Monday, November 05, 2007

Windy City Kids


City Kids, originally uploaded by andi_thats_me.

There is no place in the world like Chicago, and we were lucky enough to visit it again this weekend. Casey and I flew in Thursday night, met up with Melissa and the kiddos, and got to hang until Sunday night. We shopped, we swam, we ate (a lot!), we walked (a lot!), and spent a small fortune ... but hey, that's what Chicago's all about!

The highlight of our trip was probably Blue Man Group for Melissa and shopping for me. I bought myself a new fancy watch on the Magnificent Mile. The kids had their most fun playing video games and swimming I do believe.

The worst part of our trip? It had to be Ed Debevics. Their claim to fame is to treat their customers as rudely as possible. That part they did well. The food was inedible, though, and the service was ... nonexistent. But hey, I got to tell a waiter he was the worst server I'd ever encountered AND flipped him off without getting beaten up, so I guess there was an upside after all! Not to mention that V-E-R-N will have a special place in our hearts forever now.

Melissa's mom recommended we eat at Maggianos and that place was ab fab. Thanks for treating us to some yum-O Italian food!

We have a few more pictures on Flickr (including the amazing view from our room at the Sheraton) so be sure to check them out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

GOAL!


Hackey, originally uploaded by andi_thats_me.

Casey scored three goals at her last soccer game! Not bad for a defender?!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The crazy pot lady

So the whole reason we came to San Fransisco was to meet Sue - the owner of HerAgency - now affectionately known as the crazy pot lady.

We had a great time with Sue. She and Casey painted clay pots for a good part of the day. That's her thing ... painting clay pots. These little pieces of art spot not only her yard and her home, but her friend's yards and her friend's homes as well. They're a lot of fun to look at, and sometimes disturbing (the homage to her dead cat comes to mind) ... anyway, they had a lot of fun doing that while I forced myself to work a while ...

Then we had lunch at Oakland's new Whole Foods (yum-o!) and headed to the dog park for a day o' fun. The backstory is that Sue got her first dog, a greyhound puppy named Stella (STE-LLAAAAAA), and she takes her to the dog park daily. We searched for a dog park like this for-EVER when we were in Florida last year - it was right on the beach ... had a great sunset view ... people everywhere, and of course, dogs!

We hung out there for a couple of hours and watched a beautiful sunset (note Stella in the bottom left corner :)


Once the sun goes down in northern California it gets COLD! So what did we do? We went for ice cream! I forget the name of this place, but man did they have good sundaes. Sue and I lost a bet on whether or not this woman would finish her colossal bowl of ice cream (she did, for the record), and we went home fat and happy (well, I was fat and happy anyway).

That pretty much wraps up our trip to San Francisco! We're already keeping an eye out for cheap airfares so that we can go back.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Alcatraz


Alcatraz, originally uploaded by andi_thats_me.

Casey wanted absolutely nothing to do with Alcatraz. She'd heard stories of ghosts and sharks circling the island ... finally she decided that she'd give it a shot and we're both SO very glad we did.

Alcatraz was really amazing. It was sobering, and interesting, and a little bit spooky all rolled into one. We did a group tour and an individual audio tour, which consisted of a prerecorded guide with background noise that was reminiscant of the "good old days" when Alcatraz was open. You could hear the inmates whistling at you as you walked down the hallways, the doors slamming in the distance, forks clanging in the dining hall, everything. All while being guided around the entire prison and informed about what everything was.

We took a ton of pictures, of course, so be sure to check them out on our Flickr account!

San Francisco

After ten years of working with the wonderful women of Heragency, I decided it was time for a face to face. So Casey and I headed to the beautiful Bay area for Fall Break this year.
The last time I was in northern California was 1995 when I met Geardaddy there (swoon) for some kind of symposium he was participating in. I loved it then and I love it now. I'm definitely going visit before another twelve years pass this time.

We flew into Oakland Wednesday night and met Sue at The Rose Suite, her little one bedroom apartment set aside for out of town guests. This was the cutest little place. It was perfect for Casey and me! There was a small bedroom, bath, and kitchen area that opened to an urban courtyard and our very own lemon tree.



By the time we settled in it was almost midnight, so we spent our first night simply sleeping.

Thursday morning we woke up, and I tried using this coffee maker contraption with disastrous results. So we threw on our clothes and off to Starbucks we went for a hot chocolate and venti latte. I think I'm going to have to donate a small coffee maker for future occupants of the Rose Suite.

After I had my caffeine fix, we cleaned up and headed off to Fisherman's Wharf to meet Kathleen for lunch.

