Ahhhh. I love the West.

Wide-open spaces, views for miles. The mountains (or, at least, really big hills), the giant pines, the crisp, cool air.

Spokane’s just like I imagined it. Maybe Google Earth had something to do with that.

And I wasn’t disappointed with my hotel room, either. The Davenport is a beautiful example of a gone-by gilded age.

What, exactly, makes this place special? Trish knows. When I called to tell her I had arrived, the first thing I described, to which she delivered a verbal eye-rolling, was the bathroom! It has a huge walk-in shower with a dispenser on the wall for shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, and one of those big round shower heads. It’s about 7-feet long with half-glass walls. Fully tiled.

Trish said, “you could have a party in there.”And, she knows, that’s part of the allure. When I first saw it I thought, “I’ve got to bring Trish here.” As in, right here … there, in that spacious shower. A shower figures very prominently in our relationship.

And the creme de la creme, the piece de resistance … the throne is nothing short of amazing! It’s not big. Not flashy. In fact, it’s a low-profile model. But the seat is … special. It’s … welcoming. The epitome of comfort. And the bowl itself is deep but not foreboding, curvaceous but not gaudy.

This morning some of the awe has been tempered. The bathroom is a little small. The tile could be a little brighter. But that toilet … Trish would kill me if I suggested we swap ours out for the same model. I’ll just enjoy it while I can.

One of the best hotel bathrooms I’ve had was in a small hotel in New York on the Upper West Side. By far, the most luxurious loo I’ve had the pleasure of renting was in the Four Seasons in Vancouver. But, hey, that was Vancouver. It was British Columbia. It’s almost unfair to compare other toilets to those in that emerald city. And that was a business trip. I can’t afford that type of luxury myself.

Enough about the can.

I had to leave the house yesterday morning before Ella woke up. I hated doing that. It’s just not a good morning without seeing the little peanut patter into our bedroom, seeing that sweet smile and bright eyes that only come before she’s fully awake and starts demanding things, her bed-head hair.

So I left her a note.

When I called in the afternoon (like a dutiful dad, as soon as I finished describing the bathroom I asked about my kid) she was still waking up from a late nap. She’d had a big day with Papa and Grandma.

She called me about 9 p.m. North Carolina time, in a self-imposed holding pattern for bed.

“HI!” she said. “I WANT YOU TO COME HOME NOW.”

“Now” stretched out like a long “meow,” her conversational volume pegged to “playground voice.”

I asked if she got my note. “Mom! Did I get Dad’s note?” Trish, in the background, confirmed she did. “I GOT YOUR NOTE! CAN YOU COME HOME NOW?”

It’s kind of cute that she doesn’t understand the concept of time, how long days and weeks are. Her favorite number is nine, and in our pretend conversations she’s always gone on her trip for nine days, or she’ll be back from the grocery store in nine hours. When I say I’ll be back Monday, after she goes to the beach with her mom and Papa and Grandma, it doesn’t register. “OK,” she says. “WILL YOU GO WITH US? I WANT YOU TO GO WITH US.”

She sounds so sweet. It rips my heart out, 2,600 miles away. It’s nice to be missed. I treasure having a child to miss; my good fortune isn’t lost on me.

It’s nice to have some time away, too. I’ll meet some of my colleagues at this conference, and I hope my vocational batteries will be recharged. And, there’s that glorious commode.

I guess this kind of trip, being away from home, is what provides perspectives, a counter balance to the comforts of domesticity.