Category Archives: Texas

No Hotel for Seasoned Citizens

This Christmas we decided to head out of town for a mini-vacation.  The kids had headed up to Ohio to visit relatives so we were footloose and fancy-free.  I had stayed at an Embassy Suites in Loveland, CO and loved it.  It has become one of my favorite places to stay.  That made our choice of hotel pretty easy – we’d go with Embassy Suites again, this time along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Here’s my review:

Parking Valets and Bellhops:  Driving into downtown San Antonio was a bit harrowing (remember, I’m a girl who loves small towns…really small towns).  We found the hotel but had to hunt a bit before finding the valet parking.  Now, I’m used to hotels that have parking lots right near the hotel.  Free parking, right?  Here you had to pay about $30 a night for the joy of having the valet park your car.  They were pretty efficient, though, which was nice.  Also nice was that we were so cheap about not wanting to have to tip every time we would want our car that we ended up doing lots of walking instead.  More on that later.

When the valets took our van, they asked if we would be needing help with luggage.  How nice.  “Nope”, we told them. “Just point us in the direction of the luggage carts and we’ll do it ourselves.”  They quickly took THAT pipe dream away as they told us this was a 4-star hotel and luggage carts were not provided to the guests to do it themselves.  Enter the bellhop!  Again, he did a fine job.

Kitchenette and office space

Room:  Our room consisted of a bedroom, bathroom, and living area.  It was lovely, at first glance.  However, livability proved to be a different thing entirely.

Let’s start with the couch.  It wasn’t very soft.  There were no cushy pillows for your arms along the side and nothing to cushion your back.  It was also VERY low.  I can’t begin to guess how many times my knees cracked as I tried to get up from the couch.

Footrests or torture instruments?

Next came the footrests or whatever those things were supposed to be.  They were NOT at the level of the couch.  They were higher.  You had to have your legs up higher than the couch which was extremely uncomfortable.  If you kept your legs in that position for any length of time, you’d get an automatic charley horse in your upper thighs when you tried to bring your legs down and stand up, again accompanied to the sound of cracking ligaments and bones.

Sitting Area TV

Now let’s add the TV into the mix.  It sat on top of a high credenza…much higher than the couch.

Angle of viewing

You had to have your head at an unnatural angle to view the TV.  This is not good for older people.  Heck, it isn’t good for any age person.

Ouch, my neck!

I ended up with a crick in my neck for the duration of my stay at the Embassy Suites.

Anyone got a booster chair?

I’d try to alternate between the couch and working on my computer when we weren’t out sightseeing.  Man, the little desk was really high and the chair provided was really low (are you sensing a theme here?).  I had to type with my hands in this position.  I’m a crack typist and I still remember how my typing instructor told me to keep my wrists level to avoid strain and injury to the hands.  Wasn’t going to happen here.

Time for Bed?

The Bed:  Our first night, we got ready for bed and plopped down on the sumptuous-looking bed.  Oh, my goodness!  I practically broke my tailbone.  I’ve never slept in such a hard bed.  The mattress had no give to it at all.  It was like sleeping on a thick board.  My hubby has arthritic hips and knees and mine aren’t much better.  It proved to be agony.  In fact, it was so bad that we barely slept each night.  The pillows were those frou-frou ones that are all downy and have no support whatsoever so that while my body would be lying rigid on the mattress, my head would have sunk down to a strange angle.  I would sit on the uncomfortable couch and get a sinking feeling (everywhere but on the cushion) knowing that I had to face that bed each night.

The “almost” perfect shot

The Stumble of the Alamo: To make matters worse, on the first full day we had to sightsee, we had walked to the Alamo.  As I approached that venerable building, I was looking at my phone as I tried to center the perfect shot when, yikes!  Off I sailed over a very high curb and landed on my arm first and then my hip before flipping onto my back.  As one of my waggish friends said later, “Well, I guess the mystery has finally been solved as to who was the last person to fall at the Alamo.”

