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Took a trip to vegas this past weekend.  I went for the cubs/sox spring training game out there.  We talked a lot about going last year.  We probably would have went this year.  It’s been a while since we had been there … 5 years maybe. 

It was hard to be away from the kids.  I’m sure I needed a break although Vegas isn’t the place to relax, per se.  I worry about them when they’re not near.  I miss seeing them.  I miss their desire to see me.  And I cannot tell you how many times I thought of you.  Not sure if it was more than usual but being there brought back a number of memories.

This time we stayed at the Mirage.  Never stayed there before.  I wasn’t even sure I had ever been at the hotel but after walking a hall and seeing california pizza kitchen I knew we had.  We had dinner there one time in the past.

At the cubs/sox game (cubs won 8-7) Corn made reference to a past experience she had with us.  I really struggled to hold back any tears.  I just nodded to her and turned away hoping the conversation moved on to something else.  It was about Al’s wedding.  But that wasn’t the only time … nearly everything we did reminded me of our times there.

It was super windy at the game but fun to be there.  We only slept some 2 hours the night before … a crazy friday night.  The guys and I talked about doing spring training again some time, but in Mesa instead … a place a little less crazy.

Vegas 2004 —




We went out for Mark & Lori’s 21st b-day. 

Braces?  Really?  I hardly remember that.

We were also out there a couple more times but I’m going to have to search for those pix.

Love u

Remembering…Puerto Vallarta

After spending some time remembering our vaca in Cancun in 2004 I decided to do another.  Here’s Puerto Vallarta NYE 2003.

NYE outside the country is simply a blast.  If it was possible we would have done it every year.  It’s nice to be home around friends but when you’re paying $100/p for some watered down beer & shot glass of champagne, why not head out of the country for a few hundred more and a week of hot weather and unlimited drinks?


Another of my favs.  I think it’s a top 50 instead of top 10.  There are way to many.  This one is definitely in the list.


 Am I always wearing a hat?


Crappy weather today so I guess we’ll just have to get our drink on.



This looks oddly familiar to a picture from Cancun.  Hmmm. Should I have been concerned?


Nah it’s just the daqari’s talking


Maybe it’s her more than me who should be scared here


But obviously she doesn’t care and maybe she actually likes me a little more now


Nevermind, she loves me regardless


Another of my favs.  Not the hottest of pictures but a fantastic memory



OMG, NYE at Cesar’s.  Did we know going in the type of bar we were making a reservation at?  Why are there so many men here and no women?  And what’s with the guy in the fishnet shirt?  And OMG are those guys making out … and those guys too?  WTF, where are we???  What happened to the other 5-10 couples who were eating dinner when it was still light out?



Happy New Year 🙂


Some late night NYE craziness




And time to go home again 🙁 But with some good color of course



When I decided to take some time today to pick a vacation and blog about it, I didn’t realize that I would be going through some 400 pictures from this particular week in Mexico. 

There were a ton of memories and somehow I had to pick & choose out of those 400 pictures the ones I want to display here.   Not an easy task.

It is just about 5 years ago to the day that we took this vaca.  Cancun is such a fun place, btw.  Just have to watch what you eat & drink because you might end up spending a good part of the day on the toilet.  Little did I realize there would be a bit of foreshadowing on this particular vaca.

We became pretty good at the self-shots over the years.  We’re a little pale here because it’s day 1 and the weather, as you can see, kind of stinks.  I’m also not too excited about the double-chin action … but nobody is perfect.


We got some sun in the morn and headed out to find something to do before we hit up the bars.  Cari would rather be at the pool tho I’m sure.



Cari took this picture.  I didn’t know ahead of time that her day with Christine was going to involve some future wedding planning.  She probably had this on her agenda all along.  They went to the moon palace, riviera maya and just happened to be witness to this wedding in progress.  Not even two years later we found ourselves at this very same spot.  Except for the fact that this gazebo was somewhere in the middle of the caribean sea due to a hurricane that sat over the yucatan for a good two days prior to our wedding. 


This horse-drawn carriage probably sealed the deal for Cari.  We didn’t have quite the same experience because of the Hurricane but she still got to ride in the carriage at least part of the way to our beachfront ceremony


And then things got a little crazy.  This is one of the only semi-appropriate pictures I could use



Snorkeling anyone?  Cari wanted nothing to do with this.  That is a lot of fish.  She freaked and didn’t even go in. 


But at least we got dressed as if we were going to go in.  We were hot, weren’t we?




She wanted me to go see THE gazebo.  We weren’t engaged at the time but she knew I was the one.  There was no question in her mind.  I was still a little apprehensive but I wasn’t going anywhere.


See … I’m just playing


We usually managed to find a little creature walking around in its shell almost every vacation we took


Then it was time to party some more. 


