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Archive for the ‘hotels’ Category

Our Trip So Far

I haven’t been able to keep up w/ this very well, but we’ve been having an interesting trip. The first night we stopped in a small town in Saskatchewan & all the good hotels were full & the nearest town was 50 miles away & it was 8pm already. We checked into the only hotle w/ rooms left & lets just say that calling it “rustic” would be very generous. It was a dive. I was worried I was going to get bedbugs, & I figured that I’d stay cleaner by not having a shower than by having one!

Our second night on the road was better. WE stayed in a bigger town (there was a Caribou Coffee, so I got my morning Latte). There was a pool, plus jacuzzis in our rooms. Day 3 we stayedin a nice hotel too & had a lovely dinner at Red Lobster! We have seen so many commercials for the “Endless Shrimp” this summer, that we all were craving some seafood, so when we saw it, it was a forgone conclusion that we’d have dinner there.

Day 4 has been the best so far. WE stayed in Frankenmuth, MI, which is known for 2 things, the HUGE Christmas Store, & the hotel w/ the Water Park. WE didn’t make it to the Christmas store, even though it was right across the parking lot from the hotel. WE were enjoying the waterpark too much! They have 2 waterslides for intertubes, but you are in the dark the whole time, so you don’t know what’s coming. It was really fun, but Pastor Chad said that when he went down by himself it wasn’t nearly as fun as w/ Asher b/c it’s more fun to see how he reacts. They also had a breakfast buffet in the hotel w/ Starbucks! (so I got my mornign Latte again!).

Last night we stopped in Strathroy, but the hotle was full b/c of a wedding, so we went on to London & stayed at the Motel 6. They warned us when we checked in that the jets in the hot tub weren’t working, but it was still hot. At night, Pastor Chad’s parents went to take Asher too the pool only to discover that the pool was freezing, & the hot tub was tepid. Come to find out that an alarm for the hot tub had gotten stuck on, so they turned off the breaker, not considering that that might shut off more than the alarm! We had planned to stay all 3 nights, but since we have to find ways of keeping Asher busy, we have moved to the Ramada. Hopefully we have a better stay here.

Tomorrow is basically a relaxing day. The guys are going to get all our stuff moved over from the storage to the U-Haul, & PC’s Mum will watch Asher so I can go get Chancery signed up for Health Insurance before we leave. Hopefully that won’t take too long. Maybe Chancery will cry & people will have pity on me & let me got first!

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Tonight we are in Regina, SK. Some may understand the title of this post as quite literal. Saskatchewan is said to be so flat that you can watch your dog run away fro days, so even though we have about a day of driving yet, the end may be in sight!

We are staying at another Travelodge. I realized tonight this is the 3rd one on the trip. I guess they must be pretty good. I couldn’t get a cheaper rate tonight, though I tried, but since we had gained an hour just before we stopped yesterday & then another one this afternoon, & we had driven almost 800 km, we decided that we’d just take the room here. It’s the first night on the trip we’ve had to pay over $100 for a room, which overall is pretty good. Chad still thinks that’s high, but I think he’s just out of touch w/ how much hotels cost.

The perks of our hotel are:

  • Swimming pool
  • hot tub
  • waterslide
  • kiddie play area

So, yes the perks are pretty much all pool related, but really, who has time to do much more in the evenings anyways? We have to tire Asher out after a day of sitting in the car, what better way than a pool? A bath just doesn’t cut it on days like this.

We stopped for coffee this morning in Kenora at a coffee shop called HoJoes. It was listed in our hotel book as a “Vancouver Style Coffee House.” It lived up to it’s name! It was some of the best coffee I’ve had in a long time. Strathroy had a coffee shop, but they seemed to go about things as cheaply as possible, & when you are making a latte for someone, that just doesn’t cut it, my friend!

Anyways, back to the pool! Asher enjoyed the waterslide a bit more tonight. It wasn’t as fast as last night’s was, & it wasn’t a brand new experience either. We have a pretend phone in the car for Asher to play w/ & he “called” Grandma Vos to tell her all about the pool & waterslide he went on last night. It was very cute & obviously left an impression on him.

