Friday, June 18, 2010

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 7

There are 4 videos of our day at Cowboys Stadium

Other than the fact that this hotel has made me really dislike it, I had a very nice day.

We started our day by trying our luck with the hotel's complimentary breakfast. It was a hot buffet with eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast and hashbrown. But before we could eat I had walk up the starts back to our room for our tickets and accidently left my room key. Ernest's was in the room too so we were basically locked out. Now 1 I was annoyed that their poolside rooms can't be accessed from the elevators. And second, the front desk clerk refused to even offer to help me go back into the room to get our room key. The man just looked at me crazy and asked for my ID, which was also in the room. He just said, he couldn't give me another key and that was it. He went right back to work, the jerk. After calming down and Ernest trying to find a way in, I asked the man if someone could go with me to get my ID. He was even rude about that. I understand it's all about security and all, but he could have at least tried to help. I know we weren't the first guests to lock themselves out of their room. The lady in the restaurant, her name was Trudy, was very nice and helpful though.

Anyhow, after having a not so good breakfast we ended up being a little behind and had to rush getting ready for our Cowboys Stadium tour at 12:00. We rushed through traffic without really speeding and got there with 5 minutes to spare. We were expecting a lot of people at the stadium, but there were kids and buses everywhere which was beyond our expectations. Ernest was like a little kid in a candy store as soon as we walked into the Pro Shop. He wanted to see everything. I don’t blame him though. I would more than likely be worse than he was if I was at Candlestick Stadium or the 49ers New Stadium.

Our tour guide was very nice and had a great sense of humor. We started our tour on one the upper stadium levels, went to the new Cotton Bowl Headquarters, to one of the guest suites, then down to the Cheerleaders Locker Room. After that we were lead to the field and Robert, our 2 year old, was off and running. Let me just say that I had absolutely no idea that he would go as crazy as he did. I had to chase the child all over the place. Then to make things really crazy he tried to tackle one of the camera guys for the football they use for star photos. If that wasn't crazy enough he tried to tackle my 4 year old, Ernest at every opportunity he got. That alone was exhausting.

Once we hit the field we were basically on our own to explore the rest of the stadium. We saw the Miller Lite Club which was like a dark night club. The Miller Lite Club is where you can sit, have a cold beer and watch the players come and go on to the field for the games. No more empty concrete hall…LMAO. Actually I thought this was just as cool as the TVs all over the place. After talking with one of the guides we headed into the Interview Room and on to the Cowboys Locker Room, which was just simply huge as hell. Final spot was back on the field for a few more pictures and to the Pro Shop to buy Ernest a few shirts.

The whole tour took us 2 hours and by the time it was over it was way too hot and we were so exhausted that we decided to spend the evening in our room. We try to get something to eat from Jack in the Box, but that food was just crap. NASTY!!!! When my boys don’t eat it then it is pure crap. So we just ate what we had from our huge meal at Pappas Bar-B-Q.  And there ended our 2nd night in Dallas, TX.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 6

It was our last day in Salina, KS and spending time with my father.  We spent the morning finishing our packing and spending what little time we had left with my father and Uncle Herman.  Although we didn’t do a lot here I was glad to spend time with both of them and have them finally meet the boys.  When we first planned this trip we didn’t realize that it was just before Father’s Day. Turned out that this was great gift to my father and seeing us go was a bit hard on him. I will miss him a lot. The good thing is that I left making sure he knew how to see pictures of us and to keep in touch.

The trip to Dallas, TX was very interesting. The boys watched Iron Man and Ben 10 DVDs while Ernest and I both fought fatigue. For some odd reason those six hours seemed so very long to us. We ran into very heavy rain about twice in Oklahoma. In fact, the rain was so bad in one area that there were cars pulled over to the side of the road waiting for it to slow down.  We were amazed at all the casinos you saw along the way. Never knew that there were this many casinos in this part of the country. And they were huge at that.

Let me just say that by the time we reached Dallas, TX the temperature was like 97 degrees and I must admit…Gulf Coast had nothing on this heat. We arrived at our hotel and my first impression of the MCM Elegante Hotel & Suites was a good one. Notice I did say “first impression”. The front desk staff were very nice and helpful. To be honest I felt like I was getting the royal treatment. The young man even helped us with our luggage and everything. Now, with that said the room was decent. We liked the fact that it had a livingroom and bedroom area. But for this to be called a Suite it sucked (and still does). Half of the stuff in this room looked like they got it from the Motel 6 including the refrigerator, coffee pot, and microwave.  However, it was workable. The only reason I selected this place was because of the reviews I saw from different travel sites and the fact that they were the few hotels that offered free internet access within the rooms.

