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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for visiting! You gave me an excuse to go to Grant’s Farm. I had heard about it, but never gone.

The main reason to go? CLYDESDALES.

There also are elk, deer, giant rabbits, goats, zebras, donkeys, peacocks, llamas, water buffalo and camels (seriously) to admire.

And as it is the Busch Family estate, two free samples of beer.

What’s not great is the tram system. I did not realize you had to take a tram from the parking lot to the main attraction area, then wait for a tram to take you back.

This would be a fine plan if the retirees in charge filled the trams each. They did not. You and I were both annoyed by the lengthy wait times in the broiling sun.

Anyway, I’m glad we went. I’m also glad we enjoyed the many other lovely things this city has to offer:

  • And, of course, the pizza at IMO’s Pizza

We hit some major St. Louis highlights.

And we even saw a rainbow.

It was such a fun weekend, but now I’m exhausted!

Next time, I promise we will squeeze in Broadway Oyster Bar.

Safe travels, and come back soon!

Love,
Beth

*Thanks, Randy.

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Dear Holzhauer Auto and Motorsports Group:

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Best?

When Gideon was visiting me, he found a 2014 Dodge Charger he liked at your establishment. (What is it with my kids and muscle cars? Just teenage boys, I guess.)

We took a drive to Nashville, Illinois, and purchased the car on the spot.

Gideon save up $2,000 for the down payment.

We were assured that you had inspected the car and all was well. We purchased a warranty to be on the safe side.

We drove back to St. Louis, and arranged for Gideon and Eddie to come up this weekend to drive it back to Georgia.

Worst?

I took the car for safety and emission inspections to get it registered.

I bet you know what is coming.

It failed the safety inspection because it needed a new catalytic converter, engine mounts, an engine leak fixed, etc.

I think you knew this. That’s why we got such a good deal.

And your warranty doesn’t cover any of that. Of course. (So what good is it? I’d love to know.)

More than $6,500 later, the car is finally road worthy.

Happy about the car. Not happy about the 12-hour drive ahead.

Sigh.

It was worth it to see Gideon so happy, but I’ll be contacting you tomorrow for a discussion.

Talk to you later!
Beth

*Thanks, Rihanna!

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Dear Bob Cassilly,

My guy, WHAT were you smoking when you created City Museum? Whatever it was, it was some good stuff. City Museum is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life — in person or in movies/on TV. Not even “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” comes close to this crazy place.

When I moved to St. Louis, people kept telling me I needed to visit. However, I don’t like museums. (It’s true. I’m sorry. But I don’t think you do either.) Finally, my friend Kate said that it is not a museum in any traditional sense of the word. She tried to describe it, then basically gave up.

“You have to see it,” she said. “It’s … sensory overload.”

So I went. And she’s right.

City Museum is like a museum in the way that I am like Beyoncé: barely any resemblance in form or function.

It is a building that houses artifacts — artifacts presented in chaos. It’s a 10-story fever dream.

I’ve now been four times.

Why?

You created notable features such as:

• An actual school bus cantilevered on the top floor over the street

• A Ferris wheel on top of the building

• A 10-story slide

• A five-story slide (that has not been open any of the four times I’ve been)

• A cave system

• The world’s largest (maybe) pair of underpants

• Two airplanes

I can’t even begin to summarize what is there. And every time I go, I discover something new.

Dominic and Gideon were in town, and I said we were going. They, like me, are not into museums. I said, “Hold that thought.”

Neither of them could believe what you created. Dominic lamented that, at 6’2″, he is too big for some of the tunnels.

“I wish we had come here when I was a kid.”

I fully agree. This could have entertained them for HOURS, and they would have slept well. (Every parent knows a day that wears out the kids is a good day.)

Here is just a sample of what we got into at your creation.

A seagull disgorges Dominic.
Gideon finds a tunnel under the first floor. No, thank you.
Dominic goes where I won’t.
This is the entrance to a slide. Seriously.
The caged bird yells, “Take my picture!”
My hips don’t lie, nor do they fit in this opening.
Dominic makes it to the top of one of two castles.

Speaking of the castles:

I’m sorry, TWO WHAT NOW?

