Sometimes I think I'm so funny. And then I'm wrong.
Like when I snapped this photo of a "pirate" waiting for the flight back to San Francisco from Detroit, and tweeted it out with the tag #themagicalcityofsf.
At the time, it sure as hell was funny to me. Here, let's count the ways, starting at the top:
highly engineered white dude dreads/scruffy beard
not one, but TWO amateur steampunk-metal-feather-hoop earrings (really, wouldn't one have been plenty? I have to think that Captain Jack Sparrow would have shown restraint, and thereby achieved greater impact -- but that's how you know you're dealing with a professional, innit?) from Etsy
dashing red sash from Etsy
corset murse (translation for the uninitiated: man-purse) from Etsy
Ha ha ha! So much airport entertainment! People-watching and tweeting! All in good fun!
Until I walked by him and got a whiff of the most vile body odor, ever. And I've been to Germany! Believe me when I say he had never, ever, ever bathed, washed his clothes, or "defiled" his body with deodorant. Because, you know, PIRATE.
And then saw his seat assignment.
Yep. Right next to me.
I braced myself for the five hour flight, with a scarf to wrap around my nose, and scented hand lotion which I huffed at regular intervals.
If smells had colors (and you kinda could see fumes radiating off this dude) then his aura would have been acid green with streaks of dried blood red. He smelled like the floor of a charnel house that had been washed down with urine.
Old urine. From angry goats.
With time on the runway waiting for the de-icer, and then 30 minutes in the de-icer, the whole olfactory ordeal took about six hours. Recovery involved a gallon of Febreeze for my coat and prophylactic squirts of Nasonex.
Learn from my tragic experience, and don't mock Pirate Elves in airports! They travel with Protective Stank Ass, and do not hesitate to unleash it on the entire coach section. You've been warned!
There was just one slight freaking huge problem: the only hotel room we could get was in the Excalibur Hotel, a.k.a. the biggest shithole on the strip.
I know, you think Circus Circus is bad, and the Luxor is laughable. But I stand by my judgement on the Excalibur and as proof, I offer you these ten "Worst Hotel" points:
10. The room was missing the "do not disturb" sign. And didn't have a room service menu. And the safe was broken.
9. Speaking of room service, it was only available from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., so no late night dessert parties in the room.
8. There was gum on the lampshade
7. No guard at the guard stand by the elevators. Safety first!
6. No wifi. There was a single, plug-in internet cable, which Sheila and I had to share
5. The heating system had two settings that alternated automatically: blazing hot and frigid. Comfortable! Not!
4. Lame bedding -- just a sheet and a light, light blanket. Which was fine when it was blazing hot in the room, but wretched during the glacial hours of 1-2 a.m., 3-4 a.m. and 5-6 a.m.
3. A shitastic voicemail waiting for us every day, offering 40% off the Criss Angel Mindfreak show. Like anyone wants to see that tool. Now, if they'd been offering a discount on the Thunder From Down Under show (naked Australians! yes!), you'd be reading a very different blog post.
2. Flabby, shirtless bartender in the accurately named bar, Dick's Last Resort, acting out a "cum shot" with a bottle of something fizzy. While singing. To a leering crowd.
1. IS THAT A BLOOD STAIN ON THE TOWEL? AND ON MY PILLOW CASE?!?!
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I love to travel, so I'm always happy to pack my bags, whether it's for work, play or family obligation. And I'm always planning the next trip!
My favorite family vacations involve multiple generations, with lots of people coming and going, and possibly a pet or two. In thinking about my ideal family vacation, I realized that it's actually multiple trips. And it's not just being a travel-lover, it's because I want to include everyone!
Although we don't have children, my husband (Chief) and I are lucky to have a lot of family. Both sets of our parents are divorced, with three out of the four remarried to our wonderful step-parents. Combined we have six siblings, three of whom have spouses and children. With nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and my very active 94 year old grandfather (look out ladies, he pinches, no really), we're well into double digits when tabulating how many bedrooms the rental house needs to have!
With so many people, it's impossible to find a one-size fits all solution, but since this is a fantasty I'm going to plan enough vacation to satisfy everyone! Here are a few vacations that Chief and I would love to host, with open invitations to our families to join us:
August on Cape Cod A giant house on the beach in Falmouth, with weathered shingles and dormer windows. Six or eight bedrooms, including a dorm style room in the attic where the pre-teen cousins all sleep. There's also a partially enclosed porch, for sunset and fireworks watching.
The back yard has a crooked clothesline, covered with faded red and white striped towels that are perpetually damp, plus mismatched, sandy bathing suits.