Once we got settled I contacted my sister to see where she wanted to meet. Well, it just so happens that she had already eaten and it made no sense to me for us to meet for dinner and she wasn’t eating. So I offered to meet her on Friday which she said that she will be free. I must admit that I am pretty nervous about meeting her, but I hope I do get that chance. It is a shame that this will be the first time I will be meeting one of my older sisters almost at the age of 40.  We have spoken to each other on the phone several times, but never met face-to-face.

Because of our change of plans we decided to go to a restaurant just up the street that we had seen coming in. The place is called Pappas Bar-B-Q. Let me just tell you that we had no idea that the food they give you would be huge portions. We’re talking small platter size baked potatoes, large ribs, big bowls of mac & cheese. And the food was very good along with the size. The food was so filling that we couldn’t even finish. Upon leaving we discovered that the name Pappas has taken over the entire block and some very high class with valet and all. Pictures to be shown later....LOL.

Before returning to our room we decided to take a trip to see the Cowboys Stadium.  Watching Ernest get so excited just seeing the stadium not only made me laugh, but made me happy knowing he will always remember his Father's Day gift. The stadium is so huge that you could see it 5 miles away on the interstate. Pulling into the parking lot I must admit was simply amazing and I am not even a Cowboys fan (GO 49ERS!). We took a few pictures and then headed over to the Wal-Mart across the street.

My comment about Wal-Mart? These people quickly reminded me why I left Denver. Got into one line and the lady was taking her sweet time going through sales paper pointing out sales and comparing coupons. I went to the express lane only to be behind a lady who decided to take up space grabbing a shopping cart for three small items. Then she left it in front of the counter making me have to walk around to put my items down. I got back at her by grabbing the cart and moving it with attitude right next to her butt. She looked me crazy but I gave the same look back. By the time I left I was pissed. After that we just went to our room and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 5

View our Family Portraits with my Dad

Our last full day with my father. It did not turn out exactly how we wanted it, but it was still ok. A long day at that.
The boys spent some private time with my father while we finished washing a few more items before our next road trip. While we were out we ate at a local Mexican restaurant called La Fiesta. Let me just say this place had food that reminded me of home. Not Mobile, AL people. I am talking about Denver, CO.I had a tamale, chicken enchilada, refried beans, and Spanish rice. Oh and of course I had to get a small thing of guacamole cause I love adding that to everything Mexican pretty much. Ernest had beef fajita with refried beans, Spanish rice, and guacamole salad. They had such good food that wouldn’t mind going back to it if we come back to Salina, KS. We even had a very nice waitress. Not the best, but she made she we were taken care of.

We wanted to go earlier to take pictures with the boys and my dad, plus dad wanted to try the cooking that my Aunt Gertrude had been bragging about. Originally we were going to barbecue and Ernest just wasn’t into it. So we decided on red beans and a pork roast. But I was lazy and wanted a nap so we got started way too late. It was around 5pm before we even left the house. Around 7pm by the time pictures were taken. And most of the dinner wasn’t even done until like midnight. The roast still needed to cook a lot longer so we just ate the red beans made with ham hocks and Conecuh sausage. Ernest also made homemade cornbread that was totally off the chain. It was light, fluffy and not sweet either. I am just glad that dad and Uncle Herman enjoyed what we fixed for them. They couldn’t stop giving praise. Even went so far as to telling me and Ernest that we needed to open our own restaurant. That made me, and I think Ernest too, feel real good.

Once everyone ate we were too full for anything else and just went to bed. The end of our last day with dad.

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 4

Most of our day was spent relaxing around the house, washing some cloths with my father, and watching the boys enjoy their time with my father’s dog, Corky (I want you to know that it wasn’t until we left that I remembered this darn dog’s name. ) Robert still was having a hard time getting use to the dog. I wanted to play with him, but refused to touch the dog or allow the dog to touch him. Every time the dog was even close he would scream his head off and run to the nearest place to sit. Just watching it was actually hilarious, especially because he would get on the couch and start laughing himself.

