Archive for July, 2013

Traveling Days 3-5

Wednesday was a long day. I got up at 6 am in order to get dressed, grab a quick breakfast, and head to my college for orientation day.  I’m glad I spent the day before getting my bearings (meaning getting lost but finding the place in the end) since it took me nearly an hour to get to the college.  Thankfully I had planned for it and got there with a half hour to check in and grab a bite to eat.  Through the rest of the day I learned a lot about my school and answered some of my questions.  It seems I was the only one there with my major (not surprising since it’s a specialized history degree) so no one from my specific department was there to answer questions about my courses.  Still, I’m happy with my classes and rather excited to start them all.  (Okay, not the math class but the sooner I get that requirement done, the sooner I can get better classes.)  I got done around 3 pm and decided to go searching for my dorm before heading back to my room.  As I wandered the campus with a general idea of where I was going, I called my parents and filled them in on my updates.  It was hot out and I finally got sick of wandering so when I saw my dorm in the distance, I turned around and headed for my room.  I stopped at the local co-op for supper, picking up a local shake and a dish of cold Thai noodles.  Weary from the long day with unfamiliar people and two hours in the sun, I kinda zoned out and wandered the internet and channel surfed for the rest of the day.
Thursday was a day of forced idleness.  I got up in time to get breakfast from the hotel and tried to pack everything up.  My usual travel outfit was jeans, since it was recommended for my college trip and dealt with the air conditioning in airports, but that day I had planned walking outside so I didn’t want to wear the heavy jeans.  I hadn’t realized how much space a long pair of jeans took up compared to the lighter summer outfit I chose to wear.  I finally had to just throw everything together and I had my bags closed a half hour before check out at 11.  However, my bus didn’t get to town until 6 pm.  I explained the situation to the lady behind the front desk and she kept my bags while I went to get lunch at Dominoes up the street.  After lunch I came back to the hotel and sat in their small lobby with my Kindle (a definite plus for technology.  I can now easily carry a library with me without extra heavy baggage to tote around.  The electronic book holder doesn’t replace the feel of reading an actual book but for a bookworm like me, it is a must-have for traveling.)  I finally left the lobby at 3 pm to have time to get to the gas station that served as the Greyhound station in town.  Since I’d figured out the map earlier, it was easy enough to get to, just an annoying half hour walk with my suitcase and heavy backpack.  I got there much earlier than they usually let people hangout but it was a slow day so the attendant let me take a seat and I read more.  About 5 pm I had a supper of cheesy bread I had saved from my trip to Dominoes at lunch and waited for the bus.  It was forty minutes late and there were no empty pairs of seats so I shared a pair of seats for the hour long trip to Kansas City.  I finally got there and another long taxi ride to the hotel meant I got there about 8:45 at night.  I freshened up and redid all my packing so I could just leave in the morning.
It didn’t quite work that way.  I didn’t look at the paper the hotel attendant had given me so I wound up getting a forty dollar taxi ride instead of the twenty dollar shuttle ride I needed to book three hours in advance.  I got there as my plane started to board.  I checked in and got through security (both had longer lines than I had anticipated for such a small airport) in time to get on the plane as the line ended.  I was not the last person on the plane, thankfully.  A few people got on after me and the “last person” moniker was an Asian woman about twenty minutes later.  The plane was in the air ten minutes later than expected, but that was due to traffic in Chicago, not anything in Kansas City.  We finally got to Chicago and after a really long walk (I had forgotten how big the place was) I got to baggage claim to wait, and wait.  Turns out my bag had gotten off the plane but somehow wasn’t on the belt.  The attendant assumed it was still on the cart somewhere and would show up so I filled out the paperwork for them to take it to the hotel and went to get my bus.  I grabbed a sandwich and a drink on the way and got to the hotel early afternoon.  The plan for that night was to get settled in the hotel, get supper at the restaurant attached to the hotel, and spend the night de-stressing and catching up on various things I’d let slide while traveling.  Um, yeah, I picked up my Kindle and no work got done.  I did get down to the Harry Carry restaurant attached to the hotel.

