Something I kind of hinted at in a post earlier this week – I’m actually taking a break this weekend!!!  :mrgreen:

It was actually supposed to be a well-deserved break for finishing a project that I abruptly started mid-February, but it’s actually taking a little longer than I had anticipated, as just about everything that I’ve ever done seems to end up doing. Nonetheless, Sara and I have both really been yearning to go over to Disney and we’ve missed out on a couple of other opportunities for financial reasons, so it was time to just bite the bullet and put the work on hold for a weekend.

On top of that, Sunday is actually our puppy’s first birthday, so we’re having some of her doggie friends over for her to play with and it’ll end up being a relaxing day to get other stuff done around the house to boot…

Friday Night – D&D
The continuing adventures of the bi-weekly campaign that I’ve been playing in for the last 8 months now – the anticipation is actually kind of high right now because we just recently had a pretty major turning point in that mysteriously as of our last session we found ourselves on another plane, so tonight’s game should be especially interesting as we try to figure out where in the heck we actually are and even more importantly, how in the world we’re supposed to actually get back home again!

Saturday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
I honestly can’t even remember the last time we’ve been to this park, which is kind of sad! I know we didn’t end up making it over for the Osborne Lights last year, and it seems like some of the best rides were down when we came before that, so I’m kinda just looking forward to doing everything in the 8 or 9 hours that we’ll be over there tomorrow. The park is open until 10pm with two showings of Fantasmic, so hopefully we won’t have any problems hitting everything in addition to seeing fireworks at the end of the day, too. Should be lots to do – Toy Story Mania (obviously), the new Star Tours, Coaster and Tower, I’d even like to sit down for Indiana Jones … looking forward to a fun day!

Sunday – Cleo’s 1st Birthday Party
I can’t believe that we’ve had this puppy for almost a year already! I say almost because I guess technically we didn’t really get her until  6 or 8 weeks or something, but it’s still crazy to think that there was a time before that when she wasn’t a part of our family because she’s very much loved and feels right at home with us. For me, it’s especially neat to see the personality that she’s developed over the last 12 months … granted, sometimes a bit obnoxious (but who isn’t?!), but also very eager and curious, protective and sometimes sensitive, and generally at least what I’d like to consider overall pretty happy, too. Plus, for the most part she’s completely stopped peeing and pooping in the house, so if that’s not cause for a celebration, then I don’t know what is…  😀

Weekend Update

January 29, 2012 11:21pm
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Midnight Hour at the Magic Kingdom
Although we weren’t really planning on it, Saturday night ended up turning into an impromptu jaunt over to Disney and it was a fun reminder of just how long it’s been since we’ve been over there! Although we were at Epcot last month for Candlelight Processional and Downtown Disney a few weeks ago, I think it’s actually been months since we set foot inside the Magic Kingdom, so it ended up just being a fun couple of hours running around doing the classics and enjoying the atmosphere and whatnot. The park stayed open until midnight that night – one of the reasons we picked it – and it definitely got me back into the mood of trying to get over there more frequently than my weekend writing schedule sometimes allows… 😉

Clutter and Cables EVERYWHERE!
Sunday’s big project is one that I’ve been putting off for a couple of weeks now – that of completely gutting and reorganizing the spaghetti mess of cables behind the entertainment center in our living room. It actually came to light because our cable box started acting funny – turned out that the DVI port burned out, but instead of taking it back to the cable office and swapping it out (and losing all of our saved shows and schedules in the process), luckily the component outputs still worked so I ended up just switching over to those and calling it a day.

I was a little bummed at the end when I realized that setting up the rear surround sound speakers just wasn’t going to be a possibility at this house – I hadn’t hooked them up yet because I had originally been wanting to get smaller speakers to just mount to the walls and utilize the landlord’s built-in wiring that was already jacked into the back wall of the room … but after about an hour’s worth of testing random wires behind the TV, I eventually came to find that none of those wires actually led to the pre-wired speaker jacks! And due to the way that the room is laid out (and a hyperactive, ever-chewing puppy), there’s just no good place to run actual wires to situate the speakers anywhere else, so it looks like while we’re in this rental, the surround sound is going to be a no-go… 🙁

But my next house – the one that we actually BUY – is going to have an awesome setup, you just wait and see!

Death and Taxes…Also, Refunds
On a slightly more positive note, I just finished doing our income taxes a few minutes ago and we’re actually getting back a considerable refund this year, which is pretty odd for us because we’ve traditionally had to pay the last couple of years. It’s basically all going to help pay off my car, but still – refund > having to write the IRS a check!

