Saturday, December 26, 2009

Handmade Christmas Postcard

Handmade Christmas Postcard, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

My daughter made the art appearing on this card, which my husband sent to all of his pest control customers. Sure beats the standard cards you see in the mailbox! :)

Life is Good in the Winter, Too!

I love the Life is Good brand :) Too bad stickers are the only LIG products I can afford! :)

Art in the 21st Century

Art in the 21st Century, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Picked up this over-sized, colorful card at UNC Asheville. It is advertising season five of "the George Foster Peabody Award-Winning Television Series." Check it out at

Avenues of Art

Avenues of Art, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

This card, showing a word cloud (although I'm not sure of what), was to advertise "A response to the current state of the economy," a talk by Luiza DeCamargo in Asheville. I like word clouds :)

Sue Fazio, Fused with Fire

Sue Fazio, Fused with Fire, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Local art card ... lovely :) "Since January, 2009, wax is the new medium for Sue Fazio. Like the artist herself, these encaustic works are spontaneous, vibrant and soft around the edges." This is wax?!? Awesome!

Moeraki Boulders, Otago, New Zealand

I would love to see this in person one day! From the card: "The Moeraki Boulders are scattered along the beach at Moeraki, 40km south of Oamaru. The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago, and the boulders are being exposed as the cliffs are eroded by the sea." Otago is on the southern part of the South Island. (Thanks to Maria for this latest batch of cards, too!)

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Wellington is New Zealand's capital, on southern tip of the North Island. This is SOOO lovely ... I want to visit!

Maori Waka (Canoe) Crew

Maori Waka (Canoe) Crew, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

"A Maori waka crew in Auckland during the commemorative activities in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi." Waka is a Maori canoe.

The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

One of my most favorite New Zealand postcards! The Southern Cross is the English name of Crux Australis, a constellation visible in the Southern Hemisphere. Didn't see it on my visit ... maybe next time!

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Another lovely view of Wellington

The Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand

his is Wellington's Parliament Building, known by locals as "The Beehive." A very cool postcard, indeed!!! :)

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

This looks SOOO beautiful. See the Wellington airport in the upper left?

Elephants at Riverbanks Zoo

Elephants at Riverbanks Zoo, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

We went to Riverbanks in Columbia, South Carolina, the day after Thanksgiving. A very nice zoo ... and we saw the elephants up-close! :)

Koala at Riverbanks Zoo

Koala at Riverbanks Zoo, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Although I tried desperately to see these little fellows, I couldn't glimpse more than the back of the mother's head. Oh well ... maybe next time! :)

SC State Museum in Columbia

SC State Museum in Columbia, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

We visited this MASSIVE museum the day after we saw the zoo ... and we spent just about ALL DAY there! Highly recommended if you're in the Columbia area ... lots for kids to see and do, too. From the card: "Known as Columbia Mills and later Mount Vernon Mills, the building opened in 1894. It was the first all-electric textile mill in the world and manufactured heavy cotton duck cloth. Since October, 1988, it has been the home of the SC State Museum. On four floors, the museum offers exhibits about the state's art, history, natural history, science and technology."

Best Friend Train, SC State Museum

"The Best Friend of Charleston, the first American-built locomotive to make regular freight and passenger runs, first chugged out of Charleston on Christmas Day, 1830. Its top speed was 30 miles an hour. In 1831, the engine was destroyed when an inexperienced crewman closed a safety valve and the boiler exploded. This reproduction was made from the original blueprints." You can climb into the back train ... the kids HAD to do it, of course! :)

Liberty Bridge, Greenville SC

Liberty Bridge, Greenville SC, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

"This unique bridge spans Reedy River Falls in the west end of downtown Greenville, SC. It's 355 feet long and 12 feet wide." We visited this bridge a while back, so I was happy to pick up this postcard while in Columbia recently.

