Posts Tagged ‘2013’

LA New Orleans

View of New Orleans from My Hotel Room

Some wishes do come true!  In my last blog entry, I wished I could work in a warmer place, like Florida.  Well, it wasn’t Florida, but I did get to spend the following rotation in Louisiana and Mississippi.  On my first day in New Orleans, the temperature was in the 80’s.

The 80’s didn’t last very long, though.  Soon the temps were in the 40’s — but still that was much warmer than when I was in Ohio.  A couple of days after arriving, I drove an hour west of New Orleans, and when I called the office to check-in for work, I received the news I would need to drive to Tupelo, Mississippi to work on a down site the next morning.  So I drove eight more hours as a cold front moved in.  I would be driving into some severe weather.

I drove up to Jackson, Mississippi on the first leg of my trip.  My GPS tried keeping me on a northerly drive, before turning east toward Tupelo.  About then, I began hearing about severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches for some counties in Mississippi.  I didn’t know my Mississippi counties from Shinola, but I remembered how the weather folks on TV had said a line of storms could develop, so I decided to go east from Jackson, then drive north from Meriden (or was it Meridian?).  Anyway — good choice.  I found myself driving through some pretty heavy rain, coming into Tupelo, but nothing severe.  If I’d kept going north from Jackson, I would have driven into the severe storms, where several tornadoes actually did form.  I don’t think I’d have had much fun dodging the tornadoes.

Anyway, I spent a day and a half in Tupelo (Elvis Presley’s hometown, by the way), then received word about a down site in Gulfport, Mississippi.  I started for Gulfport that afternoon, but stopped and spent the night in Jackson.  That night, the cold weather had arrived.  I had frost all over the car.

Ha ha!  I was headed for the gulf coast!  Though I had frost on the car when I started, the temperature in Gulfport was in the 40’s when I arrived.  I got the down site running again and hung around until it closed at 3pm.  This was Christmas Eve, and the pharmacy was closing earlier than usual.  After talking with the office, I found out they wanted me to drive back to New Orleans.  I’d volunteered to work over Christmas, since I didn’t have a real reason to take time off, to let the other techs spend the holiday with their families.  I’d flown into New Orleans, and the office wanted me back there if I’d need to fly to a down site somewhere else in the country.

But wait, if you’ve read my other blog Roam If U Want 2, you may remember I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi 52 years ago.  We left Biloxi when I was about 6 months old, and I’d never been back.  Biloxi was only minutes away from Gulfport.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out the place.  I drove down the street where we lived, Reynoir Street.  I’d known for some time the house we’d lived in had been torn down, when I didn’t see it on Google Earth, but being on the street made me feel closer to my mom, dead now since 1970, knowing she’d walked on the sidewalks and maybe attended the Catholic church a few blocks away.

Reynoir St, Biloxi, MS

Reynoir St, Biloxi, MS

Our house stood somewhere on that vacant stretch, which is now a parking lot for a casino.

After visiting Biloxi, I drove back to New Orleans.  That evening, I had trail mix and Diet Pepsi for dinner because the restaurants around my hotel were closed (Christmas Eve) and I didn’t feel like exploring for restaurants farther out.  While sitting in my hotel room, I enjoyed watching the A Christmas Story marathon on TBS.  I had the movie on all night, even while I slept.

Theme

Christmas morning arrived, and I checked in with the office (we provide 24×7 customer support, 365 days a year).  No down sites, so I checked with the store I’d been at when I was rerouted to Tupelo.  They were open, so I drove to Thibodaux, Louisiana to perform preventive maintenance on their robot.  I started getting hungry around 1:30pm, which was when another minor adventure took place.  I drove back and forth, looking for an open restaurant.  Life imitated art, as the only restaurant open was a Chinese restaurant, just like in A Christmas Story.  After finishing work that day, I drove back to my hotel near the New Orleans airport and got ready to fly home the next morning.

