Posts Tagged ‘business trip’

Anniversary Lagniappe

Steven was scheduled to speak at the Louisiana non-profit association’s annual conference in Baton Rouge on the day after our 9th wedding anniversary, which was a great reason to have a fun weekend away. However, it was a destination with recent police shootings and a devastating 1,000-year flood. (Steven: “We sure know how to pick ’em.”)

We flew into New Orleans and drove one mile west to Baton Rouge. Along the way, we passed several closed exits off highway I-10, and there was standing water nearly all along the road, but we made it safely to the hotel and conference site. Most of the damage affected the eastern part of the city and surrounding parishes/counties. We had the unique opportunity to watch local news of families in the worst areas (Ascension Parish, namely) plow through the clean up process with adrenaline and hope. The area has Catholic roots, and it was encouraging to see trust in God in action. I spoke with several conference attendees about the community’s endurance after Katrina – but the need for and lack of mental health services.

Our anniversary dinner was at a cute, downtown oyster bar – Jolie Pearl. We had a stack of various charbroiled oysters and fried shrimp before another storm came through to flood the already-soaked ground.

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The next day’s weather was pleasant, but HOT. Louisiana humid and sticky hot. Steven had to work all day at the conference, so I spent my time doing independent things. It’s now become a tradition to get a massage, haircut or shop while Steven speaks. I scheduled a haircut at a local Aveda salon, found free wi-fi in the mall food court to catch up on some work, and then went to a see a movie.

By the way, you HAVE to see Florence Foster Jenkins. It made me laugh-snort and cry, which means it was superb.

Afterwards, I met up with Steven at the conference for a closing social reception. On our way to New Orleans, we stopped for local favorite beignets and coffee with chicory at Coffee Call. Fun Fact: chicory is a woody plant that is ground into coffee from a French tradition to stretch coffee beans supply. Beignets (ben-YAYs) are fluffy funnel cake-tasting fried dough with powdered sugar dumped on top. Everywhere I’ve seen, they are ordered in 3s, but the ones at Coffee Call are huge – like the size of donuts. By mistake we ordered “to go” and fought powdered sugar in the rental car.

We didn’t check into our French Quarter hotel until after 8 p.m., though in New Orleans, that’s considered early. French Quarter isn’t quite as busy on a Thursday night as the weekend, but Deanie’s Seafood at 9 p.m. is still packed with families and couples eating a fried seafood dinner. Another pile!

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Later we wandered some New Orleans streets and enjoyed a quiet(er) evening in the hotel courtyard. It was just as pretty in the morning for breakfast:

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…which fueled us up for a day of walking around the city. I was in NOLA in early 2014 for the Alzheimer’s Association national conference, but hardly saw the city. Steven had never been, so we had a few things on our bucket list: Cafe du Monde (famous coffee and beignet restaurant along the Mississippi River), French Market, Jackson Square, hurricanes and poboys and live jazz at Preservation Hall. Later we explored the World War 2 Museum, rode a streetcar and watched entertainers along Bourbon Street. It was a fun, packed day, and we were incredibly sweaty.

Before leaving for the airport, we visited a New Orleans historical museum and walked around a few streets the next morning, and GUESS WHAT WE FOUND?!

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Leah’s Pralines! Of course we bought some.

It was a quick but good trip – a lagniappe (pronounced LAN-yap, a New Orleans term for a bonus gift or “a little something extra”). It’s hard to believe we’ve been married nearly 10 years. Our relationship has changed over the years: we don’t have long conversations or look longingly into each others’ eyes. We don’t often hold hands or touch in public. But we do enjoy being in close proximity. I’ve found that when we’re together in a new place without Wes, we like to wander around and observe locations together – many times we’re deep in thought and subconsciously link arms or hands. We’re also more apt to jokingly tease in a way that doesn’t happen as often at home.

Occasionally getting away is great for us. View our photos from the trip here.

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Posted: August 21st, 2016
Categories: Leah
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Lost & Found

IMG_17791Traveling solo is not a good idea for me.

You know the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day? On Saturday, I felt like you could have plastered my face on the front of its book cover. The day started off wellproductive, in fact. I successfully got both dogs and their stuff to the boarding location with Wes in tow, packed both him AND I, stopped the mail, took out the trash, straightened up the house and washed my hair, to boot.

Mom came to pick up Wes and then I was off to the airport to meet Steven in Atlanta. He was in Florida for a company retreat for a few days, and we had decided to make a fun trip out of his next speaking gigs because of last fall’s adventure in Spokane, WA. I had planned to go to the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, and it turned out that Steven was asked to speak at the same conference. (I ended up not getting a reservation to officially attend sessions, but I enjoyed it anyway.)

It’s not like I haven’t traveled by myself before. It’s not like I’m disorganized. But somehow between boarding the plane from Indianapolis and entering the Atlanta public transportation train, Marta, I realized with a sinking feeling that I had left my driver’s license in my back pocket, and it was not there anymore. Or my coat pocket. Or wallet. Or ANYWHERE.

