Luxury, Power, Technology, Comfort, Appeal and Self Respect!

As our family continued to grow, we realized we would need another vehicle that would accommodate that fact on top of many other wants and needs that we had. We find that so many families are too quick to dismiss self image and join the mini van club. As if this is the only thing that can accommodate the needs of a growing family or the gathering of groceries.

Monica and I have been looking for a vehicle over the past 2 years that would not be a mini van but also not be a huge monstrosity of an SUV. Monica being vertically challenged could only see over the dashboards of very few vehicles. She did not want anything that was excessively large but would also include enough towing capacity to pull a larger cabin cruiser (that was naturally my need LOL). Not many options fell within this criteria. You have your Yukons, Suburbans, Crew Cabs, Navigators, Escalades, Explorers and a few other super large SUV's that could pull over 7,500 lbs but unfortunately for us, they would not fit in the garage and we felt the quality just was non existent without an absurd price increase.To be open minded, we looked at all these vehicles just to make sure it was not what we wanted. We even looked into Audis, Porsche, BMW, Infinity and Lexus and the ability to tow 7,500+ lbs was not a feature that was included with these brands

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We had been eyeing the new Dodge Durango for at least 2 years since the 3rd generation new body style dropped. Specifically the 2014 - 2015 Dodge Durango RT because the rear light were (for a lack of better terminology) BAD ASS. We were looking for black on black with all the options and the Hemi. The problem we ran into was this vehicle is a unicorn. If it existed, we were not finding it anywhere. We would occasionally find a used one or new 2014 for the same price as the brand new ones.

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We were currently in a Hyndai Santa Fe Limited which we loved very much. It was in immaculate shape as this is how we took care of it. We had even customized it with an in dash DVD player with backup camera and 22" custom wheels. We could mirror our iPhones to the 7 inch in dash double din head unit and play Hulu, Netflix or whatever else was of interest. Because we traveled so much for Real Estate photography, this was an essential addition. You can see the full video tour of our 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe limited here. It was our plan to use the money as a down payment on the Dodge Durango RT.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84cU1zT6cn4&w=640&h=360]

We were on our way home from Panama City Beach when a teenager immediately pulled out from a side street  in front of us. There was no room to react fast enough to avoid the collision. We T boned the mid 80's F-150 in the rear drivers side tire. Thank the Lord that everyone was ok. Even the Hyundai (while looking quite bad) was still running smoothly. After exchanging info and having the police write up a report, we drove back to Atlanta.

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It took 2 months to go through the typical bullshit you get from an insurance company. After 2 weeks of going back and forth with GEICO, we went up to their office to get a check for $14,000. About 10 minutes into our meeting they look at us and say "we have some bad news". Apparently in Florida you only are required to have a minimum of 10,000 in property damage which would not cover the value of our vehicle. GEICO could only cut us a check for that.

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After immediately walking out we contacted our own insurance company Nationwide. Talk about being put through the ringer with GEICO, it was worse with Nationwide. They did not want to give us the value of our vehicle. They came in at $11,000 which was $3,o00 less then what GEICO was willing to pay before they realized their clients were underinsured. Long story short, I had to provided more documents to back the value until we eventually got the price up to $13,000. Lets just say it made Monica cry how evil both insurance companies were about this process. I honestly do not know how people that work in that industry sleep at night.

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But after all that, we always try to look on the bright side of any situation, and the luck of it all is we were in a position to now get our current dream vehicle! The 2015 Dodge Durango RT! We originally were looking for a Citadel, because it was chromed out and super sexy looking but came to find from our buying experience at Chrysler, Dodge Jeep of Gwinnett that we could have everything we were looking for in the RT! It was black on black leather with red stitching and red embroidered RT seats. This is the most sexy, masculine piece of SUV on the road period. It even has the black out 20" rims and sub in the trunk from the factory! The rear end looks like something out of the movie TRON.

