Today is Thanksgiving Day and I have no performances at all. Originally the plan was to play a little golf this morning at Porters Neck but nobody mentioned anything last night and actually it will be rather nice to have a quiet morning.
After writing the blog I go to breakfast. As I mentioned yesterday I am staying at another Hampton Inn but on a grander scale than the one on Kansas City. However my assertion that the Missouri Branch has the best waffles in the country proves to be accurate.
They have the same waffle machine and the same batter dispenser but somehow they are not as crisp or as fluffy. Liberty: you may still wear your crown with pride!
I spend a little time pacing in my suite, going over the extra lines for the two-act version of A Christmas Carol, which is coming up in a few days time, before putting on the TV to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I Love it: America does parades so well: the whole spectacle is exciting. The scale of the parade is amazing and everyone looks like they are having so much fun. I am delighted to see that my childhood literary hero, Paddington Bear, has a balloon for the first time this year. His Aunt Lucy, who lives in a home for retired bears in Lima, (darkest Peru), would be very proud of him.
At eleven o’clock I leave my suite and haul my cases to the lobby ready to check out. My flight isn’t actually until 2.20, but they are being very strict with the check out times today, so that the housekeeping staff can get away and join their families: quite right too and I have no quibble with that.
As I’m at the front desk, the lady who checked me in last night says that another of the guests had been at the show last night and was raving about it to anyone who would listen. The staff had wanted to say that I was staying at the same hotel, but respectfully and professionally, had maintained my privacy.
It’s so nice to hear, though, that someone would want to talk about the show just for the sake of it, without knowing that the hotel had any connection to me. The thought sends me on my way in a happy mood.
I now have an hour or so to kill before driving to the airport, so I decide to explore a little. I drive to nearby Wrightsville Beach, which is beautiful: a long expanse of soft sand, Atlantic breakers rolling in and a bracing wind.
I walk along the sand for a while and take some pictures of the waves. The beach is busy with families, dogs, runners and lovers strolling hand in hand. There is something just so wonderful about being at the seaside. Of course, being an Admiral in The Nebraskan Navy, it is my natural element.
Back in the car I set the SatNav to take me to downtown Wilmington to discover what is there. It looks to be a lovely historic city, although completely deserted on this holiday.
I have noticed some signs for the Battleship North Carolina and after so admiring the Wisconsin in Norfolk, I decide to go and have a look.
I find her berthed across the river from the city and standing proudly. I don’t have time to do the full tour but I do take the picture that I resisted taking in Norfolk: the car park is laid out with original shells from the ship’s great guns – the ship is near the sea. The picture is less for the image and more for the caption:
OK, cheap I know, but it is a holiday!
By now it is time to take my lovely Ford Fusion back to the airport. I have to refuel before I turn the car in. With the amount of ground I’ve covered in the space of twenty four hours I could probably have got away with not topping the tank up, were it not for the fact that I have had it in ‘sports mode’ all morning and have been zapping up and down the gearbox: taking it up to 5,000rpm before each gear change and accelerating hard up to the speed limit of 55. You can never take the racer out of a boy racer.
At the airport it is deserted. Check in and security I have to myself, although there are a few people milling around the gate, area. I check the monitors to see which gate my flight will be departing from and discover that it is the only departing flight today, so it will be a question of following the crowd.
Most of the shops are closed but one bar is open. I order a basket of chicken tenders with a honey mustard dipping sauce, accompanied by fries and a bottle of Sierra Mist. I sit at a counter and begin my Thanksgiving Day lunch.
The flight is called and it is quite full. The flight attendant’s are still in ‘non-frequent-traveller’ mode and are going through the rules very strictly:
‘Make sure those bags and purses are fully under the seat in front of you. Don’t let them be around your feet. If they ARE around your feet I am going to have to come and yell at you, and I don’t like yelling!’
Once we are airborne I settle in to watch ‘Skyfall’ on my phone (thinking about it now, it is not a good title to watch on an airplane).
The flight to Charlotte airport is a short one and soon I am finding my way to gate C12 for my connecting flight. The main hub of Charlotte is much busier and there are a lot of people on the move now.
The layover is extended a little as there is no crew on hand to take us to Boston but that minor problem is soon sorted and I settle into seat 31F to continue the adventures of Bond, James Bond.
We land at Boston at around 6.15 and having got my bags I go through the well-drilled routine of getting the shuttle bus to the car rental centre. As on my last visit to Boston, I am picking up my car from Thrifty, who have the final desk, as far from the main door as you can go. I walk all the whole length of the huge building to find a sign on Thrifty’s desk: ‘For all Thrifty rentals, please go to the Dollar counter.’
I wonder where the Dollar desk could be? You’ve guessed it.
Having walked all the way back I start the process of getting the car that will be with me almost until the end of the trip. I am aware that there has been some heavy snow and high winds in the Boston area over the last few days, so not taking anything to chance I ask if they have an SUV available. I’d rather have the benefit of 4 wheel drive if the conditions worsen over the next two weeks.
The manager thinks he can get one, but he needs to go and sort it out. I wait for a while and he comes back to announce that he has been successful. In person he takes me to a black Ford Escape, which looks very smart indeed.
What shall I christen this car? It is certainly a great Escape, so maybe McQueen – the King of Cool. It is definitely very cool here: McQueen it is!
I load my bags in, set the SatNav and head into the subterranean Boston road system.
My destination is the city of Worcester and on the way I pass many reminders of previous trips to the area: I drive beneath the Crowne Plaza hotel, which straddles the freeway and where I stayed during my recent trip to The Perkins School for the Blind. I pass signs for Lowell and Marlboro, both venues for performances in previous years.
As the journey progresses I congratulate myself on insisting on an SUV: there sides of the road are piled with freshly cleared snow and there is more falling, getting heavier as I head further west and inland.
I reach my hotel at 8.15 and am soon checked in. I haven’t eaten since my feast at Wilmington airport and the bar is still open, albeit with a very limited menu.
The staff all look exhausted and I’m sure that a day-long Thanksgiving service in a hotel restaurant must be very very difficult for them. There are a few people sat around including one very loud (and rather annoying) woman. At first I think she’s British, and I’m rather ashamed of my fellow country-woman, trying to hard to ‘be American’ but I soon realise that she is an Aussie.
My burger is served. I can see that the staff really want to close up and go home, so I eat quickly and go back to my room.
The Australian Golf open is being shown on TV, and I chose to watch that, rather than the dog-lovers telethon: ‘Cause for Paws’ that was showing in the bar.
Before long I am drifting in and out of sleep, so I get up and get properly ready for bed. Once there I drift back into to sleep and this time I stay there.