Panera Has Priced Me OUT!

It’s Sunday evening and I’m sitting at Logan Airport waiting for my first flight that will take me back home. I don’t have a great recipe to share with you this weekend as the week seemed to fly by and I can’t even remember what I cooked when I was home. We made some different pancakes and muffins and some really good pork chops, but really this week was a blur.

I’ve spent the last two days here in the Boston area teaching the PT workshop for NETA at UMass Lowell. It’s one of my favorite workshop sites and this was my 4th trip here…at least that I can remember. Due to the large amounts of snow that they’ve experienced this winter the roads were quite precarious for me and my Chevy Spark (rental car that is). And today I was treated to a nice view of big fluffy snowflakes that would have made my children squeal. It fell softly as I taught and for just enough time to be beautiful without delaying my travels home.

This weekend I stayed at a new hotel (to me) in Chelmsford. The Best Western Inn Plus was an adventure to be sure. And for you, Stephanie, here’s a nice shot of the high school locker room style toilet that adorned my hotel bathroom.

Bring back any

The fitness center (where I squeezed in my workout on Saturday night after the workshop) was tremendously scary. First, you had to walk through a maze of hallways to find an area that housed about four hotel rooms and one random door with the peep hole missing. It was labeled the fitness center and required that you check out a “Health Club” key from the front desk to access. The website had shown photos of a smallish room with some cardio and other equipment, so I was prepared for a meager experience. I’m sad that I didn’t take my phone down with me because I don’t know if words can solely describe the destitute nature of this “Health Club”. After obtaining the coveted key card, I opened the plain brown door to find myself standing in a pitch black hallway. I felt along the walls cautiously and flicked on a light switch to reveal three more doors. Two of them were labeled “STORAGE” and the third had a small window to another dark room. The whole set up made me feel like someone had tried to up the scale of this hotel by re-purposing an extra first floor room. I went in and found the other necessary light switch which revealed to me three pieces of cardio equipment and a cable machine. There was a tv on one wall and mirrors along a second. The back of the room had sliding glass doors that had mounds of snow pressed against them. All of the walls looked as if they had been recently patched and there wasn’t any heat in the room. I stood there fidgeting with the thermostat and then realized that the heating unit was disabled at the back of the room. I wondered how embarrassing it would be to return the key minutes after I had checked it out and then decided to push forward through my workout. The floor was hotel carpet and after my run on the dilapidated treadmill, I gagged as my face came close to it with each push-up I completed. I used the cable machine for a few of my upper body exercises and then opted to return the key and finish my workout in my room which was much nicer by comparison.

My room seriously wasn’t that bad and I actually liked the pattern on the pillow on my bed. I really would love a pair of chairs covered like this for my living room. But can anyone tell me why they would put this outlet above the bed?!

Overall I had a great time in Lowell again this weekend. The only downside was that I missed out on my Lowell tradition of eating at New Olympia, but haven’t quite recovered from the last time…. I opted instead for sushi for dinner last night. That’s one of the hardest things for me as I travel, trying to decide what to eat. And the worst part of it all is that I’m finding that places that offer decent chain restaurant food experiences are now getting too rich for my spending budget. Does anyone else know why a You Pick Two should cost over $12 with a lemonade? I do have to admit Panera, you have some good Turkey Chili, but the two spoonfuls I got in the “cup” size were not worth almost $5 despite the variety of ingredients and apple on the side. Does anyone else remember when you could choose anything on the menu to combine for $5?!

Am I old or is Panera overcharging?
What’s the weirdest/worst hotel you’ve ever stayed at?
What’s on the menu at your house this week or the best thing you made last week?
Do you eat at chain restaurants or local places when you travel?
Can you make me the chairs I want for my living room?