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We were amazed at how much technology this car had. You could locate the lowest price gas station, or see what is playing at the movies with the in dash technology Uconnect system. Heated and cooled seats with heated steering wheel. You have 2 settings on the seat that would adjust the seat to each driver, but not only that, it would adjust the seat, radio, temperature settings and all that you wanted to program to match the driver! The dash is equiped with a 7inch customizable dash cluster. When you set the cruise control, you can set a 1 to 5 car length distance so when a vehicle in front begins to brake, so does the Durango. It will come to a complete stop and start back up to speed with traffic all on cruise control. You just have to hold the steering wheel! Don't forget the power lift gate, easy third row access, keyless entry and remote start.

For safety the Durango includes many aspects like blind spot warning, backup camera with sensors, front end sensors with brake assist. The brake assist is a very cool feature. Lets say that same kid pulls out in front of us again. The Durango will instantly brake faster then your brain can react to aid in avoiding a collision.

Now, I could go on and on about the technology they put in this beauty but the Dodge website does a great job already, so check out this link to see what else is included (click the image)

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Our wish list did not originally include all this technology, but it was super cool to find out it was included with the Durango. We were looking for something that would seat more than 4 to 5 people, without taking the dreaded MINI-VAN path! The Durango could seat 6 to 7 passengers. In addition to that we needed something that could tow a cabin cruiser, to continue the "dream!" The Durango has a towing capacity of 7,400 lbs. This proved to pull a 25 foot Regal Windows Express cabin cruiser quite well! With Standard Trailer Sway Control+ applies brake pressure on alternating wheels and may adjust engine throttle to help eliminate sway and maintain vehicle and trailer system stability.

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To pull a boat that size you need power. Well the 5.7 liter Hemi has power and an exhaust sound that will make any dude smile like a joker! As Dodge would say "So don't do it. With the Dodge Durango, you're getting the triple threat of Best-in-Class power+, towing capacity+ and standard fuel economy of 25 highway mpg+. You're getting a vehicle that doesn't wait around for anyone or anything. It's the left lane or bust."

  • 360-HP 5.7L HEMI® V8 Engine with Fuel Saver Technology and 390 LB-FT of Torque
  • Performance Steering and Sport Suspension (Lowered 20mm)
  • Class-Exclusive 20-Inch Hyper Black Aluminum Wheels+
  • Dual Rear Exhaust with Bright Tips
  • High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps with Black Bezels

The moral of the story is you no longer have to settle, sell out, ride the mainstream, lower self worth by driving a mini van. You can have your cake and eat it too. We love our new 2015 Dodge Durango RT. You need to check it out for yourself. Smiles per gallon baby! Now we are officially a Mopar family!

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Need more? This is a great video covering the Durango RT

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6nVQd4q8m8&w=640&h=360]


Our Royal Caribbean Experience

So, just to preface, this was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. Paul and I have collectively been on over a dozen cruises, all with Carnival Cruise lines, so we wanted a change. This was the longest cruise we've even been on, and the first cruise as a "family", our Baby Man included! I want to use this as a record about the pros and cons of Royal Caribbean versus Carnival.

We planned this cruise with one of my best friends, Kristen (Storey) and her husband Steven. It was their honeymoon cruise, and our first cruise as a family. There were a hand full of priorities we were looking for in this cruise...

  1. Longer cruise - we've only really done max 5 night cruises, and this one was 7 nights
  2. Destination - we've been to Cozumel and Nassau more times that we'd ever want, so we wanted to go somewhere we've never been before.
  3. Baby friendly - I did a good bit of research before we planned the cruise, and wanted to be sure there was plenty of options for Liam from activities to babysitting, to family friendly dining.
  4. Party Atmosphere - Paul, as many of your know is all about the night life, so we wanted to be able to cut loose when possible.
  5. Awesome Food - We wanted to experience a variety of options relative to dining! That's what cruising is about right?

