The First of Tara's Travels...
Hello everyone, Tara here!
Boy have I got a story for you... might be a long one, so I hope I can keep your attention.
Now, let me start off with the fact that I've been up since 0430 this morning. I haven't been home since Friday, it's now Tuesday... I've just got to tell you what I've been up to. I'll start off with a story that's not typical coming from me... At least I don't think it will be, or is, or has been... or whatever.
Back in the day, a little over twenty years ago, I had made a lifelong friend. We wouldn't stay in contact always, but whenever we were, we would pick right back up as if nothing changed and we were on fire. Just true friends that have stood the test of time thus far. This particular friend's story is a whole different topic that I'm not sure will ever make it to the public eye any time soon, but needless to say- this friend plays a loose roll in the story I'm about to tell you.
Last October 2020, in the midst of this stupid pandemic, my friend was telling me about travel opportunities. I don't know how we ended up planning it together, but we did. Destination: Biloxi, Mississippi. I'd never heard of the place, but it was a Gulf Coast town between Mobile, AL and New Orleans, LA. It was the perfect spot to get some nice sunshine at the tail end of one heck of an Indian-Summer here in northern Indiana.
This friend of mine and I are both single parents, both work our rear ends off, and were both in desperate need of a 'break from life' kind of a getaway. This was the perfect chance. A flight and three nights down in Biloxi for a total of $50.00, I couldn't beat that. I'd done a fair bit of traveling since my ex-husband and I had split up in March of the same year. I had been out to Texas twice, two different locations, with two different friends and loved ones to visit. I still had the traveling 'itch' so to speak. I was trying to really distract myself from the pain and confusion I was still in shock of over my divorce that I hadn't wanted at the time. I was taking all the Me Time I could get. Because I had four kids I was now raising by myself when I had them. There was no help coming when the clock struck 6:00pm when their father was to be off work. No one was coming to relieve me even for a few minutes after a long day of work and dealing with the kids to boot. No one was coming home to ask me how my day was, or to ask the kids how theirs went. It was just us. And I'd like to say I'm a pretty decent mom, but going through a divorce I hadn't wanted and being pressed to move to a new place and trying to figure my own emotions and thoughts out on top of trying to keep things as normal as possible for my terribly confused yet resilient kids, things were a little rough... Here's where I admit I had a little bit of scary-crazy going on at times. But I was usually always able to keep it in check and just dial it down to regular mom-crazy.
Back to October and Biloxi, my friend and I went. We had an awesome time. We enjoyed the weather, the hospitality, the fun and games of the get-a-way we stayed at... it was awesome.
Before we had even got checked into our flight to go down from Indiana, the travel company that we went through had an agent coming around to get emails and contact information for future promotions. So, about a week or so after this particular trip, I started to get the emails to travel with this specific agency for these AH-MA-ZING prices. So fast forward to this weekend and here I am on a plane southbound and down to Biloxi from Fort Wayne International Airport. Solo.
This trip is a touch different though, despite the fact that I had booked it for leisure only, I decided to turn it into a 'business' trip. I wanted to try my hand at 'peddling' Jackie's amazing products! So I loaded up my free checked bag (that I actually borrowed from Jackie, because I only have a small carry-on size bag myself) and loaded it up with almost all of Jackie's handmade jewelry and some of her hottest and latest apparel items. I was a little nervous that it wasn't going to turn out to be free though, I forgot to check what the weight limit was, and I had no clue how much this bag weighed, I just knew it was heavy... I huffed it to the check-in counter and got it on the scale. Surely with all these folks sporting golf clubs down there, this can't be too big of a deal, but just in case...
"I have no problem paying extra if this is over the limit." I say to the nice lady at the counter.
"I'll just tag it as heavy, looks like it's 57 lbs." she said back with a smile. Phew, I'm thinking the limit must have been 60lbs. At least I didn't have to pay extra.
I go on to the gate where my flight is set to depart and had a short wait, which I must've looked like a loon as I sat with my headphones on laughing audibly at some funny TikTok videos that some friends were sharing. But I didn't care. My trip was underway.
