Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snoop Dogg Does Cleveland

This summer found Woodrow and I doing a business trip to Cleveland, and of course Snoop insisted on tagging along as a third wheel.

First we had to take Snoop's picture on the bed, or we would never hear the end of it!
Snoop in bed

Woodrow lounged on his bed, and checked out the menu while he listened to his iPod.
Jon and menu

I always check out the room first thing, and this Marriot had a nice bathroom.

I know, what a dufus. What can I say? I like a nice bathroom in a hotel room. However I had to laugh at the caulking job on the tub. It was worse than the caulking job that I did on my own tub!
Bad caulk

Bad caulk  Bad caulk

I know. Again, I'm a dufus. I notice things like the caulking job on a hotel room tub. How sad is that?

Our trip wasn't very eventful. We did have to visit another hotel for a class, and afterwards they invited us to attend their party at a bowling-bistro. Cool place. They have a bistro that serves pizza, phillies and wings, a full bar and neon bowling. Three of us teamed up to bowl together, and we all totally sucked. But it was fun!

When we needed to head back to our hotel, we asked the curbside attendant for assistance, and he got us a limo to take us back. It was a totally pimped out limo, gaudy and tacky, with a chauffeur that would have been totally comfortable in New Orleans.

Unfortunately Woodrow hasn't given me copies of the pictures that he took of our exploits around Cleveland, so I don't have anything at this time. However I do have a photo of the three of us at the bar in our hotel.
At the bar

The trip was relatively uneventful, and not one of our more fun escapades. We'll see what we can turn up in 2009.

Snoop Dogg Does Reno

Snoop and I made a business trip to Reno earlier this year, and it was a first for both of us.

Well, first my boss screwed up the flights. We flew into Sacramento, CA at around 1 AM PST/4 AM EST. Then we had to drive two hours through the mountains to get to Reno, NV. We got checked into our hotel about 3 AM PST/6 AM EST, and we had to be up at 6:30 AM PST to setup our classroom for our training class. It was exhausting!

Later that day, Snoop insisted that I do the traditional shot of him on the hotel room bed. (No, we do not share a bed! We always try to get two beds, or he sleeps on the floor. What kind of girl do you think I am?)

Then I went to the window of my room at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino to check out my view.
View from room

During our stay at the hotel and casino, we went down to the bar for dinner. I liked their setup. They had very colorful bottles of liquor lined up on the shelves.

It appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities.

Our last night at the casino, I went down and did a little gambling on the slots.

At one point I went to use the bathroom, and was fascinated with the sink, which was just faucets hanging over a flat surface.
Sinks in casino

Really cool! I want those sinks in my home!

The third day found me finally outside as we changed hotels, as we had a show to do at a different hotel. It was the first time that I realized that we had snowy mountain tops to look out at on the front-side of the hotel.
View from hotel View from hotel

View from Reno hotel

We switched over to another hotel. I forget now what it was. Something like a Holiday Inn or something. It sure couldn't compare to the Grand Sierra we'd stayed at for the first couple of days. However I did have a very vocal bird outside my room window.
Bird outside window

The next day we headed back to Fort Myers. It began with a drive to Sacramento. Since it was now daylight instead of the middle of the night, I got to take in the view on the ride.
Snowy mountains  Snow

Snow Snow from Reno to Sacramento

The trip was otherwise uneventful. I did break even in the casino, so my gain in New Orleans of $7.50 after an hour of gambling still stood.

Another trip down...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snoop Dogg Does the Women's Weekend 2008

Earlier this year, I signed up for a Women Weekend getaway in April. It was a three day camping experience for women only, but Snoop insisted on coming along with me.

We arrived at Caloosahatchee Regional Park to find that cars were parked at the entrance and you had to carry in your equipment. Luckily they had some wheelbarrows available to carry your camping gear, because Snoop was no help at all! I sorted through all of the stuff that I had brought, and chose what to leave behind to save myself from having to make a second trip.

