Monday, June 27, 2005

Funnel Cakes for Breakfast

Happy Monday from Arkansas!

I am up hear for a little known retailer meeting. It seems weird to say "up here" when I am referring to Arkansas. Somehow, Bentonville seems down south and Dallas doesn't to me.

Regardless, it's been a interesting trip, so far. I had a 6:45 flight from DFW. Since I live in Garland, a 4:00am wake up call had me pretty hungry when I landed. On my way to our office, I passed an IHOP and thought, "Breakfast sounds good to me." Quick u-turn, and yes, I was seated quickly with coffee waiting.

My waitress was training, so I had the belief I would get some service from one of the two waitresses who came for my order. I was wrong. I was handed a menu and noticed that they were serving funnel cakes. Yes, you read that right. I should remind you I was in an IHOP, not at a state fair. The options were eggs, 2 links sausage and a side of "red, white and blue funnel cakes", or you could add a side of funnel cakes to any order for $1.49.

After I read the menu twice, and double checked the other tables, to ensure this wasn't a joke for the out of towner's, I decided to pass on the funnel cakes. However, they were very popular. The tables on both sides of me order the tasty treats.

Don't get me wrong. At the state fair, I am as ready for funnel cakes as the next gal, but with breakfast, I'll have to pass.

In case you're ever in need of funnel cakes for breakfast...Arkansas is the place!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Wynn, Chocolate Volcanoes and Tales from the Road

I’ve been on the road more than home lately. Without email, text messaging and voicemail, I am sure this would be a lot harder than it is. Luckily, with all the technology, I am not as out of the loop as I would have once been. Now, that I have properly bowed to the technology gods, I can continue my entry.

Last week, I was at a conference in Vegas. My boss was supposed to attend, but was moving, so I got to go. The location was The Wynn. Wow It is a beautiful hotel/casino. I put the words in that order because it really seems appropriate.

For those of you who don’t know, The Wynn opened this spring. It is one the newest Vegas Casinos, but it was created with a business traveler in mind. For example, the desk had a printer fax with the cable internet access. All wires were provided by the hotel. The phone service was VOIP. Customizable voice mail was available and the business office was well equipped.

For the non business visitor, there were many amenities that made the customer feel special. For example, two robes and set’s of slippers available per room. Two flat screen TV’s, one in the main room and one in the bathroom. Also, cable music stations were available. HUGE BATHTUB! When I say huge, I could lay down in it. I know b/c I did. Stand alone shower and his/her sinks. And for the perpetual dieter, which I am not, there is a scale. Of course this is on top of the other standard hotel amenities you would expect. PS. For women, the hair dryer is a good quality, not the wall unit.

What about the rest of the hotel, beyond the room? There were about 5 restaurants I saw. I didn’t experience any of them. I was on a business trip. However, the Spa is very nice. The massage is well worth the cost. The pool area is large. It’s not particularly family friendly, (Mandalay Bay is better), but it is pleasant and a great place for adults to relax. And, for those interested in sunburns in weird places, there is a topless sunbathing area. For the high dollar sunbather, there are cabanas to rent including food/drinks, shaded cooled sofa, and bed/lounger. It looked decadent.

Finally, since I was on business, I must comment on the meeting facilities. They are a long walk from the room, but they are good. You would think, in a casino, you’d hear slots and smell smoke. Not so at all. The only downer was there was no wireless access in the meeting rooms. Seemed like a missed opportunity to me.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the Wynn if you’re staying in Vegas soon. It was really a nice place to be.

On to Milwaukee, and no I am not kidding!
I am at Miller today. This is an industry meeting for DSD and it’s not as exciting as I might have hoped. Hotel wise, I am staying at the Milwaukee Hilton. No need to elaborate, it’s a Hilton, and very non-mentionable.