I didn't visit this place when I was here the first time, but I so wish I had. Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours before we needed to check in for our Alcatraz tour, but Kathleen helped us to make the most of it.

First she took us to see the Sea Lions. There were dozens upon dozens of them, barking and knocking each other off their platforms. It really was something to see:



So we hung out there and took a few pictures (you can check them out on our Flickr Account), then we headed to Neptune's for lunch. It was a great restaurant with an amazing view of the Bay and Alcatraz. They even had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, which of course I devoured. Diets are out the window when you're on vacation :)

We decided to walk off lunch on the pier and hit a few stores to pick up souvenirs and what have you. There was a great hat store with the craziest stuff. Casey picked up the perfect accessory for crazy hat day, which is an annual event at her school :)

We also got to see the Blue Angels! It just so happens to be Fleet Week there now, so we got so see them practicing for the big show. Unfortunately we'll be gone for the actual event, but just watching them fly around us for a couple of hours was amazing (and loud loud loud!)



After we shopped and walked and talked and laughed, it was time to head to Pier 33 for our evening tour of Alcatraz...



Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cincinnati


Our Family, originally uploaded by andi_thats_me.

No summer is complete without a trip home to Cincinnati.

We usually do the same old things ... Casey goes to her cousin's house and I roam the city for a few weeks each year.

This year Casey got to go to residential summer camp for the very first time and had a blast. Paige got to go too, and fun was had by all.

We also got to attend the yearly Peter's party, which is always fun. This year it was more of a reunion of close friends and family and we had a great time.

We also got to see Aunt Joy, who moved from California to be with Grampa, and we started remodeling his house. You wouldn't believe it if you saw it.

Be sure to check the rest of our Cincinnati photos on Flickr!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Virginia & Washington D.C.

So believe it or not, I have relatives on my mom's side of the family too! After years of saying we're going to get together, a few of us actually did.

Kent & Joanne (my mom's brother) have a timeshare in Massanutten, VA so I flew into D.C. to visit them, his son Chris (who I met for the first time this year), Chris' fiancé Kristin (not pictured), and my cousin Rob, who lives in Wisconsin.

We spent a couple of days there eating wonderful food, playing Putt-Putt, and tubing down a lazy river. Then we went back to Kent's house in Virginia and spent an evening sight-seeing in Washington D.C.

I got to see The White House too!

It was a short trip, but great to be able to see everyone again (and for the first time). Hopefully we'll be able to do something like this again, with an even bigger turnout!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

We're going on a cru-uise

Ok, so we have to wait until 2008, but we're going on a cruise!

For our first time at sea, I figured a 5 night cruise would suffice, so we're taking the Royal Caribbean Navigator to Cozumel and Belize, with a couple of days at sea. According to Cruise Critic, it's one of the best family friendly ships there are, so I figured Casey would dig that.

We'll start out in Fort Lauderdale and spend the night at the Sheraton again (this is where we stayed in 2006 when we visited Danny and Teri after they disembarked). Then we hit the boat and do, well, I don't even know what yet! Good thing that I have a whole lotta months to plan this!

In the meantime we'll be going to Cincinnati, Virginia, San Francisco, and most likely Chicago again. It's gonna be a busy year!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Chicago for Memorial Day


Anchor at Navy Pier, originally uploaded by andi_thats_me.

After school let out for the year (yay!) Casey and I packed up and headed to Chicago to visit Cassidy, Melissa, and Katie. Full blog to follow, but until then, check out our pics on Flickr!

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Travel Trailer

My accountant called with good news yesterday: I don't owe nearly what I thought I was going to in taxes. After a short w00t! one would think that I'd be calling my stock broker. Did I? Nope! I called Aloha RV and bought myself a travel trailer. We'll be going to the lake a lot more this summer. Here are a few pics of it that I pilfered from the Aloha RV web site ...

My room

Bunk Beds for Casey

One big slide-out

You can't tell from this, but it's 31' long
This is the way I like to rough it :)
 
 

Sunday, April 01, 2007

All good things must come to an end

How time flies when you're in paradise. It's been a week since we got here, and now it's time to go home. Jennie's flight left at 1:30 (although she tried real hard to miss it), and Casey and my flight at 10:30pm. Both of our flights were red eyes and suck beyond imagination. Still it's a small price to pay for the week we just had.

We had to check out of our ocean front room at 10:00 am, and borrowed a "linger longer" room until 6. From 6-10 we were officially homeless, so we wandered around, ate, drank, and took pictures as we waited for the dreaded time when we had to leave for the airport. For your viewing pleasure, here are some miscellaneous pictures of our last day and the resort ...
















There are 700 more pictures on our Walgreens Photo Gallery if you're really bored.

