Yellow Submarine in Progress

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I don’t think this will have any spoilers. Daughter got out the “Yellow Submarine” movie. Watching it right now. Surreal. Seems to be more a showcase for their songs than anything with a plot.

But surreal can certainly entertain. Now, if I only knew their music more, I might find some of it more comprehensible.  Or perhaps not.

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Book Club Book List

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Looking for a good book to read?  I won’t guarantee the below list are all good to read, but the Avondale United Methodist Church Book Club will be reading one a month over the next year and discussing whether we think it was a good read or not — opinions guaranteed to NOT be unanimous.

The first book in the list we will be reading for our October meeting (regular time and date 10 a.m. the Second Saturday of the month in the church library), but for the rest, the order is still being decided on.

The Johnstown Flood, by David McCullough.

The history of civil engineering may sound boring, but in David McCullough’s hands it is, well, riveting. His award-winning histories of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal were preceded by this account of the disastrous dam failure that drowned Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889. Written while the last survivors of the flood were still alive, McCullough’s narrative weaves the stories of the town, the wealthy men who owned the dam, and the forces of nature into a seamless whole. His account is unforgettable: “The wave kept on coming straight toward him, heading for the very heart of the city. Stores, houses, trees, everything was going down in front of it, and the closer it came, the bigger it seemed to grow…. The height of the wall of water was at least thirty-six feet at the center…. The drowning and devastation of the city took just about ten minutes.” A powerful, definitive book, and a tribute to the thousands who died in America’s worst inland flood.

The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston.

National Geographic and New Yorker writer and novelist Preston shares the story of his involvement in the search for a historic lost city in the rainforests of Honduras. Preston is one member of a team that managed to use a combination of historical research and state-of-the-art technology to examine the rainforests in the Mosquitia region, an area filled with all manner of dangers, from disease to drug traffickers. Preston’s writing brings the reader along with the team as they discover 500-year-old artifacts, encounter huge and deadly snakes, and face the political and academic fallout the search brings with it. Listeners hear several interesting side stories, such as the discovery of historical fraud in their research and the battle half the team had with a deadly parasite picked up at the ruins. Preston’s journalistic experience is on full display as he gives not only the viewpoint of those in the expedition but also those on the outside. Bill Mumy’s reading is straightforward and engaging. The final disc includes 16 pages of photos. Verdict: A great story with many paths to interest fans of history, archaeology, adventure, environmentalism, South America, or diseases.

Truman, by David McCullough.

McCullough’s life of Harry Truman is a Sandburg’s Lincoln for the 1990s. Biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, historian of the Johnstown flood, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Panama Canal, clearly McCullough found not just a new subject but a hero too when he began research in 1982. As with Roosevelt in Mornings on Horseback ( LJ 5/15/81), he is concerned above all with defining Truman’s character. With poetry and reverence he writes of the farmer, haberdasher, and local official whom accident and ambition raised to unprecedented power, yet who left the White House an American everyman. Skeptics uneasy with McCullough’s Truman in mystic communion with America’s spirit will recall the raw politics described by Richard Miller in Truman: The Rise to Power ( LJ 12/85). For detailed treatment of policy, scholars will often need a specialized monograph. Yet McCullough’s Truman is not quite a saint, and his own scholarship is exhaustive in portraying Truman the man. No biography approaches the richness, depth, or grace of this one.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.

This is the remarkable story of an African teenager who, by courage, ingenuity, and determination, defeated the odds. Born in 1987 in a drought-ravaged Malawi where hope and opportunity were hard to find, Kamkwamba read about windmills in a library book and dreamed of building one that would bring electricity to his village and improve the lives of his family. At the age of 14, Kamkwamba had to drop out of school and help his family forage for food, but he never let go of his dream. Over a period of several months, using scrap metal, tractor, and bicycle parts, the resourceful young man built a crude yet operable windmill that eventually powered four lights. Soon reports of his “electric wind” project spread beyond the borders of his village, earning him international recognition and, with the help of mentors worldwide, he now attends a high school in South Africa. Verdict: Demonstrating the power of imagination, libraries, and books, Kamkwamba’s heartwarming memoir, with Mealer’s (All Things Must Fight To Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo) contribution, is sure to inspire all readers.