Please Fix My iPhone…
And lastly, I was supposed to go to the Apple store on Saturday to have them look at my phone’s sporadically non-responsive home button because the warranty expires on it in a week, but at the last minute Sara threw out the idea of going to Disney instead, so I ended up rescheduling my appointment for tomorrow night. Hoping that they don’t give me any hassle and it’s as easy to “just swap it out” as the other rep said when I mentioned it last weekend… 😕

Ok, ok – I swear I’ll be done after this one, but I just couldn’t resist – it’s a wonder these dogs didn’t rip each other limb from limb over the last week…

“I’ll bite your face off and spit down your neck!!!”

“Lend me your ear!”

“Stop biting my mouth!” “No, you stop biting my mouth!”

“Ooof! Forgot there was a door there…” “Me too…”

I’m pretty sure Mom is buried under that big, old pile of dogs somewhere…

“Come on, let me tell you ’bout my best friend…”

Words from the Road, AdoraPics™

January 2, 2012 9:45pm
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Ok, I guess I can do just one more post!

Really, after finding these photos of dog and baby amongst my other road pics, I’m not sure if I’d be able to forgive myself if I didn’t post these! Technically some were taken by my wife, and some of the really nice looking ones are more likely than not by my sister with her fancy-dancy digital SLR, but regardless of photographer all are 110% adorable…

Come on, say it with me – on the count of 3 … “Awwwww…”  :mrgreen:

Words from the Road, Epilogue

January 2, 2012 9:09pm
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Good grief, was that a long drive home!!!

So we ended up hitting the road around 10:30am yesterday morning with the mindset that unless road conditions and/or our collective sleepiness just got too overbearing, we would try our best to make the 1,400-mile commute home from Michigan to Florida without stopping for the night. It’s something that I think I’ve only ever done maybe once in my life – probably when I was young and dumb back in high school – but as much as I would’ve preferred to make it a multiple-day journey (usually I would stop once mid-way, although last summer for our big road trip we actually stopped three times), our schedules for this week were just too hectic and it seemed more sensible somehow to get back this morning and just sleep all day, rather than instead arrive home around 10pm and just be exhausted tomorrow morning!

Anyways, road conditions themselves were in reality kinda mixed – as you’ll see below, they weren’t so great for pretty much all of Michigan and part of Ohio, but after that we just had high winds to deal with pretty much until we made it to Tennessee. In retrospect, I think the wife and I did a pretty decent job of splitting up the driving:

  • Michigan (all – 5 hours) – Scott
  • Ohio (partial – 1 hour) – Scott
  • Ohio (partial – 2.5 hours) – Sara
  • Kentucky (all – 3 hours) – Sara
  • Tennessee (partial – 0.5 hours) – Sara
  • Tennessee (partial – 2.5 hours) – Scott
  • Georgia (partial – 3 hours) – Scott
  • Georgia (partial – 3 hours) – Sara
  • Florida (partial – 1 hour) – Sara
  • Florida (partial – 2.5 hours) – Scott
  • Total – Scott: 14 hours
  • Total – Sara: 10 hours

Payback for having such clear, open roads through Michigan coming up, we kinda got off to a sloppy start – luckily, the roads weren’t too slushy, but it did make it hard to see for a while…

Further south in Michigan, the snow turned to rain … and honestly, that probably made the driving even worse because although snow sometimes slows people down, rainy driving seems to bring out the assholes on the road!

It finally stopped raining near the Michigan/Ohio border, but the gloom stuck around for a while longer…

The photo didn’t really capture it best, but the sun started peeking through the clouds here in mid-Ohio in about a dozen different places at once, which made kind of a cool-looking effect off on the horizon!

Night-time driving in Kentucky – kinda hard to believe that we’d only been driving for, like, 9 hours at this point…

Atlanta at 2am – we actually avoided the bypass and drove right through the city because, well, it was two o’clock in the morning! Pretty lights and nice views when you’re not stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic across six lanes… 😉

We stopped for a quick breakfast about an hour into Florida at 8am – not in a long time have I been so excited to actually start seeing road signs naming Tampa as a destination once again!

Clear skies, non-freezing temperatures – welcome home. 🙂

Our full route, all six states, 1,370 miles, and 24 hours of it! Back to reality, we were … but not before a very big nap, of course…

Words from the Road, Part 4

January 1, 2012 1:15am
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Twas the final installment of this ye travelogue before hitting the road for our 1,400-mile journey back home! Just a few random bits that didn’t make it into previous posts, plus a special glimpse at how I spent my New Year’s Eve!