So to start, when we booked the cruise, Royal Caribbean was offering a promotion in which the 3rd and 4th stateroom guest get to stay free, so we only paid for Liam's taxes, fees and gratuity. That was a huge perk! We had heard so many great things about Royal Caribbean, so we were ready to book!

From sailing day, we could tell immediately this ship was pretty grand! Freedom of the Seas can hold 3600 guests plus another 1300 crew members. It's pretty amazing. We had a nice array of dining options, from the buffet style in WindJammer, Fine Dining in the various dining rooms, a 24 hour café, not to mention the Pizzeria and room service of course! This was all included, but there were additional dining options like a Steak House, Italian Restaurant, and more! On top of this, there was a very cool shopping mall area and awesome pools on deck 11.

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We booked an interior room, cause we figured we wouldn't be in the room, and for some reason the room felt a LOT smaller than what we've experience on Carnival. It might have been that we also had a pack and play in the room, but we have decided in the future we would definitely want to do an outer room, whether it's an ocean view or a balcony. And now that we are on the rooms, let's address the stateroom service. Our attendant was very cool, and would open our door for us on many occasions when he was nearby and we were juggling the baby. We only wished he had a little more practice and creativity with the towel animals, definitely room for improvement there! ;)

Now onto excursions! First stop was COCO CAY! This island is owned by Royal Caribbean, and it was a great option to be able to get off the boat and relax on the a gorgeous Caribbean beach. They had a food area where you could get burgers, hot dogs, fruit and other easy options. They also had waiters walking around the island with drinks, and you just handed them the sail and sign card and you're golden! They had plenty of activities, but we took this time to chill on the beach. The water was shallow and there were barely any waves, so it was great for letting Liam roam without worry!

RC_CococayWe had to take a water taxi from the boat to the island, so that was my only complaint. When we were headed back to the ship there was a ridiculous line for people waiting to catch the boat back to the ship (we estimated waiting over an hour)! Liam was not a happy camper for sure! But we survived and were happy to get back for more play!

Next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a detour to our original plan which was St. Thomas. Unfortunately there was a crew member that was ill and they had to get them medical assistance right away - ironically the fastest option was to stop in Nassau, which didn't leave us the time to get to St. Thomas. So, San Juan it was! We didn't dock until late afternoon, so it was a short trip. We decided to just wander the city a bit, hit up some shops - Specifically Pandora! Happy Birthday to me! ;) and then we just walked around some more before we headed back to the boat. There was some beautiful architecture. Definitely a cool place to visit. Obviously we would have liked to have more time here, but that was an uncontrollable, and we made the best of the time we had.

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Next stop St. Maarten! I've heard mixed reviews about this island by people that have stayed at resorts here - specifically how safe it was, so we decided to leave Liam on the ship in the nursery for this day. Paul wanted to use this stop to get some beautiful shots of the island and get a taste of local food. We decided once we got off the boat, to see if we couldn't get a cab to some random spots and ended up doing a tour around the entire island! St. Maarten is divided into the Dutch side and the French side, and we checked out both sides! Our tour guide did an awesome job with two 20-30 minute stops in which we could grab lunch and walk around. We stopped by the airport and there were planes taking off right over the beach where people were in the water...

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...Marigot Market for lunch, and back around the island to our starting point... we  learned a lot about the island. Of course Paul saw a couple that was riding around on ATVs and said "next time that's what we're getting!" We shall see... haha

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We ended this island day with some more shopping! Paul has been on a kick about getting a new watch - thank you Matthew Levine. No really, THANK YOU, cause I made out even better than Paul! We both walked away with some awesome watches, but I got the better end of the deal there! Another Happy Birthday to me! And of course it's duty-free, so you can't beat that!

