Saturday, July 30, 2022

Lorena, Texas

Grape picking at Country Spring Winery at the crack of dawn, 7am, to beat the heat.  It was so much fun!
. . . and the day is done!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

San Antonio, Texas

Summer is in full swing with the hot temperatures.  I can not remember how many consecutive days of temperature over 100 we are on at the moment, but it is H-O-T!  We are in town this week for Colin's last competition as a 4-H member so I just had to spend one day doing a little bit of something new.  Since Colin thinks he is the best driver, I am letting him drive all week . . . y'all my nerves are a bit frazzled but also know he needs to experience.  Thank goodness for gps and voice guidance because I can not imagine how he would arrive anywhere without it.  We are heading downtown San Antonio for a bit of local culture and food.  Our first stop is Casa Navarro.
Casa Navarro is a historic site in San Antonio, Bexar County, in the U.S. state of Texas. The original house complex was the residence of Texas patriot José Antonio Navarro, a rancher, merchant, leading advocate for Tejano rights, and one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.
In the middle of a thriving downtown city, history is preserved!    Honestly, I don't remember learning about José Antonio Navarro as a student that took Texas History twice.  We I enjoyed walking around and reading about Navarro.  Life was so simple back then! 
A quick walk across the street is one place I always visit when in town, Market Square!  It is so festive and fun and usually full of people.  Our goal was to eat lunch at the ever popular Mi Tierra Cafe.  I was surprised how busy it was on a Wednesday.
And just like that my level of fun for the day was over as we had to return so Colin could practice for his competition.  For the next four days this will be my view during the day . . . 
. . . and my afternoon view at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort pool and lazy river!
Followed by nightly s'mores around the campfire even if it is before dark.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

ADIÓS Dominican Republic

It never fails that the morning of a trip is over, I just want to be home.  Today the wait will be long since our flight does not depart until late afternoon.  I guess the silver lining is that we get to enjoy the resort a little longer.  I had planned to go lay on the beach but got a bit lazy.  We ended our last meal at the exact same table as our first meal at The Chinola.  
I always try to have eggs benedict as my last breakfast on vacation and this one was good.  I also asked for a few slices of fresh avocado and got the whole avocado.
The service was considerable slower today than the past few days and the restaurant was packed.  I guess because it is the weekend and travel is busier the week before a major U.S. holiday.  It was still a lovely day.  Due to the slower service, we had very little time to get our bags packed and to the front for our car to the airport.  Of course on the way there we learned our flight was delayed an hour but it was on its way.  So instead of hanging with the masses in the terminal, I gave a credit card perk of free lounge access as part of Priority Pass a try and it worked!  I have known about this perk for years but always afraid it won't work.  Now I am not one of those snobby lounge people but must say I have never seen an airport lounge with a swimming pool . . .
. . . that overlooks the gates or one that is so close to the planes with very little separation.  It was a nice quiet spot to hang out for 3 hours, but we were so glad when our plane arrived too.  So we walked down to our gate and it was absolute mayhem . . . they were boarding two flights at the same gate and instead of using  the public address system they just stood by the door and yelled, "American Airlines flight to Austin this way!"  It was crazy.  It was good-bye Dominican Republic . . .
We settled into our seat on row 2, these seats are way better than the ones we had a few days ago.  Yes, I upgraded our seats thanks to points and it was worth every last mile.  Shortly after take off, dinner was served.  I am not much of an eat on the plane person but Colin sure is.  I had preordered one of each meal in hopes he would like one of them.  Mine was okay but pasta on a plane makes me feel so bloated.  Colin had something like beef short rib.
Colin enjoyed both of the meals while I just picked at the salads.  His salad was way better than mine!  We are both ready to be home and I can not wait for real brewed iced tea!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Dominican Republic day 3