The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore.

Moore (Roses Are Red…) details the tragic stories of dozens of young women employed as dial painters during World War I. Often the daughters of immigrants, these women were lured to these prestigious and well-paying jobs unaware of the dangers of the radioactive paint present in their workplace-which caused their bodies and clothes to glow, even outside of work. With America’s entry into World War I, demand for painted dials and painters skyrocketed. Soon, many employees suffered aching teeth and jaws, sore joints, and sarcomas. As their ailments worsened, many sought answers from their employers. They were met with denials and misinformation even as evidence mounted that radium poisoned these women. After nearly 20 years, several trials, and thousands of dollars in doctor and attorney fees, the women won a small measure of justice, but for some, it was too late. Moore’s well-researched narrative is written with clarity and a sympathetic voice that brings these figures and their struggles to life. Verdict: A must-read for anyone interested in American and women’s history, as well as topics of law, health, and industrial safety.

The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman.

In Stedman’s deftly crafted debut, Tom Sherbourne, seeking constancy after the horrors of WWI, takes a lighthouse keeper’s post on an Australian island, and calls for Isabel, a young woman he met on his travels, to join him there as his wife. In peaceful isolation, their love grows. But four years on the island and several miscarriages bring Isabel’s seemingly boundless spirit to the brink, and leave Tom feeling helpless until a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a living child. Isabel convinces herself-and Tom-that the baby is a gift from God. After two years of maternal bliss for Isabel and alternating waves of joy and guilt for Tom, the family, back on the mainland, is confronted with the mother of their child, very much alive. Stedman grounds what could be a far-fetched premise, setting the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out, making evident that “Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled up that you can’t tell which is which until you’ve shot ’em both, and then it’s too late.” Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters.

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, by William Shatner, David Fisher.

Fans of TV shows might wonder if the people who portray the characters are friends in real life. As Shatner explains in this biography of Leonard Nimoy, actors form close bonds when working together and swear their undying friendship when it’s over but more likely never see one another again. That was not the case with Shatner and Nimoy, who starred in three seasons of cult favorite Star Trek as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock respectively, though -Shatner reveals that they were wary of each other at first. He tells stories about the show, such as Nimoy’s creation of the iconic Vulcan salute and nerve pinch, yet also shares little-known personal information, such as Nimoy’s alcoholism and the price of celebrity. However, the heart of this book is Shatner’s description of their friendship that grew from the Star Trek movies and the Trekkie conventions they attended as a pair. Shatner discusses his own life and the parallels in Nimoy’s, but he does not upstage his friend, rather giving him center stage with his usual Shatner self-deprecating humor. Trekkies will want this for the insider stories from Captain Kirk himself, but fans of candid, emotion-filled biographies will adore this account because it’s a treasure trove of information.

The Oregon Trail, by Rinker Buck.

Award-winning journalist and author Buck (Flight of Passage) has ostensibly written a book about his experiences retrekking the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail from St. Joseph, MO, to Baker City, OR, in a mule-drawn covered wagon with his brother Nick and Nick’s dog Olive Oyl. As romantic as the adventure sounds, this is not a casual summer endeavour-don’t try to imitate it. There’s a second, parallel story, a description of another covered wagon trip he took at age seven in 1958 with his father and siblings. The family set out from central Jersey across the Delaware River to south central Pennsylvania for a monthlong “see America slowly” expedition. This adventure, tamer than the Oregon one, is now as much a part of Buck as his DNA. The Oregon trip is fraught with mishaps, near-death experiences, and plain bad luck. But there were also angels along the way helping them get through and guiding Jake and the other two mules. The parallel story is, at times, more compelling than the contemporary one, and the book could have been cut by a quarter and still be a solid read. It shouldn’t take longer to read the book than to actually cross the Oregon Trail. Recommended for folk interested in the Oregon Trail, pioneer history, or mules.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance.

