Friday, December 17, 2010

2010-Dec., Angie and Josh's move to Atlanta

Another 2010 "working" vacation. This time was to help Angie and Josh move to their new place just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Alpharetta, to be exact. Josh went out ahead of us to start working at his new position within Cintas. Angie and I followed about a week later with their 2nd car and the 2 pups.

I was really surprised how good the dogs were! This was at the start of the trip. Molly already seemed to be wondering if we were there yet.

But soon they settled in and spent most of the 9 + hours trip like this.

We lucked out on the timing of the move. The week before and the week after the move were exceptionally cold for this area. But the mountains of Tennessee were still in the freeze and had many icy views for us to enjoy.

Sunset somewhere in Tennessee.

More Tennessee sunset. I think we were entering Chattanooga.

We spent the first night in a studio hotel and left bright and early the next morning to meet the movers at the new place.

Here are some pictures of the before, during, and after unpacking stages.

I guess the move wore out the pups.

Here's our attempt at getting a picture of the pups in front of the gas fireplace. Molly wasn't too cooperative.

Sometimes I think Murphy thought he was in prison.

Molly looking inquisitive.

The pups greeting "Dad" when he finally made it home for the first time from another 12 hour work day.

Angie and I spent 2 long days unpacking and moving stuff up and down 3 levels. On the weekend, Josh joined in the fun of unpacking. We were all pretty exhausted for the next 4 or 5 days. But we did make it out to shop a few of times and to some great dinners. Starting with dinner at Josh's brother Joe and family's house for a fantastic homemade lasagna dinner with home made gingerbread cookies for dessert. Dinner and company were great. Another night we went to Tara Humata for dinner where we had a very tasty Mexican dinner. After another day of some shopping, we brought home a pizza from Mellow Mushroom. I wish we had one of them in St. Louis! And I have to brag about Teds Montana Grill where we had another wonderful dinner. Their specialty is bison meat. The last 2 nights Angie even cooked 2 delicious meals----her home made chili one day and italian sausage with peppers the last night.

Angie and I hit a nearby outlet mall one day. That was also the day the weather turned really foul and Atlanta had the coldest weather it's had since 1976 and it lasted for 5 days. An ice storm even crippled the city and outlaying areas the day before I flew home.
We also made it into towards the city one day to go to the AMC movie theatre Fork and Screen, an interesting concept where you're waited on while you watch a movie. We saw an interesting movie, The Tourist, and ate popcorn and nachos.

The day I flew home, we headed out early to run through the Atlanta Aquarium before I had to catch my 3:37 flight home. It was still very icy when we left the townhome. But I imagine the warmer weather that day and the rain probably melted it by that afternoon. Here we are driving along a road near her townhome.

It was pretty misty as we were entering the city.

Another city attration we hope to see one day is the Coke museum. It happens to be next to the Aquarium, but we didn't have time to hit both that day.

I love aquariums and went wild taking pictures in it. It is a very impressive aquarium!

One of the most impressive things is knowing Angie did a lot of the architecture designing of interior spaces within the Aquarium and the exterior covered walkway. She even came across an employee she knew who is in charge of the cold water aquarium which houses a lot of her work. Here they are in the penguin area.

We spent quite awhile watching the playful penquins. They seemed to be really enjoying their newly designed space. This was even the first time Angie got to see it done and in use.

A penquin hello.

There are even interesting crawl through spaces and pop up windows for kids (and adults).

An overall view of "Angie's" penquin area.

A little anxious about the weather, we left there pretty early and headed off to the airport. Soon I was on a plane back to St. Louis.
Sad to see them move, but I'm excited for them and their new oppurtunities.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Fall trip to the Biltmore

Ok---not suppose to really be a vacation, but it came at a time when I really needed to get away. So it was a vacation for me! I was actually going to the Biltmore estate to check out photo ops for a wedding that I'm taking pictures of in April. I also took engagement pictures of the happy couple. They are both architects who worked on constructing Antler Hill Village and are very knowledgable about the whole estate. I felt like I had my own personal tour guides.

On Oct. 28th, we (Emily, Brian, Angie, and I) left after they got off work and drove about 7 hours 'til we got somewhere in Tennessee. The next morning we continued our trip and arrived in Asheville, NC, a little after noon. First stop was to talk to the florist. Then we were off to the Biltmore where we met up with Beth who took us to Lioncrest where we checked out the place for the reception and sampled appetizers and cakes.

Then we were off to take some engagement photos.

It was a beautiful afternoon/evening and I had a great time. I made Angie be my 2nd shooter.