I quickly got off the train and re-entered the airport. Keep in mind this is the nation’s BUSIEST AIRPORT. I approached the Southwest ticket counter and told them I thought I left my ID on the airplane. They called the gate in which I arrived and didn’t get a response.

“That’s a good sign. Maybe it means the airplane is still there.”

They handed me a faux boarding pass that said “CUSTOMER NEEDS ASSISTANCE” and wished me luck getting through security.

At 7 p.m. on a Saturday night, the airport was pretty quiet. Thankfully there was hardly a line at security. After several minutes of explaining my situation, the security guards decided it would be funny to crack jokes that I didn’t understand because my mind was everywhere and flustered and my heart was racing. “Steven’s going to be so mad at me.”

They let me through, so I took off my shoes, scarf, jacket AGAIN and took out my laptop and toiletries bag to be scanned. I quickly gathered my things and set off so that I could try to catch the airplane before it took off again.

The lady at the ticket counter had told me to check with staff at a different gate because they couldn’t reach anyone via phone. Thankfully the staff at the other gate was kind and went to search the airplane on my behalf. They came back empty-handed. Strike 1.

During this whole ordeal, I had been texting Steven, who was boarding a plane in Florida to arrive in Atlanta a few hours later. He probably felt helpless trying to problem-solve from afar. I felt terrible making him feel so out of control. I felt out of control!

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Somberly, I headed back to the Marta train and arrived at the hotel. While in the ridiculously long check-in line, my heart raced again as I began to dread what I knew happened…I LEFT MY LAPTOP AND TOLIETRIES AT SECURITY. Strike 2.

I called my parents in a blubbery mess because Steven was unavailable – flying. I just had to vent. This is so unlike me! What the heck is wrong?! How on Earth could I be this careless?! For a hot minute, I considered going back to the airport again, but stayed put. I needed to check into the room and cry. Lost and Found was closed for the next two days, so I filed a claim online. That was all I could do until Monday morning (which led to an 1.5 hour phone call). Strike 3.

Steven arrived an hour or so later, and I collapsed into him. Poor guy. I was a hot mess. He calmed me down and we decided to make the best of it. Everything I had lost was replaceable.
1) Driver’s license needs to be replaced anyway with our new address.
2) My Chromebook wasn’t that expensive, and it’s password protected. It’s easy to spot, though – lot of stickers on the top – so it probably can be retrieved.
3) I can buy contact lens solution and a case and a toothbrush and everything else needed for the next couple days.
4) Make up? Oh well. I can survive without it.

I love Steven. He’s so level-headed. And he invited me to join him because, well, I bring the fun and interesting to his life. 🙂

And we DID have fun. Following his morning speaking engagements each day, we went to the World of Coca-Cola Museum and tried flavors from around the world. We walked around various parks and streets, even though it was cold and rainy. We rode the downtown ferris wheel. We checked out CNN World Headquarters. We tried some local eating spots. We visited the world’s largest aquarium, which was likely the highlight of the trip. Touring the place made me miss Wes something terrible. He loves sea life and ocean creatures, and I could hear little kids shouting at something unique and cool and knew he’d be right there with them.

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I’m now sitting in the airport, ready for our journey home. I successfully collected my laptop and bag of “stuff” from Lost and Found this morning, and my umpteenth romp through security was rather uneventful. They’ve seen it all, these airport staff. And everyone has been so nice – I mean everyone. Atlanta, you’re good.

My driver’s license is still lost, but whatevs. I’ll spend my lunch break at the BMV tomorrow, and heck – it makes for a good story.

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Posted: November 10th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Oh Man, Spokane

View all of our trip photos here.

With Steven’s increased business travels, and our August anniversary getaway plans canceled last minute earlier this year, we turned his Washington business trip into an extended mini getaway. I’ll tell you what: I certainly bring the entertainment factor when it comes to planning business trips. Steven usually just wings it and “misses out” on so much by not planning ahead. Armed with my travel guide and Groupons, we headed out.

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Our honeymoon to London was Steven’s first airplane experience, and since then, he’s been on countless trips – far surpassing the number of flights I’ve been on. Even being the semi-frequent traveller that he is, he’s never had any issues with major delays, lost luggage or mechanical plane failures. Me, on the other hand, it seems like there’s always an issue. We decided I was bad luck because our flight from Indianapolis was delayed 45 minutes due to the fact the plane from Chicago had mechanical problems and had to be swapped out quickly.

We landed in Denver 10 minutes before our connecting flight was scheduled to take off. We knew we wouldn’t make it…we’d have to run the full length of the concourse, not counting the time it takes to taxi and unload. We decided to try, however, because the next flight to Spokane, our final destination, wasn’t for another 8 hours. By some gracious miracle, they held the plane for us as we clambered on, drenched in sweat.

