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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Dear New Airbnb Hosts:

Welcome to the club! It’s a good way to make some money, and the Airbnb platform usually makes life easy. Sometimes the guests don’t, though.

I advise you to set clear house rules. Here are mine:

Even then, I’ve had people leave:

  • Frat-party levels of empties.
  • Multiple bags of trash even though the chute is right outside the door.
  • A weave.
  • Dirty underpants.
  • A burn mark on the bathroom mirror.
  • The balcony door open with A/C, fans and lights on.
  • Bleach stains on the towels.
  • A pile of wet towels in the bedroom closet.
  • Balcony furniture in the bedroom.
  • Something orange and sticky on every surface.
  • Cigarette stench that required days of airing out and a trip to CVS for three styles of air freshener.

Someone also left an unopened package of bacon, which did not upset me at all.

One thing I didn’t realize when I first became a host is that guests can be dumb. Really dumb. Like how-can-they-live-their-lives dumb.

Take, for example, the woman who is in our place now. She called me at 10 last night because she couldn’t figure out how to turn on the light in the bedroom.

I had no idea of the rarity of an overhead fan with a remote control that features a lightbulb icon.

馃檮

But there is a different woman who has the honor of being the dumbest person so far.

Here is the full exchange (I didn’t leave anything out, except part of the map I sent):

She needs one of Bill Engvall’s signs. Right? Or am I just being mean?

Anyway.

Now you know better what you are getting yourself into as a host.

Good luck!
Beth

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Dear Folks Who Are Wondering What It’s Like To Go To A Theme Park That Just Reopened:

It’s weird. Every bit of it is weird.

As indicated in my last post, we took Eddie to Six Flags for Father’s Day. “We” meaning “Gideon and I” because Dominic didn’t get off work.

馃檮

Anyway, I had to make a reservation for us to go. That’s new.

Also new:

路 Hand-washing stations outside the entrance

路 Temperature scans on the way in (not sure that helps if people are asymptomatic, but ok)

路 The requirement for everyone to wear a mask at all times

路 Social distancing in the queue

路 Social distancing on the rides themselves

路 Having to scream/laugh through a mask (but that might just be my problem)

路 Hand sanitizer everywhere

So yeah, plenty of changes.

There are some things that haven’t changed:

路 Crappy attitudes of the teenaged staff

路 Skin-boiling heat with no shade in sight

路 Unappetizing food such as a burger with the bun literally dripping butter

路 The potential for ride malfunction

Here are the mechanics working on the ride we just exited — the one we were stuck on for 15 minutes.

So it was different, but not so much so that I would stay away. We have to get our membership money’s worth!

Yours in thrills,
Beth

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Dear Vogel State Park Employees:

My son and I needed to get some fresh air, so we booked one of your efficiency cabins for two nights.

The reservation process was easy.

Getting into the actual cabin was not.

We stopped at the visitors center to check in. It was locked, but there were two signs on the door.

I called both numbers and had to leave messages. Messages!

I opened the app. Checked my reservation. Yep: Everything was in order.

We went to the cabin. Saw this:

Great idea, if only the code came with the confirmation email.

It did not.

Me to Gideon: Well, it’s 3:30, and check in is at 4. Maybe I’ll get the code when I check in on the app then.
Gideon (skeptically): Maybe.

We went to the store to buy supplies. At 4, I checked in on the app.

Checked in — great! No door code — not great.

The beleaguered old man at the front gate when we returned was no help.

Just keep calling! You’re not the only one trying to check in.

We went back to the visitors center. Called the numbers. Left two more messages.

I was about to go FULL KAREN.

Suddenly, I see a Georgia State Parks official truck whizz by.

Gideon: Mama! Look!
Me: I see it!

I take off in hot pursuit. And by “hot pursuit,” I mean 20 mph. The speed limit is 15.

The truck stops at the boathouse. A harassed woman gets out. Looks at me in surprise as I pull up behind her.

