Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Restaurant: Perkins Family Resturant Flemington

City: Flemington, New Jersey
Location: Attached to Hampton Inn

It's a Perkins. Breakfast 24 hours a day.

Hotel: Hampton Inn Flemington

City: Flemington, NJ
Chain: Hampton Inn
Property: Hampton Inn Flemington
Address: 14-B Royal Road, Flemington, NJ 08822
Phone Number: 908-284-9427
Rate: 119.00 USD Per Night
Check Out: Jul 27, 2004
7.25 stars out of 10

Typical Hampton Inn experience. Very clean, spacious room, Internet, snacks and food in the lobby. Perkins resturant attached. Sits right off rt 202 in rural northwest NJ.

Just here long enough to grab dinner, sleep, and head out to a meeting the next morning.

  • Safety: 1 - If you don't feel safe here, you won't feel safe anywhere
  • Dining: .5 - Attached, no room service.
  • Bar: 0
  • Internet: 2 - Free wireless with pretty good bandwidth, bring adapter
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: .5 - Small table
  • Shower: .25 - Shower head low, but rest of bathroom nice
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1
Total: 7.25

Monday, July 26, 2004

Restaurant: Chili's Flemington

City: Flemington, New Jersey
Location: 325 US Highway 202, Flemington, New Jersey 08822
Phone: 908.782.1517

It's a Chili's.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Photo: The View from 30,000 Feet

The view from 30,000 feet over western California. Window seat over the wing of a Boeing 767. Taken May 2004 heading east.Posted by Hello

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Hotel Rating System

To help with a more quantitative analysis of hotels, I have come up with a rating system to help compare hotels to each other.
  • General feeling of safety, 1 star is awarded (not afraid to walk outside)
  • Dining in the hotel, 1 star
  • Bar in the hotel, 1 star
  • Internet access in the hotel room, 1 star, 1 extra if free ("dial up" is not Internet access)
  • Wireless internet for free in the common areas, 1 star
  • Hotel room has a nice desk with easy access to power, 1 star
  • Shower is tall enough I don't have to duck down, ventilation good, 1 star
  • Air conditioning works well and isn't noisy, bed comfortable, 1 star
  • Common areas are generally quiet and well behaved, 1 star.
You'll notice that this is my 10 point system for business travel. There are a lot of ammenities I don't care about. Generally a clean, nice place that is easy to work and sleep in. I might award bonus points for a great view and convenience to where I need to be, and there is a big penalty for not having Internet access.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Hotel: Hilton North Redington Beach

City: North Redington Beach, Florida
Chain: Hilton Hotels
Property: Tampa Bay/North Redington Beach Resort
Address: 17120 Gulf Boulevard, North Redington Beach, FL 33708-1443
Phone Number: 727-391-4000

Check Out: Jul 7, 2004
8 stars out of 10

No real Internet is a bummer, and, at the rate we paid they gave us the rooms overlooking the parking lot. But, this is a hotel ON THE BEACH. No lie!

It's a weird sensation to check in as a business traveler and have everyone else in bathing suits and palm trees and the ocean. And, I could have killed someone for not telling me to bring shorts. You walk in to the check in counter and out the windows in the back is the beach. Really!

Like most beach areas, the place gets a little beat up. A little noisy with carrying on in the hallways. But, this was a nice facility, clean, convenient for a client, and there was a resturant and bar here. Didn't use the resturant, we went to another place recommended (and the recommendation was dead on), but the bar was nice overlooking the ocean and service was good. Strange that this was a Hilton, as it didn't really seem like most that I've stayed in. I think this facility is here just to provide a place for people to trade Hilton Honors points in for. The beach is flat with little waves (maybe typical for the Gulf I guess). There's jet ski rentals, volleyball going on outside, sailboat rentals, and other things. The sunset was fantastic, and the weather is HOT in July.

So, what do you do with no Internet and no shorts at the beach? You go out anyway.


  • Safety: 1 - Resort area, surrounding area high price
  • Dining: 1 - Just snack food in the bar, but seemed OK
  • Bar: 1 - Happy hour pricing! Overlooks the Gulf! (bonus)
  • 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: 8

Flight: United #1578 TPA-IAD

Departing From: Tampa Florida (TPA)
Traveling To: Washington Dulles (IAD)
ETD: 6:24 PM EST
ETA: 8:46 PM EST
Est. Duration: 2 h 9 m (Act. Duration: 4 hr 40 min)
Departure Gate: E75
Arrival Gate: C20
Seat: 9C
Equipment: Airbus 320
Miles: 810

This might be the same plane we came down on. Might be a slight delay leaving because of weather @ Dulles, although it sounded like the rain was done up there. Gate agent thought 30 minutes at the most.

