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Twice in a week…

Ever since we moved back to Germany in 2014, I’ve avoided doing a lot of driving. I have a 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible sitting in the garage now. The battery has died three times since we moved to Wiesbaden because I so seldom go anywhere. Bill has his Volvo, which we purchased in 2019 and picked up in Sweden. Those were the days! I miss being able to fly somewhere without a bunch of hassles. Normally he would be driving the Volvo today, but he had to go on TDY (temporary duty yonder) for three weeks, and his company makes him rent cars when he goes on business.

Since the Volvo is in the driveway, I can’t get my Mini out without moving it. I also had two chores to do this week. First, I had to drop off a fecal sample at the vet’s office on Monday. Then today, I woke up realizing that there were a few essential items I needed. I can walk to the Rewe if need be, but I also had an empty rack of beer to deposit. So I got in the Volvo and headed off to the store, after carefully dog proofing the house. I can’t say “beagle proofing” anymore, since one of our dogs is definitely NOT a beagle.

This may seem like not much of a big deal… except prior to this morning, I had not been to the grocery store in over a year. I quit going because of COVID-19. Bill goes, because he’s out and about anyway. I used to enjoy grocery shopping, back when I was single. Now, it’s a real chore. I hate wearing a mask for many reasons, which I won’t get into here. And I hate dealing with confrontational people. I actually looked into using the home delivery service, but that requires a 50 euro minimum order. All of the appointments were also booked for the next ten days or so. And really, it’s ridiculous not to just go to the store… I mean, in another life, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Bill had given me a few tips about the new rules. Everybody has to wear a mask and use a cart. I noticed in the drink market, people didn’t use a cart. I did, because I decided to get more beer. I don’t need to be drinking beer. In fact, I usually avoid drinking when Bill isn’t home. But this has been kind of a shitty week. Early Monday morning, I skinned both of my knees. One of the knees was already skinned from a mishap two weeks ago, so I undid a week’s worth of healing. All week, my knees have hurt– stinging, itching, and oozing stickiness. Beer helps dull the pain and annoyance of being so clumsy and having ugly knees.

I drove the mile or so to the store. It’s probably not even that far. It’s literally around the corner. I parked the car, put on my mask, and loaded the empty beer rack in the cart, along with the many empty water bottles and odd aluminum can we had. The Pfand refund totaled about 6 euros. I got my beer and a couple of cans of soda in the drink market. Then I loaded that stuff in the car and went back into the grocery store, which is in a separate building. When we moved here in late 2018, our Rewe didn’t have a drink market. It was just built in 2019. It’s nice, since it’s very well stocked.

I picked up my items at the grocery store, doing all I could to avoid the floor cleaning guy. It surprises me he’d be doing that work during regular business hours, especially since there were a number of people shopping, but what do I know about how things run around here?

When I got home, I was confronted by my lack of driving practice. Bill’s Volvo is much bigger than my Mini is. Consequently, it’s a lot harder to park it, even though it has parking assist and tells you how to park. I don’t quite trust it myself. Every day, I watch Bill expertly maneuver the car into the driveway, making it easier for the landlord to get in and out. I had to make a few passes, having parked the car in front of the house because of the groceries. I noticed the landlord drove up in his little car and looked a little annoyed that the Volvo was parked in front of the house, even though we’re allowed to park there if we want (and for the rent we’re paying, it shouldn’t be an issue, anyway).

But sure enough, I got the car parked… and there were no scratches on the car. The dogs were delighted to see me, and I can make something decent for dinner. Lately, I’ve been skipping dinner because I just can’t be arsed. I hate it when Bill is gone. The saddest part is, last night he was messaging me, proposing that we plan a trip to Stuttgart and get our teeth cleaned. We badly need to get them cleaned, since it’s going on two years since we last saw Dr. Blair. But this is not the kind of thing that should be a field trip. And yes, I know we could find a local dentist, and we might go ahead and do that at some point. We just like Dr. Blair. He’s the best dentist either of us has ever had. And we like visiting Stuttgart… and miss the days when we could do that without a bunch of bullshit.

I miss the days when we could go out and do stuff… and I’d have things to write about besides our new dog and random trips to the grocery store. I hate these marathon TDYs. I hate being clumsy. And I hate that Angela Merkel and her minions are keeping things locked down until March 28th. Fuck COVID-19.