                Growing up in Appalachia may leave a person open to harsh criticism and stereotype, yet Vance delves into his childhood and upbringing to make a clear distinction between perception and reality. Born in Kentucky and shuffling among homes in Ohio, the author ended the cycle of poverty, abuse, and drug use after becoming a U.S. Marine and Yale Law School graduate. His memoir is less about his triumph and more about exposing the gritty truth of how a culture fell into ruin. Using examples from his own life with references to articles and studies throughout, Vance’s intent is to show that what was once the fulfillment of the American Dream-moving to the Rust Belt for a better life-has now left families in peril. His plea is not for sympathy but for understanding. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this memoir is akin to investigative journalism. While some characters seem too caricature  like, it is often those terrifyingly authentic traits that make people memorable. Vance is careful to point out that this is his recollection of events; not everyone is painted in a positive light. A quick and engaging read, this book is well suited to anyone interested in a study of modern America, as Vance’s assertions about Appalachia are far more reaching.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

Fifty-year-old Jean Perdu is a literary apothecary on his barge bookshop moored on the Seine in Paris. Gifted at prescribing just the right book for what ails his devoted customers, he is unable to cure his own heart, broken two decades earlier when Manon, the married love of his life, vanishes after leaving behind just a letter that Perdu refused to read-that is, until now, with devastating consequences. Walking out on his first tender encounter with a woman in 20 years, Perdu flees south, setting sail with Max, a young, best-selling author with writer’s block, as his uninvited guest. Triumph over tragedy is played out in the beauty of France’s canals, in the quirky goodness of its people, and in Perdu’s determination to seek forgiveness and reclaim joy. Verdict George’s exquisite, multilayered love story enchanted Europe for more than a year, and the U.S. publication of this flawless translation will allow gob-smacked booklovers here to struggle with the age-old dilemma: to race through each page to see what happens next or savor each deliciously enticing phrase. Do both; if ever a book was meant to be read over and over, this gem is it.

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly.

In this debut, Shetterly shines a much-needed light on the bright, talented, and wholly underappreciated geniuses of the institution that would become NASA. Called upon during the labor shortage of World War II, these women were asked to serve their country and put their previously overlooked skills to work-all while being segregated from their white coworkers. The author tells the compelling stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden as they navigated mathematical equations, the space race, and the civil rights movement over three decades of brilliant computing and discoveries. The professional and private lives of the ladies of Langley Research Center are documented through an impassioned and clearly well-researched narrative. Readers will learn how integral these women were to American aeronautics and be saddened by the racism and sexism that kept them from deserved recognition. VERDICT Shetterly’s highly recommended work offers up a crucial history that had previously and unforgivably been lost. We’d do well to put this book into the hands of young women who have long since been told that there’s no room for them at the scientific table.

Deep Down Dark, by Hector Tobar.

                Tobar (The Barbarian Nurseries) relates the story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped thousands of feet underground for over two months. A significant portion of the narrative portrays the initial, critical days of survival against starvation. Before rescuers could reach the group, the men managed without assistance by rationing what little food was available, drinking water that was meant for their equipment, and depending on one another for support. As their time trapped below ground lengthened, and rescue efforts grew ever more complex, the men became the object of worldwide media attention. Deep Down Dark details that international rescue effort and the perseverance of those above ground, including mining experts from the United States and Chile, scientists from NASA, and family members who lived near the mine in a tent city for the duration of the rescue. A compelling account of a modern miracle for readers interested in survival narratives and contemporary accounts of recent mining disasters.

 

 

Saturday/Weekend After Report

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Summer is over, socially. Labor Day Weekend marks the social end of summer. So I thought today I would rehash the weekend.

Saturday

We started our celebration of the weekend at Worlds of Fun. Dollar Days. We spent our Dollar Days time at the Moroccan Merchant store: $5 plush and apparel, everything else $1.

They had cheerful ambassadors at the door offering you a bag (for $1 at checkout) to put your  purchases in while shopping. The four of us looked through the store for items of interest, dispersed into the developing crowd, and then finally arrived into the checkout line.

There we met Mary and other staff checking everyone out. Not everything was wringing up correctly, but they all worked through and around the issues to get everything to ring up and people’s purchases completed. As I said, “we are at World’s of Fun, so, no matter what happens, have fun with it.” Those staff were great evidence of what so many of the staff there always exude. Things don’t have to run perfectly, but you have fun with and about it, and find a resolution/workaround.

We followed that with a two-some anniversary visit to Cinzetti’s Restaurant in Overland Park. Excellent service, excellent food, excellent ambiance.

