Alzheimer’s Walk 2018 – HaliPawz

Alzheimer’s is a viscous disease affecting every family member, extending into the community and impacting so many lives in such a negative way. 

To Donate, click here

My dad was outgoing, he had an amazing mind where he could see a problem or obstacle in something he was doing and then go to the garage and build something to solve it   One year, when I was young, he came out of the garage with a pitchfork sticking out of a wooden plank, with some wire fastening it all together and said we were going to “push” the snow instead of shoveling it because his back was bothering him. It worked  30 years later someone else thought of the same thing and patented it and sold it. 

My dad was all about family too.  Family was so important to him   This is why I try to join my family when I can in the walk   It is important to me because I don’t want to see another family go though what we went through   Watching this brilliant mind deteriorate slowly   Watching a man who was a volunteer fireman, walking into burning buildings with none of the safety equipment they have today, go to being scared, not knowing where he was or who he was with. 

My dad gave back to the community in so many ways, serving on the fire department, then the fire board.  He was a GOOD neighbor to all.  

Alzheimer's Flower

Alzheimer’s Flower Garder Photo Credit: BCBS

I’m asking you, if you’re reading this, to be a good neighbor to everyone affected by Alzheimer’s.  If you personally have a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s, you know the importance of finding a cure. If you haven’t been affected by this disease, I hope a cure is found so you never have to be. 

Even if you only have $5 to donate, please consider donating.  Alzheimer’s affects everyone in so many ways. I have said so often, I had to grieve for my father every time I went to visit him until he passed away. His physical body was there but I couldn’t interact with him, couldn’t ask for a solution to a problem. I am blessed I have a similar mind, just wasn’t gifted with the same talent to actually BUILD the stuff.  I keep trying though!

Want to walk but don’t have a team?  Join ours!  It doesn’t matter if you know us or not.  Come out, have fun, a support a great organization.  Just click on the link below to join our Team! We’d love to have you walk with us. 

To Join our Team or Donate, Click Here

Let’s work together to find a cure! 

End of Alzheimers starts with me

The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with Me Photo Credit: Alzheimer’s Association

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Hertz Rental Car Review: Toyota Corolla 2013 – HaliPawz

It was time again to hit the road to Michigan.  I had decided the dogs would go with me so I knew I was going to drive.  Traveling with them has its own challenges, but since I was going to be gone for a week and I would be staying at homes that are dog friendly, it was an easy decision.

I went online to Hertz.com to rent my car.  I almost always rent from a Hertz Local Edition location because it always seems to be the cheapest way to rent a car for a week.  Unless you are traveling in by plane or train, I highly recommend using the local edition option from car rentals.   I have found the best discount so far seems to be the Delta Airlines / Hertz partnership agreement discounts.  Every now and then, the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards discount wins, but it is very rare.  You can access the codes for the Delta / Hertz agreement here, but then it only lets you search for the Hertz airline locations.  I take the codes and input them into the Hertz.com site instead.  To make it easier for the readers, I will just put the codes here:

Hertz Rent a Car Delta Airline Discount Codes

Discount/CDP/Club Code: 165385      

Promotional Coupon (PC): 197536

I don’t know if these codes change periodically or not, so if they don’t work, you may want to click the above link and see if they are different.

This trip was a little different because I was renting one way.  Hertz has a good one way program because they don’t charge you any more to drop off at another location and they have unlimited miles.  I was going to be switching to driving my mom’s van when I arrived in Michigan because she was going to be returning to Missouri with me for a few weeks.  Since she walks with a walker and has a motorized scooter, driving her van makes more sense.  It is a thirteen hour drive and I was only keeping the rental car for 24 hours.

I rented a Toyota Corolla (or similar).  I HATE spending unnecessary money for a big car when a medium size car works just as well.  I have learned the hard way NOT to go smaller than mid size, because you may end up cramped, uncomfortable, and possible without cruise control.  Can you imagine a thirteen hour drive without cruise control round trip?!?  Never again, so I always go mid size or larger!

I won’t go into too much detail about picking up the car because there were a few complications which aren’t typical of a local edition, but needless to say, I had my car and was headed back to the house to load it up after 30 minutes.

I ended up with a  2013 Gray Toyota Corolla with manual seats, power windows, and Bluetooth Hands-free system

I placed a full size seat protector across the back to minimize the dog hair and got started loading the car.

The first thing I want to point out is the large trunk space.  I was so please with how much space I had to load everything.  I am not the best packer when it comes to road trips, I tend to take too much stuff and I’m not very organized about it.  I had a large suitcase, a small suitcase, a bag with the dog’s stuff, two baby gates, a box of shoes, my laptop bag, and about two or three other miscellaneous bags with stuff in it. I also picked up a 28 pound bag of Earthborn Wellness Dog food, I figured Zipper could eat the same food as Bella for a week so I didn’t have to travel with two types of food.

I laid a dry cleaners bag of clothes over everything in the trunk and still could have placed a couple more small items if it was needed.

We hit the road.

