April 30, 2012
Cozumel, Redux

Vacation was EXCELLENT! Again, we went to Cozumel. We stayed at the same resort as we did last year, the Iberostar Cozumel. But this year we were “armed” with our knowledge gained from our experiences last year. It definitely worked to our advantage this year.

On Friday, we drove to Des Moines and stayed with Zach and Jessie instead of getting a Park-Sleep-Fly. Definitely better to stay with them than some hotel! We left after work and got there some time after 8pm. While it wasn’t that late, we were pretty tired from packing and traveling there so we just visited for a bit and then went to bed.

Saturday morning at 5:30am, Jessie and her dad Jim drove us to the Des Moines Airport to begin our journey. No bad weather this time. We flew US Airways this time and the connecting flight was in Charlotte, NC. All in all the flight there was pretty uneventful. We landed at the Cozumel Airport on time and got through customs without any issues. I asked the driver of the van to drop me off at Rentadora ISIS, where I had reserved a rental car for this stay – no scooter this time! The driver dropped me off there and I spoke with Magarita, the owner of Rentadora ISIS. She had the car waiting. Got the car and headed to Iberostar Cozumel, the same resort we stayed with last time. Here, we met with friends Corey and Andrea who had the trek to this resort the day before; they were there with Corey’s parents Ken and Elaine. Basically, the rest of the day was loll around the beach and the pool recuperating from the uneventful trip.

Sunday, Casey and I went to breakfast the the others but we had plans. We went to Punta Sur (South Point), an eco-park on the southern tip of the island. Basically, you go to the Rasta Bar and turn south. The road there was plenty bumpy and going was slow but we did get to the beach. Had a wonderful morning snorkeling. Each time I go back I’m amazed at how clear the water is there; five feet of water looks to be a few inches because of how clear the water is. After a morning of snorkeling, mostly by Casey, we decided it was time to go. On the way back we went by the lighthouse Faro Celarain. We actually went up the 128 steps to the top of the lighthouse and took some amazing pictures there. Leaving the park, we took the “scenic route” around the island instead of going straight back to the resort. Lots of work has been done on the road on the east coast, but it’s still pretty much the same.

Sunday night, the whole group went to the city San Miguel. Casey and I had been told the locals have live bands on the town square by friends Tom and Dawn. They were more than right. The band was very good. There was dancing and a lot of people just hanging out listening to the band and having a good time. We enjoyed that very much. But, as it got later our tiredness got the best of us so we went back to the resort.

Monday, I took Corey and Ken on a “guys day” over to the east side of the island. We stopped at the Rasta Bar and had a beer and visited there. We all agreed that it was a great place to have a beer and watch the waves. Then we went up to Coconuts, a bar farther north. Again a good beer and great view; Coconuts is up on a bluff so you have a great view for miles over the Caribbean. Rough weather came up, though, and soon we were leaving Coconuts due to sand being blown up in our faces. Yuk. The ride back to the resort was uneventful. We spent the rest of the day just hanging around the pool and at the swim-up bar.

Tuesday, Casey and I returned the rental car and did some shopping. Got some really nice silver from a place recommended by Tom and Dawn: Sergio’s. It’s off the beaten path and both Casey and I felt we got a fair price for the stuff we bought. Later, back at the resort, we spent the rest of the day reading around the pool and swimming in the pool (and going to the swim-up bar!) and just taking it easy.

Wednesday and Thursday were pretty much carbon copies of each other. We did a bit of snorkeling and laying around the beach in the morning, and a bit of swimming (well, maybe wading) in the pool and going to the swim-up bar in the afternoon. Evenings we got the group together and played cards after we ate; of course, making sure we all had drinks!

Friday we were up and packing early. After packing, we had plenty of time to get to the airport. The flight home was uneventful. The only bad part was customs in Charlotte. I think the Marx Brothers created that mess. The lines were long and not fast-moving and the officials there seemed to always create another zig-zag lane making it seem like we were moving but all we were doing was walking down the newly formed lane and not really making headway. Finally, though, we got through customs. We ate in the airport there and then boarded our plane to Des Moines. Uneventful trip there as well.

All in all a GREAT vacation filled with sun, sand, water and good friends. Couldn’t ask for more!

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July 6, 2010
Taste of Chicago

Here is the link to all the photos I have from Taste of Chicago. It was really cool this year. Took the whole family. Lots of walking, but it was still cool! Here was the basic itinerary:

  • July 3

    • Drove from our home to Princeton, IL, and got on the Illinois Zephyr to Chicago. The train left Princeton at 8:35am.
    • Arrived in Chicago at 10:45am. Walked from Union Station to our hotel, the Congress Plaza Hotel. We got to the hotel about noon; didn’t expect it but our suite was ready so we dropped our bags there.
    • Went to Taste of Chicago. Had LOTS of food and plenty of drink (water and Gatorade – no alcohol!)
    • At 3pm, got to see Steve Miller Band at Taste of Chicago – FREE! Wow! What a show!
    • Left the Taste and walked to Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and went up to the SkyDeck. Awesome view from there!
    • Went back to the hotel, ate a late supper and crashed.
  • July 4
    • Got up kind of late – it was nice to sleep in. The kids brought us breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts.
    • The hotel agreed to watch our bags after checkout so we didn’t have to carry them. Great!
    • Walked to Navy Pier. Wow! Lots to see. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan.
    • Walked all around Navy Pier. Ate lunch at one of the restaurants there.
    • Spent a lot of time walking around looking at the kiosks that had knick-knacks.
    • Took a water taxi to Shedd Aquarium, then walked back to the hotel from there.
    • Took a break in the hotel – air conditioning was welcome.
    • Walked to Union Station to catch our train, which left at 5:55pm.
    • Train to Princeton and drive home were uneventful.

Lots of sight-seeing, eating, laughing and good times. And a great time spent with family.

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June 11, 2008
Not Really Gone

Just been working a lot. I’ve been working at our showrooms in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, getting them ready for NeoCon. Saturday and Sunday I was helping to get them all (we have seven showrooms in Merchandise Mart: Allsteel, Basyx, Gunlocke, HBF, HON, Maxon and Paoli) ready, computer-wise. I made sure that faxes, phones, computers and printers were all up and running as they should be. There were long hours on Saturday and Sunday to get the showrooms ready. Let me tell you, running through all the showrooms making sure that everything is working as it should can really get to a guy. Had to run patch cords, mount access points, install drivers, change configuration on IP Office… wow.

Monday was the first day of NeoCon and it was killer. I got to there at about 7:30; the show was to start at 9:00am. Lots of standing, walking and going from showroom to showroom. I also heard a “trivia fact” that the Chicago Merchandise Mart is the largest commercial building in the world. I only got to sit during lunch, and finally left the building around 5:30. I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel, which is about three blocks away, so it wasn’t really too bad to get back to the hotel. After the day I went with three others to Greek Town and ate dinner at the Parthenon. WOW! I don’t know the names of all the food I had but it was all delicious! I know I had saganaki (flaming cheese), mini spinach-cheese pie, Greek salad for appetizers. I had the Special Combination, made up of dolmades, moussaka, pastitsio, roast lamb, potatoes, and vegetables. (and yes, it was ALL Good!!!) For dessert we split baklava and galaktoboureko. Oh, man. What a meal!

Tuesday was much the same as Monday. Got there about 7:30 and left around 5:30. Lots of standing and walking… very little sitting. After it was all over, I got with my friend Randy and we and others went to the Chicago Cubs game!! What a great time that was. Talking baseball with Randy, Jim, Mike and John… drinking Old Style Lite beer (Harry Caray’s favorite!) Heck, the game was even a good one. The Cubs came from behind and won it! I called up brother Al and made him jealous just by telling him I was at Wrigley Field – sorry Al, I just couldn’t resist the dig!

Today was just as long, but I got to leave at about 3:30pm for home. And home was never so good. (Well except for the fact that KC went to The Lake of the Ozarks with her friend Norma on a “girls trip”). I’ve still got laundry to do and I’ve got my expense reports to fill out, but all things considered it was a good week/weekend.

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