There were a few moments where I worried about their safety and mine. I was right to worry. From the actual City Museum website:

The do-it-yourself, trying-anything nature of the museum led, not surprisingly, to injuries and, also not surprisingly, to dozens of personal injury suits. Mr. Cassilly’s response was to post telephone numbers of lawyers at the door.

The kids and I developed the habit of them going first into some cave/tunnel/hole to do reconnaissance then reporting back about the viability for me.

This tunnel was not for me.
But this one was ok.

Yes, I used my own children as canaries in a coal mine.

I make no apologies. They were willing participants. And had a fabulous time.

I’m sorry you died an untimely death — a death that turns out not to have been a bulldozer accident. L’esclandre!

And I love that people who love City Museum can also live there.

It’s not for me (not enough windows or, you know, standard amenities), but I recognize the appeal.

So thanks, Bob, for never growing up. For creating a place so outlandish there is no equal.

Your fan,
Beth

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Dear Detroit Marriott at The Renaissance Center,

I attended my annual research conference in you this week. I am NOT a fan, and I will not be back (unless I have absolutely no choice).

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Your staff is not prepared for guests. The line was 10 deep for check-in, and you had one person actually working. Three other employees — one of whom looked like a manager — were at the other end of the counter chatting. Do their eyes work? Couldn’t they see the line?
  2. Your building is not prepared for guests. There are six elevators “servicing” floors 40-70. Only two appeared to be working. A gang of fellow conferencers and I waited 10 minutes Thursday night for an elevator to take us down.
  3. Your events staff is not prepared for guests. Two thousand people attended the last in-person AEJMC conference (Toronto, 2019). That is standard for this conference. Yet nothing was set up to handle this influx of people. Your staff selected large rooms for small events (e.g., the University of South Carolina alumni breakfast featured three tables for eight in a cavernous room) and wee rooms for major events. For example, the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism group awards ceremony and reception was in the tiniest conference room I’ve ever seen. No tables. For an event that featured food and drinks. Group leaders who got to the event early drug in tables and chairs for the 50 or so attendees. Way to go, Marriott!
  4. Your technology support is not prepared for guests. This conference is primarily for journalism/mass communications professors. You know: People who communicate. They have devices that need to be charged. Outlets were few and far between.
This is the ONLY OUTLET in the room!

The various other problems fellow attendees and I experienced had to do with The Renaissance Center in general. It is, generously, an atrium-focused maze of wasted space.

Circulation Ring = CIRCLES OF HELL
Trust me: You can’t get there from here
No, you don’t really want to sit and meet/eat/work do you?

There is a shocking lack of open restaurants. Again, conference of 2,000+ people (and AEJMC was one of at least three going on at once). Hotel with 70 floors of rooms. Yet, it was hard to find a place to eat. Literally (see maze above) and because so many were closed. Note: There was a VERY bougie seafood restaurant open, but who wants to pay $75 for shrimp?

Desperation signage
Starbucks: closed
Another Starbucks: closed
Food court: mostly closed
Oh look! The open Burger King that I thought was only the stuff of legend.

Then there is the location. You are on the Detroit River. So a riverwalk with shops and restaurants would make sense. Apparently, it only makes sense to me. I would not say the United States side has ample commerce. The Canada side (Windsor) looks promising.

The Renaissance Center provides a great view of our northern neighbor.

But once again, you can’t get there from here if you don’t have a car.

I realize that the pandemic took a toll on the hospitality industry. That said, people are traveling again. Conferences are back in person. Do better, or you won’t have guests to piss off anymore.

Sincerely,
Bonvoy Member on Floor 47

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When Vladimir Putin isn’t being an international jerk, he’s at Market Tavern singing “Sweet Caroline.”

Dear Hanley Market Tavern Regulars:

You sure know how to make a girl feel special. A little bit too special in a zoo exhibit kind of way.

When my friend Nick told me there was a “rough” pub in town that featured karaoke on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, I was agog.

Afternoon karaoke at a “rough” pub?

Yes, please.

Jesse’s Divide was opening for Nashville Pussy in Hanley, so I decided to go.

As they were playing on a Wednesday, I made a little trip to Market Tavern before I met my friend Hannah at the show.

I walked in to someone warbling a song I didn’t recognize. Then I realized it was supposed to be “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” That’s a bad AND good sign. It’s a good sign of bad karaoke.

Perfect.