Me: We’re trying to get into our cottage and have been calling the numbers.
Her: No one has time to answer the phone.
Me: So how do we get in?
Her: Knock on the back door of the visitors center.
Me (gaping in shock): Ok. Thanks.
Her: And slow down!

Back at the visitors center, we go around back. It’s clear that members of the public are not supposed to be back there.

Gideon knocks. We hear scuffling. The door opens a crack. A youngish blonde woman peers out like this is a damn speakeasy!

Center dweller: Yes?
Me: We would like to check into our cabin.
Her: One moment. (Shuts door.)

In a couple of minutes, she returns with a code written on a sticky note.

Me: Thank you. We’ve been trying to call.
Her: Yeah, we’re not answering the phone. We’re doing inventory.

Inventory! WHY? When people are trying to check in?!

FFS.

Anyway.

The code works. The cottage is great. All is well.

The lake and grounds are beautiful. But your check-in process sucks.

Please get it together.

Thank you,
Beth, a Georgia resident and state park consumer

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Dear Royal Caribbean,

The travel industry has been hit hard. I don’t have to tell you that, as cruise companies such as yourself have experienced catastrophic losses.

So I would think you would be upping your customer service game.

I’d be wrong. Clearly.

You still suck.

After the first time we traveled with you, I vowed it would be the last.

But sometimes you have to go along with the group, and my group decided to give you another go.

We were supposed to go in June, but PANDEMIC. So we got a credit toward a future cruise.

On Tuesday, the group bat signal went up that it was TIME TO BOOK said cruise.

It is fairly easy to book a cruise (i.e., spend money) on your site.

You know what is not easy to do? ANYTHING ELSE.

  • Link reservations with the others in the group? No. I have to call.
  • See my credit? Nope. Call.
  • Use my credit? Hell no. Call.

Sigh.

So I called, and got the very snippy Miguel. Here’s how part of the conversation went down:

Me: I’d like to use the credit from my cancelled cruise.
Miguel: I see that you spoke to a representative March 9 and were promised a credit.
Me: Yes.
Miguel: You want to use that credit toward the cruise you just booked.
Me: Yes.
Miguel: That credit has not been processed yet.
Me: Not processed? It’s been two months.
Miguel: Yes. I see that you called March 9. May I put you on a brief hold?
(Brief hold commences. Miguel returns.)
Miguel: You will receive an email next week with a confirmation code for the credit. You will then need to call back to ask to have the credit applied.
Me: So let me get this straight: I had to call to cancel to get a credit. Then call to get the credit processed. Then I have to CALL once I receive an EMAIL that my credit is ready so that I can have my credit applied.
Miguel: Yes.
Me: You know that’s insane, right?
Miguel (at his snippy summit): This is our process.

The next step is to link reservations so that we can all sit together at dinner. Miguel is aghast that I would want something else from him. He informs me that both Sophia and Petra have to put in their reservation notes that they want to link with me, and I have to do the same.

MY GOD.

I text both Sophia and Petra about this situation. We are the ones in our families who HANDLE THINGS. So we are handling things like the Tracy Flicks we are. All three of us are on the phone independently with you, Royal Caribbean. It is NO WONDER the wait time to speak to a representative is so long.

Sophia goes FULL KAREN and asks to speak to a manager. I’m so glad she did.

Sophia’s method was so effective that I actually got a confirmation from her, Sophia, via text. Not from you, RC.

Ignore my dark humor. It’s how I cope.

Unbelievable.

So. We will see you in December, COVID willing. But I know I’ll be on the phone with you sooner.

And you know how much I love talking on the phone (sarcasm alert).

Hoping you see my point,
Beth

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Dear Self-isolating Friends and Family,

What a time to be alive! It is unprecedented weirdness. I don’t know about you, but some aspects of life are totally normal (my boys fighting) and some are totally bizarre (no toilet paper or cleaning products in stores).

I received the email below. Ordinarily, that would send me into a tailspin. You know how I love my Biddy Boot Camp.

But you also know that I am an optimistic person. So here I am looking on the bright side:

1. Atlanta traffic has been reduced to early-1990s levels.

This is lunchtime on I-85 where it joins I-75. It’s usually a jam.