In the kiddie play area there was a cave that lead up to a normal tube slide (w/o water) & it took some convincing & daddy to go w/ him, but Asher finally went down that slide as well. Chad said it was a good thing he had gone down the slide w/ him b/c since they were wet (the kiddie area was in w/ the pool area) the slide was really fast & Chad landed on his bottom at the bottom & it did not feel too pleasant. Plus it was quite a ways that you had to walk in the tunnel, & who knows if Asher would have made it the whole way up alone. It was pretty squishy in there as well, Chad reported.

So, we MIGHT be able to make it all the way to Lethbridge tomorrow, but it would be a long day to do it. We aren’t sure if we are up for that long of a day w/ the most boring part of the drive still ahead of us. Besides, why not have another night at a hotel w/ a pool & possibly a waterslide?

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On this trip there are many things I’ve learned, such as:

  • I’m not as patient as I’d like to think I am…. especially when I am tired & hot. I just get cranky & snappy.
  • I really, really like specialty coffee & it’s not so easy to find when you are in the middle of nowhere (although I knew this before the trip too, but it’s VERY evident now).
  • Hotel rates are not set in stone.

This last one is a tricky one b/c we all know about AAA/CAA rates being lower than normal hotel rates, but did you know that if you hem & haw just a little, they will sometimes offer you an even LOWER rate? Our first hotel’s rate was $120. They offered me $110 w/CAA, but then I asked how that compared to other rates in town & she said, “well, I can actually offer you $100.” It came through as “Rate of the Day” on the bill, so it’s worth asking for at Travelodges.

Tonight we stopped at a Holiday Inn & I asked about rates & they offered me $120, or $110 w/ CAA. I asked if there was anything cheaper & he simply said no, so we left. We went to a Days Inn & they offered $120 w/ CAA & I simply asked if she could give me a room for under $100, say $99 & she said, “sure.” So It’s definitely worth asking for cheaper or naming your price (as long as it’s a reasonable price for a room) They’d rather have you there for a little less, than not have you there at all.

I am a bit surprised that they have cheaper rates though b/c it is Canada Day weekend, but perhaps we are just stopping at hotels that aren’t full & that’s working to our advantage.

Our hotel tonight has a swimming pool, a kiddie pool, a hot tub & a waterslide. We took advantage of them & tired Asher out. he went to bed easily & has been sleeping for the last hour or so. Much better than last night. Chad had to lay on the floor by his playpen for nearly an hour until he fell asleep. He just hadn’t expended enough energy & wasn’t very tired. We made up for that today by stopping for lunch at a rest area & letting him run around for awhile & then going swimming this evening. (The waterslide was pretty fun for all of us, though Asher took quite a bit of convincing to go on it).

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We arrived in Grand Rapids yesterday afternoon & checked into our hotel/apartment to find a nice cleaned floor. So freshly cleaned in fact that I was treated to soaking wet socks moments after removing my shoes. I believe the carpet must have been cleaned w/in an hour of our arrival. I called the office & they said the room was supposed to be ready at 3 (it was then 4pm) & it should only take a few hours to dry. So we went out for dinner w/ our friends Ben & Melody, & Jacob & Kami, & our 5 kids. We had a great time catching up w/ them all again. We haven’t seen Jacob & Kami in a year since they were doing their internship out in California & we were in Ontario.

After dinner we all went to the mall so the kids could play on the “Breakfast Food” play area. They had a great time sliding down the bacon, climbing the banana & jumping on the eggs. Don’t ask me why they chose that theme, but it seems to work for the kids! Chad & I did a little shopping as well since it doesn’t happen too often that we get to the mall together.

We got back to the hotel about 8:30 & the carpets were still wet, so we opened the windows again in the hopes of drying it out a bit faster. By this morning things were pretty much dry again, there were a few wet spots, but the majority was dry. At least we can’t complain that the apartment is dirty b/c it really is very clean.

We took it easy this morning since starting this afternoon we have meetings, graduation, parties, church & family busyness to deal with. The only thing on my agenda today was getting to Costco to buy more diapers for Asher since we were getting low just before we left Ontario.

