Business Travel: Occasional Distractions from Melancholy

It sounds cool: traveling for work. I promise I am WELL aware of that. And that the following will sound so entitled- but traveling the country for work sucks. Big ones. I travel to Portland. Indianapolis. Denver. Salt Lake City. Dallas. Pittsburg. I have to travel to Canada regularly too. Know what I get to see more than anything? The inside of Marriot hotels. Airports. Conference rooms at engineering firms, which all seem to have the same tables and chairs. And it’s just excruciating to be away from my family. All I ever want to do is get back to them.

But every once in a while… I can carve out just a tiny bit of time and literally force myself to look up and enjoy the places I visit. So occasionally I can eat lunch and walk in an old growth forest in Washington (honestly? I felt like bear bait on that one.) I get to go to an awesome bookstore in Portland. Once I stayed in an AMAZING Bed and Breakfast in Seattle because the entire city’s hotel rooms were sold out. And this last trip… I got to carve an hour and a half from the afternoon and went to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. It’s an Art Museum! It’s a Natural History Museum! Here are some pics.


Van Goghe


Another Van Goghe


From the Colonial Era Room…


Cezanne (my favorite painting from the entire museum)


…And then there is the Modern Art Wing




*Eyeroll* Heavy Sigh…”Art”

But my FAVORITE part of the museum was the Natural History Museum. I took more videos in that wing, so I don’t have pictures of the T-Rexs or Brachiosaurs, but here are a few of the pics.





And my favorite thing in the ENTIRE place- a two foot fossil of a prehistoric flower. Amazing! And that’s more art than a tire in pantyhose- Fo’ SHO’.



Well sure it does.

Thing I learned this week: The Ross Dress for Less in Denver reeks of weed.

I just got back from a trip to Denver and Salt Lake City- and it was yet another one of my stellar planning jobs for business trips. Why is that you say? Oh just the fact that I seem incapable of remembering that just because it is 70 degrees here DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL BE IN DENVER JESUS PACK A JACKET FOR ONCE!!! (second time this has happened)

So, there I was in a Ross on Tuesday night, getting a fleece jacket so I don’t absolutely freeze to death on this trip. (Good thing I did- it snowed in SLC) And it reeked of weed… in the baby section. I don’t know what else I expected. I really don’t.

But I seem to have a real trend going of forgetting important items on business trips. Like the one before this where I got to ride around with the Marriot shuttle driver at 11pm trying to find some contact solution (a gas station didn’t have any, but we finally found a Walgreens I could run into). He was from Jamacia and had been in the US 6 years. When I asked him how he liked it here he seemed terrified to answer but stuttered out an  “It’s GREAT!” Though it was obvious the subtext was: “Oh god what is the right answer here..what the hell!” You’re in Dallas, TX dude, I get it. Back to general platitudes and small talk.

I’ve forgotten toothpaste on trips. Tooth brushes. Often forget a hairbrush. Never seem to remember hair ties. Or socks. ALWAYS forget Q-tips… the list goes on.

But I must tell you NOTHING beats the time I wore my cowboy boots on the plane (they’re a pain to get off to get through security, but needed the space in my carry-on)… and forgot to pack my boot jack. And I of course forgot that feet and ankles swell on planes. I was THIS close to walking down to the front desk and having the kid behind the counter pull my boot off for me later that night. I was stuck in boots for about 20 minutes, furiously hopping around my hotel room trying to get them off. I would have done it too, but I did finally get them off. Can you imagine? I would have just been doing my part to reinforce the national perceptions of Texans as total jackasses.

“Well ‘schuse me there, Buddy- mind helping’ me outta these here shitkickers? I’d me mighty ‘bliged.” *Ptew!*

That last bit was me spitting into a spittoon.

In case that wasn’t clear.

Business Travel Children’s Stories: The Denver Bunnies in Bed

The Denver Bunnies in Bed


“Boy, this sure is weird snow, Creampuff.”

“I know, Sweetie Pie! It’s not cold on my paws, or wet… and it tastes TERRIBLE!”

Mom and Dad said: “Bunnies! Stop chewing on the blanket! This isn’t snow, it’s a bed- this is where you’re going to sleep from now on!”


“Uh, wait. Are you telling me I don’t have to sleep outside in the snow anymore?”


“And are you telling me I don’t have to shiver all night long and worry about being eaten by a bobcat or owl any more?”

“Yes bunnies, that is EXACTLY what we’re saying.”


“Hooray! Bunny Rabbit high five!”

“Time to go to sleep then! I think we’re going to like all this “bed” and “blanket” and “pillow” stuff a whole lot!”


“Ummm, bunnies? You’re doing it wrong…”


“Oh. Okay, so it’s supposed to be like this?”


“Nope, I like it better the other way. Good night, Creampuff!”

Creampuff said: “Dude. Not okay.”


“I’ll sleep waaaaay over here, Sweetie Pie, if you are going to sleep like that! Goodnight!”

And the little bunnies slept warm and safe for the first time ever.

Business Travel Children’s Stories… The Denver Bunnies

So as I’ve mentioned before, ad nauseum- we were in Denver recently and will be moving there soon. I travel a lot for work but on this last business trip to Denver I didn’t have to go slowly stir crazy waiting to get home to my family because, wonder of wonders, my husband got to come with me! We were gone for 6 days… and terrible though it is- I forgot to bring my girls’ stuffed animals to write some stories about. So… an origin story is in order for 2 new friends. And let me just say, we drive our oldest INSANE because we won’t tell her where we actually got these toys, we just keep telling her we found them in downtown Denver. (We actually bought them in a Walgreens- happy, kid?) So my husband, Tim Duncan and I make guest appearances here.

