The Traveling Steve's

Farewell to Christmas, and Onward Through 2018!

Happy New Year 2018, once again!  The year so far has been off to a slow (and COLD) start.  After having a wonderful time at the Hyatt by Disney World, we had a few days at home to relax before starting over the new year.  That means taking down the outdoor Christmas decorations, and storing them for next year.  Taking the decorations down goes much quicker than putting them up.  DOS worked on removing the LED bush lights, while I worked in the yard on the inflatable Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, and the Nativity set and Star.

While I’m normally traveling for work during the week, the month of January has been usually slow, no doubt in part to the recent sale and upcoming merger of the company I work for.  It hasn’t officially gone thru; probably mid-February, so lots of things are still in limbo.  

I had a few days at home, before flying up to Roanoke to see and assist my parents. I flew nonstop from Roanoke on Allegiant, a no-frills-fee everything airline out of Orlando Sanford Airport, a smaller and secondary Orlando-area airport, which is actually only 15 minutes from my house.Allegiant is primarily a leisure-focused airline with a market strategy of using under-served airlines with nonstop service to vacation destinations such as Florida, Las Vegas, and Hawaii. The fares are ultra cheap, but they charge additional fees for everything from checked luggage, to overhead carry-on luggage, to advance seat selection etc.  (No fee for the use of the bathroom yet.)  They also only fly a couple days a week to each city served, which makes it impractical for most business travelers.  Occasionaly though, such as this trip the days worked out, and I flew up one-way on Friday, and as I left some winter clothes in Roanoke on my last trip over Christmas, I didn’t have to pay for any luggage.  I probably should have paid for an overhead bag, but managed to get 2 laptops, an iPad, 2 phones, cables for all those devices, plus my medicines for a couple weeks, and even two sets of robes into my tiny personal-item bag.  My brother Andy had given us Christmas robes and told us to bring them with us on the trip, for reasons I’m sure we’ll find out in an upcoming post!  Anyway, somehow I got everything in the tiny bag, and made it within the stingy free personal item exemption, and stored it under the seat in front of me.  

I did pay extra for a more legroom seat, and at $19 additional it was a no-brainer.  They had changed the aircraft from an MD-80 when I booked the flight to an A320 which I discovered when I checked in online (saving $5 to have the airport agent do it for you.)  I always online the day before a flight, and this is one reason to do so, as my more legroom seat had changed to a regular seat due to the aircraft switch, which fortunately I was able to change to a better seat.  Here is the plane in Sanford before leaving, and the same plane down below upon arrival in Roanoke.

The hour and a half nonstop flight was smooth and quick, and here is a photo of the plane once arriving in frigid Roanoke,  a rainy and cold day with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

Steve (DOS) was flying up from Sarasota, and I waited for him at the airport, watching his American Airlines regional jet land and taxi up to the gate.  Roanoke is once again getting jet service on American (formerly serviced by US Airways) and it sure beats the Dash-80 turbo props.

 As discussed in earlier posts, my Dad recently moved from the nursing/rehab center over to The Elk’s Home; a 100 year old historic facility, that’s now an assisted living/retirement community.   Mom is still in Roanoke at the nursing/rehab center, awaiting her release from the center, pending Doctor’s orders, but hopefully it will be next week.  Both of my parents had separate falls, requiring surgery and rehabilitation.  They are now doing much better, and at 85 years old are ready to have a more simple life with an apartment, meals provided and assistance as needed.

We took Mom down to the Elk’s Home on Sunday, and had a great day visit with my Dad.  We had  lunch with with Dad, and the Elk’s Home provided us a nice table in the private dining area, where we were also seated on Christmas Day.  We saw the two other ladies Dad normally sits with, and they are anxious for Mom to join them for meals soon.

While it’s two weeks after Christmas, there are still lingering Christmas decorations outside on the lawn, and a few indoors as well. It takes the Elk’s Home some 3 months to put everything up, and I’m sure quite a while to take everything down as well.  I wonder where they store everything!  Mom and Dad were so glad to see each other, and can hardly wait until Mom moves into Elk’s full time to be with Dad.  We took Mom back to the rehab center shortly before dark, but not before Dad kissed Mom goodbye.

