Las Vegas, July 2018

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Grace is doing a twelve week internship at Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas so Courtney and I went to visit her for a long weekend of fun and frivolity.  We worked all day and caught the rapid to the airport to take an early evening flight.  We got to Vegas with no problems and Grace picked us up and drove us to our hotel, the  Mirage.  We forced ourselves to stay up to 11:00PM Pacific time by walking around for a bit and having a drink in one of the many bars in the hotel.

starting our journey at the Rapid station in beautiful CLE.
a quick pint and burger in the airport before our flight
We had the first row with extra leg room. nice.
in flight jack and gingies
the view from our room at the Mirage was spectacular
We liked the Mirage a lot. Great location and just cheesy enough.

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

We slept pretty well and didn’t end up getting up too early.  We hit the Mirage buffet around 8:00AM as it was included in the good deal we got for the weekend.  We don’t have much experience with buffets but this one sure seems awfully nice.  Everything we had was great – except the coffee,(No it was really bad-cbh) but I’m a snob.  I had fruit, cinnamon rolls, banana Nutella pancakes, bacon, pork belly, tamales on and on.  Just a little bit of each but it was a great meal.  We then took to the strip for a nice morning stroll taking in the sites: north past Treasure Island and then walked around inside the Wynn.  Went back to the hotel and were at the pool by 10:30. The pool was awesome with lots of palm trees, waterfalls and Pina coladas.  We had a lunch reservation at a place we wanted to go to but bagged it as we were enjoying lazing by the pool. We opted for a mid day happy hour meal later on instead.  After a short siesta we hit the pavement again walking through the humongous Caesar’s palace and then looped back to the Venetian where we were meeting Grace.  We had drinks and really good food at Canonita where Grace and her friend Julie eventually met us.  We took off for the Mirage afterwards as we had tickets for Cirque De Soleil’s  LOVE.  I have been wanting to go to this show for years and years and was so excited to finally be able to go.  It was great.  The staging, acrobatics, lighting, music and everything was amazing.  After the show we grabbed a daiquiri for the road and joined the throngs on the strip.  We walked through the Bellagio, watched the fountains a couple of times and  ended up back at the Mirage having pancakes for a late night meal.  We said goodbye to Grace who lyfted back to her place and quickly crashed after a long day.

view of the pool from our room in the early morning
vacation selfie
inside Wynn

strolling past the Venetian
assuming the position
It’s noon somewhere right?
loved the huge video screens they had everywhere
the Forum shops at Caesars Palace
enjoying margaritas at Canonita

ran into Fergie on the way out of the Venetian
going into the show
LOVE theatre pre show.
strolling through the Bellagio
It was a beautiful hot evening every night

late night pancakes

Friday, July 13th, 2018

We slept really well and were quickly getting acclimated to west coast time.  We hit the buffet again for another breakfast feast and then walked some it off checking out other spots.  We liked the Linq Promenade which was pretty new and found a nice store where we bought a few things.  We ubered out to the Orleans – a casino off the strip- where Grace’s office was.  Grace showed us around, introduced us to her colleagues and we had lunch at a place there with Grace and Julie.  Grace was able to get the afternoon off so we went back to the UNLV dorm where she was living to get a few things and then headed back to the Mirage to spend the afternoon at the pool like good Las Vegas tourists.  The pool was hopping but we managed to get a spot and had a good time cooling off in the pool, people watching and drinking too many pool drinks.  We ubered over to Fremont street.  We had tickets to see magician Mike Hammer at the Four Queens.   It was fun. 50% magic and 50% comedian. He was really good though.  Grace got pulled up to the stage for one of the tricks. After the show, we took in the crazy sights on Fremont street– people zip lining overhead, street performers, classy tourists…   We checked out the Container Park, an area with repurposed containers turned into small shops, restaurants and bars.  We sat outside at one of the bars. I had a very good Manhattan while we listened to a good Indigo Girls sort of band.  We then went a couple blocks down town and had dinner at Carson Kitchen and a great late night meal.  We sat on their roof top patio with the rest of the hipsters and split tempura green beans, gyro tacos, a butter burger and tater tots.  We walked back down Fremont Street and each headed back to our separate places after a fun night.

another beautiful hot morning. minus 10 for the fake grass though.
striking workers at Margaritaville – don’t go there!
working girl
Grace was staying at a dorm at UNLV that was pretty nice
pool time

view of pool action from our room
the lovely assistant
at least he’s honest
crazy Fremont street
pictures don’t do it justice
cocktails at Oak & Ivy at the Container Park
Another beautiful evening
off the strip

