Sunday, October 18, 2020

Saturday Night Live, Jim Carrey, Weekend update, and Other Discussion

Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975. During that time they have had a number of performers doing their skits with focus on whatever is happening currently in the news, the United States, or the world. The last four years, we have seen a lot of Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump to open the show. The majority of the times when Alec Baldwin opened the show, they were funny skits that made me laugh.

For the 2020-2021 season, we have Jim Carrey playing Joe Biden to open the show which has happened each of the first three episodes. Normally, I like Jim Carrey when he has played roles on SNL, his movies, or even his latest TV show Kidding on Showtime, but so far, I have not enjoyed the opening to the show each of the three times. They were not funny and wonder if someone else could have played Joe Biden instead. The best person to play Joe Biden was Jason Sudeikis, but I have to wonder if they asked him and he was not available.

I certainly watched SNL when I was growing up and through the years. I have gone through stretches where I did not care for the cast, the skits, and did not watch but maybe clips. The past few years, I have been watching the whole thing. Again, sometimes the skits are not funny at all, dumb, or they put in death into the skit which always seemed odd. 

My favorite part of SNL is Weekend Update. Colin Jost and Michael Che are perfect! I enjoy their back-and-forth and their jokes almost always get a laugh out of me. I love how they are always trying to throw the other cast member under the bus with comments about how the other one made a comments about something inappropriate. 

For whatever it is worth, I will continue to watch SNL, likely not laughing at the opening skit, but always looking forward to Weekend Update.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Lot of Happenings and Updates... From September 2019 to October 2020

Augusta Vin Winery


Busy time the past few months... which means no updates from me on here. I will see if I can catch up as I think through what has happened from 2019 to now. My last update was following a trip Carrie and I made to Minnesota to see the Royals play. While a lot has happened since that trip, I will cover some of the happenings briefly. Of course now we are all trying to do the best we can with COVID-19 affecting all aspects of our lives.

The fall semester had me finishing up my second to last class for the Masters of Communication and Leadership. A busy semester in the fall as I started my class after getting back from our trip to Minnesota which required a group project. Overall, the process went well and I enjoyed the course plus it put me one step closer to my final semester and Capstone project to be decided, researched, and written. Ultimately I finished my coursework and graduated spring 2020. However, like everyone else, we did not have a formal graduation and really not much of a celebration. Still planning to hold a party at some point to celebrate my accomplishment.

Tap That Topeka and Sports at Washburn 2019

Tap That Topeka Beer Festival
At the end of September after returning from Minnesota, we attended the 2019 Tap That Topeka. Always a good time, in 2019 we had another wonderful time. Sampled so many great beers and made some wonderful memories. This was our forth time to the beer festival and it is so fun. They moved it to be the evening which is much better so we do not roast in the summer sun. With COVID-19, the event was canceled. It was planned to be July 2020, but the whole event was canceled for safety concerns which was the right choice. Hoping they will have Tap That Topeka in the summer of 2021 and all of this is behind us. More information is available at the Tap That Topeka web site.

Throughout the fall and (part of) spring semester, we were attending sporting events at Washburn. Again this year we had season tickets to Washburn Football. We had a fun time at the games and always fun seeing family and friends at the game. Last year Greg and I decided to split tickets for Washburn basketball games. We made it to a lot of the home games although my class during the fall semester took me away from some games. No football for Washburn of course for the fall 2020 season. We have had some beautiful weather and sitting outside in my back yard, I think of all our great times at Washburn tailgates and football games. Again, hoping fall 2021 is much different and we are back at sporting events. I cannot image being an athlete and not being able to play.

UntitledKing Biscuit Blues Festival 2019

Thinking back to King Biscuit Blues Festival (KBBF) 2019 seems so long ago. Really missed not going this year and had fun sharing pictures, memories with friends and family when it would normally have occurred which would have been October 8 - 10, 2020. So, instead, I will review our time at the KBBF 2019 event.

Javier, Corrie, and Carrie were all able to join this year. We had a large time listening to great music, hanging out with family, and friends. As I recall, the weather was great for the KBBF 2019. 