I fixed a very nice breakfast for everyone. We had eggs, bacon, grits, and toasted English muffins. Later on in the day after washing our cloths I enjoyed some time with spent a little time with the boys on my father’s porch.  It was really a very nice day. The weather wasn’t really that hot or humid, but it was nice enough for us to kick back and enjoy. It was great just watching my little men play with each other and not have a single worry.  For dinner we just had KFC and spent the evening watching old TV shows like “Trapper John MD”, “Flipper”, and “ In Living Color”.

Once it got dark the boys and I had another nice moment on the porch watching the lightening bugs fly around. There wasn’t a single light on the entire street and all you could see was quick little flashes of light coming from the bugs. The boys tried their hardest to point to them all, but they couldn’t keep up. It was just nice enjoying a quiet moment with them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 3

Well, our first full day in Salina, KS wasn't any where near as exciting as our past two days. It was as least nice to slow down for a little while. No worries just relaxing and getting some much needed rest.

It rain for most of the morning. My aunt Gertrude was leaving to go back to Denver, CO so we were planning how to get here Care Package to her. See she made a visit to Mobile, AL a few years ago during Mardi Gras and we introduced her to Conecuh Sausages. We barbecued and made red beans with the sausage. She just thought it was the best. So when she runs out we try to send her more. She stayed an extra day just for her package.

Anyhow, our original plan was to eat breakfast at IHOP. They had so many people waiting to be seated that we just decided to go elsewhere. Dad took us to a place called Spangles. It was little fast food joint decorated in a 1950s theme with an Elvis statue. The food really wasn't all that great for the money we spent, so you know we were actually a bit disappointed when we left.

Once back at my dad's we spent a few moments talking with my aunt and uncle. Made sure she left with her Sausages and seasonings, then said our good byes. After that we spent our time watching TV and taking naps.

My uncle did come over and suggest that we go to a festival that they have every year here. It's called The Smokey Hill River Festival. Unfortunately, it was over at 6pm so we were too late. Instead we went to a great Barbeque restaurant called Hog Wild. This place had excellent ribs and the sauce wasn't too bad at all.

The night ended with talking and watching TV. Could have been a better, but it was ok. It is just nice to be spending time with my father and watching him with his grandsons.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 2

Destination: Kansas City, MO and Salina, KS

Well as you can probably guess we planned to wake up early and get started with the day activities, but we were so exhausted from yesterday that we woke up late. The plan was to leave at 7am, but that is when we woke…LOL. But that was ok, because it only threw us off by an hour or two. And I must mention that today we accomplished a lot too. Kansas City wasn’t originally in our plans for this vacation. What changed it was a good friend of ours mentioned the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, MO. Ernest thought it would be a great idea to take the boys before heading into Salina, KS which isn’t far away. So that is where we went and ended up seeing more than expected.

The drive to Kansas City, KS had us right in the middle of heavy rain most of the way. We thought we were going to have skip going because it was raining so hard. Turns out that by the time we entered Kansas City all the rain disappeared and allowed us to see the Kansas City Chiefs Stadium. It was amazed us because it is right next to the Kansas City Royals stadium. So we put stopping back and taking pictures in our plans.

We actually got two museums in one. Never knew that the Jazz Museum and the NLBM were in the same place. You can see one for $8 or both for $10. We chose both. I was a little sad that I couldn’t take pictures of all the great things we saw. Although I have my cell phone camera I didn’t want to be disrespectful. Normally your suppose to turn in your cameras, but the lady said she didn’t want to deal with another person’s cell phone. Neither museum was very big, but it was nice to see the boys interested. Especially Ernest. We went to the Jazz Museum first because just at the ticket counter was a guy who started playing the sax and he thought that was just the coolest thing. And I must admit the man was very good. We walked in the Jazz Museum and the boys couldn’t stop smiling. Little Ernest listened to Ella Fitzgerald and seemed to really enjoy hearing her voice. Could you blame him? It is of course Ella… :-) Robert was a bit into Louis Armstrong.