The getaway was held at a pavilion with electricity and indoor plumbing. After arriving at the pavilion, I was instructed by the organizer to pick a site for my tent, and she suggested a spot under a tree, where it would be shaded from the heat of the sun. I took her advice and setup in the spot she pointed out.
Tent Setup

It was located by a picnic table, and not far from the pavilion.
View from tent

Shortly after setting up camp, we had a demonstration and lesson with a local archery club. They showed us different types of bows, proper form with a bow, and then gave each of us a shot at target shooting. It was really fun, and I wouldn't mind taking up the hobby.
Me and Snoop

That evening one of the women at the getaway (I forget almost everyone's names now) brought out her huge telescope and showed us a couple of things. Then another girl showed up and setup her professional telescope and showed us constellations and planets, and taught us the difference between planets and stars. There was a really cool moment for me. I was looking at the very bright full moon, and as I watched I saw a large bird fly in front of the moon and clouds. It was like something out of a movie, and I was the only one to see it.

I slept pretty well that night, as I was exhausted.

I awoke the next morning to find a beautiful view of the sun rising outside my tent.
Morning light

While most were still asleep, I snuck off to some nearby bathrooms where the shower was. I found that the shower was actually outside. You just had a concrete wall surrounding you, and while the water was hot the air was COLD!

Later that morning, we went in search of grapevine with which to weave baskets. On the way, I spotted an orange tree growing in the woods.

Apparently the park was once owned by a farmer, which is why there was orange and grapevine growing in the area.

The guide also pointed out a berry bush, and we all ate a berry from the bush.
Berry bush

We spent awhile cutting down grapevine and lugging it back to the pavilion. Then we all tried our hand at weaving.
Making baskets

It took forever for me to get mine started. The vines kept breaking on me.
My basket progress

I decided to let my basket show me what it wanted to be, and it wound up turning into a strange thing that could hang on a wall.
Snoop in a basket

Later that day we did some branding. That is when you burn drawings into wood. We also went kayaking. That was fun!

Shortly before dark we went on a hayride.

We traveled around the park, on roads no one else saw.
View on hayride

On the hayride

While out on the hayride we spotted a herd of deer. Unfortunately it was getting too dark and they were too far away to get a picture of them. We enjoyed the hayride.

That evening we sat around the fire pit and roasted marshmallows and did some more branding.
Branding at the fire pit

The next morning we had our final breakfast together, and another project or two.
Making Tracks

We then received gift bags from the organizer of the getaway.
Gift bags

Then everyone lined up their baskets to show them off.
Grapevine baskets

And then everyone lined up WITH their baskets, to show them off one last time before we parted ways.
Everyone with their grapevine baskets

Shortly before noon we began to break camp and head back to our separate lives. It was an enjoyable weekend, and I look forward to doing it again in 2009. And, yep, Snoop will probably crash the party again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snoop Dogg Does Nawlins'

(NOTE: This story was originally posted February 2008 on my personal website.)

Woodrow and I had to go to New Orleans on business, and we decided to drag Snoop Dogg along. The majority of our time there it was freezing (high temps in the 40's or low 50's), some days with rain and/or 30 mph gusts. So, without a car, you didn't feel like walking around the city too much.

The first night, Snoop and I settled into our room and chilled. At the Quality Inn in New Orleans, they don't leave mints on your pillow; they leave spicy chips on your pillow...

Snoop Chillin'


They didn't have our rooms ready in time, so they upgraded us to suites. Snoop and I had a suite all to ourselves, while the guys had to share rooms... 

My room


I think it was our second night in town when all of us from work headed on foot down to Bourbon Street. We met downstairs in the hotel lobby and headed out. I got a shot of our company president, software programmer, and Woodrow while we waited for Scott to finish a phone call...



Outside the hotel our rooms faced a large building...


I didn't expect such large buildings around here.


We walked the way to Bourbon street, in search of a place to eat. Just down the street is the Ritz Carlton.

Ritz Carlton


Before too long, we hit the infamous Bourbon Street...



Just a little ways down Bourbon, the debauchery began seeping in. Snoop pleaded with us to stop at Hustler, but we refused... 



We stopped near Bourbon and Canal for dinner at the Redfish Grill, and enjoyed a very nice dinner and drinks for everyone!

Redfish Grill

That's all of us there. Snoop is hiding behind my head...

Gang at Redfish


Afterwards, Woodrow, Snoop and I decided to go down Bourbon Street and see what all of the excitement is about. When we separated from our group at the Redfish Grill, our software programmer pointed down the street and said, "Sin is that way. I'm going THIS way." And off they went back to the hotel while Woodrow and I set off to see what this Bourbon Street is all about.