Thursday Set List KBBF 2019
Thur Set List KBBF 2019
I managed to take pictures and keep them of the set lists for two of the days. The first day had fun artists performing. My favorite from the first day (Thursday) was Ruthie Foster. Much better now that we start a little later (noon) instead of 11 am which we did for a number of years and then finish a little earlier too. We used to get done around midnight each night, but now it is usually 10:30 or 11 depending on how late the last act performs.

I sure hope we can go back next year. I did spend the time it would have been this year (October 8 - 10) listening to lots of blues music. I listened to KBBF playlists I had created in previous years for acts playing each of the previous four years. Made for good memories and spent some time on the patio one nice day listening to songs and remembering the previous years.

Saturday KBBF Set List

The other set list I have is from the Saturday, October 12 list. Kate Brothers are always good and did not disappoint this time either. A good day spent all three days listening to music. Again, hard to believe that we did not have KBBF 2020 this year.

Maple Leaf Festival

As I was reviewing events we did in the end of 2019, I remembered we went to Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin, KS. We always enjoy our time to the Maple Leaf Festival. We went with Greg, Erin, and Brenda. The weather was perfect although we did not buy a lot, we looked around at a lot of items and enjoyed the outdoors. Another even that because of COVID-19, we were unable to attend Maple Leaf Festival 2020 as it was canceled. Hoping this one will be back in 2021.

Chiefs Football and Champs!

Chiefs Football Game 2019
Jack, Tim, and John at Chiefs Game

What a year to be a Chiefs fan! I had the opportunity to go to a Chiefs game on December 1, 2019 with my brother Tim. Of course, he got perfect seats for us right on the 50 yard line and would not take any money for them... I did buy beers for us during the game though. 

It is still hard to believe that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl but it feels so good when I remember! We were 12 - 4 during the regular season 5 - 3 at home and then 7 - 1 on the road! Wow! Hard to believe that we watched on February 2, 2020. Had little idea what the rest of 2020 would look like for us with a huge SB win for our Chiefs.

I watched the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020 at Greg and Erin's with family and friends. Carrie was sick this day and unable to attend. You might recall that in 2014 when the Kansas City Royals went to the playoffs, Carrie was sick that first day and we had one of the most epic games in Royals baseball to come back, win, and go on to play in the World Series. So, it was probably an omen for Carrie to be sick for the Super Bowl as we did need a miracle to come back and win that game. I recall going into the fourth quarter and we were all pretty sad bunch watching the game. That all quickly changed and game over with Chiefs winning it all. Fun memory to remember and it seems like so long ago with everything going on.

New Years Eve off the Hook

Brenda, Carrie, and John New Years Eve 2019
Brenda, Carrie, and I New Years Eve 2019
For the first time in I do not recall how long, we decided to have a New Years Eve party to finish out 2019. Who knew that it would be the last party we could have for a while. We invited a number of our friends and family to attend. We had a lot of fun to bring in the New Year. 

We did all the normal things on a New Years Eve celebration. Drinks (lots of drinks), food, conversation, and games. We played games with small groups and games with everyone attending. A few of us played games until almost 3 am. I did finally have to stop drinking and say I was going to go to bed... I might have received a little grief from my brother-in-law, Greg, but he did not want the night to end as we were all having so much fun. 

See all the pictures from our New Years Eve 2019 celebration on Flickr.

Wine and Friends Trip to Fredericksburg, TX 2020

During the summer of 2019, Corrie, Javier, Chuck, Melissa, Carrie, and I all had the idea of meeting up in Fredericksburg, Texas in January 2020. We picked out a VRBO place to stay. Had a wonderful time. So much so that we are planning to do so again this year pending any restrictions that might be in place come January 2021. We took a lot of memories from our trip with 111 pictures during our trip. Some great pictures in the group and wonderful memories of spending time with friends in Texas.

We are planning another trip now for January 2021 by going through to make our selections for where to stay. We think we want to stay some place different than we did last time. I expect a lot more pictures and a lot more stories... I will try to record where we go this time around so I can write it here and note our favorites. 

Oh, I did forget to mention that we did sign up for two wine clubs which has been fun getting wine in the mail about every three months. This is the first time we have ever signed up for a wine club and we did two of them while in Texas. We had wine shipped back years ago from California when we visited wine country, but had never signed up for a wine club. So fun! It is obvious we need to drink more wine though as it is starting to collect in our dining room wine cabinets.

