Comparing my recent camping trip to this weekend's get-away, I am definitely more of a historic-hotel / dinner-at-a-nice-cafe kind of girl. I had a blast every minute of our San Antonio trip. Richie and I were actually there on assignment for the Center for Fortean Zoology (of which I am a rep.) to interview the store manager of Jackalope Joes. But we made sure to book our favorite hotel, the Menger, and take full advantage of the Riverwalk.
Everything I put in my mouth was delectable: quesadillas, a chedder-cheese jalapeno burger with the tastiest bun imaginable, and some Italian dish I could have enjoyed more of if my brother-in-law's Russian girlfriend, who was buying that meal, hadn't force-fed us all with salad and appetizers beforehand. I tried to get out of dessert, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. I obligingly took one bite, then Richie, who knows I am trying to watch my weight, offered to have the next bite if Irena would leave me alone. Odd sounding sacrifice, I know, but it truly was such. Between the food, the cocktails, and all other edibles I don't allow myself on a daily basis, I know I have come home at least a couple pounds heavier. I will not weigh myself until I have eaten carefully and worked out for a couple days.
One unexpected let-down this trip was our room at the Menger. The Menger is a lovely, historic and allegedly haunted hotel. We always stay there for, if nothing else, the possibility of some paranormal activity. At the very least, we enjoy the quaint old rooms, the opulent lobby, and the bar with its darkly polished wood and design modeled after the British House of Commons. This was the first time we have ever had a complaint. As soon as we entered our room, I was startled to find there was barely enough space for the king sized bed. Richie said he felt like he was in a cabin on a ship. You could hardly walk between the bed and the TV, and the one chair in the corner had no table. There was no coffee pot (not sure there ever is, but I'll always grumble about that), the bathroom "counter space" was a tiny glass shelf which would hold little more than a tube of toothpaste, and the hot water would scald you in an instant if you weren't careful to have the cold turned almost all the way on. The headboard, which was not connected to the bed, smacked the wall hard if you dared touch it. The only good to come of the room was the repeated tapping noise Richie heard at the chair in the middle of the night, which could indicate the presence of a ghost. I, of course, slept through it, but hearing about it kept my anticipation afloat.
At Irena's request, we took the riverboat ride on Saturday, a tour that takes you around the Riverwalk and explains various historical sites. The guide crammed us all in the boat like sardines until we were squished intimately next to and rubbing knees with perfect strangers. As it turned out, every site the guide pointed out, Richie irritably noted later, was located directly behind us, and we were not -- nor do we we ever wish to be -- among those who have the ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees. It grew tiresome and I quit listening after awhile and just enjoyed the loveliness of the trees, the bridges, and the cafes. I had the sudden thought that the Riverwalk was so perfect it was like a holodeck creation, and then I realized that perhaps Star Trek has warped my perspective of reality.
During one of our mall visits, we tried out some massage chairs -- the kind that roll up and down your back and feel good until they grind into a bone...? Well, we were among many customers trying them and reporting the results. Richie announced twice that his chair massaged the butt, and I finally asked him to quit saying that out loud. But then another customer cheerily replied that her chair had done the same, and I figured maybe I was the only person unwilling to discuss butt massages with strangers. Or perhaps this customer had been conditioned to sudden intimacy by taking the Riverboat tour.
After we agreed with some other customers on the occasional pain these chairs can inflict, one man came along to try one. Within seconds of turning it on, he looked up at his wife and said, "Is is supposed to hurt?" This sent me into laughter. At one point, a lady who had previously tried the chair asked her husband, "Has it grabbed your leg yet?" Richie chimed in sarcastically, "Has it pulled your hair yet?" By now, I was laughing uncontrollably and Richie continued with the satire: "This one just slapped me!" he announced, "A hand just came out and slapped me across the face." I could barely walk as we exited the store, I was laughing so hard at the idea of people spending 2,000 dollars on an abusive chair.
The fun continued into the night as Richie and I went to the bar for our traditional gin and tonic and met and talked forever with a delightful young couple. We talked about everything from God to drinks to rats and could not have enjoyed better company.
Last night we were awakened repeatedly by what sounded like a happy bunch of people in completely thoughtless laughter and shouting just down the hall. Their riotous time continued until we called the front desk. Security must have come because they were quiet soon after. Richie speculated humorously that they could have been ghosts, but your typical haunting does not usually involve a group of ghosts having a loud party.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip. Much better than camping.