Man, I was so embarrassed as big, strong guys came running, a policeman came running and even a park ranger.  I assured them that I was fine (just shaken up) once they got me back on my feet.  However, you guessed it, this did NOT help my aching hips, which were soon joined by an aching forearm with a big knot, a bruised shin, and a back that was complaining about the unnatural twist.  If it could talk, it would have been saying, “I give you a ‘2’ for your landing.”

It now became even more agony trying to sleep on that bed.

The Bathroom:  You guessed it, the toilet was LOW.  I think it was built for a tiny person.  Once you fell down on it, there were no handholds to help you get back up.  I wasn’t going to call a bellhop to help me with THAT!

On the plus side, they had lovely breakfasts included in the price and a manager’s reception each evening that included free drinks and fruit and nachos.

To make a long story short, we ended up cutting our stay short and heading on home a day early.  Honestly, we could not face the thought of one more night in that bed.

The morale to all of this, and yes, there is a point, is that the room (which cost plenty) could have been more user-friendly to seasoned citizens.  We aren’t all 20-something and flexible.  Whoever designed those suites needed to actually try to sleep and live in the rooms for a few days and see what could have been improved.

I’m just glad to be home and boy, am I looking forward to a good night’s sleep on our Tempurpedic and my nice, comfy recliner.  I guess like my namesake, I can heartily say, “There’s NO place like home.”  ZZzzzzzz!



Aggies or Longhorns?

Texas Proud

Texas Proud

I was visiting our new vet the other day and as I chatted with the technician, she mentioned that she was a graduate of Texas A & M.

“Oh, is that the one with the steer?” I asked her.

“Umm, no,” she said.

“Wait,” I persisted.  “Are they the ones that are the orange color?”

“Noooo,” she drawled.  “That would be the University of Texas.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I apologized.  “I like cows and I have an orange car and so I put this emblem of a Texas steer on the back of my car and I can never remember which school it is.”

“That’s ok,” she laughed.  “My brother is a graduate of UT so I won’t hold it against you.”

I was telling this story to my hubby today and he gave me “the look.”

“You really need to learn the difference,” he lectured me.

“Well, which school is it that is the hook ’em ones,” I asked him.

“That’s University of Texas,” he told me.

“Then which one has more of an agricultural emphasis,” I asked.

“Texas A & M,” he said.  “What do you think?  They’ve got agricultural in their name. They’re Aggies.”

“But then why does UT have a motto that says ‘Hook ’em, Aggies?” I pondered.

“No, they don’t,” he said.  “It’s ‘hook ’em, horns.’  For Pete’s Sakes, you’d better get it right if you’re going to be in Texas.”

“Well, I like them both, ” I insisted.  “But I have to go with the one with the steer because it matches my car and besides, you know I have a soft spot for anything to do with cows. Of course, there is that nickname ‘Aggies’ and I have a soft spot for anything to do with farming, too.”

Ah, what’s a newbie Texan to do?

We Were As Grasshoppers

When you come to Texas, it’s easy to feel like the twelve spies who went to check out the Promised Land for Moses.  You come away thinking, “Man, everything is BIG in Texas.”  Of course, if you’re like me, your next thought is, “Man, this is the Promised Land.  Yeah, Mama!”   I mean, look at the size of that chicken-fried steak! 

The next thing you notice is that they just seem to do babies bigger in Texas.  Their charm is oversized, too.  How could anyone resist this little guy?

Obviously, not me!  Nor his PawPaw, either.

Texas ladies are known to be able to wrap everyone around their little fingers.  Our little “Sweet Pea” Mika sure had us at “Hello, Nana and PawPaw” when we arrived for our visit.

Texas heatwaves aren’t just little sizzles.  They are HOT.  We’re determined not to be wilting Pennsylvanian wimps so we’re grinning and bearing the 100+ degree days.

The Texas-size heat requires a Texas-sized nap and we’re finding it pretty easy to slip into snooze-time when we’re snuggling on the couch with the grandchildren.

Texas grandchildren give their Nanas LOTS of creative inspiration to whip up projects like this quilt in honor of our little pippin, Luke’s birth.

Yessir, it’s the Promised Land. For the next few weeks, you can expect more reports from the “other side of the Jordan.”