Today is our last full day and my plan was to be outside all day!  I was up super early and claimed my chairs by 7:15am.  Pure bliss!
I had my set up with three chairs . . . two for me with one in shade and one in sun and a third in case the boy decided to leave the room and join me.  It was only 75 degrees and amazing!  Of course Bob and Sue are with me too.  Now let's talk about the beach situation.  I like clear water . . . nothing floating or sticking to me when I get in.  So apparently there is a crew that tries to get the beach clean early in the morning.  Honestly, I think it is pointless and feel bad for all the hard work they are doing.  So there are many men hand ranking the seaweed into piles.  Then a tractor comes along and collects it and then dumps into a truck that carries it away.  
This went on for hours . . . I really felt bad for the workers.  About the time many of the guest arrived a the beach the workers had left.  Since I was up so early, I decided to head to breakfast for a snack.  
Look at those perfectly poached eggs on top of avocado toast . . . how do they get them so white?  When I say I ate, read, napped all day I am not lying.  Only weird thing about being on the beach is there are no waves.  There is a barrier about a hundred yards from shore that goes from surface to sand.  It blocks the seaweed to an extent but also keeps out fish and waves.  Yesterday we walked out there and the water was clear and only chest high.  At first we thought it was a sandbar until we arrived there.  After breakfast, it was back to the beach.   I have enjoyed just sitting around doing very little while reading the adventures of Bob and Sue.  Colin decided to join me for lunch which was nice.  It was back to the beach and pool to enjoy the cooler weather.  We had more beach and pool time before retiring to the room to enjoy our pool and a nap too.
We had dinner at Noodle & Thread which I really think the décor was fun.
The on the house appetizers were yummy too . . . it is all free so it sort of made me laugh that they mentioned they were on the house.
Colin decided he wanted onion soup so back to Brando's for a late night snack.  As we were walking back to the room a storm rolled in causing the power to go off for a bit.  Thankfully it came back on so we could pack for our departure tomorrow. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Dominican Republic day 2

Today is the one day that Colin was looking forward to this trip.  I, on the other hand, am not as thrilled.  We started preparing last night and hopefully do not get sea sick.  Our boat for the morning . . .
. . . and we are off to the deep blue ocean.  Chi-Chi, Lucky, and Eli would hopefully find us some big fish and avoid any big waves!
Hiring a guide for a private fishing charter is out of my budget so we joined a group shared fishing group.  I have never been deep sea fishing and really had no idea how it worked.  I sort of thought we would get a point, stop the boat, and cast a line.  Well, I was wrong.  Instead once we got a certain distance from shore, we threw out the lines and the boat just drove around for 3 hours.  I think it is called trolley fishing?  Colin was a bit disappointed.  Let it be known that I caught the first fish of the trip!  
Oh you can imagine how that set with the boy.  At this point, we both became a bit competitive.  I just hoped that Colin would catch a fish because if not it would be a less than fun rest of the day/trip.  Thankfully, as our boat was headed back to land,  Colin's reel had a bite!  The guide grabbed this waist thing to help him reel in the "big one".  The reel was bending as he reeled for several minutes. 
He had to work long and hard to get this one on the boat!  It was a nice Mahi-Mahi that weighed about 15 pounds.  
As you can see I might have had the first catch but it was much smaller than the last catch of the day!
I really did have a great time being on the boat and neither of us were sick so that made it much more enjoyable too.  We headed back to shore and could not wait to jump in the pool and take a nice long nap.
Last night the hostess Ciara at Noodle & Thread was super nice.  She chatted with us again and talked about being a Hyatt Globalist.  She offered to make us a dinner reservation for tonight so we took her up on the offer to go to Waves.  It is located on the Zilara side so knew it would be a nice dinner with no kids.  It seems that there are more bars at these two resorts than restaurants so the wait can be a little long but not bad if you plan.  Waves is a steak house so Colin was thrilled.  My filet was great but the real standout was the sauce on those baked potatoes . . . I was wanting more!  I don't know what it was but it was like a sour cream meets hollandaise sauce that was super yummy.
The portions are small which I like but since we had time Colin wanted to try another restaurant so we went for Brando's which was French Tahitian cuisine.  I had Colin at onion soup and he liked the fact that he was carded to enter the restaurant since it was 18+.  The menu looked really good as did the food at the tables around us but a lot of things had foie gras . . . that just isn't my thing.  I decided to just have dessert there while Colin ordered a full meal!  In fact all the desserts sounded good so when asked for my order, I said I would like one of each . . . there were five!  And he brought one of each and we shared.  I thought the décor was really nice and loved the chandeliers . . .
We enjoyed the cooler weather and headed back to the room as it had been a long day . . . at least it was fun!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Dominican Republic: day 1

For some odd reason I slept until 9:30.  That hardly ever happens but I quickly changed and was out the door.  And while I could spend my day here . . .
. . . the beach is calling me!  Well there is one slight problem with the beach, sargassum or better know as seaweed.  It isn't horrible but it is there.  Thankfully it doesn't smell.
I put my feet in for a quick minute and headed back to my home for today . . .
I am not a reader.  If I am lucky then I read one book a year.  I know that is terrible but never have been into reading for fun.  This year my book of choice is . . .
Y'all, it is so funny!  It is about a couple and their adventure to explore all the National Parks in the United States.  I laughed so hard at their stories.  I love visiting our National Parks too so could relate to a lot of the stories and adventures.  Having visited many of the same parks, I know exactly what they are writing about and has me excited to get back on the road.  After a few hours, I took a break and met Colin for lunch at The Chinola.  After lunch, Colin and I headed back to the beach for a bit then back to our semi-private pool.  I love days where you just eat, sleep, read, swim, repeat.  We had dinner at the Italian restaurant, Noodle & Thread . . . the dessert was the best!
It was a great day . . . tonight we prepare for our adventure tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

HOLA Dominican Republic

 Oh passport . . . I sure have missed you!  
I have been wanting to travel international but due to the ridiculous rule of not being able to enter back into the United States without a covid test in 24 hours put a halt to that . . . SO . . . when that rule was changed I was on the computer booking a quick, last minute trip with points and miles!  This is exactly why I hoard my miles and points!  If you have watched the news you have probably seen the nightmare stories about airports being packed due to increased travel demands.  I was more worried about finding a parking spot than security so we were up early.  We found plenty of parking within walking distance to the terminal and breezed right past security thanks to TSA Pre-Check.  Of course you never know just how long this step can take and someone was unhappy we were there so early but you just never know how it will go these days.  I played my chances that we might get an empty seat between us . . .
I'm sure you know how that worked out for us . . . it didn't.  The guy that was suppose to sit there was traveling with a dog and his wife so he switched with someone else and let's just say there was absolutely no way that the new person would fit in the middle seat.  So Colin took the window, I took the middle, and the new person took the aisle.  Y'all, it was miserable for me . . . all 4 hours and 8 minutes . . . totally miserable and at that point I knew that flying in a cramped space was not for me!  I have flown a lot and not flying much the last two years I had forgotten how tight the seat and personal space really was . . . however the aisle person was half in my seat so that did not help.  I was kind but never so happy to be off the plane.  Anyway, we arrived in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with our small carry-on, cleared customs and immigration in record time had a speedy driver pick us up and were loving life again!  We were welcomed to Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana with a yummy dragon fruit drink . . .
We checked in and were shown to our room . . . I knew we had received an upgraded room but always like to surprise Colin.  Just a normal room with two beds.
Oh wait, turn around . . . 
. . . wait, what is that outside our door?
I can tell I am going to be spending a lot of time in these chairs!  We quickly headed out for lunch since we had not eaten all day and oh the view was so nice!  I think I am going to like it here.
We had a nice lunch and headed back to the room to unpack and relax.  There was a nice welcome to the resort and thanks for being a Hyatt Globalist.  I have been a loyal Hilton Honors Diamond member for many years but recently switched to Hyatt . . . while it pains me to say this the Hyatt rewards program is so much better than Hilton.  I feel valued and the use of points for amazing rooms and upgrades is far better with Hyatt.  
Colin asked to taste the wine . . . he was not the least bit impressed.  It wasn't horrible, but it was a strong cabernet sauvignon.  With map in hand, we headed out to explore the resorts.  We are staying in the family side of the Hyatt Ziva but since Colin is 18, we can also use the Hyatt Zilara that is connected next door.  We found the restaurants and pools and had a few snacks and drinks.  We both decided the family side of Ziva was way more lively and fun.  So back to Ziva we went to hang out before dinner.  The air conditioner in the room was amazing!  The temperature outside was a dream in the mid-80s.  We left Texas as we were on day 10 of over 100 degrees.  So the cooler weather was very welcoming.  The resort is an all-inclusive so is does not cost anything for food, drink, or certain activities.  While we probably lose money, it is nice to not have to worry about paying or how much we are spending.  I let Colin pick dinner as we ended up at the Tempest Table which was teppan tables and Mongolian grill.  It was okay but no need to go back.  I wanted a sweet treat so we popped into the buffet, El Mercado.
Let's just say it looked better than it tasted.  Tomorrow is a beach day . . . I am so excited!