I had hoped to start this yesterday, but the internet service at the Renaissance Hotel in Syracuse, NY sucked. So now I’ll try to remember 2 full days of vacation instead of one. No simple task for the fibromyalgia-afflicted brain. Some days it works better than clockwork, other days it can be tough to remember my previous thought. Here goes . . .
We set off from home in central Massachusetts in our own Ford Explorer – no rental car on this trip. That means everything will be where I expect it to be and I won’t have to go shopping for tissues or pick up napkins at the first stop we make. I “begged” my husband to shoot over to Dunkin’ Donuts first and get me a bagel breakfast sandwich and iced coffee for the road. He can’t say no to these big brown eyes – thank God! Then we set off for the Massachusetts Turnpike. In the rain.
I think this is the first vacation I can remember in the last ten years that started in the rain. Usually, my husband’s knack for picking sunny vacations is uncanny. But yesterday it was raining up and down the east coast. If we had been flying to our destination, we may not have taken off. But we’re no weather cowards, so off we went down the turnpike, in spite of predictions of “torrential rain” by the Boston meteorologists. After all, we were heading to Syracuse, NY – definitely away from Boston. We put on our “vacation send off CD – Abba’s Greatest Hits” even though it wasn’t the proper sunny day. Some traditions must be upheld.
The first couple of hours on I90 were wet but uneventful. Mostly mist or light rain. Hmm – maybe those weathermen were off. We stopped at the Iroquois Service Center along I90 in NY for a pit stop. Got a great parking spot. Decided we should put our jackets back on before we got out. It’s a good thing it took me a minute to wiggle back into my jacket in the front passenger seat. Between the time we shut off the car and the time I finished putting on my jacket, we found out where the torrents of rain were – right there!! So we got the umbrella out of the back seat and went in, mostly dry. If we had been quicker to get the jackets on and go in, we’d have been like the dozen or so folks we watched coming out to the surprise of their day – swimming back to their vehicles. They didn’t look very happy! There but for the Grace of God ….
I would say “obviously” our travel slowed down a bit with the heavy rain, but apparently a lot of people don’t realize that driving at speeds of 70 mph or more in heavy rain is the equivalent of sailing in your car or semi. Your tires don’t contact the road – they really ride on top of the water that’s on the road. Kind of makes stopping nearly impossible. We value our lives a bit more, I guess, or maybe we just use our brains better; at any rate, we slowed down a bit and watched folks “sail on” by.
Eventually the clouds lifted a bit, so visibility improved and the rain slowed down to a more manageable moderate pace. It’s a good thing my husband was driving. The gray, slightly foggy kind of day with rain seems to have a sedative effect on me. I doze off, or at least my eyes drift closed – not the best way to try to drive. It does make the trip seem a lot shorter for me, though.
When we got to Syracuse, we decided to have dinner before checking in. We opted for the Texas Roadhouse because the one back home has the best beef outside of Risky’s in Fort Worth, TX. I ordered the 6 oz filet mignon, medium well. I know, it should be medium rare to medium to stay moist and tender. I didn’t want it that red yesterday. When the food arrived, we cut into the beef to check the doneness. My husband’s medium was medium. My medium well was rare. Not pink, RED. Needless to say it got sent back, while I nibbled on my veggies and watched my husband eat his steak. It was much better on it’s return trip.
The Renaissance Hotel in Syracuse is a football shaped building in the midst of several streets – I guess you fit what you can into the available space. The room was furnished in the glass and chrome motif. What I really liked was the walk-in shower – no tub for me to trip into or slip in. I wasn’t wildly appreciative of the “rain” style shower, but for one night it was okay. As I noted earlier, we fought with the “broadband” internet service the hotel provided (at a charge of $9.95 per day) and were never able to connect with it. If we’d been staying more than one night, we’d have set up a ruckus, I guess, but we were only there for one night – and most of that evening would be spent at the AHL hockey game between the Syracuse Crunch and the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
As it turned out, the Pens had spent the night before there, arriving after the game they played in Cleveland on Friday night. How can we be sure? In addition to the sign at the front desk welcoming the team and informing them what room their lunch would be served in (dead giveaway) my husband had the “honor” of riding up in the elevator with Dennis Bonvie. Who is Dennis Bonvie, you ask? If you were an AHL hockey fan, you wouldn’t have to ask. Dennis is one of those guys who has been playing minor league hockey for years and years. He’s been on more different teams than I can recall and he’s a “role player.” That’s hockey talk for a guy who likes to fight – for fun and profit. He’s still pretty good at it, though he’s slowing down with age. But what he lacks in youth, he makes up with experience and enthusiasm. Dennis is the guy every fan hates unless he’s on your team.
We got a ride in the hotel shuttle over to the game. Good driver – yes, he got a tip. It’s still cheaper than parking in a lot. Besides, by this time, the rain had turned into snow. Wow – two weather phenomena in one day!
The game was actually one of the best AHL games we’ve seen this season. Good action in spite of being a goalies’ duel, no one team that totally dominated and a little bit of everything: a number of penalties, a good fight and a wannabee fight, some sharp passing by the Crunch, some great penalty killing and plenty of hits. The Syracuse fans are unique so far among AHL hockey venues we’ve visited (we’re now at 18 out of the possible 31 arenas with teams in the past 10 years.). I know, unique is one of those cop out words when you don’t really know what to say or how to say it. They definitely love their team and they fill the arena pretty well. The are very vocal, especially in pockets or groups who start chants that most fans in the arena. But some of their chants can be well, “rough.” Like the chant started to celebrate the aforementioned Dennis Bonvie. Something like this: “Bonnnn-vieeeeee, Bonnnn-vieeeeee, Bonnnn-voe.” in a sing-song style. The take a deep breath and shout out, “You suck!!!” This treatment was also offered to other VIP’s, like the on-ice officials. But these same fans are polite to all other fans and there is no anti-visitor feeling.
The score of the game was 1 to 1 at the end of regulation time. A five minute overtime period did not give either team a win. So we got treated to a shoot-out. Goalies stay hot. The Penguins finally won the shoot and won the game 2 to 1. The shuttle was finally called and brought us back to the hotel for a good and much needed night’s sleep.
Got up this morning and took a shower in the walk in shower. I loved the space but, as I thought, I was not happy with the rain shower shower head. After the shower, we set off for Pittsburgh. Although the heavy snow had passed, there were still flurries and light snow showers hanging around.
The roads we took to Pittsburgh had hardly any traffic. We stopped at Tim Horton’s at one of the service plazas. A little decaf coffee and Milky Way Hot Chocolate, along with a bagel egg sandwich and a donut was the perfect break. As we drove further from Syracuse, the weather slowly began to improve. Eventually we had partly to mostly sunny skies – enough sun to warrant the sunglasses. There was practically no traffic for about an hour before we got to Pittsburgh. The hotel was easy to find.
This Renaissance Hotel in Pittsburgh is built in a totally remodeled 1906 hotel originally built by Fulton and now listed on the National Historic Buildings list. They have truly done it justice. It has an art deco flair that blends well with the local historic flavor they had tried to add. The corridors are the old hotel corridors, although the rooms are appointed with modern conveniences. The rooms have high ceilings, making them feel lofty and open.
We spent the evening doing what any fibro-tired woman would want to do in Pittsburgh — we watched TV. We got appetizers and desserts from the concierge lounge. We did a couple of things I won’t tell you about. I needed to relax and it was good. I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (which was very good this week) and Oprah’s Big Give. I think I’ll talk more about Oprah’s show in a separate post. I’m getting sleepy right now and better get myself to bed.
I need to sleep now. Good Night!!!