Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

Our holiday celebrations started with our family Christmas on Thursday night before Christmas. Paige finished finals earlier in the week and headed home for her month-long winter break. It will be great to have her home, and we'll hopefully be seeing her quite a bit before she heads back to Kansas City in a few weeks.

After dinner and gifts, we were able to take a family photo; actually we took several family photos (thank you to Gail for coming over and playing photographer, so I didn't have to try to put the camera on a barstool and use the timer, as in previous years), and Dave was cracking us up in most of them! I did manage to find one where we were all smiling and fairly serious, and had it developed in sepia tones for our New Year's photo card.

But this one below, with all of us cutting up, was one of my favorites:

Jace's favorite gift was an iPod Touch - we surprised him with Dave's old iPhone, converted to an iPod. He promptly downloaded a few of his favorite songs, several games and screen savers, etc. and has been playing it non-stop for the past week. It is hard to know what to buy Neil and Paige, but Dave did it this year, with GPS units for both of them.

On Christmas eve we went to the candlelight service at church, and then said goodbye to Dave and Neil on Christmas Day when they left for Florida to spend a few days with Dave's parents. Jace and I headed to St. Clair last night for a weekend celebration with my family... more soon, with some great pictures. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A moment on the lips, forever on the... well, you know.

My sis Tara sent me a text earlier this week "No DQ peppermint chip blizzard this year. So sad!" That's her holiday weakness, we talked about it last year. Thankfully (or NOT) they still have mine, out there everywhere, calling my name:

I don't know WHY I like these Candy Cane Hershey Kisses so much - I think part of it is the texture... as I'm eating the fourth, fifth, six one of the day, I just CANNOT get enough of the creamy white chocolate and those little peppermint chips mixed together in one perfect little bite! Now, if I just had any stinkin' willpower, I'd be ok. But I've bought more than one bag so far this holiday season... ok, more than even two bags. I'm not telling how many I've bought. I finished a bag last week and now I haven't had ANY this whole week. Progress! It is a good thing they're only a seasonal thing, I guess.

In other (related - ha!!) news, I'm back to the gym, at least in much more of a routine way than I have been the last couple of months. I tried my first step aerobics class this week. That always sounds like such a lame cliche to me, I've never really wanted to try it. But I can't get out of work in time to hit my cycling class I was doing, and this one doesn't start until 7:00 M-W. So, despite my two left feet, I tried it and liked it. A great workout, and hopefully in time I won't be fumbling around in the back of the room (if you position self directly in line with the instructor, then you can't see yourself bumbling around in the mirror!)

Off to the grocery store this morning and then cycling class at 10AM. Hope everyone is further along on Christmas shopping than me - if not, we're all in trouble!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks in Popular Bluff

That's what my youngest brother always called it when he was little - after all, what seven-year-old knows what a poplar tree is? So "popular" it was... and now that we're all grown, we just don't get there often enough.

So it was a special treat to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Poplar Bluff this past weekend at our grandparent's home. We had a smaller than usual Thanksgiving gathering, with Ann, Tara, Thomas, and Rob and families unable to make the trip due to work, other family gatherings and distance; but none had a better reason than Michele & Rob, since she's due with baby #3 any day now. (Can't wait for that phone call, when we find out if it is a boy or girl!)

So it was just Susan and her family, Dave and me (Jace was with dad's family) and Mom/Dad and Grandmother and Grandpa. But even though it was a small group, we had such a nice visit, and loved the warm, cozy beautiful home that Grandmother and Grandpa have lived in for the past couple of years.

Grandmother promised she wouldn't go overboard trying to cook everything, and she kept her word but still put together a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner - Dave helped with the ham, and made some sweet potatoes.

Dad enjoyed the fire in the living room, relaxing and reading the paper, and soon it was naptime.

The Zartman boys enjoyed their time, since they had the Wii to play games, but they're looking forward to hangin with Jace in just a few weeks for Christmas.

Grandpa presented Grandmother with a very sweet card for their 57th anniversary on Friday morning, and they then celebrated with all of us at Myrtle's Cafe. Now that Grandpa is retired, this is his daily morning routine to see all the other guys in town and have some coffee. I like to go with him early when we visit, and enjoy a cup of coffee with him and the guys.

So Myrtle's was how we wrapped up our Friday morning before heading home, and I understand that Grandmother and Grandpa got in the car a few hours later and headed to the Branson Landing for a romantic anniversary weekend. (Are you taking notes, Dave and my BILs? A romantic weekend, after 57 years of marriage!)