2. No line at The Varsity (no eating inside either, for better or worse).

3. No one is sneezing, coughing or sniffling in public. (I’m thrilled. I hate this. Pandemic and non-pandemic advice: If you are sick, STAY HOME.)

4. Family time (again, for better or worse). I’m not ready to kill the children. Yet.

5. Home cooking. Last night, I made Pommes Anna from a recipe by Chef Anne Burrell. (I watched “Worst Cooks in America” during my isolation this weekend.) It’s basically scalloped potatoes with a twist.

Yum!

6. The potential to watch shows on my (long) list of suggestions. Although I find myself rewatching “Schitt’s Creek” in preparation for Season 6.

7. No cancellation fees on the annual cruise we had to reschedule before Coronavirus came calling.

8. Faculty at my university are forced to try online learning. I’ve been singing this delivery method’s praises for years, but some of my colleagues have been reluctant. It’s not perfect, but it works. And it compels people to learn new things and be creative to improve the experience for themselves and for students.

9. The chance to do things that have been put off for way too long. We moved to a different place in the same neighborhood the weekend before everything started changing substantially. With the forced down time, we have unpacked everything, put up shelves, cleaned the place, etc. I also rewired our speaker system — something I needed to do since we moved back to Atlanta.

10. The constant reminder to WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS. I’m continually appalled by the number of people who do not wash their hands after going to the restroom. Gross!

Join me in optimism: Tell me about your silver lining.

Love and air kisses from at least six feet away,
Beth

 

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Dear Lottery God:

I still haven’t gotten a response to my May 2019 plea. I didn’t really expect one, but I DID hope.

Here’s the thing: What I really want are not material things.

Instead, I want experiences.

Like a blogger friend of mine (edyjournal), I’m not so concerned with status symbols. In fact, sometimes they come with more baggage than they are worth.

For example, I drove a BMW convertible for a while. I bought it used for $4K under the Blue Book value because the seller had already ordered a brand-new one for his kid as a replacement (!).

It was in great shape, and I take care of cars. That’s how my current car (a 2008 VW Eos) has managed to last and still look good.

Anyway, I got so sick of comments like this:

A BMW? Insert name of employer at the time must be paying you well!

[Eye roll]

It was a fantastic car, but I didn’t seek another BMW after it was totaled when I was broadsided at an intersection.

I feel myself growing apart from another friend whose job working with the 1 percent has her chasing the same Richie Rich tokens of success to keep up.

That’s not interesting to me.

You know what IS interesting to me?

Scream-laughing with my youngest on a roller coaster.

Watching people slam dance.

Day drinking in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios Orlando.

Edit: Having brunch and getting my hooves shaved down with a long-time friend.

When I travel nowadays, I tend not to come home with tokens. (I Marie Kondo-ed my life since moving to Atlanta.) I come home with consumables: snacks for the kids, chicken hoops for me (when I can find them), random condiments, etc.

I don’t add to my physical footprint (not even in weight as I’m still maintaining).

So I’m asking again, Lottery God: Please smile upon me. These experiences aren’t free.

Best wishes and warmest regards,
Beth

 

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Dear Highway Convenience Stores:

You are the great equalizer. You bring all travelers together, and do not discriminate.

Everyone will need to get gas.

Everyone will need to pee.

Everyone will need a snack.

Perhaps this:

I am addicted to Slim Jims, preferably the Tabasco-flavored ones. At Al’s Market in Forsyth, only a few original flavored remained.

Of course I picked up the empty boxes of the other flavors, and asked the cashier.

Me: Any more of these anywhere?
Her: They all got gone yesterday when everyone was traveling.

Ah yes. Everyone traveling over the holidays, including me. I drove back and forth to Savannah twice.

So I saw plenty in your environs.

Some things to brand me as the redneck I can be:

Some things to confuse me:

Who flushes part of the way and why?

Many things, actually.

I really am not that close with someone to make full use of this bathroom.

And some that annoy:

Should I also notify the cashier about missing punctuation?

