Thanks to a Fellow Traveler

I flew back from Salt Lake City last night and was having trouble with the iOS Delta app on check in.  I thought I moved my seat to an exit row, but the boarding pass didn’t indicate so when I was finished.  So after getting through security (always go through security first and work it out at the gate) I went to the gate agent to make sure everything was OK.  He was super cool, and verified the change, but then had me move to a different exit row seat since the one I picked didn’t recline.  While I almost never recline my seat (seems unfair to the person behind me), I appreciated how nice he was to do this, and he pointed out the seat next to me was unoccupied.  I think of this as “low budget first class”; lots of leg room, no one next to you to spread out.

After sitting down and when the door to the plane was closing there was some commotion as the person with the exit seat was in the wrong row and I got up to let people move about.  As I was going to sit down another passenger asked if I wouldn’t mind taking his first class seat so he could sit with his son.  Not quite sure what the story was – maybe he already had the first class seat and grabbed a seat for his son at the last minute, or maybe he was hoping to upgrade two seats and only one was available.  But, he clearly knew his way around traveling and was working a deal to get the exit row to himself and his son, and who was I to not take the first class seat and ruin his plans.

The earlier flight out was unpleasant; the window seat in the very last row on a slightly turbulent flight with a fully packed cabin.  I felt like the universe was balancing out karma for the day with this good fortune.

I felt like waiting around to thank him, but I was in a hurry to get going and for all I know I was doing him more of a favor than he was doing me.  But, I do appreciate the offer and feel like I had some good luck at the end of a very long day.

Thank you fellow traveler, and may all your future travels have the fortune that I had yesterday.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Select, Bloomington MN

City: Bloomington, Minnesota
Chain: Holiday Inn
Property: Holiday Inn Select – Minneapolis Int’l Airport/Mall of America
Address: Three Appletree Square, Bloomington, MN 55425
Phone Number: 952-854-9000

Check Out: November 20, 2003

I’ve stayed here many times. Super convenient to the airport (about a 10 minute drive – you can see it when you’re landing), close to our clients, close to the highway, close to “Mall of America” which I’ve been to so many times I’m sick of it.

Sometimes its hard to get in here because Northwest crew seem to use it a bit and other airport related activity. But its an upgrade from a normal Holiday Inn (the “select” part, I guess), nice rooms, resturant and bar inside.


  • Safety: 1 – OK — mostly a business area.
  • Dining: 1 – OK, the breakfast buffet is the best deal.
  • Bar: 1 – Happy hour pricing! Hangout for Business Travelers!
  • Internet: 0 – “Dial Up” is not “Internet”
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1

Total: 7

(originally posted 11/20/2003

Hotel: Hampton Inn, Limerick PA

City: Limerick, Pennsylvania
Chain: Hilton (Hampton Inn)
Address: 430 West Linfield Trappe Rd, Limerick, PA 19468
Phone Number: 610.495.6999

Check Out: August 8, 2015

At this point there is a lot of familiarity to Hampton Inn’s; I use them a lot for work and when you don’t know the area they are a very safe bet.  They are almost universally clean, free Wi-Fi, good price point.  Free breakfast is not usually a big fancy thing, but what more do you need than coffee and some protein to start the day.  I tend to have impressions of Hampton Inns by the location and staff.

This one is right off the 422 highway within gamma ray distance of the looming Limerick nuclear generating station.  There’s not much in the neighborhood, its a somewhat rural area.  Some car dealerships, a Wawa, maybe another gas station.  But, 10-15 minutes from Pottstown, and its pretty quiet.  The staff are always friendly and helpful, and when the sign is up saying they are on a break they tend to be sitting right outside and see you walk up.

Restaurant: Market Street Grill, SLC

Market Street Grill Interior, Downtown SLC Location

Market Street Grill Interior, Downtown SLC Location

Location: 48 West Market Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: (801) 322-4668

Dinner with colleagues.  A not-low-end seafood restaurant.

When we first got there the sun was out and streaming through the windows, making the decor white, bright, and fairly cafeteria in feeling sitting at a booth in the back.  It didn’t make sense to me for the prices on the menu.  Then the sun went down and the interior lighting took over.  Neon colored fish shaped wall sconces and the bright walls made a very hip looking interior.  I wish we waited for the sun to come down, the first impression would have been a lot better.

Had some “Maryland style” crab cakes as an appetizer, shared around with my fellow Maryland-home friends.  All agreed they missed the mark of feeling like they were from home.  Not enough Old Bay, wrong mustard, not a lot of lump meat.  But someone from Utah probably thought they were good enough.

Very good salad, and grilled salmon which might have been a special (giant signs on the wall), but was perfect and they didn’t do the “too much salt when cooking” thing so many places do.  Extremely happy with the meal, the server was exceptionally good as well; super friendly but hidden when we didn’t need her.


Link to Yelp

Starbucks, SLC Near Temple

Just another Starbucks, plenty of seating on street level near the nice shopping mall.