Quick Trip to Lincoln, NE

Took a quick weekend trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to see a band with Greg and Erin. This happened on a weekend about a week after we had returned from Texas. A friend of Erin and Greg was the stage manager for Blue Man Group, so we went up to see them and enjoy the town. I had never seen the Blue Man Group and had a really good time. I think we hit just about every brewery and drank a lot of delicious beers. For a quick get away, and again not knowing this would be one of our last get a ways for a few months, it was a lot of fun.

More on Sports, Kansas Basketball, Washburn, and March

When I started this post back in early February, I thought we would be enjoying sports, like usual, throughout the spring season. March Madness was about to begin, Chiefs had won the Super Bowl, and baseball was about to start. Greg and I had our season tickets for Washburn basketball games and still had a few games to attend. The first part of March looked to be a regular start of March Madness with basketball starting.... and then just about the time all the tournaments were starting, everything was canceled. Some games resumed, but eventually all games were canceled and the difficult decision was made by the NCAA to cancel all tournaments including the NCAA Tournament. 

I cannot image what it was like to be an athlete during this past year and then having the season canceled. Essentially going the rest of the spring season without sports and then student athletes, and professional athletes, not knowing what the summer or fall season would look like for sports. We all went about five months without any sports at all. It was difficult for a spectator, but again, I cannot imagine how it felt for athletes not being able to play. 

Here we are now in October and closing fast on the end of 2020... which we are all ready to have end... Sports are happening now but with limited fans, or in the case of baseball, no fans at all. We started seeing sports again in July as cases of COVID-19 began to decline, but now we are seeing cases increase again with our highest single day totals since the pandemic began. We will see where we go from here with sports and hope we can continue to have sports in our lives and everyone one of us stays healthy and safe during these trying times.

COVID-19, Working from Home, and Lack of Exercise

No doubt that COVID-19 rocked all of our lives. It has changed how we live forever and no where is this seen more than in our work lives. We were very busy at work getting everyone ready to work remote for our faculty, staff, and students and eventually everyone in ITS was working from home. We did this for for about three solid months. In June, I started going back full-time with only one other person from my office going in with me. Everyone else and much of the campus was working from home. 

Working from home was fun the first few weeks. Get out of bed, put on a nice shirt, brush my hair, and get ready for the day. No travel time needed and had everything I needed because I was at home. After a about a month of this setup, it started to get old for me. First of all, the first few weeks I sat at our table in our family room basically all day long and my back started hurting so bad I could barely walk. I had to make sure I took breaks in order to get up from the table and at least walk around, go outside to play with Oliver, or basically get away from work. 

I found myself working more at home because I could get up in the morning, start working, and then go into the evening hours continuing to work because it was all right there on-line and ready for me to do any time of the day. We had a lot happening between about end of March to the beginning of June, so there was always something that could be done and always something that needed to be done.

For most of the time working at home, Carrie and I would have an adult beverage at exactly 5 pm every night of the week. It got to the point where I could not wait for 5 pm to happen so we could have our drink. This happened during the week and weekends and often times would not only have a drink but continue to work while I had a beverage. We were eating in a lot with Carrie doing the cooking so things were good. 

Slowly, I noticed that after the first month when I would join an on-line meeting my neck was thicker, rolls in my throat were starting to really show. In June when I finally started going back to work and had to start wearing pants appropriate for work, I found that my regular work pants no longer fit. Yes, I had been eating and drinking with no exercise for so long that I had outgrown my regular work pants. I was left wearing jeans which were a little too big when I first started wearing them back in February and now were a little snug.

As the months progressed through the summer months, Carrie and I started to order more on-line for delivery. Again, not much exercise happening but we had slowed down on having beverages every night starting a 5. We agreed that we would only have beverages on the weekends and not every night of the week. This helped a little as I could get back into my work pants again and did not have to throw them all out and buy new. 

I also started running during this time which was good. I ran for about eight weeks and then I got lazy and basically stopped completely. I have not run in so long at this point, I would have to start over. I could start again as I truly enjoy running, but I have found that my knees are very painful. Hurts to go down the stairs when I get up in the morning and lately my right knee hurts if I kneel and put any weight on my right knee with sharp pains going through my knee. So, not ideal, but I think it is from running. So, I do not plan to run any more. More on this on a future post about exercise plans.