Anyway, yes I’m proud of myself for taking care of that little chore. It would have been better if I could have driven the Mini, but it needs air in the tires and Bill has yet to find a place with a functioning air pump. So that’s another project for when he gets home… in two fucking weeks.

In other news, I’m thinking about buying a new car… one that can accommodate the moose dog, Noyzi. He doesn’t fit in a Mini Cooper. Also, as you can see in the featured photo, our trash guy smokes while he works.

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All roads lead to Wiesbaden! Our intra-Germany move, part two…

On Tuesday, we went back to the house and watched the movers get all our stuff on their truck.  I ran into our neighbor again as I was loading more stuff into my car.  He asked again if we were moving.  I confirmed that we were moving to Wiesbaden for Bill’s new job.  He wished us luck and said “Auf Wiedersehen”… and again, smiled pretty!  I guess I can’t blame him for that.  For his sake, I hope the next tenants don’t have a huge American style truck.

We were finished loading up by noon, so Bill and I started our northern trek to Hesse.  I don’t do a lot of driving anymore, not because I can’t, but because I hate traffic.  Frankly, I don’t socialize very much with other people, either.  I was a little worried about driving on the Autobahn for so long, knowing that we’d no doubt hit traffic jams.  I’m proud to report that despite rainy weather and a few Staus, Bill and I both made it through our journey unscathed.  In fact, Bill even paid me a high compliment by saying that I would have made a fine “tanker”.  Before Bill became an exercise planner, he was a tanker… so I guess he knows what would make a fine one.

Time for a break!  This photo inspired a number of comments from my Facebook friends.  We didn’t visit the well advertised erotic store, but I was advised that there’s a good selection there for those who are still Christmas shopping.

Apparently, I have a good sense of how to be in a convoy.  More than once, I made it possible for Bill to change lanes and kept up a good “march distance”.  What can I say?  My dad was a navigator in the Air Force and endowed me with an excellent sense of direction.  Unfortunately, he didn’t endow me with his adrenaline junkie tendencies or love of fitness.  Oh well…

We spent our first night in Wiesbaden at the Hotel zum Wiesengrund, a very reasonably priced hotel near our new home.  I had originally booked a different place, but changed my mind when I read about Hotel zum Wiesengrund’s well regarded restaurant.  I wanted to go somewhere we’d be able to have a good meal after two days of hard work and driving.  I’m not proud of it, but we resorted to a couple of McDonalds’ meals during our moving out process.  It had been awhile since the last time I ate in a McDonald’s.  It was kind of a shocking experience.  I knew they have kiosks now, but I’ve never actually used one.

Bill was showing me how one orders at McDonald’s nowadays…  this actually makes me kind of sad. 

We arrived at our new house at about 5:00pm on November 27th.  Our new landlord gave us the keys after we paid him the Kaution and first month’s rent.  Our new house is larger, more modern, and much more expensive than the one in Unterjettingen is.  What’s more, our new landlord lives next door to us.  However, he has only rung our doorbell once.  So far, we’re getting along fine.

The view from the balcony on the front of our new house.

The view from the balcony on the back of the house.  Our yard has a nice tall fence and is plenty secure for Zane and Arran, which is a really nice convenience.  Apparently, the people who lived in our house before us were Americans with a dog.  They hooked us up!

 

We laid down the rugs we bought from the Turkish rug guys at Panzer Barracks in Boeblingen.  I’m glad we bought rugs before we left, since it doesn’t appear that Wiesbaden has a similar shop.  I bought rugs from the Turkish guys a couple of years ago, but they weren’t nearly as nice as the ones we just got.  I actually wish we’d bought a couple more rugs, since our new house has brand new parquet floors that I want to protect as much as possible.

After we laid down the rugs, we went to the hotel and checked in.  The Hotel zum Wiesengrund is located on a busy road, but it has a large parking lot with free parking for guests.  We checked in and were assigned a very basic, but clean, room.

A tiny, basic room at Hotel zum Wiesengrund.  Fine for a night.

A tiny shower, but very clean and good water pressure.

 

After we dropped off our bags at the hotel, we decided to have dinner.  Although I had wanted a nice meal, I wasn’t that hungry after all the traveling and stop at Mickey D’s.  I did really want a beer, though.

