OH, THE HORROR...

Ken Hoffman's 2 true travel tales from troubling trips

Hoffman shares a New Orleans horror story. Photo by Mario Tama, Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

I have some very smart friends. Really, I do. I know government officials, doctors, lawyers, comedians, and lots of really bright journalists. And then...

True story: My buddy, we’ll call him “Bob” to protect his stupidity, flew to New Orleans a few days ago on “business.” He checked into a hotel on Canal Street. At some point during his visit, he lost his driver’s license. I think it’s best not to question how or where or what time of night. Let’s move on.

File this one under "Travel Horror Stories (self-inflicted)."

Losing your driver’s license is always a pain — even at home. On the road, losing your license can be a crashing headache. You can’t cash a check. You can’t check into a hotel. Some of New Orleans' more elegant five-star restaurants and regal drive-through daiquiri stands require a driver’s license before accepting a credit card.

Most important, you can't rent a car to drive home, or board a plane back to Houston.

Not to worry. My friend had it all figured out. He called his wife and asked her to find his passport and FedEx it to his hotel in New Orleans. At least a passport will get him on a plane.

Next day, "Bob" went to the front desk and asked if there was a package for him.

Receptionist: "Yes, the package arrived. Let me get it for you."

Bob: "Thank goodness, you have no idea what problems I'd have without that package!"

Receptionist: "Glad to help ... I'll just need to see your driver's license."

TV sleepers
The "Bestest Poll the Planet" RV stopped in Houston last week. The RV is on a national tour, interviewing Americans about their habits, beliefs, and opinions on hot topics. The "Bestest" app team gave me a couple of samples.

Sixty percent of respondents were against Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

More people use "haha" than "LOL" in emails.

I figured as much. But one poll result shocked me: According to the "Bestest" app, 33 percent of American adults can only fall asleep with a TV on.

Only 33 percent (including me)? Here's another true story, about a sleepless night that radio superstar Sean Pendergast and I spent in La Grange a few years ago.

Pendergast, a dedicated all-night-TV sleeper like me, decided to give the BP MS 150 charity bike ride a shot. Pendergast, another friend named Jeff, and I reserved a room at the ritzy Motel 6 in La Grange, the overnight halfway point between Houston and Austin.

Continue reading on CultureMap.

Stagecoach Inn. Photo courtesy of Stagecoach Inn

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Texans may prefer a pickup to a one-horse open sleigh, but that won't stop any of us from dashing around the state this season. But instead of going to grandmother's house, consider checking into a fabulous hotel to make spirits bright. Not just any hotel, though. Here are places that stage Texas-worthy celebrations perfect for a holiday getaway.

Boardwalk Inn — Kemah

The Kemah Boardwalk provides a great spot to catch the area's Christmas Boat Parade, held Saturday, December 14, starting at 6:30 pm. Hundreds of brightly decorated power and sailboats float down the Clear Lake channel from South Shore Harbour Marina and Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay. Stay at the Boardwalk Inn and also take in Jingle on the Boardwalk, December 7, 8, 14, 15, and 22. It includes shopping, a variety of live entertainment, activities, pictures with Santa, and more.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa — San Antonio

At the ritzy JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, new activities for this year's holidays include Santa's Workshop with children's activities such as writing letters to Santa, making snow globes, and painting clay ornaments. Kids also can search for toy elves on the Elfie Selfie Scavenger Hunt. Other festivities include JW Elf tuck-ins, JW Elf Express train car making, certified JW Elf classes, a polar bear plunge challenge, a Sandy Snowman Building Contest every Saturday morning, and Sunday Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 18 Oaks restaurant.

Hilton Americas — Houston

The Hilton Americas lobby transforms into a lighted wonderland, complete with gingerbread walls spanning the lobby and a holiday chocolate display made from more than 2.5 tons and 6.5 million calories of chocolate. Have Breakfast with Santa on Saturday and Sunday mornings December 7 through 22 — photos and cookie decorating included. Just steps away, Discovery Green offers ice skating every day through February 2, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Saturdays now through Christmas, Santa Claus hits the ice from 5 to 6 pm. Also nearby in Hermann Square is the setting for a Gingerbread Build-Off competition on Saturday, December 7, from 10 am to 5 pm.


Continue on CultureMap to see the rest of the list.

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