The next day, the day after Christmas, I’d expected madness at the airports and crowded flights with grumpy passengers, but the airports seemed a little quieter than usual, people actually showed good manners and the planes weren’t packed full.  I had two flights and spent a whole day traveling, but the experience was almost pleasant!

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Cold

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Random Thoughts
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the cold winter

I spent my last rotation mostly in Ohio.  And it was cold.

I flew into Dayton, drove to Cincinnati and then to Columbus on day one — just ahead of a winter storm.

Woke up the next morning to snow and ice on the rental car, and no ice scraper.  I considered my options, and used a small dust pan I carry in my toolkit to scrape my windows. I worked in town and drove around to a few places before the snow started coming down again.  Somewhere, I lost one of my gloves, but since I had several pairs at home, I decided not to buy a pair.  I’d tough it out for the week.

The next day, I scraped a few inches off the car with my dust pan, regretting my decision about buying the gloves.  The cold wind on my fingers made them ache.  Tucking my ungloved hand into my pockets didn’t help much.  After work that afternoon, I bought a new pair.  But alas — the skin on my hands was already drying out and beginning to crack.  I’d been down that road before.  Even hand lotion wouldn’t stop the process before one or two fingers would be bleeding.

I worked another day in Columbus, then one in Lancaster where I finally bought a snow brush/ice scraper for the few inches that fell while I was in the pharmacy and to carry in my luggage for the rest of the winter.  I drove back to the Cincinnati area, where after working a couple of hours, was sent to a down site in Greenwood, Indiana.

To me, a lot of the pharmacies in which I work look so much alike, they blend in my memory.  But even though I didn’t remember Greenwood, I had the feeling I’d been there before.  Behind the pharmacy sat a restaurant called Roscoe’s Tacos, which seemed familiar.  After finishing work for the day, I stopped into Roscoe’s Tacos for dinner.  Instantly, I knew I’d been there before.  I tried the big sampler special.  The thing about Roscoe’s Tacos was the tacos were good, but they had about a half-dozen flavors of taco sauce.  Of course, I used the Smokin’ sauce.

Went back to the same pharmacy the next day, and back to Roscoe’s for lunch, and drove back to Florence Kentucky to finish up at the place I’d left the day before.  On this day, my sinuses began to burn and I started to develop a cough.

That evening, I had dinner at a restaurant called Mai Tai, which was mainly Thai, but also served Chinese and Japanese food.  The food was great!  I didn’t think much about my runny nose, assuming it was a result of the spicy food I’d eaten.

The next morning, I drove back to Dayton.  I was all plugged up, still with a runny nose and cough.  Luckily, things weren’t so bad I was a bad airplane passenger.  I’m hoping I did a good job keeping my germs to myself.  I still felt OK, otherwise.

That night, I went to a Stone Temple Pilots concert at a local casino.  Had a blast!  The lead-in band was called Not a Planet, and their lead singer seemed familiar.  I later found out he had been the music leader at my church.  It was instantly obvious, but I’d never had made the connection because one doesn’t expect the church guy to be tied with the Stone Temple Pilots.  I liked Not a Planet.  The Stone Temple Pilots is one of my favorite bands.  They have a new singer, and he did a great job.  After the concert, since I was in a casino, I decided to play some slots.  I’m used to losing money on the slots, but for a pleasant change I won a little.  Then I went home.

For the last four days, I’ve been getting over the cold I got in Ohio (I’m hoping I haven’t passed it on to my daughter).  And the cracks in my fingers have been healing.  I should be good to go for my next rotation starting tomorrow.  This time, I wouldn’t mind working in Florida….

Cold

Wichita

So, the first half of my rotation started with me driving down to Wichita in my car to perform preventive maintenance at the two sites I’d almost gone to last month before going to work in the Oklahoma prison site.  A good mileage trip.  I worked at two pharmacies.  I stayed two nights at the downtown Holiday Inn.  But most importantly, I ate at two good local restaurants — a diner and a barbecue joint.

