Travel, Uncategorized

If you’re ever driving through Blytheville, AR and need a hotel…

Avoid the Days Inn like the plague. Literally. There is a good chance you’ll catch the plague (or at least bring cockroaches home with you when you leave) if you stay here:

The Days Inn logo used from 2007 to the present
The Days Inn logo used from 2007 to the present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Days Inn Blytheville
102 South Porter Drive
Blytheville, AR 72315
(800) 329-1073

Check out my Yelp review to find out why I will be skipping over Blytheville, Arkansas completely based on this single bad experience: Continue reading “If you’re ever driving through Blytheville, AR and need a hotel…”

a corn country rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Illinois, Places to Write

Places to Write | Eli’s Coffee Shop; Tremont, Illinois

It’s been a while since I posted in my Places to Write series. I guess I just haven’t had much time for writing in new and interesting places since I got a “real job.” I finally have a new place to add.

I’ve been helping my sister put together a website for her small business. She has also started a new beauty blog as part of her website. Samantha had no previous website or blogging experience, so there has been a bit of a learning curve for her. We’ve been talking about the project for months without getting much work done, so we finally got the idea to get together at a coffee shop once a week (kids not invited!!) to work.

a corn country rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night.
A corn country rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Continue reading “Places to Write | Eli’s Coffee Shop; Tremont, Illinois”

Illinois, Travel

Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum, Part II

As promised, here is part two of my photos from the Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum in Funks Grove, Illinois. Yesterday, I shared several images from the house portion of the tour. Today, you get to see photos of part of one of the largest gem collections compiled by a single individual in the whole entire world.

 

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According to our tour guide, scholars from all over the world – including the Smithsonian! – have visited this collection and have told him that even they don’t have specimens of some of the things that you will see in this museum. And, unlike some of those other museums, this one has an array of rare items that they will allow you to touch, including a baby mammoth tooth! Continue reading “Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum, Part II”

Illinois, Travel

Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum, Part I

This weekend, I visited the Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum in Funks Grove, Illinois. It was a very interesting tour full of historical and scientific stories. What writer doesn’t love a tour that includes storytelling? I took almost 200 pictures while I was there. I wish I could share all of them with you, but that would make for a very long blog post. So today, I will share selected photos from the house tour portion of the tour, and tomorrow I will share pictures from the gem collection. Enjoy!

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Admission to the Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum is free. However, you do need to call in advance to schedule a tour. It is well worth the advance effort! Continue reading “Funk Prairie Home and Gem Museum, Part I”

Lakes Rivers and Streams, Travel, Wisconsin

Richfield Nature and Historical Park, Richfield, WI

Pretty creek at Richfield Nature Park
I love creeks and streams, and this was a particularly pretty one.

I love exploring. Last weekend, I was driving my older son to his girlfriend’s house in another town and happened to notice a sign for the Richfield Nature Park along the way. On the way home, I asked my younger son if he felt like exploring, and next thing you know, we are discovering a cool new local attraction that I hadn’t even known existed!

At first glance, Richfield Nature Park, in Richfield, Wisconsin, seems as though it’s not much to look at. We walked a small trail around part of the park and thought there wasn’t much to see. It was nice to get out in Nature for an afternoon, but it only took us about ten minutes to walk the trail. Then we noticed that that road we drove in on continued beyond the nature park and went past an old red barn. At first, it wasn’t obvious if the barn was part of the park, or if it belonged to a neighboring property. We decided to follow the road and see what lay beyond. Continue reading “Richfield Nature and Historical Park, Richfield, WI”

AWP, Travel, Vacation Planning

Be kind to the help

MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room
Do you ever walk into a hotel room and wonder if those are really clean sheets on the bed? | MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning, I came across this article begging attendees at the upcoming AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference in Seattle not to be “assholes” to the help while they’re in town. The article specifically focuses on the hotel housekeepers who will be cleaning up after AWP guests throughout the conference. As a former hotel housekeeper myself, I have a few points that I would like to add.

