Wine Traveler’s Travels part 3
(Sometime in 2000, didn’t date this one)
This week I am off to Helena Arkansas, a small town on the border of Arkansas and Mississippi. My morning flight on American Airlines was missed due to my error of leaving the house without my wallet; I sat at the airport on standby till 1:48 PM which got me into Little Rock, AR at 10:30 PM with a two and a half hour drive to Helena. This was the first time I had used American in quite a while I was pleased to see the attitudes of the employees has changed greatly. They used to always seem angry. The food on this flight was awful; it was described as a smoked turkey sandwich, which wasn’t much bigger than a small dinner roll, and a bag of chips that had more air than chips. Needless to say I was starving.
At the recommendation of the Sales Rep I booked a room at the Isle of Capri Casino hotel across the river from Helena in Lula, MI. Well at 1:00 am I was tired and grouchy my room was almost the last room from the one and only entrance. I was on the second floor; there were about two hundred rooms per floor, with only one entrance (many alarmed fire exits) and a security guard at the door. When I finally made it to my nonsmoking room I noticed a strong smell of smoke and two ashtrays in the room I called the desk and the girl said, “Well the computer says it’s a nonsmoking room.” I won’t go into all the details of my conversation but I was less than pleasant. She said, “I will bring up keys to another room” So I moved to the room that was furthest from the only entrance. I then ventured down to the all night restaurant, for a rather pricey breakfast it was like an a la cart menu each item was $1, so two eggs, grits, sausage, a biscuit, and a glass of milk was $6. The good thing though was it was well prepared and delicious.
Well I had to be up and dressed at 7 am the next morning and fortunately the Hospital was only 5 minutes from the casino. After spending all day at the hospital with some very nice nurses, the sales rep, the Installer, the Monitor demonstrator and I went back to the casino for the Buffet dinner. I was less than impressed with their treatment of vegetables the carrots were all mushy and so were the Brussels sprouts, (Is there a group for the ethical treatment of vegetables?) Now the seafood part of this buffet was a whole other story. The fried catfish was excellent very crispy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. The boiled shrimp was very well seasoned and not over cooked. Even the shrimp salad was very good, and the King Crab and Stone Crab were tasty as well. The price of this buffet was a reasonable $13.95. I also made a $5 donation at the one armed bandits.
Then Wednesday before I returned to Little Rock to catch my plane home, we stopped in the casino again and I won back 3 of my $5. Following the Sales rep back to Little Rock as he lived there, we stopped in a little town called Brinkley where they had a Stuckey’s, which unlike the ones I recall from my childhood was more like a convenience store than a restaurant but still with all the souvenirs. What he stopped for was the Mexican blankets they sell here; you know those nice colorful woven blankets that are great to use to cuddle up in front of the TV with. They were priced at $5.99 each; we paid more than that in Mexico about 8 years ago. So I picked up one for each of my boys.
I got to the Airport in plenty of time for my scheduled flight but was met with bad news. The flight was so delayed I would not be able to make my Seattle connection in Dallas. So the very nice young man got me a flight on Delta which was leaving in the next 15 minutes. This allowed me to return to Seattle at 10:45 PM instead of the 12:30am I would have on American. My opinion of American Airlines is definitely better than it was prior to this trip, while the food sucks the employees have a much better attitude and go out of their way to help you out. The flight home on Delta was lacking only in the food department, as it was a late flight, only pretzels were served in coach. The flight from Dallas to Seattle was in a 757 and as I have said before I’d rather be in coach in a 757 than First Class on a MD 80. The Movie was Frequency so I saved $5 since I had already seen this one and was less than impressed. We were served pretzels and soft drinks on this 3 hour and 45 min flight. But the comfort of being in a 757 made up for the lack of food. Somewhere on the flight home my pager must have fallen out of my computer bag, as it was not there the next morning. Arriving at a little after 11 it was about 12:30 when I made it home. Fortunately I had a message from the office that I could come in a little late in the morning.