The diner was across from my hotel, called the Doo-Dah Diner.  One thinks of the song Camptown Races when you think of the diner’s name, but a sign inside the diner says Doo-Dah was an actual nickname for Wichita, once upon a time.  I had the breakfast burrito.  Most places fill their burritos with potatoes and scrimp on the good stuff, like meat and eggs.  Doo-Dah’s burrito was full of meat and eggs, light on the starchy filler, and delightfully swimming in cheese and green chili.

The barbecue place was in an industrial, run-down area of the city.  It was called “Pig In! Pig Out!”  I’ll refer to it as PIPO.  At PIPO, you walk in and order your food at the counter, wait for it, then go pick your table.  The restaurant was light on amenities, but a couple of things made up for that.  First, I was entertained, looking at all the flyers for BBQ competitions in which PIPO had competed and the prizes they’d won.  The barbecue was pretty darned good!  In addition, I was entertained by a couple of local blues musicians playing at a table near mine.  They stamped the restaurant with authenticity.

After finishing my second site on Saturday, I was told to drive home; I was needed in Virginia on Monday morning.  I spent the night at home, then flew to Norfolk on Sunday.

norfolk-virginia

I’ve been to Norfolk a few times in my life, but I’m not really familiar with the place.  The first time I was ever there, I was in college, participating in my senior-year midshipman cruise during Christmas break.  I stayed aboard the USS Edenton, then, at the Little Creek Amphibious Base.  My work assignment last rotation had me returning to Little Creek for the first time in almost 30 years.  I didn’t recognize anything there.  I stayed at the Holiday Inn.  But most importantly, I had dinner at an Indian-food restaurant at a nearby mall, called Nawab.  I ordered my chicken tikka masala “Indian” spicy, as the waitress called it.  The food was very good, so I was very surprised that while I was there from 5 to 6, I was the only person eating in the restaurant (there were a couple of folks who’d come in for take-out).

 

suffolk_va

 

Then, I drove to Suffolk to complete preventive maintenance at a grocery store pharmacy.  I stayed at the Holiday Inn express.  But most importantly, I ate at a Japanese Restaurant next door, called Iron Chef.  I sometimes wish every foreign-food restaurant were a buffet, because at most places, I know what I like when I see it but I don’t know what it’s called.  Authentic Japanese food is the same for me.  I’ve happily eaten plenty of it, but I’ve forgotten what to call my favorites.  So, at Iron Chef I ordered a box dinner full of unfamiliar-sounding foods, having faith I would joyfully gobble them up.  And I did!  I added the seaweed salad, which is a new favorite of mine, but the rest of the box was new to me and very much to my liking.

That night, I stayed again at the Holiday Inn Express.  Because my normal travel-home day is Thursday, and Thursday was Thanksgiving, I was able to travel on Wednesday instead.  I expected the day before Thanksgiving to be a very busy travel day, yet both my flights had plenty of empty seats.  I had an entire row of seats to myself on both flights, something to be very thankful for….

 

dinosaur-bbq

I ate at this place three nights in a row — but I’ll get to that later.

In an earlier post, I wrote about my trials and travesties flying to Philadelphia, where I began my last rotation.  On day 2, I drove from Philly to Pine Grove, in the Berkshires.  Many trees were bare, but many were still beautifully orange.  From there, I moved eastward to Reading, then to Easton, then to Hackettstown, New Jersey.

In that area of the country, I tend to eat dinner at diners and local restaurants, and that’s what I did this rotation.  In Philly I ate at a restaurant next to my hotel called the Deck.  If anyone has seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you know who Dee Reynolds is.  The waitress at the Deck looked just like her.  Considering I was in Philly, I couldn’t help wondering if the character might be based on her.  The next few nights, I ate at two “family” restaurants and a steak house called the Hitching Post.  Normally I would have expected the Hitching Post steak house to have a western theme, but the cast-iron horse-shaped hitching post outside clued me in that this place would be a little more colonial in nature.  Sure enough, the interior was upscale, a jazz band played in the bar and the menu though meat-centric seemed more European than western.  And, I ate at a local Japanese restaurant so authentic it reminded me of the places I ate in when I lived in Japan and Okinawa.