It was a wonderful weekend, and I was so glad that we were able to celebrate at Grandmother and Grandpa's home, thankful to be with what family could be there, and ready to see the rest of the family at Christmas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A night of "Remember when...."

Last weekend was a blast from the past for my husband, as we attended the wedding of a one of his college friends, Busby, who was getting married for the first time. I had heard stories about college days with Shawn, Hartman, Fish and Kidder over the last couple of years, and it was great to finally meet Fish and Kidder and their wives. I had already been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with Shawn, and his awesome wife Lucas, who live in St. Paul; they were down to the lake with us a couple years ago, but that was the last time we'd hung out.

Lucas is a photographer, and I always love seeing all of her photos on her blog. This one below was just with her little point and shoot camera, but she makes pictures so fun, both the ones she takes AND the ones she's in. And Dave liked her tip of always shooting self-portraits from a higher vantage point- like the pic below- no extra chin!

We enjoyed the wedding and reception at a renovated historic firehouse in downtown Springfield, and then a party afterwards at one of the guys' home - and all with the convenience of our own chaffeur, 16 year old Neil, who was happy to collect the cab fare to schlep us to and from each location!

Enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday with family and back home today. Hope everyone has safe travels and wonderful holiday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unpacking and Relaxing

It has just been one of those times where there is so much going on that the last thing on my mind is take time to sit down and write about it. That sounds so negative, like everything is bad, but it isn't. All is good, at work and at home. Long story in a nutshell, we found an incredible deal of a home, right down the street, almost twice as much room, and we were going to rent our current home to a friend. We had a contract on the other home for almost 90 days (and no, I didn't talk about it in the blog, wanted to wait until it was finalized) and then it didn't work out - after packing up our entire home, hiring a painter for the new home, and all that jazz. So the last three-plus weeks have been spent UNpacking all of our things, putting new carpet in our bedrooms, and trying to juggle all the normal everyday life stuff at the same time.

I do love our house, and we have both agreed over the past few weeks that it all turned out for the best. With the uncertainty of the economy, it absolutely is the best financial decision to stay put right here, and not to have two mortgages or homes, even with one being a rental.

This weekend is the first time I'm feeling like I am back to normal at home, can just sit and breathe and relax - things are, for the most part, back in place. One of our projects as we have settled back in has been to convert the third bedroom into what I'm calling the "game room". As I just wrote that phrase, it made me think of the Seinfeld episode where George's dad converts one of their bedrooms into a game room so he and friends can have a man room to play pool, but it is such a tight squeeze that they can't even extend the pool cues to play without hitting the wall! Our's isn't like that - no pool table, just a new leather loveseat and flat screen TV for Jace and friends to enjoy X-box and TV. A good compromise for a second living area, which was one of the things we really were looking forward to gaining in the other home. But this works well, and Jace really likes it.

It has been a whirlwind week, we were out of town last Sunday and Monday (more on that in a minute) and then getting the house back together in time for my parents' visit this weekend. I was glad that they came to visit, it certainly did help me put things in high gear to get everything unpacked and back in order (we just didn't let them into the garage to see the boxes and other stuff that isn't yet put away!). Paige also came home this weekend, her only trip home this semester - she is so busy every weekend with studying, so we were very lucky that she did have time to break away, and Jace and my parents were thrilled to see her. She and Dave made their curry and rice recipe last night; it actually isn't a spicy Indian curry, but rather an Asian curry that Dave's mom taught Paige to make.

After enjoying the curry and rice, Jace got the chess board out and Paige sat down to play a game with him. He joined the chess club at school a couple of weeks ago, and was happy to have someone to play him. Now that baseball season is over, he's signed up for a couple of after school programs - he did cross country after school for eight weeks this fall, and now chess club runs for the next two months. He's already looking forward to challenging my brother Thomas at Christmas, since Thom is who taught him to play chess a couple years ago.

Speaking of Thomas, Dave and I went to KC on Sunday last weekend and met him for lunch along with Paige and her boyfriend, Ryan. Thom was off work for the day on Sunday, and we were in town to see the Zac Brown Band that night at the Sprint Center in the Power & Light district. I didn't get to see his new apartment since we were crunched for time, so he and I made plans for me to come back up after Christmas one weekend, and get together for a day/evening.

He did stay with us until early evening, and met our friends from Dave's work, Dawn and David, who organized a group of us to see ZBB.

