This summer’s getaway: better than ever

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Sep 27th, 2014
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I’ve often said that I need to record events in my life so that I won’t forget. This years vacation is not the case. It was the definitive “unforgettable” trip. A trip of a lifetime.

This year we packed up and headed west. (That was pretty much the sum total of our planning. West. How could we fail with a rock-solid plan like that?) Weather and finances be damned, we boarded the dog, tucked the children away with other people, and proceed to pack up the Harley with what we hoped were enough clothes for roughly ten days.

From our neck of the woods, heading due west will take you straight to the St. Louis area. And while it’s a lovely area, we had been there within the last year so we made no effort passing through to stop. Except we had to stop. Under an overpass.

A torrential summer rain had me wetter than Shelley Winters during the filming of the Poseidon Adventures.

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 Twinsies.

 

 

 

 

Yep, that’s just what I looked like by the time we found a place to get out of traffic and pull over. You can just bet that I was stunning.  But the rain didn’t last and we journeyed on.

 

Further we drove into Missouri and Kansas loomed in our future.  I sat on the back of the bike searching my brain for whatever knowledge I could dredge up about the Missouri/Kansas area.  My educated mind came up with the following items:  a large river, Sunflowers, Leavenworth Penitentiary, barbeque, and something about Mark Twain.  Ya’ll, it’s a wonder Mensa isn’t beating my door down wanting to vote me their next president.  Don’t you just know that somewhere there is a history teacher knocking back tequila shots and looking up hand baskets on eBay for all his former students to ride to hell?  I apologize, Mr. Sixth Grade teacher.  It’s not just you, I can’t remember geometry either.  And the only way for me to remember anything about government is to sing that Schoolhouse Rock song from Saturday morning cartoons.  Maybe you should get a song?

schoolhouse rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

( I don’t remember Bill saying this!)

 

 

As we ventured into Kansas, I suddenly remembered something about Kansas.  Something wonderful about Kansas.  A Kansas Superstar!!!  The lovely Sherri Bailey lives in Kansas!  Ans suddenly I knew what had to happen.  I had to see Sher LIVE AND IN PERSON!  (For those of you not in the know, I met Sher online and instantly wanted to be her best-friend/side-kick.  She’s smart and funny and one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.   Sher and I had joked for a couple of years that we needed to meet up and spend some quality time together creating a ruckus.  So I pulled out my phone, jumped on the internet, and sent a virtual shout-out to Sher.  While travelling 75 mph down the interstate.  Ain’t technology wonderful?

Long story, whatever….The Man and I made it to Sher’s house and she even greeted us just like we were regular people.  Now knowing that I just landed on her doorstep out of the clear blue and looking like something that washed up during low tide, I should have been shy and embarrassed.  But folks, I ain’t never been shy, and if you had put your own swollen-from-the-wind-and-rain eyes on the sight of Sherri squealing and dancing on tiptoes in her driveway as YOU pulled up, you wouldn’t have cared either.  The good Lord above has to love a woman who shouts ” If I had known you were coming, I would’ve built a cake!” the first time she lays eyes on you.

We were fed some delicious Kansas City bbq (which is the best bbq, in my opinion) and got to spend about an hour or so chit chatting about this and that.  So the next time you read about some cool person on-line and think to yourself, “boy would I like to meet that person”, just know that it can be done.  Or better yet, go to http://sherbailey.com/ and see for your own self what I mean.

Back to the trip, after leaving Sher’s house, owe spent the night about an hour away.  Not a bad day’s ride all in all.  Three and a half states away, a new/old friend, good eats and a comfy bed to lay in and reflect on the day.  Vacation is good.

 

(Shout out to JD for going to get the food.  I do love me some tall guys with bbq.)

 

Tomorrow:  Headed north.

A moose and a biker walk into a bar…

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Jul 10th, 2013
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Day Three:

 

Leaving New York State and heading into Vermont, we were again dealing with the rain.  Big, fat drops of rain.  The kind of rain that tells you it’s gonna last all day while it runs down the back of your neck and soaks your underwear.  But we are determined.  It’s vacation, dammit.  A good time WILL be had by all.

 

 

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Vermont is full of wonderful odd little tourist traps, centering on their love of Moose, syrup and bacon.  Seriously, what’s not to love?  Any state that embraces large clumsy-looking creatures and breakfast foods is alright in my book.  I had to resist the urge to buy bacon-flavored chapstick in this particular place.

 

Along with the rain that WOULD NOT GO AWAY, the temperature had decided to drop down and make sure I was not only wet, but also cold.  Now tell me, good readers, when you pack for summer vacation, what do you throw in your bag?  T-shirts?  Cute tank tops?  A couple of pairs of jeans because you’re riding?  Well, of course you do.  Me too.  I did bring one sweatshirt, because I thought evenings on the coast may get a little cool.  I also brought my leather jacket because of the whole biker thing.  Vermont made me put all of these things on AT ONCE.  So I was basically waddling around like that one kid from the “Christmas Story” movie in a biker version of his snowsuit.