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© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

Fascinating Fishies

Yesterday we went over to Kemah and took Mika to the little aquarium exhibit at a local restaurant along the boardwalk.  She was just fascinated by all the fish.  I think they were fascinated by her as well.

We saw a lobster that particularly captivated her.  At least, I think it was a lobster.  It played hide-and-go-seek with Mika and she was really intent on trying to find it.

She REALLY liked the little fish. Maybe it was their bright colors or the way they darted about.  She just got so animated when we’d go past one of those tanks.

Perhaps she was trying to “Find Nemo?”  The little gold fish would dart up to her hand and act as though they were trying to give her little kisses.

 I had fun providing “voices” for the fish and telling her tales about all the aquatic life.  Wonder how much of that she’ll remember?

Finally it was time to say goodbye to the last fish and head out back into the sunlight.  Judging by how much Mika fussed on the way back home, I’d say she wanted to go back and spend more time at the aquarium.

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

PawPaw’s Cutie Patootie

PawPaw arrived yesterday to spend time with son, daughter-in-law, and his little granddaughter.  It was a joyful reunion, although Mika was a tad sleepy when she first saw PawPaw back at the house.

I think she remembered PawPaw because it wasn’t long before she was playing pattycake on his lap and using his tummy as a trampoline.

         “Who’s got your toes, Mika?”

         “Nana, PawPaw is munching on my toes.  He’s funny!”

“Hmmm, maybe if I lie here and look super cute, I can get Nana to come over and join us for a game instead of taking more pictures.”

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

Down By the Water

Yesterday my sister-in-law and I drove over to Kemah and walked along the Boardwalk, enjoying the water and the boats heading out to the Gulf.  Boy, was it humid and hot!  To escape the heat, we decided to head over to the ferris wheel and take a quick ride.

At least it gave us a little respite from the heat and a bit of a breeze while we enjoyed the view of Kemah and the great old wooden rollercoaster.  Unfortunately, all too soon we were back on the ground and sweltering.

We tried to find a little shade in the arms of this friendly little fish but when he bared his teeth in a grin….(gulp), we decided it was time to head on to other spots.

That other spot was T-Bone Tom’s, a great BBQ place.  I had the BBQ Beef sandwich, which was wonderful.  Rose had gulf shrimp and she said that they were fantastic.  I think I’ll try to swing by here with the Commander so that he can also enjoy it.  Apparently, T-Bone Tom’s has been featured on “Drive-ins, Diners, and Dives.”  I can understand why.

After our morning at Kemah, we headed over to see Jason, Laura, Mika and her other set of grandparents.  After a delicious dinner of chicken enchiladas, we all trooped over to a local park and watched some of the family play a doubles tennis match.  Mika was certainly interested in what her mommy and daddy were doing.  Could we have a future line referee here?

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

Fave Five From Texas

It’s Friday once again and this Friday my Fave Fives are coming to you from the great state of Texas.  Yes, I’m down here in the Houston area today and so I think I really must come up with five highlights from the week that are Texas-related.  Of course, that isn’t going to be hard to do for me because there isn’t much about Texas that I can’t find to celebrate so here goes.

1.  We have enjoyed the most spectacular weather for our Texas adventure so far.  I landed in San Antonio and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  The skies have been crystal clear and the breezes have been heavenly.  When I stopped at the Mission San Jose outside of San Antonio, it was a photographer’s dream, with the blue, blue skies against the weather beaten stone facade of the mission.

2.  It’s been great spending time with my sister-in-law, Rose.  Rose flew down from Detroit, Michigan to join me in San Antonio and then we both flew on over to the Houston area to meet up with my son, Jason and his family (including the cutest baby in the world… little grandbaby).

3.  I love scrapbooking and it was so much fun to be able to watch Jason and Laura open the book I created celebrating Mika’s first four months of life.  What a treasure those memories captured on pages will be years from now.  And what a treasure it is to me to make more memories with Jason, Laura, and Mika.

4.  Speaking of treasures, spending time with my granddaughter is something I am treasuring.  I am so relieved that she isn’t crying everytime she sees me, which it seemed like she was doing when she was at our house in February.  No, she has gotten past that really cranky stage and is such fun and SO grownup since I last saw her.  What a thrill to be able to take her on walks and read to her and just make her smile.