Now for our Days at Sea! I decided to leave those to last cause we did have three and a half days at sea. The pools were great, but one HUGE disappointment was the fact that Liam was confined to a lousy baby pool with a non-functioning fountain. It was a huge bummer when you see the awesome H20 Zone they have. I know it's regulation, but I guess some cruises are a little more strict than others, and in this case very strict! If we wanted to enjoy the pools, Liam was in daycare. Don't get me wrong, Liam had fun in the baby pool.. for about 15-20 minutes and then he wanted more... Below is the cool H20 zone that Liam wasn't allowed in.

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Two of our 3.5 days at sea, we used the daycare for 4-5 hours so we could get some baby free pool time, and I will say the daycare was AMAZING! I was very concerned going on a cruise/vacation with the baby feeling like I wouldn't get any relaxation time, but we did and it was wonderful! The daycare staff was great and while Liam wasn't always very happy when he realized we were leaving him, he quickly started playing and calmed down!

That is one thing I have been very torn about going back to Carnival with the baby, is that they seem to have limited daycare hours, the Camp Carnival is only for ages 2+, and they don't offer any in-room baby sitting. We didn't use that option with Carnival but, it's nice to know we would have that option!

Next on our list of wants was a party atmosphere, and I have say that was lacking on Royal Caribbean. It was obviously a family style cruise, but the clubs were very dispersed and almost seemed hard to find. On Carnival they were all grouped together. We did see a comedy show which was very good, but even that ended earlier than we expected! The daycare closed at 12PM (Midnight), and it seemed like a lot of other things closed not long after that! But we did get out and have a good time. They did have a casino, which also adds to the cruise experience, but on this ship it felt oddly placed.

We did however enjoy the wide variety of dining options! Liam was welcome in all the dining areas, even though there were times we decided daycare was a better option. Liam loved the pizzeria, and we were in the Windjammer for several breakfast, lunches and dinners! But the highlight was definitely the fine dining, and we were especially pleased with the second formal dinner! We had some lobster tail, filet mignon, rich cheese ravioli and some decadent deserts. We also checked out some of the paid options, including Johnny Rockets, for a traditional burger and sundaes, and our last evening we splurged on Chops steak restaurant. That was definitely the premium dining experience!

In comparison between the Royal Caribbean and Carnival dining experiences, we think that the food is on par with each other. I feel like you get a little more "American" style dining with Carnival, and a more European dining experience with Royal Caribbean. They were both delicious. I will say the room service options on Carnival definitely hit the spot more. Carnival seemed to have more options, but both are pretty wonderful.

I did like with Royal Caribbean we could order room service through our TV, but I think because of that system, room service took longer and they had horrible phone operation services. I don't know how many times I tried to call room service, or one of the dining rooms or even the guest services and it would just ring and ring and ring. But it wasn't the end of the world, and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience!!

Check out some of more photos from our last night!

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You can see the rest of the photos here!


NYC…Better Late than Never

Following our trip to Philly, we headed to NYC to visit with our good friends Derrick and Jesus, and celebrate my birthday in the city! We got to check out their new place and have fun running around the city!

Day One:

First stop, Derrick and Jesus' place! It's a nice spot in Jersey, a short drive from the city! They fell in love with the colorful living and dining rooms.
NYC2013_1Next stop, Katz Deli! Paul had to get the notorious pastrami and swiss, as seen on Adam Richman's Man v. Food, and of course the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally! Everything was delish!
NYC2013_2From Katz, we headed around town for some more pics, but ended our evening with some of Paul's best work yet. NYC photos from Brooklyn! They turned out amazing! It was funny because this was the photo spot, and there were so many people with cameras out there.

NYC2013_3It was a fun-filled day, and we felt pretty good about everything we did.

Day Two:

My birthday, YEAH! All I really wanted, was some birthday cake, so we decided to head to Greenwich Village for a little window shopping and to go to The Magnolia Bakery (as seen in Sex and the City), and we got some amazing cupcakes! The peanut butter and jelly cupcake was my favorite! We decided to enjoy our deserts in the park right by Bleecker playground, it was definitely the spot to be.

