Today I have a guest post from my very dear friend, Karen, who you can read about here. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and please feel free to leave a comment. We just love those!
By Karen Lasher
My husband, Ben, and I are recently back from a road trip from our home in upstate New York to Washington, DC for a conference my husband attended and then on to visit our son in Wilmington, Delaware, with tourist stops in between.
Our first three nights stay was at a Marriott near the National Zoo. It is a four star hotel. You know, valet parking almost a must. Then a porter for your bags to the inside and another to your room. So that's three tips so far. And the fees for parking and using valet service are added to the bill. The (reduced) room rate for the conference is a hair under $200, before parking. Fortunately, this entire bill was paid by Ben's office because it was a professional development conference. There was a coffee machine in the room and a refrigerator. It was a nice big room and bathroom. Breakfast, however, was on our own. For him that meant the conference. For me that meant the coffee bar in the lobby where each thing was $3 - coffee, tea, juice, bagel, muffin, yogurt, toast, cereal. Could get expensive. I figured out a bagel there and tea in the room worked out pretty well. I am a bit of a penny-pincher.
Since we were close to the Zoo, I visited there. I like many things about our National Zoo except two. If you have not been, it is located on a hillside, a very steep hillside. That make a nice setting for many of the habitats. You wind your way down the hill as you take in the different exhibits. Once you make it to the bottom, there is no conveyance to help you back to the top or anywhere in between. None, nothing at all motorized. This is a long hill. That is one complaint. My other is the souvenir shops. There is one in almost every area of the Zoo. Not a problem. There are things to purchase at almost any price range. Not a problem. This trip I found nothing at all made in the USA or even a country with which we have a trade agreement. That's a problem! It is a NATIONAL Zoo. Our NATION! I have had the same complaint at most our National Parks I've visited and at NASA. I find that shameful.
Our other three tourist stops were:
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore. We enjoy old railroads and have visited several. This one was easy to get to and had lots to see.
Ft. McHenry National Monument in Baltimore Harbor. Ben and I are history fans and this well preserved/restored site would strike a chord in the hearts of all Americans. As usual, I learned something new while there. On the grounds was built a large military hospital serving those returning from Europe in World War I.
The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Del. It was the home of Eleuthere DuPont who came from France and started a black powder mill along the Brandywine Creek to take advantage of the water power. This was our second visit and it won't be our last. There is much to see and it is fascinating.
Throughout our trip we noticed several times after traffic congestion eased that the congestion seemed to have been for no reason at all. So we began to keep better watch of this. We wondered if a simple curve in the road was causing folks to slow down. Our Garmin advised us on two occasions to get off the Interstate and take State roads for a number of miles, which we did. On leaving Washington, DC, we were in slow, heavy traffic heading north but traffic in the other side was flowing well. Until we came to a fairly tight curve and then the reverse happened and the northbound traffic opened up and the inbound traffic tightened and nearly came to a stop. In that case, mass traffic seemed to truly not know how to handle a curve in the road. The width of the road did not change.
In Maryland after dark one night, we saw a woman walking from a wooded area alongside the road back and return to her car. I mentioned this to a friend who lives in Annapolis and she said rest areas are closed due to budget cuts. Nice. A woman travelling alone has to use the woods. That would not be high on my list of travel stops.
Our last three nights stay was at a Comfort Inn in Newark, DE while we visited our son. It did not have as many stars as the Marriott, yet the room was very nice. The bed was comfy. Still had a coffee machine and refrigerator in the room. Now we also had a serve yourself breakfast with all the bagels, yogurt, toast, cereal, drinks, eggs, waffle, we wanted. But no valet (or the fee). Still an exercise room and a much nicer pool, too. Almost $100 less a night. Sometimes you do get more for less.
Image: Free Digital Photos