 

Randy-Snow-Suit-A-Christmas-Story-

 

 

 

 

Yup, this seems familiar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had visions of riding through the Green Mountains while mainlining maple syrup straight from the bottle and oohing and aahing over quaint little villages that hand everyone a block of homemade cheese when they enter town while herding smiling moose through the courtyard.  Hey, a girl can dream.  Instead I got wet underwear (and not in a good way) and a sneezing fit that threatened to knock me off the bike.  I felt icky, but decided that I had waited too long for vacation to pay any attention to not feeling 100%.

 

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My feeble attempt to take a picture during one of the 2 minute breaks     from the rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I talked with a couple of different people about where we should go and what we should see while there, but the only person that disagreed was the weather man. One look at the radar told us that the rain wasn’t ending anytime soon, so we now had a decision to make. Try to see Vermont in the rain, or head out for drier ground.

 

 

It wasn’t a hard decision, although it meant that I had to forgo several things that I truly wanted to see.  But ONWARD!  Keep moving!  We can outrun the weather!  (Sidenote: We are fools.)

 

Somehow, and my guess would be dumb luck, we entered New Hampshire during Laconia Bike Week.  For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, Laconia Bike Week is the oldest bike rally in the United States.  It started in 1916 at the pier on Weirs Lake in Laconia, New Hampshire as a place for motorcyclists to race and climb up incredibly steep hills.  Over the last 96 years, it has grown to become an iconic biker gatherings that is on a lot of bucket lists.

 

So of course we had to go.  I mean, what are the odds?  I honestly thought it was the week before, but then again I wasn’t that surprised that I was wrong.  I’m wrong a lot.  But I saw a shopping opportunity.  And at the top of my shopping list?  A new rain suit.

 

We splashed, dripped and sloshed our way into Laconia and was pleasantly pleased that the rain had died down to a gentle drizzle.  At the time it felt like a sunny beach in Bahamas.    Here’s a shot of the main vendor row in downtown Laconia, next to the pier.

 

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There might be a few bikers here.

 

 

Being from Indiana, I have a slight southern accent.  I know this about myself and use it to charm Yankees and shame my high school teachers.  But as we walked around the rally, I tuned my ears to the conversations around me wanting to hear the accent of the locals and maybe pick up some tips on what was happening in the area that day.  What’s this?  I don’t understand?  Are those real words?  Is that even English?  By this time I was running a fever and not sure I was hearing anything correctly.

 

As I stood puzzled over my lack of understanding, I happened to notice that several of the bikes had Quebec license plates.  Ack!  I was surrounded by Canadians!  French-speaking Canadians!  My charming almost southern accent was going to waste!

 

Suddenly, my plans of haggling a cheaper price for a rain suit so that I could also afford to by some sparkly things seem to fade as fast as my so-called waterproof mascara.  Like a typical self-centered American, I had “forgot” that Canada was so close.  And I’m guessing here, but I bet that bike rallies aren’t near as commonplace in the frozen tundra of Canada.  (Again, my only knowledge of Canada is hockey and bears, so the entire country must be a frozen tundra, right?)

 

The good news is that everyone also spoke English and I did get to buy a rain suit that fit.  OK, it was a little big, but that’s a good thing because I had plans to eat a large portion of the lobster population while I was in the area.  Wearing a rain suit while eating lobster may seem weird to you, but those little plastic bibs with a giant picture of a red crustacean on them aren’t attractive either.  Plus I’m saving the environment from plastic lobster bib pollution.

 

The Man and I walked vendor row and checked out all the bikes while still trying to ignore the fact that rain was pouring on our heads.  After purchasing a new rain gear for me and a pair of waterproof boots for The Man, we spent a couple hours looking at bikes, chatting with vendors and picking up some mementos.  Oh yeah, and marking our hometown on the map at the visitors booth.

 

photo (64)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yeah, we rode into one of the most legendary biker rallies in the nation.  Cool.  But the heavy rain was catching up to us again, so it was time to head out.  I stripped down, pitched my old, janked-up rain suit in the nearest trash can, donned my new full-body lobster bib rain suit and we headed out towards Mt. Washington.

 

We made it that evening as far as Ossipee, New Hampshire before calling it quits for the day.  We grabbed a room, ordered a pizza and enjoyed being dry to the rest of the night.

Fun fact:  Ossipee, NH is where the snowmobile was invented.  This fact pertains to nothing, other than there isn’t much else to tell you about Ossipee, NH.  I will try to be less boring in the next post.  Unless you like snowmobiles, in which case, YEAH!