However, dinner last night had a great story. We were at the BBQ Brew house. It’s a steak, ribs and microbrew place. What a great concept for a restaurant! The dinner was good and the beverages flowed freely. Finally, it was time to order dessert. A colleague from PepsiCo, Gina, ordered the Chocolate Volcano. For the women reading this would seem to be a great dessert choice, right? Well, in a very high school like moment, when the dessert was delivered, I was definitely glad I opted for the cheesecake instead.

Gina was presented with a dessert that can only be described as extremely phallic in nature. It was chocolate, it was standing up, it had a hard coating (like a dipped cone at Dairy Queen) and a drizzle of cream from the peak. Poor Gina. The laughter, jokes and comments were reminiscent of a high school lunch room and it only got worse as she tapped it with a fork and announced, “It’s really hard”. My cheeks hurt from laughing.

If you’re ever in Milwaukee and head to the BBQ Brew house, I recommend passing on the Chocolate Volcano. Gina said it was good, but the harassment may not be worth the taste.

Tonight, we are heading to a Brewer’s/Cubs game. Go Cubs!

I head home to Dallas on Thursday and head to Houston from there. Alex and I are visiting Pam for wedding planning and beach visit. It should be a good but busy weekend.

Monday, I am heading to Arkansas. I now know that business travel isn’t near as glamorous as I used to believe. With such exciting locales, it’s kind of hard to be ok with missing my family.

Luckily, after this round of travel, I am on a brief hiatus. I don’t expect it to last, but I will enjoy the time home. I am so blessed that I have Lorenzo, two grandmas, and a grandpa to take care of my family when I am gone. I couldn’t be on the road without the peace of mind they offer.

If there are two take aways from this entry, remember Wynn – yes; Chocolate Volcano - no.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Alex and Marriage

Alex is a very smart six year old. He has a great smile, a hearty laugh like Lorenzo and a heart of gold. I love spending time with him, because you just never know what he'll say next.

Yesterday, he brought up a new idea that was really quite funny. We were getting ready for work and day care when he asked about marriage.

"Mom, does the person I marry have to be a Martinez?"

Being from North Carolina, I certainly didn't want to encourage marriage within the family. I figured I should clarify.
"Alex, did you mean can you only marry people named Martinez?"

"Yes, Mom, you know not every one has our last name. But you're married to Dad and your last name is Martinez." There was a very "duh mom" feeling to this explanation.

"Alex you don't have to marry someone who already has Martinez as a last name. Traditionally, the woman takes the last name of the man. My name used to be Cherry."

"That's good mom. I don't know a lot of Martinez's. It'll be easier if I don't have to look for them only."

Child logic is so simple, it just makes you smile sometimes.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Vacation II

Okay, actually Lynn pretty much summed it up in her entry but I thought I would enter some of the highlights below that I remember.

The flight out was just fine and had no issues. Lynn and I did notice one young woman pretty much covered in tattoos. Now I don't really have an issue with people with tattoos but this woman had her arms, portion of her legs, cleavage, and some of her hands covered with tattoos. That and she was sporting a Pippi Longstalking hairdo but with vertical pigtails and red hair. Needless to say it was a lot of tattoos. When Lynn and I first saw her we both thought her dress (which was multicolored) had sleeves and covered her shoulders. Nope, that was the tattoos. That gives you an idea how how much coverage we are talking about. One thing I did note was that on the plane (I was sitting in the aisle as was she but 4 rows behind her) I saw she had a tattoo in her armpit that had text on it. I noticed since the text continued from out of her underarm. I could not make it out but I thought of some examples:
"Smell me later"
"Scratch and DON'T sniff"
"Contents under pressure"

So we land in Long Beach and had a good drive to Temecula. The whole visit was great and Lynn has already mentioned the wineries. Some highlights/comments:

We had visited the wineries in Temecula Valley 5 years ago and at that time it was just a few wineries with light traffic. I was very much a novice at wines and had no idea what I liked or did not like. Now it seems it is booming. I know it was a holiday weekend but in the past you could even talk to the owner or winemaker and they would tell you all about the wines, the process, etc. but not this trip, which seems ashame. Some of the notables were Ponte, Maurice Car'rie, Churon, Filsinger, Van Roekel, Wilson Creek, and Keyways. Now most wineries only sell their wines in-house, but some distribute locally in the area at a much cheaper price. This is why we always go to Long's Drugs afterwards ( this is like a CVS ). A bottle of wine at Maurice Car'rie would sell at $12 or $15 but at Long's you can find it for $4 or $8. Needless to say we stocked up on what we could.

