Where you been (again)?

Hey Scott, what’s with the not posting for a week. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so:

Sunset at Barcelo Maya
Sunset at Barcelo Maya

Andrea, Elena and I (along with five members or our family) returned the scene of the crime, where Andrea and I were married ten years ago, to renew our vows, which had expired in December. It was a week of food, more food, and lots of sun time. I also got some minor sunburns, nothing big, and nothing to stop the enjoyment of being in constant 80+ weather.

The photo above was taken from a sunset dinner on the beach, with lobster, steak, and lots of wine. With only a small fiasco involving the music, the meal was flawless, and we are once again under vow to stick with each other for the next decade.

This was our fifth trip to Barceló Maya. Every experience has been wonderful – except for the registration process. This part of the Barceló experience is always slow, painful, and a crap-shoot. We joked while standing in line about what could go wrong, and our request to be on the third floor with a king bed was dashed by the receptionist by telling us we had a first floor room with two beds. It turns out she was wrong about the beds. At least our room, in the Oaxaca building, was quiet. And the bathroom was certainly nice, too. But seriously, the registration process is terrible and painful. I’ve written hotel reservation software before, and it’s not that hard.

Que un bano!
Que un bano!

Everything else was enjoyable. The water was perfect, both in the pool and, more importantly, the ocean. I’m not a pool guy, but give me a sizable body of open water, and I’m happy – if it’s warm. Our spot outside of the lobby building on the Palace was usually clear of others, probably because the swimming right off our portion of the beach wasn’t that good. But it was great was some sun.

I took up snorkeling on this trip, and loved it – and I have the bumps of sun poisoning to prove it. There is a reef just off shore, filled with colorful fish I had only seen before in aquariums, and sea urchins with spikes big enough to do some serious damage. The first two days were calm, but the others were windy, and stirred up a lot of sand, making visibility difficult. Still better than standing at my desk in East Lansing, though.

And the food! So much food…

A plethora of options
A plethora of options

Many nights were theme nights, and you can probably guess the night from this picture. If you couldn’t find anything you liked among the hundred or so options, you have a serious problem in life.

Our next Mexico experience will not involve Barceló, but perhaps a future one will. Will the sixth time be the charm to win at the registration game? No – there are only losers in that contest. But they’ll still have a great beach.

The Liberty Bell

This is a rare shot of the Liberty Bell for two reasons:

  1. There is only one person in it
  2. That one person is Elena. I am the only one with a picture like this in the whole world.
Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell

Technically, the Rite Aid on Market Street was out first visit to Philadelphia. But excluding that, this was our first item of interest – a broken bell. But it’s not just any bell, it was the one to call the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence, which was kind of a big deal.

If you want to see the bell up close and in person, it’s easy. You just travel to Philadelphia, stand in a fast-moving line (no ticket required), don’t bring a knife through the X-ray machines (my tip to you), and push your way through a hundred tourists crowding around the bell. No problem.

That building in the background in Independence Hall, the subject of a future post.

Where you be at?

You may be asking that if you had terrible English and bathed daily in ignorance. If, however, you asked “Where have you been?”, then I applaud the fact that you’re not an ignoramus. Congratulations! You’ve probably read a book after graduating high school.

Since you asked so nicely, I was in Philadelphia last weekend. While I would have liked to say it was an extended birthday trip for Elena, the real reason was for Andrea to take a required test for medical school in beautiful Conshohocken, PA, a mere thirty minutes from The City of Brotherly Love. I’m almost certain a few riveting pictures will follow, as soon as I get them off of my camera.

But to summarize: Drove through late-season snow storm, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, multiple visits to same food courts, Adventure Aquarium (in New Jersey!), U.S. Mint, other historical stuff, sushi. I know, I’ve whetted your appetite. More will (most likely) come.

I thought we had moved past this sort of thing

Wasn’t the snow supposed to be done by now?

Snow!
Snow!

This was not actually from today. No, the 1/4″ we had today will not be closing the roads. This was actually taken in February where we got at least 8″ in two consecutive weeks and four snow days. But it looked pretty bad out there today.