A bust of Harry Carry in front of photos of him with famous people.

Harry Carry and his guests

I got down there when there was a half hour wait for the dinning room so I opted for the bar which had self seating.    I ordered a cheeseburger, mainly for the simplicity of the choice (the other options all seemed a little off the normal I would have expected) A burger and fries in a bar with a stick in the burger.  The stick has a face on it.and because it’s really hard to go wrong with a handmade cheeseburger.  When it comes to comfort food, some things are really hard to cook wrong, especially when it says “classic” or “original”.  Burgers are definitely a classic American item I can rarely get enough of now that I’m back in the States.  (I just wish they were healthier.  🙂  )  While looking on the drinks menu I saw something I couldn’t miss: a watermelon martini.  Hm, watermelon and fruity alcohol?  Sounds like a party and it tasted like one too!  What a treasure for a fun Friday night! To not leave you in suspense, I stopped by the hotel lobby on my way back up to my room and my suitcase was waiting for me.  Now on to Chicago!

I'm waering an Chinese inspired shirt, black with red accents, and holding a red martini in front of a window.

Oh, the joys of a Friday!

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Travel Day 2

Ugh, what a day!  Monday ended a little after midnight when I was talking to my sister in our Milwaukee hotel and realized I would get three hours of sleep before getting on the shuttle for the airport.  We sadly but quickly wrapped up the interesting conversation and I finished packing to be ready to get up, get dressed and go a few hours later.

The day started out as planned and I got to the airport two hours before my flight with a very light breakfast (that’s what happens when you leave before continental breakfast is served).  Unfortunately I put my credit card in the self-check-in kiosk wrong and didn’t have my confirmation number with me since I haven’t had easy access to a printer in a few months so I had to pay 9.95 for a month of airport wifi at most airports across the country.  (I didn’t see the point of paying $5 for an hour when $10 was a month long.)  That took nearly an hour and I had some fruit from my kitchen to finish so I sat down to eat them.  The plums were good but the line at the security check point was long.  I finally got through it all when my ticket said they would start boarding.  I got to my gate to Atlanta about ten minutes later and they just started boarding the first people so I ran to the restroom next to my gate and got in line before the line completely disappeared.  I wound up between a college girl immersed in her headphones and an older lady going for a lady’s trip with her friends across the aisle.  I didn’t complain since I slept most the trip, waking up a few times to change positions, but mainly sleeping.

I woke up as we set down in Atlanta and hurried through the airport.  The place was huge, I was still tired and cranky as well as hungry, and I had a little over an hour until boarding time.  As I neared my gate I realized there were no food places near my gate so I grabbed a chicken sandwich and fries with a water from Checkers as I hurried past.The logo on a Checkers take out bag advertising burgers-fries-colas  Checkers is a popular burger joint in the South and one of my favorite fast food places from when I was living in Florida for a year.  Yum!  I had the fries and half the water done by the time I sat down at the gate to eat the burger.  I love those fries (dreamy sigh).  Anyways, I had about ten minutes before boarding started and I listened to a college soccer player discuss her trip with a kid, maybe ten, who was going down to Florida for a while.  Kind of amusing as the boy’s mom or sister sat on the floor nearby comfy among their bags, half listening to the conversation while reading her book.  The plane finally boarded and I was in a window seat with only one person between me and the aisle, a business woman.  That’s all I remember since I slept much better on that flight and was jolted awake when we landed in Kansas City.

From there I left the plane to find myself in a terminal with only one other gate.  Talk about small airport!  Anyways, I got in a Supershuttle van to Lawrence and talked to the driver some during the forty minute drive.  He was an immigrant from Somalia and Kenya that’s been in the US for three years now.  He’s still learning English so it wasn’t the most intellectual conversation but I enjoyed hearing about some of his large family and why he chose to leave Africa when some of his family didn’t.  We got to the hotel about 1pm and I was disappointed to learn it wasn’t on or really near the campus as I had hoped since the hotel used the college name in its title.  Oh well, I relaxed some in the hotel but I was hungry and needed to find the place for my orientation tomorrow.  Good thing I went looking.  After a few mistakes reading the vague map, I found the meeting place two hours later and it took another hour to walk straight from the meeting place on the far side of campus back to the hotel.