Hint: Kinda like Times Square, but in London…

Muppets Encore … Didn’t Actually End Up Happening…
As you may have noticed on Twitter a couple of days ago, one thing that I didn’t get to do that I had actually been really looking forward to doing was take my family to see The Muppets in the theater. My first mistake was simply in not remembering one of the big differences between small towns and big ones – namely, whereas back home I’ve got more than a dozen theaters within 20 minutes drive, each offering at least 15 screens a piece, their local theater up here has 5 screens total and the closest ones are more like 45 miles away. When I pulled up the listings, nobody had it, so at the time I figured that was the end of it…

…until persistence paid off and a day or so later I found one rogue theater offering a single showing of it each night. It seemed like DESTINY!

Well, except that when we actually showed up, we came to find out that they had actually stopped playing the movie two weeks ago and frankly, they had no idea who updated their own listings on the Internet, but it wasn’t them. It was that typical, small town “Gosh, that’s too big for little old us here to understand…”-mentality that used to drive me nuts about this place, to the point where it kind of soured my whole evening there for a while. If I was a business owner who learned about something incorrect online setting my customers up for disappointment, I’d want to take whatever steps necessary to figure out how to get involved and get those listings up to date so that it doesn’t happen again and keep impacting my business in the future, but I digress… 🙁

Lack of Cell Coverage in BFE
Of course, it only served to further fuel my frustration when during the 40-mile car ride back home, I found myself unable to use my phone in many areas because it wasn’t able to find a signal! Wow – talk about a snap back into the reality of rural life … here, this whole trip we’ve been reveling in the idea of not having to worry about maps and simply using our phones’ built-in GPS features to plot our courses, even to the point of getting a considerable kick out of watching the blue dot move with our car on Google Maps, and yet this is a place where all of that awesome technology is null and void because they don’t have cell towers out in the middle of nowhere?!

Check please!

It’s Really, Really Cold in Michigan!!!
And one more iPhone screenshot while we’re at it, just to prove without a shadow of a doubt that my previous concerns about freezing our asses off in Michigan were completely, entirely, and unequivocally valid…

Just in case you can’t make out the numbers, that says 7 DEGREES!!! Seven is a single-digit number and should NEVER be used to describe a temperature, of all things!

What Happens at a WiiParty Stays at a WiiParty
But nonetheless, to end on a high note – because it is a new year and all … woohoo! – we did manage to have a particularly wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration in a manner that even someone like myself could enjoy … by playing video games. Despite having to get up ridiculously early tomorrow for work (think 3 hours from now), my sister and her husband hosted us over at her house for a fun couple of hours of Wii sports, by means of the new Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics game that was released fairly recently.  Our Mom actually got copies of this for each of us after hearing how we’ve had a blast playing Mario Kart online against each other over the Internet, so we thought we’d take this rare opportunity to actually give it a whirl in the same room before retreating to opposite ends of the country for any further deathmatches!

Although the controls are going to take some time to work out (some of the events are really weird), it did make it a little easier to suffer through some of the lesser ones together, and I definitely look forward to the four of us connecting online some evenings in the future once we’ve all had a brief chance to hone our athletics skills just a bit! Aside from a healthy bout of Wii-ing, our celebration was pretty sane and down to earth – sandwiches from a local place that I always enjoyed before moving away,  I sampled some pumpkin beer that my brother-in-law had set aside specifically for our trip, and of course, the dogs got one last tussle around my sister’s house before having to say goodbye. Sure, it may not have included Lady Gaga or Times Square or even that bright, shiny ball atop Times Square, but aside from not having a glass of champagne to toast with my wife at midnight, it was probably one of the best ways that I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in a long time… 🙂

But that said, I suppose that I should finally go to bed now, considering that our plans for tomorrow are precisely drive from Michigan all the way home to Florida in a straight shot. Happy New Year, folks … oh boy, am I not looking forward to that car ride!