Twenty thirteen vacation

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Jun 29th, 2013
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It’s time for vacation again, and lordy-chile, it couldn’t have come soon enough.  By some combination of voodoo, bribery and dumb luck, we managed to get two whole weeks off.  At the same time.  It was a damn miracle.  (Do you realize that’s half a month?  I was flabbergasted.)

 

As usual, we picked a general area of the goood ol’ US of A and decided to see what we could find.  Not by research, my you. Oh no, there will be none of that.  I probably did one or two quick internet searches, but other than that, NADA.  For me, not knowing is part of the adventure.

 

I will confess talking to one person that had previously lived in our chosen destination, but most of the conversation was spent talking about where I could find good food, and the fact that our kids were desperately trying to drive us both bonkers. I was a bit obsessed with the weather in days prior to leaving.  I openly mocked all weather forecasters, and gave the stinkeye to anyone who dared say the word “rain”.  The weather here in Bedrock had been one tree-shaking, yard-flooding, steamy-hot storm after another.  But I remained in denial, for surely after suffering through 50 weeks of work and kids and life in general there was no way the weather would stop me.

 

But finally, the day came.  We packed our sunscreen, underwear and electronic devices, jumped on the bike and headed out.  After years of heading south in the ass-hot part of summer, we decided that New England sounded like cool refreshing beaches and lobster in seaside shanties.  (Are shanties still a real thing? Or is it something I made up in my crazy-riddled brain?)

 

Day 1 Objective:  Get through Ohio.  I truly had no desire to see one single thing in Ohio.  (Sorry Ohioans.  I’m sure you’re lovely people, but your state is boring as hell.)

 

The sun was shining, the weather was perfect and we had 14 days ahead of us.  I could not stop grinning.  I was one happy girl, sitting on the back  of the bike, camera strapped on and music playing on the stereo on the bike.  Bliss.

 

With only stop for gas, food, and one Harley shop we crossed the state and made our way into Pennsylvania.  Not too shabby for a first day’s ride.  I have a firm belief that if you are still in a state that touches the state you live in, you are not on a real vacation.  Now that we were in Pennsylvania, it felt like it had truly begun.

 

I only have a few pictures from that day, because as I said, Ohio = boring.

We have GPS.  But only to find food.

 

We have GPS.  But we only use it to find food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio Barn

 

This is the best picture I have from that first day in Ohio.

I apologize.

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived in Pennsylvania, we grabbed a bite to eat, got a room, and promptly fell asleep.  Apparently riding on the back of a bike makes an old broad tired.  Driving across one and a half states probably makes The Man tired too, but I was too tired to ask.

 

Once again, I’m sorry for the weakness of this post.  Blame Ohio.

 

Back again tomorrow to tell you all about the less boring parts.

 

 

Sometimes it’s the little things

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Aug 11th, 2012
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Our vacation was running the roller coaster of emotions. While we were overjoyed to finally be on vacation, there was a death in the family. Although we had a great room, we couldn’t stay long and had to return sooner than expected to attend the services. Up and down. Up and down.

 

 

But sometimes, a little thing can make you smile when your thoughts get too heavy. Lemme show you what I mean. (Bear with me, my photography skills were on vacation too.)

 

 

 

These are the pain relievers stocked in our room. I wanna hug the person that wrote this and made me giggle. “These pills contain 500mg acetaminophen. They don’t contain Red Dye #40. If you enjoy Red Dye # 40, you will have to eat it separately.”

 

 

 

 

“Oral Fixation Mints” Snort!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biker-speak for maid service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Do Not Disturb sign ever.

 

 

Don’t you just love little things that make you giggle out of nowhere?  Kudos to the Iron Horse.  If more companies showed this kind of sense of humor, the world would be a better (and way more funny) place.

 

Let me just give a couple more shout-outs to the great folks at the Iron Horse.  From my impeccably clean room, to the great girls at the front desk who helped us find a local florist (not to mention they comp’ed us some tickets for a really cool thing that I will tell you about tomorrow).   If you’re ever find yourself in Milwaukee, please stay here.  Because where else are you going to find a place that’s biker friendly, pet friendly, LBGT friendly, and horsing around friendly?

 

Here’s the link, check it out for yourself.  Then book a room and check yourself in. http://www.theironhorsehotel.com/

 

Check back tomorrow and I’ll tell you how I single-handedly boosted the economy in one gift shop.

 

 

 

I fell in love with an Iron Horse.

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Aug 11th, 2012
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If you missed part one of the World Vacation Tour Extravaganza 2012, click here:http://hushwoman.com/2012/08/10/vacation-interruptus/

(go ahead, I’ll wait right over here. Done? Ok, good.)

