October 10, 2011

SLC Visit

Last week I had to fly down to Salt Lake City for a quick check-up with LDS Hospital in regards to the upcoming bone marrow donation.  While the workup was pretty mundane, they want you to visit with the doctor that is doing the procedure and make sure for the umpteenth time that you are well-aware of the possible complications and are still willing to donate.

I've been pretty laid back about this process so far, but my only requirement was that I didn't want to stay at a Hilton hotel and preferred to stay at a Marriott instead.  Even though there is a full-service Marriott in downtown SLC, I wasn't asking to stay there.  Usually the Downtown Residence Inn (my favorite property) or the full service way up by the old military base are the cheaper properties.  This request was easily accommodated.

My lab work was scheduled for 1045 on Thursday, followed by a brief visit with the doctor at 1215.  To make sure I get there on time the were flying me down the afternoon before on Delta....first class on Delta!  Evidently they fly you down 1st Class so there is no possibility of getting bumped and they fly you back on coach.  I tried to explain that with SLC being a Delta hub, there is only about 8 or 9 flights the day before and the morning of that would get me to SLC in time.  Heck, if there was a problem I'd have time to rent a car and drive if needed.  Also, I have status with Delta so I'm not likely to get bumped regardless.  Doesn't matter....policy is policy.

Packing for such a short trip is a breeze.  If not for my usual tendency to overpack in preparation of possible issues I'd be able to go down with little more than my laptop bag and a quart baggie for my toiletries.  Even overpacked everything except the laptop fits into a single carry-on case.  By carry-on, I mean "approved" carry-on, not the huge bags everyone tries to get on the plane to shave a few bucks off their expenses.  My coat, a full change of clothes, and extra shirt, shorts, all my charging cables (laptop, phone, and tablet), and my toiletries.

I get in to SLC late afternoon and take a cab to my favorite hotel in SLC: the Downtown Resident Inn.  There are a couple of reasons I like this hotel, but I'll get into that later.  When I try to check in to the hotel I'm told they don't have my reservation.  What?  I used to travel with a printout of my reservations, but I never really used them.  On most trips I use Tripit on my phone. Since this was just a quick in-and-out, I didn't even bother with that.  A quick call to the Marriott reservation desk confirms I'm at the wrong hotel.  Whoops.  They had me at the Downtown Courtyard a couple blocks over.  I stayed there once and I wasn't a fan of that property, so I asked them to move my reservation over to the Residence Inn.  I didn't exactly ask for permission to do this, but since the RI is $10 cheaper I don't think they'll mind.

The Residence Inn is across from Pioneer Park.  I used to call this park "Bum Park" because it was just filled with homeless people.  I wouldn't feel comfortable walking through the park and according to some of my local friends, it simply wasn't a safe place.  The local homeless shelter is (or maybe was) nearby and a lot of folks, including those that didn't want to use the shelter would just camp out here.  In the last couple years the city has done a lot of work renovating the park and they've either pushed off the homeless or they just haven't bothered to stick around with all of the construction.  Rumor has it that SLC likes to ship off their homeless to other cities with one-way non-refundable bus tickets, or at least they did when trying to clean up the city for the 2002 Olympics.

There is a large outdoor mall within walking distance of the hotel, as well as a lot of good eating.  Just across the street from the hotel is a large Eastern Orthodox church which chimes its bells every half hour.  My room was on the top floor of the hotel and was the closest room to the church.  You'd think the ringing of the bells would be a distraction, but I kind of like it.  It was a rainy, overcast day so my picture isn't that great.

This is for David:  
My destination for dinner was just a block away from the hotel, just opposite from the park.  One block North (or at least I think it is North) is a Boca de Beppo, which is a fun place to eat, but not by myself.  Today I'm wanting to try the Italian market, which also has a decent sized eatery.  I have to have an appetizer first.  Just outside the market, on the street, is a small Belgian Waffle place.  Although you can get waffles anytime of day (can you say Brinner?), and their Machine Gun sandwich is awesome, I came to Bruges Waffles & Frites for the frites.

I could have eaten their famous Machine Gun, but I needed to go to Caputo's Market to get something to drink for later and to get a proper dinner.  Since I was in a Residence Inn I could have simple made dinner, but I needed to check out the deli.  After grabbing some sodas for later I head over to the deli and order lasagna, which comes with a side salad, and a desert of bread pudding.  The pudding was terrible and I threw it away.  There probably wasn't anything technically wrong with it, but they put small bits of peaches in their pudding and I hate peaches.  If you like peaches then I'm sure you'd find their bread pudding delicious.  The lasagna was just OK.  The place is more like an ala cart buffet with lightning fast service.  When you factor that in the meal was pretty good.  I can't think of anywhere you could get a decent Italian meal so quickly.  While I think Boca would be better, I'd say this was the best fast-food I've ever had.

After my meal I headed back to my room to try and get online to play HackMaster.  Unfortunately the hotel's internet connection wasn't good enough for me to get my game on. It was fine for surfing the web, just not good enough for the Ventrillo server or to get a MapTools connection.  The TV is filled with news of Steve Job's death and I spend most of the night watching the news while playing with my toys.

The next morning I get up early to eat breakfast and hydrate well for my blood draw.  I check out of the hotel and attend my appointments.  Although these appointments were the reason for my coming to SLC, they are the least exciting aspects of the trip. Everything is good for the donation next month.  There are some unexpected delays, but I'm still done by 1400.  My flight home is not scheduled until 1955, so I get to the airport as fast as I can to try and make the 1545 flight.  That flight is delayed a bit, so I easily get on the earlier flight.  Even though I was a last minute stand-by, I manage to snag the very last upgrade!

Good times.  Carolyn had a trip with friends to Seattle planned and they were leaving the morning of my appointments, so I was rushing home to an empty house.  Well, not empty because there was a dog, three cats, and a tank of fish waiting for me.

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