I’m rather disappointed in the town.  I’m used to living in a big city or a full town in a small area.  This is the definition of a college town in that the only big thing is the college.  The town is mostly houses for college students, people who work at or run the school, a few locals and two sets of a few blocks on a street that pass as a “downtown” area.  (Luckily there is a local coop so there is a grocery store in town.)   How am I ever going to stay sane and active if school work doesn’t take 24/7 like people seem to tell me?  Oh wait, thank God for the internet and campus wide wifi!  Who needs shopping or games when nature is a great gym (if I ever have the motivation to run the many hills around here) and the internet can show me anything I want to see (and a lot I don’t want to see)?

Oh well, I’m here now.  Tomorrow I have the full day of orientation, then I want to explore the campus some and locate my dorm as well as the greyhound station for Thursday.  Time for bed so G’night world, I hope tomorrow is awesome for everyone.

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The Trip Begins!

Red-haired me in a green dress and green dragonfly necklace with trees in a window behind me.I left my house today to begin my summer trip to various cities in the United States before school starts in August.  Yes, I am finally going to college after six years traveling since high school.  (I’m trying not to think about being surrounded by the stereotypical ditsy female freshmen and hormonal male freshmen.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can find some friends more my style but I know I need to broaden my horizons.  Yeah, not thinking about that yet.)

Anyway, I stayed up late packing (I know how hard it is for me to wake up so it is easier to get most done the night before) but still had to wake up at 8 am to finish my eggs at breakfast, do my last packing, a small amount of cleaning, go to the post office to check mail (I finally got a letter sent to Japan in May when I left), and went to Subway for a second breakfast so I could check my email.  I had an important meeting in the afternoon and I wanted to see if there were any changes.  There weren’t so I didn’t stay there long.  My brother and his girlfriend picked me up in northeast Wisconsin and we made it to my appointment near Milwaukee a little after 3 pm with a few stops.  After a late start to the meeting, we finished satisfactorily and we all went to meet up with my parents nearby.   My mom and dad, my older sister, my brother and his girlfriend, and I all went to a Mongolian barbeque place for supper and ice cream for dessert before everyone went to their homes.  My sister and I went into Milwaukee to our hotel where we are staying the night.  I will be waking up very early to get to the airport two hours before my flight and my sister will be staying in the room until she has to leave for her thing in Milwaukee in the morning.

All in all it was an amusing, if long, day and I will enjoy my bed, but it was good to see family again and begin my newest adventure.  What are you doing this week?

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My Farewell Party, Part 2

One last night out with my friends in Japan, a night to remember, and it all started with a long train ride and a meal at the Alice In Wonderland restaurant in Tokyo.  By the time we left there the three of us were all a little buzzed and relaxed.  I took out my train directions and we got from Ginza Station to Shibuya for the next part of our night with plenty of time.  Unfortunately the directions only got us to the station, not to the restaurant.  It took us nearly an hour to get to our restaurant since we walked a long ways down the street off the train station before we finally decided to as for directions.  We asked a few people before a cashier at a convenience store finally looked at the address and told us we had to walk nearly all the way back to the Shibuya train station before turning up the other main street in the area and walking a while to a side street.  Luckily it was only a block off the main street and the external decorations were obvious.  We made it to the building but couldn’t figure out how to get to our restaurant.  We could see the lines for the other two restaurants (one below the ground floor, the other in an upper floor with a waiter calling reservations near an elevator) but couldn’t see our entrance.  Finally we found some stairs but the door on that floor wouldn’t open so we went back down and took an elevator to the second floor( a different elevator than the other restaurant).  We stepped out of  the elevator and saw this:
A plastic mummy highlighted with blood behind aged bars.
We had arrived at Alcatraz E.R., the original themed restaurant in Tokyo.  According to the sites I read, this prison-hospital themed restaurant is the success that started other themed restaurants, like the Alice In Wonderland restaurant we’d just left or the ninja place I had considered.
The red "bloody" logo of Alcatraz E.R. the Shibuya Medical Prison Restaurant
In order to open the door we had to press a button of our blood type
Four buttons behind bars list blood types for you to press in the dark room.
and were waited on by nurses and male orderlies.

