A Stocked Market

A hotel bizspouse introduced me to a new market today. Wow–it has colorful and unusual fruits and vegetables, seafood that includes lots of fins and eyes and a wine selection that goes on for days.

I was surprised by the large deli and several attentive men offering to provide samples of the wide variety of choice meats and cheeses. There were breads galore and many grains and dried nuts and fruits in homespun cellophane packaging.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to try fruits and veggies that I have not been accustomed to eating and eggplant would be one of them. Ruining a great pasta dish with a poor pasta substitute like eggplant just seems wrong to me. This one looked more user friendly and indeed it was. After a few days of enjoying the flying penguin look, I sliced it thin and roasted it with olive oil and garlic and mmmmm crunchy little fried like morsels appeared on the cookie sheet. This market has peppers of every color, size and description! They were plentiful and they were CHEAP!

So thank you Mrs.Bizspouse from Alabama for showing me yet another interesting local find. Adventures come in large AND small packages.  There are so many reasons to embrace being on the road and a penguin eggplant is just another one of them!

Is it just me or does this little eggplant resemble a flying penguin?


Standing on the Rock

Everything in Rockford, Illinois has something to do with a rock…there’s the Rock River, Rock Cut Park, Rock Valley College, Rockford College. Rock River Times.  Then up the road is Rockton and Roscoe (switch the S and C sounds and you have rock again).

There are also some noteworthy people from this rocky place. Jodi Benson from Toy Story 3 and the voice of the Little Mermaid is from Rockford. And how about Shawn Wade the bass player for the band, “12 Stones (little rocks).  There is also the well known author John Ortberg, and the female astronaut, Janice Voss, who left the solid rock of earth to go into space. There is Chad Knaus too, the crew chief for that NASCAR rock, Jimmie Johnson. I guess my personal favorite rock reference for the city though would be Rick Nielsen, the lead guitarist for the ROCK band Cheap Trick. So by now, even though there are more, you are likely weary of my rock references so I will move on.

I will move on to the main Rock. The true Rock that I stand on and that is Christ. I know that I couldn’t have gone through some of the events and challenges in my life if I had not had the Lord and His word to stand on and lean on in those tough times. Now traveling along the road and being away from the people, the town and buildings and streets that are familiar and comforting to me for an extended length of time, I rely on the comfort and strength that will never leave me.

I don’t know what lies ahead with our next work project, just as you don’t know what lies ahead with your life. Our circumstances can change in an instant. I literally rest at night assured that God is in my corner and He’s watching out for me. So whatever lies ahead in Rockford or wherever, I say “Rock On!”

What do you mean, we’re staying?

Picture this. You leave your home and drive 1,000 miles across the country to do a 3-4 month work assignment. You leave in December and take all of the belongings you think you will need to have for that length of time.

Loaded up the car and headed west!

You include meds, kitchen items, favorite security blanket type trinkits, your technical equipment to sustain you for a few months away.

Then it happens! The work project goes longer, there were unforeseen delays, the management staff voted to keep YOU on and send the other extra personnel home. And here you are a really long way from home and the calendar has turned over too many pages and you need flip flops instead of snow shoes!!!  YIKES

Here are some remedies for that.  Even if you are sure that your project will end before bathing suit season, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. The Boy Scouts didn’t coin that phrase for nothing you know. Get a big box or two or three and pack that bathing suit, shorts, sandals, short sleeved dress shirts, summer p.js etc.  Pack them up without the address, unless you already have it available. Give the boxes to someone at home. Then in the unlikely event that you stay longer, that person can mail them to you. If you have limited space, you can mail back some of the winter clothes or donate them to a local charity or thrift store.

Now I sure wish I had thought of that BEFORE we left home. As the days grow warmer in northern Illinois I can say,  “Gee honey, I have nothing to wear!” and this time I really MEAN it!

Springtime in the Rockies.

The Mill at Midway Village

Everything in Rockford, Illinois has something to do with a rock…there’s the Rock River, Rock Cut Park, Rock Valley College, Rockford College. Rock River Times.  Then up the road is Rockton and Roscoe (switch the S and C sounds and you have rock again)

The locals are friendly, the scenery is great. Rockford in the spring is a nice place to be.  We have certainly enjoyed our time here so I say “Rock On!”