I got a drink and chose a seat at the back of the bar where I could sit alone and not draw attention. Smart move.

It was in front of the men’s room. Not a smart move.

My first gentleman caller was a man with a fully tattooed face. Think knockoff version of The Enigma.

He asked me if was going to sing.

At least, I think that’s what he asked me.

He could have asked me if he could dismember me in the Gents, and I wouldn’t have known.

He was 102 and drunk with a very thick Stokie accent that was hard for these American ears to understand.

My view from the hostess stand for the men’s room.

My next new friend was a man with four teeth and four iron cross tattoos. Delightful! He also sported a Confederate flag wristband.

He wanted to know if I had a boyfriend.

I toyed with the idea of saying, “Yes. He’s a Jewish man of color from Poland.” I think I could have made him explode “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style.

An older woman at the next table came over.

Her: Are you alright on your own there?

Me: Oh, yes. I’m fine, thank you.

Her: You’re American!

Me: Yes. What am I doing in the middle of Hanley, right?

Her: Well, yes.

She went to the loo, and I checked my phone for word from Hannah. I suddenly felt hands touching my shoulders. I yelped and turned around.

Creepy George: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.

Me: Well, you did. Please do not touch me.

Didn’t mean to startle me? Someone who doesn’t know you and has her back to you? What did he expect? “Hi handsome! Please come back to my temporary accommodation for stranger boning.”

When I went to the bathroom, I took my drink. Women know why.

Meanwhile, the show went on. It was definitely a crying-in-your-beer kind of vibe.

I Recall a Gypsy Woman” by Don Williams (!) was about the peppiest thing.

I knew it was time for me to leave when I heard what sounded like Fozzy Bear singing “Love on the Rocks.”

Leaving was cemented as a plan when my last gentleman caller insisted on a conversation:

Him: You’re an American.

Me: Yes.

Him: You’re drinking Guinness.

Me: Yes.

Him: I’m going to get you one, and I’m going to talk to you.

Me: (checks watch) I’m leaving in three minutes.

Him: Then I’ll take three minutes of your time.

My lady friend heard this exchange. “It’s because you’re new in here,” she said.

Yes. It was like Fisher Price: My First American.

I waved goodbye to her and the insistent fellow getting our drinks and headed out the side door.

Thank you all for giving me fodder for this blog.

I’ll be back.

Your new American friend,
Beth

* No one sang anything by The Carpenters, sadly.

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Dear Dominic,

You may look like your father, but your personality is all me. And that’s why we drive each other crazy. You know what buttons and borders to push.

When you want something, you don’t stop until you get it.

That’s me too.

Take, for example, a car.

I told you I needed something to drive when I’m in Savannah. You took it upon yourself to find me something. In Atlanta.

Well, to find yourself something.

Lucky for you, I’m a big fan of muscle cars like this.

I had the dealer FaceTime me. As soon as he started it up, and I heard the signature purr of the engine, I was sold.

So I did cancel the second leg of my flight to buy it and drive it down.

But I didn’t tell you that. I told you I was getting a rental. So when we went out to get in “the rental” to go car shopping, you were shocked.

The good news for me is that this maneuver ensured you wouldn’t forget Mother’s Day.

$1. Funny kid. 🙄

I love you, you silly boy.
Mama

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Dear Dominic,

Thanks for going on a road trip with me to bring Eddie some stuff that ended up with me in St. Louis.

It was a great bonding experience for you and your new brother.

It took nearly 16 hours of driving (should have been 12), but we made it manageable with stops in Chattanooga (no time for towing, sadly) and Atlanta (so you could harass all your school friends).

Barb the Minivan (rental) served us well. She was spacious enough to allow for a litter box for Leo’s bathroom breaks.

It turns out that he’s good on car trips.

Just so everyone knows, I don’t usually put clothes on pets. But Leo is naked, and it was cold when we left St. Louis.

So thank you for making the trip with Leo and me. Next time, I promise we will stop in at a ridiculous museum that will amuse us both.

Love,
Mama

*Thanks, Willie.

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Dear Gladys,

I enjoyed meeting you for five minutes outside the Greenville, S.C., airport as I adopted your cat son Leo. Thank you for posting him on a rescue site and choosing me as his new parent.

He’s not happy. At all.

You may have saved my sanity. Seriously.

