Inn at Ellis River

Stayed here for a couple nights away for our anniversary. We hiked down Canon Mtn via the Kinsman Ridge trail and got really beat up. The trail was in horrid shape; I don’t know if it’s from the recent bad weather or just hard use. I guess there’s a reason they recommend you hike UP and ride the tram DOWN. Live and learn. It made us appreciate the Jacuzzi in our room, though.

We loved the Inn so much we’re going back for Ericka’s birthday.

Trains and Speeders

As a friend commented last week, it’s been two weeks of trains interrupted by work. Back on the 17th, we hosted our annual steamup with good attendance.

I’ve been doing lots of work on the speeder, culminating in 3 major runs this past weekend. Thursday was the MEC Mountain Division from Fryeburg to the Portland Water District line in Standish. This wonderful piece of abandoned track has great scenery, but lots of paved crossings. The worst was at the ‘gravel pit,’ where a large section of rail is completely missing. We got through with a bit of work.

Saturday was Day 1 of the 20th Hobo RR Trackcar Meet. It POURED at the safety meeting, and we got off to a wet and dreary start. The car ran well, though, and the weather looked better as we headed south to Weirs Beach. We did run into rain on the return trip, though. We also found out that the roof on our car is not weathertight at all. (Already fixed, I think.)

Sunday was nicer weather for the Tilton-Lakeport-Weirs Beach run, but we ended up on the towbar. The new belt NAPA sold me was slightly too big, and the alternator was slipping and not charging. I managed to change back to the old belt while stopped for the Lakeport drawbridge, and with a quick pop start, we were back in business. Thanks for the tow, Tiny.

The entire Picasa album can be seen here:

Hobo Trackcar Meet 2008

It’s Here!

From Union Pacific…

The MT-14 arrived back fr0m the Boatyard today. Woohoo! If the weather holds, I hope to go for a shakedown run on Friday.

Thank you to Warren, Tim, Brian, and the Island Street crew!

Looking forward to steaming on Saturday, too.

Gaylord National Resort Update

I woke up this morning thinking that the bed was comfortable, and maybe I’d been too harsh in my opinion. Then I walked to the bathroom.

Gaylord National Resort charges a mandatory $15/day “Resort Fee” on top of the outrageous rate. The fee gives access to the gym and two ‘free’ bottles of water. Apparently I’m supposed to use the $7.50/bottle Dasani to brush my teeth, because there are no water glasses in the room. (Courtyard had 4, plus two coffee mugs.) I eventually found two paper cups with the coffee maker. (Again, the not-so fancy hotel gave us real, ceramic coffee mugs.) I suppose I did get to spit in a nice marble sink, but that doesn’t offset the annoyance of searching for a cup with a mouthful of toothpaste.

My friends know I’m not usually so critical. Perhaps it’s the bad first impression from the valet; perhaps I’m just grumpy this week. I just know I really don’t like the Gaylord National Resort, and I want the whole world to know.

East Hill Mafia / Gaylord National “Resort”

DSCN0077We arrived at the hotel in DC today for the Council on Foundations conference. Taylor and Johnny showed up in matching suits looking like our own enforcers. You know those charity guys, sometimes it takes a little muscle to keep them in line. 🙂

I’ve been to these before, and there is always a lot of good stuff to see and do. I intend to get the most out of them all, however this one is off to a poor start. (The CoF will be hearing from me.) We don’t want to be seen as a bunch of rich folks giving away money to assuage some sort of guilt (we aren’t), yet the Council scheduled this year’s conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in DC. Ostentatious waste of money. This place is twice as expensive as any other hotel around, and so far the service is pitiful.

It’s a beautiful hotel, located right on the harbor with a huge atrium facing toward Washington. Yet the room is smaller than the one we had at Courtyard by Marriott last night, and it has less useful furniture. (Fancier, pretty, but not useful. ) We have two beds and a desk chair. No other sitting surfaces, and no floor lamp for my wife to read in bed. All for twice as much money. Did I mention they want $32 for the buffet dinner? And there is nowhere else around here to eat?

Then there’s the service. The valet copped an attitude when I asked to park my own car. I had to practically argue with him to allow me to unload my bags at the front door without handing over my keys. (Keys to the rental which no one else is allowed to drive.)

The piece de resistance: we called at 7:00PM to order some extra pillows for Beth. They make her more comfortable and keep her from rolling out of bed. It’s now 9:30, I’ve made 4 more phone calls, and STILL NO PILLOWS.

Gaylord National Resort: we’re fancy because we say we are. That’s all. One star from me, tops. If you come to the National Harbor area, save your money and stay at the Hampton Inn across the street.

Now I need to go activate my AdSense account. Maybe I can get them to pay me for my opinion.

Update: The pillows finally arrived at 9:35. They were personally brought by the Customer Service representative because even she couldn’t get the bell staff to do it. Thank you, Gaddiel, and boo to the rest of the staff. My opinion still stands.