Now in October, we are fully back in the office at least for my area. Other areas of IT are working remotely, but for our area, we need to be on site to install computers, meet with our customers, and keep the campus going as there is on site instruction and work to be done.


Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020
Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020

I did it! I graduated! Not the ending I, or anyone who graduated in 2020, expected, but it is where we were at at the time. I saw my name scroll across on a virtual graduation. Shared some pictures, texts, and emails with friends who graduated with me. Still hoping to have a party eventually in our back yard to celebrate my accomplishment, but that will wait for another time and might just be a party to have a party.

I graduated with a Masters in Communication and Leadership from Washburn University in May 2020. It took me four years to complete taking only one course each semester. The first year, we were not offered any summer classes, but I believe the other summers we did have summer classes we were able to take which helped speed up the process to graduation. Overall, I really enjoyed the process and the courses. Being all on-line means lots of writing in forums for thoughts and discussions with fellow students; it also meant lots of papers with papers being required in every one of the classes. Sometimes with multiple papers required for one class. 

I think the discussions and papers helped me to understand the content and made some lasting connections with students in my classes. With others being in the classes from Washburn I knew some of them already, but this was not only discussing with them in discussion posts, but often times doing group projects with them too.

I am happy to be done. After I graduated in 1999, I never thought I would go back to school. I am so happy that Washburn University created and approved the Masters of Communication and Leadership as it was exactly what I needed and fit perfectly with my expectations for the program and career. 

Wrap It All Up to End this Post

A lot has happened since my last post as outlined above. I was sidetracked in doing posts to my blog with finishing school, work, and then COVID-19 affecting our lives. I post this to catch up with some of the things that have happened since my last post, as I mentioned, but also to help get me back into the swing of posting on a regular basis. My goal is to post at least once a week from this point forward... might not be long posts, like this one, but at least once a week is my goal. See how it works out and looking forward to regular posts again.

Be safe and connect with your friends and family as often as possible.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Middle of October and Only a Few Months Left in 2020

Where has 2020 gone and where have I been? I look out at my blog as see the last time I posted was September 28, 2019. Wow! Time has flown! I admit, February 2020 through about August 2020 seems like a blur. COVID-19 started and caused a lot of issues with all of our lives. 

Well, this is a short post to say I am going to start posting to my blog again. I am going to set aside time to write mainly because I enjoy doing the updates. Watch for new posts in the coming week and I am planning to be posting on a regular basis on a variety of issues. Who knows, I might even get back to posting about grilling again as that has not been happening much either.

I hope you are staying safe! More posts later and I look forward to hearing from you.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Carrie and I Celebrated 17 Years of Marriage Taking a Trip to Minnesota

Picture of Carrie and I at Target Field

Carrie and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on September 21. For our anniversary, we booked a trip to Minneapolis, MN. We stayed in a Airbnb which was fantastic. It was our first time staying in an Airbnb, but certainly will try it again. The apartment, views, and location was fantastic! It almost did not feel real looking our our 20th floor apartment the views or going up to the top floor (31st) to walk around on the top roof to see the view, have drinks, and enjoy our time.

Light Rail in MN
Light Rail Waiting to Take Us to Next Stop
We arrived on Wednesday, September 18 and stayed through Monday, September 23. It was a nice trip. We had a lot to explore. My third trip to the Twin Cities with the most recent being just a few short years ago for a bachelor party for my brother-in-law. My first trip to Minnesota was years ago to meet my friend Michele who was staying up there. I remember it was very cold when I went the first time. This time the weather was perfect! It only rained on us the last Sunday we were there for the Royals game and all the other days were beautiful. We had fun learning the light rail system and bus system. It was really easy to get around using the Transit system with an easy to use app. It was our first time using Apple Maps with transit. It was cool to use the real-time transit maps of Apple and know exactly when a train or bus were going to arrive. The last time I was in the city we walked most places and use the sky-walks to get around the city. We did use Uber a few times when it was going to be a little wait to walk or wait for the bus/train.