The boys were really into the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. I couldn’t get Ernest to slow down. He wanted to watch every video and was asking questions all over the place. I even read a part where they mentioned how they created stereotype cartoons and other things (like an album cover) making fun of black playing baseball. My child asked me why. I simply told him that back then it was their way to say the didn’t like black men playing and it was showing their disrespect. The museum was actually very enlightening. We read how the game stadiums were separated by black and whites. How getting hotel rooms were so bad that they had to stay in black boarding houses and sometime pitch tents outside the stadiums they were to play at the next day. We even saw lockers filled with Jerseys of some of the great players in the league. One had a tie in it and Ernest thought there was something wrong….LOL. We saw like 4 huge cases of signed baseballs and they had a small field with statues that they boys simply loved. The one thing that amazed me was to see Robert stand in front of the Third Base statue and pretend to be throwing a ball. It felt good to just see my boys happy with all that they were seeing . Only wish they were old enough to really understand it all when it comes to their history.

Once we finished with the museums our goal was to go to Arthur Bryant’s Bar-B-Q to see what they have. After getting a little lost because of all the construction work we discovered the restaurant is in a casino. At first we thought the GPS got things confused again, but it didn’t. We didn’t see anything but the casino and we really didn’t think that it would be in a casino. Well, either way we decided to go to another place called Gates & Sons Bar-B-Q. And we couldn’t get it in the car good enough without my two greedy boys yelling that they want some. Ernest got two slabs of ribs with and without sauce. They were actually very good. Better without sauce more, but the sauce wasn’t bad if you wanted hot sauce. Didn’t taste much like barbeque at all. Just really good hot sauce if that makes sense at all. But it was good either way and no one was disappointed at all.

Next stop was to go back and take picture of the stadiums. Again we almost got a little lost due to reconstruction and no one told Sprint’s GPS that the Kansas City Chiefs moved their stadium….LOL. But we found it and took several photos before heading off on a 2 hr 45 minute drive to Salina, KS to finally see my Dad.

We got to Salina, KS around 8:30pm. Actually again we got a little lost. We weren't far from my father's house when it started acting rea funny, so we had to call him. Once we got to the house everyone talked and caught up on old times. My aunt Gertrude was hear visiting from Denver. I saw my uncle Herman who I haven't seen in almost 18 years. Both my aunt and uncle didn't stay long because my aunt is leaving tomorrow and needs her rest for her trip back to Denver, CO. So we spent the rest of the evening talking, looking at pictures, and watching the boys play with my dad's dog.  Ernest didn't have much a problem with the dog, but Robert only got with in a foot of him before running away all evening. It was actually very hilarious.

All in all it was an excellent day. Seeing the museums and finally after all this time seeing my father and uncle. It felt really good. Now off to bed so that we can finally relax and wake up to a brand new day.

June 2010 Family Vacation Day 1

Destination: St. Louis, MO

Let me just begin by saying that day one of our trip was eventful and very exhausting. I don’t think out of any of our road trips that we experienced as much as we did on this day. The good thing is that we accomplished everything we planned to do.

We didn’t hit the road until about 12:30 in the morning. Good thing Ernest got some rest before then because I was not help at all. I spent all my time after work making final errands including giving the boys their bath, cleaning out the refrigerator, and finishing our packing. By the time we drove off I was so tired that I was out like a light until we almost reached Memphis at 6am. However, the 10-11 hr drive to St. Louis wasn’t bad at all. Felt a lot quicker than it sounds. The boys for the most part were very well behaved. Every now and then they argued over a car or coloring book, but it wasn’t anything major at all. I think the real downside to the road trip to St. Louis was the fact that once we entered Missouri our choices of radio stations were very limited. We couldn’t find even a gospel station that sounded of interest.

Once we entered the city limits of St. Louis we were not impressed with it all. Every single building in this place was old and many looked run-down. Ernest thought that it was just one big slum…LMAO. To me it looked not different from Denver, CO. In fact, it had the Denver feel to it except that Denver is much cleaner. That is definitely the one thing I am proud of when it comes to my hometown.

Now throughout our time in St. Louis there was several times that our cell phone’s GPS had the right directions, but wrong locations. It all began with trying to find out our hotel. The GPS was trying to find Evans St or Drive, but we need to go to Pl. LMAO. We ended up right in the middle of the HOOD. However, the GPS did make up for its horrible mistake quickly and off to the Hilton Garden by the airport we went.