The Denver Bunnies


“Life sure is hard out here, living in downtown Denver, isn’t it Sweetie Pie?”

“It sure is, Creampuff. We’re cold all the time. We never know when we’re going to eat next. And it’s so lonely!”

“Well Hello there tiny bunnies! What are your names?”


“I’m Creampuff, sir, and this is my friend Sweetie Pie.”

“It sure does seem like you have a hard life out here, am I right? How would you like to come live with us? I have two beautiful daughters that I know would take good care of you!”

The bunnies didn’t have to think twice.

“Oh can we really?! We’ll be good pets for your daughters, sir- we promise! You’re doing us such a huge favor- is there anything we can do for you in return to show you our thanks?”

The man said: “Now that you mention it, there is: Do you know where we can watch the Spurs basketball game? My wife and I don’t know our way around your city.”

Sweetie Pie thought for a second and then pointed down the street.


“Sure thing, sir. You’re going to go down two blocks (It should take you… oh about 10,000 bunny hops to get there.) Once you get there you’ll want to jump on the huge shuttle monster and go down 6 stops. Then walk past the tasty shrubs we like to chew on till you get to the pine tree we sleep under when it’s warmer. There should be a place to watch basketball around the corner from there.”

“Thanks, Sweetie Pie! Good thing you’re coming with us though, just in case we get lost!”

Then the nice man’s wife picked them up and said:


“It’s a pleasure to meet you, bunnies! Sweetie Pie, I know our oldest daughter Lily will LOVE for you to be her pet. Here, hop in my pocket and warm up! And Creampuff, there is no way our youngest daughter Noelle wouldn’t love to have you! Hop in my other pocket and get cozy!”

The bunnies settled into the pockets- warm for the first time in months. They were going to love this new life!



“So this is basketball, huh, Creampuff?” I like it- look! It’s Tim Duncan- he’s my favorite!”

“Yup. I like it too, Sweetie Pie! Though MY favorite player is that Tony Parker guy.”

Lily and Noelle’s Mom and Dad smiled down at them when the heard what the bunnies had said. They knew they had picked the PERFECT bunnies for their daughters!

So… totally going to make this a regular feature. Because frankly… blog content gets thin sometimes and I have a ton of these.  Because I hope it does some good in the world.

What I Do On Business Trips…

So, as I’ve mentioned before, my day job is a traveling sales rep. Traveling sounds cool until you do it- it’s mostly quiet, and you aren’t out living it up or seeing whatever local highlights there are to see and do in your destination. (“So what’s there to do in Port Lavaca, TX? Be sad and breath in carcinogens? Oh. Okay…I’ll just stay in my hotel room then.”) Mostly it’s just time you are aware, every single second, that you are away from where you want to be. I turn into Dorothy when I travel: “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” Maybe if I got some red glittery heels off of a corpse that would work, because it sure didn’t work with the snow boots I wore on this last trip.

So when I do travel for more than a few days I take along a couple of my daughters’ stuffed animals and write stories about them. Making these lets me feel- from very far away- that I’m still participating in my family. I’m contributing. Connecting. It’s totally worth an hour in a hotel making something for my girls to laugh over while I’m gone. And I always call my husband IMMEDIATELY after I send it and ask if he read it. “Did you read it? What did you think? My favorite part is…” and so on. Because I’m THAT person, I guess.

I don’t buy them anything on my trips usually- as a wise Snapple cap once told me: “The more you own, the more that owns you”- but they have binders of these stories from me. I hope it’s something they remember- that Mom sent them effort and some chuckles instead of a magnet or keychain. I hope they remember. But even if they don’t… writing these stories for them made me feel better when I travelled and I needed it. Oh! And also, I feel like I grow as a person each time someone gives me some side-eye for being a grown ass woman walking around  taking pictures of stuffed animals. Pride is a sin, so they say- so those occasions help me overcome my not insubstantial personal share.

(So- Baby Tiger is the big eyed one here. Stripeless USED to be called Baby Tiger until the new Baby Tiger came along- at which time the name was changed by my oldest daughter to Stripeless- because she’d been so well loved by that point her stripes had rubbed off. They are both girls.)

The Adventures of Baby Tiger and Stripeless in Canada, eh?!


“Well, here we go! I’ve never been in an airplane before, have you Stripeless?”

“No, I never have, Baby Tiger! I’m so excited! I sure am glad we got to come with Lily and Noelle’s Mommy on this trip. I bet she is too- I’m sure their Mommy would have been lonely without us. We have a very important job to do- keeping her from missing Lily and Noelle too much!”

“That’s true, Stripeless… but we are here MOSTLY to have fun, right?”



“Canada! It wasn’t the quickest airplane ride, but we finally got here. I wonder if Lily and Noelle have looked on the globe to see where we are in Winnipeg, Canada? This snow sure is cold, how does it taste, Stripeless?”

“It tastes freezing! The world is one big snow-cone up here- lets go back inside, Baby Tiger!”


“Run quicker- we’re not snow Tigers!”


Whew! A hotel fire- that will warm those cold tigers up!

“Ahhhh… it sure was nice to warm up in front of that fire, Baby Tiger! It’s been a really long day… I think it’s time to go to bed, don’t you?”
“I sure do, Stripeless. Do you think if we shouted loud enough that Lily and Noelle would hear us tell them goodnight?”

2nd bed


Part of me can’t believe I just wrote a blog post about stuffed animals. And part of me totally, totally can.