Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Great Urban Race

Taking a small detour from the vacation catchups....

For Terence's birthday this year we decided to run the Great Urban Race in Houston, ON his birthday (how perfect is that timing)!

In case you don't know what the Great Urban Race is... it is similar to the TV show The Amazing Race. Each team is given 12 clues to solve that require you to solve puzzles, perform challenges, and physically run your heart out in the city of your choice.
I made us some team shirts...had to represent Kiddy and Roma with Team Kadlec! Original, I know :-)

The race kicked off at Lucky's Pub in downtown Houston, everyone received their clues at noon and we're off. Our strategy...was to stay there, solve the clues, devise a plan, and figure out how the heck the Houston bus system works. We definitely didn't prepare enough for the race, who would have thought they would have us running all the way out to the Chocolate Bar!

After solving the clues, thank goodness for iPhones, we headed straight for the MetroRail and headed down to Hermann Park. We had to get to the Houston Weather Research Center to make an anemometer as proof of completion. Next we headed to the Lawndale Art Center to meet the Chipotle sponsors. I had to make a paper airplane (Terence coached me while on the Metro), then he had to fly it into a Chipotle target, two free burrito coupons as the reward! Woohoo Chipotle!

Next we knew we needed to get to a mile and half down Richmond, so we started hauling it, but like a mirage in the distance there was a bus. We started sprinting across an abandoned parking lot, holding our hands out to the opposing traffic, running across Richmond and hopped on the bus. We took it all the way out to a music shop where we  had to guess the lyrics to a popular song, then we walked to the Chocolate Shop. Took pictures of us feeding cupcakes to each other and then back down to Ervan Chew Park to learn some belly dancing. Sorry no pics of that!

Next we hiked it back down Richmond to CVS where we met the Houston Food Bank, we donated a few items and were on our way to the Timberline Fitness Center. Terence hopped on a stationary bike and went to the distance of an alegrba solution that we had solved earlier. We took a picture and headed over to St. Dane's bar to shoot some hoops.

After making a basket, we stopped at a Florist for some arts and crafts time. We made a rose out of tissue paper and a pipe cleaner we were off to the House of Dereon Media center. We got to load up on tons of promo CD's (glad we went towards the end of the day) and our last location was at Aerosol Graffitii studio. Terence and I got to spray paint our team name over one of their canvases. We completed all 12 clues with no penalties and we ran it into the finish line, which luckily was at the bar!

Our finish time was 3:39, only an hour after the first place team finished! We placed 31st out of 268 teams! Pretty awesome for our first urban adventure race :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011


So, the stereotypes have proven true in Paris. Omg, I don't know where to start! But the city is amazing...more metropolitan than I thought, and bigger. Saw quite a bit today, more tomorrow.

Here's a shot from below the Eiffel Tower as Deb and I drank some fine French wine...

Only a day left, Texas is already knocking!

Au voir Germany, Bonjour Paris

Arrived in Paris this morning via overnight train, was an experience like no other...tiny little sleeping compartment...I had the lower, Deb had the upper.

It was sad leaving Germany because we had so much fun there. Had an awesome time at Augustiner for Starkbiefest...we were the only tourists there...drank with two young Germans for a few hours and definitely felt the strength of the beer in the morning. We talked culture, tv, movies, and life...awesome. It was different the next day when deb sat next to a big german ladies man at a outdoor biergarten. Germany was great.

Now time to explore Paris!

(stories are brief as it's hard to blog on the iPhone!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Germany and Austria

Our driving portion of the trip is nearly over...yesterday we took the autobahn and Romantic Road (in parts) down to Fussen from Rothenburg. We drove through countless small German cities, with stops in Dinkilsbuhl and Nordligen, where we climbed the town walls and sat in the town square enjoying beer, sausages and potatoes.

Arrived in Fussen and spent last night and tonight here...and once the sun sets the tourists mostly leave, us excluded of course! Enjoyed some great Bavarian food and more great beer! A great little town in south Germany.

Today we ventured into Austria and hiked to one of the Ehrenberg Castles...up in the Austrian alps, absolutely gorgeous. Snow all over the ground, and the lakes were still somewhat frozen over...which made us feel better about getting those snow tires! Afterwards we traveled to and toured King Ludwig's castle at Linderhoff, then to Oberammergau, and finally to a catholic church in Weis that was, and still is, a pilgrimage stop...we did so much and are quite happy with our decision for the rental car...

Tomorrow...Neuchwanstein Castle then to Munich!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mobile Pic

Pat and I enjoying Geuze at Cantillon in Brussels. Last night Deb and I broke open the bottle we was great!

Rothenburg, a truly medieval city!

Looking at buildings built in the 1300s, that survived holy wars and WWII...truly amazing. The gothic architecture next to Renaissance, it's quite the sight.

The car experience was something...we did great communicating, finding it, and getting out of Frankfurt. But we took a wrong turn that turned into a number of corrective exits and turns. Some German guy even honked at me! Autobahn lived up to the!!! We didn't go past 105 mph, though...some were easily 50+ that!