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

We slept in past 8:00AM Vegas time.  We got our stuff packed up and then headed down to the breakfast buffet which turned out to be a brunch buffet since it was Saturday and ended up having even more food… shrimp, prime rib, Chinese food, good desserts… can get used to this life.  We checked out around 10:30 and rented a car to go exploring.  We picked up Grace and headed to Mount Charleston – state park about an hour drive west of Las Vegas.  It was interesting to see how built out Las Vegas is getting and then it abruptly ends at the mountains.  The mountains were beautiful.  The elevation was pretty up there. We stopped at the welcome center in the park and soaked in the views and then went on about an hour hike up up up the mountain that was supposed to end at a waterfall but we never were able to find the waterfall.  It was fun to see something different – and so different than Las Vegas.  The elevation made the hike tougher than we expected.  We drove back to Las Vegas and went to Town Square Park – an outdoor mall place – and had late lunch/early dinner at Yard House – a sports bar with lots of beer choices.  It was nice to get out of the heat as it was super hot out.–it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven.  We still had some time to kill before we had to get to the airport so we did the Vegas thing and went to the Hooter’s casino and played blackjack for an hour.  The only gambling we did all weekend except for 15 minutes before the show on Friday.  Grace and I started with $20 each playing the cheap blackjack table and ended with a total of $100.  It was fun.  We said goodbye to Grace dropping her off at the nail salon to spend our $60 winnings and then headed to the airport to drop the car off and head back home on the red eye.  The red eye is as bad as it sounds, as usual,  but we made it back to CLE at 4:00AM, ubered home and were happy to be home after a fun long weekend.

Pictures fail to give justice to the beautiful landscape

…still looking for that waterfall.
beautiful country

chillin
living the dream
an airport with a view
back home to a beautiful Sunday on the beach
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Washington DC, May-June, 2018

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Courtney and I flew into DC for a 5 night trip. Checked into our hotel quickly and headed for the subway.
We headed down to the waterfront to check out that new growing neighborhood. Lots of new buildings going up and of course everyone is super young.  Had a drink at Blue Jacket and then walked around checking out the dining options and ended up going back to Blue Jacket for dinner as we liked it.
We hopped back on the Metro and got to the mall just as the sun was going down.
It turned out to be a picture perfect evening.
Nighttime is always the best time to check out the monuments.
tired selfie

Hanging out on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a few other people.
Had the Viet Nam memorial to ourselves. Always emotional.
I love the DC Metro and our station was deeeeeep

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Courtney had a conference to attend but it didn’t start until 10:00 so we had a quick Starbucks breakfast and then went for a long walk around the neighborhood we were staying in – Woodley Park, heading down to Embassy Row ogling at the big embassies and saying hello to Nelson Mandela.
Once Courtney took off for her conference I started walking down towards Georgetown. I like these lime green liriope.
The neighborhood we stayed in had beautiful houses everywhere.
I ended up somehow walking through this amazing park…
…with staircases leading to secret gardens (that I would discover the next day).
An oasis in the middle of the city
I eventually did ended up in Georgetown somehow and went to Tudor House to tour the gardens.
It was an old estate with a beautiful old sprawling garden.
lots of boxwood everywhere
note to self: nice option for a hose inside a wine barrel thingy

little garden spots were around every corner

So nice
the houses in the Georgetown neighborhood were amazing
I had lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso in downtown Georgetown.
I figured out the bus system and bussed downtown. I sat in the sculpture garden and took a break from the humid weather.
The Smithsonian Museum of Art was my destination to check out the Cezanne exhibit that was there.
The exhibit was focused on his portraits. It was amazing.
cut through to the modern wing
fell upon a whole room of Modiglianis – my fav.
One of my fav painting in person. So cool.
Went out to dinner with a big group to Roofers Union in Adams Morgan. Sat a long table with a view of the bustling street
Courtney and stayed after dinner and had another drink on their rooftop patio with the rest of the youngsters.

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

I started my day at the Renwick Gallery that had an exhibition of works from Burning Man.
Their large formal gallery was installed with all different balsa wood cutouts to look like a temple.
They encouraged everyone to write on everything.
I like the Renwick because the museum is different every time you go there.
Strolled past the White house after the museum. Trump helping any country…. ha ha ha… that’s a good one. Trump helping anyone besides himself… thats a good one. OK – enough of that.
Bussed back down to Georgetown area to visit Dumbarton Oaks.
I toured the amazing gardens.
more pea gravel transitions
L’Orangerie
Amazing spots everywhere

more nice brick edging

boxwood everywhere
liriope edging… coming to a garden near you soon

Courtney went out to dinner with colleagues and I met Ellen and Wally downtown at Central. We had a nice dinner – had hanger steak et frites – and caught up with them which was great.  I also stopped in for a peak at Trump Hotel in the old Post Office building that he RUINED.  More security than actual guests and just as tacky as you would imagine.

Friday, June 1st, 2018

breakfasted al fresco at a little place down the street
I walked to the zoo that was just a few blocks from our hotel and then walked toward the National Cathedral.
The Bishop’s garden there was another beautiful formal garden.

I likes this purple and green border. The plant in front is called ‘Pentagon: Dark towers bearded tongue’.

They were still doing repairs on the cathedral as a result of damage from the earthquake a few years ago.
I met Courtney for a late lunch.
Chilled out by the nice pool for awhile.
and then headed to the Smithsonian African American museum that we got tickets for months ago.
It was an interesting museum packed full of stuff.
The building was beautiful.
We were there for 2 1/2 hours before it closed and only got through about half of it.
We walked down the mall and were happy to be there for Friday Jazz in the garden.
Lots of people enjoying the hot weather and cool jazz.

