It’s vacation week for the Davidson Family. Our destination was lovely Maumee, OH, where we found a killer deal on a great hotel. Emily called a place of lodging on the morning of our departure. Working her Emily magic to save cash money, she said:
“Listen — we need a deal.” I wasn’t there, but I’m sure the conversation continued on, though we will only hear one side of it right now:
Yes, we have Triple-A.
Yes, today through Tuesday.
Is that *really* the best you can do?
I see. Is it high-def?
Long blog post short, we ended up with a really nice room for really cheap. Just for kicks, Emily went on an interweb site that features a certain Starship Captain as a spokesperson, just to compare the deal she just landed with what Kirk could come up with. It turns out that maybe you don’t need Bill Shatner to get the best deal after all, since their price was a good $30 a night higher. Perhaps there is a future for Analog Priceline ™ after all.
We drove to Maumee (just south of Toledo, OH). We parked the truck and got our “keys” from the front desk. An aside: when I was a kid, a hotel key was an actual hotel key. Discuss.
We took the hotel swipeycard and, upon the green light of approval from the lock, entered the room. The first thing that caught our eye was the huge flat panel TV over the fireplace in the living room. Next was the ultra-modern full kitchen with fridge, micro and dishwasher. A side step around the dining room table brought us around to the bathroom area, which came with the necessary accouterments, made from what I’m sure is the finest porcelain. Around the next corner and you’re in the decked out master suite. We marveled at the cool deco, new art, modern colors (neither peach or teal could be found in this hotel room) and that feeling — you know the one — that you’re ripping off the innkeeper. We took in the marvel of a suite as Malachi, like a homing pigeon, found the candy dish and asked at least 37 times whether he could have just a bite. That was pretty much all he cared about — hard, Grandma’s candy. Dude. They have that at the Super 8.
We ate dinner, swam, slept and got up the next day to a sweet continental breakfast that included me taking three separate trips down to snag food for the family. Nope. This didn’t look suspicious at all. I’m sure.
After breakfast, it was off to the Toledo Zoo. Admittedly, many of the animals of Ohio like to sleep during the day. Most certainly, it would have been best to put some Red Bull into the Tigers, or some Red Tiger into the Bulls, etc. None the less, we had a marvelous time. The whole idea of the Zoo is that we go and watch creatures do their thing through a fence. Ironically, that’s exactly what the animals are doing to us. It was funny to stand there and watch penguins stand around as they stood there and watched humans stand around.
At a zoo, no kid is cute because, well, there are too many of them. Also, you feel like you’re at a stroller convention. Our wheels bump into each other like on the Nascar Track, but we don’t care. The Elephants are being “enriched”. I don’t know what that sign means, but it sounds educational and we must get our children there to see this NOW.
We hit a second hand store where I picked up an LP — the Alan Parsons Project/Eye in the Sky — which spins on my Curtis Mathes turntable as I write this. There are only a few bands in the world that do songs as if they were epics and not 3-chord radio cuts. Spock’s Beard, Muse, Mae and Kerry Livgren do/did things that I dig and wish I could hear more of. I had never paid much attention to the Alan Parsons Project until now. Once again, buying a random vinyl has paid off in ways that the iTunes Music store kinda does, only digitally and for much more money.
After checking out on Tuesday, we went out to Shipshewana, Indiana, for a visit to a Flea Market. A good time, though I’m noticing that a lot of vendors were selling essentally the same kind of merchandise. Oh, people were buying this stuff left and right, so I don’t want to knock it. I don’t question the Flea Market economy, but I do make a few observations from my limited perspective. I imagine that if someone were apprenticing, this is what they would be taught before opening their own booth:
1. Flea Markets rely on the 6 legs of Flea Commerce: Discount Sun Glasses, Decorative Blankets, Personalized License Plates, Imported Tools, Miracle ______ (cream, polish, wax, gravel, etc), and Yard Decorations that make you think “so that’s where she got that thing from”.
2. Flea Markets provide the shopper with a food experience that is like nothing else in this world. That smell? Smoldering ketchup. Sitting ketchup. Bulk ketchup. Ketchup on fries, tots, hot dogs and whatever else you can get it on. Ketchup is king of condiments, even if they ordered “just a coffee”. Also, ketchup is always spilled on the surface of something, and the napkins provided have an anti-ketchup coating that only push it around. You may want to bring your own napkins. And your own ketchup.
3. Serious flea market shoppers can be detected by the following subtle clues: They are pulling a trailer hooked to their belt, for the purpose of hauling their treasure. They are wearing sun block, even if its inside. They tend to kick the tires on everything, both literally and figuratively. Also, they make comparisons that you don’t understand, saying things like “Ya know, over at 347, they got a batch of those roosters with the waves for nine a piece”. They say this to whoever is standing there. Don’t let it be you.
4. People always buy more than they anticipated at the flea market. It just takes a few rows for the cerebral cortex to surrender to the smell of burnt ketchup, the sound of vendors sharing inside jokes between booths and the sight of wolves pasted on any flat surface. The giant Nascar Pocket knife can be used to help seal the deal as their sense of commerce is slightly thrown off. By the fifth row, they are ready to buy, which is why we don’t put the ATM machine near the entrance.
5. People can’t resist telling the story of how they found a bargain, so give them one. Remind them that you can’t get a 450-thread count bed sheet set without a prescription, so thank goodness they came to your booth. If they ask to count the threads, politely decline.
After the flea market, we hit a Mongolian Barbecue that was on the way home. Now, when I say “on the way” I mean “not really”. Instead of coming home in a straight line, we took the triangulation approach that was slowed down even more by the fact that, upon crossing the state line into Michigan, we were greeted by a 30 minute wait for road construction. How…expected. But that’s okay. It’s progress. And progress is good. Potholes are bad. Besides, we all had flea market stuff to keep us busy, Malachi with his Bob the Builder figure, Emily with her 450-thread count sheets and me with my tweezers. “You can’t get these at Lowe’s” I kept telling myself as I looked around for more things to tweeze. Indeed.
We got home and dumped the children into their own beds, which I think they appreciated. The cat meowed her joy of our homecoming until she could meow no more. “Meyie smell meow meow Zoo, meow flea market, meow novelty license plates, meow impulse items. Meow vacation! Without mee-ow!” Okay. That’s strange.
And now we’re home, yet still on vacation. We are now on “staycation”, where you stay home yet don’t go to work. We will “stay” instead of “va” for the rest of the week, avoiding at all costs any thought about the very things we’re vacating (staycating) from. It will be good. Sabbath is built into the creation of the world, and this guy appreciates it quite a bit right now. It’s easy to miss just how badly we need rest, especially those of us who are driven. Just sitting there is actually pretty cool if you can get yourself to chill out enough. Peace which passes understanding is good, even when you’re not “in trouble” per se.
Alan Parsons spins on as I now eat microwave Chicken Nuggets. Mmmm… miscellaneous.
What a great staycation meal.