I'd not been to the Power & Light district, and it really was a lot of fun. We had a room at the Hilton there by the arena, and started the evening out watching the Chiefs play the Raiders at McFadden's. The boys had a couple of drinks early on, but since the other guys had to work the next day, they were pretty low key with the cocktails the rest of the evening.

The concert was great - one of my favorite things, to see live music. I'm not a huge country fan, but do like a few singers/bands, and the Zac Brown Band is one of them. Some great musicians, and a lot of fun to hear live. Dave likes their "beach music" which is along the lines of Jimmy Buffett, one of their influences. For me, when Zac Brown talked about growing up in Georgia, playing guitar and listening to James Taylor's Greatest Hits when all his friends were listening to Nirvana - that had me clapping and cheering, and our young friends (Dawn and David) laughing at me. Call me old, I guess, but JT is a classic.

We both enjoyed the evening, and have already bought tickets to head back this summer and see Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band at Arrowhead Stadium - AND we bought an extra pair of tickets as well, should any family or friends want to join us!

I'll finish up now, so I can settle in and catch up on my DVR'd Thursday night TV tonight, while Dave and Neil are out in the living room watching a DVD on fly fishing and preparing for a full day of fishing tomorrow. I'll be cozy in bed while they are up and out the door at 6:30 AM - as luck would have it, in our first REAL cold weekend of the year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fire it up!

Last Saturday night marked the second annual fall party at our dock friends Carl and Pam's home - and there was just enough of a chill outside that evening to enjoy a bonfire in Carl's massive fire pit outside (is the good doctor compensating for something, with a firepit this big!? Ok, so my husband built a deck as big as our house, I guess I shouldn't point fingers!)

We enjoyed a feast of wonderful food - Pam served a Cajun gumbo that was absolutely amazing - with rice, a spinach walnut salad and delicious crusty homemade bread... scrumptious. And for dessert, we had little cheesecake tarts, some kind of pumpkin bread/cake, a raspberry layer cake with a cream cheese frosting... But apparently I only took pictures of our friends, the bonfire and, of course, the wine!

Thank you to Pam and Carl for being fabulous friends and hosts, and getting us all together after lake season - AND for including us as honorary dock members, since our boat is in storage for the time being!

Good week so far, although I am SO ready for the first hard frost of the year to knock these allergies out once and for all.

Happy Fall!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don’t Let Your Mom Take Me to the Vet

I had to laugh when my dad told me that yesterday morning, as he and my mom were waiting for the tech to call him back for an MRI. He had cataract/Lasik surgery on one eye a few weeks ago, and while they were doing all of the prescreening tests for the surgery, they discovered an issue with one of his heart valves. (As a quasi-medical person, I should be able to tell you exactly what it was, but I can’t.) They went in and fixed it, and now he’s having a post-procedure MRI, to make sure everything looks good with his aortic artery.

The joke about the vet has been ongoing for the last several years – he likes to rib my mom and tell us kids that anytime he has anything medical going on – “Nance, don’t let your mom take me to the vet”. We’ve always had dogs, starting with a couple of Dalmations when we were really young, then my dog Charlie, Rob’s dog Sandy, and Tara’s dog Sam – just a few of the many pets over the years. Growing up in a small town, many of our dogs met their end after developing the bad habit of chasing the speeding cars up and down the hilly country road where we lived.

But a couple of dogs in the last few years have had to be put to sleep with little to no notice, after becoming ill. Mom has always been the one to lug all of the animals to the vet for shots, illnesses and for anything else they needed. So she was the one that had to make the decision with the vet to put each dog to sleep.

And my dad, with his sense of humor, liked (likes, still, how many years later!?) to joke that he doesn’t know what happened - "One day the dog was home, and the next day your mom took it to the vet and we never saw that poor dog again. I don’t know what happened – just don’t let your mom take me to the vet, Nance."

The good news is the MRI went fine, he's doing great and there's no vet in the near future.

Happy Friday to all, glad the weekend is here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jace and the Thunder

Sounds like a title for a children's book, doesn't it? Nope, just Jace's fall baseball team. I had to laugh when I saw the fall roster- one of the other teams in the league is the Sand Gnats - pretty imposing mascot! Jace's games have been on Saturdays and Sundays, and I missed the previous weekend's game because we were in KC visiting Paige. This past weekend's game was at 10:30 on Saturday morning, and the weather was unseasonably warm with temps in the mid-80s.

What a difference from this time last year, when we attended Paige's homecoming at Jewell, sitting in the bleachers bundled in hats and coats, blankets draped over our legs, holding and sipping hot chocolate to stay warm! This past Saturday I was in jeans and a t-shirt, and was sweating by the end of the game. I'm ready for fall! But hopefully the temps will remain at least fairly warm for the next couple of weekends until their fall baseball schedule is finished.

Jace has had a good season, and is really having fun playing baseball. It has been fun to see him grow and improve, and learn the strategy of the game. His dad coached the team this year, which was good and bad - I do think he really worked with Jace on pitching and the other positions he played, but the coach's son always gets a harder time than the other players, and this season was no exception. His dad readily admits that he is much harder (and yells more) at Jace about plays, etc. than any of the other players. Of course Jace's dad isn't alone in this - I like to watch the other teams and see if I can pick out the coach's son - and usually it isn't too difficult!

But Jace weathered the season well, had some great games, learned a lot and is already looking forward to next year. He played the position of catcher in the game on Saturday, he hadn't done that all season; he told me after the game that he has played it just a couple of times over the past few years. The team's regular catcher was not feeling well, and the Thunder was ahead by eight points, so Jace went in to catch the last two innings. He did great at stopping the ball, but understandably his automatic reflex was to turn his head as the ball hurtled towards home plate and his face! More than once his dad yelled "Keep your eye on the ball and your head straight; that's why you're wearing a mask!" He enjoyed catching, and I also think it will help his perspective (and understanding) next time he's on the other side, pitching.

Lots of other things going on - Dave's home from Boston after a six day visit with his dad and family; all is going well with his dad, thankfully. My diet is officially back on track with a healthy lunch today, although workouts have been sparse. Most days after work I'm just too tired to think about going to the gym, especially continuing to battle this sinus issue. But it seems to be somewhat improving. And, I know that if I just get in the workout mode again that it WILL give me energy, curb my cravings for bad food, and all that stuff. It is just time to get back to it!

Busy week otherwise, and some additional news to share, but not until things are finalized, as to not jinx myself!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We traveled to KC this past weekend to attend Paige's inducton into William Jewel's chapter of the freshman honors society, Alpha Lambda Delta. She's been back at school for six weeks now, and it was great to make the trip up to visit her. The only downside was that Jace and Neil didn't get to go with us, since Jace had a baseball game and time with his dad over the weekend, and Neil had a football game (and dogsitting duties, now that he's driving- very helpful for us!).

Dave and I gave Paige a guitar as a "congratulations" present, and she couldn't have been more surprised. She started learning how to play last year after having several friends who played, and she borrowed my guitar over the summer while she was home. But Dave wanted her to have her own guitar at school, instead of borrowing friends', and it was a perfect gift for her! I was impressed at all that she already knows, from her friends helping her AND her looking up chords/songs on YouTube - pretty impressive!

We stayed the weekend at Garry and Heather's house, but didn't get to enjoy their company, as they were celebrating Heather's 40th in Las Vegas! But we did hang with their 16 year old, Christian, who joined the three of us for dinner at an Irish pub on Friday night, and Cold Stone Creamery afterwards. There was no shortage of calories over the weekend, unfortuately - but it was loads of fun!

After spending a couple of great days with Paige and some KC friends, things got a little crazy on the way home. As we headed home on Sunday we got a call from Dave's stepmom; his dad had a balloon procedure last week to clear out some heart blockages, and was having complications that the doctors couldn't quite figure out. So Dave made the decision on Monday to head to Boston on Tues AM to be there with his dad for a few days. The report as of today is great, his dad is home from the hospital and feeling much better. I was on the road as well on Tuesday and Wednesday, heading to Poplar Bluff for my great aunt's funeral. She had been ill for sometime, and I was glad that some of our family was able to make the trip and be there for our grandmother.

My allergies, in particular sinuses (and ears) have continued to be the worst I've ever experienced - I have heard the same from many others this year, it must be a particularly bad year for pollens. Poplar Bluff is about three hours east of us, and just slightly south, but it must have been just enough of a change to trigger additional symptoms for me. My eyes watered non-stop while I was there, but it has gradually subsided now that I've been back home for 24 hours. I'll be glad when we get the first frost of the season, hopefully that will mean a big improvement in sinus symptoms.