We went to Zaytinya, a Jose Andres tapas place for dinner. We sat outside and had a really great dinner trying all sorts of different things.
Back on the Metro after a busy day.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Jack and Ximena arrive in DC in the morning and we met them at the Hotel Harrington where they were spending the night. We quickly walked over to the Portrait Gallery but had to make a side track to In and Out as the museum didn’t open to 11:00.
Henrietta Lacks
Powerful Obama portrait. Can’t wait to see what the Trump one will be…
Mrs Obama looking cool
The portrait gallery is in the over 100 year old patent building. great museum.

took a quick stroll through the National Gallery
and the Hirschorn
where we saw this sad looking guy

Courtney and I had tickets for the Holocaust museum and were there for about two hours and then met back up with J and X at Dupont Circle.
We had drinks and appetizers at a South American place and then had pizza down the street at another Pizza Paradiso. Said goodbye and headed back.

Saturday, June 2nd 2018

We had a mid morning flight back to CLE and made it home with no troubles.  Another great trip.

Oxford, Ohio – April 2018

Friday, April 27th, 2018

We haven’t been down to Miami to visit Grace all year so we planned a weekend getaway and it turned into a great party.  Courtney and I, my Mom and Dad and Emily Jane took off from Euclid at 10:00AM with a car packed full of food and toys. We stopped at Wolf Ridge Brewery in Downtown Columbus for lunch.  We had a great lunch: my Mom and I had the vanilla coffee cream ale -the reason to stop there, and Dad had the Heferweisen.  Courtney and I split celery root soup and a salmon burger, Dad had an Italian sub and EJG and Mom had the chicken sandwich.  A great place.  It was just about a 2 hour drive to Oxford from Columbus and we checked into our two cabins at Hueston Woods.  We each had a 2 BR family cabin and the Purcell’s also had one – we had our own cul de sac – perfect spot.  We unloaded and drove to Miami to meet up with Grace.  It was a perfect sunny Friday afternoon and all the coeds were out sunning and enjoying life.  We took a nice tour of the amazingly beautiful campus and headed back to Hueston Woods.  Claire, Corey, Jack and Sophie arrived about 5 minutes after we got back and we quickly settled in to cocktail hour, enjoying the beautiful sunny afternoon.  Seamus, JP and pals all came over and Dennis and Penny who also rented a cabin for the weekend all came over for cocktails and a great dinner of Mom’s sloppy joes.  We started the bonfire that stayed going for most of the weekend and relaxed in front of the fire.  Jim, Patty P, Colin and Owen arrived around 8:00 or so.  All the older kids took off for the bars around 10:00 and us old folks hung out around the campfire.  Kathryn didn’t arrive until after 11:00 as she was with Shea at volleyball in Columbus.

I love the green wall at Wolf Ridge
its vacation when you’re drinking beer for lunch
enjoying the beautiful Miami campus on a perfect afternoon

Our beautiful coed
beautiful girls (selfie of me in Grace’s sunglasses)
cocktail hour – awesome spread from my parents
we played a lot of bocce during the weekend
happy to be together
sloppy Joe time
so it begins…
the best

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Jack and I were both up early and got the fire going as it was really cold.  It dropped about 20 degrees overnight.  Everyone was really slow getting up and we didn’t really eat breakfast until around 10:00.  The Purcell’s took off to campus to walk around and we went for a nice hike through the woods towards the lodge.  We hung out at the lodge for awhile, played some ping pong and found out we could get $50 off per night because grace had A’s last semester.  What a deal. Early afternoon we went to downtown Oxford and went to Steinkeller and had some great German beer, potato pancakes and pretzels.  Dennis, Penny and Seamus met us there as well.  Claire, Corey, Jack, Grace and I continued our day drinking expedition and went to Brick Street where hundreds of Miami faithful were having a fun Saturday afternoon.  We met up with Rachel’s parents there as well and the Meaney’s were there too.  We headed back to the cottages and got the fire going and happy hour under way.  We ended up with about 30 people for dinner –  grilling hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, salads, macaroni and cheese.  Nice spread.  Celebrated Mike’s birthday. Fun time.  We stayed up too late enjoying the fire and good cheer.

sitting by the fire early morning in my slippers
chilly morning
squad in front of the lake. – what a good looking group!
hiking through the early spring woods

ping pong in the lodge
…and pac man… yeahhhhh
good German beer at Steinkeller
…and bloodies
double fisted at Brick Street
…with a few of our friends.
college

Jack just HAD to stop at skyline on the way back

bonus points for the tumbler full of Manhattan

group shot with hot dogs
grilling success story – 20 hamburgers and 30 hot dogs and brats
…and some steaks for the birthday boy

 

cousins
girl cousins

serious gaming behind the cabin

Happy Birthday!!
dusk

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

We roused everyone up and gathered everything up.  We had some breakfast casseroles, Penny brought bacon and sausage and we had a good breakfast on a sunny morning.  We were all packed up and hit the road around 10:00 for the long ride back to CLE.  Great weekend.  We scored big time earlier this week and were able to reserve three cabins for graduation in May 2019.  Apparently everything sells out in less than an hour so we were really lucky to get through.

Grayton Beach, March-April 2018

Thursday, March 29

Courtney, Sophia and myself left home at 6:30AM happy to be going back to the beach. We arrived at Decatur AL at 5:30PM. It rained the entire drive but wasn’t too bad.  We stayed at the same Doubletree on the river as last year – in a nice big suite. We had dinner at Big Bob Gibson’s – our favorite north Alabama BBQ spot. I had Brunswick stew, pulled pork, greens and baked beans. Courtney and Sophie each had good platters and all was great. I had iced box lemon pie and Sophia had peanut butter pie and bought three bottle of their white BBQ sauce.  I was asleep by 8:30PM.

