Calling All Serious Shoppers

What happens when you unleash seven women, armed with credit cards, upon Osage Beach Premium Outlets for eight hours?

They single-handedly reverse the Deficit.

We had so much fun last year that it was decided that another road trip down to the Lake had to happen again, this time with a slight modification: we were staying the night. I found a great deal at the Osage Village Inn (it was right next to the mall). Now, it wasn’t anything fancy but we were only looking for an inexpensive place to crash after our shopping expedition. I would definitely stay there again when I make my annual shopping trip down.

We got on the road around 9 and arrived down there at the Lake around 11:30. After stopping for lunch, we headed over to pick up our VIP coupon booklets from the hotel. Just because we were there to spend an obscene amount of money, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t fiscally responsible. Of course, the first place we stopped at was the Coach Outlet. The amount of money that I spent there would dictate how much damage I could do later. Unfortunately, I did not find anything there but we did get a convert: Kim. It was her first Coach purse and we were all there to witness it. My baby’s all grown up now!

From there, it was an endless stream of stores. Since I had assembled a team of serious shoppers, we were there from about 1pm until the mall closed at 9pm. We all came away with some fantastic finds. We then sat down for dinner at City Grill and then went back to the hotel to really assess what we bought. Let’s just say that it really does not do the credit card good when you have your girlfriends convincing you to buy that shirt, dress, sunglasses, etc.

On Sunday morning, I took the girls to Kay’s for breakfast and headed back to the mall for a few returns (there was some buyer’s remorse) as well as a couple of other stores that we didn’t make it to. Then it was home. The shopping trip was exhausting but well worth it. Sometimes you just need some shopping therapy with your close friends. Ladies, it was an awesome trip. Looking forward to it next year!

A Birthday Winery Trip

We love going to the wineries and will find any excuse to go. So, for the second time this year, we headed down to Augusta to enjoy the wonderful spring weather and wine under the guise of celebrating Brandon and Sarah’s birthdays.

We first hit up Blumenhoff Winery, Brandon’s favorite. It’s a great winery to go to because of the relaxing atmosphere and the freedom to bring in outside food. The weather was amazing, sunny, no humidity, warm, breezy. Fabulous…until the swarm of bugs came attacking us. Sarah was the first victim and we all mocked her for spazzing out. Then Brandon was attacked and we laughed even harder. Okay, karma’s a bitch and soon everyone was covered in bugs. That was our signal to bug out. (Tee-hee.)

Well, on our way to Mount Pleasant Winery, the cars were craving a bit of petrol and so all stopped by the local filling station.

(That’s three college educated people trying to figure out how to use the satellite credit card machine and old timey gas pump.)

Once the gas tanks were filled, off we went to Mount Pleasant.

None of us had been there so it was a new adventure … and we will never go back. At first, everyone thought it was cool to pay $5 for five tastings (they were very liberal with the amount of wine for each tasting). That made up for a little for the crazy sticker shock of bottle prices there. I believe the cheapest wine was $24 per bottle, almost double the price of other wineries and you weren’t even allowed to bring in food. I do have to say the view was amazing but not worth the price of wine. But now we know and will not be frequenting that winery in the future.

And what better way to end a winery trip than a sobriety check point?

This was the first time I had ever seen this and they were checking every single car. We got to see a car get pulled in and a man get handcuffed. Thanks Sarah for being sober!

I know this is a very late post but it’s the thought that counts, right? Awesome birthday party, guys!

You can find some more pictures here, if you’re interested.

Welcome Winery Weather

Finally, warm weather has arrived and the best way to celebrate? Consuming pounds of cheese, summer sausage, and crackers and quenching the thirst with bottles of wine.

As you all know, I can’t drink but that doesn’t mean that I can’t go out and enjoy the fabulous weather, hang out with friends and eat. Those who can’t drink, eat! And there are even those who are talented enough to shoot wine out of their noses.

Welcome Spring!

Our Trip to the DR

Jen and I had decided that we were overdue for a vacation. And not just any old trip to see friends and family. No, we were going to go someplace warm, with a beach, just the two of us. Checking our calendar, we found the perfect excuse: if you combine Valentine’s Day with Jen’s 30th birthday (just 4 days apart), you can throw in President’s Day to save Jen a day of vacation. We made our plans and shipped off early on Saturday, the 13th for an all inclusive at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The Peimannses (Peimenn?) and Lakes both honeymooned in Punta Cana and loved it, so we completely bit their style. Jen did the legwork and found a deal at Royal Suites Turquesa through Apple Vacations and we were on our way.

Upon arrival, we were struck by the natural beauty of the resort. We found our way to the Sports Bar to get some food, as it was in between mealtimes, and got a good tour of the grounds in the process. After filling our tanks, we chilled on the beach and ordered room service for dinner, as we were tired from the early morning and looking to unwind completely.

On Sunday morning, we met with the Apple Vacations rep who explained the tours and gave us valuable information about the island. We registered for two tours and then proceeded to laze around on the beach, reading, sleeping, eating and swimming for the rest of the day.