Emily and Brian knew all the places to go for fantastic views.

We also spent a little time in Antler Hill Village where they showed off their work. They did a fabulous job as the architects for it.

As the sun was going down, we wandered around the outside of the Biltmore House. The 250 room home opened in 1895 and is quite a sight to see.

I bet there were some grand parties out here on the terraces of the house.
The setting of the estate was gorgeous. Lots of rolling hills in the background and lots of trees.

Another view of the house from the big terrace running from the side of it.

Going back up the great lawn in front of the house, we marveled at the size of the place. Unfortunately, the light was really dipping low and not the best for photography by then.

Next day we headed up to the Blue Ridge mountains to enjoy the colorful leaves on the trees. It was a little past peak season, but still very beautiful.

At least from a distance the mountains appeared colorful.

A picture of my 2nd shooter.

More of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Emily and Brian even knew where to stop to get this great view of the Biltmore house from the mountains.
Of course we weren't going to leave without touring the house! We even were treated to the tickets via Beth---Thanks, Beth! It is definately a place to see!

We parked above and walked down enjoying the midday light on the house.

These italian gardens grace the side front of the house.

Unfortunately pictures weren't allowed inside the house, but I did take a couple looking out at the lawn from inside the house.
After a couple hours enjoying the inside of the house and pondering what it must have been like to live there, we headed back outside to walk around the grounds some more.

A short ways from the house are the estate gardens designed by Frederick Olmsted. There's even a grand Consevatory with free floral demonstrations daily.

In Oct., the mums were the star of the gardens.
Back at Antler Hill Village, we did a personal tour of the wine cellar on our way to the wine tasting.

Decisions, decisions! Which wine to buy!? Between all of us, we ended up with about 5 cases.
Back to the Village to check out the lighting for sunset (where and when their wedding will be).

While we were waiting for our dinner reservations at the restaurant (Cedrics) there in the Village, we had an appetizer of ice cream from the Creamery. Both were great!

As we watched the sunset, we discussed how to run the actual wedding ceremony.

The only bad thing about the trip was that it ended too soon! I can't wait to go back in April to celebrate a very special occassion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 Nov.5-12 - Another Dam vacation! 7 nt, Eurodam: Samana, San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay

It was going to take a lot more then a rude airport gate attendant and port agent, and a little storm named Hurricane Tomas to ruin my vacation! So on Friday, Nov. 5th, 2010, the fun began.

This was Ken's 2nd cruise and my 8th (I think) cruise. This was my 2nd Holland America cruise. I thought the laid back clientele and more unique activities, such as cooking classes and computer classes, not to mention the food, would be something Ken would enjoy. That it left out of Ft. Lauderdale was also a plus (that was even before our daughter moved there, now it's really a plus!). So on the day before the cruise, we hopped on a non-stop flight and eventually headed off to Ft. Lauderdale.

I say eventually because there was a problem with our plane being overweight. So they grounded us for about 45 minutes while they pleaded for 3 people to delay their trips. 1 couple did finally agree to, but noone else on the plane was budging. I guess we were all heading to a cruise. Finally the gate attendant threatened us in a harsh voice that since noone else would get off the plane, then 4 pieces of luggage were being removed and they wouldn't tell us whose. Soon the flight attendants took over the intercom and apologized profusely and guaranteed us that noones luggage was going to be left behind. Over weight and all, we did make it to Fort Lauderdale safely.

We spent that night overlooking the ocean at one of our Wyndham properties in Pompono Beach. We rented a car for the day and enjoyed our short, but sweet, stay there.

Next morning our adventure continued. We dropped the rental car off at the Budget dealer closest to the port since it offered complimentary shuttle service to the cruise port.

Soon we were waiting in line at the port to board the Eurodam. But only for a short time. The scanners quit working and we were all told to sit down. Passengers just arriving walked up and got in line and before they were made to sit down, the scanners would start working and we would be at the back of the line again. This happened 3 times before we finally were able to board.

Once on board, we headed to the lido buffet and had a very good lunch. The food on HAL has been my favorite so far.

 They even had a late night dessert on the Lido deck one night.
 And other Lido parties with different types of food.
 One night they even decorated the Lido pool during one of the Lido parties.

 Back to our embarkation day---shortly after 1pm, our stateroom was ready so we eagerly went to check it out. This was our 1st balcony cabin and it was really nice. We were near the back of the ship in cabin VD4148, and only 2 cabins away from the elevators.  This area of the ship had slightly deeper balconies then the other balcony cabins and the cabin was a nice size.