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From there we decided to head to China Town for a little more shopping if you know what I mean! ;) I definitely have to say, my birthday was pretty wonderful!

NYC2013_5Before we headed back to Derrick's we decided to stop by Time Square for a couple more pictures. Paul outdid himself for sure.

NYC2013_TimeSquareHDRsAnd of course we couldn't leave the city without getting a pic of the Challenger in the city...

NYC2013_ChallengerNext time - the plan will be to stay in the city… maybe the Waldorf Astoria! hehehe


Destination Philadelphia

My cousin Marisa's wedding was fast approaching and with our Baby Man - Liam, we figured it would be a good reason to make a road trip out of the occasion. The wedding was to take place in downtown Philly, so we made a plan to continue our trip beyond the wedding, but our trip started in Philly!

Our first stop once we hit Philadelphia was of course Pat's King of Steaks, and it was definitely true to the classic Philly Cheese Steak. We tried ours with American cheese, but apparently it's supposed to be good with cheese whiz.... hmm not sure what I think about that. So we could check Philly Cheese steak off the list!Philly005 edThe wedding was at The Bellevue Philadelphia, and we were lucky enough to be able to share a suite with my parents. It was great considering we had Liam with us! The rooms were awesome and the living space was great for hanging out and visiting with family before the wedding.

Philly018 roomsWhat a great view! And of course it was great as my parents were happy to help us out so we could have some time in the city.

After settling in we couldn't resist taking pics of our little man it this posh suite!

Philly064 bwSo our first night in the city we went to the Philly's game, thanks to my brother. It was ironically the first and only baseball game I've been to this year. It was definitely a fun time, and so convenient to our hotel as we were able to take the subway! And I was happy to get my Phillies cap of ice cream, and was able to bring a souvenir back to baby man!

Philly120b pan edDay 2 in Philly: We had some time to sight-see and visit with family before the wedding! We got to see the LOVE sign, and I must say it wasn't as impressive as I imagined, but that was another must-do that got checked off the list. Liam really enjoyed it!

Philly191 edAnd the day continued with a fun visit with family! I was able to meet up with my cousin Beth and her daughter Ramona, who was born just three weeks before Liam! It was a lot of fun, so awesome to get to see everyone! Ramona is a cutie pie, and she and Liam had fun - I can't wait to see how they are together as they get older!

Philly236 edAnd before we put the camera away, my Dad had to have his photo of all the men, including baby man in their "flat caps!" It'll be fun to share all these photos with Liam one day!

The wedding was fast approaching, and we were getting ready to head to the wedding. Thankfully my parents made arrangements with my Dad's cousin Valerie to watch Liam and she volunteered to take both Liam and Ramona! Thank you again Valerie! You were an amazing baby sitter and it was also very nice to visit with you and catch up for the short time we were able to spend with you!

The evening continued with my cousin Marisa's lavish wedding! It was by far the most extensive wedding Paul or I have ever been to! The ceremony we slow to start (in a funny way), but was a very sweet ceremony! And from there we went to an awesome cocktail hour with shrimp cocktail and oyster, dim sum and sushi, and delicious cheese and meats, not to mention the various items served throughout the room. And the reception was even more pleasing with a delicious salad and shrimp cocktail, a pear sorbet palette cleanser, and a delicious fillet and crab topped white fish! Absolutely amazing! But it didn't end there, they had a 12 or 13 piece band that had no problem getting everyone on the dance floor between courses, and a closing with a delicious piece of vanilla wedding cake with raspberry filling with a scoop of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream! And you'd think that would be enough, but you could also take a little desert night-cap with you of eclairs and other sweet pastries! Mmmmmm...

Philly279 edThe evening wound down with more family shots, and we were out until brunch the next morning!