Stormy Night in Vegas

Stormy Night in Vegas, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

My sister Jessica visited Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in the fall -- and she brought me back a swarm of postcards! This is my absolute favorite, an art card showing a bird's eye view of Vegas!


Thunderbirds, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Nellis AFB is in Las Vegas, too. Saw the Thunderbirds once at the annual MacDill AFB in Tampa!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

A view from Bright Angel Point. The card says that on a quiet day, you can hear the sound of the Roaring Springs some 3,500 feet below!

Arizona Map Card

Arizona Map Card, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Nevada Map Card

Nevada Map Card, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

My sister also visited Hoover Dam. I like this card because it shows that the Dam acts as a border between Nevada and Arizona ... something I hadn't known before :)

Hoover Dam 2

Hoover Dam 2, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Nice view showing the Colorado River and Lake Mead

Las Vegas at Sunset

Las Vegas at Sunset, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Another pretty art-type card, although the image looks to be a real photograph. The card says that the city was founded in 1905, when 110 acres of land were auctioned off. More than 3,000 bidders stood in the 100+ degree sun waiting for a chance to purchase lots in the new town! Cool (hot?) stuff!


Arizona, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Pretty, but sure looks HOT!!! I see this and think of Snoopy's brother Spike who lives in the desert -- in "Needles" my son tells me! My son also has a thing for succulents so I'd love to take him out West!

Cape Solitude & the CO River

Cape Solitude & the CO River, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Map of the Grand Canyon

Map of the Grand Canyon, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Love this map card! "Measuring 277 miles long with widths ranging from one mile to 18 miles, the Canyon is famous for its 'Grand' size. It was designated a national park in 1919." Hey ... I just remembered ... I saw the Grand Canyon when I flew out to Los Angeles on my way to New Zealand last year! :)

Route 66

Route 66, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Runs from Chicago to Los Angeles!

Lightening in the Canyon

Lightening in the Canyon, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

My sister Maria traveled to Tokyo recently and sent this lovely postcard folder from the Shrine through the mail! It was built in 1616 by 4.5 million men ... and holds the enshrined remains of Ieyasu Tokugawa.

Cryptomeria Avenue

Cryptomeria Avenue, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

More than 350 years old with 13,000 trees still standing. Looks like what I imagine the Pacific Northwest looks like ... which makes sense considering that Japan is more Pacific than our Pacific Northwest! :)

Sacred Bridge

Sacred Bridge, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Across the Daiya River ... very pretty.

Five-story Pagoda

Five-story Pagoda, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Yomei-mon Gate

Yomei-mon Gate, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

Kegon Waterfall

Kegon Waterfall, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

I would never have guessed Japan when first seeing this card ... waterfalls and Japan have not, before now, gone together in my obviously narrow mind :) This one is 98 meters (321 feet) high.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It has been a long time since my last post ... but thanks to traveling family members and a few small journeys of my own, many new cards have since been added to my collection! My goal is to post the best of them for you before January 4th ... so stay tuned!

I hope you and yours have had and continue to have a blessed and enjoyable holiday season!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Haiku. Can you?

I've never been much into poetry--at least not until now.

After being challenged to write a haiku poem about the best novel I read over the summer, I can't seem to stop thinking in a 3-5-3 and 5-7-5 manner.

For the novel, which was Still Alice, a tale of a woman suffering early onset Alzheimer's, I wrote:

Leafless tree
Alive but barren
Is still Alice

But that was pretty much my first attempt. Since then, I've considered that Alice, the character in the novel, was not a leafless tree. She was losing leaves--losing them fast. But by the end of the story, she still had a few leaves remaining. So I wish I'd have taken time to ponder before I submitted. Lesson learned.

(Photo through Creative Commons by DaDaAce on Flickr)

Then, I thought of how I feel about my own life right about now:

Though northern winds blow
Though old man winter creaks near
I seek metamorphosis

Do you have a favorite haiku poem to share? I'm really interested in exploring the subject further. And I have more poems seemingly blossoming within me! I better get them down while the muse is here!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

REVIEW: Quality Inn, South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach SC

In summary: STAY AWAY from this Quality Inn.

