Category Archives: Travel

Day Three: the Arch and Saint Louis Zoo

On day two of our adventure, we spent the day reconnecting with my wife’s uncles and cousins and their respective families which was the original purpose of the trip. I had a great time meeting all of these people, what a great family.

However, on day three we set out for the tourist destinations of my youth: the Gateway Arch and the Saint Louis Zoo.  The Gateway Arch is now a national park and it is a beautiful and spacious park at the base of the Mississippi River with the historic courthouse in the background as shown in the gallery below.  Also at the base of the Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion which seemed much grander when I was a kid but did have some animatronic characters for me to enjoy.

Later in the day we also visited the Saint Louis Zoo which was free (with a $15 parking fee, still not sure how that’s free).  The zoo seemed bigger than when I was a kid which is always a plus.  What a great day of adventuring.  Enjoy!

Day One: Atlanta and Ruby Falls

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Whitehaven

Day one of our anniversary vacation and we arrived in our favorite stay-over hot spot, HOTlanta! From Atlanta, we went onto Lookout Mountain Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, and the falls are breathtaking in the belly of the mountain. The hike down is gorgeous and our tour guide was hilarious. It was a great experience for the entire group.  We would recommend this stop to everyone.

From there we moved on to Saint Louis, our original destination, but not before we stopped at this excellent rest area / welcome center on the border of Kentucky and Illinois. This building, called Whitehaven, was built in the 1860s in Paducah.  Stay with us for the rest of the week as we explore the Gateway to the West.

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Crossing the Mighty Mississip at night is beautiful!

The Falls

The Falls

The Falls

Ruby Falls

Next Vacation: St. Louis

Growing up with a stepfather from St. Louis, Missouri, we went there at least every summer it seemed as a small child.  These were fond vacations from my memories: eating at the McDonald’s on the Mississippi River, going up in the Gateway Arch, fishing in the Ozarks, catching a  Cardinal game in the old Busch Stadium, going to the zoo, and who could forget all of the museums.  Great memories indeed.

My wife and I were trying to decide what new adventure we would take together on our anniversary.  Being that her mother is originally from St. Louis and she hasn’t seen her family there in about twelve years, we thought this would make a great vacation getaway.  I could meet some of her family, take in a Cardinals game on opening day in the NEW Busch Stadium, and ultimately relive a great many childhood memories with my wife who experienced many of those same memories separately.

What would make this even better?  Meeting up with some #SQLFamily members or even a SQL Server User Group meeting along the way.  No such luck in St. Louis as apparently they only meet once a quarter and their meeting was this month.  Does anyone know of any meetings nearby or on the way?  Any of my #SQLFamily on the way or close by that they would want to meet up?  I will be coming through Atlanta as well.  Maybe we can get together?  Enjoy!

Roll of the Dice

My wife and I are confronted within the next year with an interesting quandary.   Come August, we will be empty-nesters at a young age.  Our children will be either on their own or in college.  This puts us in a unique position to move onto the next stage of our life.  We still have around twenty years left in our professional careers, but where do we want to spend that?  Do we stay in our beloved small town?

At this point, it does not look like our children will stick around to start families here so there is really nothing other than a lifetime of friends holding us to this town.  We will however, keep our house and possibly move back here for retirement.  Do we take the plunge and move somewhere totally outside of our comfort zones and reap the rewards.  Do we live the life of nomads moving every couple of years to a new town just for the sake of new and exciting opportunities?  We almost feel like high school seniors trying to pick the right college.  What do you think?

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone.”  ~ Neale Walsh

For years people told me to get outside of my comfort zone, to which I replied no thanks.  Besides, I like it in here, they all know my name.  For years I did not venture outside of the zone.  At the same time I was bored and found little excitement in life.  That all changed in 1998 when I was 27.  I had no intentions of traveling outside of the United States for fear of the unknown.  I rarely did new things because the change may be uncomfortable.

The company I was working for at the time sent me to Italy for a month to finish off and deliver our software and ensure that it was implemented properly for our client when it went into production.  I was skeptical and scared to leave the country but thought at least they have a vested interest in my safety and ensuring that I return home.  I had a prime opportunity to explore Italy being there for a month and I rarely ventured out more than a couple of blocks from my hotel.  Looking back, I wasted an opportunity of a lifetime staying in my comfort zone.