Bill decides what he wants.  He wasn’t hungry, either.

Ahhh…  This hit the spot.  Wiesbaden is really more wine country than beer country.

I went with fried fish…  It wasn’t the healthiest choice, but it tasted good.  I liked the remoulade that came with it.  Kind of like really fancy tartar sauce.

Bill had smoked salmon.

 

I think Hotel zum Wiesengrund is better known for its restaurant than its lodging.  Bill says some of his co-workers have been to the restaurant, and we noticed it was popular with locals.  There was a large party of Germans near us and they were enjoying Christmas goose and Schnapps.  I had “apple most” for dessert.  Basically, it was non-alcoholic, home pressed apple juice… very tasty!  I expect to become acquainted with apple wine now, since that’s supposedly a local speciality.

Breakfast at Hotel zum Wiesengrund is included in the price of the room, which was about 90 euros.  It’s served buffet style and offers the usual cheeses, cold cuts, breads, and jams.  Unlike the Hotel Adler, the Hotel zum Wiesengrund also has hard boiled eggs, which was a nice touch.

After we checked out of the hotel, we headed for our new house and the dreaded chore of moving in. The same foreman was going to be there, along with several more guys coming in from Heidelberg, which is in Baden-Wuertemberg, like Stuttgart is, yet is located closer to Wiesbaden.

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A pet friendly Columbus Day weekend in France… part six

We woke up yesterday, bright eyed and bushy tailed.  One nice thing about taking trips is that you get to go home.  I was ready to go home, although we really enjoyed our weekend in the Cote D’Or region in France.  One quirk about staying in a vacation home is that you have to do some cleaning before you leave.  Louise mentions a “cleaning service” in the guidebook she made for the Tower, but it was not offered when we booked on Booking.com.  For those who would prefer to book the cleaning service, I think it cost 50 euros.  But even if we’d booked it, Bill and I (but especially Bill) are considerate people and wouldn’t want to leave a mess.

We stripped the bed and put the towels in a pile.  Actually, it was very nice that these items were included in the price of the Tower.  A lot of times when you rent a house, you either have to rent towels and linens or bring your own.  I scrubbed the toilet and swept while Bill did the dishes.  He vacuumed the dog hair off the chairs and floor while I loaded up the car.  At about nine o’clock, after our lovely included breakfast, we hopped in the RAV 4 and headed back to Germany.  All in all, it was a very successful trip.  We came home with plenty of good wine, cheese that smells like feet, wonderful French butter and cream, and crusty French bread.

As we were saying goodbye to Louise and her hunky husband who is obviously very good with his hands, Bill said we’d be back.  I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back to Semur En Auxois at all, although it will depend on how much time we have left in Germany.  At this point, it’s a mystery how long we’ll be here.  I hope it’ll be awhile, because I still have a long list of places I want to see.

Next time, we’ll pick a weekend where we can book the dogs so we can visit some of the local attractions and restaurants more easily.  The area is chock full of museums, chateaus, abbeys, and charming places to eat and shop.  This isn’t to say that dog owners should not come to Semur En Auxois.  I consider it a very dog friendly place, especially if your dogs are less high maintenance than ours are!

Hallo Deutschland!

 

The drive back to Germany was pretty easy.  We had little traffic and France helpfully offers plenty of clean rest areas where one can pee for free.  We stopped at one place where they had put a banged up utility truck.  It was all crumpled like it had been in a terrible accident.  I was tempted to take a photo of it because I was curious as to why it was there.  Were they trying to warn drivers?  Was it just a place to put a badly damaged vehicle until someone could tow it somewhere else?  Enquiring minds want to know.

I enjoyed the drive through this mountain pass near Freiburg.  These two mountains reminded me of my family’s hometown of Natural Bridge, Virginia.  The only thing missing was the “bridge” connecting the two mountains.  Both coming and going, it gave me a flash of homesickness to go through this area.

Ditto to this cool cross on a little hill.  I have an Italian friend who claims Europe is full of atheists.  He may be right, but I still enjoy seeing something like this on a public road and it not being controversial like it would be in the United States.  This isn’t to say that I’m a particularly religious person.  I just like it when people live and let live.

I understand there was snow in BW while we were gone.  I didn’t see any down in France, but I did notice a splotch of white on the mountain in the distance as we were coming home.   I suppose we’ll be shoveling snow before we know it!