I got back to Mom and Dad’s house (where DOS and I are staying) in the hills of South Roanoke shortly before 5pm, and even saw a couple deer as I driving into their sub-division.

Today was Martin Luther King’s Holiday, and Steve (DOS) and I took what we thought would be a quick visit to Valley View Mall in search of a simple winter cap for our upcoming trip to Calgary, although we could use it now as it’s 28 degrees here in Roanoke! But inside the mall, the Santa train still is making its tracks around the mall.  DOS said we were too old to ride it, but I pointed out there were adults on there, albeit riding with their small kids.

Anyway, the quick shopping trip to the mall turned into an all afternoon after-Christmas bargain hunting quest.  We really weren’t looking for anything special, and as it’s nearly three weeks after Christmas, we were surprised to see anything left in the stores.  A couple of the stores had their semi-annual clearance sales, such as Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works, while others such as Macy’s and Sears offered unsold cadets and slim-pickings of unsold Christmas decorations.

In Macy’s I found a cool photography and video drone marked down to $73 from $200. While they had one other model for $35, this one looked to be higher quality and allowed for real-time streaming.  I remember going thru the Panama Canal three years ago and seeing the drones flying overhead taking photos of the ship, and thought how cool it would be to own a drone!  So now this week maybe I can try it out here in Virginia.

We then loaded up at Yankee Candle with candles in all shapes and sizes, all marked off from 50 to 75%.  Some of the things were nice gift packs leftover from Christmas, while others were accessories, and even a couple Halloween/Autumn things.  We got an oblong-shaped jar candle for my brother Andy and Art, which we would use tonight when we had dinner over at their house. It’s quite interesting, and even ‘crackles’ and burns like a fireplace.

Next a quick stop to Bath and Body Works for a few of their plug-in scents.  Regularly $3.50 a piece they were $1.62 each; great for trying different scents out around the house.  I got a couple for Andy, Mom and Dad’s house, and their new apartment, as well as some to take back to Florida.

The biggest buy of the day (and ironically the cheapest) however was at Sear’s! While searching for that elusive winter hat (which we didn’t find there), we stumbled upon the small remaining Christmas selection, tucked away upstairs by the tool and exercise equipment section. Some of the signage was wrong, which is probably why they still had stuff left. Either that, or most people probably don’t want any more Christmas junk. Anyway, it was all marked down to 90% off, but some of the signs said 50%, others 75%, and the correct ones at 90% in the back aisle.  I asked the sales clerk and he said it was all 90% though, so we started to load up!

From that fake snow at $5.99 a bag (two), to $6 Christmas ornaments, to Christmas placemats, to (yes) Santa toilet bowl covers (3)!, to Mickey Mouse stockings, dog stockings, to the $99 outdoor animated Christmas bells, to the $35 revolving Christmas tree stand -it was all 90% off!  

I think we drove the poor sales clerk nuts as DOS carefully watched everything being rung up, and simple things such as individual placemats (even the same kind) rang up differently and he had to call a manager over to correct it.

It took 2 counters to hold everything, and it was a bit embarrassing when people began lining up behind us.  

All told, DOS had a $21 Sears credit from when he bought some tires, the total rang up to a whopping $9.40!  Deal of the day!  Now we can’t wait for next Christmas, and hopefully we will remember what we bought, and where we stored it!

Happy with our purchases, we made the trek all the way from the Sears end of the mall back to the Macy’s end of the mall where we started out the day.

We later had dinner at Andy and Art’s, and Art fixed us a wonderful home-cooked meal.  We used the new candle as a centerpiece on the kitchen island for appetizers, and had a drink with the wafers and caviar, before having the last ‘Christmas’ meal of the season.

Andy and Art still had several of their Christmas trees up, and we had a nice dinner with the table set with Christmas china, napkins, silverware, and this fancy Christmas tree in the dining room.  I guess now we can say it’s the end of the season, and yet looking forward to the exciting year coming up!




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