” along with a website to check out.   Might as well call it what it was.  We were both dumbfounded that the people who have been operating this bakery for the last 105 years could be so callous with their loyal customer base.  Taking out my phone, I did a quick web search and sure enough, a month back there was some local news coverage of the bakery’s closing and moving to the West Coast.  However, they never bothered to update either their website or social media presence to reflect that.  As a matter of fact, they went so far as to purchase another website to reflect the new location, registered a new Facebook page as well as an Instagram account (all the while leaving the old ones up and not updated) to advertise their new business.  And to add insult to injury, referring to their new bakery as having been opened in 1914.  Um, sorry people, you’re new to California.  While the bakery has been in your family for 105 years, that’s false advertising.  Better to say that you’re starting from square one.

Needless to say, we came straight home.  What we probably should have done was seek out another Italian bakery in the city.  As it turns out, there are several.  But we were more than a little crestfallen and decided to head for home and call it a day.  Even so, on the 90 minute trip, we discussed the discovery and lamented about how we were going to have less of a reason to go back to the city now, it was pretty much the last reason that either of us ever needed to go there.  Once arriving back at the homestead, I went to my couch and started searching YouTube videos about how to make the cookies myself.  My wife decided a more direct approach was in order and emailed the new bakery, informing them that it would be nice if they had done a little due diligence with their website and inquiring if our Groupons were still good.  Apparently it depends on who you ask.  The new bakery Facebook page suggests that they’re not being honored, as they’re being described as a ‘one time sale’ and since the old bakery closed, the new bakery isn’t going to honor them.  Which is a sucky way of doing business, but given what we’ve learned, I guess we’re not terribly surprised.  Suffice it to say, with the comments on their old Facebook page, we’re not the only people who were caught unawares.

I suppose in retrospect it was a good thing they moved across the country.  Pissing off your client base isn’t the best way to engender repeat business.  No matter how good your product is.

There’s something to be said…

Reading Time: 3 minutes
 


…about concentration and being able to do so under pressure.  Case in point.  Right now it’s 1:30 am and I have to be on the road in about 8 1/2 hours.  For the most part yesterday I ran errands and did a fair number of things around the house that should have been done in the last couple of weeks, but being me,  I always wait until the last minute.  Sometimes the very last minute.  But I managed to get most of them accomplished.  Suffice it to say the hedges in front of the house are now trimmed back to a more aesthetically pleasing level, the lawn is mowed and trimmed in all the right places and finally, I got the marigolds and impatiens planted in the beds in the front of the house.  Yes, I know they should have been planted about a month ago.  Hush.  This evening the wife and I had soup and sandwich for dinner because that was inherently easier than cooking anything else, and we’d already dropped a good amount of cash at the grocery store earlier in the day, and that basically was part of what we shopped for.  The rest was frozen food for her to have while I’m away and some other bits and pieces of the puzzle so she can survive while I’m out of the local picture for the next few days.  After that, a little chatting with my girl, then I headed upstairs to pack not only my clothing but more importantly my toybag.  Just coincidentally, it was still packed from when I went to visit my girl back last November, so I needed to remove all that stuff, catalog what I had, list what I needed to bring this time, and pack that.  Made a list of what I needed to have in other items, packed both my bags and set them aside for today.  There are other things that I can pack in the morning, like my pillows, my CPAP machine and a few other odds and ends.  Yes, the cookies too.  A damn good thing I don’t like macadamia nuts or those 4 dozen cookies would be halfway gone.

While I was out and about this morning, I happened to spot a vintage automobile, and it just so happened to park at a place across from where I was getting my lunch.  Fortunately, I had my phone with me and got a picture of it from the back.  The funny thing about this area is, there’s a fair amount of people here that own Ford Edsels.  Honestly, I’d never seen one in person before I moved here.  I can’t really imagine why they never caught on when they originally were for sale.  They’re a really handsome car when you think about it.  At least I think so.  Btw, that’s not an Edsel, I was just musing on the fact this place is lousy with them.

The closer you get…

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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…the more harried you become.  At least that’s how it is with me.  It’s now 3-4 days until I blast off on my meeting with my girl and I’m (as usual) no closer to being ready.  Quite coincidentally,  there’s a visit happening here at the house the week following my sojourn south, and with the house here being it’s usual wreck /craphole/disaster area less than idyllic clean situation, there’s things to be done in the interim.  Though I’m not further along in getting them done either.