My parents get in this afternoon & Asher is really looking forward to seeing them again. Chad’s parents & their entourage come in tonight so we have to go down to the train to get them as well. I think we’re going to have alot of fun all being together again.

Saturday Chad finally graduates from Seminary & this is the first time that he’ll be graduating w/o immediate plans to go to school. He’s actually going to get his first real job & we are all so proud of him! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully in a few months we’ll have a church lined up & we can move to a house & plan to live in it for more than a year or 2! I am really looking forward to being settled for awhile, although that means I’ll have to change my household cleaning routine of only dusting when we move!

We are really looking forward to catching up w/ all the friends we haven’t seen in the last year (or haven’t seen often) but it’s also going to be difficult to say goodbye to them again so soon since many of them we probably won’t see for years. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch. It’s difficult as a pastor to have friends that really understand what it’s like, so I think it’s very important to hang on to the ones we’ve made in the last 4 years since these are probably the ones who will understand the best.

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Have you ever felt like you’ve been in transit all day? We left G&M’s at 8am to go to Gatwick. We got there at about 10, & our flight was scheduled for 11:45. By the time we were checked in it was time to go through security.

I usually leave Asher’s drink in the diaper bag simply b/c it’s easier. There’s enough other stuff that we have to do that I don’t mind them having to check it after wards as it gives us a chance to get all our shoes on, the laptop put away, Asher in the stroller, & all our bags situated again. Well, the lady had to do a swipe of the bag w/ her little kleenex thing & then check the cloth in the scanner. When she did so, the scanner beeped & printed out a little report so she had to call over her supervisor who then had to question us & she had to re-swipe the bag. The second time it didn’t go off, however I had noticed while she was waiting to check the bag that her cloth thing was already quite dirty, so I think it was from someone else’s stuff, but it didn’t really matter anyway.

I did find it quite humorous however that the supervisor’s first question was โ€œwho does this bag belong to?โ€ Well, truthfully Chad & I answered that it was Asher’s, so the man said to Asher, โ€œwell young man, you have some questions to answer here,โ€ before he actually began to question Chad.

Once we were through security we began to look for a place to get some food, but the only places in the area were travel items, clothing, Harrod’s, cosmetics & alcohol, so we decided to head toward our gate figuring we’d find something out there. Costa Coffee was the only thing to be found, so we settled for a few muffins & smoothies.

They began boarding our plane about 10 minutes after we had finished eating, so we really didn’t have much time to let Asher run around before we got on the flight, but it couldn’t be helped. Once we were on board we discovered we were in row 4, just one row behind first class. I wasn’t sure it was a great place to be sitting, but it worked out ok. Our luggage had to all be put up top, which was kind of annoying, but the people behind us didn’t have anything under the seats, so we could shove our shoes under the seats & it also gave Asher more room to muck about.

It took about 10 minutes for Asher to fall asleep & he slept for over 2 hours. It gave Chad time to sleep & I had a chance to watch “The Bucket List.” I was quite glad that I didn’t have to pay for it since I didn’t find it to be that great of a movie. Out of a 7+ hour flight that was the only bit that Asher slept for, but he was pretty well behaved, so we didn’t mind too much.

When we got to Toronto, we called the hotel that we had parked at, so they could send a shuttle to get us. Once we were at the hotel they told me they said we had no reservation, so I showed her my confirmation paper, & she asked if it had been confirmed when we had arrived. I said yes, & she then told me that nothing had been booked, but she booked us in, so it was ok. She was in a bit of a snarky mood I had noticed. The man behind me asked her something & she directed him to the lifts. He turned & didn’t see them, so he asked her where they were. Her response was, โ€œthe brown things right behind you.โ€

We got settled in our room & then went to find a place to eat even though it was only 4pm local time, it was 9pm London time. We didn’t find much at first, it seemed we were in a bit of an industrial area, but then we saw a billboard for Denny’s, so we went there for dinner. When we pulled up to the restaurant I enthusiastically told Asher we were going to Denny’s b/c there was a McDonald’s right across the parking lot. Asher fell for it! He noticed the McDonald’s, but wasn’t overly upset that we weren’t eating there.