Bella was not happy with the back seat.  I knew it was a little smaller back there than she was used to, especially with Zipper being back there as well.  I also had a cooler of water on the floor for them to drink out of.   Judging from the size of the cooler, it appeared there wasn’t  a lot of leg room, but in fairness, I didn’t sit in the back, so I don’t want to comment as a definite.

Zipper asleep on the floor. He is 18 pounds. Gives you an idea of leg room with seats all the way back

Bella stretched out in the backseat of the rental

My Road Warrior Bella in the Backseat

As a larger woman myself, I have to say the Toyota Corolla was comfortable for the most part throughout the trip.  I hated how low the seat was to the ground, but since I’m used to an Escape. I think any car is lower to the ground than I would prefer.  I am 5’10” and felt I hit my head too many times getting in and out of the car.  Once seated, I had enough leg room to be OK, I wouldn’t say it was comfortable.  For a long drive, I wish the center armrest was just a little higher.  There really was no place to rest my arm while I was driving.  Both the door and the center armrest was low.  I couldn’t imagine having power seats and raising the seat a little, I wouldn’t be able to even touch the armrest.

The head rest was just the opposite.  It was designed GREAT!  It was comfortable.  So rare in most vehicles, but I actually used it off and on throughout the drive.

Overall, the car handled nicely.  The cruise control maintained speeds even going up and down hills without feeling like it was dragging or playing catch up.  The car didn’t swerve too much, even with windier conditions, with the exception of going over a large, high bridge.  I was surprised by how much it moved.  With the size of the vehicle, as loaded down as we were, and with the weight of me and the dogs, I didn’t expect that much movement.  I would not want to drive over a high bridge during stronger winds with it!

As the sun began to set and I turned the lights on, I liked how comfortable on the eyes the interior lighting was.  It was the light red / orange you see in some vehicles, but it was laid out nicely.  I could still see everything without any strain or blurring  on the eyes.

I was very impressed with the gas mileage.  I could go about 350 miles on a tank of gas (it would say 362 miles when I filled it) and when I stopped to fill it, it only took about 10 gallons.  I averaged about 30-31 mpg.  When cost is a factor, it is nice to spend less for gas for the trip.

Some other nice features on the car are:

The cup-holders were spaced out nicely so two large cups could fit in them without hitting one when taking the other out.

There is a key holder on a wire so you can place a key chain there without  losing it.

There is a USB power unit within close proximity to the driver / the steering wheel so you can plug your phone in to charge really easily in addition to the usual power source located further down.

Everything was set up to be very driver friendly and within a comfortable reach.  There were audio controls on the steering wheel so you didn’t have to take your eyes off the road to make an adjustment.

All of these are great, but the feature I have to give the highest rating to is the hands free Bluetooth audio system!  I normally dislike these because I feel like they are garbled and a pain for the person you are talking to.  I normally hate talking to someone who is on one.  I decided to set it up to my phone anyway and give it a chance.  Am I glad I did! The sound quality was wonderful!  I talked to my mom for about twenty minutes and she had no problem hearing me.  Since she uses hearing aids, sometimes she does but she heard me clearly.  I heard her clearly.  Everyone I talked to (and I talk on the phone a lot when driving that far) could hear me fine with one exception.  I talked to one friend and I kept getting horrible feedback but I think it was his hand-free system, not mine because the minute he canceled his, everything was fine.  The only problem I found I would have is it sometimes wouldn’t answer with the system when I hit answer on the phone but it could have been my phone or the way I was answering.  I didn’t really have any time to play with it to see if other ways worked better.  I have to say it was probably the nicest drive I have ever had as far are telephone communication goes and for me, it made every other complaint I had obsolete because talking on the phone helps pass the time and makes the 13 hour drive go by a lot faster!

Saving money, easy drive, great hands-free audio system…..the positives outweighed the negative with this rental car!

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Texas Roadhouse Restaurant; Port Huron, MI – HaliPawz

After taking Bella and Zipper to the beach, I decided it was time to get something to eat. Mom had been eating crackers, so I took that as a sign she was getting hungry.  We had to stop at Wal-Mart for a few things so I wanted to stay in the north end.  Since we had the dogs, we had to eat, then go grocery shopping.  Trying to do it in reverse would be pointless, the dogs would destroy everything.    Cheap Charlie’s had disappointed me the last couple of times so it was time to find another go to when I am home visiting.  I am sure I will give them another chance because I love their CC sticks.  I knew the last time I was home, they were building a Texas Roadhouse, but my mom didn’t think it was open yet.  I decided to drive by to check it out anyway.  The number of cars indicated they were open, and appeared to be pretty busy. We pulled in and found a handicapped location right in front of the door.  Because my mom walks with a walker, it is always easier when we can get close to the door.  After getting the dogs settled, we headed in to try Port Huron’s newest restaurant; Texas Roadhouse.

Once in, there was a small amount of people sitting around waiting for a table.  I asked how long and was told 5-15 minutes.  Not bad, considering the number of people.  I sometimes forget about the difference between Port Huron and Kansas City in regards to the number of people!  We ended up waiting about 15 minutes, which isn’t bad.  We started to be seated in about ten minutes, but they noticed mom had a walker so they asked me if I wanted to wait a few more minutes for a table that would be better for her.  She wouldn’t have to walk as far and they thought it would be easier for her to sit at.  I truly appreciate when businesses give thought like that to the situation!  I thanked them and said we would gladly wait a few more minute.

