Back in Dayton

Here I am in Dayton – again.  We pulled into the hotel parking lot around 5:30, and went to grab something to eat.  If we had realized that we would arrive so early, we probably would have driven all the way to Louisville, but since there’s a penalty for canceling the hotel room, here we are for the night. 

We had dinner at O’Charlie’s, which wasn’t too bad, for a chain.  The restaurant was a little too loud, due to the open floor plan.  I ordered Cajun Shrimp Pasta,  no onions or green peppers.  The food portion was just about right, and it was pleasantly spicy, but nothing overwhelming.  The bread that came with the meal was seasoned with cinnamon, and took a little for me to get used to.  I was soon brainwashed into thinking it was about the best bread that I had ever eaten.

Tomorrow morning may prove challenging, as I am told that someone, who shall remain nameless, takes a while to get moving in the morning.  Oh, yeah, this person’s name doesn’t start with an "M." I would like to get to Louisville to see the morning sessions.  Barring that, I would like to be able to watch some of the warm ups, or walk around the fair. 

More tomorrow!  Unless I finish one of the books I brought tonight.


Disney Dining – What a PAIN!

I am still in the process of getting our Disney trip planned.  The part I hate the most (besides paying for it!), is setting up the Priority Seating at the restaurants.

I mentioned before that I’m a hotel snob.  Let me also say that I’m a bigger food snob.   I despise fast food, and while an occasional french fry is a delight, they are full of so many nasty fat grams that I try to avoid them.  Fried food gives me heart burn, and I’d rather save the calories for something a bit more refined, such as crab cakes or  stuffed shrimp.  Drool

By forcing visitors to make Priority Seating arrangements, a lot of the spontaneity of the vacation is destroyed.  Unless we eat at food booths the entire vacation, or eat off site, we are pretty much forced to play the PS game.  The first time we went to Disney, we were tickled to discover that there is a restaurant in Cinderella’s Castle.  We were equally ticked to learn that it was booked for the entire day, and our chances of eating there were nil.  Since that visit, I spend at least an hour on the phone, booking our meals, 3 months in advance of our trip!!  How stupid is that? 

There are a couple of things that I think Disney can do to make this a more level playing field.  First, don’t take Priority Seating.  This isn’t even a real reservation, as you still have to wait, sometimes for quite a while, before you are seated at your table.  I wonder how many people make PS arrangements, and then change their plans without calling and canceling.

Second, open more full service restaurants.  There is obviously a demand for them, if you have to make PS arrangements more than 90 days in advance!  I guess we could just travel over to Downtown Disney for dinner, but everything there is a chain restaurant.  We could just as easily eat at the Rain Forest Cafe at Great Lakes Crossing, as in DDD.  It was novel the first time we went to Vegas, and I had never seen such a wonderfully themed restaurant before, but now that they are popping up all over, it’s just not the same!  Ditto for Planet Hollywood and House of Blues.  They have been added to most large tourist destinations, and are no longer special.

This year, Dean listed 3 places that he wanted to dine at again, and he left the rest of the meals to my discretion.  His three favorite places are Cinderella’s Royal Table, the Coral Reef, and the Brown Derby.  I didn’t want to eat at Cinderella’s again, until I learned that the menu has changed, and it’s now character dining.  Since he would never attend a character meal before, I figure this is my only chance to sit with Mickey or Pluto for a few minutes. 

This year, I thought it would be fun to eat at some of the deluxe resorts, since we sure can’t afford to stay at one, and we could check out the themes of the various hotels.  We are going to be eating at Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Citricos at the Swan, the California Grill at the Contemporary.

I am also going to succeed in my plan to eat my way around Epcot.  To help with this goal, we have PS at the Canadian restaurant, Le Cellier,  one of the countries that foiled my plans last year.  This is also the first year that we will not be eating in Italy or Morocco. Morocco has a cafe, so I’m not worried about that, but Italy might be a problem.  We might have to try to squeeze into the restaurant for dessert.

My Credit Card Screams – Another Journey to Disney

Since I got sick last year and didn’t thoroughly enjoy my visit to Disney, not to mention my failure in my goal to eat my way around the world, I informed Dean that we’re going to see Mickey again.  He didn’t put up much of a fuss, so I polished up my credit card and prepared it for the heavy burden of the Disney trip.

I shopped airfare and hotel rates for 3 weeks before deciding that we need to stay at the Hilton, so we can still take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours.  It’s the only non-Disney hotel that participates.  I wonder how much that cost them?  I was even able to rent a car, budget for a day at Universal, and upgrade to a junior suite for less than the cost of a standard room at Animal Kingdom.  Staying at a Disney property is prohibitably expensive, especially if you are a hotel snob like I am.  Damn the San Diego Marroitt and Marina; it has spoiled me for lesser hotels!