We initially selected it based on several factors.

1. Location: across the street from the beach
2. Price: just under $100 for an "efficiency" with a kitchen and living room
3. Food: a deluxe breakfast included
4. Internet: Free wifi in all rooms
5. Reviews: A smattering of positive online reviews tossed in with the negative

All I can say is that the hotel IS across the street from the beach, so you could walk over and not have to take your car to the public lot. That's about the ONLY positive thing I can say. I can't speak to the breakfast since we didn't stay overnight -- but I'm thinking it would be nothing to write home about.

My first inclination that this would not be a good hotel was when we first arrived and had to use the bathroom. The woman at the desk gave us a key and pointed us to what I assume was the pool bathroom, locked and with a large sign that said, "OUT OF ORDER." Obviously it was not out of order, as my son and I were able to use it. I think they must keep it locked to keep the pool people out of it ... not good if you're a guest using the pool and you have to go to the potty! Plus, the bathroom STUNK something fierce ... it was dirty and stinky enough that my daughter said she'd "hold it" until we got to the room. I really had to go so I held my breathe and hurried!

Our distaste must have shown on our faces, as the woman at the desk later told us that she saw that we were unhappy when we first arrived; we were "looking around," she said. And she was right. The place looked very dumpy.

We took the nasty looking elevator up to our room on the fifth floor. At least it was a fast ride, is all I can say about that!

When we entered the room, my heart sank ... and my nose wrinkled. I wish I had taken photos, because the room was really a dump. The carpet was worn ... the lights dingy and yellow. The bathroom had cigarette burns on the counter and the floor looked nasty. The other room--where the very old, very dirty stove and refrig sit--also held the couch and a table. And for some reason, this room SMELLED something fierce. It smelled like a broken sewage line, or like someone had the runs on the carpet and just left it there to swelter in the heat.

Ok ... I thought. We'll just buy a few air fresheners ... we can make this work ... we won't be in the hotel much anyway .... After giving myself and my kids a pep talk, we decided to log online to see what we could do for dinner. But--there was NO Internet.

I found the little card that tells you what to do to troubleshoot Internet issues, and then my husband got on the phone with the Internet folks. Turns out that there was nothing the guy on the phone could do--he said he would have to call down to the office to have them "reboot" the system. At this point, I wasn't freaked out because something similar had happened to me at a Hampton Inn in West Virginia ... where the support people had to call the office and get them to reboot the system. My husband called down a little while later to ask if she had it worked out .. she said she had "one more thing" she could try.

By this time, we noticed that the room had started to get uncomfortably hot. Seems the AC unit in the bedroom section--where we all hovered because the smell in the other room was putrid--had stopped blowing cool air! We decided to get out of there and go to dinner ... hopefully everything would be fixed by the time we returned. Hubby went to the office in person before we left so he could express upon her the importance of us having Internet, and to report that our AC was not working.

We drove around for a while and found a pizza place off the island ... ate and then returned. Our first stop was the office. Hubby asked the woman at the desk if Internet was up yet ... and she went off on us with an attitude. "I sweated in that phone room and it's not even my job ... the Internet won't be back tonight because noone else is here." I asked if it would be ready tomorrow and she said yes. Then we asked about the air ... she said she "forgot about it" because she was trying "so hard to please" my husband! She offered us several times to let us leave right now, without penalty, telling us that we had obviously been unhappy since we arrived ... "looking around," or so she said.

I won't repeat all the verbatim; suffice it to say that the exchange continued back and forth until I got pretty hot, asking her if she expected me to kiss her butt and get on my knees to thank her for TRYING to fix the Internet for us. At that point, I knew I better get out before I said something I REALLY regretted. I told her I couldn't believe her attitude--she said she couldn't believe mine! She told me that this whole encounter was being video-taped and recorded ... I was like, "Good!" Looking around for an unseen video camera, I said to the air, "SEE! This is the attitude I'm talking about!"

