Parasailing is not for wimps

As I travel around the country and make lots of friends, I hear lots of stories. This para- sailing story could be mine except that I’m not foolish enough to get up that high in the first place. Let’s call this gal Jen. She is not the super adventurous type but off for the weekend with her sweetheart near the end of summer, it seemed that something a bit out of the ordinary was in order. So off they go into the boat with several older and more nervous folks, feeling confident and carefree, happy to face the challenge. Their boat mates saw their enthusiasm and insisted that they go first. So Jen and Mike were soon foisted off into the quiet blue skies above the gulf.

It was very quiet up so high above the water and peaceful and tranquil. But the lack of noise and activity provided opportunity for uh thinking….pondering…..pondering things like looking at your mate and realizing that there is very little holding him onto those straps. Jen realized that her straps looked just the same, just a paper clip looking device held them together. “But hey Mike, if the strap came unhooked or something we wouldn’t  fall right….. because the parachute would still be on us right?”  Mike reminds her that the parachute would fly off without the straps and that a fast track down to the water would be deadly and “oh look Jen, there are stingrays!”  “AAccckkkkk!”

So what began as a fun and scenic adventure soon became the “I’m not going to panic challenge”. Now Mike didn’t mean to scare his bride. He wasn’t trying to be dramatic. He was just being honest, thrilled to be out with nature and away from the office and meanwhile enjoying the scene and ambiance of viewing the lovely blue water, the breeze in his face and glimpses of sea life.

So Jen had to conclude that her next water adventure needed to be closer to the surface of that water on perhaps a jet ski. After all, the best part of the para sailing was when the parachute brought them down within spitting distance of the water.  A loud and fast motor craft that stirred up enough spray to prevent seeing what lay beneath, sounded like a better way to spend an afternoon with her husband.

What was a few moments of terror for Jen became a hysterically funny story as she related it to me. Ah sometimes the best adventure is the telling of it.


Survival List for Extended Stays, Part two

My Survival Guide was getting rather lengthy so I divided it into two blog posts. This is  part two.

The fourth item on the survival list is a travel size spray bottle of disinfectant. Even if your room has been sanitized by housekeeping, having your own disinfectant for light switches, toilet handles, shower heads, TV remotes, desk phones and other areas that may be overlooked by housekeeping will give you peace of mind. This is especially important during cold and flu season.

The fifth item is for the car. If your windows aren’t tinted dark enough or you tend to be the driver or passenger that seems to draw the SUN side of the car straw on each and every trip, you will love this one. (this could also be used on a room window)  Go to the baby department of any big box store and look for the “White Hot Cling Shade” by Munchkin. It is cheap, can be cut into smaller pieces with simple scissors, needs no hardware of any kind. It doesn’t have Spiderman or Winnie the Pooh on it so don’t worry about that.  It is simply a “cling” that sticks to your window. It is worth its weight in gold. You can cut them in smaller pieces and even double them for extra sun protection. By cutting them into smaller sizes you can improve visibility for the driver by not covering a large portion of the window at any one time. I really wish I had discovered these years ago!

The next item is a small alarm clock about 3 1/2 inches long and 3 inches deep. It’s made by Sharp.  That may not seem like a great find to you but I don’t like to have a clock with big green or red letters shining in my face all night. I found a small battery operated digital clock that only lights up when you engage the button on the top! You can have this right by your face on the nightstand and it only works when you need it too. It is very portable so it easily goes with you wherever you go. The added benefit is that during daylight hours it provides an additional clock in your room since most hotels don’t have wall clocks.

The last but not least survival item is ear plugs. I have tried several types and the ones that work the best for me are “Hearos”. They are cheap and most big box stores sell them. They don’t help with the vibrating thuds of doors slamming but they are great for voice and music sounds. They can mean the difference between some sleep and no sleep at all.

“Survival” sounds like a pretty dismal word but when your world has been altered and life as you used to know it is gone for the time being, just having a few items in your “tool box” can make your stay more comfortable and that can be VERY beneficial.

Survival List for Extended Stays, Part one.

There are a few things that are invaluable when you are going to be out of your home for an extended period of time. This applies whether you are going on a long cruise, staying with relatives or enjoying a timeshare or hotel.

The first must have is a collapsible stool. These can be purchased various places like the  Bed, Bath and Beyond stores. They are small, take up little space but can be used for many many purposes (hanging darkening curtain, sitting on to put away items in low cabinets, as a small table for drinks, storing things in high cabinet or closet shelf, as a footstool for short legged folks).

The second must have, is a roll of black electrical tape that can be purchased for under $2 and is worth its weight in (black) gold. It can be used to blot out those annoying LEDs that can add to your sleepless nights. Place a small piece over the green, red or blinking lights that come from electronic devices, smoke detectors and even the microwave oven. It can also be placed around cracks in a exit door that lets in too much security lighting. It goes on easily and comes off just as well, leaving no sticky residue.

The third item that is very helpful is Command removable hooks. They truly do live up to their advertising. They go on with little trouble and pull off by slowly pulling the tab at the bottom. The hooks can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used to hang a blanket, curtain, or comforter over an entry door that lets in too much light or smoke. This can also be a barrier against noise in the hallway or adjacent rooms. They can be used too for extra storage to hang caps, scarves, towels etc.