Otherwise, th-th-that's all folks!


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Greatest Adventure Yet

Saturday was our last full day on the island, so we decided to get out there and really explore all that Kauai has to offer.

We somehow managed to secure three spots on the Kipu Falls Ziplining Safari thanks to whoever canceled at the last minute. So at 8:15 we checked in at their office in the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor, loaded our stuff into dry bags, and off we went to enjoy nature.

Our first excursion of the day was a 2 mile kayak trip up a jungle stream. It was remarkably fun and easy, and our nervousness was squelched as soon as we found our left, right, left, right groove.

Jennie got paired up with a solo traveler. Casey and I were a team, and even though we worked well together, we were the last boat in the group. One of the tour guides, Spot, hung back with us the whole hour and fed us compliments and encouraging sentiments along the way.

Next we tied our kayaks and met up with Gary - a rather dry Howlie local who narrated our hike through the jungle. He pointed out a lot of the plants and flowers and explained how the native Hawaiians used them in their daily lives.

He led us to a small waterfall with a natural pool and rope swing. We all had an opportunity to take a dip, but only a few of us did. Jennie, Casey, and myself chose to stay dry and loaded up on the bug spray instead.

After our hike ended we hopped on a covered wagon, pulled by a tractor, and got a tour of the Kipu Ranch. They took us to a porta-potty, too, which I was ever so grateful for. We snacked on macadamia nut cookies and chatted with the rest of the people in our group. Surprisingly half of them live in Hawaii. They're not taking their home for granted, that's for sure.

Our ride dropped us off at another trail, and we hiked some more. This time we ended at Kamapua'a Falls where we had a picnic lunch and the opportunity to zipline across the stream.

Being the wuss that I am, I passed. But Jennie and Casey buckled up like it was nothing and off they went. Unfortunately as soon as Devon opened the gates for them it started to pour down rain. It didn't matter to them, though. Check it out ...





We left the ziplining to go on yet another hike. Spot stayed there to help the other groups, so we snapped this picture of him on our way out. He was a lot of fun, and is planning to open his own snorkel tour company, so if you're ever in Kauai, look him up.

Hang Loose Spot!

So where was I? Oh yeah, back to hiking. This time our trail led us to Kipu Falls, a mother of a waterfall. People were swimming, cliffdiving, and jumping off the rope swing.

Casey had fallen at the picnic area and scratched her knee up pretty good, so we couldn't get in the water here, which made us very sad. But it finally stopped raining, so we got to hang out by the waterfall and watch all of the fools try to break their necks before heading back to the tractor for another Kipu Ranch tour.


We saw wild boar

And cows

And of course ...



CHICKENS!


Our tractor, after almost tipping over a hillside, dropped us off at our last hike of the day, then a motorized canoe carried our tired bodies back to Nawiliwili Harbor and the Outfitter's office.


We were gone for 7.5 hours when it was all over and were dirtier than we have ever been in our adult lives. OH what a day!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Poipu and Poi

Friday was supposed to be another resort day, but this time, our resort was in Poipu.

The Marriott has a time share resort on Poipu Beach and offered me 20,000 points to sit through a presentation. I figured I had nothing to lose, so we headed south for the day. First, though, we stopped at the post office to mail Cassidy's coconut :)

The Waiohai Marriott was no where near as nice as the Beach Club at which we were staying, so turning down their $40,000 2 bedroom condo (for 1 week a year!) was an easy task for me. But we got to spend a little time on Poipu Beach, and Casey and Jennie got to hang at the pool while I sat through all the reasons why the Marriott has the best timeshare program in the world.

When it started to rain we headed back to the resort to get ready for dinner - a Luau at Smith's Garden. We got all dressed up in the Hawaiin garb we bought at Hilo Hatties and were excited about our upcoming taste of Hawaii. It stopped raining the very minute we pulled into the parking lot, so we got to take a tour of their gardens while comfortably seated in their tram.

After that we watched the Imu Ceremony, where they unearthed the pig, and the owner (Mr. Smith) gave us a little tutorial on the Hawaiian cooking method called Kalua.

Next we enjoyed the open bar, and then the feast. They had a great spread and we sampled a little bit of everything - including the poi. I don't think Jennie liked it very much. What do you think?

Cheers!
After dinner we moved over to the Pele Amphitheater for the Rhythm of Aloha Show. It was FABULOUS. Unfortunately none of my pictures do it justice so you'll just have to take our word for it. But they celebrated every culture that has contributed to Kauai people, including, of course, the traditional Hawaiin Hula.




Oh, and lest we forget ... we also saw ...


CHICKENS!