She told us there were plenty of hotels on the strip and that we should find another one. I told her that we needed Internet to find another hotel -- she told me I was "CRAZY" to think I needed the Internet to find a hotel considering I was on a strip lined with them. Did I mention that it was nearly 9 pm and that we had been up and packing and traveling since 7 am that morning ... with three kids?

I didn't want to leave without having a place to stay ... and I didn't know what else to do ... so we went back to the room. She grabbed the maintenance guy and said, "Go up with them RIGHT NOW and fix their air. And you better fix it or God help you!" I could not believe this. So when we went back up, the AC had cycled and was working again.

He left ... and shortly after, so did we. I asked my husband to apologize for me when he went back down, because I wish I hadn't have lost it. He said that she apologized too, then proceed to rail on and on about how she works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.

After stopping at maybe seven or eight places, we found Ocean Park Resort, which is where we wound up staying.

That is our horror story.

Let me warn you that the negative reviews you read online about the Quality Inn on Myrtle Beach are TRUE. The photos make the place look clean and fresh--it is anything but. Even the pool looked skanky and green--not something I'd want to swim in. We've taken our chances on places with mixed reviews in the past, and we've always been in luck, feeling that the negative reviews were written by people who were "too picky." But in this case, we were wrong. The Quality Inn is a TRUE DUMP that I suggest you avoid at all costs.

Also, if you're planning your first visit to Myrtle Beach, know that there are MANY more places on the strip that you won't find by looking online. I'm almost thinking that you get a better deal if you can drive down there and then find a place ... this way you can also see it in person before you commit. I wouldn't do this on a weekend or during a holiday, but it's probably an okay strategy for weekdays and off-times.

In any case, I hope you have better luck than we did! :)

EDIT: By the way, you can read my review of this place at TripAdvisor as well. I wrote that review the very night the incident happened, so it was fresher in my mind at the time. See it here:

Ocean Park Resort, Myrtle Beach

This monster-sized postcard shows where we stayed during our three-night vacation at Myrtle Beach. We were luck to have found it after about an hour of driving up and down the strip searching for a place to stay--this, after we had a horrible experience at the Quality Inn on Myrtle Beach. I'll write about that sad tale next.

Ocean Park Resort was pretty nice overall, not a hotel but a condo complex, and pet-friendly, at that. Our unit was pretty run-down and well-worn ... and the beds were NOT comfortable. But, we had an OCEAN view, microwave, stove, full-sized refrig and COLD air. And, frankly, compared to our experience at the Quality Inn, we initially thought we had found paradise!

The pool you see in the image is really a large hot tub ... it was VERY hot and VERY relaxing :) We would stay again ... and would recommend this resort for the price.

The Pavilion, Myrtle Beach

This larger (and costlier!) postcard caught my eye because it shows a street view of Myrtle Beach ... unlike most of the other cards I saw for sale.

Myrtle Beach views

A few other postcard views ...

Myrtle Beach Amusement Park

Myrtle Beach Amusement Park, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

From the back: "Myrtle Beach Amusement Park closed after 58 years...." I like this card because it reflects a time since passed.

Myrtle Beach Pier

Myrtle Beach Pier, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

We didn't visit this pier but we saw it while driving down the strip.

Umbrellas along Myrtle Beach

Umbrellas along Myrtle Beach, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

It was neat looking out from our hotel room to see the colorful umbrellas lining the beach! This looks like a photo taken early, before noon -- because later on, the beach is PACKED with people and umbrellas!

South Carolina Lighthouses

South Carolina Lighthouses, originally uploaded by CarolinaRen.

We didn't see any lighthouses on our visit, but I'd sure like to do a "lighthouse" vacation along the outer banks some day!

South Carolina Fun Facts & Figures

Another new map card for my collection. By the way, Myrtle Beach is in Horry County, near the middle right edge of the card.