Being away from your usual comfortable or even NOT so comfortable surroundings can take a toll on your psyche. Humans tend to be creatures of habit, well creatures tend to be creatures of habit too but that’s another blog entry. One of the things I miss the most about living in a hotel is the lack of television options. The list of cable channels available to a spoiled TV watcher are quite limited. The schedule of the television shows that are acceptable do not often coincide with a convenient time to watch them. Satellite TV is not available nor even an option at one’s personal expense as an add on feature (benefit) to hotel residency.

But VOILA! There is a way to have your personal DVR “channeled” to your hotel room. Now I wouldn’t exactly categorize this as a survival item but it definitely has value for the long term visit. Check this out……–Will-Travel/

I’m going to try this. It’s cheaper than a plane ticket to fly home and catch up on your favorite shows. Stay tuned for the second part of the Survival Guide for extended stays. Be sure to forward this blog to anyone you know who may need it! I sure wish I had had this information available when I was packing.

A true Bread Harvest

There is probably no other food on earth that is eaten more than bread. Whether it is tortillas or pitas or just good ol’ American Wonder Bread, bread is a daily staple in most diets. So there is bread and then there is GREAT HARVEST BREAD COMPANY!

I had only been in Rockford for a couple weeks before someone told me about this wonderful place and drew me a map of how to get there. I didn’t get to go right away because….well good bread can be purchased at any high end grocery store and besides I had already found Panera. Then a friend from Florida who lives here half the year picked me up at my hotel and took me on a tour of the city. The second place she took me was to the Great Harvest Bread Company. We looked in the window as she described the amazing fragrances and delicacies that awaited me TOMORROW because we were there on Monday and the place was closed. So I tucked it away for another time but did not go back.

Then I reconnected with Weight Watchers in Rockford and the desire to seek out a luscious high points+ food item was no longer with me. But after a few months my attention was once again brought to the Great Harvest Bread store. I finally succumbed and stopped by and oh my! It is unlike any other bakery or bread place I’ve ever visited. They have real “bakers” who mix and knead the bread by hand and you can stand and watch them.They use interesting wholesome ingredients and bake each item with pride. The staff greets you with a warm smile…….

The breads shown here are for sampling!!!

and an offer of a sample of one of the delicious mouth watering jewels that was baked just an hour or so ago. There is a large bowl of real butter and a knife just begging to be spread on the fresh delicacy. Oh and when I say “sample” I really mean a nice generous HUNK of yumminess to try.

If you ever get to Rockford, Illinois and it’s not a Monday, you must do yourself the favor of visiting the Great Harvest Bread Company on North Alpine Road. Your view of bread will never be the same!

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!

Traveling Nurses

There are many occupations that travel around the country. Nurses have taken advantage of this way of life for many years. Often in these cases, it is the husband who is the biz spouse. I actually know of two couples who have done this routinely. One couple travels full time in a travel trailer and the other couple does the “snow bird” nursing. They travel to Florida in the winter where the need is greater due to the migration of so many to to the south and warmer climates. They go home then to Minnesota in the summer, where the need is again greater there. It’s a great way to see the country. Life is short so see what you can BEFORE you retire. Here is a website that answers many of the questions you may have about contract nursing opportunities.

So Let’s Talk About Packing

Just the word “packing” makes my blood pressure go up.  I always seem to forget the obvious thing that I need for any trip.  Like the trek into Chicago yesterday where I forgot the $7 city map I bought that folds easily and can be written on and wiped off. But I digress….. think of your packing in categories and buy some large sized rubbermaid totes. Make 2 labels for each one. Tape one label on the top and one on the side for easy reading. Label one clothes, one kitchen, miscellaneous, bathroom and office. As you start to think of things that you don’t want to forget, you can toss them in the totes that are stacked somewhere out of the way. This will alleviate some of the midnight insomnia. Once you reach your destination and unpack, these totes can be placed in the trunk or rear of your vehicle for storage since they are lightweight and heat nor cold will ruin them.

As you are deciding what to take, look around your kitchen and think of what items you use every 2 or 3 days.  Those are the items you definitely want to take with you.  Items that are more costly like a blender are more important to remember than scotch tape or potholders. Then do the same with your bathroom, bedroom and office and desk area.

Remember everyday items other than clothes. With the exception of items that cost under $10 (such as corkscrews and nail clippers) you don’t want to be stuck for five months without your doctor’s prescription for your nervous stomach. Your insurance may not allow you to go to a doctor at your destination (without penalty) and it could be problematic to get another prescription. Make sure you bring enough pills along to last the five months. Bring your favorite book, journal, and a couple of DVDs. Don’t forget your laptop, especially if you are a writer or are the chatty e-mail type. If you won’t miss it, don’t bring it, of course. Items such as a favorite pillow or stuffed animal are not to be dismissed. When far from home, a familiar scent on a pillow and the way it folds between your arms can ease anxiety during travel.

Read more: How to Pack for a Five-Month Trip |