I have to mention: Oregon and Washington are beautiful states, but both are filled with liberals and the folks here are so used to cold weather they have no idea what “nice” weather is. The traffic is also “something else”. I can usually judge when the traffic will be heavy and bad in Hawaii, but it doesn’t seem to matter here on the time of the day or the day of the week – it is ALWAYS very, very busy where traffic slows to 5 MPH.
We drove our rental car from Portland, Oregon to McChord Air Force Base (right outside Tacoma, Washington) without any problems except for the slow moving traffic. That’s always good, yeah?
The room assigned to us by the Billeting office at McChord is nice. It’s two rooms; the first being the living room furnished with a sofa, an easy chair, a table and chair for the computer, a storage cabinet and a flat screen TV. The second room is the bedroom with a wardrobe closet, a dresser cabinet, a microwave, coffee maker, flat screen TV, small refrigerator and sink. The bathroom has a shower, no tub. Although this is an Air Force Base, under the “Joint Base” policy, the Army actually runs everything and they have chosen to contract out the billeting function. That means, to us, an AFB charges $70.00 a night, but the Army charges $82.00 (for retirees; more for others) a night plus tax. They do provide a pretty good breakfast that is included in the price.
A little more on this contracted billeting office: IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group PLC) has the billeting contract on 39 Army posts across the country. IHG also includes or is tied to civilian hotels such as Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites and others which have a “reward” program that includes the Army quarters. IHG Army Hotels offer the same amenities and services you’ll find at off-post hotels. Complimentary breakfast is served every day, including weekends. Concierge service, courtesy on-post shuttle service and free high-speed Internet service are all available. Pets are welcome to stay with you in your room, for a small fee. There’s even a weekly social for guests, hosted by the hotel team. The prices are higher than places that are run by the military and you have to pay the local tax for the rooms run by IHG. I tried to do some research on the why and what-fors, but didn’t get very far. I just know it is costing us more money.
Today we drove to friends Rose and Elliott’s “mansion” in a small town called Dupont (I call anything above 2000 square feet a mansion). It’s a beautiful home close to many of Rose’s relatives as this town is her actual home and the reason they retired here. We were really happy to see her and her family and meet Elliott’s dad. We talked story for awhile and then they took us to dinner to a nice seafood restaurant on the Puget Sound where we talked some more. It was great to spend time with them and especially her Mom who is always a joy to be around.
I don’t know why, but our traveling and visiting is taking its toll on us physically. We both feel tired and run down requiring an afternoon nap. Today (Saturday) is just a TV day to catch up on resting.
Today (Sunday) I dropped Julieann off at the local Mormon church for services. This afternoon we have been invited to visit more old friends from Hawaii, Tom & Trenda Voegtle. Trenda insisted on feeding us a delicious BBQ lunch. I just followed along to fulfill my plan to gain 200 pounds this trip. Tom & Trenda live on five acres of land where they do a lot of planting and canning and even have some chickens. Plus, on a clear day they can see Mt Rainier from their backyard (not a day we picked to visit, of course). I walked away with some “bread & butter pickles” that Tom had canned, one of my favorite pickles. They also have a six year old dog, Bentley, who thinks he’s still a puppy and likes to run away to be chased by Trenda (I guess that’s how she keeps her girlish figure). Of course, Julieann had to use her “Animal Whisperer” powers to interact with Bentley. We haven’t seen these folks for about the same length of time we hadn’t seen Rose & Elliott, so it was great to visit them for a short time.