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Entries about pandemic

All Alone - Visiting A Resort During A Pandemic


View Weekend In New England - Pandemic traveling on littlesam1's travel map.

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I don't normally visit large expensive resorts. An all inclusive resort in the Caribbean would be my worst nightmare vacation. Recently I did visit a very beautiful resort and spa in New Hampshire. And it was not a nightmare. Of course there was no one else there but me. So that made it easier for me to enjoy. My daughter had a job interview in Lancaster, New Hampshire the first weekend in June this year. The company interviewing her booked us a room at The Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa, Of course this was in the midst of quarantines and lock downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resort had been closed for eleven weeks. They reopened on Friday June 5, 2020. We arrived on Sunday June 7. It was interesting to see a big resort like this with no one else there. I did see three or four people in passing. But for the most part the halls were empty. The ballrooms were vacant. The bars were closed. And there we three very friendly staff members that I interacted with during my stay.

The hotel was massive. It has 150 rooms. The have a full menu of services available for the guests. I was at the hotel for two full days while my daughter was interviewing for the job. She took the car each day into the tiny town of Lancaster, New Hampshire and I stayed behind at the hotel. I had planned to bring my lap tap with me. I was going to relax at the hotel and work on editing my travel photos. I figued a glass of wine from the bar or on the patio with my lap top in front of me would be perfect. When we arrived I realized I had left my lap top packed up in its travel case back at home. And then I found out the bar would not be open and there was no alcohol being served on the patio or any where else in the hotel. New Hampshire only had restaurants and bars opened if they had outside seating. So I had lunch on the patio deck each day but no wine or beer to relax me.

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That is my lunch view. Some water, a menu and a table with beautiful mountains in the background. It was a bit odd. I was the only person at the hotel other than one or two other guests. I asked the lady at the desk about lunch. She told me I would need to make a reservation each day for lunch. I looked at her with a grin and kind of looked over my shoulder to make sure there was no one else in line for reservations. So I asked to make a reservation. She asked me what time. It was 11:45 am. I looked at my watch and asked "Is 12:00 alright." And I am not exaggerating here. She pulled her little electronic tablet out of the drawer and checked the calendar. She keyed me in for 12:00. She then told me to come down to the lobby a few minutes before 12:00 and some one would come to seat me in the porch dining area. By this time it was already 11:50 so I just walked over and sat on one of the large couches in the lobby and waited to be called for seating.

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So there I sat with my mask, which was required in any public area of the hotel, waiting for someone to call me for lunch. And magically at precisely 12:00 a lady appeared from the porch area and called my name. I was the only person in the lobby. But I guess she wanted to make sure I was indeed the person waiting for lunch. I turned my head around and she asked me, "Are you Larry?" I assured her I was Larry and we walked out to the porch together. I looked around. There were several tables on the terrace all empty. She asked if I had a preference. I said no so she looked at all of the tables and pointed to one and asked if that was alright. She then looked around as if it was crowded and seated me. They were not using individual menus and I had to use my cell phone and focus on the link provided at the table to see the menu. She brought me a bottle of water and left me to read the menu on my phone. I did understand that the kitchen was not fully stocked yet and the menu was not full of choices. They had sandwiches for the most part and a pizza. I opted for the cheeseburger platter and had an enjoyable lunch. I took photos of my food and chatted on Facebook while I was eating. There wasn't much else to do.

After lunch I needed to find something to do to entertain myself. The hotel normally has a full selection of services for the guests. They have a spa in the tower room which looked beautiful in the photos. They also have an in ground pool and a huge golf course. The spa and the pool were both victims of the COVID-19 closing and were not open for guests. There was a large golf course which surrounded the hotel. It was open I was told. But I am not a golfer so I did not really care one way or the other about the golf course I did look at it though and the grounds were beautiful.

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But like everything else at the hotel, there was no one there to play golf. So I could not even go outside and watch a brisk game of golf being played. They did have two services available for guests. And they were not exactly what I was expecting. There is a large llama farm attached to the hotel where you can visit the llamas.

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There were quite a few llamas to go look at. I had seen llamas in the wild when I was hiking in Peru once. But I had not been to an actual llama farm. So I took a walk to the back part of the property to go visit the llamas. They mostly ignored me. I did whistle and got the attention of the one pictured above. He looked at me. I snapped the photo. And that was the end of our interaction.

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I tried to get a selfie with llama looking over my shoulder but he chose to ignore me and went back to grazing. I think he was as bored as I was at this point. The hotel did have one other service available at this time. COVID-19 was not interfering with everything. Every morning between 9:45 and 11:00 am the hotel offered axe throwing. Yes, you read that correct. There was no pool open, no spa to use, and no bar for a drink. But you could go throw axes.

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I took a photo of the TV screen where it explained about the axe throwing This was advertised as Adult Axe Throwing. I was glad to hear this. I certainly would not want to see child or family axe.throwing. I was a bit confused by the image on the TV screen though. It appears the two ladies are getting ready to battle with axes much to the amusement of the man standing behind them. My only thought was if there were people here I could go watch this and maybe start looking for Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote in the episode The Missing Axe.

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I did do some hiking on the back roads while I was here. The scnery was beautiful. My only concern was all of the signs warning me to wear repellent and to be check for ticks after hiking. I had not prepared for this and doubted they had tick repellent at the hotel. So I mainly walked down old roads and took photos. I did not really adventure out into the wooded areas. There were also warning signs about moose and I had no idea how to deal with a wild moose. The only moose I was ever familiar with was Bullwinkle J. Moose.

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It was fun though. I've never had a huge resort all to myself before. The room was beautiful. I really had nothing to complain about with the hotel or the staff. They could not have been nicer. And they seemed really happy to be back at work and having a guest again, even if it was only me.

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I will admit thought that the empty hallways did get a little creepy in such a big hotel. At times I did think of Jack Nicholson in the movie The Shining. If I had seen two little creepy twin girls in the hallway I would have run as fast as I could out of there. Of course a lone old man in an empty hallway wearing a mask is kind of creepy in itself.

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Posted by littlesam1 14:50 Tagged hotel moose new_hampshire alone pandemic mountain_view_grand_resort_and_ jessica_fletcher axe_throwing Comments (10)

Remembering Elvis, Memphis, and the Queens of Comedy


View The Music Legends Tour - April 2018 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Just a quick reference to this blog for when I read it later. I am on my second week being house bound trying to avoid the corona virus. Many people have posted online about all of the projects they have completed around their home. They have posted all of the wonderful meals they have cooked. Some talk about time bonding with family. Me? I have been sitting in my family room daily with the TV playing in the back ground. I have not bothered to change out of my sweat suits. My dog is gaining weight from sharing all of my snacks I have been eating while watching the TV. And I am finding that I am not really hating it. It's becoming my new norm. I have travel plans that we cancelled which is minor in the grand scheme of things. I collect coffee mugs when I travel. So to entertain myself I have been having my morning coffee in a different cup each day, and have posted a imaginary travel moment with the cup on Facebook each day. This morning I used my Memphis Music Hall of Fame coffee cup and traveled to Memphis. This immediately sparked some memories, both good and bad, from my visit to Memphis. My movie on TV is a little boring this afternoon so I decided to write a blog about my memories of the visit to Memphis.

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Larry with quarantined beard and Memphis coffee mug

We traveled to Memphis in April of 2018. This was part of our Music Legends car trip with our friend Gillian from England. We drove from our home in Baltimore south through the Smokey Mountains and had many fun music related experiences. To me personally Memphis was the least exciting part of our trip. To be fair to Memphis though we had spent three days previously in Nashville. Nashville is a city that is alive all day. The streets are busy. The honky tonks have life music playing non stop. And the streets stay full of tourists. We were expecting a similar experience in Memphis. But we arrived to find empty streets and empty honky tonks. Beale Street, which is Memphis's main entertainment street could not compare to Broadway in Nashville. In Memphis defence we did not get to spend any evenings in Memphis as our hotel was about fifty miles south in Tunica, Mississippi. But our days in Memphis found Beale Street to be almost vacant.

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An empty Beale Street in Memphis

Away from Beale Street there was still much to see and do. We spent some time along the water front. We visited the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. That does not sound exciting but it was quite fascinating and well worth visiting. It sits on the bank of the Mississippi River. It is huge. At one time it was a basketball arena. And it is very impressive. It contains a hotel, a tropical forest with live alligators, and a beautiful bar at it peak with a deck over looking the river.

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We spent quite a bit of time exploring the pyramid. Much of this was spent enjoying the bar and some cool drinks of course. We had to take the worlds tallest free standing elevator to reach the bar. So that gave us one fun fact to add to our list of accomplishments.

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World's Tallest Free Standing Elevator

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Mark and Gillian surrounded by an aquarium at the bar

The bar is located at the top of the elevator. It has an over sized aquarium filling the area behind the bar. It was a beautiful place for a drink. There was a large glass deck outside of the bar with a view of the Mississippi River.

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Larry, Mark, and Gillian on deck at top of the pyramid

Of course if you are in Memphis one of the must see attractions is Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. I am a huge fan of Elvis. I believe Gillian also likes Elvis. But Mark on the other hand really has not opinion one way or the other on Elvis. So Graceland was kind of a non event for him.

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On the bus to Graceland - a less than enthused Mark in the middle

In the end Mark did enjoy the tour. But just not on the level that I enjoyed it. The house was a big tacky, dated and bizarre. But if you love the legend of Elvis you expect and appreciate this.

Graceland

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Elvis' Peacock Living Room

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The TV Room and The Famous Jungle Room

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Elvis Grave and Memorial at Graceland

Of course knowing me I had to take at least one funny selfie in Graceland. I found the perfect location going down the mirrored stair case into the Jungle Room.

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All in all the three of us did have fun touring Graceland.

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On a more somber note there are other historical sites to visit in Memphis that are not laughs and fun. We visited the Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr Memorial at the Lorraine Hotel. This was not a place for fun selfies or laughs. It is just one of those places you feel you must visit. It was very moving and heartbreaking to see the location of the murder of Dr. King. I am a child of the 60's and have emotional memories that will never leave me from the day of his murder. Seeing the location and the memorial brought all of those back to mind. It's a place to think. A place to show respect. And a space to feel no shame in shedding a tear.

The Lorraine Motel - National Civil Rights Museum

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You can actually walk through the hotel room 306 where he stayed. However the museum was closed the day we were there and I was actually kind of glad about that. I can not imagine the emotion of walking through that room. I don't think I could have walked into the room.

The Queens of Comedy

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Adele Givens , Laura Hayes, Mo'Nique and Sommore - The Queens of Comedy

One of the biggest highlights for Mark and I in Memphis was the chance to see the theater where the video The Queens of Comedy was filmed. For the uninitiated The Queens of Comedy is a wild irreverent hysterical comedy concert filmed in Memphis. The comedians on the show were Laura Hayes, Adele Givens, Sommore, and our fellow Baltimore favorite Mo'Nique. Mark and I own the DVD of the concert. We have watched it many many times and each time are in tears with laughter. Gillian had not really heard of The Queens of Comedy so we had to teach her all about it. When the ladies arrive in Memphis they drive across the Mississippi River on the Hernando de Soto Bridge aka The Big M. As the cross the bridge in their car the raise their hand and shout MemPHIS with the accent on the PHIS. So when we crossed the bridge Mark and I both yelled MemPHIS. This was not the only time we yelled MemPhis while in the city. We yelled at at any given opportunity in the city. Even from the top of the Pro Bass Shop pyramid. Just ask Gillian

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You must yell MemPHIS when crossing this bridge if you visit, just for Mark and I

We talked with a lady at the Memphis visitors center. We mentioned our love of The Queens of Comedy and she laughed. She asked us "Do you guys really remember that show? That was a long time ago." And then Mark quoted some jokes to her and she cracked up. She said to us you guys are real fans and then shared a joke she remember from the show also. Poor Gillian was lost to all of this but she is used to that. We lose her at least once on every trip and have to explain to her our enthusiasm.

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We talked with a lady at the Memphis visitors center. We mentioned our love of The Queens of Comedy and she laughed. She asked us "Do you guys really remember that show? That was a long time ago." And then Mark quoted some jokes to her and she cracked up. She said to us you guys are real fans and then shared a joke she remember from the show also. Poor Gillian was lost to all of this but she is used to that. We lose her at least once on every trip and have to explain to her our enthusiasm.

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Mo'Nique we did you proud in Memphis. We shared your jokes. We yelled MemPHIS. We educated Gillian about your show. You are our home town Baltimore Academy Award Winning Actress. We are you fans.