After dinner we went back to the hotel for the promised swimming! I had been looking forward to that since I booked the hotel. Asher wasn’t quite sure about the big pool, he got as far as the 2nd step & wasn’t sure he wanted to go any further. Perhaps having a Rubbermaid container for a bathtub is giving him a fear of big water. But once we started having him jump into the water to Chad he was ok.

Next on the agenda was a bath for me, since it is a luxury I seldom get these days. We got into the room to discover that the plug on the tub was broken! Arrrgh! I called the front desk & they said they’d send maintenance. I was pleasantly surprised to hear them knock a mere 10 minutes later. Chad figured they knew I was trying to have a bath right then, so they sent him quickly. I had a very enjoyable soak in the tub. It’s now 7pm & I’m off to bed!

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We have finally returned home after the worst travelling experience I have ever had. We went to Montana for my Grandma’s funeral. The actual time we had there was wonderful. We enjoyed spending time with my family, and all 11 of my cousins were together for the first time in 17 years.

We left on Tuesday afternoon last week to go to a hotel in Detroit as our flight out was early on Wednesday morning. We got to the border in Port Huron only to have Chad’s Passport set the alarm off. An officer took our passports away and we were escorted to a parking spot. An officer held a stick in front of the car and instructed us to drive right beside us. Apparently Chad was a flight risk! He had inadvertently turned in his Student Visa when we moved to Canada for the internship, but he should have kept it b/c he’s still technically a student. We spent an hour explaining to an immigration officer what happened, and he finally let us go.

We went to the hotel that I had reserved on-line, to discover that it was a MOTEL of the lowest form. We decided to continue to the hotel we had previously stayed at. When I called to cancel the first hotel I was told that we should come see the rooms for ourselves (I told the lady her hotel looked dumpy so we wouldn’t be staying there). I said we had, and she then told me that I’d be charged for the room anyway…… chalk it up to experience. We’ll be sticking with our old favourite from now on. I paid for 2 nights, one before our trip and one after our trip…. I don’t suggest this for the future (more on this later).

Wednesday morning we arrived at the airport bright and early for our 8am flight to be delayed, then cancelled for mechanical problems. The next flight they could put us on would be the next morning, could we go home? Chad said “not a chance, I’m not crossing the border again!” We asked about other airlines and got put on a Delta flight at 4pm. The check-in lady comforted us by informing us that Delta was in the “nicer, newer terminal fully equipped with children’s play areas.” We got our luggage off the carousel and headed to the “nicer, newer” terminal. We were told we had to wait to check-in as you are not allowed to check-in more than 6 hours before your flight. Luckily at this point we only had about 1/2 an hour to wait.

When we finally got rid of our luggage again, we headed to security. Off came the coats, shoes, out came the liquids, laptop, fold the stroller…. it’s much worse when you travel with a little one! The security officer informed us we had been flagged for extra screening. Sure, why not?

Twenty minutes later we were on our way to find a child’s playplace. Chad & I had visions of mall-style play areas like we’ve seen in the Seattle airport….. Little did we know. We passed 2 play areas before we discovered their definition was quite different from ours. The play area consisted of a Little Tykes House. Asher enjoyed it for awhile. Not 8 hours worth, but it was better than no play area at all.

After many hours of bliss, we were boarded onto our plane and off we went. Asher must have decided it was night time b/c he fell into a deep sleep that lasted most of our 4 hour flight. Our layover was surprisingly uneventful. We arrived in Montana and awaited the arrival of our 3 suitcases & carseat. We received 2 suitcases (one with a large hole where the wheel used to be). After discussing with the ticketing agent that the hole was not there to begin with we were informed that wheels are not covered by the airlines. Chad found our other suitcase, but the carseat remained unaccounted for. We were sent to our hotel with promises of a carseat exchange by the next day.

We had a great time. My brothers were there, we had an adjoining room with my parents, so we could send Asher in to visit them, the only complaint was the pool was a bit chilly…..

Our flight out of Montana was at 5pm and check-out was 1pm. I asked the desk clerk if we could have a late check-out of 3:30 so Asher could get a nap, and she said that would be fine and put a note to that effect in the computer. We put Asher down, decided we should sleep too since we would be getting back late.
-1:10, the maid calls, “Will you be staying or leaving?” I told her we were having a late check-out of 3:30. “OK”
-1:20, “Hi, this is the front desk, your check-out time is 1pm.” I told her the situation only to be informed that since check-in was at 3 we could stay no longer than 3 or we’d be charged for another night. “Fine, we’ll leave at 3.”
Asher of course woke through all these calls, so the nap was not as we had planned.

We went to the airport to await our outbound flight. 5 minutes before departure, no plane. The board finally switches to let us know we’ll be 1 hour late…. 1 hour later, same thing happens again. At this point I know we’re going to miss our connection so I go the the check-in to see if I can rebook. Apparently the flight we were on at 7pm was the last one for the night and the next one they could get us on is 10am. The lady tries to convince me to go back to the hotel and catch a 6am flight from Montana to get the 10am connection. We decided we’d like to get as far as we could in order not to get stuck in the tiny airport in Montana.

We missed our connection, and stood for an hour to get rebooked on the 10am flight. Since it was a weather delay the airline wouldn’t put us up, but gave us a hotel discount voucher. We headed for the hotel shuttle area to be informed that our hotel’s shuttle came every 1/2 hour, and we had just missed one. When it finally came it was quite full already, not too sure where all the people on the bus came from, but they had to turn people away. This is the point where I was very glad to have Asher along, as there were protestations that the baby had to be allowed on the bus, so we got squished on.

We got to our gorgeous hotel around 11pm, and headed straight to bed, but where was the crib we ordered? 10 minutes later I called for it to be informed that they hadn’t received an order for one. It finally came about 10 minutes after that.

Tuesday morning we awoke bright and early to catch the 7am shuttle from the hotel to the airport. We almost caught the 6:30 shuttle, but we were too slow in putting our coats on. The 7am arrived on time loaded with people. They had room for 5 passengers, and were taking crew members first. There were 5 crew members, we didn’t have a chance. There was a guy who apparently worked for the airline that kicked up a fuss and said this thing happens every morning and he had to get to work same as everyone else, he pushed his way onto the bus and there was a bit of a scuffle, but that was all they took.

One man got so irate he yelled at the manager, the guest services guy, and anyone else who looked like they worked for the hotel. The manager wanted to call a cab and have the hotel pay for it just to get rid of the guy. That would have been a pretty costly cab fare though, since we were about 1/2 an hour from the airport. The irate guy said there were 2 more busses out there and he was going to take the keys and drive them himself! He signed up for the 7 o’clock bus, and what’s the point of a list if you don’t honour it?

Around 7:20 another bus showed up and the manager rushed out to tell the driver to take us all aboard and get going. The driver protested that he was the 7:30 bus, but the manager said if he didn’t go he’d have a riot situation on his hands, so off we finally went!

We got to the airport to discover that the lines for security were quite long, so we decided to eat at the Burger King before we got in line. I was quite chuffed to discover that a restaurant had the foresight to have a kid’s meal on the breakfast menu! I always think that would be really smart, well, BK is really smart! ๐Ÿ™‚

After eating, we got in the security line and in about 10 minutes we were through! The security personnel were really efficient (although they did dump out Asher’s water. Apparently juice is allowed, but not water for kids). We boarded out flight on time, and we were on our way home!

We arrived at the hotel around 3:30pm, and since we had missed our flight, they had changed our reservation to the next night. Since it was early afternoon we didn’t really need the room anymore, so I asked if I could have my money back. “No, we can’t refund.” I asked if I could get a voucher for the credit. “No, unfortunately not.” What he could do is change my reservation for a few months out, so I can call to change it and stay there again, but if I don’t use it w/in 6 months I lose my money. If you’re flying out of Detroit in the next few months, let me know, and you can have my room.

We were supposed to be back home in Strathroy by 5pm for the Youth Group’s Pancake dinner, but it was over at 7, and that’s about when we got home. Asher went to bed shortly thereafter, and slept ’til 8:30!

We are home, and happy to be here. Chad says no more air travel in the States….. we’ll see how far that gets us!

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