April 05, 2024

I Digress: Another Rant About Customer Service

I just couldn’t contain myself, so I’m jumping up on my customer service soapbox.  Please note that I am not receiving compensation of any kind from the companies mentioned favorably below; I’m simply sharing my opinions and observations.  The photos accompanying this post were taken at the Missouri Route 66 Welcome Center Rest Area located at milepost 111 (eastbound and westbound) on Interstate 44 in Conway, Missouri.  The picnic table shelters are all miniature versions of Route 66 buildings, and they are ADORABLE!  In case you’re interested, we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the Texaco gas station.

Customer service has been a frequent topic “around the campfire” here lately.  Regular readers might remember that Alan and I are sticklers for good customer service.  Over the course of the past several weeks, we’ve had an exceptional run of bad customer service experiences, mitigated by a couple of shining stars.  It boggles our minds that management at so many companies does not stress the importance of good customer service with their staff.  Alan and I are favoring two main reasons for this inattentiveness to customer service and satisfaction.

March 12, 2024

Adventures in Redwood National and State Parks (National Parks Trip #3)

This post represents another installment in the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.

As I’ve noted in the past, this National Parks trip was intended to be a “sampler” trip – as were our two previous cross-country National Parks trips.  When vacations were constrained by work and school schedules, we squeezed as much sightseeing and as many experiences into our travels as possible.  The theory was that when we stumbled on a place we really enjoyed, we could always return in the future.  Our schedule allowed just two days to explore Redwood National and State Parks and the coast of southern Oregon, so we planned to pack those two days with as much adventure as we could.

February 25, 2024

A Whirlwind Tour of San Francisco (National Parks Trip #3)

Jump aboard for a little bit of time and space travel from our New England adventures of 2023 back to 2017 and the National Parks of the West Coast.  This post marks a return to the series documenting our West Coast National Parks trip in the summer of 2017.  Alan and I, along with our 18 year old daughter, Kyra, logged a total of 8,513 memorable miles of adventure over the course of five and a half weeks during the months of July and August.  Although we had a brand new Outdoors RV travel trailer at home, we had decided to take our older Jayco on this trip because it had bunk space for Kyra.  That would preclude having to make up the bed in the ORV every night we were on the road.  Plus, with our son, Ryan, having aged out of traveling with us, his empty bunk provided a bit more space for Kyra’s clothes and gear on this extended trip.  Truth be told, this mama’s heart would have been much happier if it had been Ryan in that bunk instead of extra camping paraphernalia.  I absolutely loved traveling with our kids, and I still miss having them along.

The last time I posted about our third cross-country National Parks trip, the three of us had just finished up a three-night stay at Yosemite National Park.  From there, it was a quick (really quick!) one-day tour of San Francisco and Point Reyes National Seashore, then on to Redwood National and State Park in northern California.  Let’s pick up the story on the morning we left the Hodgdon Meadow Campground in Yosemite and headed for Lake Solano County Park in Winters, California.  This would be Day #17 in the five and a half week trip. 

February 10, 2024

The "Lunch in Maine" Trip - Five Stars for Five Islands Lobster Company!

When Alan and I spent a week in Maine last May, my only major disappointment was arriving at Five Islands Lobster Company in Georgetown to find it closed.  We stopped by on a Friday afternoon and the quintessential lobster shack wasn’t open on weekdays until June.  Unfortunately, we were heading back home early the next morning.  I was so dejected that Alan immediately starting working on making it right, and we returned to Maine “for lunch” on a long weekend that just so happened to include my birthday.  Was our Five Islands experience worth the return trip?  Come along and find out . . .

January 15, 2024

Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum – An Extraordinary Lesson in Maritime History

The final stop on our Little States trip of June 2023 was Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Connecticut.  Alan and I had been looking forward to fitting in a camping expedition to this park since we had discovered it a year or two ago while in Connecticut on personal business.  The park is located directly on Long Island Sound and the campground is huge and well-maintained.  There were a lot of things we liked about Hammonasset Beach – and one thing we didn’t.

December 30, 2023

Rhode Island - A Grand Time in the Smallest State

Why, yes, that is 2023 in our rearview mirror and 2024 peeking over the horizon.  Our family was blessed with a happy holiday season, and I hope the same is true for all of you.  We added a bunch of new memories to our cache of beloved Christmas favorites, and had a delightful time doing it.  During one of my gift shopping expeditions, I spotted an “Indoor Snowball Fight” – a box of 16 soft, fleecy, fabric “snowballs.”  Alan and I gifted one box to our son and daughter-in-law and one box to our daughter and her boyfriend as the last gifts of Christmas night.  Let’s just say that the expected ensued, no one was hurt, nothing was damaged and the “kids” finally understood why Alan didn’t want to light the fireplace that evening.

Now that the busy holiday season is rapidly coming to a close, I’m picking up where I left off on our Little States trip of June 2023.  Alan and I had already spent a long weekend at the quirky Winter Island Maritime Park in Massachusetts.  Our next stop was Rhode Island, and we set up base camp at Fishermen’s Memorial State Park in Narragansett for a quick, two-night visit.  We managed to pack a lot into our short stay but, before we get to that, let me tell you about a mistake I made.

December 08, 2023

Campfire Talk

Merriam-Webster defines the word “impromptu” as (1) “made, done or formed on or as if on the spur of the moment;” and (2) “composed or uttered without previous preparation.”  Welcome to an impromptu edition of Campfire Talk, a post consisting of the sort of things you might talk about around a campfire with friends or fellow travelers or even around the dinner table with your family.  It was composed with no preparation so, basically, I’m just winging it and you’ll be dealing with my “spur-of-the-momentness” regarding a variety of mostly unrelated topics.  Here’s hoping Mike doesn’t see fit to correct my grammer grammar.  Interspersed throughout the post are random photos from this fall’s tour of the southwest.

Regrets?  Ten days after we arrived home from our fall tour of the southwest (and well before we had worked our way through “catch up” and all the appointments I had scheduled), we found out from our sister-in-law, Joan, that Alan’s uncle was celebrating his 100th birthday on November 28th.  Since Alan and Uncle Adolph share a November 28th birthday, and since Alan’s uncle is the last remaining aunt/uncle on either side of his family, Alan thought it would be a good idea to make a quick trip to Florida to wish his uncle a happy birthday in person.  The timing wasn’t the best.  We had Thanksgiving just ahead and Alan was scheduled for jury duty the week of December 4th. We talked about waiting until January, but that seemed like too far away.   Alan really wanted to go in November, and I agreed that it was the right thing to do.  So, with our camping gear still not packed away for the year, our Christmas newsletter not written, and virtually no holiday shopping or cleaning done, we told the kids that we were on our way out yet again, and we set off for Florida.  Since we prefer the pace of a road trip over an airline flight, it was three driving days down, four driving days back and three days to visit in Florida.  We left the day after Thanksgiving, and arrived home the night before Alan needed to report for jury duty.  Was it even worth it?