I still have to purchase the park passes, but I hope to get those through AAA.  Failing that, there is a site online that sells them at a higher discount than Travelocity. 

Speaking of Travelocity, this year they were over $500 cheaper than Expedia!  Normally, it’s the other way around, and I wasn’t even going to shop them!  However, I had a problem with Expedia and disappearing Disney Park Hopper tickets, which even a call to their customer service department didn’t fix – they said I had to stay at a Disney property to purchase park passes from them.  Since when???  Until I went to actually book the trip, the park passes were saved on the itinerary.  Then, when I tried to pay for the trip, the tickets disappeared!  And I couldn’t get them back.  Rebuilding the trip did not help.  The tickets were no longer offered.  So I went to Travelocity while I was on the phone with the Expedia customer service rep, and proved to him that you CAN buy the tickets on line if you aren’t staying at a Disney property.  When I saw how much cheaper the vacation was with Travelocity, I thanked the guy for his time, told him the price at Travelocity, and told him I could be booking with them instead.

Now I have to book a hotel room by the airport, as our plane leaves at 6:40 am.  My biggest fear is that we miss the flight – Dean has an adversion to getting to the airport early, which has almost cost us 3 vacations now.  Hopefully this trip will begin a little more smoothly. 

 

Joe’s Crab Shack – Yum!!

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No, this picture has absolutely NOTHING to do with shrimp or crab.  However, since I am so proud of her, I feel compelled to post pics of her whenever possible!

We found a listing for Joe’s Crab Shack in the hotel directory for nearby dining, and a quick check at Yahoo! Maps gave us directions.  It wasn’t too far, and consisted of only a few turns.  

Wow, there were so many good things to choose from!  If you don’t like shrimp or crab, you probably won’t find anything interesting on their menu. Since both Kim and I like seafood, this was a great place to eat. 

Dinner started with these yummy corn bread muffins.  Then I ordered Bayou Shrimp, and Kim ordered grilled shrimp and snow crab.  Watching her eat the legs was highly entertaining.  She had bits of food stuck to her face for most of the meal.  Why her parents didn’t teach her how to use a napkin, I’ll never understand.

The Bayou Shrimp was very good.  It came in a bowl, with red skin potatoes, in a spicy sauce.  And it was actually spicy – my lips were on fire by the time I was finished eating.  If you like spicy food, I highly recommend this dish.

On the way back to the hotel, we found a Koyama Shoten, but it was closed.  We are going to check it out tomorrow, and see if they have anything interesting.  At the very least, we can grab some snack food!

Sushi.come Review

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 Yes, this picture has nothing to do with food!  The rock, newly painted for the Art Fair!!

Dean finally agreed to eat at Sushi.come!  Probably because he realized that most of the other restaurants in Ann Arbor were going to be totally packed during the art fair.  

It wasn’t terribly crowded when we arrived.  We were led to a table in the smaller back room, and there was a screaming baby there. Ugh!  Thankfully, they didn’t stay long.  Before they left, Dean told me I had better pay attention, as the dad kept saying, "You had better not throw that!"  Just what I wanted to hear, especially since my back was to the brat!!  Kids under 15 should not be allowed out in public.

We started off with Asparagus Maki, Mexican Maki, and Volcano Maki.  All were tasty.  The Volcano Maki was spicy!  I couldn’t believe how spicy it was!  Didn’t need any wasabi on that roll!! I also ordered edamame, but didn’t care for it at all.  It was dried out and tasteless.  Very disappointing.

For lunch, I ordered Vegetable Udon, and Dean ordered Sake Don.  The lunches came with miso and a salad.  The udon was very good; the noodles weren’t all mushy and had a nice texture.  Dean’s Sake Don was slices of raw salmon, shredded crab, some unknown raw thing, and vegetables served over a bed of rice (cold), with rice seasoning sprinkled on top of the rice.  It looked good, but I don’t know if I could eat all of that raw fish.  I need to be brave one time and just order something totally different like that, so I can broaden my culinary horizons.

Over all, lunch was very good, but it was on the pricey side.  With tip, our lunch was $57.  My udon was $8, which isn’t all that bad, but Dean’s Sake Don was $15!  Two of the rolls were $8 each.  I really wish sushi/Japanese food wasn’t so expensive!!

Ann Arbor Art Fair, and No Bleach Bookmarks!