5.  Yes, my last Fave Five has got to be my little “Mika.”  I wouldn’t be a Nana worth my salt if I didn’t put that little cutie on my list for the week.   OK, technically, she’s already been on my list this week but that was for spending TIME with her.  This last fave is just her alone. What a joy she is.  That little smile is enough to melt the Polar icecaps.  I can’t wait for her PawPaw to get to spend some time with her, too.

Visit Susanne’s site at Living to Tell the Story to see what others are writing about for their Friday Fave Fives.

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk

On a Mission

I made it to San Antonio!   What a beautiful city, but then…I already knew that.  I’ve been here several times before and have always loved it.  Unfortunately, this visit was a whirlwind one with just a day and a half to see a few sights before heading off again but it was still a great time.  My sister-in-law and I stayed right along the Riverwalk and were able to walk along the river in the cool of the evening and during the daytime, too.  How pleasant.

We found time to take the boat tour of the Riverwalk area and I’m so glad that we did.  First of all, it was nice and cool on the water and secondly, we learned a lot about the Riverwalk that we hadn’t known.  I highly recommend taking the time to do this should you visit the area.

We walked down to the old Marketplace, which I remembered from my sister-in-law taking me to years ago.  It’s a riot of color and you really can get overwhelmed.  I was constrained from snapping up so many things mainly by the fear of wondering how I’d ever get the fragile pottery pieces back to Pennsylvania without having them break.  Oh my, there were some gorgeous handpainted sinks there for such reasonable prices.  As the Commander would say, ….”In the right house….”   I would have snapped some of those up in a heartbeat.

In the cool of the evening, we rode the elevator in our hotel up to the roof and snapped pictures of San Antonio from all compass points.  This is looking towards the  San Fernando Cathedral.

Yesterday, before flying off to Houston, we drove over to the Mission San Jose.  The weather was perfect for sightseeing.  What a beautiful old mission.  It is the oldest one in the group around San Antonio.  The movie we watched at the park center was an eye opener.  It told the all-too-familiar tale of indigenous people groups being wiped out by disease after contact with the Europeans although many of these tribes still exist in a way in some of the people of the South Texas area today, who are a mix of the indigenous Indian tribes and Spanish settlers.  Many of the Indian tribes originally fled to this mission for protection from the marauding Apaches but over 70% died of disease brought by the Spanish.  How sad.

The indians that came to the mission lived in these little rooms built into the walls that were built around the mission.  The rooms were tiny with a door and a window.  At least there was a window.  They did their cooking within the courtyard of the mission, using ingredients grown adjacent to the mission under the irrigation system introduced by the Spanish.

The mission is beautiful in its rustic simplicity scattered here and there with some attempts at more ornate carvings done by craftsmen brought over from Europe.  Most of the building (rock by rock) was done by the indians.

What I didn’t realize was that these missions were then painted in bright, decorative patterns originally.  Here you can see some faint remnants of the original paint job.  Isn’t that amazing?   I guess I figured they were always that brown color.

Once we finished touring Mission San Jose, we headed to the airport and flew off to Hobby Airport in the Houston area.  I made the mistake of relying on my GPS to get us to the hotel.  Big mistake!  That thing got us so lost, trying to take us on non-existent highways and taking us off onto wrong exits, etc. that I got totally flummoxed and ended up calling the hotel from a parking lot almost in tears for directions.  I am NOT a calm driver under the best of circumstances in a big city that I’m not familiar with and this just exasperated things.  To make matters worse, the hotel clerk told me to turn the wrong way (she misunderstood where I was, thinking I was at a mall instead of the shopping center on the other side of the street) so I had to do a U-turn and head back the other way.  Oh, boy!  I wasn’t a happy camper but we eventually made it to the hotel and there were Jason, Laura and darling Mika!  I was so excited to see them all that I forgot to take pictures.  I’ll do better from now on.  And so ended our first day in the Houston area.  I am firing the GPS, by the way.  It will be replaced and not a minute too soon.

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

Hot Flashed Funk


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