We did do some culture while we were in the town. We visited a museum and read through some history in downtown St. Paul. We visited so many wonderful spots in both Minneapolis and St. Paul that I had to list them below for my memory as I look back up on our trip years from now.

Fantastic breweries and places to eat. We drank and ate at lot. Enjoyable time wondering around the city and enjoying the company of my wife for seventeen years... Carrie. She did most, OK all, the research for our trip. She researched the places to eat, drink, and did a wonderful job doing the research. If it were left to me, we would have been searching the internet when we were there checking where to go. She had a list and checked it regularly leading up and including while on the trip. There were many places both to eat and drink that we did not attend. Overall, I could not have asked for a better trip with a better person.

Looking forward to what we will book next year and years to come. Happy Anniversary Carrie! I love you!

17th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Minnesota
17th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Minnesota

Saturday, August 31, 2019

End of Summer and What Happened Over the Summer

Seriously! What happened to summer? It seems like 2019 just started and then suddenly summer is over. School starts up and feels like summer consisted of about a week and then we are back into downhill slide of the end of 2019. Each year it seems like summer moves faster and faster. Whatever I can do to make time feel like it is moving slower would be good for this next year because this year is flying.

The end of summer is marked by school starting, football games, and the push for teams in baseball to make the playoffs, but it is also the mark of Labor Day. I recall as a kid when Labor Day would arrive it always felt like the end of summer and the focus would turn only to school. The end of summer makes me want to remember what happened over the summer and possibly make it feel like time did not pass in an instant of a week.

I attended graduation from Washburn University for my nephew Spencer. I was proud to have him graduate from Washburn. The same month I attended the wedding of another nephew Brian. A beautiful service and a lot of fun at the reception. The same weekend that Brian was married, Carrie was in a play (her first) that ran a three day weekend. I missed opening night of her play but attended the next two performances. I could not have been more proud of Carrie. She had so much fun doing the play. I hope she is able to have the chance to do future plays as I cannot wait to see her perform again.

May also brought with it the end of my spring semester class. I am closing in on the end of the master's program. I did end up taking a class over the summer that proved to be a lot of work, as all the courses have been, but I think doing the course over the summer also helped to make the summer seem to fly. I take two more classes and then I will graduate with a master's degree. I cannot wait and while summer seems like it has been dragging, this process seems to be taking a longtime.

June started and Carrie was asked to be in a fund raiser for Topeka Civic Theater the "Art of Murder". She was excited to take part in the one night performance. I was far along in my class that had started and had a paper due, so I was unable to attend. I am hopeful that future plays that Carrie will be in I will be able to attend. June also brought another wedding with my nephew Patrick getting married. A beautiful wedding and fun reception, the whole family was able to attend and celebrate their marriage. Talking about time moving quickly, it seems crazy to think that I have two nephews that are now married.

July really flew by as I continued to work on my class. Class was due to end the middle of July, so a lot of reading, discussion boards, and papers to complete helped to make July skip by in a blink of an eye. The end of July we had scheduled a trip to Oklahoma and Texas for a vacation. Oklahoma was for a business trip for me. We had a good time stopping in Oklahoma City, OK for one night. Did some sight seeing, ate well, and left the next day to drive to Dallas. We then spent the next eight days visiting, having fun, and enjoying the company of our friends Javier and Corrie. Always fun to spend time with friends.

Our vacation ran from July 29 - August 6. After arriving back from vacation,  I found myself immediately back in the thick of trying to get prepared for classes at Washburn. No, not my class to start, but the start of the semester. Again, classes starting certainly makes the feeling of summer ending seem final and then suddenly here we are almost a month later with Labor Day on Monday and it really feels like summer is over. Sure, we might have more hots days, but summer is done. Now we prepare for football, fantasy football, end of baseball, and soon basketball will be starting.