Off to bed, ready for a good night's sleep.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Just had to include this before I get on with things and post pics from our STL baseball weekend. I love Lenny Kravitz and his music; he's so cool, and has always had a little different sense of rocker style. So, I guess I'll have to try and forgive him for this latest ensemble, with the oh-so-stylish-but-not-so-manly black leather wedge boots:

So, exactly what way is Lenny goin' here?!? I'm no fashionista, but this look is awful. It isn't just the boots - is there anything NOT feminine about the entire outfit? Cowl neck black tunic.... man purse.... and, the BOOTS. I know David Bowie made the androgynous look cool back in the 70s, but I just am not so keen on Lenny's look in 2010.

Ok, now back to my life. Not so outlandish (at all), but still lots of fun. We enjoyed our last two Cards games of the season with a couple of our favorite couples - Friday night was spent with Dave's college roomie and his wife, Scott and Robyn, and some great seats in the outfield. Last time we were in this section was back in JULY, on a Saturday afternoon game, with Jace and his friend. 100 degrees, not a bit of shade, and miserably HOT.

This game was much better - at least the weather was - the Cards still lost big; we (unfortunately) weren't too surprised about that. But the company was great, and the unexciting game just gave us more time to talk and get caught up. Dave and Robyn compared pros and cons on the iPhone/iPad, and Scott and I chatted about all the good old times after he and Dave were out of college, and Dave made friends with an old guy behind us who was also from the Boston area, and wanted to talk about how much he loved living in the Midwest.

When the game was over we hopped on the Metro Link back to their house in the suburbs, and ended the night with a couple of yummy spinach/chicken pizzas, and a lot more catching up on life. Scott and Robyn have a son that is Jace's age, and a daughter who is 15 going on 25, and their lives are as busy as ever!

After a leisurely breakfast the next morning, we said goodbye to Scott, Robyn and kids, and headed back downtown to check into a hotel right near the stadium. We were excited to spend Saturday with our friends from Kansas City, Garry and Heather, or "Geather" as Dave likes to call them. They live about 10 minutes from Paige's college, and have been awesome to her and to us - so nice to have friends like that! With that in mind, we just wanted to thank them for all that they do, with all-inclusive tix and night in St. Louis.

They took a scenic Amtrak trip from KC to STL Saturday morning (and loved it!), and after we picked them up from the station we headed out to start the day. First was some music and a beer at an outside pub near the field, and then we headed over to explore the stadium. I've been to several games in the new stadium, but had never seen the plaque and green & yellow line that shows where the old and new stadium overlap.

Once we headed inside the stadium and to our seats, it was an afternoon of eating, drinking (both all-inclusive!) and just plain fun. AND, a very close and good game, although the Cards still lost.

Later that evening we made our way around the Landing, and enjoyed some libations and more unhealthy food! Cheers!

And after a long and very fun couple of days, some of us (ok, all of us) were very tired.
(Actually, this would be a great ending picture for the weekend, but it was actually Dave resting in between the game and going out that night. Dave will no doubt give me crap that I was not up late enough to take a picture of him going to bed, as I was in bed a good hour before him that night, and he and Garry sat down in the bar and had Bailey's and coffee.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Japanese Fall Festival

No time tonight to post the pictures from our STL Cards trip; but as I took pictures all weekend, I kept seeing these photos from Jace's and my visit to the Japanese Fall Festival at Nathanael Greene park last weekend, and hated that I hadn't already posted these before now. It was a fun experience; Jace liked the martial arts exhibit and the booths with different types of Japanese art, manga, and more. The park itself was beautiful, here are just a few pics:

Off to bed now, have an early morning trip - must leave by 5:30 AM, so have set the coffee pot to auto brew at 5:15!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ahh, it feels like it is already mid-week; not sure why, since it is only Tuesday... but after two long but productive days at work, I'm feeling good about the rest of the week. Plus, Friday will be a half day of work, and then we're heading to St. Louis for our last two ballgames of the season. Too bad the Cards haven't been playing better, but it will still be a great weekend.

At home, the house is in a bit of a mess with recent updates to the bathrooms. Nothing terribly expensive, just some updating of the brass fixtures to a more modern brushed silver, and putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls. AND, taking down all the trim so that I could remove the paint I've dripped on there from the last time I painted four plus years ago. Confession time - I'm a messy painter. I wish I was neater, but I can't seem to get close enough to the ceiling without getting some paint ON it.... same with the baseboards. Poor attention to detail when it comes to painting, I admit it. So this time Dave did all the trim, and I got to handle the broad spaces with the paint roller afterwards. Hmmph - similar to when my dad demoted me from the riding mower to the push mower as a teenager, for driving too fast and not staying in the mowing lines... not enough attention to detail back then, either, I guess!

