Category Archives: traveling

As Promised: A Taste of Tupelo

As promised, here are some pictures from The Summit, a “boutique” hotel in Tupelo, Mississippi. There was an annual furniture mart in town which resulted in full-bookings at the more bland and predictable establishments such as the Holiday Inn Express. Anyway, we only stayed here for one quick night before driving into Little Rock. In Little Rock, we stayed at the Crown Plaza, which may have had the most comfortable beds and bedding I’ve ever encountered in a hotel. Keegan asked if he could please bring his bed home; regretfully, this was not a possibility, but I did bring home a couple of bottles of the complimentary lavender linen spray.

The red bathtub in Tupelo:

 

Notice this isn’t a jacuzzi of any sort, just a big old tub.

 

 

…just in case you want to watch tub activities from the bed there is a wall of glass. There is also a mirrored wall across from the bed, which I neglected to immortalize digitally.

 

 

Yes, that is a very large dining room table. Don’t you love the chandeliers? The bathroom in this room was also gigantic, but it had a plain white tub. I took the below photo while standing behind the “bar,” which did indeed have a sink, fridge, bar-top and stools, though it was about as modern as the red tub.

 

 

 

There was an abundance of not so great Elvis themed paintings.

 

Boston 2008

 

Above: Trinity Church and The John Hancock Tower

We were standing in the crowded Atlanta airtport at an AirTran self-check-in kiosk trying to figure out why the machine was saying we were too late to self-check-in. What could that be about? Turns out our flight was 20 minutes earlier than we thought. How did this happen? Who knows. We had a dual brain-fart which transformed 6:27 to 6:47.

Because of said brain-fart, we had to check our bags at the gate, and we were so late that AirTran had given away our previously assigned seats which we’d picked out online, and instead they put us in the very first row of seats in the very front of the plane: Business Class. And Business Class is as classy as it gets on AirTran. Our scheduling misfortune meant big cushy seats, not sitting next to strangers, and free vodka tonics. A few moments of stress turned into bliss.

After we got our rental car and checked into our hotel, we went to The Kinsale for a snack. It was late and the Celtics / Pistons game was on. Then we realized the game was four blocks away or so. Therefore, all of those 40,000 people would be leaving the stadium (the Gah-den). We got stuck in a little bit of traffic getting back. While at The Kinsale, which is the in the Government Center area of the city, we observed drunk lawyers: specifically, a trio. Lawyer 1 kept trying to pick up his co-worker. She said, “I don’t shit where I eat.” Lawyer 2 played air guitar flagrantly. Lawyer 3 tried, earnestly, to flirt with our bartender by speaking amatuer Spanish to her. It was painful to watch, because she was so clearly Filipino, not Hispanic. (sigh.) The three of us had a laugh about it after he left. She “gets that all the time.” Really? What is wrong with people?

We were able to walk from our hotel to Quincy Market and The Black Rose. Matt had been wanting to go back to The Black Rose for quite sometime. Though it was great in its way, and we saw an incredible fiddler…well, there was a lot of douche-baggery going on: crowds of youngins who danced to all the classic rock covers the band was playing. Simply, there weren’t many Irish tunes played on this night. Things had become a little more mainstream and a little less seedy and a little less cool. But, what are you gonna do?

The Black Rose

We visited a number of Irish pubs, including but not limited to The Black Rose, The Burren, The Kinsale, The Asgard, and Bad Abbots. I had a great time at The Burren talking to Tony and Eamon. Sunny was our bartender at Bad Abbott’s in Quincy, and she rememebered Matt from years before.

We went to the range, which was awesome. It was my first time. I knew I’d like it. I shot a Sig Sauer P 229 and a S & W Sigma 40 F, both .40 cal. I didn’t bring a target home, but I can tell you one was all head shots in a nice little cluster. Of course, Matt got so excited afterwards we talked about the different competitive shooting leagues and all that. We’ll see. It’d be a great hobby; I already like pool, darts, and shuffleboard…but I’m markedly better with a firearm. But, then again, who has the time? (I’m kidding, Matt; we’ll find the time!) Later that night, we played poker. I got a straight flush one hand. A later hand, I had quad fives. That was fun. That night we crashed in Hanson and got up the next day to go to the wedding we’d planned our trip around.