2011, a Year in Review…

December 31, 2011 11:16am
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Last year I started a trend that I think I want to continue – in taking a few moments to look back at what I accomplished this year before trying to lay down new goals for next. And besides, as you’ll see soon enough that for the most part the majority of my 2012 resolutions are pretty much the same as they were in 2011 anyways, so at least this way I get to write something fresh! 😉

Published a new book, and almost a second one
What I expected to be a simple archive collection from the comic strip I did with my sister a few years ago proved to be a bit more frustrating than I had anticipated by the end of the process, but ultimately it was worth it because I think the end result in full color really looks beautiful and does the project proud! Also, not to spoil anything, but I’ve almost got my next book completed – it just kind of fell behind the horse with the holidays and whatnot, so hopefully that’ll be out sometime early spring…

Got about 90% done with several other major projects
No excuses – I kinda took on a bit more than I could chew in 2011, and as a result I have several really cool things that are almost done, but not quite. I have a well-known bad habit of jumping from project to project when I get excited about new things, and as a result sometimes older ones get left behind … but it’s something that I’m going to be working on a little harder in the new year!

Did A LOT of blogging!!!
Over 120,000 words worth of blogging, to be exact! And even though I’m not generally in the habit of tracking word counts on everything that I write, it’s become sort of an interesting motivator for me because I look at this blog as more of a long-term journal just for rambling and brainstorming and keeping track of life and whatnot. So in this particular scenario, more is better. 🙂

Moved to a new house
We’re still renting, mind you, but earlier this spring we found an opportunity to move into a larger place that has more amenities that we’ve been looking for, so in the end it was definitely worth uprooting the family and enduring the 2 months of chaos that it took to get us out of the old and into the new!

Got a puppy!
Cleo … cute, little beagle-pointer mix … I’ve blogged about her once or twice … maybe you’ve heard of her?

Lost 25 pounds
And granted, I have a feeling that I very well might have gained part of it back with all of the snacks and cookies and other holiday indulgences that I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks, but it’s significant nonetheless because 25 is a big number and I’ve been trying really hard at losing weight this year…

Made the trip home for Christmas
And here we are today! What can I say? It’s sometimes tough living on the opposite end of the country away from family, especially during the holidays when my nostalgic tendencies are in high gear, so this trip has really been a nice way for me in particular to wrap up the year and try to recharge the old batteries after being absolutely buried in work for the last 12 months! Knowing that it doesn’t happen often has really pushed me to try to make the most of it while we’re here, and overall it’s really been a lot of fun. 😀

Now that that’s out of the way, though, I suppose next we have to come up with some of those dreaded New Years resolutions for next year, don’t we? 😯

Words from the Road, Part 3

December 31, 2011 12:27am
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Cleo & Friends
Needless to say, despite any preconceived notions upon our late night arrival, ultimately Cleo the Wonder Pup had a stupendous time the following morning once my sister arrived toting two particularly spry and playful dogs of her own!  Although Kirby eventually later in the week somewhat soured to playing, instead opting to assume the role of the old maid to ensure that nobody had any fun in her general vicinity (or maybe she just didn’t want Cleo, the smaller one who kinda looked like her, getting hurt???), Sunny on the other hand went absolutely freaking nuts and played with this dog with little concern whatsoever for health, sanity, or safety of the furniture and other breakables potentially around them! Seriously, after a while I think we all got used to it and learned to tune their rough housing out, but initially to hear all of their snarling and biting and tackling each other, you’d think that Michael Vick had decided to stick his head in and say hello for the holidays…

Still too soon on that one?

Meeting Baby Madelyn
Tell me – is this kid freaking adorable or what?! Being completely serious for just a moment, despite all of the anticipation that has been building since this little girl was born back in September, I was honestly a little taken aback by just how much I enjoyed seeing this kid face to face, and holding her, and watching her smile, and trying to make her smile when she wanted to be stubborn. I don’t really know a lot of babies, so I wasn’t really even sure if I knew how to hold her right and all that jazz, and yet much to my own amazement when Lori handed her over it all just sort of came naturally.

I don’t want to ruin a perfectly nice blog post by getting all mushy and stuff, but there were definitely more than a handful of occasions where I caught my wife “pleased” at my sense of ease through it all with a smile on her face…

Maybe next year, but in the meantime – look at that baby!!!

There’s No Business Like Snow Business
Now one thing that admittedly I’ve found extremely weird since I’ve gotten here is that for the most part, there really isn’t all that much snow on the ground at all. I mean, there’s maybe a couple of inches – enough to make your shoes crunch when you walk through it – but certainly nothing anywhere near what I recall growing up, when the yard would literally have at least 3 or 4 feet of standing snow in it at all times, thus pretty much rendering the fence around the backyard completely moot and also ensuring for a variety of playtime activities like sledding, snowball fights, and the building of forts and snowmen and whatnot.