As I mentioned, I’ve been living alone for a few months — visiting family when I can.

Those after-dinner hours (7-9 p.m.) are really quiet/lonely. I can only watch just so much “Ozark” and “Great British Baking Show.” And my house is VERY clean.

Isolation has breathed life into my workaholic side, for sure. Plus, I took on a freelance project and am taking courses online toward various credentials.

Still.

I found myself talking to — and responding to — myself. Out loud. Uh oh.

And I missed taking care of critters (i.e., Dominic and Gideon).

I haven’t had a pet in 11 years. It’s been 16 since I’ve had a cat. That’s weird in itself, as I had a cat or cats my whole life. At one point, Eddie and I had four dogs and four cats.

We had a temporary cat at the time of this Christmas card photo, and Maggie the Boxer hadn’t joined us yet. The photo gives you an idea of the craziness, though.

I’ve been wanting a Sphynx for more than five years — haunting rescue sites because I wasn’t about to spend more than $2K on a damn cat.

Luckily, you started to travel more and felt guilty about boarding him all the time.

So now he’s mine. Traumatized, but mine.

Things are going great.

He is aggressively cuddly. He gets right in my face. Breathing in my mouth to steal my soul.

And has to be ON ME at all times.

I mean. LOOK AT HIM.

Look at this FOOT!

I don’t know how you were able to give him up, but I’m so glad you did.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Beth, Leo’s new mom

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Dear Goat Yoga Lisa:

Thanks for being my first non-family visitor to test out the guest room! I’m glad it was during the ramp-up to Mardi Gras, but sorry there was still snow and ice all over. (Especially sorry for the Missouri drivers and the shards of ice flying off their cars.)

Having you in town was a great excuse to visit the Gateway Arch — the iconic monument I hadn’t explored since moving here.

Tiny Terror that you are, we had to explore my neighborhood bar too.

And also my neighbor’s ice-cream shop.

And Taste of Soulard — my neighborhood’s neighbor.

I enjoyed meeting your cousin Claire!

That’s where we saw interesting people like this guy.

I wonder if he knows that portable Bluetooth speakers exist.

And a goat who is the GOAT.

And racing weiners.

I promise a more comfortable sleeper sofa the next time you visit. And that I will have become a regular, “Cheers” style at the local bar.

Love and kisses!

Your fren,
Beth

P.S. Thanks for the hostess gift. I wouldn’t call me “sweet” by any stretch of the imagination, but I appreciate it.

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Dear State of Missouri Government:

LAWD have mercy. Y’all make being street legal SO DIFFICULT. Worse BY FAR than Georgia, and I didn’t think that was possible.

My suggestion for a new Missouri slogan: More backwards than Georgia.

Let’s recap:

I bought a car. In Ohio. The finance company owns the title. (So I thought, because that’s what the dealership said.)

Your tag office wanted me to have the finance company fill out a special form, have it notarized and sent back to me so I could take it to you.

Your tag office also wanted me to get a property tax waiver.

Your tag office sent me here:

It came pre-highlighted!

But they needed the form from the finance company too.

I spent two weeks trying to get a human being at the finance company to help me. No luck.

Then one day I come home from work, and there’s a FEDEX envelope on my welcome mat.

It’s from the dealership. It’s my official car title. Sitting RIGHT THERE in front of my door for the world to take.

Good LORD!

So I make an appointment and go back to the highlighted office.

Nope.

That’s the COUNTY office. I need St. Louis CITY. Downtown.

The County office gave me a helpful slip with the info.

Fine.

I take all my paperwork and go to City Hall.

It’s not Room 110.

It’s Room 115.

Room 115. Let’s take a closer look at that sign.
I can assure you that there are no cards anywhere. There also isn’t a suggestion box.

Once I got the waiver, I went to Room 111 to get the actual tag.

My view while waiting for service.

Then I waited again to get my Missouri driver’s license. Y’all charged me $28 for the privilege. And took two hours of my life.

Good news: It’s over. Lamar and I are legal.

(Lamar is my “new” whip. 😉 He and I are getting along just fine. But I did cry when the junkyard came to get my old girl.)

But I now see exactly why so many people here drive around with temporary tags.

Please add that suggestion box. I’ve got thoughts.

Your exasperated new neighbor,
Beth

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