Heading homeward, slowly


We overnighted in Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday, staying at a brand-new Hilton Home2 Suites hotel in Bryant.  It’s our first experience with this chain, and we like it.  Prices are reasonable if one falls into one of Hilton’s discount categories (I don’t know about full price), and amenities are at least as good as, and sometimes better than, many competing chains.  The beds are particularly comfortable.  We’ll be looking for this chain in future.

Speaking of hotels, I’ve found that many are now charging up to double what they did before the pandemic, for rather poorer levels of service and/or amenities.  Hampton Inn used to be our go-to chain when traveling, but their pre-discount prices now appear to be almost universally north of $200 per night.  At this level of overnight travel accommodation, that’s simply unacceptable.  There’s also a very wide variation between hotels in the same chain, in the same town.  For example, a Hampton Inn on the Arkansas side of the Texas border was only about two-thirds the price of another hotel in the same chain, a couple of miles away on the Texas side.  Riddle me that . . .

We stopped at Beachaven Winery in Clarksville, TN as planned.  It had been several years since our last visit, and the helpful ladies in the visitor center warned us that the taste of some of their wines had changed somewhat, due to difficulties in sourcing all the varietals they wanted to blend their various options.  Yes, cue the “supply chain crunch” once again . . .  That called for a wine-tasting!  We found that their Chardonnay, which we’d previously enjoyed, wasn’t as good any more, becoming less bold and a little bland.  Their Riesling, on the other hand (my personal favorite among their white wines) had become better than ever, flavorful and savory.  We ended up taking two cases of it for future consumption, adding a case of their excellent light red Chambourcin and a mixed case of other wines.  Miss D. added a couple of bottles of a sparkling wine that’s new to us, and is already planning a mimosa afternoon on our new patio (when the weather gets cooler) with the other ladies of the North Texas Troublemakers.  I’ll retire to my study to let them have fun, and pour them into the car to take them home when they’re done.

Following the wine-tasting, we reckoned some solid food would be a good idea before driving on, so we stopped at Silke’s Bakery & Cafe in Clarksville.  They serve German foods (including a delicious Black Forest cake – yum!), a charcuterie board that defeated Miss D.’s attempts to finish it, and an excellent Reuben sandwich with real German sauerkraut, which more than satisfied me.  Wine duly absorbed and neutralized, we hit the road again, and pulled into Little Rock shortly after seven yesterday evening.  We had a quick bite to eat at a local franchise of David’s Burgers, a chain that was new to both of us.  The food was plentiful, and well cooked, but the atmosphere was too noisy for comfort for two old farts older people like ourselves.  Thereafter, we hit the sack.  Driving most of the day is all very well when one is younger, but it doesn’t mix well with age!

Tomorrow we’ll meander through the Crater of Diamonds State Park.  I’ll be interested to see what they have to say about their kimberlite pipes, as that type of rock is named for Kimberley, a city in the country of my birth, South Africa, which was for a time supposedly the biggest diamond producer in the world.  Kimberlite is very closely associated with diamond mining;  almost all diamonds were formed in kimberlite pipes through volcanic processes and pressures.  It’s a fascinating field of study.  Thereafter, we’ll head leisurely towards Texas, planning an overnight stop before we get there.

It’s nice to travel at leisure, with the freedom to stop and look at anything that takes our fancy.



  1. A while ago I found that kimberlite pipes were the result of *supersonic Plinian eruptions*. If those three words do not inspire terror in one's mind, then nothing would.

    Best wishes on your travels, Madam and Sir!

  2. I've seen some cost increase in hotels, most often about 20%, but my bigger issue is reduced services – less housekeeping, smaller it no breakfast, closed pools, etc.
    The housekeeping is most annoying because in many hotels they now only make up the room if you ask for it, or every 3 days unless requested, but they don't tell you…

  3. Discovered Home2Suites a couple of years ago. Formerly a Hampton (on the road) and Embassy (destination) traveler. Now Hampton has priced themselves far above their service and comfort level. Last trip was an eye opener, 2 nights on the road and a planned 5 at destination cut to 3. Restaurants similarly overpriced, we just headed home, refusing to participate anymore — just not enjoyable.

    I shudder to think what future stays might be like, going back to 40-years-ago Best Westerns where the desk was on banker's hours, the room/exterior door was rotted from the bottom and mattresses were totally unpredictable. There were certainly better exceptions, yes, but one never knew.

    Safe travels.

  4. FWIW, we book through hotels dot com, giving us one free night for every 10 stayed, plus they do rakuten cash back as well, all of which when comboed with travel rewards cards amounts to 15% or so of per night value banked/discounted.

    Main benefit of hotels dot com, is that we can stay anywhere that's convenient and often also layer at least some of the benefits of chain-specific royalty programs on check-in.

    When you travel in multiple states and client locations vary, this flexibility allows you to select the most convenient and best hotel for the best price while also having less concerns about availability at your specific preferred brand… There are also silver and gold status benefits from hotels dot com too. And unlike other third-party hotel booking websites, we've never had their reservations fail to reach the booked hotels booking system.

    Southwest is by far the best airlines rewards program.

    Bon voyage.

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