And it probably sounds a little out of place coming from me, of all people, because I’ve always been very clear that the weather in Northern Michigan was one of the primary factors that drove me to Florida, but I actually kinda miss all of that snow … at least while we’re here on vacation, anyways! As long as I don’t have to drive in it and I’ve got enough clothes so as to not completely freeze to death during my encounters with it, I don’t necessarily mind the snow strictly as a wintertime backdrop and for playing around in it. I mean, the dogs have still managed to have a good time with it … well, once Cleo figured out what it was, anyways … but my wife had kinda been hoping to make a snowman while we’re here and unless we’re willing to shovel up half the backyard (…which I’m not…), it looks like we might be stuck just watching Frosty on tv… 🙁

Merry Nostalgia-Mas
But speaking of classic ’80s Christmas programming, I’ll end tonight on something that we’ve been doing a lot of since we’ve gotten here … frankly, it’s a big part of what I’ve been looking forward to in coming up here … and that’s just really embracing holidays past and reliving all of the fun things that we used to do during this time of year growing up. On more than one occasion, we just sat around watching Christmas specials – A Garfield Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, A Muppet Family Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas – the list goes on and on! My Mom ordered a Honeybaked Ham, and even though we actually have it a lot back home because there’s nearly one right across the street from us, it still all built to help bring back all of those great memories of sitting around snacking on crackers and Christmas cookies, watching Big Bird contemplate Santa Claus’ bigger than a dump truck fate, all the while with lights on the tree sparkling and snow falling gently outside.

Sure, overtime my wife and I work to develop our own holiday traditions and I’m sure that once we have a kid they’ll spring about all the more, but in the meantime reliving some of those old memories and really just relishing in the good times I enjoyed growing up serves my holiday cheer just fine… :mrgreen:

“Why is it every Christmas I get drug out of my warm bed just to see some stupid old relatives? And why do we always have to go to that stupid old farm? Why can’t they come here where my warm bed is? And why am I whispering?” 

Words from the Road, Part 2

December 27, 2011 11:42pm
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So a couple of days ago we celebrated Christmas Day with my wife’s family – I enjoyed some adult hot chocolate, had a chance to try out the (relatively) new Xbox Kinect, and had fun watching the kids open up a veritable mountain of Legos and pink Barbie-thingys and all sorts of other presents! It was a bit chaotic just because there were so many people in one place (9 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs), but overall I think Cleo behaved just about as good as we could’ve expected her to, given the strange environment and all of the new faces, and it was nice to get to see people that we actually haven’t seen in over a year since our big road trip last summer…

Getting Colder Outside
Yesterday we finally arose, gathered ourselves and cleaned up around the hotel, and eventually loaded up the car in preparation for transit to our next destination – my own hometown of Gaylord, Michigan! Rumor had it that it was going to be very cold there during our stay, so I guess you could say the forcefield of frost that had developed over our car was simply to serve as a warning for even more frigid weather to come. 😉

Rear-View, Ahoy!
On the upside, having distributed a good number of the Christmas presents in our berth, at least we were given the treat of actually being able to see out the back window of our vehicle for this new leg of the trip!

Tunnels!
And if that wasn’t enough, we even got to drive through several tunnels during our quest from West Virginia to Michigan, something that I’ve never actually done before. Admittedly I did have to calm a slight fear of the entire mountain collapsing in around us as we zipped through these strange, darkened corridors made out of bathroom tiles, but I guess at least they weren’t as bad as the ones that actually go underwater

Cleo’s Car Update
What can I say? Get this dog in the car and she’s just like a people, kicked back and relaxing, and generally just sleeping and looking out the windows a lot to pass the time. This leg was a bit shorter than the first – only 14 hours instead of 16 – but I honestly couldn’t be happier with how she’s been handling our time in the car because no doubt she could really make our lives hell if she wanted to act up! Instead, she just snuggles into the backseat with whoever’s riding with her at the moment, looking forward to the occasional breaks to stretch her legs, and generally just trying to make the best of it just like we are. Very proud puppy papa, is I…

Coming Soon
We got to my Mom’s house at roughly 1:30am. Cleo might not have made the best first impression with my Mom’s dog (and my old dog), Brandi … but then again, she is thirteen years old and doesn’t really “play” much with anybody anymore! On the other hand, she did get along much better with my sister’s dogs, Kirby and Sunny – Sunny, in particular, who’s basically still a puppy herself, albeit a very, very big puppy, so look forward to that in a future post!

Also, snow!

Spoiler: it’s very cold…

Words from the Road, Part 1

December 24, 2011 1:12am
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So if you haven’t been following along via Twitter or my recent blatherings, I’m currently on vacation to spend some time with family for the holidays. Not quite sure how much I’ll be posting while I’m away, but I’m hoping to have the occasional goofy, little post here and there along the way!