Boston Public Library

 The Boston Public Library

The Wedding was at St. Mary’s in Brookline, which was a pretty area. It was my first Catholic mass; it wasn’t as creepy as it could have been. Of course, I wasn’t the only non-Catholic in attendance, so I think the mass was toned down. The reception was in Cambridge. There was a pretty hot band there.

Our trip was filled with many wonderful small moments—too many to list here. I can say it’s the best vacation I’ve ever had. Having friends and family to visit, as well as an incredible new city to explore, is the right combination. And it certainly helps to have a well-versed (ha!) native as a tour guide. I will leave you with a description of the one most terrible moment of the trip, because I’m a sadist. (I’m not really, but I have to fit it in; therefore, it will come at the end resulting in only one non-sequitur, not the possible two if it was in the middle of this post.)  

We were trying to get on 93 north from 95 and we were in rush-hour stop-and-go traffic. We found ourselves in the right lane, crawling, coming upon a dead racoon on the shoulder. We both shared an “Oh, poor thing” sort of moment. Then, the gargantuan size the racoon, the fact that he was bloated up to the god damned sky…Well, none of those things really made impressions until later. The time-stopping, gut-wrenching and not in a cutesy-sentimental way, plain awful impression entered the air conditioning system and blasted into our faces. The smell of rotten raccoon. It was one of those visceral moments where suffering seems finite (you’ve hit the end) and something better happen or else you will surely just keel over and die. Unfamiliar with the dials on our rental car we both jumped to change the air intake. Failing a prompt system adjustment I slammed the off button. Then, we tried to regroup as we sat stalled in a bumper to bumper standstill, the horror lingering.

Other than that, Boston rocked.

Beach Reads: Update

I didn’t get that much reading done at the beach.  The only book I finished was Barry Hannah’s Airships.  It wasn’t even on my beach reads list–ha.  As I was walking out the door I saw it on the shelf, remembered I had indeed purchased it, and thought to myself that is what I need.  I hadn’t read any of Hannah’s books before (hanging head in shame), and it was great.  Each story was unique and haunting in it’s own way, with some absurdity thrown in for good measure.  Funny stories, even if funny-sad, are hard to find.  Two of my favorites from Airships are “Return to Return” and “Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt.” Now I will have to get my hands on his first novel, Geronimo Rex.

Here you can listen to Don Swaim’s 1993 interview with Barry Hannah, Hannah reading stories at the 2001 Ohio University Literary Festival, and Hannah reading an essay titled “Why I Write.”

I read more of Winesburg, Ohio, but not all of it.  And I have to say, that Anderson’s stories are great stories, but after Airships it felt slow.  I still wanted to be swept away in the craziness that is Hannah.  I started Invisible Cities and quickly decided it was not a beach book at all, and could not afford to be read while surrounded by large numbers of distractions: including but not limited to shuffleboard games, soccer games, swimming pool related galavanting, the ocean, bugs, sun, sweat, sand, children, passersby, and beer.  It will have to wait for another day. 

Beach Reads

I’m taking five books to the beach with me.  I have no idea how much reading I might get done, and if I run out there will be plenty of people to borrow from, I know.  Here they are:

*Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer (Um, a good friend gave this to me in January. It won The Guardian first book award. I’m expecting to be floored by it, from everything I’ve read.  And the cover is completely awesome–mine is hot pink with a wacky yellow font. I love how the publishers had it produced with several different colored covers; White Teeth was like that too.)

*Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino (I’m really looking forward to it.)

*Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson (Recommended by a friend, and required reading.)

*Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson (No, I’m still not finished with it.)

*Pastwatch the Redemption of Christopher Columbus, by Orson Scott Card (An alternative history, supposed to be his best since Ender’s Game.)