Without getting bogged down in the details, some new responsibilities at work required I attend a week-long training workshop in Hickory, North Carolina. Looking at the place on a map, I imagined being sent into the fictional town of “Bump,” which Vicki Lawrence referred to occasionally on Mama’s Family. Hickory was absolutely lovely, it turns out, but I didn’t know that when making my travel plans.
I would be arriving on a Sunday, departing on a Saturday. The nearest airport was in Charlotte, NC, which was 50 miles away. I would have a rental car, a daily food budget of $46, and I needed to find a hotel with a gym for less than $77 per night. I called each of the places recommended by the training provider, but none would honor the government rate. Looking at the other options, they were primarily 1-2 star chain motels without fitness centers.
Fitness center, microwave, and fridge were my required amenities. In planning for the trip, I decided early on that I would buy groceries and prepare simple meals rather than eat out the entire week. It would save the college money, and it would save me calories. Finding a place with those plus a fitness center would be perfect. I called in the big guns.
I sent a frantic email to Dana, the administrative assistant who can work miracles, saying, “Can you help me find such a place?” Within an hour, she replied with, “What about this one? It’s $15-20 under your budget per night, and it has all the things you mentioned.” Wow. Dana worked miracles again. I looked up the place online, I checked out Trip Advisor’s review of it, and I booked it before it had a chance to fill up. The place looked like an amazing bargain, and for the most part, it was. More on that in a future post.
With my airfare, rental car, lodging, workshop registration, and other things all planned out, I turned to meal planning. What could I cook in a hotel room with only a microwave? Since I’d already been researching life without refrigeration in preparation for my summer camp dorm living, I was already familiar with the many types of canned tuna and chicken offerings. Peanut butter and graham crackers were already in regular rotation. Baby carrots, canned green beans, Greek yogurt, hot cocoa, tea, and many other things were already in my repertoire. I imagined myself to be “set.”