Our visit to Chicheniza (sp?) … we just called it Chicken Pizza (or maybe that’s what the guide called it)






Definitely one of my favorite pictures … top 10 probably



And then it’s time to go back to chilly chicago 🙁 But at least we’ll be some of the tannest in town



It has been a while since our last trip.  I think we visited there a total of 4 times together, maybe 5.  We stayed at the Monte Carlo our first time followed by New York New York and MGM Grand.  I think we did MGM Grand twice.

One of the times there it actually snowed, which is a bit unusual for Vegas but we didn’t complain too much because it’s normally really hot.  However, we really didn’t pack for snowy weather and in fact expected to lay by the pool.  So instead we gambled, took advantage of the drinks and walked the strip.

Our game was table blackjack … and then the blackjack slots once we ran low on money … and then nickle slots if we really ran low on money.   We were total virgins to the game the first time there but the dealers and other people were almost always ready to teach you.  But  you would soon learn the things you’re not supposed to do, like busting when you should have let the dealer bust.  It wasn’t a tough game for us to pick up and eventually we had things down to a science … when to double down, when to stay, when to split, when to hit.

We always had plenty of fun there.  We never went expecting to come home winners, but there was one time where everything seemed to be on our side.  Unlike one of the previous visits where I think I split Ace’s 7 times and didn’t win a thing because the dealer got 21 too, this time was different.

One of the last times, maybe the last time we were there, we had a streak of luck like no other. 

We usually played conservatively.  We would each start with $40 (at $10 tables) and once it was gone we would get up and go somewhere else.  It was a good plan because we wouldn’t ever get into a big hole.  Even if Cari lost her $40, I would loan her some of mine so that we could keep playing together.  And then once we would start winning, we would put that original $40 back in our pocket and play with the winnings.  If we kept winning, we would continue to put money into our pocket and pretend as if it wasn’t there … and it usually worked, although sometimes that $40 burned a hole in our pocket.

This last time we had some good luck at MGM Grand and then decided to go to downtown Vegas … old Vegas I think.  The same place that was featured on National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation.  This is where we ran into our streak.  I think we went at least 4 full decks without losing a hand.  And not only were we winning but we were doubling down constantly on $25, $50, & $75+.  Before we knew it we had stacks of black chips in front of us.  We’re not high rollers so this was super exciting for us.  

To this day we would talk to people about the streak of luck we had.

We always wanted to go back.  Just to have some fun.  Once we started having kids we put the Vegas vacation on hold but planned to go back in the not-to-distant future.

St. Thomas

November 2001 just a few months after 9/11.

Talk about a scary time to be on a plane.  Everyone cheered as we landed safe in San Juan before our short prop plane flight to the island of St. Thomas.  We had to run to our transfer because we were delayed leaving chicago.  They were calling our names when we finally made it to the gate.  And on top of that, the prop plane flight, the smallest plane we were ever on, had to fly in dark stormy weather…fun!


J&B advised us to pack a carryon because from their experience your luggage was often times delayed when flying between islands.  Sure enough our main luggage didn’t make it but fortunately we packed some necessary items; i.e. our swimsuits.

I think vegas was our first vacation, but this was the first of many outside the states.  Although I went to Valpo with B we didn’t become friends until we were out of school and we even missed their wedding because we didn’t really start hanging out until shortly thereafter.  If I remember correctly, they pretty much just threw out an open invite to the vacation and we were like hey, we’ll go.  It turned out to be just them and us, an odd pairing at the time, but nearly 10 years later the friendship is still very much intact.  In fact we each have two kids.  They had a boy first and then a girl…us the opposite…and 4 months, almost exactly, separate each pair of kids.   To this day we still talk about some of our times there.

snorklingWe went sailing and took in some snorkeling.  B rented a car and we drove around st. thomas and st. john islands, nearly hitting a pig or two along the way.  We also snorkeled at that beach on st. john … amazingly clear water and equally amazing scenery.  We drank those volcano drinks at that random restaurant we happened to stop at for dinner.  Wasn’t it an all-u-can-drink event at the hotel that made it an early night for at least one of us after that same person got up off the chair and made a halfass effort at diving into the pool?  Good thing someone was there to catch her:)  I believe what followed was a cold shower and some microwave mac & cheese in the hotel room. 

100-0031_IMG(The first of MANY self portraits … we’ve gotten pretty good at this)  And oh yeah, and didn’t we almost buy a timeshare??  It sounded awesome at the time and we had the paperwork sitting there right in front of us.  I can’t remember which one of us balked or if it was something else that got us out of there, but thankfully we didn’t go through with it.  Although I think we got a bottle or two of rum for sitting down with them.

 On our way home, half our luggage was liquor…6 bottles a piece I believe.   Passoa (I think that’s how you spell it … I can’t believe I still remember the name) was top on the list of favorites.

beach3And then there was shopping … where we bought our first digital camera.  For some reason we felt that we each needed to buy one.  Maybe that’s because we were early on in the relationship and weren’t quite sure where things were headed.  Is this the camera that one of us eventually lost?  I think so.  Needless-to-say, this was the beginning of many great things to come.