baby sign language

Day 19 – More Fun & Exploration

Learn the ASL signs for ‘rope’ ‘bubble’ and ‘Science’

We were given free passes to a place called WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach with our hotel booking. We figured we’d go and see what it was all about. It was a rainy day so it was a perfect time for an indoor activity. When we got to the place the kids immediately loved it because the building is upside down. It looks like it is standing on its roof and the kids thought that was the funniest thing. It turns out there were over 100 interactive science exhibits on three different floors. The kids were able to go from activity to activity and explore and learn. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this place as well. In fact we went back to the hotel for a nap and came back for more after dinner.

Hartford getting ready to go into space

The best part (for me) was the ropes course. It is this amazing course of balance beams and ropes that span the entire ceiling cavity in this place. The scariest one was going over where the stairs were as you could see right down to the floor below. You are strapped in to a climbing harness and then roped in to overhead railings that will save you if you fall. You begin to make your way up the stairs to enter the course. There are a number of different ways you can go as all the paths link with and cross over each other. You are given a timer that goes off in 20 minutes. They do this so people won’t stay up there for hours on end. There really isn’t a start or finish once you enter the course, you can pick your path and just keep going around on different beams. Fireese was amazing! She wasn’t scared at all and walked over each beam with confidence, even turning back to me and telling me to not look down, that I’d be okay.  My husband isn’t a fan of heights or rides so I am ecstatic to finally have a dare devil buddy to do all the rides and fun stuff with!

Fireese in a bubble

If you visit Myrtle Beach I would highly recommend a day at this place. Make sure to leave yourself enough time to fully enjoy the place. We were there for over 4 hours total and could have done more!

Day 18 – Rides galore

Learn the ASL signs for ‘ferris wheel’ and ‘jump’

We got to Myrtle Beach around dinner time and decided to walk over to the Pier 14 restaurant for dinner. It’s nice to be able to walk to a restaurant from our hotel after a long drive. This was a nice restaurant that was on the Pier (hence the name) and had a great view of the ocean and the big ferris wheel.

Pier with SkyWheel in the background

Of course the kids wanted to go over to it to see it up close. After dinner we walked over to where it was. It’s called the SkyWheel and it’s all enclosed. It probably needs to be enclosed as it is 200 feet above sea level! This thing is HUGE. I decide that it would be fun to take the kids up in it. I asked my husband if he wanted to join us and I got a quick, NO! from him.

SkyWheel

He is afraid of heights and there was no way I was going to get him on this thing. I decided to take both kids on as Hartford would be sad if we went on without him. My husband was afraid that he would freak out on the ride but he didn’t. Both kids had a blast and couldn’t believe they were up so high.

After the SkyWheel we went over to the area with the rest of the rides. We took the kids on one more ride as it is crazy expensive in Myrtle Beach. It was also very late and past everyone’s bedtime. I’m happy that my kids love rides as I’ve finally got companions to join me. We are having a blast. Myrtle Beach is very touristy but if you go with the attitude that you are going to soak up the cheesiness it has to offer then you’ll really enjoy yourself.

Car hop ride

Day 17 – Favorite Seafood Restaurant!

Learn the ASL signs for ‘crab’ ‘alligator’ and ‘cat’

Every time my husband and I visited Savanah we would eat at the Crab Shack. This turned into one of our favorite restaurants. It is a very unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else. You drive down a small dirt road to get to the place. It could very easily get missed and many people have driving right past it I’m sure. When you drive up the dirt parking lot is full of cars, you might have to drive around a bit to find a spot but the effort is well worth it. Then you go up and put your name in to the hostess stand. You can either have a pre-dinner drink in the bar or you can go and feed the alligators. On this occasion we were lucky enough to be seated right away when we got there.

Sitting at the Crab Shack

We were really looking forward to taking the kids to the restaurant as it is an experience in and of itself. The open air deck with apple bushels hanging on the lights, the big fans and the water in the background gives the restaurant a really down home, back woods type of feel. My daughter loved the fact that each table had a hole in the middle that had a garbage can underneath so you could just throw your bits and pieces into the hole. The best part of the experience for the kids was the wild cats walking around and waiting for food. After dinner the kids were able to feed their left overs to the cats. I have to tell you these were the best fed cats I’ve ever seen. They all got to feast on shrimp, crab, muscles and other yummy seafood delights.

Do you see the cat?

The topper of the evening was being able to feed the live alligators. You can purchase alligator food from the bar (they are on a special diet and are only fed these little pieces of specially made food). Then Fireese could put the bait on a fishing line and hang it into the cage to feel the gators. This was a cool experience for her and now she can forever say she fed a live alligator at the age of five.

If you are ever in Savannah I would highly recommend stopping by the Crab Shack for a fun experience and great food! You won’t regret it!

Now we are on to our next stop, Myrtle Beach!

