Staying in shape on the road.

One of the Rockford Peaches made famous by the movie, A League of Their Own

Attitude is everything.

Going on the road for an extended length of time is the ultra “getting out of your comfort zone.” What are those comforts? They are the tried and true habits and idols that we so easily slip into.  I struggle with a little addiction to a controlled substance AKA COFFEE. Now I can’t drink any old low quality, back burner brew. No, my coffee must be fresh, made with filtered water, the best fresh grown arabica beans that money can buy. That used to mean Dunkin’ Donuts beans freshly ground and brewed in my high quality coffee maker.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a quality blend of coffee that can be purchased anywhere in the United States and brewed in a $29 hotel Mister Coffee pot can be quite a taste sensation!  I DO use filtered water but other than that…no gimmicks needed for a fine cup o’ joe.

Another example of keeping a good attitude is in not having access to a vehicle as much as I am used to. We had made the decision to only bring one instead of caravan driving across the U.S. But that means that if carpooling isn’t always available that other creative means for getting around must be sought. So….HELLO WALKING!!! The weather is gorgeous right now and there are sidewalks and bike paths nearby so it’s a great chance to get in some exercise! I had to check my attitude yesterday as I missed out on a ride that I was expecting and had some serious cabin fever. I decided a walk to the grocery store was in order. The interesting thing about grocery shopping on foot is that you no longer look at the price of the item but look at the weight….hmmmm how much do I want this item that I want to haul it back to the room? AND I figured that I could splurge on a bakery muffin and walk it off on the way home.

So with my grocery bag in one hand and my trusty cell phone in the other, I could get my groceries back to the room and catch up on news with my daughter.

The fragrant lilacs are so plentiful that they are casually trimmed and discarded.

The birds were singing, the lilacs were in full bloom and the muffin was yummy. Life is good.

People always ask me how I could leave my home to live in a hotel for months at a time. My standard answer is, “And let my husband be here without me? I can’t imagine being anywhere else?”

My name is Janet and I’m a chipaholic

I remember now why it has been over a year since we have eaten in a Mexican Restaurant. We have no control. We had forgotten that. It was Cinco de Mayo you know? May 5th.  It seemed like the perfect time to try a Mexican restaurant in our temp city.

After all, it was my Weight Watchers leader who even suggested the restaurant in the first place. Since I’ve lost ten pounds now (not a true ten pounds mind you because that first weigh in included a hat, coat, gloves and shoes just to assure a little progress that first week on program) and am back to my goal, I felt empowered to go in there on the Mexican holiday to celebrate with the locals. I just bet that Carolyn doesn’t let them bring chips to her table.

It’s that chip basket that is the problem. I had silently promised myself that I would count out ten chips and when they were eaten, I was finished. I would then patiently wait for my modest combo to arrive. But did that happen? Oh no, my hubby and I ended up finger fighting over the last small crumb nestled in the bottom of the basket. At least we did resist the urge to nod approvingly as the fourth “attender” offered to refill it. Don’t they know how bad your night can be after you have filled up on just ONE chip basket  between two people AND your “modest” combo?

But the chips are so good. At home I eat unsalted pretzels or baked potato chips. I don’t have a greasy chip within a mile of my hotel room. Okay, unless you count the vending machine in the laundry room but that doesn’t tempt me. But put me in a restaurant with loud music, lots of happy people and a basket of hot chips and I’m a gonner.

So after a restless night of dreaming about striped blankets, big hats and Pepcid AC, I believe it will likely be another year before we attempt to eat Mexican food. We need to face facts, we are chipaholics and we now know it.

A tribute to Manuel

This is a repost from February. Manuel had a stroke a few weeks ago and remains in a rehab center. So quickly our lives can change.

Manuel is the kindly older gentleman who does the maintenance in the hotel. He is always busy taking out trash or vacuuming or making repairs. Manuel does not speak English however, and I know little Spanish so I use a lot of universal sign language and he responds with Spanish words I’ve never heard before. It’s worked pretty well for us, that is until last Monday. That was the day that we moved from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor.
You see, our room had a lazy boy chair in it. (not the real name brand one but a cheap, vinyl recliner that we called Lazy Boy). When we saw that our new room had a plain old motel chair in it, we asked if we could swap them.
So Manuel came to the room with a dolly and a smile and proceeded to attempt to load the chair onto the dolly. It was heavy and awkward but we got it loaded and moved to the door but the door was too narrow. So after more unloading and grunting, we got it onto the elevator and moved to the 3rd floor.
Manuel kept saying something to me in Spanish and pointing at the base of the chair as we struggled to get it in place. I just didn’t get what he meant. My two years of high school Spanish were seriously failing me at this moment.
Then the light bulb came on as I realized what he meant.  This is what he was trying to say in his Spanish language. “Stupid lady, hold the bottom of the foot stool part of the chair because it keeps popping out to recline and that’s why we can’t get it moved where we are trying to put it!!!” He only used a couple words but I figured out what he was saying.
Now he smiles and waves each time he sees me, he’s such a friendly guy…..I bet I know what he’s thinking though.