All I want is for time to move a little slower as we finish out 2019. Making time to read for enjoyment, taking a break from the business that is life, and making sure to relax will help me to focus on slowing down the feeling of time flying by and enjoy being in the now. This is my goal as we finish out the year.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Beer Can Chicken Cook on a Saturday Night and I will Try Again to Improve My Process

Grilling on a Saturday Night
Smoke Rising from Grill on a Saturday Night
It has been a while since I have posted about a cook on the grill. We tried beer can chicken this evening. I have struggled somewhat with chicken on the BGE where I follow advice using indirect heat and end up with skin on the chicken that is not very good. Today, I searched around for different advice and recipes. I found one that had a good rub which included:
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

The rub smelled and looked good. I applied it directly to the chicken inside and out. I then used a Boulevard beer as it was the only beer we had in the house that was actually a can. Cooked from 6:06 pm to about 7:30 getting the temperature to target temp of 165. I used two different probes to get an accurate temperature. The probe in the breast reached the target temperature before the second probe, so the probe in the breast got up as high as 177 before it was complete.

Whole Chicken Early in the Cook
Whole Chicken Early in the Cook
Spent time on the patio listening to the Royals who started losing in the first inning with a grand slam by the Indians. Great! I continued to listen as the chicken cooked and monitored the probes. Even though the Royals were getting beat, it was an enjoyable evening on the patio. A few mosquitoes but a nice evening, so was battling those away while tending to the grill.

Left the lid closed for the first 30 minutes before opening to see what it was doing. Had a nice color happening on the skin and it was dripping a great deal into the lump. This would be the only reason that I would think about doing indirect and have a drip pan to try and catch some of that before it gets into the lump. But, I made the decision to cook without using indirect heat. I think the next time we try beer can chicken, I will do indirect as I had a few comments on BGE Forum and on the Reddit BGE sub that indirect is best and high in the dome works wonders for a crispy skin. Obviously, I did not do either of these as cooked direct and not high in the dome. So, ended up with skin that was not ideal but the meat was moist and good flavor.

Finished and Off of the Grill
Finished and Off of the Grill
Final product did not look bad. It had good color and smelled so good coming off of the grill. I think it does need to be attempted again using indirect heat. I like the flavor of the rub I used as the skin that we could eat we liked how it tasted. I just need to work on the process further and give it another attempt.

If you have a technique you like to use on your grill, BGE, or other, I would be interested to hear your technique. Feel free to post a comment.

Oliver at the Fense Protecting the Backyard
Oliver Protecting the Yard and Grill
Best part of the night was how much fun our dog has while I am grilling. He wears himself out as he patrols the back yard. Once Oliver sees me getting the tools for grilling, the lump, pulling off the cover, and generally walking in and out to prepare, he can hardly sit still. Runs to and from the door and knows exactly what is happening. He specially likes it when a drip or two falls off of a tool used for grilling. Not tonight little guy, but I know it will happen again and hopefully soon.

Until next time, have a wonderful rest of your weekend and hopefully I will post more cooks that I do in the future.

Reading Books, Goodreads, and Goal for End of Summer Reading

I am in no way an avid reader. I go through spurts where I read a lot and then other times where I read very little. I might go months without picking up a book to read. When I am taking classes and reading textbooks, I typically do not read at all. My summer class recently ended and I told myself I am going to try and read as much as I can between now and when the fall semester class starts which will be in the middle of October. So, I should have a chance to read a lot between now and then.

My Goodread profile was created back in 2013. During that time, I have not read many books at only 63. I think my most productive year of reading was last year. I pick up books that look interesting from the cover or a brief read of the info about the book from Goodreads. I have started a few books and then end up abandoning because I do not find it interesting. I need to rely more on the recommendations of other Goodreads friends as it seems that when I do find a book that sounds interesting it sometimes is not great and it takes a while to get through those as it is difficult to keep focus on the book.

Carrie has recommended a few books to me and one that I loved was Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime Discovery. It was a book I could not set down and found it inspiring to read about a true story of life in space. If you have not read the book, I highly recommend picking it up and enjoy the read.

I am always looking for new books to add to my read list, so if you have a recommendation, please feel free to comment on this post or friend me on Goodread profile to recommend a book.

My current book is Say You're Sorry (Morgan Dane #1) which I think I got for free through Amazon and being a Prime member. It is one of those books I started back in December, my spring class started, I did not read at all, summer class started, and I did not read, so I picked it back up the middle of July and continued reading. The book has been entertaining and I am almost done with it. In fact, I should finish it today as I am at 93% complete. Overall, I am enjoying this book that I found for free on Amazon.