Day 3 in Philly: Started off with an extensive brunch! We were excited as we wanted to be able to show off the little ones. Beth brought Ramona and we brought Liam and both of them got to visit with all the cousins and extended family. It was nice for everyone to be able to gather one more time.

Philly308Liam wore his tie and cardigan for the occasion! It really was wonderful to see everyone!

It was our last day in Philly, so we decided we couldn't leave without doing a little more sight-seeing!

First we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the notorious Rocky steps! So cool! The funny thing is the Museum is more visited because of Rocky than because of the exhibits...

Philly318 edWe checked Rocky off the list and one last stop before we headed to NJ and NYC! The Liberty Bell! I hadn't been there since I was a little girl and it was definitely cool to see if as an adult. And it's exciting that we were able to take Liam to all these cool places, even if he won't remember any of it.

Philly367 edAnd last, but not least we decided to stop at my childhood home, in Delran, NJ! It was pretty much on the way, and very cool to be able to share with Paul.

It looks pretty much the same, except they tore down the awesome tree I used to play on that was in the front yard. Was pretty cool to drive through the old neighborhood, even if it was only a small part of the trip!

Philly392Next up, NYC here we come!

See more photos from our Philly Trip! Click Here

 


Bagel Bash 2012 | A "Legendary" Event!

With the exception of 2010 (when Paul and I were married), we have done the Annual Bagel Bash Cruise every year. Our good friend Matt has put this together for years as a celebration around his birthday and in several occasions others birthday's as well! This one was Matt's big 35th birthday and I could only dream about having a gathering of this magnitude!

The Cruise set sail on December 6th, 2012 on the Carnival Paradise with over 20 friends on board for Bagel Bash! Matt was not only surprised by the turn-out this year, going from an intimate gathering of 6 to 8 people to over doubling in size, but he also came to find a lot more planning went into this as we all had our Bagel Bash shirts on board as a surprise and there was even a tribute video! Gloria, Kristy and Paul did a lot of work putting together these special pieces to make Matt's 35th Birthday one he will never forget!

We were on the boat for 4 nights with 2 full days at sea and one day in Cozumel Mexico! It was a blast! Check out some of this great adventure!

BagelBash1The ship left port and we had our first sit down dinner! It was absolutely delicious and so much fun to embark on this awesome trip with so many friends!
BagelBash2 Being that I am pregnant (no alcohol for me :( ) for this trip, I was off to bed earlier than others and excited to relax for our first day at sea. Paul on the other hand was ready to party and that he did! He partied so much that we got a very late start on our first full day at sea - honestly we didn't get many picture other than formal night because of that! Paul really enjoyed his black suit with black tie for formal night though! He thought he was a "secret agent!" Hahaha

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Everyone looked great for formal night and we were ready for a day in Cozumel! The boat docked at 8AM, and we were off the ship by 9 or so. This was definitely the best time of the entire cruise (at least I thought so)! Matt, Gloria and a hand full of others went on a sailing excursion while Paul and I decided to roam the island! We rented a Chevy convertible and had a blast! First we drove all the way to the end of the island (where the road turned to dirt) and stopped off to visit with some local wildlife. Raccoons! I think... Then we were off to Senor Frog's to meet with Matt and the crew for lunch. We got there early and actually didn't catch them until we were on our way out - Next Stop Paradise Beach to meet up with Curtis and Natacha! The beach was beautiful and the water was clear and refreshing! It was such a great day! After leaving Paradise Beach, Paul decided he wanted some authentic Mexican food... we stopped at this place and they said they'd make us food... it actually turned out to be a whore house! We didn't stay long enough to get the food! From there we worked our way back to the port where we did some shopping (Paul and I got a little sombrero and maracas for our little one on the way! ;)). Then it was back to the ship for Matt's official Birthday and festivities!

BagelBash4One last day at sea! We took this time to relax and enjoy what was left of our vacation! What a great time! And a Happy Happy Birthday to Matt (and Erick)!

BagelBash5Next vacation I'll definitely be planning to have some adult beverages!