More thoughts on "TED":

Maybe the point is to be seen as having a sense of humor? The gate agent spent a lot of time trying to do stand up over the PA system. They must think that Southwest is successful because of the song paradies they usually sing on that airline. Maybe they don't realize this is one of the most annoying things about flying Southwest? Perhaps they could copy Southwest's stampede down the jetway, also?

In an interesting turn of events, while we waited in the taxiway the pilot's radio failed. We now pulled back to the gate so they could replace the radio. Delay so far: 45 minutes.

This didn't fix the problem, so now they had to turn everything off to "reboot" the airplane.

We're finally off the ground around 8:00. Some computer "in the belly of the plane" had to be rebooted. A lot of people on the plane are grumbling because they are worried about making connections. But, things are so backed up at Dulles that most of them will be OK (hopefully).

So, a new adventure in flying. I now know what happens then the pilot's radio fails before take-off!

Restaurant: Dragon Phoenix Chinese Cuisine

City: Bay Pines, Florida
Location: 9621 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines, FL, 33708
Phone: 727.399.8646

Just a quick stop for lunch in the middle of a day of meetings. Chinese food ordered from a list of lunch specials in a little strip mall. Service and cooking were very fast, food was hot and OK. Had Chicken Chow Mein, since I didn't know the place and that's a quick way to get a guage on the cooking. Lunch special was only 4 bucks, with soup and egg roll. Can't beat that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Restaurant: Salt Rock Grill

City: Indian Shores, Florida
Location: 19325 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, FL, 33785
Phone: 727.593.7625
Website: http://www.saltrockgrill.com

Had dinner with associates in the early evening. You probably should have reservations for this place. The wait for a table was 1.5 hours without a reservation or we could sit outside. So, we sat outside and enjoyed the weather. Ha Ha. In Florida in July you don't enjoy the weather, it enjoys you. They had some kind of outside air cooler, but all it seemed to do was blow swamp air across the table. If you go here in the summer, wait for the air conditioned table.

Picture of DinnerFortunately, the meal could make you forget the weather. I had the "School of Fish", which was a sampler of scallops, tuna (rare), salmon, and a grouper cake. The ideal selection for someone who can't make up their mind. All were perfect. My companions had steak, and there was very little talking during the meal.

The place sits on a waterway with a dock out back, and you walk by the grill when you go to your table (big and hot!). You get a great view of the food as it is being prepared, and they have a lot of fish and beef on display including a fresh fish off the boat. There were lobster tails in there as big as my head!

Highly recommended by all the locals we talked to, and well deserving of the recommendation!

Flight: United #1573 IAD-TPA

Departing From: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Traveling To: Tampa Florida (TPA)
ETD: 12:22 PM EST
ETA: 2:29 PM EST
Est. Duration: 2 h 9 m (Act. Duration: 4 hr 40 min)
Departure Gate: C23
Arrival Gate: E74
Seat: 7D (Aisle, Economy Plus)
Equipment: Airbus 320
Miles: 810

First flight ever into Tampa. Getting into Dulles was typical - easy drive, easy park, long walk underground, kiosk check in, got a great seat in "economy plus", walked right through security without much thought.

Airbus 320. Manufactured in 2001 according to the little label inside the cabin door. Changed seat to 8D. This is a "TED" flight and not really United. Seems that the main difference is that there is only one cabin. However, same "economy plus" seating, same general procedures and same basic plane. Lots more leisure travelers, however it is July 6, so maybe this is the reason for this.

An uneventful flight (which is the best kind of flight). Only light turbulence, couple next to me was friendly but didn't interrupt, and hardly anyone on the flight talked or made any noise. Not quite sure how big a difference the "Ted" flights are compared to the "United" flights. The cost wasn't really different, the plane wasn't really different, the services wasn't really difference outside the elimination of the business/first cabin (which I'm never in anyway). The whole cost of rebranding around "Ted" is lost on me so far. Maybe it will change in the future.