There were other items to the afternoon. Target’s 4 for $10 soda can case sale ended Saturday, so we picked up my annual soda supply, then went over to the Sprint store to go phone shopping. Left and came back later to pick up a new, bottom of the price series smart phone for the wife — happy anniversary! The Sprint people were also very helpful with the phone choice, setup, accessories, etc.

Sunday

Started off with church. Where they introduced the new choir director.

Director of Music Ministries

Taylor Tracy

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Taylor is a native of Buhler, KS where he grew up on the family farm.  Over the last 10 years, Taylor has served as a choir director in congregations varying in size from 80 to slightly under 2,000.  In addition to his conducting experience, Taylor has performed as a soloist, in choirs, and orchestras throughout Europe, Canada, up and down both coasts and throughout the Mid-West.  Taylor is active in the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, KMEA, and KCDA and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning News.  Taylor’s commitment to quality church music and liturgy has brought regional recognition to several music ministries under his direction.  He looks forward to serving with members of the Avondale staff and community and to continue the musical excellence of the church.
We didn’t get to introduce ourselves to him, because I had to get to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival by 1 p.m. to be on stage with Madrigalia Bar Nonne.
The day outdoors was warm but not overly so. It ensured we always glistened, but so did the music, as our sets included appreciative audiences and youthful singers who we invited up to sing along with us and practice what they learned in school in a broader and more lively environment. The crowd was large and colorful, but not super packed.
I’m sure all three days of the weekend had similar lievliness. It was a very good start to the seven weekend run.

Monday

For us this was a more relaxing day. I put on some bike miles exploring trails in the morning, then we did a quick run over for lunch in the early afternoon.  There didn’t seem to be a large crowd of cars at the Worlds of Fun parking lot. But by the time we went back to Oceans of Fun for the evening, we could see that sometime during the day they had parked all their lots and extended parking a long distance on the grass.  My take, since Monday was the last day Oceans of Fun was open for the season, everyone was getting a last swim in. Worlds of Fun, meanwhile, has two whole seasons left to go for the year: Haunt and Winterfest.

That said, by the time we arrived before 6 p.m. there was plenty of space for us to park close in the main lot, and spend our last OOF moments floating around the Caribbean Cooler until the guards blew their whistles in unison to signal the end of the OOF year.

Conclusion

So, yes, a good transitional weekend. The end of summer; the beginning of fall. But it will take awhile to think of it as fall. Though maybe not too long — the 10-day forecast has our lows dipping into the 50s for most of that time.

 

P.S. — Since so much of the post was about WOF, I will also put the weekly dining plan stats update in this post.

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 476
Total Retail $4,967.10
Average Price Per Meal $1.05
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 456
Total Retail $502.50
Average Price Per Drink $0.07

Preach or Tell a Story

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I found this book on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles the last time I was in (months ago) and decided, after reading the first part, that it might be worth reading. Either it was going to be one of the worst moral preaching book possible, or it was could have a really good story.

I didn’t realize that it could be both at once.

The book is New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. There are some really neat characters with some really good events and character development. And this book is absolutely laced with some of the worst preaching sections imaginable, based on what passes in the politically correct world for science — in the Barack Obama sense of “proven science”.

There is are a couple of stock liberal characters, as well, which unfortunately were more interesting before they began the preaching of their liberal intolerance.

So I was glad I read the book, and enjoyed the good stories. But unfortunately there are so many people out there who don’t know about science or finance, and will seriously believe the statements at face value without realizing the full extent of its fabrication.

It is excellent fiction and fantasy; the danger is too many people today believe this is some actual reflection of reality.

On Video: Foreign releases to English

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We watch a lot of foreign animation (usually with English dubbing) in our house, thanks to the quality tastes of our daughter and the wide variety of such available through our local library system or interlibrary loan.

Today I’m going to pop comments on two of them that we have in the house at the moment, one because I was surprised at how it went after the beginning, the other, well, here goes.

Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest

This one began is a way that made me almost ready to stop watching. It had such a PC tone to the setup — then it made a quick turn that suddenly had me watching to see how they were playing this different.