I’m a procrastinator.  Always been one, probably always will be.  Certainly much to the chagrin of both my wife, my girl, and as I recall, my parents.  I just never have seen the urgency of getting things done on time, or getting to appointments on time.  Don’t get me started on the getting to work on time issue.

Speaking of procrastination, I slipped this baby into the draft column and only now (3 days later) have I pulled it back out and given it some love.

Last night I baked cookies for my girl to take with me on my trip tomorrow.  At least that’s done!  Today is for going to the chiropractor so I don’t have to worry about back pain for the remainder of the week (I hope!)  getting some planting done outside, and turning over some flower/vegetable beds so the wife can plant things that should have been in the ground a couple weeks ago.  Sometimes you have to get the one with muscles to do the bull work, even though I’ve been tinkering with the Troy-Bilt rototiller over the last week or so.  Some things are even beyond a 40 yr old bit of machinery.  So I’ll break out the garden fork and get cracking on that when I get home.  Then it’s back inside to wage war on the piles of stuff I should have done back over the weekend.  Wish me luck!

I’m going to probably need it.  Packing I won’t do until either tonight or tomorrow morning.  At least I have my list started!

The Second Battle of Antietam (Part I)

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Dunker church at Antietam, cannons in the foreground.

One would think a trip to a National Park would be simple. Over the last 2 days, nothing could be further from the truth. In retrospect, it all turned out (mostly) for the best, but it certainly seemed as if it could go either way at several junctures along the way.

Our initial plan of attack was formulated several weeks ago when we were deciding what to do with this vacation time that needed to be used. My wife had suggested either Delaware or somewhere else ‘close to home’, basically something that could be driven to on about 4-6 hours. Any further and it would involve a little more planning (and luggage) as it was we were starting to test the abilities of the SUV we have to carry all that we were going to be taking.

Being interested in the American Civil War period, I suggested Antietam, in Sharpsburg, MD. We had visited Gettysburg, PA in 2007, and had a really good time there. Visited the battlefield on our own, and even contracted with the park for an official battlefield guide (HIGHLY recommend this option for anyone going there, you get a much better understanding of the event, as well as a knowledgeable guide for a modest fee) to give us a 3 hour tour of the area and the battle itself. We ended up with an amazing guide, he was a US Army veteran, recently returned from Iraq and had a very keen understanding of military tactics both from a 19th century as well as a 21st century POV.

Quite coincidentally, my wife had visited the battlefield when she was very young with her parents. Her Dad was a Bird Colonel in the US Air Force and they used to travel by plane on their family vacations. There are many times I wished I could have been around to see how her father would have interpreted different military scenarios. Having not served in the military myself, but having secondary education, I have my own viewpoints based on history. He lived and served during WWII, so he would have had a more personalized viewpoint. We never ended up having that sort of conversation, considering he died before the turn of the century.

Getting back to the story here, my apologies for getting off on tangents, just one of my many foibles. Having decided on where to go, we needed a place to stay. Now my wife and I both shop for many things online, and we comparison shop for things like hotel rooms as well as combing relevant websites that might have reviews that others miss. Between the two of us, we narrowed down the options to 2 chains, both in the Hagerstown area, which is about 12-15 miles from Sharpsburg. Anything closer and we’d end up trying to stay at a bed and breakfast. My wife and I would be considered ‘considerable’, so you don’t want to see the two of us trying to fit into a full-size bed. Or even a Queen. We’ve tried it before with less than desirable results. Suffice it to say, we’re better off in a hotel, where we can choose from viable options and at least in some way have a say, or at least a bit of control on how we’re going to be sleeping, eating, etc.

The one we finally chose had good ratings, decent reviews and had 2 more items on our respective checklists. My wife likes to stay at places that have either a pool, a jacuzzi/hot tub or (preferably) both. With the one we ultimately settled on, it had a King suite with a Jacuzzi in the room and an indoor pool (also a microwave and fridge in the room). What the reviews and other information failed to mention was, the hotel was undergoing considerable upgrades and construction, but I’ll address that in a bit. We both have AAA and AARP memberships so on a normally $250 a night room, we ended up spending a little more than $89/night. Pretty damn good on the surface.

[Unfortunately, it’s getting late and I need to be driving tomorrow in snow and rain, so I will continue this when I get back home…or at breakfast, depending on time constraints…..]