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Mo'Nique

If you travel to Memphis and you see the Orpheum give a big MemPHIS shout for Mark and I and our girl Mo'Nique. And if you come to visit us at our house we will play the DVD for you

One last suggestion

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One last fun note about Memphis. If you visit the Hard Rock Cafe you can see Shakira's bra. If you are a fan it's worth the journey.

Posted by littlesam1 19:24 Archived in USA Tagged tennessee mississippi_river graceland memphis quarantine pandemic beale_street shakira the_queens_of_comedy mo'nique dr._martin_luther_king_jr lorraine_hotel bass_pro_shop_pyramid elvis_presley self_isolation coffee_cup Comments (8)

Plagues, Epidemics and Memorials - History Repeating Itself

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Pestsäule - Plague Column - Vienna Austria

Travel is my passion, and taking photos of my travels is my favorite hobby. So when faced with social distancing and the threat of quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus, I find going through my travel photos and thinking of the beautiful places I have visited brings some sort of calmness to the madness all around me right now. With all of the attention focused on Corona Virus today, I found myself being led to photos I have taken of Plague Memorials in Central Europe.

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice Italy

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In the summer of 1630 and up until 1631 a wave of the plague assaulted Venice killing nearly a third of its population. As an offering for the city's deliverance from the plague the city vowed to build a church dedicated to Our Lady of Health, Santa Maria della Salute. The city decided not to dedicate the church just to the plague or a patron saint. They decided to dedicate it to the Virgin Mary who they believed was the protector of their Republic. I visited Venice in the spring of 2002. When I arrived in Piazza San Marco and walked to the water front of the Grand Canal this beautiful basilica dominated the horizon.

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Church of All Saints - Sedlac, Czech Republic

Two years after my visit to Venice, I traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic in 2004. I returned again in 2015. Both times I visited the Kostnice located in the village of Sedlac. The Kostnice is an Ossuary or Bone Church. It is named the Church of All Saints. In all of my travels this is truly one of the most fascinating places I have seen.

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The plague Column of the Virgin Mary Immaculate in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

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Just a short walk from Sedlac is the village of Kutna Hora. Located here is a Plague Column. I have seen several of these through out Europe. This one was built as a reminder of the death from the plague of the early 1700's. There is a statue of Mary on top of the column as on many Plague columns. Many of these columns were built to honor Mary in hopes for protection from other plagues.

Trinity Monument - Prague, Czech Republic

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The Trinity Monument is another Plague Column in the Czech Republic. This one is located in Prague's Lesser Town Square. At one time there was a pillory and gallows here. So this square is historically associated with death. But now there is a monument here that memorialized the end of a disease that plagued the city of Prague. After the outbreak of the early 1700's was finally under control, the city erected this Plague Column.

Pestsäule - Plague Column - Vienna Austria

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The Trinity Column in Vienna is located on Graben, one of the main streets in the inner city. It is one of the better know Plague Columns in Europe. It was built after the great epidemic of 1679 and is one of the cities great pieces of art often compared to the work of Bernini in Rome. While I was in Vienna I was not worried about the plague. My luggage was lost and never arrived. So I was concerned with buying underwear in a city where I did not speak the language. I took photos of the monument without really knowing what it represented until I returned home and was doing research on my photos. At the time of the plague the Habsburg emperor Leopold I fled the city but vowed to erect a mercy column if the epidemic would end.

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.These churches and monuments were erected to memorialize the loss from the great plagues that challenged the western world in their time. They were also created to ask forgiveness for the sins they felt lead to these plagues and in hopes to protect their people from future epidemics. After the horrors of 9/11 we have build great monuments and displayed pieces of the World Trade Center in our major cities across the country. We have one here in Baltimore. In New York we have build a towering sky scraper complex to replace and memorialize the original World Trade Center. I am wondering tonight what will happen at the end of the current world wide pandemic. Will we be inspired to create art and memorial fountains to remember it? Will we learn from our greed and hoarding that is harming us now? Will our current leaders promise to build memorials to our sacrificies. Or will they build great monuments to themselves to brag about their self imagined great accomplishments in fighting this enemy? We will survive. We will recover. But will we learn from our mistakes?

Posted by littlesam1 18:11 Tagged prague vienna europe czech_republic pandemic kutna_hora covid-19 black_death plague_columns plague_memporials sedlac Comments (14)

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