A week or so before we left on vacation, I googled “What the hell is there to do in Milwaukee that doesn’t involve Pabst Blue Ribbon or Cheese?” Because honestly, those are the only two things I know about Milwaukee. Well, those and Laverne and Shirley. Google produced results containing things like boat museums and poetry house readings. (Google apparently thinks I’m all classy and shit. Hmph.)

 

More searching revealed a hotel that catered to bikers and other such riffraff. From the website it looked a hell of a lot less scary than the famed “Motel 3” in Pennsylvania where I spent one dark and creepy night, so I tucked that little bit of information into my phone for future reference.

 

We rolled into Milwaukee about dusk. Fate had once again brought us into a strange city via the roughest neighborhoods. I mean seriously, just once I would like to enter into a new place along an elm tree lined boulevard with gardens and children playing in yards. Instead I get this. Every damned time.

Still better than Motel 3

 

After a few missed turns and a map check or two, we finally pulled in to The Iron Horse Hotel.  And I promptly fell in love.  Past vacations have yielded room accommodations that have varied from ironic newlywed suites with heart shaped tubs to corporate business rooms to that one scary night we were asked if we wanted the room for the whole night, or by the hour.  This wide range is usually due to availability (if you don’t know where you’re headed, it’s hard to book in advance), proximity to delectable foods, the current condition of my hindquarters and more importantly, the weather.  Many times a rainstorm has driven us into the nearest empty motel room.  Such is the life of the spontaneous vacation biker.

 

In my haste to rid myself of 400 miles of road grime and bug-encrusted chapstick, I honestly did not look around too much when we entered the lobby.  I just wanted a room so that I could take my shoes off, wash up and check on the condition of my sunburned nose.  (More about the nose later.  Much more.)  Two very nice ladies quickly checked us in and directed us to the elevator.  I will admit to stepping off the elevator and vaguely noticing that the carpet in the hallway was of the funky-cool variety, and there may have been some great artwork on the walls, but honestly, the days events had left my brain pudding-like and hazy.  I just wanted to get to room 303.  And then HOLY HELL, we walked in.  Here, let me show you.

And my heart went all pitter-patter

 

Is that some room or what?  Yeah, yeah, I know that I had briefly looked at the website before vacation, and there were a few pictures, but we all know that those pictures are usually taken by magicians that have the ability to make Madonna look like she’s not an alien.  So, grain of salt, is all I’m saying.  Well, color me flabbergasted, my room was prettier than the pictures and at that point I may have dry-humped an arm chair.

 

This room was cool, hip, well-designed, comfortable, well-stocked and wonderful.  From the leather headboard (*swoon) to the horse-hair bench at the foot of the bed (Squee!), everywhere I looked was something delightful for my eyes.  Custom artwork (see wall) and the refurbished original warehouse beams gave the place an off-beat groove that made me happy on a day that really needed a dose of happy.  I spent the next few minutes running around the room shouting, ” Look at this!”  and “Check this out!”.  My dork level was so high that it was like I had never been out of my house before.  After running around like a three-year old jacked up on pixie sticks, I realized two things.  A. I was too grimy to be in this nice place, and B. I was starving.

 

See that lovely bathroom up there in that picture?  The one with the beautiful soap and thick, luxurious robes?  Well there’s a secret about that bathroom.  And this time it didn’t involve an unfortunate smell or unidentified pubic hair!  Win!  Lemme show you…

 

Photo credit: Iron Horse Hotel

 

Yes, you can totally see anyone showering from the luxury of your comfy bed!  I will leave it to you as to whether that is cool, sexy, pervy, or completely inappropriate.  But anyway you look at it, not your average hotel room, right?

 

We cleaned up (sorta), jumped back on the bike and headed out to find some food.  Although there was a restaurant or two in the hotel and a bar, we wanted to make the most of the few days we had and see the city while we could.  Dinner was uneventful, as we just ended up finding a diner and grabbing some burgers since it was so late.  Or maybe I didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary away from my lovely room.  I still had the lobby and grounds to explore and they did not disappoint.  Here’s some random pictures I took that night and the next morning.

 

The lovely lobby. I could hang out here all day.

 

Common area chic. Well done.

 

Outdoor bar, sadly not open at 8 A.M.

 

The staff at the hotel were wonderful, the breakfast was divine, and the fact that they had covered bike parking and a bike-washing station made The Man extremely happy.  I have about 40 more pictures of various things around the property that I will share with you later, but for now let me just say that if you ever find yourself in Milwaukee, please consider staying here.  I’m sure you will love it as much as I did.  And if you like to watch your travelling companion shower, it’s a total win.

 

This post is not sponsored by The Iron Horse Hotel or any of it’s affiliates, nor have I been compensated in any way.  The Iron Horse has probably never heard of me, but I’ll try not to hold that against them.  Honest Injun.

 

 

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