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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camping Virgin

Yes, it's true...I'm a camping virgin. I'm in my late 40's (did I actually type that?) and I have never camped. My girlfriend is a veteran camper with a pop-up trailer. This weekend we are set to de-winterize the camper. She has notes from her ex on how to do it, but has never actually done it herself. I hope my visions of a new "I Love Lucy" episode don't come true. (Can't you see Lucy and Ethel trying do to this and the hilarity that could ensue?) Yes, I've helped winterize and de-winterize a 3 bedroom trailer home I used to own with my ex, but that was more of a supervisory role than actually doing any of the work.
I've never so much as camped out in a tent in the backyard. Haven't most people at least camped out in their backyard as a kid? Not me.

Our first camping trip is set to be at a primitive camping site. By primitive, I mean, no electric hook-up, nothing. There is a battery for powering the "essentials", like the microwave, and possibly re-charging a cell phone. But not for air-conditioning, television, or computer. No computer? What am I saying? What am I getting myself into?

Wondering if there are any camping books out there now or about to publish that I could review? Hmm, that would certainly be a coup if I could get one of those before my inaugural camping trip! Perhaps a book about how to de-winterize a Jayco Pop-up Camping Trailer, or perhaps a book for "camping virgins"?

When I looked up "Camping Virgin" on Barnes And, the books listed were...ahh, not helpful. This is what came up: Bowanga Bowanga / Wild Women of Wongo / Virgin Sacrifice (scarrrrry!), Jungle Girls Gone Wild Collection and last but certainly not least Virgins From Hell. Ok, perhaps I should shorten my search to "camping"? Ok, that's not very encouraging...that search yielded Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping and Curious George Goes Camping. Ok, not good. Then "camping how to" turned up a bunch of fitness books on boot camp training with some real hotties on the cover. Again, not what I'm looking for. So I tried and tried "camping how to" and a bunch of survival books came up, along with the very discouraging How to Die in the Outdoors: From Bad Bears to Toxic Toads, 110 Grisly Ways to Croak. Now that's something I certainly didn't want to see.

Ok, I can't believe there aren't any books out there dealing with how to winterize/de-winterize, set-up and maintenance of a camping trailer, or books for camping virgins. Perhaps these are niches that need some attention?
So, do you camp? What do you do to combat the boredom? Do you get bored? Or do you just enjoy being out in nature and enjoy the beautiful starry nights? A camping virgin wants to know.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bait And Switch Weekend Getaway

Patricia at Subjective Soup posted about her experience blogging about Goodreads and how the founder contacted her directly to help her with her issues. Of course I immediately thought of our recent Holiday Inn experience. We've made complaints via their website and no one has contacted us. I thought I'd see if blogging got any response from them.

My girlfriend and I had our long weekend getaway this past weekend. She booked a King Villa at the Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI. She requested a King Villa with a balcony and was told by the person taking the reservation that our balcony request would be included in the notes. A King Villa has a King bed, a whirlpool and fireplace in the room, and a full kitchen. The reservation was prepaid, non-refundable.

It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Romantic even, right?

It would have been, if that was the room we would have gotten. What we got instead was a first floor room (no balcony) with a Queen bed, a regular walk in shower and no fireplace. When we complained we were basically told you prepaid, there is nothing we can or will do. It was either take the room they gave us (which WAS NOT what we prepaid for) or lose our money and get a room elsewhere that met our original requirements, which were a King bed, a whirlpool and fireplace IN THE ROOM and a balcony.

We had difficulty finding Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI because it really isn't a true Holiday Inn, it's a timeshare. Nowhere on the Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI website does it say that it was a timeshare. We went into the Geneva Resort to ask where the Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI hotel was and they told us that they handle check in for the Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI, checked us in, and directed us to the Holiday Inn in Lake Geneva, WI buildings.

There were several other issues with our room. One being that the blanket on the bed and the extra blanket stowed in the armoire both had old cigarette burns on them. This is in a room that is supposed to be non-smoking. The towels in the bathroom were full of lint. After showering and toweling off I had to take my previously worn tee shirt to rub off the lint that the towel left on me. This wasn't just 1 towel that was linty. All but 1 of the bath towels were linty and I unfortunately was the recipient of those linty towels. The room was equipped with a coffee maker, but did not include enough coffee for our 2 day stay. Only 1 packet of coffee was included and the powdered creamer was caked solid and obviously ancient. We had to schlep to the Geneva Resort to get another packet of coffee and purchase a carton of creamer at a convenience mart because we had no idea how old those powdered creamer packets were.

This wasn't the end of our disappointing hotel stay. Friday night we ordered a pizza delivered to the room and shortly after we saw flashing lights. Several squad cars and 2 paramedic vehicles were in front of our building. No word on why. If there was any safety issue involved, no one told us. They were there for nearly 2 hours. We were left to wonder...heart attack (then why were the paramedics parked so long?), domestic disturbance? or ??? Saturday night I was woken up to someone screaming F-bombs at 2am. It was like staying in hillbilly hell.

My girlfriend travels a lot for business. She has recently put a different chain on her do not book list. I've often stayed at Holiday Inns when I visit Wisconsin. They've been my 'go to' choice when I visit there because of their locations, cleanliness and quality. I've never had an experience like this.

Our hotel experience was definitely not at all what we expected and it did not meet our expectations of a Holiday Inn experience. We didn't even get what we paid for! We basically paid for 1 thing and got something of considerably lesser quality. We have made complaints online at the Holiday Inn website, but have gotten no response. I'll post an update if Holiday Inn responds.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lake Geneva Getaway

This is a photo of an actual shop on Main Street in Lake Geneva. Well, let me just say that "Whatever Lola Wants..." wasn't exactly how our long weekend started. Our hotel room did not meet our romantic getaway expectations. We reserved, prepaid and expected a King Villa with a king size bed, in room whirlpool and fireplace, and a balcony. What we got was a queen size bed on the first floor and none of the rest. Enough about the negatives, here are the highlights...that I can blog about ;)
One of the first shops we stopped at was Aerial Stunt Kites on Wrigley Drive in Lake Geneva. If you have kids or grand kids, nieces or nephews or if you're still a kid at heart, Aerial Stunt Kites is a must stop. Not only do they have a huge selection of kites, they also have a huge selection of games, puzzles and very unique toys. The staff is very knowledgeable about all the products and will even demonstrate the toys or games and let you try them out. My girlfriend purchased one of the coolest toys there, the X-Launcher.

Friday night we ordered pizza delivered to our room and just kicked back and relaxed. Saturday night was really the highlight of our trip in terms of dining out. We made reservations at Geneva Chop House and asked for a view of the lake. We got our view of the lake and had a fabulous meal. Hot rolls with bits of roasted garlic in them were served with 3 butters, plain butter, sun-dried tomato butter and a blue cheese butter which was our favorite. We split a chopped salad and both ordered the Blue Cheese Crusted Filet and split an order of Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Butter Sauce. For dessert, we split Creme Brulee. For steak fans, this is a must stop, and the view was wonderful.

Sunday morning we set out for brunch at Kirsch's Restaurant. When we thought brunch, we expected a buffet. Unfortunately, Kirsch's Restaurant Champagne Brunch is an order off the menu brunch. It was very good, but a bit disappointing, just because we expected a buffet. I ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast and my girlfriend ordered the Eggs Benedict. Both were egg-cellent. We had a wonderful view of the lake while we dined.
After brunch we stopped to take photos by the lake facing Main Street before leaving town.

We had a nice relaxing drive there and back. It was a wonderful, romantic getaway. We both can't wait to plan our next getaway.

Lola's Diner©2008-2010
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