Hotels Music and Barbershops


Our weekend get-away began yesterday with a stay at Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne primarily so Grandma and Grandpa could have an evening of Tom Rigney and Flambeau music. The idea was to wear JJ out in the swimming pool and then let him enjoy a peaceful evening in a luxurious room.

The music part was extraordinary with the band fired up on a high stage overlooking a crowded dance floor. We snagged a prime table near the front of the lounge with a perfect view of the band and the dancers. The music was grand as always. The dancers were entertaining to watch. The food part was not so extraordinary. We opted for the seafood buffet which turned out to be a $23 each disappointment. Order off the menu if you happen to go there.

Pokémon was a bit of a bust for JJ. He sneaked out of the room while we were listening to music since he couldn’t get decent internet from inside but the guard sent him back to his room. Meanwhile he demagnetized his key and I had to go rescue him.

Even though we didn’t have the best of luck, we are spending another night in this area, staying at the old Sonora Inn.  JJ doesn’t believe in ghosts but he is excited to stay here with the possibility that one might appear. We have a two room suite, the only room that was left and kind of expensive, but JJ is more than happy to have his own space. The best part for him is that we are located right between two Pokemon stops so he can gather balls and critters all night. His phone is on the charger while he and grandpa swim in the rooftop pool. I’m getting my 20 minutes writing in but confess I am allowing myself brief interruptions to gather balls for JJ. I don’t want to hear him complaining again about missing the opportunity to catch a rare Pokemon because he has no balls and then complaining more when he finds out grandma was successful in capturing the coveted creature.

Took care of another issue today. JJ has been begging for a haircut. We found this cute little red barbershop on the edge of town and chanced a visit without an appointment. They guy was hesitant at first but since his scheduled appointment had not arrived yet, he agreed to do a quick cut. It was on $10. Since I’m used to paying $20, I paid him $15. I thought JJ was happy. Not until we got to the car did he mention that the guy “squared off” the forehead line and he thinks he looks like an alien. I can’t seem to win.

So JJ and Grandpa are off to the rooftop pool. I elected not to go when I saw that there is not one tiny bit of shade up there. Not a good place to hang out in over 100 degree weather. Maybe the pool water is refreshing. I might reconsider when my writing time is up. That is if they are not back by then.

The hotel has a bit of an old smell, almost like what you expect when you enter an antique store. The furniture is antique, the carpet worn, in spite of them saying it was revitalized in 2012. The bathtub in JJ’s room is large, deep, and probably never replaced. JJ’s comment was, “you could drown in there.” Well, possibly you could but it would be a long wait to fill it up. Water is a mere trickle and barely warm. The flooring in the bathrooms is relatively new tile but it looks like the only upgrades may have been new toilets. The beds are comfortable. We have a fridge, coffee maker and microwave so that’s a plus. There’s a small table and desk but only one chair. The other bedroom has a king sized bed and one small lounge chair. Fortunately, the in window air conditioners seem to be working fairly well. We get to check out old photos around the room in throughout the halls as we creak across the squeaky floors. I could hear Grandpa and JJ talking from the end of the hall and there’s a lot of street noise. We give in to all that and to enjoy the quaintness.

Eric already tested the bar across the street and noted the shop next to it has two dresses he thinks are just my style. So I looked. Not exactly my style. I’m 67 and don’t go braless, spaghetti strapped, or above the knee. That does not go well with flappy upper arms and road mapped white legs. Eric is dreaming of last night on the dance floor where style didn’t matter. The chubby lady wearing what looked like a skirted bathing suit was a good dancer but those chubby legs kind of wobbled with the beat above the knee. Her husband must have told her she looked great. That’s what husbands do. I’ve learned not to listen to mine. He needs a new pair of eyeglasses.

Beautiful Kauai

When JJ heard that grandma was going to Kauai again there was a tense moment of rebellion. “Why can’t I ever go with you?” he asked. Funny, children never remember when they have accompanied you on trips. I gently reminded him of our trip across country to Virginia to see Uncle Don and Aunt Bonnie. I pointed to the scrapbook from our Alaskan cruise. “But I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” he says, arms crossed. I assured him that his day would come.

Plans changed a bit. One of our friends couldn’t go and our hostess offered JJ the spot. Who could say no? We bought the tickets. And plans changed again. This time our friend said she worked it out and could now come on the trip. A bit of trepidation ensued when JJ found out he’d now be traveling with three grandmas. Eight days is a lot of time for a thirteen-year-old to hang with three old ladies.