Restaurant: Gracies, SLC

Address: 326 West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: (801) 819-7565

Just here for drinks with colleagues.  Kind of big, large outdoor seating area, tables with umbrellas, indoor space and very large bar.  Upstairs an outside deck, inside bar, outside bar, more seating, TVs.  Parts of it had a sports bar vibe, but overall a casual impression.

Don’t think I can blame the place for this, but Salt Lake City needs to figure out how to have bars.  Its great you can actually get a drink now, but there’s still something weird in how they ask you “an ounce or an ounce and a half”.  Makes for a very tiny martini, which explains why it had multiple twists and olives in it.

Super bonus for live jazz on Monday night.  Could hear it coming up the street as they were in the outdoor area (a very nice night for sitting out).  4 or 5 guys blowing standards, but were pretty good and it made for great atmosphere when sitting outside.

Restaurant: Vue Lounge, Dana Point CA

Address: 25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629

The Dana Point resort attached diner off the lobby had a downstairs dining room and an upstairs lounge, this is a review of the lounge upstairs.  A large, roundish space with a deck outside high over the hill looking west to the marina and Pacific Ocean.  I was there in November, off-season cold by California opinion, wonderfully warm and comfortable by this Marylander’s opinion.

I sat at the “outside” bar; there was a large window behind the bar which slide open to create a bar on the outside.  I was the only one apparently who thought it was warm enough to sit outside.  Probably really too cool to sit there, but there was warmth coming out from inside so it was fine.  Menu was an expected upscale selection of bar food; sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, appetizers, etc.

Nice mixed greens salad and fish tacos.  Both great.  Fish tacos are funny, such a wide variety of what they can be, although I guess that’s true about regular tacos as well once you get away from Taco Bell kind of places.  These were nice fresh grilled white fish, nice greens, some marinated things, sin dried tomatoes.  A great mix of tastes.

Restaurant: Chart House, Dana Point

Address: 34442 Street of the Green Lantern, Dana Point, CA

This is not a fair evaluation; I was there with a large work group and we had a pre-selected menu that was pretty basic which is not really what it would be like to go there.  One would worry that its the kind of place that coasts on a location and not really the strength of the kitchen.

But, wow, what a location.  Sits on top of a cliff south of Laguna Beach in southern California, overlooking the Dana Point marina and then down the coast of California. A strange, round, concrete and glass building that reminded me more of a Star Wars cantina than a chart house, but lots of views and with the glorious southern Cal weather lots of places to stand and sit outside.

We had a choice of chicken, fish (salmon), or beef, and I had the salmon which had a orangish-glaze and was served with jasmine rice.  Nice salad, stiff drinks, raspberry sorbet.  It was a nice experience, but it wasn’t really a chance for the chef to show off or to get a sense of what the signature food of the place was.  There was a large salad bar that we didn’t have access to and a nice display of wines as you walked through which we also didn’t have access to.

So, enjoyable, but would need to go back to figure out if it was good.  One or two locals did not speak highly of the place when dinner choices were discussed.  “A good place for drinks but there’s better food cheaper elsewhere”.  Unable to verify.

Hotel: Austin Hilton

City: Austin, TX
Chain: Hilton
Property: Hilton Convention Center
Phone Number:

Check Out: April 21, 2006

9 stars out of 10

Attached to the convention center in Houston, near the 7th street section of dining and entertainment.

Finn & Porter dining is very nice, emphasis on sushi & steak.

Rooms very nice (in a business way), quiet, comfortable. Lobby is large and not really inviting – dark lighting, tends to be somewhat chaotic with crowds. Starbucks in the lobby.


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1, both room service & dining good.
  • Bar: 1
  • Internet: 1, $12 daily – over priced. Wired or wireless.
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1

Total: 9

Original URL: Hotel: Austin Hilton
Original Date: Saturday, April 29, 2006

Restaurant: Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

City: Austin, Texas
Location: 303 Red River
Phone: 512.236.9599

August 10, 2004

Another business dinner with a group that was attending a convention.

This may be one of the most deceptive restaurants I have ever been in. From the outside, it is a small group of buildings that seems like a house and some sheds. As you get closer, you see that some people are sitting outside. Then, when you see the valet out front you realize its something more than a drinking place.

Moonshine is located very close (kind of across the street, but in the back) to the convention center in Austin. It is not too expensive, with a varied menu, and you have your choice of sitting inside or outside. The atmosphere is casual, the clients are a mix of business people and locals. The wait staff are pretty casual, but boy are they knowledgeable!

Our waiter that night (Steve) was one of those that memorizes the orders instead of writing them down. But he had the whole menu down, and made great recommendations to everyone about what to order (I had a fish special from the gulf — a “drumhead” fish I believe) and made a tremendous wine recommendation. The dishes were a little creative but very good, the wine went well, and the service was top notch.

A great dining experience!

Visited again April 20, 2006. Meat loaf made with ground buffalo. Very good!

(Original URL: Restaurant: Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill)