Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Anniversary Weekend

I've been fairly quiet recently, which is more an indication of things having been busy than anything else. I have some blogging to catch up on regarding the ill-fated Maine 2013 "guys trip", but that will be a catch-up story for another day. Brother Dave's blog is hitting the highlights (low lights?) of the trip, at least from my perspective, and that will have to suffice on that subject for the moment.

In the aftermath of the Maine trip, Amparo suggested that we try to get away for our 23rd anniversary this weekend, just the two of us. This would be a rare and wonderful thing, and after getting confirmation from brother Dave that he and his Darling Wife could watch our kids while we were gone, it was up to me to plan an overnight away. The basic goal was a nice dinner, some sort of evening entertainment and then a really good hotel. After spending some time figuring out what kind of entertainment was available nearby on the evening of the 28th, we ended up with the following: dinner at Deep Blue in downtown Wilmington, excellent seats to see Graham Nash (of Crosby Stills and Nash, as well as the Hollies) at the Grand Opera House, capped off with an overnight at the Hotel DuPont. Dave and his Darling Wife would be at our house by around 2pm Saturday, and we would be on our own until noon Sunday.

Shopping sans Children
Without the kids in tow, we decided to start our 22 hours of freedom with some unencumbered shopping at the Christiana Mall. This may not sound all that exciting, but those parents out there will likely appreciate the idea of going to the stores you want to go to and browsing things you want to see without the continual backdrop of "I'm bored...are we going home yet?". We did some shopping for ourselves as well as some shopping for Julia's upcoming birthday before heading back to Wilmington at around 4:45.

Deep Blue
Getting back to Wilmington was a breeze, and we were checking into our room at the Hotel DuPont by about 5:10. After a quick freshen up (in our very luxurious deluxe single room), we walked the short block and a half to Deep Blue, and were seated at our table by 6. We had been to this restaurant once before, a few years ago, and had been very impressed. Amp started with a Caesar salad and had the crab cakes with bacon horseradish mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. For starters I had an arugula salad with bacon, heirloom tomatoes, candied walnuts, blue cheese crumbles and a blue cheese vinaigrette. My entree was sauteed scallops with spinach spaetzle and a lobster cream sauce. We split a ginger creme brulee for dessert. Everything was wonderful.

Our view of the stage at the Grand Opera
Graham Nash at the Grand Opera
The choice of seeing Graham Nash was something of a shot in the dark, insofar as I don't know much about him other than the Hollies and CSN hit songs from many years ago. Given what was available to see on the evening of the 28th, this seemed like a good bet, and in retrospect, I couldn't have made a much better choice. I will write a separate post about this concert soon, but suffice it to say that this was a fabulous event. Nash is 71 and a half years old, but his voice was still terrific, and to hear some of these songs by a musical icon in a small venue is what live music is all about. Highlights were Bus Stop from the Hollies, Our House, Marrakesh Express and Just a Song Before I Go from CSN, Blackbird by the Beatles, and the final song of Teach Your Children by CSN. The Grand Opera is another one of those smaller venues that makes every event special. I will be keeping an eye on the event calendar for this place.

The Hotel DuPont
After the 8pm concert wrapped up at 10:40pm, we made the two block walk back to the hotel and spent the rest of our evening enjoying some quiet and relaxing time...without kids. Our room was very nice, with a living room, a large bathroom with shower and big soaking tub, and an adjoining bedroom.  Everything was clean and nice, and I would heartily recommend the Hotel DuPont to anyone looking for a really nice place to stay in downtown Wilmington.
Our living room at the hotel...

We slept in a bit on Sunday morning, getting up in time for the 9:30am room service breakfast we had scheduled the night before. It was a luxury to spend a quiet morning in the room, lounging around the breakfast table in the nice cotton robes provided by the Hotel. I could get used to that... Eventually, we showered and left in time to get home by noon, as we had promised.

An Appreciation...
We had an amazing time, and none of it would have been possible without brother Dave and his Darling Wife watching our kids while we were gone. Words cannot express how appreciative we are for having been given the gift of an overnight away. Thank you so much...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Far and Away

In a blog post yesterday, brother Dave wrote about our upcoming trip to Maine, and his brief research into whether this would be the northernmost point he had been to. It turns out it will not be for him, but having already looked into this myself (map geek that I am), it got me to thinking about the rest of my "furthests." So without further ado...

Within the United States:
  • North - Watford City ND in 2011 when we left the Theodore Roosevelt National Park north unit and drove into town for supplies. 47.8025N. Getting further north in the US would only be possible very very close to the Canadian border out west or in the vicinity of Seattle. Or Alaska of course.
  • South - Miami FL for a few different sales meetings over the years. 25.7877N. The Florida Keys would be about the only more southerly option. Leaving the continental US, Maui Hawaii is further south at 20.8000N, which was our honeymoon in 1990.
  • West - In the continental US, this would be San Francisco, at 122.4167W, when Amp and I went to SF and Napa on vacation in the early 1990's. Maui at 156.3333W is obviously further west. There is very little continental US west of San Fran; just some strips along the coast in northern California, Oregon and Washington. Some Hawaiian islands are further west than Maui.
  • East - As of right now, Hyannis MA on Cape Cod would be my furthest east point, but circumstances willing I will top that next week when we land in Maine. Woo Hoo!
  • North - Berlin, Germany (then West Berlin) at 52.5167N in the summer of 1985 as part of a 4-week Eurrail pass trip with a couple of friends. There are many cities in Europe that I have been to that are further north than Watford City, ND (including London, Brussels and Amsterdam).
  • East - Athens, Greece at 23.7167E. This was in the summer of 1986, following my sophomore year in college, when I spent much of the summer working on an archaeological survey based in Heraklion (Archaia Nemea) in the Peloponnese. Athens is 5,027 miles east of home.
  • South and West - I have been to the Philippines to visit Amp's family in Manila twice in my life. Once when Julia was 3 months old in 1998 and once when she was 3 years old in 2001. On the earlier trip, we took a day trip by boat to see the historic island of Corregidor, guarding the western entrance to Manila Bay. This was an incredibly cool experience (and should be a future "memory lane" post). This island is my furthest west at 120.5731E and furthest south at 14.3856N. Corregidor is 8,554 miles west of home (and an eternity by plane via the west coast and Japan, especially with a baby that can cry the length of the Pacific...).
This probably isn't of interest to anybody but me and perhaps Dave, but what the heck...