Saturday, August 24, 2013

So Much Better. Then On To The Best

Oh, yeah.   Hilton Garden Inn in Erie PA.  So much better!

The timeshare at Lakeview Resort just wasn't cutting it for me.  There's a tipping point for me when it comes to comfort and amenities, or lack thereof.   Even when the lodging is "free" (and really... a timeshare is not free; I've paid the annual ownership fee for my home resort before trading it for another location) there is definitely a lower limit to my tolerance for austerity, lack of cleanliness, or low-end quality ., Lakeview was not really "free."  And, no, it did not meet my minimum expectations.

I left a couple of days "on the table" by checking out early and moving on.  I chose a very nice, new Hilton Garden Inn off I-90 in Erie PA.  Before checking in, I continued on into downtown Erie, to the harbor area, to visit the Maritime Museum and see the U.S. Brig. Niagara, a tall ship moored at the museum.  Well, unfortunately Niagara was away playing with the other tall ships in Penetanguishene, Ontario this weekend, so I didn't get to see her.
Empty berth where US Brig. Niagara should be

I continued to the hotel, checked in, had dinner at the Cracker Barrel next door, and then had the best sleep I'd had in a few days.   Nice!

The good thing about moving on to Erie is that it brought me in closer proximity to a planned lunch get-together with friends near Buffalo NY.  I ate a leisurely breakfast before packing up and continuing north toward Buffalo.  A friend from MTF called a lunch get-together at Smokey Bones, conveniently located right off I-90.  I arrived way too early, but unbelievably a motorcycle pulled in right behind me, circled the nearly empty parking lot, then took off.  I had purchased some really cute New York post cards, so sat in the car addressing them to my grandkids then located a nearby post office on my GPS.  That would help kill some time before lunch.  Just as I started to pull out, the motorcycle returned so I pulled up alongside and greeted the rider, Jim from Canada, here to join us for lunch. 

I zipped over to the post office and by the time I returned, another rider had arrived...Rob from eastern PA.  As we stood there chatting, John and wife Linda arrived by car, and then right behind them came Sal, also in his car.

Some MTF friends for lunch at Smokey Bones in Buffalo
(Photo, courtesy Jim McPherson)

We had a great lunch and it was so much fun to see Sal again and hear bits and pieces of his experience riding the Iron Butt Rally last month.  So many stories, so little time!!  Dave, coming from south-central PA arrived late, joining us at the table.  So good to see him, as well!  Haven't seen him in over a year.


After lunch we said our goodbyes and I continued east toward Syracuse and then on to Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona.

I decided to go ahead and pick up my race packet at the Fleet Feet store in Syracuse rather than wait and get it at the resort on Saturday.  The store was easy to find and soon I was back on the road again, driving the short 12 miles east on I-90 to the Turning Stone exit.

The approach to the resort is simply stunning!! Gorgeous, landscaped grounds, winding drives, and a huge complex of beautifully designed buildings.  A little disoriented, I turned into the circular drive that took me to a sweeping valet parking area.  Wrong entrance!  This was the VIP casino entrance...not what I wanted.  But the very friendly and helpful uniformed valet directed me back to the main drive and to the next turn to the main hotel registration entrance.  Wow!!  This place is huge!  And so gorgeous!

Two valets swooped down on me and had my luggage out of the trunk onto a cart and my car was whisked away.   My laden cart was handed off to a bellman inside the lobby as I checked in.  Very impressive lobby and common areas!  I asked the bellman to give me a tour as we took the long way to one of the banks of elevators and he gladly obliged.  This place is huge!  And luxurious!  And did I say...this place is huge?
Atrium area in the massive lobby

When I made my reservations at their website I was presented with several different lodging options, from the top-end Lodge suites, the next-most expensive Tower, the Hotel, and then the budget-minded Inn.  I selected a room in the Hotel and when we arrived and I opened the door, I was not disappointed.  Very beautiful room, high-end furnishings, lots of nice touches.  Gosh!  I wonder what the Tower or the Lodge rooms look like?  

I got my things settled into the room and then headed right back out again to explore!  I wanted to check out all of the different restaurants, choose one for my pre-race dinner the next night.  I bought a Starbucks cappuccino at one of the two different Starbucks venues(!) and wandered about in awe.  In addition to the several sit-down restaurants, there is a food court with half a dozen national fast-food chains represented.   A bakery/sweet shop; a florist; jewelry store; clothing stores.  A sundries shop, tobacco's a city under one roof! 

I have no interest in gambling, but poked my head in briefly, just to take a look.  Several halls and game rooms, some non-smoking, all busy with the electronic noise of the gaming machines.

The resort is totally state-of-the-art!  LCD panels scattered throughout the common spaces on the first two floors;  excellent and free Wi-Fi everywhere; OpenTable reservations system for all of their restaurants.  I sat in the atrium area next to Starbucks and made my dinner reservation for Pino Bianco for Saturday night, using the OpenTable app on my cellphone.  Cool!

A piece of oreo chocolate cake from Opals Confectionary came back with me to my room for dessert Friday night. 

Tomorrow:  Explore the resort grounds a bit.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that resort wounds like the perfect place for you to relax and prepare for the race.

    Sure looks beautiful from the teaser photos in the blog.