Every night the grownups sip icy white wine spritzers and light beers, while the kids play tag and get bitten by mosquitos. We eat lobster so often that we (almost) get tired of it.
September in Sicily with a side trip to Lepcis Magna I'm half Sicilian on my dad's side. A few years ago he, my stepmom and brother went to Sicily, and it was a magical trip. (Well, magic and terrifying, if you factor in the part about Italians driving on steep mountain roads!)
Their pictures and stories, plus the lure of seeing my "heritage" put this island on my Must See list. Then I did some research and found out that you can rent a villa, on a cliff, with a pool overlooking the Mediterranean. Count me in!
Activities on this trip to Sicily include taking photos, visits to archeological sites, and incessant imbibing of:
We also charter a disturbingly rickety, but ultimately safe, private plane, and visit the Roman ruins of Lepcis Magna in Libya, because heck, we're practically there anyway. The return trip is made possibly the by the pilot distracting handsomeness, and a well-appreciated flask of Limoncello.
Who's with us on this trip? It's a grown up excersion that definitely includes the extended Italian side of my family, including all of the aunts, uncles and cousins -- but probably not the nieces and nephews. You don't have to be old enough to drink in Italy, but it helps.
October in Hawaii If you're sensing a sea-side theme, you're right. And what's not to love? Soft ocean breezes, delicious seafood, relaxing beaches -- all things that Hawaii does better than almost anywhere else, because it's all done with Aloha and umbrella drinks. *Sigh.
Chief and I start this trip with just the two of us in Honolulu for a week, enjoying the uniquely Waikiki combination of a city vacation at the beach. We stay at our favorite boutique hotel, the New Otani, and eat as much ahi poke as we can stuff into our heads.
From there we island hop to Kauai, and rent a villa on a beach of silky, white sand, where we are joined by the West Coast part of the family (mainly Chief's people). In a show of unity, we all take surf lessons in the relative seclusion of our private beach, and are put to shame by the quickly acquired skills of my youngest brother-in-law.
Your Turn! I could keep going for all 12 months of the year, but you get the idea. If you are also a travel dreamer, remember to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.
Chief always makes fun of my Dad and me, saying that we worry about too many things. He once joked that my Dad would take a snake bite kit to the beach on Cape Cod. I very earnestly replied, "Yes! I know! He's so prepared, it's awesome!"
It's the kind of thing Chief and my Stepmom, Rosanne, laugh about when they think my Dad and I can't hear them.
When we were in Calistoga, we drove by the Petrified Forest, so of course I insisted that we check it out. And then I insisted that Chief pose for this picture scoffing at the rattlesnake warning sign, so I could send it to Rosanne (Hi Rosanne! This is totally for you!)
About 100 feet later, we came across this sign:
You see why I married him, right? He's so dangerous!
*Note: he didn't light that cigarette, and no fossilized trees or rattlesnakes were endangered during the shooting of these photos.
And there's our shadow again, seemingly way far away.
Our awesome pilot, Jim. He had that classic pilot mellowness, nothing seemed to rattle him...or maybe it was classic Nor-Cal mellowness, we were close to Mendocino.
The view from the basket. Are you getting vertigo?
There was a second Calistoga Balloons balloon up that day. Yes, all of those people got in that basket -- it's huge!
Chief and me up in the balloon. He seems like he's having a fun birthday, right?
If you're thinking of going on a Napa Valley area balloon ride, I highly recommend Calistoga Balloons. They were super-organized, and have been in business for 30 years. You appreciate both of these things when you're 2,000 feet up, with only some hot air and a flimsy silk balloon keeping you from plummeting to the Earth below. A nice part of their package is that you get brunch afterwards, which is good because you have to get up at the crack of dawn. By the time you get down you're ravenous!
You can't bring a bag or anything extra with you into the balloon, except for your camera. So pack light! Also, you will be hot up there. Remember that the blazing fire that inflates the balloon? It's burning while you're in the air, which keeps you toasty. In fact, the top of your head gets pretty hot, so a hat is a good idea.
We do "Large Family Holidays" back East. On Christmas there were 40 people at my parents' house. For a sit down dinner!
Rather than go broke and crazy trying to buy gifts for everyone, we do a major Yankee Swap. You can spend a maximum of $50, and can go kooky, e.g. a selection of "As Seen on TV" gifts, including a ShamWow and a Snuggie, or nice, like iPod speakers.
This being my practical-joke-loving family, I was tricky and wrapped the iPod speakers in the box from this glowing tea pot: