Fruit Flies, and Monkeys, and Lonely Woman, oh my! Some Traveling Tips.

“This sucks, y’all.”

My recent trip to Texas, a 2000 mile round-trip, has me thinking about space travel. Researching the various this’s and that’s of it, I found the image to the left. That monkey looks as if he knows he ain’t coming back.

Just as a reference: Space officially begins at about 62 miles above our Earth’s surface, called the Karman Line.

The first living creatures to be launched into space were fruit flies—they were sent up with some corn so they’d not be hungry—way back in 1947, aboard a V2 rocket. They went 106 miles, and the capsule was actually recovered and the fruit flies weren’t any worse for wear.

A year later came the first monkey, named Albert. But, alas poor Albert; I knew him well (not). Um.  Ugh. Yeah. They think he may have suffocated before he even left the ground. Dang. The rocket only made it up 39 miles.

Albert II, who fortunate for him had NOOOO idea what happened to the preceding Albert, was sent up in a V2 rocket, soaring to 83 miles. Though Albert was the first monkey to be successfully launched into space without meeting his fate before leaving the ground, there was a problem with his parachute on the recovery capsule as it hurtled to earth and—well, you can guess the rest if you like. RIP Albert II. RIP.

After that, other Alberts (III, IV, V) boarded their rockets, and none survived—either they died on impact or during the flight.

Apparently, it is said that all of the monkeys were anesthetized for the flight. Hmmm.

The infamous Miss Baker. “I’m claustrophobic, y’all! ungh!ungh!”

But at last! Two monkeys in 1959—Able and Miss Baker—flew to 360 miles, tucked in aboard a Jupiter rocket. Their recovery capsule landed about 1700 miles off range of where they were supposed to land at Cape Canaveral, but they were found and recovered, and perhaps became celebrities, maybe as spokesmonkeys for various products and services.

My recent travel was not so dire and dangerous, though perhaps it is in its own way—traffic, crazy drivers, high winds, bad storms, exhaustion, a hotel from hell—lawd!

There is vulnerability (at least for this lonely woman) to traveling alone. So I have some general tidbits for you, should you also travel alone, or will one day do so.

1). If you are traveling with a pet, and will be stopping for the night, you would be better off checking out hotel pet policy ahead of time. Many chains do not allow pets. Some allow them but with restrictions, or a non-refundable fee (one hotel charges $100 nonrefundable fee!). Some chains do allow pets for free—like LaQuinta. LaQuinta hotels are a crapshoot, honestly. Some of them are seriously outdated. Do your research and it’ll save you from being road-weary and searching.

Read reviews. There are always the 1-star “I HAAAAAATED IT!” reviews and the 5-Star “I LOOOOOOOVED IT!” reviews, but I like reading those 3 and 4 star reviews.

Also, maybe I’m just paranoid and weird, but the first two things I do when I stay at a hotel, any hotel, no matter how much it costs or where it is, is to check the mattress for signs of bed bugs (UGH!)—I have never had a room with those, but I check it every time (pull up the sheets and look at the mattress, particularly along the seams, for cleanliness—you can google this if you dare). Then I take Clorox wipes and wipe down the remote, the light switches, the toilet, and a few other surfaces—what? Better safe than sorry! All hotels, no matter how nice or what the cost per night, get this treatment. It’s the only way I can relax. I will also admit that in the middle of the night, I shine my phone under the covers just to make sure nothing is there. Yeah. My head is a scary place.

I seeeee youuuuu!

Also, if you have “trouble” at any hotel, report it. I stayed at a hotel with a weird wonky door that I didn’t discover until the next morning that you could see a little bit into my room! EEEEK! I was NOT HAPPY! While the staff was amazing, and the hotel clean, that hotel needed serious updating and renovating. It was unacceptable. They refunded my money. I won’t be staying there again. Research, y’all! Ahead of time!

2). Welcome Centers are becoming better and better about cleanliness, safety, and, well, welcoming! I always stop at a Welcome Center when entering a new state. There’s places to walk about, and if you have a pet, they have designated areas for the pets. There’s usually coffee, and nice greeters (during business hours mostly). Vending machines if you are interested in that. And the bathroom facilities are usually clean and safe.

3). Rest areas are a mixed bag. Some of them do a great job of keeping the area and facilities clean and safe. But, I have a rule: if I pull up to a rest area and don’t feel safe, or have one of my “wonky” feelings, I’m out of there. Always best to listen to your gut. As with Welcome Centers, rest areas are much better than they used to be, but some are still a little “shady.”

4). Have water handy for you and for your pet. I used to limit my water intake so I’d not have to stop so often, but now I realize that part of the joy of the trip is stopping and stretching my legs, taking in some scenery. And keeping yourself hydrated and your body stretched out will keep you awake and aware and feeling better.

5). Don’t consume sugary snacks and drinks! Same goes for high “bad” carbohydrate foods, like a lot of fast foods. Eating sugary/high carb foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Higher protein snacks/food is a better choice.

And, concerning No’s 4 & 5 – if you are traveling alone, you MUST be alert! There is no one to switch off so you can rest/nap, unless you pull over to nap, and I will never do this. So consider what you take with you and where you stop to eat as an important part of your travel. Continue reading

My “WTF is wrong with you?” brain and the hotel experience . . . LAWD!

Upon entering hotel, sniff. If the hotel smells funny, a little nitty-ass irritating squeaky little fucker in brain thinks, “Hmmm, what’s that? Are they not cleaning the hotel regularly?” Then do a visual once-over, glancing around lobby and desk area, and if clean and sparkly, sigh with relief and check in. Also, the once-over is to check for Weirdo Men. Weirdo Men are men who will try to catch your name and room number and then follow you to the elevator and then to your room, whereupon they turn into maniacs who push you into room and have their way with you and then . . . then .  . .  *don’t think about it.* It can happen, that little squeaky-voiced feker says.

After check-in, and no one pays you any mind except for that one dude who grins at you and says, “Evening,” and you smile fetchingly and say, “Evening,” and the squeaky voiced pecker-head says, “The handsome friendly ones are the maniacs, you fool!,” you enter room, notice scent. If not fresh, then see above. If fresh, sigh with relief and a La Tee Dah air of comfort.

Luggage must go on top of something—in the case there are verminy critters running around, you don’t want them climbing into your luggage and setting up residence, where they will happily make a new home once you arrive back at the little log house. Lawd! Little bastard vermins. Even if the hotel is sparkly clean, a “nice” hotel, vermin are sneaky little shitters. Remember reading how even five-star hotels with 2000 thread-count sheets have been cited for vermin. Yeah. You read that somewhere. Uh hunn, and heard it on the news! Yeah.

*maniac played, unwillingly and unknowingly, by Charles Mills*

Check under the bed—sigh with relief if the bed is one of those kinds where nothing or no one can get under them. Check the closet—maybe a maniac is hiding in there. Try to ignore the thought that if a maniac IS hiding in there, as soon as you open the closet he will jump out and maniac your ass to a bloody pulp.

Go to bathroom, look around. Notice things and nod head in satisfaction. Pee. Hope toilet seat is as clean as it looks. Look in shower—better not be any gunky crap or else feet will tingle when in shower because you will imagine invisible nasties crawling onto feet from the shower floor.

Back in the main room, pull back covers and inspect sheets. Are they a crisp blinding white? Well, they better be! Wait! Are those pillow cases wrinkled? Wrinkled from someone else’s head? There’s about six pillows on that bed. Maybe the cleaning crew was mixed up and only thought they changed all of the pillow cases—sniff test. Ewwwww! Two of them smell like someone’s head. You do not sleep on head-scented pillow cases! Ewww! Throw the two pillows that smell heady on the floor so won’t accidentally grab them in the night and hold them close. Use un-heady scented pillows. Sniff sheets—you never know; smile with relief when they smell fresh. Ahh.

You usually wipe the remote with anti-bacterial wipes or lotion, but! you saw this genius solution on a rerun of the sitcom “Til Death”—it was supposed to be “funny” as in “this dude is really freaking nuts” kind of funny, but your pea-headed brain went, “OHHH! Hooya!” Take a baggie, pick up the remote with the baggie, turn it inside out to where hotel remote is in baggie, and you can push the buttons through the plastic, never once having to touch nasty old remote. Ha! Yeah you are so clever!

Time for beddy-bye! BUT! OH NO! LAWD! LAWD! Sheet inspection isn’t over. You must remember to wake around the magical hour of between 2AM and 3AM—anywhere in that time-span—to quietly grab your cellphone, gently lift the covers and AHA! Shine the cell light on the sheets where your legs are to make sure no bedbugs are there, because somewhere you read, and saw on the news, or someone told you, that the magical hour for bedbugs is around 2AM. Sigh with relief when all is well. Sleep comes easy.

Alien Seed Pod Pouch! LAWD!

Then the dreams come.  About aliens who live in the mattress and scare the bejeebus out of you, then have a dream within a dream where you wake and say, “Whew, glad that mattress alien was only a dream,” and suddenly! The mattress moves and undulates—“AAAUUGGH! It IS real! There IS a hotel mattress alien! AHHHHHHGGGHHH!” Wake up again, for real, sigh with relief that there are no hotel mattress-living aliens that look strangely like weird babies with high intelligence who look at you askance and as if you are “not quite right.”

Push one of the heady pillows over the light coming from the door, and the other heady pillow over the clock light. Finally fall into exhausted sleep.

Morning comes.  You rise. No aliens, vermin, critters, heady pillows, or maniacs have entered the blissful sanctum of your hotel room.

Take shower. Come out of bathroom nekkid. Wait! Can people see into your room through the spy-hole? Omg! Next time remember to bring a piece of tape to put over the spy hole. Grin.

Check out. Hope nothing but your own luggage and personal germs have left with you.

What? Who me?

Think, while flying down the interstate with the music blaring and wind tossing your hair: You are one cray-cray bitch, Miss Kathryn Magendie. One completely cray-cray bitch.

But you don’t care.