The PC analogue came from two cultures, and my expectations of one being listed as bad, and the other as good. But, well, let’s just say I encourage you to get it out and see how these two boys play their roles of prince, and how the other characters exceed their stereotypes for the unexpected, and yet in a way very classic, conclusion.

Whisper of the Heart

This is one of many Studio Ghibli videos that have been dubbed to English by Disney Studios, which is doing a wonderful job of dubbing Ghibli movies while staying true to the original story. It shows that underneath the smart business acumen of the studios is also one dedicated to real art and storytelling.

This particular episode in a coming of age sort of movie set in Japan.  There are several growing up pain angles, several love triangle angles, but the one that really popped for our family was the one girl’s attempt to become a writer, and her reaction to her first critic. Her inability to believe how good her story was, struggling with the fact that it still needed a lot of work.  Shizuko is a clever and well-drawn character who has believable struggles that grip your heart without having to be end-of-the-world caliber. Just excellent story telling.

 

So go get out some movies and see what you think.

Cedar Fair Tour: Worlds of Fun — Coming Home

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We did a half-tour of the Cedar Fair Parks; I blogged about the visits, and about the parks in comparison. Now I feel a need to blog about home, about Worlds of Fun. After touring all those parks, seeing all those extreme and expansive roller coasters, does it make Worlds of Fun dim by comparison? Might we wish to live closer to another park instead?

The answer is no. I asked the family about what makes Worlds of Fun our park of choice. After we got past “living four miles away”, we decided that there are some definite things about the park that we think is better than any of the other parks we visited. True, there are many things at the other parks that are individually better, but overall, we will take Worlds of Fun — while at the same time recommending what we think would make it better.

My first thoughts about what I like about Worlds of Fun, since I am by heart a water child, reflect around the Oceans of Fun portion. All of agreed that of the wave pools we experienced, none of them were better than the Surf City wave pool at Oceans of Fun. Nor were any of the lazy rivers better than the Caribbean Cooler. Sure, we’d like a lazy river with some of the fun stuff and obstacle course type items, but having a river you don’t need a tube to ride in, and one deep enough to swim in, is a luxury we didn’t find anywhere else.

I came up with a word for it: space. When Worlds of Fun was built in 1973, and when Oceans of Fun was built in 1982, they were built on a scale of space not reflected in the other parks we saw. It can be seen in the amount of space between the rides, and the size of the Wave Pool at Oceans of Fun. In the intervening years the layout and replacement of rides has filled in some of that space, but the overlying feeling and principle still remains. It is one of the major stamps of the Midwestern mentality that is subtly reflected in the park.

The other major stamp is that of theme. All the other parks we saw had themed sections. None of them had an overriding park theme. Worlds of Fun is based on the Jules Verne classic Around the World in 80 Days; each section of the park represents a region of the world that you pass through. True, there was no passing through Scandinavia in the book, but the theme of world regions is a unifying theme to the whole park that the other parks don’t have anything like. In fact, if they wanted to, the park could think about more subtle ways to integrate the book plot into the park plot.  Some year they could have sightings of Phileas Fogg or Passepartout. But even without the literary allusions of that idea, paying attention to the region theme is a key element of the parks subtle appeal.

So, back to the Worlds of Fun part more specifically. With the use of the theme, the park is arranged in a loop pattern, unlike the other parks, actually a loop and a loop within the loop, to go from region to region. Geographically it seems to us that Worlds of Fun is built on a hillier terrain than any of the other parks, and the loops take full advantage of this geographical presence. You also see it in the various streams, waterways and ponds that flow through the park campus. I have blogged about the “turtle pond” at the park, an unintended natural wonder at the park. Paying attention to these geographical landmarks could even improve the park.

When I think of specific rides, Worlds of Fun has some things that other parks don’t have. The Prowler is an excellent example. Sure, other parks have wooden roller coasters, other parks have more extreme roller coasters, but not have a coaster constructed with the unique principle of the Prowler. Other roller coasters may have more extreme functions, but only the Prowler connects each feature into the next one without down time between them, to keep the intensity continually on the prowl throughout the ride.

Then there is the Spinning Dragons. None of the rides had a similar single car spinning ride like the dragons. The closest we found were the “mouse trap” type coasters that we found and enjoyed at many of the other parks. (Our recommendation is that Worlds of Fun should get one of those — the best placement would be somewhere near, but not in, Planet Snoopy.)