Our Trip to Waltrip Racing

A family friend, Janet, that works with my parents at their UPS Store is into racing hardcore! And when I say hardcore, her husband works for Napa Auto Parts, and her son used to race and now actually works at the Waltrip Racing facility (where they build their cars).

Because we were so close by (in Lake Norman), Janet got us some VIP passes to tour the facility and I have to say it was definitely an interesting trip! None of us are into racing at all... Paul loves cars but even he hadn't ever gotten into Nascar.

But seeing this facility was actually really cool! The spaces inside were divided up by specific vehicle functions like suspension, transmission, body work, etc.

We started by walking through the suspension area to get to the body and frame section. It was actually really amazing how sterile and white everything was! Not like what you see when you got the a normal mechanic's shop!

From the main floor we headed outside where we got to see where they clean and load up the cars. These trailers can hold anywhere from 2 to 4 cars at a time, and I think hold all the tires for the race too. It's insane! And on any given race they have a couple million $$$, between the cars and tires, traveling with them. This is no joke! We also got to check out where the pit crew practices and unfortunately came on a day they were not practicing. But it was cool to see where it all happens.

From here we went into the actual shop (no pictures allowed there). This is where they are building the frames, piecing the mechanics of the cars together and I believe actually building engines (although I didn't see any engines)!

After all that we headed back inside for the "museum-like" self-tour around the upper level where you can look down over everything. It was pretty cool. Of course I think the highlight for me was sitting in the adult carseat-like structure that the drivers actually sit in. It was a bit uncomfortable, but I could see why it is necessary to keep the drivers protected!

Overall it was a very cool experience! Thanks to Janet and her husband for getting us this VIP pass! Super cool!!!


Lake Norman Lake House - What a Sight!

The following weekend after my cousin's wedding we were to be back in NC for another wedding. My parents were attending this wedding as well so they decided instead of heading back to GA, and then back up to NC again they would rent a lake house on Lake Norman for the week. Unfortunately Paul and I weren't able to spend the entire week there with them, but we were able to make a long weekend of it heading back up to Charlotte Wednesday evening.

It was a beautiful cabin style lake house with an awesome view of the lake with absolutely amazing sunsets. The cabin sleeps 12 people comfortably, and would be a great house for a couple's retreat or family gathering! The driveway wrapped all the way around the house, so there is plenty of room for cars and whatever you need!

They have a bunch of decks and a screened porch. But the highlight was the covered dock and the awesome view! Check out these cool HDR photos Paul got while we were there!

We also caught an amazing sunset this evening! It was an amazing array of pink and blue colors. We couldn't have asked for a better evening setting!

The photography didn't end with this amazing sunset. Paul couldn't resist the clear evening sky and went out again to catch some more night photos. All of these are pretty amazing! You can see the stars, a shooting star in the second picture and in the third, what Paul says was planes taking off out of Charlotte. So cool!

It was definitely a very relaxing couple of days leading up to the beautiful wedding to come!


Chris and Carolyn's Wedding in Chapel Hill

The whole family (Mom's side) came together for the beautiful wedding and reception of my cousin Chris to his now WIFE, Carolyn. They had a beautiful ceremony in the church and it was sweet and short, just like we like it! Paul caught a few nice images, and there's more where this came from!

The reception followed at a very cool restaurant in Chapel Hill called La Residence Restaurant. The reception was on their tropical-like patio and it provided a very nice ambiance!

We got some shots of some family members... Paul caught a picture of me and then my cousin Kim. There's definitely a resemblance there! Also got a good picture with my brother, my parents together and of course me and my Paul Paul!

The dinner was very nice and the cake was even better! I am ALWAYS looking forward to wedding cake! YUMMMM! And of course the newlyweds looked so great! Such a sweet couple!