And finally, the ads on the door at the first pay toilet I used all weekend…  Yep, we were back in Germany, where there are no highway tolls (yet), but you will pay to pee!

 

Whenever I take trips, I typically do a top ten list of things I learned.  I will write that list now and then our trip to Semur En Auxois will be thoroughly explained!  Our next planned trip is next month, when Bill and I will be going to Ireland.  It will be my first time as someone old enough to remember and Bill’s second time (last time was during the 1980s, when there was a depression going on).  It should be interesting!

 

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Austria, Italy, Switzerland

Ten things I learned on my trip to Austria, Italy, and Switzerland…

Here it is, time for another ten things I learned post.  I like to think of these lists as a good way to sum up a trip.  It so happens that I learned a lot during our most recent travel.  I may have even learned more than ten things.  So, with no further delay, here’s my list of what I learned this time.

10.  Bier Bottich Bad…  apparently, it’s a beer spa franchise and other hotels are jumping on the bandwagon.  The experience pretty much looks to be the same at the places who offer this particular beer spa treatment.  Other types of beer baths exist, but if you find one with this logo…

It’s distinctive, isn’t it?

 

you know you’re in for a beer jacuzzi soak in what looks like a beer keg and a rest in oat straw.  Now that we’ve done it twice, I think it may be awhile before our next beer spa treatment, unless we go somewhere that’s different.

9.  Good brakes are an absolute must in the Alps.  This should go without saying.  I’m mentioning it, though, because there are some very steep passes in the mountains.  Before you drive there in your car, you may want to have your mechanic check and make sure your brakes are in tip top shape.

8.  Tipping is not a thing in Italy.  Sure, it’s likely that your tips will be appreciated by some servers, but it’s not something that Italians really do.  At least not based on my observations…  A lot of times, you pay a cashier separate from the server, which doesn’t lend itself to tipping anyway.  If you do tip, just round up the bill.  Otherwise, you may end up being unintentionally offensive.  Also, remember that in a lot of Italian restaurant locations, you pay a couple of euros as a cover charge.

7.  Smog is a thing in Italy.   It’s very sad, actually.  I never realized just how polluted the air was there until this particular trip.  It makes me realize that environmental laws are a good thing.  The air quality is noticeably better in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

6.  You may see Confederate battle flags in Italy.  My Italian friend Vittorio says that some southern Italians have co-opted the so-called Stars and Bars because they relate to the American South and the whole Civil War thing.  I don’t know how true that is or if he’s just pulling my leg, but I sure as hell did see a Confederate battle flag in an Italian Agip station.  By the way… shopping, even at truck stops, is awesome in Italy.

This was a surprise.  So was all the olive oil and other Italian food stuff for sale.

 

5.  If a waiter offers you a glass of Champagne in a five star hotel, it could be Cristal and you may get serious sticker shock.  Granted, it was our own fault for not simply requesting the wine list first.  We weren’t thinking.  Lesson learned.

4.  Power outlets are different in Switzerland.   I had totally forgotten about this little idiosyncrasy of life in Switzerland.  We will have to invest in a couple of adaptors for our next excursion.

Weird.

 

3.  German sounds different in Austria.  At least it did to me.  But it could be just that I am a long way from being able to communicate or understand the language.

2.  Not every European country totally shuts down on Sunday.  We found stores open in Austria and Switzerland.  We weren’t in Italy on Sunday.  My guess is that Italy does shut down.  Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

1.  Italian truck stops/Auto Grills are amazing.  You can pee there for free and they offer very good food and relatively convenient parking.  You may have to run the shopping gauntlet maze to escape the store, but you won’t have to fish out fifty cents to take a whiz.  Of course, you also won’t get to sit down on a toilet seat.  The toilets in the ones we visited were all seatless.  I recommend the Auto Grill because if you get off the Autostrada just to eat, you’ll end up having to pay tolls more often.  It’s a pain in the butt.  Also… if you drive in Italy, make sure you have cash to pay the tolls.  Italy is not unlike New Jersey, toll booth capital of the USA…

George Carlin about sums up driving, especially in Italy.