I made a new friend today.

A bus driver named Pearl. She’s one tough cookie, that Pearl. Of course she has to be, to handle all the duties required of a city bus driver. She has to listen to the whining about the dollar bill machine not taking their dollar. She must put down the ramp for the wheel chair folks and pick up the permanent seats and then strap them in so they don’t roll around and hurt themselves during transit. She has to contend with fussy babies and police the rule breakers who try to smuggle McDonald’s bags onto the bus. NO EATING OR DRINKING! But that rule keeps riders from needing their “bus pants” that Sheldon must wear when he rides the bus.

She has to listen to the rider who forgot to take her meds and is yelling obscenities at pedestrians out the window or the patron who thinks Pearl drove past their stop. “Didn’t you know I was supposed to get off there?” Pearl needs to be a mind reader too I guess.

Last but certainly not least, she has to DRIVE that bus. She must maneuver 35 feet of steel and exhaust fumes in and out of busy traffic. It’s the same line of impatient cars and trucks that she has ticked off because she held them up for 4 minutes getting the latest Sassy Hoveround driver unbuckled and safely disembarked.

Humanity 101: riding a city bus. Yes everyone should do that once in awhile. You get to see all kinds of people, all ages and descriptions.  It’s also a chance to witness some really bad hairstyles. The fashion police would have to pull the paddywagon up to load up all the offenders. Fortunately for me, they didn’t stop us.

It also helps you to really appreciate your old vehicle. You know maybe the sunroof won’t open or your GPS stopped working. You’re frustrated that your leather seats make you hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I can tell you that an hour or so into my interminably long trek back to my hotel, that my old Expedition (with the broken grille from the deer colliding incident) was lookin’ PRETTY good!

Pearl was quite nice to me though. Since I got on the bus and never got off. (I was doing recon for my next ride) Two hours on one route can facilitate bonding with your bus driver. When we pulled into the transfer station and everyone got off but me, I knew she was going to notice. I had to stay on though, to see where we were going. It was quite a ride I must say. So if you ever want some blog material or just need a good dose of Humanity 101 AND an appreciation for your life, grab a roll of quarters and hop on a city bus in your town!

What do you mean, we’re staying?

Picture this. You leave your home and drive 1,000 miles across the country to do a 3-4 month work assignment. You leave in December and take all of the belongings you think you will need to have for that length of time.

Loaded up the car and headed west!

You include meds, kitchen items, favorite security blanket type trinkits, your technical equipment to sustain you for a few months away.

Then it happens! The work project goes longer, there were unforeseen delays, the management staff voted to keep YOU on and send the other extra personnel home. And here you are a really long way from home and the calendar has turned over too many pages and you need flip flops instead of snow shoes!!!  YIKES

Here are some remedies for that.  Even if you are sure that your project will end before bathing suit season, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. The Boy Scouts didn’t coin that phrase for nothing you know. Get a big box or two or three and pack that bathing suit, shorts, sandals, short sleeved dress shirts, summer p.js etc.  Pack them up without the address, unless you already have it available. Give the boxes to someone at home. Then in the unlikely event that you stay longer, that person can mail them to you. If you have limited space, you can mail back some of the winter clothes or donate them to a local charity or thrift store.

Now I sure wish I had thought of that BEFORE we left home. As the days grow warmer in northern Illinois I can say,  “Gee honey, I have nothing to wear!” and this time I really MEAN it!

Springtime in the Rockies.

The Mill at Midway Village

Everything in Rockford, Illinois has something to do with a rock…there’s the Rock River, Rock Cut Park, Rock Valley College, Rockford College. Rock River Times.  Then up the road is Rockton and Roscoe (switch the S and C sounds and you have rock again)

The locals are friendly, the scenery is great. Rockford in the spring is a nice place to be.  We have certainly enjoyed our time here so I say “Rock On!”

