You know, when I took this job, I really thought I was going to be able to craft a lot more. Not so since it seems like I'm living out of hotels these days.
Really, it hasn't been that bad, but this week, I spent two days on the road and three more days exhausted and just trying to catch up on life and work I missed because I spent two days on the road. Next week will be a real test for me. I am working all weekend at my part-time job, because I love it, and then leaving Monday morning for a three day/two night trip to Kansas City. By Thursday, when I'm waking up in my own bed, I'm going to be grateful for my crappy mattress that desperately needs replaced, but at least it's in my home, in my room.
On to the good stuff. I didn't take any photos this week, which I know, is very surprising. I was in Springfield at the Hilton Garden Inn. The thing about Springfield that outsiders don't understand is their friendliness. We were traveling with a colleague from St. Louis who was amazed at the kindness of the staff at the hotel. We told her it's just a Springfield thing. Total strangers say hello as they are passing on the street. People hold doors open for everyone and then ask how their day is. It's a Springfield thing. And it's part of the charm of the city. It's not a small city by any means, but the people make it feel like your hometown. Well, except my hometown, where everyone is all consumed with government and make no effort to be kind to strangers, but that's another blog for another day.
The Hilton Garden Inn was incredible. It was a brand new property that was eco-friendly and was very well designed. The rooms were clean and spacious. I generally like more light than I had in my hotel room, but it was still a hotel room and lights are still generally minimal in hotel rooms.
My only real complaint about the room was the bed. I know everyone is going to these "sleep number system" type beds, but that was the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept in and I had a mattress once that sunk so deep I thought it might be a water bed. I woke up several times in the middle of the night. I'm hopeful that my other Hilton property stays aren't quite so bad, but I have a feeling that all Hilton properties have the same beds.
The food in Springfield was wonderful, as always. As I was looking for a Starbucks on Yelp, I realized that Springfield has more unique restaurants than any city in which I've ever lived. There are the typical chain restaurants, and some that aren't quite as typical, but then there are a ton of places that are unique to Springfield. Ebbett's Field is one of those places. In college, I loved eating at the Ebbetts Field on Walnut. In fact, if memory serves, the weekend of my cousin's wedding, we went to Ebbetts the night before to drink. Seriously, memory could be an issue that weekend as I seriously thought I was dying with a 103 degree fever and a severe infection in my throat, but I'm pretty sure I still remember that night.
They've opened a south branch of the restaurant known in Springfield for its sports memorabilia. I had the monterey chicken sandwich -- a seasoned chicken breast (a little heavy on the lemon pepper) topped with provolone cheese and served with fries and a pickle. Their fries were covered in parsley and were delicious. I do wish one of the two had been served with a condiment. The chicken was a little dry and the fries just needed something. Maybe ranch dressing or honey mustard would have pulled the meal together nicely.
My second night in Springfield, I had Maria's downtown. I was with an old friend (he's not old. Our friendship dates back to 5th grade.) and the atmosphere was perfect. We were sitting by the front windows which overlooked downtown Springfield. The room was large enough and had great acoustics, so we were able to carry on a conversation without feeling like we were shouting. And the food was pretty good. It was Mexican and I've never had a cheese enchilada I didn't like, so I was pretty happy with that one. The chicken enchilada was topped with some white sauce that was almost gritty. I think it was supposed to be a cheese sauce, but it didn't have the intense flavor of cheese most cheese sauces have.
The best way to describe it -- the sauce when making a homemade mac and cheese and you've added too much of the milk mixture and not enough cheese. I'm still not sure about that sauce at all. It really wasn't great.
Overall, here's how I would rate the stay:
Drive (50 to Union and then 44 to Springfield): A+ This drive is gorgeous. Long, but gorgeous.
Hotel: B+ The friendliness of the staff and the delicious Pinot Grigio I had delivered to my room made up for the uncomfortable bed. I can sleep when I'm dead.
Ebbett's Field: B- It really needed a condiment with the sandwich or the fries. Dry on dry just isn't good.
Maria's A- In reality, I was able to remove most of that sauce from the enchilada without too much work.