Thank you for your existence, and for your capacity to amuse me.

Happy New Year!
Beth

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Dear McKinnons,

Every time we stay with you, we have something to laugh about. From Petra trying to fatten us up like Thanksgiving turkeys to Patrick disappearing in the middle of the conversation to go to Home Depot, it’s always an adventure.

On Thursday, I walked into your house with the family. Patrick took one look at me.

Him: What’s on your pants?
Me: Serial killers.
Him: Is that a band?
Me: No. Real serial killers. You know. Like Charles Manson.

(The leggings I mentioned in this post.)

This time, even Ryder and Mia gave us a laugh.

After I tagged along on the guys’ outing to see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” Friday (the bros and a bra), we discussed the finer points of some key deaths. (No spoilers.)

Ryder went back into the vault to describe Obi Wan’s death like this:

His towel dropped.

I laughed so hard, I was wheezing.

(Ryder then asked if he was going to make it into my blog finally. Yes, my young padawan.)

Mia, who has a competitive streak like her father, did not want said father to win the Uno game Friday.

She turned to me, sitting next to Pat as I always do.

Her: You got something for him?
Me: I do.

She plays a color she knows I have. I throw down a reverse. She wins the game. We high five, because she won and not Pat.

Evil. I love it.

Saturday, Petra and I were having a serious conversation about the deaths of our fathers and subsequent guilt.

Here comes Pat to vacuum right behind her.

Petra and I looked at each other. Shocked. Then started laughing because OF COURSE HE HAD TO DO THAT RIGHT THEN.

Then last night, we all played a Pictionary-like game called “Buzz Draw.”

Naturally, someone yells out “penis” if anything is remotely phallic. (Like there is ever going to be a penis prompt on a family game card.)

Gideon drew “winter.” He thought at first that no one got it.

Mia: I said ‘winter’ a long time ago!
Pat: But I yelled ‘penis’ at the same time.

Speaking of penis, your dog Angus took an unusual interest in me.

I feel like I need a restraining order. Counseling at the very least.

Here he is rubbing his slobbery toy all over me under the table.

It’s better than what he usually rubs on me. (Hint: See theme of the game above.)

Perv.

Anyway, thanks for letting us stay with you this weekend. And thanks especially for the laughs.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Brits:

Yes, I still love you. One of the things I like best, as you know, is your way with words.

While I was all up in your environs recently, I spent some time shopping. Let’s discuss what I found. It’s a little … odd.

“Cloudy” lemonade does not sound appetizing. Can you just stick with the standard noun?

Strong and punchy describes a boxer, not a cheese.

I appreciate that you are trying to get folks excited about the cheese, but I’m not sure I want “citrus hints” in my “zesty and crumbly” cheese.

This just sounds gross.

I get that the place is called “Moose Coffee,” but perhaps it would be best to remove the “moose” modifier for “flavoured & specialty teas” and “natural juice.” I don’t want moose-flavored anything, to be honest.

Now THIS is genius. It’s just a tremendous write-up. Good shout!

Thank you for all the joy you unwittingly provide.

Love and sloppy, wet and squirty American kisses,
Beth

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O Canada!

I’ve enjoyed my short time in your Ontario province’s capital city of Toronto. It’s like New York with nicer people.

For example, an elderly lady stopped me to tell me I have a great walk. (That’s a first.)

The food has been spectacular.

Just look at this noodle bowl full of hand-pulled noodles.

And before you suggest poutine, know this: I’ve tried poutine. I like poutine. I couldn’t find poutine in the restaurants in my hotel’s immediate vicinity. I’m still working on it!

I did find a moose, though.

On a break from my conference, I did do one important touristy thing: I went to the top of the CN Tower.

I love heights. I would have done the EdgeWalk, but I didn’t bring the right shoes. I did appreciate the glass floor.

But perhaps not as much as others.

Even if I hadn’t been wearing a dress, I’m not sure I would have rolled around on the floor like a baby on a play mat.

Anyway, I’ve had a great time. Thank you for your hospitality. Hope to see you again soon!

Yours,
Beth

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