Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wine Traveler’s Travels 17 (From the Archives)

Originally posted 12Mar01

After a few changes I am on my way to Arkansas again, the hospital is to open today.  I am on TWA again enjoying the pleasures of some of the best first class service in the industry.  I chose the 6:10 am flight because it is a Boeing 757 it means I will have about a 1.5-hour layover in St. Louis, but I still have my complimentary 6-month membership to the Ambassador’s Club.  The breakfast this morning is a choice of Cinnamon Apple pancakes or cereal and fruit, as I am in a diet competition with my wife I chose the cereal and fruit.  The unnamed bran cereal was nice and crunchy; the fresh fruit was a slice of cantaloupe, two slices of tasty pineapple, a sectioned Kiwi, and half of a large sweet strawberry.  The breakfast was completed with a cup of peach yogurt and a banana nut muffin.  I did not watch the movie, as it was a period piece about basketball in rural America during the First World War; titled “The Basket.”  The Flight landed on time in St. Louis and I went to the Ambassadors club to work till my connecting flight.  I checked in at the flight counter so they would notify me when my flight was ready to leave.  I plugged in my laptop and got a cup of hot tea.  Well after checking and responding to many emails I looked at my watch and it was time for my flight to leave.  By the time I got to the gate I had missed my flight the gate agent was most accommodating and quickly booked me on the next flight.   This time Hertz again did not have my Gold reservation ready even though I had called from St. Louis to tell them of my flight changes.  I guess this calls for a letter to Hertz Corporate office. 

I arrived at the hospital about 5:30 pm and stayed working with Lee Long and Bob Gifford till almost midnight.  There was a problem with one of our networks and we could not locate it.  Since I had not had dinner and Lee was staying over he road back to the hotel with me, we got him a room then found a Subway store that was still open.  I had one of the 6gms of fat or less subs and a coke.  I know it’s about like having a donut and a diet coke, but nutrisweet gives me a headache. 

Tuesday morning I arrived at the hospital in the morning and by noon Lee had found the short in the network and repaired it.  The nurses were doing great with the software it was all the other aspects of opening a new hospital that had them overwhelmed.  They had opened for business at 8 pm last Friday and had 10 births by Tuesday morning.  For lunch Lee, Bob and Vicki (the nurse who teaches the staff about our monitoring equipment) and I went to lunch at a nearby restaurant called James at the Mill.  This is attached to a Bed and Breakfast that is a converted Grist Mill.  It is one of those upscale places that have cloth napkins in the restroom.  This was definitely not going to fit into my diet plans.  I had the special which was a large open flame grilled Burger on a homemade Kaiser roll with pepper jack cheese and served with thinner than shoe string fries.  It was very tasty and well presented.  We returned to work at the hospital and I worked with the nurses. Vicki and I made friends with another nurse who was there training software used in another part of the hospital the three of us went back to the Thai restaurant I visited on my last trip.  I was still full from dinner so I just had a bowl of soup called Tom Kah it was a coconut soup with shrimp, mushrooms, and lemon grass.  It was such a large bowl I had them bring me two more cups so I could share it with Vicki and Nancy.  They each had a noodle dish that looked scrumptious. Then we all had a cup of the homemade coconut ice cream I had been craving since my last visit.  Vicki and Nancy both said it was the best part of the meal. 

Wednesday was a much smoother day for the nurses as they were starting to develop some familiar routines.  I was able to point out a few areas they needed to pay closer attention to in regards to charting with our software.  Bill Greene the sales rep arrived today about 1 PM and since I had not stopped for Lunch he and I went for a cup of coffee at the Coffee Shop/Deli/restaurant that caters the patient food for this upscale hospital.  While there Bill ordered a half sheet cake for the hospital staff congratulating them on the “birth” of their new hospital.  I returned to the hospital and worked more with the staff.  That night for dinner Bill and I went to Mary Miestri’s the Italian restaurant that he introduced me to on my first visit here. After the salad with the house dressing I had the Trio special it had crab, scallops and shrimp with homemade angel hair pasta, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms with a very light white wine sauce, and we shared a bottle of Chianti.  Neither of us could finish our generous portions. 

Thursday was another busy day for the staff as they were having babies right and left.  The cake arrived and it was really something to behold it was one of those soaked cakes though it did not seem to be soaked with a strong alcohol with a very light icing and a raspberry jam filling. The staff was elated and really seemed to enjoy it.  A floral arrangement accompanied it and was placed at the front desk of L&D after the cake was served.  Bill and I went to James at the Mill for Lunch since it was just down the street this time I had the Andoulli Corndog this was a sumptuous sausage on a stick with a coating of cornbread stuck in a serving of roasted mashed potatoes garnished with a unique sauce and a corn relish.  The sauce was like a steak sauce mixed with hot Chinese mustard.  The waitress tempted Bill and I with desert; we had the chocolate pyramid; this was a three-inch pyramid of dark chocolate filled with a hazelnut mouse and there was this swirly thing made of caramelized sugar that decorated the plate.  It was almost too pretty to eat, almost!  The hospital management requested that I come in and work with the night shift, so I left a little early to go back to the hotel and take a nap.  Skipping dinner, I came back in a little before Midnight and stayed till almost two, the staff really impressed me with their understanding of the software.  Bill was supposed to have brought in some cookies for the nightshift when they asked about their cake like dayshift had I told them that they were supposed to get cookies but we couldn’t find any. 

Friday I came in around eleven as I had spent some time checking email and phone mail before checking out of the hotel.  I finalized the validation of the system with the network administrator and then went to lunch with Bill; he took me to a restaurant that from the outside didn’t look like they were in business.  The paint had almost completely peeled off the boards on the outside and there was no sign to tell you it was a business.  The inside though was very rustic varnished wood.  We had the barbecued ribs, which came with a homemade coleslaw and Texas toast.  I’m always up for good barbecue and this was good.  The name of this place is Herman’s and Herman still owns the land and the building but has sold the business as we learned from the waitress.  Bill used to live in this area and this was one of the local favorites.  Bill now lives in Little Rock, AR.  I returned to the Hospital and finished up my duties then said good-bye to all my new friends.  As I was driving to the airport I realized I did not call TWA to get my upgrade, the agent at the counter informed me that there were no first class seats available.  I called to get on the waiting list, this was futile as there had been some delays earlier and this flight was now overbooked.  My only consolation is that it is a 757.  My flights were all on time and I am going to miss the excellent service of TWA.  I can only hope that the merger will enhance American Airlines.

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