Alex got to meet Jayden, his younger cousin and Lynn and I noted how Jayden sort of took to Alex since he was older and, in his eyes, very cool to play with. Alex had fun too but I think he had some trouble getting used to being a 'big brother'. Alex would sometimes get after Jayden for doing something Alex didn't want him to do or whatnot. Alex even got after Jayden in his sleep on one night. As we were still awake about 10PM, Alex just started saying in his sleep "Jayden...JAYDEN." It was too funny.

Meghan found solace away from the two boys playing in a swing that was hanging from the deck in the backyard. She would just swing in there for about 20 or 30 minutes at a time, just taking it easy. Sometimes with her juice, other times just with her own thoughts. Talk about relaxing.

Meghan enjoying the swing Posted by Hello

Meghan checking her messages Posted by Hello

After we had stocked up and visited for a few days it was off to Disney which is about a 30 minute drive from Temecula.

We pretty much checked in at the hotel, which was located across the street from Disneyland, and headed over. This was very convenient as it was easy for us to get Meghan back to the room for her naps but allow Alex to stay at the park with either Lynn or I.

While Disneyland is smaller than Walt Disney World, it seems a bit more manageable and less chaotic. I did very little planning for the trip unlike the trip to Walt Disney World and sort of let things happen as we can upon them. Alex had a great time and even rode some of the bigger rides which included two rollercoasters. This is a big step for him and we were glad to see that he was just fine with the rides etc. Meghan took it all in stride and had a pretty good time. Mostly she was interested in steering her own stroller around the parks and eating.

Here are some pictures we took at Disney. I had heard about the firehouse apartment that Walt had on a Disney special on TLC or the Travel Channel. The same special mentioned the center of Disney marked with a golden spike, which I found. And, oh yes, there be trombones there too! Arrrgghhhh!!!!

Firehouse at Disney. The apartment above the garage is where Walt would stay sometimes and watch the crowds. Posted by Hello

This is the exact center of Disney. Do you know where you can find this? Posted by Hello

Trombones at Disney Posted by Hello

Riding Dumbo Posted by Hello

Lunch at California Adventure Posted by Hello

A Mickey chip. Posted by Hello

Alex participating at Playhouse Disney on Stage in California Adventure Posted by Hello

Meghan having a gummy worm snack Posted by Hello

On Wednesday we went back to Long Beach and decided to drive around and try to go to the beach and visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. It ended up being way too cold for a beach visit so we drove the PCH to Newport and back and got to see the Pacific from the comfort of the car we rented. The Aquarium was very cool. There were petting pools so that you could touch sharks and stingrays and other aquatic life that you don't see every day.

A stingray at the Aquarium trying to see what is on the other side of the pool wall. Posted by Hello

Feeding time for the sea lion at the Aquarium of the Pacfic in Long Beach, CA Posted by Hello

Alex remembered one type of jellyfish that we saw at the Aquarium from a IMAX film we saw about 2 or 3 months ago. They are unique in that they are from Palau and live in a fresh water lake. Not only that but they do not sting and they make their own food inside their bodies. Well, in the IMAX film the person who describes them says they are farmer jellies, where as at the Aquarium they were labled as something else. Alex turned to me and out of the blue tells me that that is wrong. "They are called farmer jellies like in that IMAX film we saw and they make their own food." Sometimes he just comes right out and blows me away with what he remembers and understands.

We actually went back home on Thursday with an uneventful flight. Well, mostly. Meghan had some issues since she started to teethe with her 2-year molars starting to come out, so the flight could have been a bit more tranquil. :) In any event we had a good and relaxing weekend before it was back to the grind on Monday.