My ticket said I was row 30 - seat C. That's the second-to-last row on the plane, and it was an aisle seat. (I don't mind aisle seats, but windows are better.) The plane is getting more and more full by the second as these flights are normally jam packed and then the couple that sit in the A and B seats to my row arrive. The male half of this lovely couple looks in disgust at me in my police face-mask and audibly says "Are you F***ing kidding me?!" I rolled my eyes to myself while looking down and getting up to let him and his accompanying girl into their respective seats. And then I heard it.. why he was probably not pro-police, he was complaining that there would be no alcohol served on this flight, and he continued to grumble that they should at least let people smoke pot on the plane... That explains that, I thought to myself.
The plane was fully boarded now and everyone had their carry-ons set in the overhead compartments when this saint of a flight attendant tapped my shoulder and offered me the entire back row of seats catty-corner to me, apparently the flight was minus three. SCORE! I am excited to have a whole row to myself, with a window seat, away from the HighTimes poster children.
(high five if you get the movie reference that "upgraydde" is from)
The flight took off, it wasn't too long just over two hours and I landed at the Biloxi/Gulfport Airport to a warm 54 degrees. It felt wonderful compared to the barely 30 degrees I had left in Indiana.
I could smell the salt in the air as I went out to board the shuttle bus that brought us to the hotel.
The Beau Rivage
is where I stayed. It's gorgeous. If you've never been there, I cannot recommend it enough! The beauty, cleanliness, customer service - it was all tops!
I checked in and took my carry-on bag and laptop bag to my room on the 23rd floor. I wasn't sure if I was going to have a street side, or ocean view. Last time I came, we had been upgraded to an ocean view room and it was gorgeous! I arrived and opened my room and it was another SCORE - the ocean view.
So far, this trip is going awesome!
Why not try my hand at a little casino action, I thought. Luck seems to be on my side so far, plus I had $50.00 worth of Freeplay on my guest card just for coming down. But I wasn't so lucky. Everything I had budgeted for the night was gone in the matter of about 15 minutes. That's the way it goes some times. So I walked around a bit, checking to see if there were any potential customers I could later on possibly fanegle into checking out some of the product I had brought. I can't technically sell anything from my room, or even in the hotel for that matter, because of vendor laws, soliciting, and panhandling regulations and such... But that wouldn't stop me from passing out some business cards here and there to possibly at least get some looks for our IG, FB, or website.
The crowd didn't fit the bill really. Sure it was Friday night, but the crowd I'm sure I could catch some interest with was definitely going to be making passes through on Saturday night. So I waited a little close to an hour so that my heavy checked back would be brought to my room, and I promptly went to bed upon it's arrival.
Saturday, I woke early and took a walk outside. It smelled wonderful again, something about the gulf air... made me feel like summer was still around. I took some pictures of some nice scenery outside
and decided to grab some lunch at one of the restaurants inside the hotel. (There are plenty to choose from, I stuck with a favorite - The Terrace Cafe) -Excellent food by the way. (I got the loaded baked potato soup.)
From lunch, I went back outside to walk around, but it was a little overcast with one heck of a wind blowing. I had a park in mind that I wanted to wheel Jackie's product to and 'set up shop' so to speak, but the wind... it was just too much, and there were not very many people just walking out and about for some reason.
I killed some more time taking in some sights
and walking around plenty inside and outside the hotel until evening finally arrived. This was the crowd I was looking for. Women coming in in troves, some alone, some with husbands, or friends, but the girls with the pretty fashions were just who I was looking for. I was friendly and polite and handed business cards out to a few, but tried not to pester. Still no bites. The night failed me, as far as any potential customers.
Sunday morning I awoke early again. It was raining and very windy again, but the forecast called for plenty of warmth and sunshine by 10am, so I took to the streets as soon as I was dressed and packed up the heavy suitcase with all the goods. I started on foot to the north and found a few pretty churches, so I stopped at one to attend the service. It was a gorgeous Catholic Cathedral in a historic district in town.