The resort had beach beds and chairs with a variety of sun and shade options. I was very diligent with the sunblock and the shade seeking, so while I did get some sun, I managed to avoid the vacation-altering sunburns that so many of our fellow travelers were sporting throughout the week. Sunday night we had a romantic dinner at the Royal Gourmet, a restaurant reserved for guests at the Royal Suites, and enjoyed the night air from our patio.

A quick word about the Royal Suites. We chose this particular hotel for a couple reasons. One, it was recommended by Stephanie, who stayed there on her honeymoon. They enjoyed it and we figured we would as well. Two, it was adults only. Now, the Palladium resort was actually four resorts on one large property. The Royal Suites was the most “exclusive”, not allowing kids and allowing us access to the Royal Gourmet, probably the best restaurant on the property. This might sound trivial to you, but when we ventured to other restaurants or walked down the beach, the running and screaming little shits just drove us crazy. We definitely preferred the option to relax in peace and quiet.

On Monday, we got on a bus and headed to a snorkeling tour. We got on a boat and went out into the ocean, sunning ourselves on the top deck along the way.

Once we reached our destination, we got out and explored a coral reef with lots of tropical fish. It was beautiful. Probably not as beautiful as Captian Cook’s Cove in Kona, but we have very high expectations for snorkeling spots. What can I say? We’re spoiled. After exploring the reef, we went into this penned-in area where they have nurse sharks and stingrays to swim with. It was really neat. Even though you know that nurse sharks are vegetarians and bottom feeders, it’s still a jolt to look down and see a six foot shark just below you. After that, the boat took us to a natural pool — a shallow, wave-protected area well off the coast where we could swim and enjoy drinks from a floating bar. After returning to the resort, we staked out a couple of beach chairs and chilled for the rest of the afternoon and evening (starting to see a pattern?).

Afterwards, we headed to dinner at the steak and seafood restaurant. Dinner was good, but the highlight was a quiet stroll along the beach back to our room. Along the way, we saw an impressive sand pyramid with accompanying sphinx.

The next day we got up early and piled into a rugged truck for a trip up a mountain. It was a windy, hilly, bumpy ride that made the rest of the Americans sound like over-protected ninnies, but once we finally got to our destination and put on our gear, we knew it was all worth it.

That’s right: Zip Lines!

Doug and Stephanie did zip lines and loved them, so we figured it would be fun, but really, I had no idea it would be this awesome.

Look at that shiteating grin!

The longest zip line was almost half a mile over a valley and a river. It was incredible. You literally felt like you were flying. Just go experience it yourselves. It was great.

Afterwards, we came back and (surprise, surprise) laid on the beach for the rest of the day.

Our dinner that night was at the Italian restaurant. Afterwards we came back to the room and pretty much just went to bed. One thing that cannot be overestimated is just how exhausting it is to lay in the sun all day. I don’t think there was a day that we went to bed after 11.

Since we went to bed so early on Tuesday, I was up naturally around 7AM on Wednesday. We had blocked this entire day out for shopping and chilling on the beach, so I wanted to make sure we got good chairs. Since I was up anyway, I decided to partake in the Towel Game (aka the MFing Towel Game). This “game” is one where you sprint out the beach at the ass crack of dawn and toss a towel down on the best possible beach chairs to call dibs on them. Then, you can go back to bed, eat breakfast, whatever, and you still have a good seat on the beach. We had lucked into good spots the previous days, but I didn’t want to risk it.

After breakfast, we did some shopping with the various vendors along the beach and then laid on the beach for the rest of the day. Shocking, I know.

Now, you may be wondering how we can spend so much time on the beach. Jen went through three Matthew Riley books, a bunch of magazines, and half of a sudoku book. I powered through Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball (easily my new favorite non-fiction book) and the new Chuck Klosterman book. Also, we had many opportunities to hit the swim-up bar in the pool, frolic in the ocean, and take naps. I’m not usually a sedentary person, but I definitely see the appeal of the beach bum lifestyle.

On Thursday, we celebrated Jen’s birthday (I won’t say which one, but her age rhymes with “dirty”) at breakfast with some great French Toast. We went back to the room and packed, preparing for our long journey back to the cold and snowy States. It certainly was a letdown to come back, but we learned a few things:

  1. All-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are awesome.
  2. We really can lay on the beach all day.
  3. Five nights really isn’t enough (but what is?).

We had a great time, and we’re definitely not waiting that long to take a vacation again. Click here for all the pictures.

Hello, From Punta Cana, Dominican Republic!

That’s right, Bob and I are here, soaking up the Caribbean sun, frolicing in the clear, turqouise waters, avoiding the St. Louis snow. We thought we would like to let all you guys know that so you can be jealous. :-) Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about our trip when we get back!

Have fun at work on Monday! (Shoot, even if I wasn’t here, I would still have Monday off. Go President’s Day!)