Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Short Vacation This Year

The three of us just returned this afternoon (Saturday, May 14th) from a short vacation that began with the May meeting of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Board of Trustees in Belton on Friday, May 6th. We left home in our Dodge Grand Caravan minivan on Thursday and drove to Temple where we stayed at the Marriott Fairfield Inn, our home away from home whenever we go to Belton/Temple. Since we spend the whole year making Marriott Rewards Points using our MR Visa Cards and staying at Marriott properties when we're away from home, this trip was a great opportunity to use some of those points for our hotel stays.

On Friday, I (Janie) attended the trustees' meeting while Dorothy and Esther, along with the spouses of the other board members attended a private showing of Miracles from Heaven at a theater in Belton. Their lunch was served at the theater. This was hosted by Julie O'Rear, who is the wife of university president, Randy O'Rear. 

As always, the meetings I attended were great! The school, which is a Texas Baptist University, is the college alma mater of all three of us, so we enjoy the time that we spend on campus three times a year! The blessings, both spiritual and financial, that God is bestowing on our university are a wonder! We praise Him and thank Him for all that He is doing for the university and in the lives of everyone there: first and foremost in the lives of the students, but also the faculty, staff, and administration.

We spent Friday night in Temple, and then traveled on to Dallas on Saturday. Before leaving Temple, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. We stopped in Waco and visited Magnolia Market, a retail store owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple who are The Fixer Uppers on HGTV. A friend had told us about it and said that we would enjoy seeing it. Wow!! They have turned the area near downtown Waco into a retail phenomenon that can be enjoyed by whole families. It is housed in an old grain barn with two huge silos beside it. While we didn't find anything to buy, we did enjoy the visit! It was Mother's Day weekend, and the store and grounds were filled with families!

Knowing that there might be some extensive walking, we took Dorothy's scooter with us. That's the main reason we traveled in our van. So, when we arrived and parked at the Magnolia Market, I was getting the scooter out. It comes apart and folds up; is lightweight, and easy for me to maneuver in and out of the van. However, I had forgotten that I had placed the 18 pound battery under the seat part of the scooter! When I pulled that part toward me to lift it out of the van, I pulled the battery out, and it fell on my right foot!  OUCH! Did that ever hurt!!!!  I was able to stand on it, but I wasn't too sure whether it was broken or just bruised! I continued to put the scooter together so Dorothy could use it, and we went on through the gate and onto the grounds of what used to be a grain barn and two big grain silos. So far, so good! I was able to walk on my foot, even though it was painful.

From there we continued on to Dallas where we checked in to the Renaissance Hotel (Marriott) that is located right by the Dallas Market Center. It was originally a Stouffer Hotel, and over 20 years ago, we used to stay there when our Mother traveled with us. In the years since, we always stay at either the Fairfield Inn or the Courtyard (both Marriotts).

It was really strange to be right there by the World Trade Center and Trade Mart and not go there to order merchandise!  We did that in March as we have been doing for 32 years. However, this trip was not for business, but for pleasure only! We checked in (using Reward's points), and I parked our van in the parking garage. I met Dorothy and Esther in our room on the 26th floor, and we rested for a while. It was a lovely room with plenty of space, and the two double beds were very comfortable! Later, we went downstairs to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. We really didn't want to get in the van to drive anywhere, and besides that, my foot was really hurting. Actually, when we got to our room, I took my sock off and looked at it. My big toe was awful looking. It had bruised, and a huge blood blister had formed right at the base of the toenail on top of my toe. I could not get my shoe back on, so I wore my bedroom slippers to dinner! I put my foot up on the extra chair at our table while we ordered and waited for our food. After eating, we went back up to our room, and I plastered my toe and the top of my foot with Indian Salve (Miracle Salve). I couldn't bend my big toe, and it hurt like the Dickens!! The bruising was terrible.

I am a Lifetime Platinum Marriott Rewards member, so when we stay at one of the more expensive Marriott Hotels, whether we pay or use points, we are automatically upgraded to a room on the concierge level and that includes access to the concierge lounge where they serve a complimentary continental and hot breakfast on Monday through Friday mornings and a light dinner and desserts on Sunday through Thursday evenings. However, the lounges are closed on Friday evenings, all day on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. Gold and Platinum Rewards members are given complimentary continental breakfasts at the hotel restaurant on the weekends. 

The next morning when I got up, I still couldn't bend my toe, it was swollen and bruised, but it wasn't hurting! (That Indian Salve, which is all natural ingredients, really is a miracle! I'll have more to say about that in a future blog.)  We dressed for breakfast, and were downstairs by about 7:00, with me in my bedroom slippers again. We didn't eat too much, since we had plans for brunch at 11:30. We all three needed our coffee, and they also had several different kinds of cheeses, cold meats, chia pudding, and lots of different breads, sweet rolls, etc.!  Dorothy had a small croissant, but Esther and I eat no bread at all, so we just had some cheese and salami. (I tasted the smoked duck, but didn't really like it!) We wanted to be hungry at 11:30!! I did eat some chia pudding.

We went back upstairs to our room and dressed for our next adventure! Thank goodness, the other pair of shoes I had brought along was a pair of sandals! My sore toe was free of anything that would rub against it. 

I had purchased tickets online for us to see Wicked at Dallas Music Hall at the State Fair Grounds. Before each evening performance they serve a buffet dinner in the theatre restaurant, and before matinees (on Saturdays and Sundays) they serve brunch. I had made advance reservations for the three of us to have that meal before the 1:30 performance. That's why we didn't want to eat a large breakfast at the hotel!! The menu was extensive with lots of salads, different kinds of cheeses, scrambled eggs, made to order omelettes, beef, pork, fish, sausage, bacon, vegetables, and the list goes on. The dessert table was groaning and seemed to be the most popular place! Dorothy had some dessert, but Esther and I stay away from sugar and wheat/grains, so that was off limits to us! We did taste the pecan pie, but no crust in that bite! There was fresh fruit, including strawberries and other berries, on the salad bar, so that was our dessert!

We had wonderful seats for the performance. We were within the Producer's Circle, with two of us on the 5th row, just to the left of the center section and one of us (me) on the 7th row right behind the other two (aisle seats with good views). When I ordered our tickets a couple of weeks earlier, there were very few available, as this Mother's Day performance was sold out by the time of the performance! The only place they had three seats together was way in the back or up in the balcony, and we certainly didn't want that! We were very pleased with our seats!

We had seen Wicked in Dallas several years ago and had been wanting to see it again. We were so glad that it was there and we could go on from Belton/Temple to Dallas. If you are not familiar with Wicked, it's the story of what happened in the Land of Oz before Dorothy and Toto arrived. It is a great show! Google it and find out more.

After the show, we drove back to our hotel, rested a while, and then went up one floor (27th) and had a light supper at the concierge lounge, called the Renaissance Club at this hotel. We weren't extremely hungry, and lots of what is served in most eating establishments is full of wheat, but we managed not to go to bed hungry!! 

By the way, my big toe looked awful, but the pain was considerably less!  I rubbed Indian Salve all over it again before I went to bed.




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