Other than the books I get through Amazon, I typically get books from our local library through Overdrive. I only read electronic books and only on my Kindle. I sometimes will read with the Kindle app on my iPhone if I do not have my Kindle reader. Makes it nice as it syncs up from both devices including the computer. I know my mom, and others, enjoy the feel of a book in their hands while they are reading, but I prefer the e-book to a real book.

My goal is to finish two books before the fall semester begins in the middle of August. Not my semester, as my semester does not start until the second eight weeks of the fall semester as I mentioned earlier. But, I want to finish two books before the semester begins. If I give myself a goal, it helps to be able to stay on track and motivate for reading at least a chapter each day.

Please post a comment if you have book recommendations or connect with me on Goodread profile to share book recommendations. I would love to hear from you or connect with others on discussion of books.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Trip to Beloved Playa Mujeres in Cancun November 2017

Picture of Us Parasailing in Cancun Mexico
Carrie and John Parasailing in Cancun Mexico

Our vacation from 2017 and I realized I never finished this post which I had started back in December 2017 following our vacation. So, I decided to finish it out today.

Carrie and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage on September 21, 2017. To celebrate, we booked a all-inclusive vacation to Beloved Playa Mujeres in Cancun Mexico. We had looked at a number of all-inclusive resorts before selecting Beloved Playa Mujeres. We booked our vacation for November 12 - 21, 2017 so we could be back in time for Thanksgiving break. We were in for a treat of a vacation from arriving in Mexico.

Night Before We Leave and Our Flight

Carrie and I Flying American Airlines to Cancun Mexico
Carrie and John on Plane
We flew on American Airlines. We stayed at Hilton Kansas City Airport so we would not have to rush Sunday morning to get to the airport from Topeka. It worked out great! On the drive to the hotel on Saturday, we were trying to figure out where to eat going through options we found on Google. Finally Carrie asked what about Minsky's Pizza which was within driving distance and better yet they delivered to the hotel. We had taken a cooler full of beer with us for the hotel stay the night before where we enjoyed drinking beer and eating pizza. We ate the whole thing and I finished off the beer.

After finishing pizza, beer, and dessert, Carrie proceeded to get ready for the trip with such things as painting nails. I found a movie I had wanted to watch for a while but never watched. The movie was one I remember my dad liking a lot and maybe watching a few times. I recalled to Carrie when I came across the movie that I remembered my dad telling me how good the movie was and would be one I would like too. Sure enough, I tuned into Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) and I watched it to the end. I loved it! I thought it was cool that the movie was playing and I was able to watch it before leaving on our trip. I felt a connection to dad as I know how much he liked this movie. Carrie shared with me following the movie that it was based on a series of books that I might enjoy reading... which I plan to read.

We both slept well that night and got up early Sunday, November 12, 2017 ready to catch our flight. We were able to leave our car at the Hilton Kansas City Airport for $8 a day, so that was not too bad. We took the shuttle to the Kansas City airport and had no issues with making our flight. The airport was not busy at all. Our first leg of the flight was to Dallas, Texas where we then had about an hour layover in Dallas before our connecting flight to Cancun.

Started Trip Right with Vodka Tonic
Vodka Tonic on Plane
No major issues with our flights although on one of the flights Carrie's knees were up against the chair in front of us. I believe this was the first flight to Dallas as we did not pay more for emergency exit row on that first flight. We both got a beverage to drink on the plane to start our vacation. Nothing like a little vodka before noon. We are on vacation!

The second flight to Cancun, I recall the flight attendant for American Airlines talked to us a lot and was so nice! We were even talking to her as we were going off the plane. She was telling us about her travel and where she was going after leaving Cancun. It was interesting to hear her discuss her plans. I believe she said she is currently living in Dallas but of course gets to travel to all kinds of interesting locations.

Arrival and the Resort

We arrived late afternoon on Sunday, November 12, 2017. Slightly overcast when we arrived, but the weather was not bad. We knew before we left that rain was forecast for late Sunday and most of the day Monday although we thought we would catch a break and miss the rain. It was a nice evening on Sunday as we checked into our room. We spent some time unpacking and enjoying some drinks in our room before we headed out to checkout the resort. We ate the first night at Isla Grill which was very good! I had steak and it was delicious. We never did have the bananas that we heard about as that first night we were too full to get that dessert and when we tried going later in our stay, they were out of them when we ate dinner the second time at Isla Grill. The flaming bananas sounded really good though, so we missed out on those.