The Uniqueness of the Patriot is harder to describe. It is more similar to other coasters at other parks than the first two I described. But has a length and intensity that fits well with the rest of the rides at WOF, and is a coaster that Betsy is still willing to go on, when other coasters become to extreme for her.

We also like our train, even if it is only a one-stop train. The use of a real train engine Eli (converted to natural gas), gives it a distinction we didn’t feel at the other parks. Once again, they have potential to ramp this up as well. The Great Train robbery scenario of 2016 was fun, they need to think more about wrapping it into various themes.

We have also enjoyed the street entertainments. This year and last they had the Brass Brigade doing roving performances.  In 2016 they also had a town cast that went around and did things, mostly connected to Americana. These are elements they need to think about and weave in more completely to the experience.

I could go on, but as G.K. Chesterton said, it is hard to describe something you know well and love for many reasons.  Something new you experience you can describe in an item or two, but the things you really like have too many layers to easily describe. Let me just close by saying we like our home park of Worlds of Fun, for many reasons, and also why we would like to see so many things that could make it even better.

I am curious to see how Winterfest works out this year. It sounds exciting, and I hope they keep the park’s flavor and theme in mind as they tailor the elements for it.

Cedar Fair Tour: Off Campus Motels

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One other part of our tour of Cedar Fair parks was the nighttime accommodations. We did web searches for “inexpensive” motels, made reservations online, and then took our chances. Despite similar ratings, we had drastically mixed results in the places we selected.

Our first stop was actually for LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN. We had originally booked a room at the Choo Choo Hotel, but they overbooked and we agreed to take a room at the Marriott Hotel Downtown in exchange for one free night out of our four nights there. We ended up with a room on the 14th floor of a 4-star hotel. It was a nice room, but we actually enjoyed several other rooms along the way better.

One of which was NOT the Days Inn we stayed at in Ruther Glen, VA. We booked 2 nights there for our visit to King’s Dominion. Breakfast was included. When we got to the room the air wasn’t on, so we turned it on, quickly unpacked, and went to the park. The room was barely cool by the time we got back.

The evening we checked in the door to the breakfast room was open, so we went in to look it over, and got told we weren’t supposed to go in except during breakfast.  And we got coupons each night for breakfast the next morning, to choose bacon or ham, eggs, etc.  It was so underwhelming that the second morning we preferred paying extra to eat a real meal at McDonalds.

Our third stop was the surprise find. The Holiday Inn Express in Selinsgrove, PA. Had these wonderful high ceilings that gave it a real “wow” factor that we missed in the 4-star Marriott in Chattanooga. We followed that with two nights at the Holiday Inn Express in Buffalo. Just as nice, but not as much of a wow factor as Selinsgrove.

Canada has a lot of wonderful places to stay. One of them is not the Pearson Hotel and Conference Centre. We booked the hotel as what looked like the best economy place. But we got there late, and the room wasn’t ready. Then they checked in a whole bunch of people ahead of us. This was also the place where we lost Nathan’s wallet. We discovered that after our arrival at the next place and called. When we finally got them to understand, they said they would check with housekeeping and call us back. We called three different times, got a new person each time, and no one ever contacted us back after checking  with housekeeping.

That original call was made from the Travelodge in Muskegon, MI. A definite improvement over the Pearson, but no wow like the Holiday Inn Expresses. An okay breakfast, temperature that regulated nicely.

The Budget Host Inn, Sandusky, was a nice enough room, but its touted free wifi just didn’t work very well unless you were on the side of the room near the office, which was in the other building of the two that made up the Inn.

So we started with a decent motel at the convention, disappointment in Virginia, wow in Pennsylvania and pleasant in Buffalo. Then we had disappointment in Toronto, slight relief in Michigan and modest frustration in Sandusky.

So it was nice to end the trip at the La Quinta in Mason, OH (outside Cincinnati. My understanding is that La Quinta is economy business travel style. But this one was another well done hotel. Roomy, comfy beds, high ceilings. We ended on a fairly decent note.

So Holiday Inn Express and La Quinta got on our list of preferred hotels.