A nurse and male orderly behind some paper-covered bars looking at a book

Looking up my reservation

Then we were led through the dark rooms, over “dead bodies”
A partially disected body under glass in the floor
to a second floor “cell” to our table.
My blackhaired female friend in front of the bars at our table.
From there we looked at the amusing menu serving body parts as various foods (such as fried rice shaped like breasts) and drinks served in medical inspired instruments.
Drinks served include baby bottles, floating eyes, and head with drink instead of brains.
Since we’d already eaten at the Alice restaurant, we tried the drinks first while our appetizers were prepared.  John ordered a drink that came in beakers for him to mix
John behind a large beaker of orange juice and a set of small beakers to mix into it.
and I ordered a drink that came in a baby bottle that was more cream than alcohol.
Drinking my alcohol from a baby bottle
Jen ordered a drink that came in two syringes and a beaker of bubbly clear liquid.  An earlier picture shows her drinking one syringe and John drank the other one.  They were both pure alcohol of different colors while the beaker turned out to be flavorless soda.  We decided too late that we were supposed to mix the syringes of alcohol with the beaker to get a mixed drink.  Oh well, they enjoyed their colorful shots and our food arrived:
Some fried and seasoned chicken in a cage.
We ordered a fried chicken appetiser which was pretty good, a hotdog with no bun intended to look like a body part (which was amusing to play with but none of us could bring ourselves to eat it and I’ll leave the pictures up to your imagination 🙂 ).
A white bag with a bloody design on a metal container.
We also ordered a serving of fries that came in a bag we shook in order to add flavor. When the food came we all ordered a round of the beaker drink for each of us.
A medium sized beaker with orange juice in front of five small beakers with different colors in them on a wooden rack.
The drink turned out to be a beaker of orange juice, two or three beakers of alcohol shots, and the rest shots of juice for flavoring.
I'm carefully adding two beakers of drinks in a larger beaker of orange juice.
I mixed mine like a mad scientist
A greenish drink in a beakerin front of the wooden rack of empty smaller beakers.
and the drink turned greenish into an odd tasting fuzzy navel-ish drink.  Not bad for a drink, rather bad if it was supposed to be a fuzzy navel.  🙂
While we enjoyed the atmosphere, the lights suddenly went out, a few red lights came on, and the nurses and orderlies came out with a birthday cake for someone.
Sparkler candles are a vibrant contrast to the dark room for this birthday cake.
Jen said that one of the entertainments she had read that they do sometimes is that the lights go out and a “convict” escapes and sneaks around: jumping on bars and generally causing good-natured panic.  However, we didn’t see that and it was soon time to leave

My friend Jen and John pleading with the camera from behind the bars at our table.

But will they let us?

and take the train ride back to our places.  It was a fun night and we enjoyed the different themes we saw.  Both were fun but going to Alcatraz E.R. for drinks after the meal was a bad idea.  I would have had trouble finding food to make a full meal there (I’m slightly squeamish about eating body parts) but the drinks were not very strong.  We got there all kinda buzzed and all left sober even with the drinks we’d ordered.
All in all it was a great night with great friends that left me with memories I will treasure forever. (Along with some pictures I will laugh at forever.  Some pictures are so unique that you can instantly remember the joke of the moment.  They may be hard jokes to explain to others but yeah, I got a few of those that night.)  As y life sets up for yet another major life change, I hope that this is just one of many nights with good food, great memories, fun pictures, and most of all: great friends.

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