A year later I was a consultant traveling around North America.  Having realized the opportunity that I missed in Italy, I ventured out a little more but not nearly as much as I should have.  Two golden opportunities to see the world down the drain.  Over the last couple of years, I have stepped further outside the zone to begin networking and meeting new people as well as traveling.  In that time frame, my life has been more fulfilled, so much so that I look for new opportunities to step out of the circle.   Don’t get me wrong, I am not all the way there yet.  I still have to coax myself away from my iPad and force myself to talk to people and step away from the introversion.  But I can see with each step brings new opportunities and new adventures and my life has been forever changed.  Enjoy!

Let the Countdown To Summit Begin

Today is officially four weeks until I arrive at the SQL PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  So I am sure you can figure out by the title what is coming next.  That’s right, a series for the countdown onto my epicly awesome #SQLFirstTimers attendance at the most important SQL event of the year.  Have you registered to go?  There is still time, come and join me.

Stay tuned for my journey!

What a Great SQL Weekend

My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Lake Mary, Florida at SQL Saturday #151.   We enjoy getting away for the weekend and staying in our beloved Marriott chains.  This time fortunately, we had earned two free nights from previous stays this year and being a gold member we were able to score an upgrade to a fabulous room.  My wife met with some of her friends for a day of shopping while I enjoyed a great day of SQL Learning thanks to the great user groups in Orlando, OPASS and MagicPASS.

We enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel and a couple of hours in the pool before checking out and heading home.  These little weekend getaways are a great break from our every day routines.   It was also great spending time with my #SQLFamily and seeing so many of them for the first time and so many of them again.  Until you have experienced the #SQLFamily, you have no idea what you are missing.

Airline Travel Booking Is Ridiculous

Admittedly, I do not pay much attention to the travel commercials on a daily basis as I have not flown in a little over a year.  I know who they are and I pulled them out this week looking for a flight to Seattle.  Here is what I have found, they are a joke.  The only one I would recommend is hipmunk.com, which I heard about through my friend Kendal Van Dyke (blog | twitter).  It is useful for seeing the flights visually across the times along with their price and a feature they call agony (as in how long you are travelling in addition to price).

Another thing that I have learned is that Priceline.com is cheaper at the cost of airline mileage.  If you do not care about frequent flyer miles, then Priceline.com is probably your best option.  All of the other major sites seemed to have to same prices as the airlines for the same flight.  AAA, was the exception, they would charge me $25 for booking through them at the same cost.  So, they would cost me more money to book the same flight.

Maybe it is because I live in the land of Mickey Mouse that flights from here and to here rarely discounted.  Other people have told me that they have had success with some of these sites, so maybe it is just my limited window that is not flexible.  I will try again next time.  Enjoy your weekend and see you tomorrow at SQL Saturday 151.

Take Time for Yourself

Friday, we left the office early and headed an hour east to Orlando.  The wife and I checked into the Bohemian Hotel Celebration right outside of the Walt Disney World property.  The Bohemian is a beautiful hotel on the Celebration property, which is a planned community developed by Disney to have a quaint, small town feel with small shops and great scenery.

From there we headed to the Magic Kingdom for a night of wild rides and shopping.  It was a great night for my wife and I capped off by a morning swim in the hotel pool.  Little get-aways like this are great for your marriage as well as dealing with the day-to-day stress of life.  We came home this afternoon refreshed and ready to enjoy the remainder of our weekend recharged for the next week.  Do you take time for yourself?  Enjoy!

We Survived SQL Saturday #132, Pensacola

Relaxing in a Tallahassee Spring Hill Suites, I am reflecting on this weekend’s trip to Pensacola.  Why Tallahassee?  This SQL Learning trip was turned into a long weekend with my wife.  We decided to split our long ride home in half and enjoy an extra day unwinding, relaxing in the pool in sunny Tallahassee especially since we did not get to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast.  We are already planning to return to Pensacola for next year’s SQL Saturday.

After yesterday’s flooding with the declaration of the state of emergency and driving around a flash flood only to find myself in an intersection that was about 18 inches deep, I can easily say that we survived SQL Saturday #132.  However, I wouldn’t trade the experience as I arrived back at the venue in time to give my first ever presentation (I left because I was soaked from head to toe in order to put some fresh dry clothes on).  I also got to spend some time with a couple of great MCMs and meet a handful of new people to add to my #SQLFamily.

Next week, after I return home from this trip, I will blog some of the things I learned in some of the sessions and the pre-con.  Until, then relax and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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