It’s A Wonderful Life

Being on the road for an extended time can be a wonderful life if you are with someone you really enjoy spending time with. However, your good habits can go down hill and your bad habits can really pick up speed.  There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you probably have more free time on your hands. Face it, you love not having to vacuum, clean the pool or mow your grass.  You have someone at home taking care of your house. You are enjoying the hotel benefit of “free” housekeeping, sheet washing, toilet paper roll rehanging right?  So that leaves a lot more time for you to stay in bed, watch a ton of television and likely questionable shows that others’ in your family may not approve of, if they were with you.

Being lazy is probably a default characteristic of most of us.  I know there are some overachievers out there but they aren’t likely to be reading this blog because they don’t spend excessive amounts of time on the computer. They are out jogging their five miles before their 25 push ups then early to bed.  So back to being lazy,  a hotel room is just screaming for leisure due to the fact that the focal point of the room is A BED! and because all of your life a hotel room means VACATION! What do we do on vacation? We get lazy and we eat too much. So if knowledge is power, just knowing that you will have this tendency is a great way to guard against it. Set some goals, use a timer for being on the computer, set your alarm (for a bit later) even on weekends to keep you from letting the sedentary you creep in.

You want to be fit and healthy for your family when you get back home. So make a plan to swim some laps, get out and see the local sights, take up a new hobby, meet some local people and then stick to it! You want to have “A wonderful life” at home as well as on the road.

Sleeping double in a single bed.

You may be too young to remember the Barbara Mandrell song that was the inspiration for my catchy title. Okay so the hotel life isn’t quite THAT bad. We don’t have a single bed but if you are used to a king sized bed, you may find that a measly ol’ queen bed feels like a single bed.

When you are making your arrangements to have a lengthy stay on the road, accommodations can be quite tricky.  You may be a novice at it like we were or you may be boxed into what hotel your company has booked for you. If you have any control over the situation you will want to weigh the pros and cons of what is important to you. Keeping in mind cost, proximity to work location, smoking v. nonsmoking, full kitchen or just regular hotel fridge and microwave etc. Being aware of your priorities is vital.  If you simply must have a king sized bed then you want to find an extended stay hotel to accommodate that.

One of my favorite quotes is “Knowledge is power”. (Francis Bacon) If you know what lies ahead, you’d be surprised at what amenities from home you can take with you that will make your stay more comfortable.  So sleeping single OR double, getting those zzzzzs makes for a happy worker.

I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express Last Night

But I DO feel smarter anyway. I always thought those commercials were great. I haven’t seen any lately but the idea is that if you are smart enough to stay in one of their hotels, you feel smart enough to be a brain surgeon or lion tamer.

We have learned many things while doing this traveling and working routine.  How to choose the hotel for a long term stay is one of them. Extended Stay hotels offer a full kitchen and that is a real benefit so that you can prepare your own food if you desire. Even if you like eating out, it gets tiresome and expensive. If you like quiet, as in, no kids or dogs jumping on your ceiling at all hours of the day and night, you will want to be on the top floor of the hotel. There is less traffic on the top floor because some people have fire phobias and don’t want to think about jumping out the window and some people want to be close to the ground floor for the convenience of access and less stairs. We have found this to be to our advantage because we LIKE taking the several flights of  stairs for extra exercise. The elevator is always an option but if you have a room near the stairwell, you can park near that door and just plan on using the stairs and eliminate waiting for an elevator.

If you don’t like dogs or don’t want to hear them barking, choose a hotel that does not allow pets and that problem is solved. We have not found this to be an issue unless the owner leaves the dog. They are usually happy as long as the owner is with them.  If you are not a smoker, keep in mind that many hotels now are completely non smoking so if YOUR hotel permits some smoking, that draws extra smokers to your particular location.

The obvious point of proximity to the workplace and shopping is a must. It’s important to balance out the two needs. If you get a hotel very close to the office to keep driving to a minimum but your bizspouse must drive 10 miles to buy groceries, then that is not a wise choice for your hotel. Often the recruiting company has negotiated better pricing for the accommodations for their hires. If that has not been mentioned, be sure to ask. Since hotels typically have to add the “tourist tax” onto your bill, if you stay for 30 consecutive days or more then the tax is removed from your bill. You are considered to be a permanent resident and not required to pay the Hotel Occupancy Tax.  This really adds up at 12-18% depending on the state.

So you may not be a brain surgeon or a lion tamer but you too, can be smart about your hotel choice even if it isn’t a Holiday Inn Express. A little research can go a long way toward providing a comfortable stay while on the road. Happy Traveling!

Bizspouse on the road!