Our dnner companion

Day 16 – Mother / Daughter Time

Learn the ASL signs for ‘nap’ and ‘manicure’

Today was a very enjoyable day for me personally because I had such nice bonding time with my daughter. While we were out exploring the city we saw a nail salon and I peeked in and saw a mom and daughter having their nails done. I thought this was so cute and I knew that Fireese would love to have this done. She is really into wanting her nails painted now so this would be super fun thing to do with her. While my husband put my son down for a nap I decided to take Fireese to the salon for some mother daughter time. We walked over to the salon from our hotel and Fireese was ecstatic. She picked out her nail polish and sat and chatting with the nail technician the whole time. The woman who was doing my nails was so impressed with the confidence in Fireese and how chatty she was.

Fireese waiting to get her nails done.

It was such a lovely mother daughter time. We chit chatted while our nails were drying and the smile on her face when she showed me her nails and told me how excited she was to show daddy and Harty was enough to melt my heart. The smile of pure joy on your child’s face is what makes parenthood all worth while. On our way home we shared a smoothy and I received the, “you’re the best mom” comment. Great day!

The end results

Happy girl with painted nails

Day 15 – Horse and buggy

Learn the ASL signs for ‘horse’ ‘black’ and ‘nice’

The kids are enjoying their time in Savannah. The riverfront walk is beautiful! Fireese and Hartford love seeing the boats go up and down the river. It is surprising to see the huge freighters on the river as it is very narrow and the ships are so huge. It’s almost intimidating to see them as they pass by. We were able to see tugboats working as they escorted the giant ships out to open water. It was neat for the kids to see the tugboat in action. There are also two great candy stores along the riverfront where they make their own candy. I’m sure we could have spent hours in each one picking out all the tasty treats.

The highlight of our day was going on a horse and buggy tour. We were going to take a trolley tour like we did in Saint Augustine but we decided to take a more intimate tour. I have to say that if you are ever in Savannah that it is worth the time and money to take a horse carriage tour.  The kids loved the horse ‘ride’ and we really enjoyed learning about all the history of the city. There were great stories from the locals that have been passed down from generation to generation.

I am looking forward to the kids being older so we can return and go on a ghost tour. We went on one before we had kids and it was really fun hearing all the scary stories about the city’s hauntings. I think the kids would really enjoy this when they are a bit older.

Day 14 – Fun In Savannah!

Learn the ASL signs for ‘break’ and ‘together’

We are thoroughly enjoying our time in Savannah! It is a great city to come with kids as you can feel like an adult and still entertain the kids. So far our favorite thing we’ve done with the children is sit out in a beautiful square in historic down town Savannah and listen to live music. We are able to sit and enjoy a cold beverage with the kids and all of us enjoy the band. This is something we would have done before having our muchkins and it is very enjoyable being able to share this fun with them.

Day 11-13 – Saint Augustine, Florida

Learn the ASL sign for ‘old’ ‘city’ ‘museum’

We stayed in Saint Augustine for three days. It is a very beautiful city. The weather didn’t agree with us while we where here. It rained every day around 3 until about 5 or 6. We were looking forward to going to this one restaurant and listening to some music on an outdoor patio but it was canceled every day because of the rain. We spent more time in the hotel than we wanted to as a result of the weather.

We decided to take a trolley tour of the city which we really loved. It is always fascinating to learn about an area especially with such history to it. There was a University there that was originally a hotel and it had it’s lights installed by Alexander Bell. The tour guide said that guest who stayed in this hotel were afraid of being electrocuted by the lights so they had to hire someone whose sole job was to turn on and off the lights for the guests. Can you imagine?!

We also went to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum and the kids had a blast. They were fascinated with a lot of the things we saw in the museum. Fireese loved learning about Ripley’s travels and the oddities he encountered. We didn’t get a chance to go to Saint Augustine Beach because of the weather but that was okay. I was all swimmed out from our last few destinations. I enjoyed sight seeing and learning about this historic city!

Now we are on to Savannah, GA. I can’t wait, I love this city and can’t wait to explore it with my kids!

Day 10 – Nice Hotel, Bad Customer Service!

Learn the ASL sign for ‘disappointing’

Please indulge my little rant today but I really feel that I need to share with you my disappointing experience at the Casa Monica hotel in Saint Augustine Florida.

We left my favorite hotel and moved on to Saint Augustine Florida. The drive wasn’t too bad, it was just less than four hours. We stopped along the way at a wonderful country cooking buffet place. They served all sorts of feel good food you would expect from a southern US down home style buffet. There were grits, black eyed peas, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, biscuits, corn bread and more. Mmm it’s making me want for the yumminess just telling you about it!! We filled our bellies and moved on down the road.

We reached our new hotel at about 4:30 in the afternoon. We drove up and saw that it looked like a castle, literally. It is definitely the second most beautiful hotel we’ve stayed in (see Day 8 of our road trip). So far so good. We pulled up and were greeted by the valet parking attendant. He told us to take our car round the other side and they would take care of everything for us. Everyone was super nice so far. The cost to park at the hotel is $22 a day which I found a little steep but figured it was all part in parcel of the whole fancy hotel experience. Part of the reason why I picked this hotel is because we weren’t sure if we should stay in historic Saint Augustine or stay at Saint Augustine Beach, this hotel offered a stay downtown and the use of a country club at the beach… perfect!

We checked into the hotel and were offered an upgrade for an additional charge (I forgot to mention about our Don Cesar experience that we were given a room upgrade at no extra charge). We decided to take it as we figured why not have the full experience and get the bigger room. The room was beautiful and I’m glad we upgraded! I was disappointed that even though we do have use of the country club at the beach that it’s an extra $25 charge per day to use it.  Hmm, things are really starting to add up! Extra after extra after extra. Oh well, I guess this is all part of the swanky hotel experience, you have to pay for extras.

We got up to our room, settled in and I went online to check my email. When I opened up my computer I discovered that WIFI was an additional $10 charge per day. What?!? In today’s day and age when you can go to the local _______ (insert ANYTHING here, coffee shop, laundry mat, McDonalds etc) and get it for free! I don’t know why but this of all the hotel charges bothered me the most. It is a simple extra they can easy give their guests. It wasn’t the money that bothered me per se, it was the insult that you can go anywhere and get this service for free. We have to pay $22 for parking, $25 for use of the facilities at the beach and now $10 a day for internet?!?

I decided to say something. I am not one to complain but I did feel that if enough people say something then maybe they would realize this is something they should offer for their guest complementary. I was told by the front desk staff that I’m not the first to complain and that they would pass this along to the manager. Basically a shoulder shrug and an oh well. The guy didn’t even take my name or room number. Clearly I didn’t matter as a guest and my concern was going to be ‘noted’… sure they were. So I decided to email the hotel manager directly. Before doing so though I decided to turn my frustration to my ever trusted Twitter friends. Sometimes I’m frustrated and my tweeps can put things into a different perspective. But this time my feelings of frustration were validated. Here are some of the comments of support I received on Twitter:

“I’ve found it’s the expensive hotels who haven’t gotten the memo on free wifi. mid-prices & suite-onlys have been better. In fact, free wifi is now a deciding factor for my choice of hotel. (hear that, hotels!?! you’re losing business!)”

“that is now one of my non-negotiables when choosing a hotel : must have comp wireless Internet. I feel your pain!!”

“depending in why I’m traveling and how much extra the free wifi room is it’s definitely a deciding factor”

“a little or a lot of bitching works! Lol perhaps a nice letter to the manager of the hotel is in order! #ripoff”

“I would rather pay an all-inclusive resort fee (which infers staying at a + + resort!) than ‘extra’ charges”

“Having worked hotel biz in past things like nickel and diming and poor service make me crazy!”

These were just a few of the support comments I received so I decided to go armed with the feeling that I am right to be annoyed and I sent off a letter to the hotel manager.

I was very nice in my letter. I started by complementing him on the beautiful hotel and the friendly valet staff I encountered. My one disappointment is the lack of WIFI included. I explained that as the president of my company that I would want to know what things bothered my customers so I could make improvements. I also mentioned that we just came from the Don Cesar where internet was included (just so he would know that I have stayed in other nice hotels). I thought that my email was nice and I was expecting a different response than the one I received.

The manager wrote me back and thanked me for my kind words. He said that they used to charge a resort fee that included WIFI but too many people complained about that because they weren’t all using the wifi service. He basically said, “oh well, this is the way it is and too bad for you for feeling the way you do” Then he said something to the effect that the Don Cesar charges a resort fee and in essence is charging for their wifi.

What?!? This is your response?! Basically and oh well?! Yes, the Don Cesar charges a resort fee that includes parking, maid tip, wifi and more. Their resort fee is $22 a day. YOUR parking fee is $22 a day… you can’t throw in some wifi and call it free?!

I figured this wifi thing was a lost cause and decided that I would not let it or the manager’s response ruin my time here. I logged on to the hotel website and paid the $10 fee. It then brings you to a page that says “complementary wifi in public places” why oh why would none of the staff mention this to me?! That would have been fine with me. At least that way you are offering your guests complementary wifi. Then it is up to me if I want to use it in the free area of the hotel or pay for the use of it in the comfort of my own room. Why would the manager not have said anything to me?! Why instead would he choose to say, “oh well, too bad”. I just don’t understand why his choice was poor customer service. Additionally, he could have offered me complementary internet, this was within his power. Why would you have a potentially unhappy customer over $10?!

I can tell you 100% that I will never come and stay in this hotel again. It is beautiful and clean BUT the poor customer service is enough to turn me away forever. I look forward to trying out one of the other beautiful hotels Saint Augustine has to offer next year!