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anecdotes

The high price of giving someone the finger in Germany…

Some months ago, I wrote a blog post about how it’s illegal to flip someone off while driving in Germany.  That post wasn’t all that informative because I didn’t know much about the German laws regarding fines for insulting officials.  Apparently, it’s a very big deal here.  I had heard that shooting someone the bird could result in a big fine, but I didn’t know the fine could run into the thousands!

One of the German members of our local Facebook group posted a price list of fines one can expect to pay for obscene finger gestures and cussing at cops.  Behold…

As you can see, calling an official a “dumb cow” is a relative bargain at just 300 euros.  If you call them an old pig (or sow), the price jumps up to 2500 euros.  Given that pigs are very intelligent if not a bit smelly, it seems like that would be a lesser insult than calling someone a slut (schlampe).  But if you do go there, you could end up with a 1900 euro fine.  Curiously, calling an official a “stupid pig” (or really, bloody bastard) results in a much lower fine (475 euros) than calling them an old pig.  And calling someone an idiot can result in a 1500 euro fine.

According to the accompanying guide, the reason for these fines is that driving requires mutual respect and constant care.  If you give in to swearing and making obscene gestures in a stressful traffic situation, you run the risk of escalating a situation that may already be tense.  So it is forbidden to blow off steam by going off on other drivers or the police.  By doing so, you may upset them and cause them to go off and things could snowball into an obscene gesture and swearing brawl on the autobahn!  In all seriousness, I think the Germans make a good point.  On the other hand, I have seen some behavior on the autobahn that would certainly try the patience of the average motorist.  Indeed, my husband Bill is one of the most mild mannered people I know… except when he’s driving!

Now, I have not yet been in a position to insult anyone, let alone a cop or a judge.  Still, I have to admit that I’m fascinated by this list of words you can’t say to cops without risking a fine.  I was so interested that I found the Web site where this stuff is listed, opening it in Google Chrome of course.  My German skills still aren’t so great.  There, I found out that getting caught driving drunk (BAC over .05) the first time results in a 500 euro fine, two points on the driver’s license, and a one month suspension of one’s driver’s license.  That, to me, seems like a more serious crime than flipping someone off, which can result in a fine of up to 4000 euros (the guide says the fine is more likely to be around 600 euros– still a lot of cash for a non verbal insult).

The guide suggests that those who feel inclined to insult on the road “take a deep breath” or take a short break.  Consider whether or not you’d prefer to spend 600 euros on a fine or on a vacation.  Or, if things are really serious, consider anger management therapy.  Surely some time and cash spent learning how to deal with your emotions is worth the investment.

I get a kick out of the fact that the middle finger gesture is referred to as the “Stinkefinger”.  I also think it’s funny that Google Chrome’s translation of these insults is so hilarious.  In reading this list on Chrome, I learned that “Du Wichser!” means “You wanker!”  So now, thanks to the German catalog of fines for insults, I now know how to call someone a wanker.  I just won’t do it while driving, especially if they’re wearing a polizei uniform.  I also like how the price list page pictures an angry man sitting in his car, baring his teeth!

I see the catalog also helpfully provides fine information in Austria, France, and Italy.  That makes sense, since Germans drive to those countries somewhat routinely.  I don’t see Switzerland listed, though lots of Germans drive there.  Maybe it’s because it’s not in the EU?  Who knows?

If this article has piqued your interest, I recommend having a look at the comments posted…  They are quite funny to this American.  On the other hand, perhaps we Americans can take a lesson in civility from our German friends…

Edited to add in 2019…  I still haven’t shot the bird at anyone in Germany, nor have I ever sworn at them in German, although I must admit the temptation has been there a few times.  I generally don’t insult people unless they insult or harass me first (and I have proof).

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I did it, dammit!

Well, I managed to get back to the Brauhaus Schoenbuch Boeblingen all on my own today.  I left way too early and used the GPS to find my way through the city.  When I got to the Brauhaus, I was feeling very nervous and jittery.  I ended up waiting for awhile, too.  But I managed to get out, have lunch with some nice ladies, and meet new people.

This may seem like a small thing, but I’ve somehow gotten a bit driving phobic over the past few years.  I used to drive every day, but I got out of the habit.  Somehow, while not in the habit of driving, I became weird about it to the point at which I didn’t even want to try to go places by myself anymore.  I think it’s mainly traffic that I hate…  Yes, driving in Germany is a little scary, but I was like this in the States, too.  I think I have some anxiety issues.  I have no reason to have anxiety about driving, yet I do…  It’s true that my last speeding ticket was in 1992 and I’ve never been in a real car accident.  There’s a first time for everything, though.