Arriving in Spokane (pronounced Spo-can, pretend the E isn’t there) at 12:30 p.m. local time, it had been nearly 6 hours since we had last eaten and were desperate for food. Note: airlines don’t offer anything more than 6 oz of soda with looooots of ice for domestic flights. Remember the days of full meals and even peanuts and pretzels? Sorry boutcha.

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We were so tired and so hungry, but we gorged ourselves with super-yummy food at a local eatery called Scratch. I had carrot and fennel bisque soup. OMGeeeee. Good.

To walk off our bloated bellies, we toured the streets of downtown, including the beautiful and unique Riverfront Park, which was the site for the 1974 world’s fair expo. It looks like a happening summer destination with a mini amusement park, arena, train ride and gondola skyride over the Spokane Falls. I had a Groupon for the skyride, but alas, it was closed for maintenance. Strike 1.

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The weather apparently had been perfect for weeks leading up to this one, but we brought rain and chill with us from Indy. We headed back to Hotel Ruby, a former old run-down motel renovated into a hip, jazzy hotel with an after-hours public lounge. We decided it was a nice enough place, but we’re too old for the thin walls and neighboring train tracks and late night arrivals from young party-goers. Steven put it bluntly, “This place is for drunks.”

We spent the rest of the evening reading and studying for the next day’s conference presentation – the reason for the trip. It was only 6 p.m. local time, but that translated to 9 p.m. in our minds, and we were lights-out before people were heading to dinner.

The next day, Steven asked me what I would do to keep busy while he was working all day. Oh, did I have a plan!
FIRST: I had breakfast in the hotel lounge and caught up on local happenings.
THEN: I headed to a coffee shop we had found the day before, Atticus, and I enjoyed a latte and read more from my honkin trip book, We Are Not Ourselves (the thing nearly weighs 5 lbs).
AND THEN: I used one of my found Groupons for an hour-long massage. The ladies in the spa loved to hear that I was taking the day for myself.
THEN: I went to the downtown mall near the Falls. I had found a flyer online with a bunch of listed coupons for the shops in the mall and used them frequently. I tried on fancy clothes and ended up buying more than I should have. I had to stop while I was ahead because I had forgotten that I wasn’t in Indianapolis and had to bring everything back with me in a suitcase…

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ALSO: I had thought about going to see a movie, but nothing sparked my interest enough, so I instead popped my head into the mall hair salon and got a quick trim and style. While talking with all the local folks, I got a few recommendations for dinner that night, and was a little too excited about getting my hair done for a simple evening.

After my girlie rendezvous, I headed back to the hotel until Steven was finished. We met up and then walked to a very early dinner among white-haired people at a restaurant called Anthony’s. There’s a plus to eating before the crowds (I mean, keep in mind it was still 8 p.m. in our Eastern Time heads) – we snagged a table with a gorgeous view of Spokane Falls and were able to buy off the earlybird menu. A four-course seafood meal including dessert!

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On Friday, we rented a car to go exploring through Washington countryside and up Mt. Spokane. The landscape is full of valleys in between mountain ranges – lots of browns, dark greens and a few fall yellows mixed in. Everywhere you look, you’ve got a great view of Mt. Spokane and its sister hills.

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Up that high, it’s fun to enter a patch of fog, clear it, and then come across a pair of deer. The mountain was pretty quiet, since it’s just before winter ski season, but we marveled at the beauty of the state park.

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We decided to have lunch in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is a quaint and touristy lake resort town. Again, since we’re in between seasons, it was nice to explore without too many people around.

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We hiked around Tubbs Hill and got some wonderful views of lakes and mountains.

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Back in Spokane, we had a little time to kill before checking into our bed & breakfast for the night, so we headed into Manito Park, which is a giant park full of individual flower gardens. It would be easy to get lost in that park, but I honestly don’t think you’d mind. We’ll have to go back someday to see the lilac and rose gardens in full bloom.

Next, I whipped out my last Groupon (this one specifically for Steven), to check out a local craft brewery, River City Brewing Company. It started to fill up quickly, since it was just after the close of the business week. Young and old faces – and many of which brought cards and games to make an evening out of it. It was fun just to witness the community and camaraderie within the small, local hangout.

The Roberts Mansion was just a few blocks down the road, and we got there just before the sun disappeared for a few outdoor photos of the grounds. The innkeeper was chatty and answered all of our questions about Spokane, that particular neighborhood and the history of the families who had lived in the mansion.

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One particular room in the house was full of books and old, garish hats. Naturally, we tried some on.

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Washington is a lovely state and the people of Spokane were very hospitable to us. Indiana isn’t thought of much in the area, so it was entertaining to hear questions about the midwest life. “What’s the weather like in Indiana?” “Ball State? I’ve never heard of it.” “How do you spell Indianapolis?” (Really.)

Talking about home made me ready to come home – and were we ever so glad to see our sleeping son when we finally arrived late last night. Time away is fun, yes, but it also makes you excited and grateful for what you have waiting for you back at home.

Posted: October 26th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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