In other news, we stopped by Denny’s to get Elena new bike, a Specialized Dolce, which joins Andrea’s Ruby and my Rubaix. Of course, the snow stopped any possible ride today, but there is plenty of time before her first DALMAC, which will be in a few years. DALMACs are required in this family.

Easter

‘Twas a very Easterish kind of day. After a successful, indoor egg hunt (with plastic candy-filled eggs because Elena doesn’t like real eggs), it was onto Riverview for a packed service. We sat in the VIP lounge (i.e. the overflow room) to give a few extra seats for the visitors. For our enormous sacrifice, we got doughnut holes – well worth the price.

We have been to several brunches at Claddagh’s in Eastwood, but this time around, we went to The State Room, an experience we found far better. My lobster mac & cheese was excellent, and along with the appetizer and dessert bar, I was a happy man. That gave me enough energy for my short, 40-minute ride on the Rubaix. Before this weekend, I hadn’t ridden it since the fall, and there was a bit of soreness, and not in my legs. I only rode it 300 miles last year, and I plan on hitting 1,000 miles this year. I’ll keep you posted.

Jigging 2016

Saturday was the Spectrum Health Irish Jig in East Grand Rapids, the only 5k I definitely do every year – unless I’m out of the country, which does happen. But I was very much in the country this year, so I did the race. I finished with a decent 8:08/minute pace.

That was not the only good times in Grand Rapids, though. Next up was Crahen Valley Township Park, a trail that started off boring – a plan semi-circle paved loop, and turned out interesting (along a dry stream bed and through pine and oak forest):

Crahen Valley Township Park
Crahen Valley Township Park

Again, that wasn’t the end of my day! No, lunchtime at Jonny B’z followed my hike, with kraut dog and a Chicago dog, because what is better than one hot dog? Two hot dogs.

Jonny B'z
Jonny B’z

Still not done! No, after a stop at Brewery Vivant for a four 4-packs (including two Tree Bucket’s), it was off for a little walk through downtown GR.

Still not all! No, then it was dinner at the Tanglewood Inn in Owosso followed by Elena’s performance in The Wizard of Oz. I’d post of picture of her, but the only ones I have of her, she looks unhappy from having to wait in a receiving line after the show. None of us were happy that at. But she did a great job as an Ozian / Jitterbug, and who knows – perhaps its the beginning of a brilliant acting career.

Altima

I’m selling my 2007 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL (6-cylinder):

Altima
Altima Front

With a mere 151,000 miles, it’s practically new. It is in really good condition, though – my years of paranoia, being that guy that parks in the end spot in the far reaches of the parking lot paid off.

Altima - Back
Altima – Back

It has a brand new windshield and both key fobs… and those aren’t cheap.

Altima Interior
Altima Interior

And both rubber and cloth mats. The cloth mats are nearly pristine – I have always used the rubber ones, except now because the cloth ones look better in the picture. The interior is as good as the exterior. It’s got power everything, 6-disk changer, satellite radio, and a moon roof. Act now! I’ve only gone one of them to sell, and at $6,000, it’s the least expensive Nissan I own!

Hey my peeps

I want to say hey to my peeps:

Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper

The peepers are starting to emerge! On my walk through the top-secret trail system whose name I will not reveal, the springtime sound of frogs has started. This is among my favorite times of year, with sunset hikes and forests full of frog sounds. It doesn’t last long, but as the nights b

Suck it up

Below is a picture of a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery during the blizzard earlier this year.

Guard
Guard

The tomb is guarded every hour of every day, no matter the weather. It may be beautiful, it may suck, but a guard is always on duty. So when your life is full of first world problems, such as a lack of Internet download speed or not enough salt on your fries or a missed light on your way to work, remember this guy.

A beautiful combination

Now is the time I like to be at Michigan State. It’s spring break, and when I go for walks on campus, it’s nearly empty. The weather has been nice this week, I’m driving my new Murano, and last night we were at El Azteco for a pitcher of margaritas and a topopo salad. Life is good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to watching MSU play in the Big 10-ish tournament.