Now, we didn’t stay in the hotel long at all. Just long enough to check-in, bring in our bags, change cloths and back into the car we went. First place of interest…Sweetie Pies. Sweetie Pies is a restaurant we saw featured on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives". The owner is a lady that use to be a backup singer for Ike & Tina Turner. Was interest us about this place was the mac & cheese along with the atmosphere. Just seemed like a must go to place. The establishment is done with a cafeteria style feel. Holding tables aren’t allowed which is expressed on the chalkboard as you walk in. You walk in grab a tray and select one of the current day’s menu items along with sides and dessert. Ernest had their catfish, cabbage, mac & cheese, and cornbread. The boys both had spaghetti. As for me it was pork chops , okra, mac & cheese, and cornbread with banana pudding and peach cobbler for dessert. Let’s just say we were very satisfied with our meal, but too be truly honest …we have had better in Mobile, AL. Great food if you live in St. Louis, but not impressed with it much. Little Ernest ate like he had never eaten before. The darn child kept stuffing his mouth with food and asking for more. Robert liked the spaghetti, but had a hard time eating out of the small bowl he was given. Oh and the dessert well let’s just say I missed my Sister-in-Laws cakes and pies. I wasn’t into it at all.

Next stop…Gateway Arch. This is a place you have to see for yourself people. The Arch is about as wide as a football field is long if that. Looking up can make a person either dizzy or sick. It was simply amazing. The funniest part was watching this older man with his granddaughter. He had told her that if she put her ear to the Arch she could hear her dad’s morse code from the other end. Now keep in mind that he said this while giving me a wink and a smile. That 13-14 year old girl was trying her hardest to find out if it was true. I thought that was hilarious. We watched the river boats and the helicopter that takes people on scenic tours. We even allowed the boys to just run and enjoy themselves. It was an excellent family moment.

After the Arch it was on to the St. Louis Zoo. Before we got out the parking lot we noticed that the stadium where the Saint Louis Rams play was like adjacent for the arch. Then ran into the stadium for the St Louis Cardinals. Took what few pictures we could take. Once at the zoo it seemed as if it was going to rain so we didn’t see a lot. The zoo is free, but you have to pay $11 for parking. We wanted to take the train, but it only takes you around the zoo and you don’t get the chance to see many animals. Plus I don’t think the old guy doing tickets really wanted us on it anyhow…LOL. Because we thought it would rain we only checked one section of the zoo and although we saw interesting animals it wasn’t impressive. I think we saw more trees and caves than anything. Ernest was disappointed because there were no Black Rhinos. Little Ernest wanted to see Lions but they were on the other side. What we did see were a few birds, some mongooses, a lot of fish, a couple of hippos, anteaters, a lot of Asian Elephants, and a GIGANTIC Hyena. Robert got scared when we saw the last group of fish. I think it was more of the setting than the fish. It was like in a cave theme and the area was dark.

Once we were through with the zoo we had one more stop and then off to the hotel room. Last stop was another restaurant we saw on TV. It called the Iron Barley and it was featured on both "Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives" and "Man vs Food". Let me just say that this place is nowhere near as big as we thought on the TV show. It was very small, but just walking in and see the portions others had peeked my interest a lot. Since we were all tired and ready to sleep we decided to get something to go. The boys had a "Naked Double Dog" which is two long hot dogs grilled. Ernest and I both got this off menu prime rib meal. I can’t tell you the actual name or what that was on the side, but once we got to our rooms and ate we were extremely impressed. Even slightly warm the food was delicious and sooooo worth our trip. It is definitely a place we will revisit again if we ever come back through.

Well, there you have it for the end of our first day of our family vacation. We are all pleased. It was an excellent and eventful day that is for sure.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Sister and Nieces are in ChiTown

Well, Friday night was the night. My sister and my nieces drove off in their U Haul to start a brand new life in Chicago. They finally made it there Saturday afternoon.

She told me several months ago about plans to move to Chicago. However, that day came much faster than I expected it to. They spent a few days with us, but with me working and her getting last minute things done we didn't really spend much time together. I wish we did though. I am really going to miss her, little bit (Dominique), and Butterball (Moriah). Will miss them even more since Sunday (Today) Dominique is turning 8. First time I won't be spending her birthday with her. They won't be here to drive me nuts like they usually do when we babysit. No phone calls to see if want the boys to spend the night. Only updates from long distance calls, webcams, and occasional Facebook updates.

Don't get me wrong. It is good to see my sister try to start a new life. I did the same exact thing when I moved to Mobile. AL 11 years ago. It's been rough and although I do miss my family I haven't looked back. It's the best decision I could ever make. I wish my sister luck. I have faith she will do well. Although I am sad and will miss them, I am also looking forward to the road trips and exciting adventures we will have.

Love you guys very much! Stay safe!