This, on the other hand, is one of those big, goofy summary posts to cover how I even managed to get here in the first place – enjoy…

Packed Beyond the Brim
Looking back, I’m honestly still not entirely sure how in the world we managed to make it all fit!

The problems here were threefold – my wife drives a small car (a Honda Insight); we’re traveling with our puppy, which from an extra baggage-perspective is pretty much the same as having an extra person along (maybe more if they don’t bring their own cage!); and third, we also had to bring gifts. Lots of gifts. Three people’s worth, in fact, because we also brought my sister-in-law’s with us (who lives with us, but flew up separately).

It honestly gave me flashbacks of when I first loaded up my own car and moved across the country to Florida way back in 2003, complete with an inability to see out the back window, stuff occasionally falling into my lap from the passenger seat, and the whole nine yards! Luckily, we never came across any cops who wanted to make a fuss about our ability to see the road…

The Weather Outside Was AWESOME
Seriously, we actually really lucked out in this area because I’m a little nervous for this entire trip in general about having to drive on snow-covered roads, but all the way from Florida to West Virginia, we never even saw the temperature dip into freezing once.

That said, I don’t want to say too much and jinx it because with temperature forecasts in the twenties for when we continue on north to Michigan next week, I’d honestly be really surprised if we didn’t encounter a single lick of snow during this entire trip.

Good Time
Despite leaving roughly six hours later than scheduled, the drive actually wasn’t too bad and we were able to drive all the way through with a relatively minimal amount of grogginess! I honestly don’t normally like to do that sort of thing – between my wife and I, we drove for just over sixteen hours straight and were certainly beat by the time that we got here, but I suppose either way it would’ve taken the same amount of time – drive for 1 day and then sleep the next, or drive spaced out over 2 days.

Either way, 970 miles is a long way … so thankfully our next leg from West Virginia up to Michigan clocks in nearly a third less at only 684 miles.

Good Dog
As I mentioned, we ended up bringing our puppy, Cleo, with us, and I’m very thankful to report that she did marvelously well throughout the entire car ride!  Not exactly having the best record for local trips, it wasn’t uncommon for her to throw up a lot when we would even take her 15 miles away to the beach, so we were a little worried about how a trip nearly 40x that was going to treat her. We did get some anti-nausea meds from the vet before we left, but we never actually got a chance to really test them before leaving home for this trip.

Nonetheless throughout the entire ordeal, she really acted like a champ – no throwing up, no barking, and only the slightest bit of antsy-ness at the very end…at the point where the both of us were pretty much feeling the same thing! We made her a bed in the back seat that slowly expanded to overtake nearly the entire thing, one of us always sat in the back with her (passenger seat was filled with presents anyways!), and it was actually a very enjoyable drive from that perspective.

The Pet-Friendly Wingate
And so that brings us to where I’m currently writing you from today – the pet-friendly hotel that we found only a short drive from where we’ll be meeting family for Christmas. We’ve never had the need to stay at a hotel that actually allows pets before, but overall aside from the lousy internet access, the rest of the hotel has still been above average. My wife pointed out shortly after Cleo’s third accident (long car ride!) that the carpet is conveniently very dark, thus doing a better job of concealing stains related to pet pee and whatnot. We also found, a little more surprisingly, that the bed actually has a plastic liner on it, much like you’d give a child who had problems with wetting the bed!

Whatever – by the time we got here, we were just thrilled that they let us check-in 7 hours early and pretty much passed out the moment our heads hit the pillows! Granted, we were woken back up shortly after that because Cleo still needed some getting used to the various people walking outside our door in the hallway, but we’re here for 3 nights, it’s got a fridge and a separate “couch area,” and it didn’t break the bank, so at the end of a long and exhausting drive, I suppose that’s more than enough for me. 😉

Next On Deck
Basically Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be spent celebrating with Sara’s family, followed on Monday by piling back into a hopefully less burdened car for another drive up to see my own family in Northern Michigan. Here in West Virginia, though, my plans are fairly simple – try to keep Cleo out of trouble, play some Lego Star Wars with my nephew, indulge in whatever other fun Christmas-y stuff we can talk the crowd into, and I’m told that at some point I’ll be experiencing my very first chocolate martini because from what I understand, one of my sisters-in-law has found quite the knack in making them!

Just between you and me, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to expect, but I like chocolate and I like booze, so I’m trying to keep an open mind at this point… :mrgreen:

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