Tag Archives: Kev and Beck

Warm Places in Winter

Wendy and I experienced an unprecedented amount of travel between November 2019 and February 2020. Ironically, one of the first trips on the calendar was a Florida and Caribbean cruise getaway with our friends Kevin and Becky. It was after this trip was booked that we decided to spend the holidays in the UK with our daughter, Taylor, along with son-in-law Clayton and grandson, Milo. Then, our daughter Madison’s wedding and Wendy’s sister, Suzanna’s wedding got added to the calendar. Add business travel to these family events and I spent 57 of 105 days living out of a suitcase between mid-November and late February.

Fortunately, the first trip we booked ended up at the end of the travel gauntlet. We were ready to escape the Midwest winter, the stress of travel, and decompress with friends.

We flew to Florida in late January and worked remotely from a lovely suite in Pompano Beach, FL, just across the street from the beach. Kev and Beck joined us mid-week. We then departed from the Port of Miami on Saturday, Feb 1 for a seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival’s Conquest. Super Bowl LII was in Miami that weekend, so it was a little crazy!

Our ports of call were Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, and Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. This was our first cruise on Carnival. Cruising will always be my favorite type of vacation. Being at sea fills something deep within me that this land-locked Midwestern boy can’t explain.

We loved our time with friends.

As for our ports of call, Grand Turk was okay. We shopped at the port and enjoyed drinks at Margaritaville. San Juan was, once again, a highlight for us. The old city is a favorite stop. We enjoyed lunch at the Choco Bar Cortes and Kev and I enjoyed a bevy and stogie at the Cigar House while the ladies shopped. St. Thomas was also an enjoyable port, and we really enjoyed a bevy at Taphus while shopping in the central business district. We chose not to get off the boat at Amber Cove, and enjoyed being on the mostly deserted ship.

The very best part of the cruise was, of course, our time with friends. We enjoyed the sun, fun, good food, good drink, laughter, love, and the making of so many memories. They are Kansas City Chief’s fans and it was a lot of fun getting to watch KC’s come-from-behind victory after dinner on Super Bowl Sunday.

We also enjoyed making new friends at the ship’s Alchemy Bar. The mixologists, Aleks, Brian, and Sonja became dear friends during the week. We learned from them and came to sincerely appreciate each one of them.

Below is a gallery of photos from our time in Florida and on the cruise. Enjoy.

The Latest… June 2019

It is a beautiful June evening at the lake as I sit to write this post. The forecast for the weekend called for rain, rain, and a little more rain. Instead, we were treated to plenty of sunshine and only a few minor episodes of precipitation. That’s a nice change of pace. This spring and early summer have been rainier than I can remember for some time. The lawn tractor has been getting a lot of work as I’ve been mowing 2-3 times a week to keep up.

The rain has been definitely good for growing things. Wendy and finished phase 3 of our landscaping plans. We had new beds put in around the back of the house and around the patio. We still have one section we need to finish on the north side of the house, but it feels great to have it done. I planted some more roses and they have really been going to town.

Speaking of flowers, Wendy has been planning for many years to have a tat reworked. She was never really happy with the original and fixing it has been a topic of discussion for a very long time. Molly at Creative Images in Des Moines did her masterful work, as usual, and the result was just what m’love wanted.

Before and after.

We got our first I-Cubs game of the year in these past few weeks, and we kicked off the summer with what’s become a traditional Memorial Day Weekend at the lake with the VLs. Our arrival at the lake was delayed as I officiated the wedding of Joel and Kara (Zondervan) Larson at the Scholte Gardens in Pella. It’s been a while since I’ve officiated a wedding. Ironically, I received a surprise message on Facebook from the couple who were my very first wedding over 30 years ago. How cool to know that they are still together and happily married. I take no credit, of course. Asking the questions is the easy part.

The rest of the weekend at the lake was fun, as always. It’s so much fun to watch the VL kids enjoying themselves and having watched them grow up right here at the Playhouse over the years. As the kids have gotten older and now entertain themselves quite nicely, it also affords the adults more time and space for conversation and that was wonderful.

Wendy and I stayed a few extra days and worked from the lake, but we had to buzz home as our friends Kevin and Linda were making a rare, brief appearance in Iowa. We met them, along with our friend Cyndi, for dinner at Cooper’s in Valley Junction and then for an after dinner drink at the Hall. Can’t tell you how much we miss having them living across the street.

The following weekend was another rare treat as all of Wendy’s siblings came home for a Hall family gathering. It was the first time that the entire Hall crew were in the same room since 2010. The agenda was very simple: be together, eat together. We got to meet our nephew, Asher, for the very first time and found out that we have another niece or nephew due to arrive by the end of the year as Wendy’s brother Luke and his wife, Brooke, announced that there was a bun in the oven. It was so much fun to be together as a family again.

It was back to the lake this past weekend for our annual early summer pilgrimage with our friends, Kev and Beck. Again, it was nice that we had better weather than was forecast. We enjoyed lunch and a leisurely few hours in the pool at the Redhead on Friday, along with some sun and relaxation on the dock on Saturday. As usual, the real focus of the weekend was sharing life, great food, great drinks, and endless conversations that move us all further up, and further in.

Hope you’re having a great summer wherever your journey finds you. Play ball!

Homecoming and a Belated Birthday Celebration

Cubbies Win!
(Photo credit: Tom Vander Well)

After a long week on a business trip to Texas, I returned home on Friday evening to an empty house. Our local community theatre opened their production of Seussical the Musical on Friday night and Wendy was taking care of Front of House and the Patron Lounge for the show. Suzanna is in the show as one of the bird girls. Wendy was home by intermission but I was pooped from my trip and Wendy was feeling the start of a summer cold coming on.

Saturday was a day for getting some things done. Wendy and I had finished clearing out an old drop ceiling in the basement a week ago and I took a load of debris to the dump while Wendy finished up some work.

It was a gorgeous day and after lunch we headed out to the lot where our new house will be built. The builder had staked out the footprint of the house on the lot so we could see where it will be. It was kind of fun to have neighbors come over to greet us and we ended up spending a lot more time out there chatting than we had expected. If all goes according to plan, we should be breaking ground in the next week or two.

Saturday evening we both helped with Front of House for Seussical before heading home to grab a George’s pizza. Wendy’s cold was getting much worse as the day progressed on Saturday, so we called it an early night.

Sunday morning things were not much better and we opted to play hooky from church. About noon we headed to Des Moines to meet Kev and Beck. For my birthday this year, Kev and Beck wanted to take Wendy and me to an Iowa Cubs game and this Sunday afternoon double header was about all that we could work into the summer schedule. So, Happy Birthday to me three months later! 🙂

It was a gorgeous afternoon for a double header, though our beloved local boys dropped both games to the Memphis Redbirds. It was very annoying. There were way too many St. Louis Cardinal fans at the ballpark. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sun, the hot dogs, the popcorn, and the beer. After the game we picked up some burgers from B-Bops and settled in at Kev and Beck’s house for some enjoyable conversation. Taylor was not there, as she and some friends are at the lake this weekend.

Wendy’s cold was still plaguing her, so we called it an earlier night than normal with Kev and Beck and headed back home. A busy week ahead work-wise and a four-show weekend for Seussical with family coming to see Suzanna. We’ve got a lot to accomplish before heading to the lake for a couple of weeks!