Every time the family gets together we like to get a lot of fun pictures! Specifically my two cousins, Beth and Marissa, and myself. We have been a little trio since we were kids, and here is a little photo montage of the three of us over the years, ending with Chris and Carolyn's wedding! I think we are all aging well! I definitely like how I look better in the later pictures than the younger ones!

Overall it was a great weekend! So great to see all of our family, catch up and of course celebrate the union of Chris and Carolyn! Congrats to the happy couple!


Two Weekends @ Lake Oconee!

Paul's parent's have a beautiful house right on the lake at Lake Oconee, GA, and we have been lucky enough to spend time down there not once, but twice in the past month! We did a spontaneous one night trip down with our good friends Desi and Tristan, and it was a nice "pre-Memorial Day" weekend getaway! It was nice as we were able to test out the experience with Chewie, and Arnie (Desi and Tristan's little ones) and it was their first boating and lake experience! It was a gorgeous weekend and we were wishing  we had thought to go down sooner!

We were greeted by the neighbor's dog Sam (the beautiful black and white boxer pictured above), and he was super excited about having not only Chunk to play with, but two new pups! We spent as much time on the lake as possible! Getting out as soon as we got in and and settled and back out the next morning for a full day on the lake! The boys did great, Chewie was a great swimmer and Arnie was getting the hang of things but definitely preferred to be on the float or on the boat! Chunk too took a couple dips, but definitely enjoyed the beautiful breeze!

We were also able to catch a guy on a really unique seated ski called a "sit-down hydrofoil." Paul caught some awesome shots of him flying big time! It looks like a lot of fun! I'm not a skier myself, but I honestly think I'd be willing to try this. We talked to the guy after we caught these pictures and he said it was actually pretty easy! Probably easy for him to say, but it seems pretty cool!

And then we were back for Memorial Day weekend, and it was just as good if not better! We stocked the fridge with tons of good eats and this time we were not only hanging with Desi and Tristan, but also our good friends Derrick and Jesus came down from Charlotte and it as a great gathering of good friends. We all hadn't been together since Paul and my wedding over a year ago! We spent the entire long weekend relaxing on the lake, drinking delicious beverages and eating even better meals! It was AWESOME!

It was so hard to leave! We are so thankful that Paul's parents allowed us to take over the house for the holiday weekend and couldn't have asked for a better time with great friends. Can't wait to get back down there again soon!


Our Final Evening in Vegas...

After skiing we headed back to the city to prep for our last evening in Vegas. After all that we had done throughout the week, I have to say it was a pretty uneventful evening, but we had a good time, and called it a night fairly early!

We had dinner at Triple 7 Brewery in old Vegas, we were all starving and were surprised when we got to the restaurant and there a was a bit of a wait! But it was worth it as the food was great, there was a great selection from ribs, to nachos, to steak, chicken fingers and even sushi!

Kara and Paul both ordered the brewery sample platter of the various beers they have, and they weren't disappointed! But there is one that taste like coffee, and even Elaine didn't like it. But Paul drank it all... nothings goes to waste when he's around, least of all alcohol!

After dinner we decided to walk Freemont Street one last time... I was in search of a souvenir t-shirt - which I didn't find, and John was in search of the arcade he had wanted to visit all week! Along the way, we saw a guy get arrested, saw the really HUGE cowboy sign and Bass glass, and found the Heart Attack Grill where ironically a man suffered a heart attack not more than a few days earlier! Crazy huh?

We ended up finding the arcade that John had wanted to visit, but unfortunately by the time we had gotten there he wasn't up for it, and we decided to call it a night. But not before we said "Hi" to this adorable English bulldog! She was attracting the attention of all the ladies! Isn't she adorable!

Well I'm now finally caught up... and this is my last post from our trip to Vegas. It was an awesome trip, and I couldn't end this series without including one of my favorite parts (our recording of the Bellagio Fountain)! It's so fitting, cause it is "time to say goodbye..." to Vegas!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILBmNRUQWKU&w=750&h=411]