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 Lifesize moose made from welded nails by Bill Secunda Studios.  I don’t know where I’d put it, but it sure looked cool! Check out his site www.weldart.com

Yesterday, Dean and I braved the art fairs after taking Buu to his vet appointment.  His left ear is still infected, and now his right ear is as well!  I don’t think the new medicine they prescribed his working, but they told me to keep using it.  Argh!  Poor dog!

When we arrived in Ann Arbor, it was still relatively early (11am), and we had no problem parking on a side street about 3 blocks from downtown.  It was a lovely day for an art fair, with a nice breeze, and milder temperatures.  We slowly started perusing the artists’ booths on South University.  We took a little break for lunch at Sushi.come (review to follow), and when we left the restaurant at about 2:30, I wished we hadn’t!  The streets were now totally PACKED!

We continued to shuffle in by the booths on Main, and by the time we were reached the end of the street, I was finished.  It’s inhuman to pack the entire art fair into one visit; after a while, everything starts to look the same!  There were only few artists whose work I was even remotely interested in, and the prices were, of course, ridiculous.  I did see something that would have been perfect for a lapel pin for my riding suit; too bad it was a necklace!!  The artist gave me a card for an art exhibit that’s going to be held at the Rock Financial Center, and she said that she would bring the backings to make some pins if I was still interested.

We stopped quickly in Wizzywig, so I could find out about the bookmarks.  They have never seen or heard of them.  So much for being experts on all things anime related.  I will have to scour the web, or beg Eriko to ask her sister to send me more. Boo hoo! 



 

I Pick All the Winners!!

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On Saturday, we had to take Buu to the vet’s.  His ear was bothering him, and we were out of his ear medicine.  Before we took him, I thought I would try to clean the ear with some Opti-Calm – bad idea!!!  This is a liquid that you squirt in the ear, massage it a little, and the dog is supposed to shake all the accumulated gunk out of its ear.  We do this in the garage, because it’s rather messy.  It also is smelly, so I don’t like to use it.

After the application, the poor dog started running around the garage, shaking his head frantically.  He tried to rub his head on my ebay box stash. I took a towel and rubbed his ear, then took him in the house.  More running around and rubbing his ear against everything.  Dean then accused me of breaking the dog!!

Thankfully, we were able to see the vet shortly after.  Buu has another bacterial infection in his ear.  The vet suggested putting him on hypoallergenic food because it could be a sign of a food allergy.  We mentioned that cheese usually triggers the ear infections, but we cut it out of his diet. She said he’s probably allergic to milk, and told us to check the labels on his treats.  Since Dean has been giving him yogurt covered dog biscuits, this made perfect sense! 

When we got home, I checked the ingredients of his other cookies; yup, they’re loaded with milk.  We are going to cut any dairy from his diet, and see if this helps.  It gets expensive having to buy his ear drops all the time!!  This is the second dog I’ve selected with chronic health disorders.  At least gooey ears are easier to deal with than KC’s colitis!

Bi Bim Bab – Again!!!

Yesterday, we ran some errands, which included stocking up on dog food at Pet Smart, heading over to Target for water, and a quick stop in Best Buy for something that they didn’t have (a polarizing filter for my camera).  I wanted to eat at Fish Bones in Novi, but when we pulled up, we discovered that the restaurant doesn’t open until 4.  I thought for sure they would serve lunch during the week; guess I was wrong.

Since I wanted fish, Dean suggested Bi Bim Bab.  Even though I had already eaten there twice in less than a week, I thought that sounded like a good idea.

We started with a Spicy Tuna Roll and  a Spicy California Roll.  Then we ordered the Dynamite Combo, which is spicy shrimp, beef, pork, and squid, Korean bar-b-q style.  

When we first arrived, it was extremely busy.  By the time they prepared the bar-b-q, however, the crowd had died down significantly.  The waitress placed the pork and shrimp on the hot plate, and then disappeared!  She didn’t come back for about 20 minutes!  I had to finish cooking the food, and I hate to cook.  This has happened one other time when we’ve eaten there.  It really spoils the experience for me, because by the time I’m finished flipping every thing over, doling it out, and putting the other meat on the grill to cook, my food is cold.  And I’ve never cooked squid before, so I had no idea how long it needed to cook.

The beef was the best, probably because it was the last thing off the grill, and was therefore still hot.  I liked the squid the least, but that was probably because I was half afraid it wasn’t cooked enough.  The pork was dried out, because we didn’t realize the waitress wasn’t coming back before we realized we were on our own.  I was very disappointed with the amount of shrimp – only four pieces! 

While the food wasn’t bad this visit, the lack of table service made me wish we had gone to another restaurant.