I worked at a small hotel right after high school. I was paid minimum wage, and like one of the housekeepers mentioned in the article, I had only a few minutes to turn over each room. It didn’t matter how big the room was or how badly it might have been trashed. If the room wasn’t completed within the allotted number of minutes, the hotel docked my pay. Which meant there were days when I did this disgusting, back-breaking work for LESS than minimum wage. Needless to say, I only lasted one summer before rushing to a cushy job down the block at Wal-Mart. Some of these workers don’t have that option. Continue reading “Be kind to the help”

Cooking, Essays, House and Home, Memoir, Travel

Bread is my DOC (Drug of choice)

Pain au levain, a French bread
You just can’t find a decent loaf of bread in most American bakeries. | Pain au levain, a French bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like bread. I always have. If you mention my bread lust around my mother, she’ll nod her head and say, “Yes, she always did like her bread.”

When I was a kid, my parents did most of our grocery shopping at Aldi, where the bread was mass-produced and over processed. We usually ate white bread because it was the cheapest, but once in a while, my dad would bring home several loves of oat bran bread when it was on sale and stash it in the deep freezer.

The oat bran bread was my favorite. It never lasted long, because I would sneak into the kitchen several times a day and snag a handful of slices that I would take outside with me and chew on while I wandered around the woods on our property. For some reason, I liked to pull the oat bran bread apart and roll it into little balls before I ate it.

Yeah, I know. I’m kind of a weirdo. Continue reading “Bread is my DOC (Drug of choice)”

Places to Write, Uncategorized

Places to write: TreeGhost General Store and Café, Hubertus, WI

TreeGhost General Store and Cafe located in Hubertus, WI.
This was our table for the day at the TreeGhost General Store and Cafe located in Hubertus, WI.

Saturday, my writer friend and I trekked out to Hubertus, WI, located at 5241 State HWY 167 (Holy Hill Rd) to spend the day writing at the TreeGhost Café. TreeGhost is conveniently located within minutes of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, at Holy Hill, and is an excellent locale for those of you who would like to do some sightseeing before or after you write.

Locally owned and operated, TreeGhost offers service you just won’t find at any chain café. When we arrived, we were personally greeted by Kevin, the owner. Kevin made sure we had everything we needed for a productive day of writing and wasn’t satisfied until he made sure I was able to get my laptop online. Continue reading “Places to write: TreeGhost General Store and Café, Hubertus, WI”

Travel, Vacation Planning

Do you want to see some pretty pictures from my vacation?

Yeah, I know. No one really wants to look at pictures from someone else’s vacation. But I’ve been spending a lot of time complaining about my recent break from writing and wanted to assure you that it wasn’t all bad. Before I drove to Indiana for my non-existent new job, I went on a very nice vacation to the Dakotas. First we visited a very good friend of mine in Minot, ND and then we drove down to Rapid City, SD to see Mt. Rushmore and various other attractions in the area. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Here I am with my boys in front of Mount Rushmore.
Here I am with my boys in front of Mount Rushmore.

 

Continue reading “Do you want to see some pretty pictures from my vacation?”

Places to Write, Restaurants, Rivers

Places to write: Fiddleheads Café, Thiensville, WI

Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters - Thiensville WI
Here’s a nice view of the Milwaukee River from the dining room at Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters in Thiensville, WI.

Today I’m writing to you from Fiddleheads Café in Thiensville, WI. I first heard of Fiddleheads a week ago on the local news when the overflowing Milwaukee River was threatening to flood the café. I loved the idea of a coffee shop so close to the river’s edge and knew I had to check it out.

Fiddleheads is located in an old converted house that sits just feet away from a bend in the Milwaukee River. It’s a bit chilly to sit outside today (unless you’re here to snuggle up in a sweatshirt with hands clasped around a hot cup of coffee, then it’s perfect,) so my writer friend and I picked a large, round table inside.

The dining room where we chose to sit was a bit stuffy when we first came in, so I opened a window by our table and brought some outside in. Fiddleheads’ dining room is bright and airy, with white painted walls and lots of windows. It seems like a great place to sit and write in any season Continue reading “Places to write: Fiddleheads Café, Thiensville, WI”