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great stuff at Big Bobs
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lemon ice box pie
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chilly evening in Alabama
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signs of spring

Friday, March 30

We left the hotel at 7:30AM and arrived in Grayton Beach around 1:30PM. We headed directly to Red Bar as we had a couple of hours to kill, and the place was hopping.  We had a few beers at the bar waiting for a table which is just fine! I had fish and chips for lunch, Courtney had some delicious smoked tuna salad and Sophia had a chicken sandwich.  We stopped at house to drop off some stuff and then went to Publix to stock up for the week and checked into our house right at 4:00PM.  They were very particular about check in time.  We liked the house. Perfect.  We moved stuff in and then I took of to pick up Claire and Corey at Panama City Beach Airport – 35 minute drive.  Their flight was on time and made it back in no time and had late dinner of pan fried burgers, tater tots and key lime pie – of course.

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chillin at the red bar
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first of many sunsets

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Claire, Corey and Courtney went to the bakery that we like around the corner as well as stopping at the grocery store again.  We had cinnamon rolls, scones and some GF goodies for breakfast.  We headed down to the beach where it was sunny and nice and started our daily routine: beach, lunch, beach.  Tough life.  Courtney and went to Goosefeathers during lunch break and got some nice looking grouper for dinner as well as shrimp and smoked tuna dip. The kids headed to Seaside for pickles pre-dinner which was super crowded and taken over by teenagers.  It stayed that way unfortunately all week.  Our house had a great patio looking over the state park land looking west so we got the late afternoon sun and sunset – excellent cocktail hour spot that we enjoyed all week.  We had grilled grouper for dinner that was fabulous.  We played dominoes after dinner to finish a great first day.

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full moon in the early morning

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Sunday, April 1st, 2018

We had chocolate and jelly beans for breakfast to celebrate Easter – and a few other things.  Sophie and I biked into Seaside after breakfast.  The bike path between Grayton and Blue Mountain was under construction which forced us onto the road in that section which was a pain.  But it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.  Amavida line was way too long so we just walked around enjoying the sunshine.  The rest of the day was all beach on a beautiful Easter Sunday.  We steamed shrimp and grilled chicken for dinner enjoying the patio in the evening and not eating until late.  We caught the second half of Jesus Christ Superstar on TV that I thought was really well done.

Our favorite courtyard in Seaside

Seaside redid the main walkway down to the beach
at a little shop in Grayton Beach

a beautiful day on the beach

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Courtney and I biked to Seaside early morning.  Stopped at Amavida and walked around.  We biked all around Watercolor.  Claire and Corey biked later in the morning and went out to lunch at the Oyster bar.  Otherwise it was another beautiful day on the beach.  We went to the burger bar for dinner which was packed.  We were waiting at the bar for a table and ended up just ordering food and ate at the bar which was fun.

assuming the position
I love vacation
good sand castle day

sunburned knees
telling secrets at the burger bar

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

It was a foggy morning but cleared up pretty quickly and turned into another beautiful day.  The previous days sand castle was still there so we added on for another good showing.  Just another perfect beach day and stayed down until 6:00.  We had tacos for dinner and tried to go out for ice cream but everywhere was too crowded.

love the beach this time of day…
…so does Sophie

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

A strong storm blew through early morning and it rained pretty steady all morning.  We decided to go to the Destin outlets around 10:00. So did everybody else.  Big mistake.  The traffic was horrendous and the outlets were packed.  We tried to stop for lunch at Stinky’s and Perfect Pig but both were too crowded. We ended up at Black Bear, a new place in Grayton Beach which was very good. Courtney and I split carrot soup with shaved beets et un sandwich du jambon. Sophie’s friend from school whose family was staying a few miles down the road met us at lunch and spend the day and night with us.  Miraculously it cleared up in the early afternoon and lo and behold it was a great afternoon on beach.  We had a great dinner of grilled rib eyes, baked potatoes and more key lime pie.

another beautiful evening on the patio

perfect

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

It was a chilly morning. Courtney and I went for bike ride around Watercolor, through the back ending up at Publix and going back through a crazy busy Seaside. Way too crowded.  We didn’t go down to beach until 11:30 or so. Another nice day. Super calm and hot even though it was in low 70s. We stayed down beach until 4 and then went to Seaside for shrimp, oysters and fried pickles. We had late night dinner of boboli pizzas and then played cards against humanity.

my favorite blanket

one of or favorite spots at Seaside
oysters were small but tasty
Claire getting one more sunset in

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Courtney and I went on an early walk on the beach.  It was a beautiful morning once again.  Clear water and blue sky.  We spent the whole day down the beach with a quick break for lunch. We drove Claire and Corey to the airport around 4:00.  We ended up going to dinner at a place called Boon Docks off the bridge by the airport just following a sign that was there.  It turned out to be nice – on the harbor with nice view and lots of seafood.  We had fried shrimp, oysters, grouper and more fried pickles.  It was a good find.  We got home and packed everything up as we were planning to leave at 3:00AM for the long drive home.

beautiful light in the early morning

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

We left Grayton Beach at 3:00 AM and drove all the way.  16 hours.  Harsh but we did it with no troubles.  It was another great stay in FLA.