So anyway, back to the bathroom updates. Some of Dave's suggestions/thoughts over the past couple of years have been to change out/update the toilets, knock out the closet wall in the master bath, take out the whirlpool tub to add more closet space, and retile the shower in the same bathroom. But none of those are cost effective right now, and just some simple updates have made a lot of difference.

We did remove the lovely brass/glass shower door in the main bathroom, and are in the process of filling the holes and hanging a shower curtain. The only downside to this is that the realization that now doggie bathtime will be much less confined - with the glass door on there, they were "stuck" with me in the bathtub, while I used the detachable shower head to scrub them down! Now with just a shower curtain, I'm afraid I'll have a much bigger challenge on my hands with our next bathtime.

Fall shows are starting again soon, which is exciting - I only watch two or three weekly shows, but I'm ready for them to begin! In the meantime, I've been renting and watching the first season of Cougar Town, with Courtney Cox - not too bad, at $1.49 for 8 episodes. Not "Modern Family" caliber, but still pretty entertaining.

That's all for now, time for bed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Open Road

What an awesome three day weekend; I was really looking forward to some downtime after a crazy work week. Just a lot of different situations/problems going on with some of my physician clinics, and I'm the fixer, the negotiator, the meeting-setter-upper, the handler of all the sh*t! All of it is really manageable, but for this newbie it is a lot going on at the same time!

Dave got home on Thursday night last week, and we chatted about possible plans for Labor Day weekend, since Jace would be with his dad and we hadn't really even thought that far out on what we might do. Dave mentioned he had been looking at renting a Harley for Saturday or Sunday, and asked what I thought. I was a little tentative about it on Thursday night, but by Friday at noon, I was ready to end the week, and do something FUN. So I emailed him to ask if we were really going to rent one, that I was up for it; he went and checked it all out Friday afternoon and had them hold one for Saturday morning pick-up.

So off we went! But don't tell my dad. Ok, not really, I'm almost 40, and can make my own decisions, but some of you non-motorcycle people may know what I mean. I wasn't raised around motorcycles, whereas Dave has been riding motorcycles for 20+ years and has owned two or three. My first time on a motorcycle was in Sonoma Valley a couple of years ago, when Dave and I were there on a trip. My parents happened to call while we were stopped at one of the vineyards, and my dad was all "Are you wearing your helmet? Make sure you do, Nance."
With that in mind, part of me was a bit anxious about riding a motorcycle, but I felt reassured knowing that Dave is an experienced and careful driver. We rented a sweet bike, a Harley Davidson Road King:

After picking up the bike about 10:30 Saturday morning, we started our road trip heading south through Branson, and on to Highway 65, south into northcentral Arkansas. The weather was absolutely beautiful, sunny and mid-70s. We rode for two and a half hours, and our first stop was lunch at the Cliffhouse Restaurant, just outside of Jasper, AR. We ordered the totally unhealthy but absolutely delicious special of the day- barbecue beef brisket, homemade baked beans and potato salad, and a homemade biscuit, with local honey. Here is the restaurant behind me on the hillside, in the area known as the Arkansas Grand Canyon:

The next leg of our trip was about an hour and a half, to Eureka Springs, AR. We hadn't been there since April of 2009, for our birthday weekend. It was nice to be back, and the ride there was beautiful. I was comfortable enough to take a few pictures along the way:

After an hour and half of driving, my rear was ready to be off the bike! We enjoyed a beer and sat awhile on the top balcony at the Pied Piper Pub, checking out all the bikes coming and going in the parking lot:

Our last stop in Eureka Springs was a short trip up the hill to one of the town's most famous attractions, the Crescent Hotel:

The weather was perfect, the ride was beautiful, and it was great just to spend some time relaxing and catching up with Dave - couldn't ask for a better getaway! We hit the road about five o'clock, heading back towards Springfield. Our final stop was at the lake, to see some of our friends on our old dock - terrific end to the day!
Back to work this week, but today was a great day, thanks in part to a relaxing and stress-free weekend. Just wanted to say "thank you" to my honey, for planning a great road trip, and some quality time for just the two of us. I love you!
And finally, I wanted to wish a very Happy Birthday to my brother, Rob and my Aunt Mary, who both celebrated their birthday over the holiday weekend!