I’ve been fortunate that mostly I haven’t had to travel for work. I’ve been able to reserve travel for days of vacation where email chains me only because I allow it to. This is a good thing, because I’ve never successfully merged a business trip with pleasure on the side.
So when I faced an absolutely horrific week of work travel, I thought it might be time to don my big girl pants and not allow myself to wallow in misery for the sake of doing so. I had just returned from Cincinnati two weeks before, where my client and I stayed at a hotel that barely met the standard of a Best Western in a very small city. The room had the classic under window heating/air conditioning unit that chug chugged away all night like the little engine that could. Eventually I just turned it off. And let’s not forget the restaurant that was unable to manage more than six or eight people at a time, leaving me to eat a black bean veggie burger at the bar. The server wasn’t at all sure they still had them, and I did have the feeling that steely icicles had only recently been microwave melted from the patty. Believe it or not, the convention of the moment – because it was a true convention hotel – was for pastoral music ministry. I kept hearing people hum How Great Thous Art as I went up the elevator.
So after Cincinnati I had a one week break in Florida and it was back on the road again. Left on a Sunday for Buffalo, New York- a place I had never been before. The highway from the airport was lined with bright orange daylilies. I stayed at the Hotel at LaFayette. It turns out boutique hotels are no more expensive than a Hilton Garden Inn. The hotel, in the midst of slightly rundown mid city Buffalo, was built in 1902 by the first female U.S. architect. It had a beautiful central staircase, and a brewery down below. My room looked out onto a public terrace, which left a bit to be desired from the privacy perspective, but it was huge and cool and the muted colors – a grey toned Italianate poster filled the whole wall over the bed – and provided a respite after a long day.
After a return trip that took me through Detroit back to Orlando, on Wednesday I took off again, this time for Northern Virginia. Flying into Dulles, stops in Fairfax and Falls Church. And once my work duties were over, it was time to drive – starting st 7:30 at night – to Richmond, Virginia, the site of the next work obligation.
Arriving at 10, I stayed at my second boutique hotel of the week – aptly named the Quirk. It is a converted department store, themed around pink. There is original art work in each room, the mini bars are in pink retro mini fridges, and the bathrobes aren’t terry cloth but a lightweight cotton calico. The ceilings were easily 15 feet high.
Before I returned to Orlando, I got to have lunch with my niece G, a recent Virginia convert from California, at the Kitchen on Cary. And yes, I really did have a sandwich that involved fried green tomatoes, Virginia ham, and pimento cheese.
I didn’t manage a whole lot of steps or much training at all last week. But driving back down 95 South to the land of the pines (for you Wagon Wheel fans out there) – through the green kudzu entwined forests, close to North Carolina – I felt so at home. I haven’t talked a lot about North Carolina on this blog. I may have just hit the point where I have lived in Florida over half my life – but I still call North Carolina home.
But knowing where home is just makes adventure the more exciting. Next up – we think we’ve found a 20,000 foot fairly non-technical mountain.