What did we find? That it's not about much. There's all of this fanfare surrounding Bourbon Street that makes it seem almost magical. In actuality it's a dirty, narrow street strewn with every kind of depravity known to man. Even given the things that I have seen and done in my lifetime, I found Bourbon Street one of the most unsettling things I've seen.

Bourbon Street


You can't really make it out here, but there was this beautiful, almost haunting and yet unsuspecting moment as we walked down Bourbon and spotted at the end of this long stretch of street what appeared to be a sillouhette of Jesus with arms outstretched...


It was created by lights shining on a statue in front of a church. It was really beautiful, especially when a horse and carriage then stopped in front of it.

We continued down to the end of Bourbon, and then headed back again...

End of Bourbon

Bourbon activity

Huge Ass Beers


Woodrow and I then headed on back to the hotel. However, we didn't know what we were getting into when we decided to do that. We wound up walking through some pretty bad areas, and even passed what appeared to be two rival gangs (groups of young folk, each group dressed in the same colors, yelling and screaming and shoving one another). Woodrow and I thought we might die. We finally made it back to the hotel, and swore we would never do that again! (Actually, one of our guys said that a relative of one of his in-laws had made a trip to New Orleans the week before us, and had been killed while visiting.) 


Our last day in town, Woodrow and I got off early and headed over to the Aquarium.


Inside aquarium

Shark entrance


We watched the penguin feeding...


This was a cool, HUGE eel as big around as my arm...


We saw a huge aquarium filled with sharks, manna rays and sea turtles...


I even got to pet a stingray and a baby nurse shark. The stingrays were funny little guys. They would come up and lift their bodies out of the water and try to climb up the wall of the display to see you. 


And there was a big albino gator...

Albino gator

One of our favorite displays was the jellyfish displays. They had some really neat ones... 


Jellyfish grouping

Big jellyfish


That evening, after the aquarium, we had a chance for one final walk around the hotel...

City view

I had to get a shot of my "falcon guy", located on a building next to the hotel...

Falcon bldg

Falcon building


Then Woodrow and I walked around trying to find someplace to eat for dinner. The problem was, we were situated in the "business district", and it was Saturday night. Nothing was open. Even places like Subway were closed. They closed up about 7 PM on Friday, and didn't open again until Monday.

We found a restaurant not far from the hotel. We went in and sat at the bar while we decided whether we wished to have dinner there. We asked to see a menu, and this was the kind of place that sold liver pate, duck and pig cheeks. We decided to skip dinner, as we didn't want to run a $100 dinner bill on the company card. When we went to leave, the bartender asked whether Woodrow wanted to take his drink to go. I just couldn't get used to the fact that in New Orleans you can get your liquor in a "to go" cup!

We finally gave up, freezing and tired, and headed back to the hotel. We asked the concierge for some menus for restaurants that delivered, and headed up to decide what to order for dinner. On the way, we ran into the company president who invited us out with him and some of our affiliates. We accepted, and all of us piled into a car and headed out in search of food.

We found ourselves at Mother's, which is apparently a well-known New Orleans restaurant...


Yep, that's Snoop on the table. Mother's was established in the 1930's, and is known for their plate dinners ("plate dinners" seem big in New Orleans).

Afterwards, we piled back into the car (all six of us) and were terrorized by the driving talents of our affiliate Tom (distinguished older gentleman in the pic up top). His driving is insane!

We tried to figure out what to do next. We thought about doing a movie, and headed over to the theater located in a small mall. We found the mall mostly closed down (even though it wasn't very late), and not much of a movie selection. We piled back into the car again, while we tried to figure out what to do. We finally decided to head over to Harrah's Casino. I've never been to a casino before, so this was a new experience for me.

Woodrow and I headed out to the slots. He told me how to use the machine, and I pushed the button, and won $11 on the first try! We continued on for about another hour. I had decided that I would allot $30 to the slots, and after almost an hour I was down to my last couple of dollars. Woodrow had already lost his $30, so I decided to max out on my final bet. I hit the button, and the chimes went off, and I won $37.50! So, I wound up finishing the night up $7.50. Not bad for my first time on the slots! 



So, that was our last "hurrah" at "Harrah's". We flew out the next morning, and came back to our normal lives and I returned to work the next day. It was an interesting time, but we have all agreed that we have no desire to see New Orleans again.

Hmmmm...where next?