I thought about asking a few women after the Mass had ended and the church dispersed, if they would be interested in taking a look at any of the items I had brought along with me, but I just couldn't bother these nice church-folk immediately after service. I just offered a friendly smile and extended for handshakes that were left hanging, as no one is comfortable really with this damn pandemic still in play. They kind of snubbed me, but I understood why to some degree. I pressed on walking, continuing north in search of some more parks or shopping areas that I could attempt to peddle a little... but wouldn't you know it (and I think this is how it should remain) everything down there - as far as businesses went - were closed on Sunday.
Diners, shops, everything was like a ghost-town on Sunday, and that is okay, but it was just so BEAUTIFUL out on this day. It was the best day weather-wise that I had down there so far, it ended up being 75 degrees, sunny, and just a nice breeze; but I was still hoofing it on foot trying to get somewhere to get some sale action on. I was on a stretch of road that went quite a ways before there was any potential to find some shops or an open space to set up, but I was still chugging along, when I stopped at an intersection and a white car was waiting, not going even though it was quiet enough on the street for them to continue on their way, so I smiled and the tinted window rolled down... I continued my smile even though I already knew where this was going. A man - a very small man, in designer sunglasses and weird objects hanging from his rearview mirror, smiled at me, told me how beautiful I was, and asked me if I needed money. "Don't we all?" I replied.
He laughed, "How much, $40.00?" he continued. This is where I audibly laughed and just said "NOPE!" ...he wanted me to hop in the car and go somewhere with him, and I am not selling THAT!
I continued smiling with slight annoyance in my grin and let him go on his way before I continued my walk.
Seriously? I thought to myself. I gave myself another once-over in a shop window on my walk down the street. I'm not provocatively dressed or anything. Hell, I was in a nice sweater and jeans and boots. Sure, I'm dragging behind me an almost 60 lb wheeled luggage with cute children's clothes on hangers attached to it, but I didn't think I was putting off any weird or desperate vibes, and certainly didn't think I looked approachable in that manner. I pressed on, with no luck, I had walked over three miles with heavy bag in tow, and then on my way back toward my hotel, at another intersection, a small white truck pulled over and two men and a little boy got out, they asked if I was interested in a sandwich and a drink. "No thanks, I don't need to buy anything today." I smiled, but the little boy spoke up, "No, it's not for sale, we're wanting to give it to you."
Okay, I must clearly look like a homeless person that got all dolled up for Sunday or something, because this is just weird now. "Oh, God bless you, but I don't need anything." I smiled and thanked them and saw them on their way.
I need to do something else, I thought.
I went back to my hotel after stopping at the gas station across the street to get something cold to drink and a pack of gum.
Once back in my room, I changed into some capri jeans, pretty flip-flops, and a t-shirt, it was getting pretty hot out for me. The luggage was heavy, and no one was biting. So I took my carry-on bag from my flight, emptied my personal effects, and loaded it up with a smaller amount of product to try and peddle elsewhere. I got as far as the beach and boardwalk a block away from my hotel, and it was gorgeous out, so I stuck my toes in the sand and just sat to reflect.
A few families passed by and said hello, but no one seemed interested in the slightest. After about an hour I returned to my hotel a little defeated in the sales respect and just handed out a few more cards to some nice fashionable ladies in the elevators, and I retired in my room.
Not one stinking iotta of a potential sale interest.
I had planned this one way too haphazardly, so... I'll return home with no sales.
I made one more pass through the casino and earned back all the money I had lost the first two nights and then a little more. I was happy with my wallet situation, if nothing as far as sales went.
My flight home was an hour late getting back to FWA and I waited what felt like an additional hour to get my luggage back, before retiring at my sister's where I had left my vehicle for the weekend.
I woke up just before 0430 this morning, and headed from Fort Wayne back to Goshen, with no sales under my belt, but at least I had plenty of pictures to show Jackie, and a funny story of how I was approached for $40.00 and offered food as if I was a needy street-hound...
And that was the first (but most definitely not the last) of Tara's Travels.
Until next time, goodbye Biloxi!