this about sums up the drive

 

Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills State Park

11/11/2017

Courtney and I went on a long weekend trip to southern Ohio to celebrate her birthday.  Leaving Sophie and Jack at home we headed south stopping at Heinen’s in Strongsville to stock up for the weekend.  We stopped at the new Ikea in Columbus and stayed for about an hour and a half checking it out, just buying a few things – our typical Ikea items.  The checkout lines were horrendous – would have skipped the whole place if we knew we would have to wait for so long.  We headed to downtown Columbus and had lunch at Wolf’s Ridge Brewery.  Nice place and ended up having brunch.  Their coffee and vanilla infused beer was a keeper.  I brought a six pack to bring home.  We headed down to Hocking Hills area which was just about an hour from Columbus.  We stayed in a cabin at Chalets in Hocking Hills.  It was a good choice – all the cabins were private, seemed nice and only a minute or so from the state parks.  We settled in, tried out the hot tub and quickly got into relax mode.  We made steak, baked potatoes and salad for dinner and hung out for the rest of the evening.

enjoying beers at Wolf’s Ridge
our cabin

11/12/2017

After a good nights sleep we drove to the state park which was just five minutes away.  We went on a vigorous hike from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls – about six miles and it took us 2 1/2 hours.  It was a cloudy day in the low 40’s but quickly warmed up as we started walking through the woods.  There were very few people parked when we started and we only ran into people a few times.  The area is beautiful with huge ravines, hemlock forests, mossy caves and waterfalls.  We especially liked Cedar Falls area that felt prehistoric and the walk from there back to Old Man’s Cave was through the ravine and pretty amazing.  We went back to our cabin after our long hike and took a nice long hot tub soak, had lunch and relaxed for a few hours.  We headed out to an area called Rock House around 3:00 and just hiked about an hour around the area.  After walking down into a huge ravine there was a huge cave that you could walk into that was like a rock house.  Pretty cool.  Made it back for a quick cocktail and then went to dinner at the Inn at Cedar Falls where we had a great dinner.  It’s a nice relaxed but classy atmosphere and food was great – we both had salad and then I had rack of lamb with cous cous and great roast carrots, Courtney had pistachio crusted scallops with risotto and we split a pumpkin creme brûlée for dessert.  All very good.  Quickly crashed at home after a long day.

We had the trails to ourself
it quickly turned into a beautiful day
Cedar Falls
Cedar Falls… all to ourselves

made it back to Old Man’s Cave
Rock House
we were there at the golden hour which was great for picture taking

11/13/2017

We went on another 5 mile aggressive hike in the morning, starting at Ash Cave, going to Cedar Falls and then back.  Beautiful scenery again and we had the trails all to ourselves other than the trailheads where there were just a few people.  Found a fire tower towards the middle of the trek – we started climbing up but changed our mind about 1/3 of the way up as it was pretty scary.  We relaxed the afternoon away not doing much of anything besides hot tubbing, reading and sleeping.  We ended up not turning on the TV once which is always a good sign.  We cooked ravioli for dinner and went to bed really early.

thinking about it…
birthday girl
Ash cave

11/14/17

We took off around 9:00 from our cabin and decided to drive home through Amish country as we wanted to check out a place that sold sheds that we heard about.  It was interesting driving through all the little, mostly depressed towns.  Trump country for sure.  The shed store didn’t impress us much but we did stop for lunch at Der Dutchman which is always the best reason to go to Amish country.  We also stopped at Lehman’s and got a few things.  Got home without any trouble and after getting unpacked we decided to run downtown to see if we could get lucky at the Wicked lottery.  Sure enough… Courtney’s name was drawn so we lucked out and got 2 $25 tickets box seats right up front.  We hung out at Masthead for an hour having beer and pizza and then saw Wicked which was great once again.

we drove by the Loggerberger HQ building somewhere in the middle of OH.
winner winner

Austin, Texas, May 2017

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Courtney and I travelled to Austin, TX for a week to visit Jack and attend Courtney’s professional organization’s national conference that was conveniently in Austin this year.  We flew to Austin with no troubles arriving at noon after a brief layover in Dallas.  Jack picked us up in the steamy 90 degree heat and we made our way to the AirBNB we stayed in for 3 nights just a block from Jack’s house.  The house was very nice – seemingly brand new with two outside patios and nice everything.  We went to lunch at Torchy’s tacos and had some fantastic tacos, queso and Texas beer. I had a fried avocado taco that torchys20tacos_1451519913358_676388_ver1-0_640_360was great.  We then headed to the grocery store to get some provisions for us and Jack was having dinner at his house so he needed some things as well.  My grocery store genes shine through as I love going to new grocery stores to check them out.  Nice chiles.  Went back to our house and had a much needed siestas for a few hours and then headed to Jack’s for dinner.  Jack has been renting a room at his friend Rick’s house for the past year.  It’s a great East Austin house, very modern with concrete floors, interesting nooks, chickens in the back yard and best of all a smoker loaded with pork belly, pork shoulder and lamb shanks smoking away.  We drank lots of natural wine, beer and had really great tacos with the meat, guac and other goodies.  Courtney and I didn’t last that long walking back to our place around 9:30 and falling asleep.

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hello queso
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great patio
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Austin chickens
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learned all about natural wines this week… good stuff

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Jack came over early and we had breakfast at the house and we drove over to Barton Hills for a walk.  We walked four miles along the river going through different terrains.  One part called the flats was molded rocks with water flowing through – very prehistoric. We stopped at that point on the way back and put our feed in the water.  Nice. It was hot and humid and we forgot to bring water which was really dumb.  We stopped at a place called Shady Grove on the way back because we were dying of thirst and needed some shady-grove-logowater.  Of course we had to have some margaritas and pulled pork nachos too.  Great patio and great watermelon margarita.

Went home and quickly showered up as we were going to a picnic at a friend of Jack’s.  We stopped at the beverage store and got a bottle of natural prosecco and made our way about 15 minutes south of Austin.  It was fun to meet some of Jack’s friends and see lots of babies.  Beautiful, perfect house (of an interior designer) and great food too. We stayed jester_kingabout two hours and then drove about 15 miles more south to the Jester King Brewery.
The brewery was a ranch in almost the middle of nowhere with old ranch buildings and great beer gardens under old live oaks.  They are know for their sour beers so we sampled quite a few and enjoyed sitting in the shade soaking up the hot Texas heat.  We got back around 6:00 just and the rain that was supposed to come the last two days finally arrived.  We were all beat after a long day so hung out watching Netflix and ordered pizza and salad from East Side Pies.

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Barton Hills

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had to put our feet in… it was so hot
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stopped for water but couldn’t pass up the margaritas… duh
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contemplating the hue of beers at Jester King
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great spot

Monday, May 29th, 2017

After breakfast we drove to Gruene, Texas a little town 45 minutes south of Austin.  It was a block of restored old buildings.  Strolled through a nice garden store where we bought some fancy bee catchers for my Dad and checked out several of the antique stores.  We had lunch at The Gristmill, an old abandonded mill converted to a huge restauruant.   It was a nice spot and filled up quickly.  We were smart to go early.  After a leisurely lunch we walked over to Gruene Hall which advertised itself as the oldest dance  hall in Texas.  Had a few more beers and listened to a pretty good country band.

We chilled out in the afternoon and then walked to Hops and Grain, one of Jack’s favorite 16bnbsll_400x400breweries.  We kept walking around but struck out at the two food trucks we wanted to elchilitologogo to as it was Memorial Day and everything was closed.  We ended up back at our place and ended up getting tacos at home at El Chilito – always a good thing.

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piled up stuff at the garden store

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chicken fried chicken, catfish and onion rings.  Holy fried goodness.
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downtown Gruene, Texas
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Chilling at Gruene Hall.  Chicken wire walls.
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Listening to the band
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assuming the position… great patio at our Airbnb
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One of Jack’s favorite places in ATX
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Hops and Grain
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East Austin stroll at dusk

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

We got ourselves organized and checked out of the Airbnb around 10:00.  We stopped at Jack’s to pick up some picnic tools and went to the grocery store to pick up food for a picnic.  We drove out to McKinney Falls State Park – only 15 minutes south of the city.  We found a nice spot next to the river/swimming hole and spent the next few hour relaxing in the sun, swimming in the river and rock and having a good picnic.  Great spot and good way to spend the afternoon.  We recognized the spot from a scene in The Leftovers on HBO which we confirmed when we got back to CLE.  Creepy.  Jack dropped us off at the hotel downtown where we stayed for the rest of the week.  We stayed at the Marriott on Congress and East 2nd.  Very nice, new large convention hotel.  We relaxed for a few hours and then met up with Jack again at the open air bar of our hotel on the street and Gunny also met us there for a drink.  We went to Handlebar bar, a block or so away from the hotel for (another) cocktail before dinner. A nice grungy spot on the roof.  We then drove just to the other side of the river for dinner at Odd Duck.  We sat on their great patio and had an amazing meal.  Best meal in a long long time.  Excellent service and excellent waitress who we took all her advice.  Highlights: palomas with sea salt foam, pig face stuffed pretzel, and pork belly.  We had six or seven plates that we split and had some great gelato and fresh peach cobbler.  Great spot.

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good morning enoki
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Jack’s front yard… love the big agave cactuses all over the place
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our amazing spot for the afternoon
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another beautiful hot afternoon
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traversing the terrain
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chilling on the rooftop
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the palomas were amazing
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pig face stuffed pretzel

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Courtney’s conference started today so she was out first thing.  I got some coffee from the way too crowded Starbucks in the hotel and spent the rest of the morning working.  tiger-label-final-a_400x400Around noon I met Jack at Easy Tiger, combination bakery and beer garden that we have been to before, about a ten minute walk.  We sat outside and had some beer and sausages and then walked down dirty 6th.  We stopped at voodoo donuts to see what the fuss was about, just an overpriced donut as far as I can tell.  A few days later there was a line of dozen of people waiting there at 10:00 at night.  We then wandered to a place that Jack had on his radar that happened to be having a free Sicilian wine tasting going on this afternoon.  It was at nice little Italian place called Italic around W6th and Congress.  We sampled five different Sicialian wines. Very nice.  We then made our way back to the hotel but stopped at Mort Subite, a Belgian Beer bar that Jack wanted to check58435-680x1000x0-440x308 out.  We had one quick beer and then back to the hotel for a rest.  We joined a big group of Courtney’s colleagues and went out to dinner at Bangers.  We have been there two other times and it was good as always.

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beer at the bar waiting for Jack at lunch time
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Sicilian wine tasting? sure why not.

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contemplating life in the Belgium beer bar
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Bangers
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Platform sticker in the mens room at Bangers.  small world.

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

I went to Cafe Medici, a chee chee coffee shop across the street and had a cappuccino which was 1,000 times better than the Starbucks in the hotel.   I then rented a daily bike and rode over to Franklin’s BBQ to get in line around 9:30AM.   Franklin’s is the famous joint where people come from all fb-logoover the world and wait in line for hours for the best brisket.  We thought we were getting there early but we were towards the end and almost got cut off.  1/2 hour later and we would have gotten the boot.  Doors don’t open until 11:00 and we did not get to the counter until about 12:45.  It was fun though. Everybody brings lawn chairs and coolers of beer.  Jack, Rick and I polished off brisket, turkey, ribs, sausages, beans and Cole slaw with no prob.  The brisket truly is something.  Jack and I spent the rest of the afternoon digesting by the side of the pool.  We tagged along with Courtney to one of the vendor cocktail parties at a bar across the street… Jack and I didn’t last long.  We left the ladies to chat away and went looking for a good place to watch the first Cavs/Warriors game.  We found a nice outside spot on Rainey Street and snagged a table trying to stay away from the Warrior fans.  Courtney and friends joined us later.  It was fun watching the game except they lost.

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Our place in line
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It started to lightly rain… no problem there were buckets of umbrellas
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…almost to the door…
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…finally inside.
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not a very good pic as the bread is hiding all the meat.  No plates allowed. Everything served on metal trays and butcher paper.
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post lunch chill
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a great pool on a great day
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pre game Warrior fans

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Scoped out a coffee place called Alta’s Cafe that was looking over Lady Bird Lake and on top of a boat house where crew boats were going in and out.  A nice spot to spend an hour at the beginning of the day.  Connor was flying into Austin that morning so Jack stayed at his house to pack/pick up so I was on my own.  I walked around the lake/river and crossed back at Congress and walked west to check out the Whole Foods store by their HQ. Crazy amazing store with anything you can possibly need.  Courtney called and she was leaving her conference early and wanted to meet at South Congress… opposite direction of where I was.  I hoofed it over and caught up with Courtney and Gunny and had lunch at Guero’s which was good.  Ate inside as it was toasty outside.  I walked back to hotel to relax and Courtney joined me later.  Jack and Connor came over to the hotel and we ubered along with Gunny back to East Austin.  First stop was Whistler’s on East de14f8a3fb0e4bd69acc523e54839de5Sixth with it’s super cool retro bar and East Side King Food Truck.  East Side King is a group of Asian Fusion trucks run by Tom Chef winner Paul Qui.  The boys all had some old fashions, missed happy hour by just a few minutes and we tried a couple dishes that were all great – fried chicken thighs and something else.  We then walked down a couple more blocks to The Liberty where the second East Side King truck lives and had beers and lots of different dishes – Brussels sprouts something, pork belly buns and lots of other good stuff.  Everything was perfect on a perfect night.  Jack discovered in the past that the bartender is a Holzheimer cousin of some sort who we are related to so it was fun to talk to him.  We then walked back downtown walking down 6th St.  Bars and clubs everywhere.  We got down to the Dirty 6th which was just getting started.  Walked down the street and went into the Driscoll but decided to go to one of the rooftops instead.  Ended up somewhere having another beer, listening to a good band, watching Connor work the crowd and enjoying the ATX view. We headed back and Jack and Connor ended going out to see a band somewhere after.

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Nice morning spot
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Huge bike sculpture on the bank of the river
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There miles of paths all along the river/ladybird lake
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Happy to be going out again
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Crazy Texas flowers
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Cheers
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Fried chicken thighs
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Fine dining Austin style
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Flowers along the sidewalk
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Deep fried beets, pork belly buns, Brussels sprouts..
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Hello
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Round 3, 4??
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Beautiful night
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Still going strong
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Great view and fun band

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Woke up at 5 Am for a 7:30 am flight.  Got a text in taxi on way to airport that our flight was cancelled.  uh oh. Tried to call but couldn’t get through so we decided to just go to the airport to see what we could do.  Big mistake.  It turned out there were 3 cancelled flight to Dallas, ours were one of them, and there were hundreds of people stuck.  We ended up waiting in line forever finally confirming on phone that we had a flight booked for next morning as that was only option.  So we were able to call hotel and get same room that we were in and were back in our room by 9:00am. Took a nap and then went to a nice French bistro around the corner for a nice late breakfast.  Jack and Connor came back downtown and picked us up and we drove to the Whole Foods to get them lunch and walk around.   We hung out at the pool in the afternoon which turned into bachelorette party central.  We were kind of fooled out and tired from the last few days so we cooked out at Jack’s house.  Good dinner of grilled chicken wings, eggplant, rice and veggies.  A nice way to finish up our trip.  We flew home the next morning with zero problems… of course.

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sidewalk outside our hotel
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Whole Foods HQ
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chilling by the pool
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hello chickens
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relaxing on Jack’s patio
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side dish still life.  grilled eggplant with mint, feta and roasted tomatoes. perfect.

Washington D.C.

Friday, December 18th 2015

We left Euclid around 6:00 AM for a weekend trip to celebrate the wedding of my youngest cousin Julia.  We squeezed six and lots of luggage into the Pilot somehow and had an easy drive to DC in our continued freaky warm weather we have been having.  We arrived at the always awesome Hotel Harrington around 1:00.  Patty P arranged over 8 rooms for all of us for the weekend.  We quickly settled ourselves into our luxurious accommodations and quickly found ourselves at Gordon Biersch – a nice German pub where the great beer made up for the seemingly absence of service.  Connor texted us while we were eating as he just arrived in town via the train so he joined us as well.  We then spent the next several hours bopping around the mall enjoying the sunny weather and the sites of DC.  We went to the National Archives and took a quick peak at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; walked through the outdoor sculpture garden; Walked over to the botanical gardens that were decked out for Christmas with lots of poinsettias, trains and Christmas trees and a quick trip into the National History Smithsonian checking out some exhibits and the Hope Diamond.  I love D.C. We wandered back to the hotel for a rest.  Everyone else arrived during the afternoon and we visited and had a beer before getting ready to go out.  We used Uber for the first time Ubering over to Alexandria for the Rehearsal Dinner at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria – an old Inn built in 1752. Cool place.  It was great to meet up with our Davis cousins and their children who we haven’t seen in a long time.  Cocktail hour was fantastic with platters of fresh oysters, raw clams and beautiful shrimp.  The kids went downstairs for dinner and we were invited to the rehearsal dinner in the upstairs room where we had a great dinner and multiple toasts to the bride and groom.  After dinner we went down to the pub downstairs and met up with all the kids and had a few more drinks.  We ubered back to D.C. and I gathered the brave troops for a midnight monument stroll.  It was a clear, crisp moonlit night.  Perfect time for a walk to the Washington monument, WW2 monument and then the beautiful Lincoln Memorial – sitting on the steps taking it all in.  We didn’t get back until after 2:00 AM.  A long, great day.

Getting primed with some good German beer
In front of the National Archives
posing at the outdoor sculpture garden
skating rink at the sculpture garden
the rotunda of the capital was under scaffolding which was pretty cool to see
…fail
The Botanical Gardens were beautiful. Full of poinsettias and models of D.C. monuments made out of natural materials.
Happy to be here at Christmas time
cool pink ones
the always impressive lobby of the Natural History Museum
the Innkeeper of the Gadsby tavern calling everyone to dinner
Les Grandes Dames
Wally toasting the happy couple
nighttime is the best time to explore DC
finding OHIO at WW2 monument
late night selfie with Abe
the best spot

Saturday, December 19th, 2016

Slept in after staying up too late and drinking too much.  Wandered around downtown trying to find somewhere to eat and then finally found the au bon pain we were looking for and had coffee and chocolate croissants along with the Gail clan.  We all then tromped over to the American Smithsonian museum and wandered for about an hour checking out the first ladies, Julia Child’s kitchen, Dorothy’s ruby slippers and other American artifacts.  We then walked across the mall heading to the Jefferson Memorial – my favorite.  We hung out there for awhile and then Claire, Sean and Grace headed back downtown as they were meeting Stephanie and Traber for lunch and we joined the Gails in continuing to walk around the Tidal Basin walking through the FDR monument and the MLK monument.  The FDR is different in the cold weather with all the fountains turned off.  The MLK monument was very powerful in the clear blue sky.  We headed back downtown walking in front of the White House checking out the Christmas trees and then had lunch at a sandwich shop before heading back to HH for a much needed rest before the evening festivities.  We Ubered back to Old Town to the Torpedo Factory where the wedding and reception took place.  It was great to see everyone all dressed up and excited for the wedding.  The wedding was great and Julia was beautiful of course.  This is the second non religious wedding we have been to this year and they both were very meaningful and personal.  Cocktail hour was upstairs in the gallery where there was also a New Orleans Jazz trio playing.  Great venue.  The reception back down stairs was beautiful with really great food: short ribs, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.  All excellent.  Wally gave a great toast as well as both the maid of honor and best man.   A great wedding.  The band didn’t start up until late but I think every single person danced the entire rest of the evening.  The band was great and it was fun fun fun.  We somehow managed to Uber back downtown with only one small Claire mishap and quickly crashed completely exhausted.

Saturday morning squad in front of the American History Museum
a poor confused cherry tree blooming in late December
I think the Jefferson Memorial is the most impressive one
The Gail men taking it all in
…shadows
one more
Claire and Sean
nice spot
…and the other angle
Sophia and Emily
words at the FDR monument… so true in todays crazy ass times
lined up

a mountain of hope
what a beautiful day
selfie
another great spot
cousins all dressed up
cocktail hour jazz
another cousin pose
all smiles all night
dance dance dance
dance dance dance

Sunday, December 20th, 2016

I must admit I don’t remember much of Sunday.  I know I got up and found a Starbucks around the corner.  Courtney and I went for a quick 45 minute walk around the mall and  we left the hotel around 10:00 or so and stopped and had a really bad rest stop late breakfast somewhere and had an uneventful drive back to CLE.  A great weekend and a great start to Julia and Hampton’s married lives.  CHEERS.

one of the really old Smithsonian buildings that hopefully will be rehabbed one of these days