You could tell it was relatively new, everything still had that nice, “polished” look about it.  The staff all seemed to be working efficiently.  I asked the one seating us when they had opened and she said April 6th.  For only being open about a month, they seemed to be doing well.

The music was a little loud, even by Texas Roadhouse standards.  I have been in a few and I don’t remember it being difficult to talk over the music.  I didn’t mind it, but with my mom being older and wearing hearing aids, I was concerned it might be a little too loud for her.  They served the warm rolls and cinnamon honey butter right when we sat down.  I didn’t even want to wait for a drink because they looked so good.

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and honey butter

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Honey Butter

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long! Rachel, our waitress, appeared right away to take our drink order.  I have been trying to drink more water, but I ordered my Coke with lemon that night because I knew I was having steak and a cold Coca Cola with a lemon wedge just goes better with steak!  While I was waiting for our drinks, I bit into a roll.  It was as good as it looked!  I honestly don’t think I have ever had a bad roll from a Texas Roadhouse though so this location continued the trend.

She brought our drinks and as my mom was ordering her food, I took a sip.  Ugh!!!  It was Diet Coke!  I HATE the taste of diet coke.  When it was time to place my order, I politely told her I thought, perhaps, she had grabbed diet instead of regular, then proceeded to place my order.   She immediately brought me another one, which I took a sip of, and said it seemed better, but then, after taking a couple more sips, I was sure it wasn’t regular Coke, but diet again.  She said she had made sure she grabbed it from the regular Coke when she brought it to me.

I proceeded to eat my salad, which, was DELICIOUS!  Honestly, it was one of the freshest restaurant salads I have had in a long time.  There was just enough of everything, the dressing, blue cheese, had a nice flavor to it.  I was impressed.  If only the drink situation could be resolved!

Rachel came back and I asked her what other beverages they had, I just couldn’t drink this Coke anymore.  It wasn’t right.  She told me, but none of them sounded appealing.  I know it sounds silly, but for me, a bad beverage can really make a difference.  I was about to switch to water with lemon, because I knew it would taste OK, when she offered to go and get me a Coke from a different unit.  Honestly, at that moment, I so appreciated her!  She could have just brought me water with lemon and thought I was some crazy restaurant goer, but she went above and beyond to try to resolve the problem.  She brought me the new drink and I took a sip…… HALLELUJAH….we have regular Coke!  It was delicious too!   I’m sure I had a happy smile on my face, because she said she was going to look into it.  I didn’t expect anything more from it because they were busy and again, I figured she chalked me up to just a crazy person, I know I probably would!

Our meals came and I was impressed by the way they looked.

Starting with my mom’s meal, she had ordered a loaded baked potato.  The potato was, indeed, loaded, but more than that, you could tell how warm it was because the butter was melting down the side of it!   It made me almost regret getting steak fries it looked so good!

butter melting bacon sour cream

Texas Roadhouse Loaded Baked Potato

My steak and fries looked perfect.  I had ordered mine medium rare, which can be a crap-shoot at some restaurants, so I was hoping I would not be disappointed today. So far, other than the beverage, the food was spot on.  I ordered the bone in ribeye.  As you can see, it came out looking wonderful!  Bone-in Ribeye, Steak Fries, and a Coca-Cola, a winning combination!

Texas Roadhouse Bone-In Ribeye, Steak Fries, and Coca-Cola

The first thing I noticed was how well it cut.  It sliced through so easily I almost thought I missed the steak at first!  It was prepared perfectly.  The medium rare was visible, not too rare (which usually happens).  I bit into it and it was so full of flavor as well!  Perfect temperature, just enough flavor.  i was happy.  I would like to rave about the steak fries as well, but they were, well, just steak fries.  They weren’t bad, they were good, but compared to the steak and the look of my mom’s baked potato, I have to say, they were just good.

Funny story to go along with the meal, Rachel came back after serving the steaks to tell me a manager had gone to check the fountain and discovered someone had accidentally hooked up the Diet Coke syrup to the Coke! I had been redeemed!  I was not just a crazy person!  The manager was with her when they told me and we all laughed about it.  Mistakes happen, I’m just glad they followed through and actually checked it rather than just letting it go.  I wonder how many others were given the wrong drink and just didn’t say anything about it?

My mom said hers was really good as well.  She didn’t finish her whole steak and there was a roll  left over, so we took it home and I made her a steak and cheese slider with the roll the next day for lunch.  She was pretty happy with it!

Overall, a very nice experience.  There have been times in the past when Port Huron would get a restaurant and the quality or service wouldn’t be what you had come to expect from other locations, so I was pleased to see this Texas Roadhouse not only MET my expectations, but, honestly, superseded them!  Something you don’t expect with a chain restaurant.  I would highly recommend stopping in there if you live there or if you’re passing through on your way to Canada or just in the area.

Just remember, if the Coca-Cola doesn’t taste right, SAY SOMETHING!  Don’t suffer in silence!  🙂

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz