Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can I Have A Mulligan Please

It seems like forever since Veronica and I were on our Baltic Capitals Cruise. I know it was just this last September but it still seems like forever.
More and more lately, I have found my minds eye taking me back to a special place and time.
I find myself going back to Warnemunde, Germany. Veronica and I are sitting outside of a cafe/bakery. She is drinking her coffee and both of us are sharing a warm roll or a piece of pastry.
The smells of the fresh baked breads, rolls and other assorted goodies drift through the air like butterflies looking for the next flower to float to.
Even with these vivid memories to keep me company, I want a Mulligan...a do over.
Why? Because at the time, I had a hard time believing that I was really there. It was all too surreal. There I was with my best friend and wife, Veronica, sharing some special once in a lifetime moments. I needed to be a sponge so that I could soak up every little bit of what I was smelling, seeing, hearing, tasting and sharing. I know I missed something. There is no way that I couldn't have. There was just too much happening at one time. A new place, a new language, new food...everything new and different. Trying to soak in everything that challenged all of my senses. It all came at me so quickly. I don't think that I could truly grasp the magnitude of everything that my senses came into contact with nor could I really appreciate it all....until it was gone...over with...just another memory refreshed by my minds eye.
The sights and feelings that I had as our ship was leaving port in Warnemunde. Residents of Warnemunde lining the banks...hundreds if not a thousand of them there...clapping....waving...whistling. Saying good bye to our ship and those that had visited their town. The boats in the harbor circling our ship and sounding horns in loud appreciation for us spending time in their little slice of heaven. And then there was the fireworks show...the grand display and send off for us. A visual exclamation mark put at the end of a very appreciatively worded sentence.
Yes...I want a Mulligan...a do over. I didn't appreciate it enough while I was there. I couldn't. But I have come to appreciate it so much more since then.
Yes...I want a Mulligan...a do over....please.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Cool Aircraft Sighting

About 3 miles up the road from our place, in Kill Devil Hills, there is a rather small airstrip. This airstrip has no lights but it does have a place to park quite a few planes.
Several days ago Veronica and I were returning home from doing some errands in town and we saw this unusual helicopter flying low in the sky.
We had never seen this type of helicopter before and we found it to be really interesting to watch it.
As we drove by the small airstrip, we saw this helicopter again and this time it was either landing or just taking off.
The helicopter had 2 big propellers...one on each wing and the propeller blades were rather large.
We lost sight of this helicopter as we drove home.
The next thing we knew, this helicopter had the propellers turned in a way that it turned the helicopter into an airplane.
Upon doing some research, I found out that this aircraft is an MV-22 Osprey. Here are some photos of the aircraft:







Unfortunately I did not have my camera handy so that I could take a video of this aircraft but that won't happen again. Because of this missed photo opportunity, I took Veronica's old camera and got a new camera case for it and placed it in our vehicle. Now I will always have a camera handy if I should find something photo worthy while driving around.
Below is a movie of the aircraft changing the propeller angle so that the aircraft changes from a helicopter to and turbo prop plane. Please be patient...the aircraft will eventually take off and change the propellers angle.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A General Update Not To Be Confused With A Major Update

It has been a few days since I made a blog entry. Things have been a little slow around here.
Veronica and I decided to make reservations at the Crowne Plaza at Fort Magruder in Williamsburg, VA.
The hotel was kind enough to offer us 2 free nights after what had occurred on our last visit there. If you missed that news, please refer to earlier blog posts.
We decided to take them up on their offer and we will be hooking the 2 nights stay at the hotel to the beginning of our upcoming Las Vegas trip in February.
This will work out great for us because the airport is just up the road, an approximately 30 minute drive from this hotel.
This will be a nice way to start of our 1 week vacation.
I will be taking photographs of our room and let everyone know how everything turned out.
Today we had to go to our local Walmart to get a bunch of things.
Little did I know, Veronica had other reasons for us going to Walmart.
She was searching for some type of free weights or dumbbells for me to use as part of my workout regiment.
We found a Golds Gym set that was selling for a good price. For $20, I got 2 14" bars with 4 safety grips to keep the weights on the bar, 4 7.5 pound weights and 4 2.5 pound weights. Not a lot of weight but I am not really looking to "bulk up", mainly trying to tone things up a bit.
And that's not all...while looking at the weight set, Veronica saw a Golds Gym workout bench that was selling for $49. She told me to go ahead and get the bench too and it would be an early Christmas gift. A small workout center for around $70...a great deal.
Being of sound mind and somewhat sound body, I knew that it wouldn't be wise to turn down Santa and tick her off for the rest of the Holiday season, I very happily and very merrily put the boxed workout gym in my cart.  Upon getting home, I put the bench together and checked out the weights.
Now I can vary my workouts between cardio and some light lifting.
Thank You Santa!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crowne Plaza At Fort Magruder In Williamsburg, VA followup

Veronica and I had taken a long weekend break and went to Williamsburg, VA to visit Colonial Williamsburg and the surrounding area.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza at Ft. Magruder in the Williamsburg, VA area.
Here is a link to that blog post about our hotel stay at the Crowne Plaza at Fort Magruder 
After leaving honest reviews at several web sites and also making contact with personnel at the hotel itself and corporate headquarters, we received a reply back.
Veronica had sent an email to someone at the hotel itself and told them that based on the sub par quality of our room, she felt that Crowne Plaza owed us a 2 night stay at the hotel in a much higher quality room.
Veronica received a telephone call from someone at the hotel. After discussing the issues that we encountered during our last stay, we were offered a 2 night stay for free. Veronica is supposed to contact this young lady, when we are interested in staying there again and that she would make sure that we received a high quality room for that stay.
I will make a blog entry  about our stay at the Crowne Plaza along with posting photos of our upgraded room there.
We haven't decided when we will return there. We are thinking that we might stay for a couple of nights before we head out to Las Vegas.
Veronica and I have decided to return to Las Vegas in February and we are flying out of Newport News.
Williamsburg is just up the road from Newport News, so we could take advantage of the 2 free nights that lead up to the date of our early morning flight.
I have signed up for many different fare and hotel alerts that I receive as email.
In one of those alerts, MGM had a special for the Monte Carlo, which is right on the strip.
I was able to get a 350 square foot Deluxe room in the Monte Carlo for around $36 a night plus they give us a discount coupon booklet for various things.
We will be staying for 5 nights.
It will be nice to return to Las Vegas and see some of the sites that we missed last time.
This time around, I won't be slowed down by any foot problems like I had last time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keep Politics Out Of Dancing With The Stars

Veronica and I have been watching Dancing With The Stars for several seasons now.
Each season there seems to be at least one surprise or injustice which usually is blamed on the lack of voters/votes that a couple get.
I think that this season has set a new record for injustice as far as who goes to the finals and who doesn't.
I do realize that this show and the outcome of it is irrelevant compared to all of the injustices and troubles that plague our planet.
Believe me...I am not trying to "make light" of those issues.
With that being said...
Last night Brandy got voted off and will not make it to the finals. She had received some of the best scores throughout the contest. As it turns out, Bristol Palin will be in the finals. Miss Palin has been consistently in the lower grouping of scores since the season started.
Miss Palin has grown leaps and bounds as a dancer compared to when the season first started.
And although she has improved dramatically as the season has unfolded, the bottom line is that she is not and never was in the same league as Brandy.
The bottom line is this...Bristol Palin should not be in the finals for Dancing With The Stars...Brandy should be based on the judges scores throughout the shows season and based on what anyone can clearly see...Brandy is a better dancer.
To succeed on this show, I believe that it's not a matter of how you do or the talent that you do/do not exhibit, but based on who your are and who your Mother might be.
Hey folks....let's keep politics out of a show that should be solely based on ones ability and talent and NOT based on ones last name and political standing!!!!
Brandy and Maks...this might be America but you got ripped off. Unfortunately, you are painfully aware of this fact.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Update On Americas Best Value Inn Fiasco

Back in early September, Veronica and I were just starting our vacation..our much anticipated Baltic Capitals Cruise.
Veronica and I had booked a room at Americas Best Value Inn, Norfolk Airport Area in VA.
Upon checking into the hotel and entering our room, we found the room to be really dilapidated, filthy and there were bugs and flies throughout the room. The toilet had bugs crawling on the seat.
Veronica and I promptly left the property but not before Veronica went into the lobby and told the desk manager just how bad the room and overall property was.
The desk clerk offered her another room but we were not interested at all. The property was really in poor shape and the photos that were depicting the property were not even close to being an accurate representation of what it was like.
Because we had booked through Priceline or Booking Buddy or one of those type of web sites, we knew up front that we would not be able to get a refund from neither the hotel nor the booking agency.
We ended up walking away and spending the night just up the street at one of our favorite hotels...Country Inn and Suites.
A blog entry was made about this bad situation back in September. Here is a link to that blog entry...  AMERICAS BEST VALUE INN - NORFOLK AIRPORT AREA 5725 Northampton Blvd Norfolk, VA



Yesterday I received an email from the Manager of the hotel. Here is a portion of the email...I left his name out because it just wasn't needed for this blog entry.

Dear Sir

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that was caused when you checked in at ABVI Virginia Beach. As the manager of the property I was unaware of the situation, that may be because my front desk employee did follow policy and offer to switch your room. At this point I would like to offer a 50% discount of the rack rate towards your next stay and hope that you will give ABVI another chance. Once again, very sorry.

Now after reading this email, I wrote the Manager back and told him just how bad the room was and what an embarrassment the hotels condition was in. I also advised him that I had contacted the corporation that gave him licensing rights to use the company name and logo. I had advised them what had happened and what the dismal condition the room and property was in.
In closing of my email to this Manager, I told him that he could have offered me a week free stay at his hotel and that I would have turned him down. There is no way that I would ever return to this hotel and strongly advise those that are looking for a decent hotel, stay elsewhere.
This place is a dump.
  AMERICAS BEST VALUE INN - NORFOLK AIRPORT AREA
5725 Northampton Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Seasons Are Changing And So Am I

As I get older, I have come to realize even more, that my body does not like cold weather.
My body works better and I feel better when the temperatures are higher.
It is so much easier for me to go for my walks in the Summer. I just throw on a pair of shorts, grab my Ipod and something to drink, flip on my shades and out I go...feeling full of life and having some pep in my step.
It has started to get colder here. By colder I mean that I am out walking and it is 40-45 degrees out in the morning. So yes, it is colder than what is has been, but no where near what it will be and that thought alone sends shivers up and down my spine.
Yesterday morning it took me 25 minutes to figure out the right combination of layered clothing that would keep me warm outside along with allowing my thighs to pass by each other without having the sound of cloth rubbing or the feeling of wearing a cumbersome and loaded diaper.
I have also realized that the human body standing upright is not very aerodynamic. I have lost a bunch of weight but I feel like a full sail on a schooner as I try to walk against the 15-20 mph Northerly winds that are blowing directly at me, off of the bay.
I know that it will get worse as I get older and also as we get deeper into the cold weather season.
How I long for my youth again or how about a hut on a tropical island and a chimp bringing me a umbrella drink.
Hey Jimmy Buffet....if you happen to stumble upon this blog entry...give me a call. I know that you have the answer to my problems.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gimme Coffee And No One Gets Hurt!!!

I am not much of a coffee drinker during the Summer months. Coffee and hot humid weather aren't a good mix for me. I usually get a queasy stomach, so I tend to stay away from the ole coffee during the Summer months.
But once it starts cooling down a bit, that's the time I start getting my java mojo on.
On the other end of the spectrum, Veronica tends to drink coffee year round.
We each have our own coffee preferences.
Veronica likes her coffee strong and I am a real wimp...I like my light and sweet.
I started drinking Chicory coffee. Kind of like what they drink in N'Orleans. I am sure that the instant Chicory coffee that I drink is much milder that the "real" stuff, but for me it does just fine.
When I feel real adventurous, I will use my French press and put some real ground chicory coffee beans in it and let it steep for a while. I don't get adventurous too often though.
Usually when we make a pot of coffee, we usually have some left over and throw it down the sink.
I mentioned to Veronica the other day, that I was thinking about getting one of those single shot coffee makers.
I had never really looked into these types of machines, so I had to do some research to figure how reliable they might be and how they work.
After doing my research and talking it over with Veronica, we decided to get a Cuisinart single cup brewing system.
We ordered it online through Amazon.
It works the same as any of the Keurig or Breville systems, just a different body style.
Not only do the sell over 200 types of coffees,teas and iced teas/coffees and hot cocoa for this system but it also came with something that they call a "My K cup". This "My K cup" is basically a cup that you load whatever ground coffee that you like to use and the cup fits right into the machine, just like the regular K cups that you purchase do.
So you can either use your own ground coffee or use the K cups that you can buy.
The "my K cup" stores in the side of the machine.
This machine holds 80 ozs of water and will make 5 different sizes of coffee that you want...you can use between 4, 8, 10, 12 and 20 oz cups. All you have to do is turn the unit on, decide what kind of coffee you want and pick that K cup, open the top front loading area, put in the K cup, close the top of the loading area, click on the size/amount of coffee that you want and then click brew.
It also has a hot water feature for when you might want to just make instant coffee or steep a teabag.
The machine is rather quiet and so far has done a great job.
I just got done making a cup of coffee and it worked really well along with producing a good cup of coffee.
We went to Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday and bought a bunch of different styles of K cups.
Now we won't be wasting coffee nor will I have to stand around and wait for the microwave to heat up my massive mug of water...usually takes 4 1/2 minutes on a high setting. My coffee mug holds about 32 ozs.
Plus we can each have own style of coffee to drink without one of us having to drink the other ones style from the communal coffee pot.
Below are photos of our new brewing system. We also got a nice K cup holder to hold the individual K cups. I think this holder can handle 32 K cups.

Here is the little beauty along with our new K cup holder to the left of it.



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