A few pictures are below of the view from our patio which was Hermosa 2. We really liked the location of our room and being on the ground floor. Some days we left out of the back sliding glass and did not bother locking the room. We did this when we were going to the swim up bar or spending time in the area by the pool.

Picture from our PatioPicture from our Patio 2Picture from our Patio 3Picture from our Patio 4Picture of our Pool with Me In ItPicture of Drinks in our Room

I did not get many inside pictures of our room, but I think you can find those elsewhere. My favorite part of the room was the bar. When we checked into our room and they came by to check on us if we needed anything, we told them we would prefer black label Johnny Walker. We were initially told that we would have to give up two bottles from the four liquor bottles and one bottle of wine. The liquor that was in the room for us included rum, tequila, vodka, gin, and then one bottle of wine. After we left for dinner and came back, there was a bottle of black label Johnny Walker and they left the bottle we thought we were giving up... rum. Good thing because we ended up finishing off one bottle of rum during our stay and started another one. I was really enjoying the rum while on our vacation.

Another favorite of being on the ground floor in Hermosa 2 was that the ice machine was right outside of our door. The first few days I would take the ice bucket out to fill up with ice and by the end, I was taking just our glasses out to fill up with ice for our drinks. Worked out great!

More Resort and Our Activities

For most of our vacation, we spent either by the ocean or by a pool. Duh! We got up early (by 9 am) most mornings as we did not want to waste any daytime as the days were rather short. Carrie read six or seven books while we were on vacation and I read two and half which was our goal for this vacation. Not have anything planned, relax by the ocean/pool, read, and enjoy adult beverages which is exactly what we did on our vacation. Oh, we also ate well at the resort. 

Picture of Ceviche from Sushi Bar
Ceviche with Octopus. Yum!
The sushi bar was really good! We did not spend as much time at the sushi bar as we could have done. We basically had sushi twice while on vacation. The first night we had the ceviche. Oh my! It was really good! The ceviche had shrimp, white fish, and octopus. We were not too thrilled about eating octopus, but I think it was our favorite of the combination. Really nice job with the ceviche at the sushi bar. We had ceviche again later at another restaurant, but the first night we had it was the best. They did a really nice job with the sushi at this location. We had no complaints and ate plenty of sushi. This was one of the first places we went when arriving to the resort and then we re-visited again a few nights before we left to enjoy sushi and drinks.

Our Dinner at Excellence Playa Mujeres
Dinner at Excellence
Playa Mujeres
On Tuesday, November 14,  2017, we were able to have dinner at the neighboring Excellence Playa Mujeres that we were able to eat at for "free" because we were staying over seven nights at the sister related restore of Beloved Playa Mujeres. It was fun to go over to see the other resort which was a lot larger than where we were staying. So large in fact, we had a hard time finding the ocean after we were done eating to walk back to our hotel. Anyway, we were able to hang out at Excellence Playa Mujeres for a while to drink and then eat. So many more people at this resort, so it was fun for us to be able to see that side with more people everywhere. The staff were very nice to us when visiting the other resort. They were attentive to our needs and we had a wonderful time. We were able to walk around the resort following dinner to check out the sports bar which happened to be playing Kansas basketball against Kentucky Wildcats. It was a fun night although we got out of there late and back to our room about midnight. (This might explain why we had problems finding the ocean after leaving the resort.)

Wrap Up and Conclusion

A wonderful vacation that we cannot wait to do again.  Excellence Playa Mujeres was a wonderful place to stay. The staff and various places to eat/drink were enjoyable. It had been a long time since we had been to an all-inclusive resort and hopefully we do not wait as long to do so again in the future. We have been on three cruises and enjoy those, but there is something special about all-inclusive and drinking or eating whatever and whenever we want.

See all of our pictures from our trip by clicking on the picture to the below. A memorable experience and look forward to going again.

Cancun 2017
Picture Album from Excellence Playa Mujeres from November 2017