Embracing the challenges or I used to hate commercials

I knew that temporary hotel living was not going to be easy. We get soft with our lives and comforts. We like our recliner maybe with a built in vibrating back and cup holders or even a remote control gizmo. We have our dvr system worked out that automatically records our favorite shows so that not only do we not have to remember what day and time they are on, we don’t even have to remember to watch them. They get all stored for us until we notice them and THEN the bonus is that we don’t have to watch those blankety blank commercials.  Oh yeah I know it’s those annoying interruptions in our show that pays for the show in the first place but who cares about THAT? Just give me my favorite show at a convenient time with no loud obnoxious people yelling and I’m a happy camper.

Now let’s talk about vehicles. At home you would walk out to your garage, use your remote to open the door and off you go rain or shine into the great world awaiting. And if an unfortunate event occurs like a need for a little car repair, you still have your spouse’s vehicle to help you through those “tough” times. But if you are a thousand miles away from home with one vehicle and your spouse needs it to drive to work, ACKKKK the unthinkable happens! You are left carless. Hello mass transit!

So to embrace these challenges, I must remember the very up side to my new temporary lifestyle. I get to see a part of the country that I would have never seen on a one week vacation driving through the midwest. I get to meet great folks that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and get to develop relationships with relatives who were just a distant email or Christmas card before.

So give me those commercials, it gives me a chance to use the mute button and read an email, a chapter in my book or wash the dishes. It forces me to be more productive while watching TV because I can’t control the speed with which I watch that show.

As for transportation, well stay tuned for “Tales From the Bus” starting next week!

There’s something about the first five minutes….

Have you ever noticed that those first five minutes are often the best? Think about this…you’re exhausted after a long day and evening and you finally get to slide into your soft and comfortable bed.  Ahhh those first five minutes of relaxation are so delicious.

You are hungry and weary and get to your favorite Italian restaurant. You order your special pizza with the perfect selection of toppings and after waiting too long for it to arrive, it does. You slide that first slice onto your plate with the cheese hot and stringing from the pizza pan and you take the first few bites of heaven…..

It’s a cold day, raining or snowing and the house is drafty. You decide to splurge and draw a hot bath. You get the kids settled into bed and the house is quiet and you get your abandoned book from the nightstand and sink into that enveloping warm bath. Those first five minutes of luxuriating in the warm water are the best.

You have never been to a college football game. You have cheered on your favorite team from the living room each Saturday in the fall of the year. But this time, someone gives you two tickets and it’s your turn to experience it in person.  You make your way through the traffic, the crowd, the turnstyles and ticket takers and t-shirt and program hawkers and you make your way up through the concrete stadium to emerge into the inside of the arena. The grass is so green it doesn’t look real and the colors are bright and you can’t believe you are finally there.  Those first five minutes of AWE stay with you for a lifetime.

You’ve been putting off mowing the grass, it’s getting higher, the wife is nagging. There is no more delaying. The grass must be mowed today. It’s 96 degrees with a matching humidity and you are finally finished. The beads of sweat have soaked your t-shirt, your cap is soiled with dust and dirt. Your wife hands you your favorite ice cold beer. Ahhhh those first five minutes of that brew are THE BEST!

At Weight Watchers they say that about desserts too.  Just take a couple bites and enjoy them because those first few bites are the best and the rest…..well they just add five more inches to your hips.

It’s A Wonderful Life

Being on the road for an extended time can be a wonderful life if you are with someone you really enjoy spending time with. However, your good habits can go down hill and your bad habits can really pick up speed.  There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you probably have more free time on your hands. Face it, you love not having to vacuum, clean the pool or mow your grass.  You have someone at home taking care of your house. You are enjoying the hotel benefit of “free” housekeeping, sheet washing, toilet paper roll rehanging right?  So that leaves a lot more time for you to stay in bed, watch a ton of television and likely questionable shows that others’ in your family may not approve of, if they were with you.

Being lazy is probably a default characteristic of most of us.  I know there are some overachievers out there but they aren’t likely to be reading this blog because they don’t spend excessive amounts of time on the computer. They are out jogging their five miles before their 25 push ups then early to bed.  So back to being lazy,  a hotel room is just screaming for leisure due to the fact that the focal point of the room is A BED! and because all of your life a hotel room means VACATION! What do we do on vacation? We get lazy and we eat too much. So if knowledge is power, just knowing that you will have this tendency is a great way to guard against it. Set some goals, use a timer for being on the computer, set your alarm (for a bit later) even on weekends to keep you from letting the sedentary you creep in.

You want to be fit and healthy for your family when you get back home. So make a plan to swim some laps, get out and see the local sights, take up a new hobby, meet some local people and then stick to it! You want to have “A wonderful life” at home as well as on the road.