Anyway, we had a perfectly awesome time hanging out.  It was a lot of fun to meet some of the women I’ve gotten acquainted with on Facebook.  It was also fun to get out of my house for an afternoon.  The weather today is beautiful.  It was almost warm enough to put the top down on the convertible.  When I got home, there were no unpleasant doggy surprises waiting for me.

My trip to and from Boeblingen went off without a hitch until I got in the wrong turn lane to get on the Autobahn coming out of Boeblingen.  But that was easily fixed, thanks to the nearby exit to Sindelfingen.  If this keeps up, I may become mobile again!  I’d say today was a success!

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Watch your fingers while driving on the autobahn…

In Germany, it’s against the law to flip someone the bird while driving.  If you extend your middle finger after being cut off by some twat on the autobahn, they can take down your tags and have the police come after you.

For the second time since we’ve been here, I’ve read about someone getting in trouble for allegedly shooting the bird while driving.  Given that photographs are often used by law enforcement, there could very well be proof of the insult.  On the other hand, there might not be.  I just think it’s funny that it’s such a big deal in a country where I can hear all sorts of dirty words on the radio in broad daylight.

Okay… so the words are in English, not German.  But still…

This reminds me of when I was sixteen, living in Virginia, and driving my dad’s crappy Chevy S-10 pickup truck.  I had about a dozen bales of hay in the back and couldn’t see for shit behind me.  A German woman had a daughter who rode horses at the same barn where I boarded my horse and took riding lessons– her husband was military.  She was trying to help me back up to the barn with the hay.  We weren’t very friendly to each other.  I found her unbearably anal retentive and I’m sure she thought I was disrespectful.  As a teenager, I was terminally bitchy anyway due to raging hormones and the self-centeredness and drama queen bullshit that permeates the teen years.  Anyway, I apparently called her a bitch while trying to maneuver the truck.

She got mad and yelled at me, even as I tried to apologize.  I honestly didn’t (and still don’t) remember calling her a bitch.  It’s entirely possible that I did, though maybe I didn’t.  I do have a filthy mouth and I didn’t like her very much.  But I don’t remember calling her a bitch.  I wonder if it pissed her off that she couldn’t go complain to the cops about the “insult”.

Edited to add in 2019…  The German woman and I later became much friendlier as I got older.  I even helped her daughter win some blue ribbons at horse shows.  😉  She was very involved with 4H, so we ended up working together on several projects.  And she’s probably forgotten all about this incident because deep down, she’s a reasonable person.

I notice that she’s made her permanent home in America, even though she and her husband divorced. It looks like she got remarried and is now a real estate agent.  She’s probably very good at the job.  If I saw her today, I’d be a lot nicer to her.  At the same time… jeez.  I’m all for being civil and courteous while driving, but don’t cops have better things to do than go after drivers who happen to give someone the bird while driving?

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Planning the route…

It’s going to take us a few days to move to San Antonio.  San Antonio is about 1300 miles from here and we’ll probably have a UHaul or something so our life is bearable when we get to our new home, wherever that ends up being.  We’ll probably have to spend a night in a local hotel because after we clean the house, we’re going to want to have a decent night’s sleep before starting the journey west.  Since we have our dogs, the places will have to be dog friendly.

When we left Georgia, it was relatively easy.  We boarded our dogs for a couple of days while we cleaned the house.  Then the morning we left, we picked them up.  The drive to North Carolina took about six hours.  Piece of cake.

This time, we will have to find pet friendly hotels.  I have a feeling we will become intimately acquainted with La Quinta, since that chain is famously pet friendly and there are about 80 of them on our route to San Antonio.  I suspect the first leg will take us to the Atlanta area, where we’ll try to pick up some excellent JailHouse beers.  The next day, we’ll probably stop somewhere on the Gulf coast… maybe Biloxi or Mobile or maybe even somewhere in Louisiana.  The third night, we’ll probably stop in eastern Texas somewhere.  Maybe Houston?

I don’t know.  Bill says the Army expects us to drive 400 miles a day.  I look forward to Texas, but dread the driving and heavy lifting and cleaning…

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