Then there was the place in the picture above….  Dinosaur BBQ, in Brooklyn, NY.  I spent the last half of my rotation working at a site in Brooklyn and stayed at a hotel across the street from Dino BBQ.  As I mentioned above, I ate there three nights in a row.  In Kansas City and across the southern US, I’ve grown used to certain spices on barbecue and the sides that come with it.  Dinosaur BBQ, though it smoked the meats like the rest of the country, the restaurant topped the meats with relishes and sauces featuring different spices seeming more Caribbean.  Even the sides contained different spices.  I liked it (obviously)!  If I hadn’t, I’d have sought out other places to eat rather than returning twice to try more items from the menu.  So, if you’re ever in Brooklyn, check out Dinosaur BBQ.

On the last night of my rotation, I returned to Philadelphia, to catch a flight the following morning.  I ate at the Deck again, and Dee Reynolds was working there again.  She was a nice woman, and a lot more grounded than the TV show character.  By the way, the food there was awesome and not too expensive.  I got to eat crisp steamed asparagus spears both times I was there!

Then there was my airline experience….  my first leg left on time, and was a pleasant flight (I had a row of seats all to myself).  I had a small layover in Detroit, or so I thought.  About 15 minutes before my flight was to leave, the gate agent announced our pilot hadn’t yet shown up to fly the plane, so our flight was delayed.  A half-hour later, the pilot still hadn’t shown up.  This time, the copilot announced the flight would be delayed again.  But good news!  A new pilot had been located and he was on his way.  The copilot made a point to say this new pilot was a friend of his and he WASN’T the pilot who hadn’t shown up.  I know he said that because he didn’t want his buddy to get scowls and angry words when he showed up at the gate.  Well, aside from having the flight delay, I had another row to myself, so it was a good flight.

Soup Nazi

Unsatisfying, Part 2

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Random Thoughts
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Gromit

 

So, I settled into my seat on the plane to Chicago, and amazingly had the row to myself when the cabin doors were closed.  I closed my eyes for a nap, since I can never seem to sleep the night before I travel.  I listened to the de-icing truck spraying down the plane.  And then the plane just sat there.

“Uh, this is the Captain from the flight deck.  You may wonder why we’re still sitting here.  We’re having trouble getting the engine on the right side of the plane to start.  We may need to return to the gate and have a mechanic take a look at it.”

Soon the plane began to move forward.  Got it fixed, I thought, but no — the plane rolled into the gate we’d left a half-hour earlier.  We sat at the gate a little while longer, then I started hearing things that didn’t bode well for my trip.  “Will the Seattle passengers get your carry-ons and exit the plane?  We have another way to get you there.”  Sigh — I figured I’d be missing my connection, now.

“Will the Philadelphia passengers please get your carry-ons?  We have a new connection to get you there.”  I fell into that group.  I climbed out of my comfortable seat and grabbed my bag from the overhead bin.  I walked back up the gateway to the ticket counter.  The ticket agent called my name and handed me two new tickets.  C24 for the first.  C24 — anyone who’s ever flown Southwest knows what a bummer that number is.  So instead of a one-hour flight with a row to myself, I was now booked on a two-hour flight to Orlando, on which I would most likely be sitting in the middle seat.

Sure enough, a middle seat.  But I was between two women, so it wasn’t so bad.  The plane arrived in Orlando just before lunch.  I was to have a two-hour layover and then finish the trip to Philly.

Now, here’s the where the weather flexed its muscles.  This morning, the weatherman said there would be one-hour flight delays today in New York and Philadelphia because of thunderstorms.  When I arrived at my gate in Orlando, the flight was already scheduled to leave 45 minutes later than scheduled.  Then it was an hour.  Then an hour and a half.

I finally arrived in Philadelphia after 5 o’clock, four hours later than originally planned.  I actually arrived so late, I didn’t have to go to a pharmacy to work — I was able to go straight to my hotel, instead.

I guess there is a bright side to flight delays….  🙂