We managed to pull it off. JJ got his own room high up in the loft. We got the run of downstairs. We wore him out each day – shopping, snorkeling, shopping, eating, shopping, snorkeling, traveling around the island, shopping, snorkeling, eating. We’d end the day with an hour in the swimming pool. JJ escaped to the loft for refuge and slept nearly ten hours each night. We are tough old ladies.

The biggest challenge was catering to his dietary whims – for the most part. He had a brief change of heart about diet once we sent him 1/2 mile up the street to Taco Bell for breakfast on a hot, humid morning and he returned with two cheeseburgers from Burger King because Taco Bell doesn’t open until 11am. Our explanation of Hawaiian time fell on deaf ears. Bubba Burger was 1/2 mile the other direction and that became the favorite fast food of choice. Next time he may eat what we eat. For the month of July he has agreed to thirty-one days of no fast food. We shall see.

Snorkeling was the highlight. With rented gear JJ had a quick snorkeling lesson in the pool and we were off to the beaches. First up was Lydgate Beach Park, an area with two enclosed ponds, perfect for beginners. For a kid who only had one two week swim lesson session in his entire life, JJ surprised us with his ability to outswim any of us. Snorkeling is now his favorite sport.

We moved on to Poipu where we returned three times. It was the best – except for one day – the day we crossed the sandbar to the adventurous side of the beach. Maybe a little too exhausted and heading back to shore, a huge wave plunged us over to the rocky area. A little banged up, JJ missing one fin and the snorkel gear, we bumped and scooted our way to shore, a big lesson to be learned. An expensive lesson.

Moala’a Bay was the favorite beach. I promised my friend I wouldn’t advertise this one. It’s mostly private, not so easy to get to, but the most beautiful beach we visited. While it was lovely to bask in the sun there, on this particular day, it was too risky to snorkel. We tried to follow the channel out to the reefs but wind and waves warned us not to proceed. Don’t go there 🙂

Did I mention we went shopping? I tried my best to fill up that extra thirteen pounds of space in my suitcase but bottom line, I added only five pounds to the suitcase, five pounds to my body and a weighted fistful of charge slips. Of course we absolutely needed everything we purchased. JJ caught on to the math quickly – one gift for grandpa – two gifts for us – one gift for daddy – two gifts for us – one gift for mommy – two gifts for us.

While it was the adventure of a lifetime for JJ, I think he is happy to be home cuddled up with his nameless cat. JJ survived eight days of three grandmas and questions their ability to agree on anything. We three old ladies survived the teenager the only way we knew how:



With a littl20160313_074950e bit of luck I left Reno on the Zephyr yesterday morning with enough cash in my pocket to buy lunch in the dining car. Not so for grandpa and he’s the one who begged us not to honor, “Open Your Umbrella Indoors Day.” Little J and I took our chances.

Okay, so I have to admit I did win the money the day before and grandpa may have been right. Luck turned a corner upon arrival at the Amtrak station.

First off, trains don’t recognize Daylight Savings Time. Think about it – how can a train leave Chicago on schedule, arrive at all the westbound stops according to time table commitments, and make up an hour between Winnemucca and Reno? The wait at the station… a little over an hour.

Second, near blizzard weather. Two buses cancelled the trip over the summit leaving two busloads of passengers the opportunity to observe the winter storm in the comfort of a coach seat. Finding three empty seats together in a sold out train? We took our chances behind a young man determined to catch up on all his phone calls between Reno and Sacramento. Eric commented that the foul mouth, drug dealing, gang influenced blather would stop once we reached the non-service areas. He was right about that. These were the opportunities to admire the young man’s latest rap tunes. Apparently when he wasn’t doing back flips off the stage, he was a musician, of sorts.  Reminder to self – do not sit anywhere near young men wearing black fedoras, black leather jackets, black leather pants, skinny underwear (now how would we know that? – first time I ever saw baggy low rider pants in leather), jewels on every finger, ear buds implanted.

Third, dinner in the diner. The goal was to show Little J what dining on the train is all about. It seemed our discourse about fine dining on our honeymoon trip 46 years ago was as uninspiring as the drug induced rap job two cars behind us.  Little J, as unimpressed as he was, did point out that the NON-silverware did still have an Amtrak emblem and the not-so-fine linen PAPER table cloths and a couple of pens provided artistic distraction while waiting patiently for the fine mac and cheese dining experience.

Fourth, delays. What more can I say other than one must always remember there is such a thing as “train time.”

Fifth – back to the umbrella – would it open once we arrived at our final destination in a deluge of rain? Of course not.