Tomorrow: Romantic Road down to south Germany

Guten tag Germany, Auf wiedersehen Belgium

Finished in Belgium, was a great 2 days. We spent the second day in Brugge, which is described as the "Venice of the North," and we bought into it. Small town, but touristy, and had the charm of the old days. The surprise for us was that they spoke Dutch, not French! So when I said merci, I didn't realize it would be offensive! Oh well, we haven't found the friendly folks yet...perhaps in Germany?

All in all, we definitely enjoyed our time in Belgium. Currently we are on the train to Frankfurt...almost missed it actually. Firstly we had tickets and didn't need to wait in the long queue, then we watched the first metro leave the station as it stopped on the other side of the platform. Then the transfer we had 7 minutes...we made our trip continues, "amazing race" style...we are definitely running too much in these stations!!!

Just realized we're traveling at 292 km/h, nearly 190 mph...

Anyways, our adventure continues today as we get our rental car. We are going to see how that goes...been a few years since I drove a manual...

Auf Wiedersehen!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beer and Food of Belgium

First trip update...we made it in alright. The direct flight into Paris was nice minus not sleeping. Immediately left Paris for Belgium by high speed train...

Met up with family (we coordinated trips for a rendezvous in Belgium)...and started seeing the sights of Brussels, including centuries old brewery. Have enjoyed some awesome beer, chocolate, and beer! The language spoken is primarily French, so our lessons are coming in handy...sort of. They speak so fast!

Day one was awesome, today we are heading to Brugges...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

6 things that have happened since last blog post...

It has been one of the longest blogging-free periods since my last post on January 23rd...I read it back and saw that I was sick the previous week.  Yup, it's been a while...I can't even remember being sick now!  Ha!

So, with our Europe trip merely a few hours away, I figured I should probably blog some sort of transition blog between our last blog and the mobile blogs we anticipate doing across the pond.  Best way to do it, why not do a bulleted list.  I'll do it as utilitarian as I can, who cares for entertainment value's about information!  Ha...well here no particular order:
  1. Debbie's long-delayed shuttle flight finally took off!  Two weeks straight of overnight shifts accompanied the flight.  In that two week span, we didn't get to see each other very much, or talk that much.  When we went out to dinner the first back-to-normal evening, it was like we hadn't seen each other in forever...which it had been!
  2. Softball started!  Last summer I started filling in for a team down in Clear Lake, which turned from a part-time role to a full-time role late in the Fall.  This season I've joined a new team and games have kicked off!  We are 4-4 so far, with late games tonight.  The plan was to miss these games with our impending trip tomorrow, but I got all my chores done early and justified accepting to play tonight!  I have homered in my first at bat in the last two games...let's see if I prolong that streak tonight, or go down striking out (because I'll be swinging for the fence)!  Pearland Softball kicks off next week, so two nights a week (once we return) will be filled with my favorite rec activity!
  3. Roma's getting into trouble.  Yes, Roma...the blog was on a road to being renamed Roma and Kitty, with Deb and I as mere supporting characters. word Roma was not behaving with the big dogs at day care.  Apparently she decided she was going to become an adolescent (which our calculations peg her as right now) and she'd start rough housing...the funny thing is, she still knows when she's doing something wrong, as she still listens to her commands.  It's kind of like at home, often times she'll push our patience, especially when her and kitty are playing, until one of us send her to her kennel for timeout.
  4. Trip's been long and tedious...but we are definitely ready.  Aside from a few hiccups that will undoubtedly cause issues in translation, such as, "the credit card these tickets are reserved under was stolen, so this is our new card."  We are ready though, we still have the stolen cards to present.  Cross your fingers on this one...otherwise we might be walking from Munich to Paris!  Ha!
  5. Overnight in the hospital...not quite what it sounds like.  I have an ongoing job at a nearby 24/7 hospital/clinic and due to their constraints, we weren't allowed to do our testing during normal business hours.  We set up containment rooms which included plastic sheathing on the floors, walls, and was very Dexter-like.
  6. Opening Day is coming!  Houston's opening day is on April 8th...woohoo...going to make this 5 years in a row attending the Astros opening day.  I wish I were able to be in Cleveland this year, it's going to be the year they win it all!  HA.  Hopefully after we get back I have time to put together my sham predictions for the upcoming MLB season.
Prochaine étape à Paris, Bruxelles, Francfort, et plus encore! Au revoir!

(Next stop Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, and more!  Goodbye!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Weekends

As I was sick most of all last week, this weekend was spent relaxing and laying around. Roma definitely enjoyed these days too, as you can see... Love sharing photos of our little girl.....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Europe Trip Update...

So all is moving forward with our upcoming trip back across the pond.  We are two months out and couldn't be more ready for the trip!

This weekend we finalized the plans, finally.  As a planner and an engineer, we definitely worked through all the kinks and were able to optimize our time.  We even booked the remaining hotels for our trip!  So it now looks like we'll be taking 2 days in Brussesl, Belgium, 4 days through Germany by train and rental car (Frankfurt, Rothenburg, the "Romantic Road", Fussen, and Munich), a day trip to Reutte, Austria, and 2 days in Paris, France.  That'll be 3 new countries for my list...a mere 1 for the more-well-traveled Deb...(this is her 4th trip to Europe...first time to Belgium).

I think the hotel that we've talked about the most is Hotel Gasthof Goldener Greifen in Rothenburg ob der Tauber .  Reason is we keep calling it Gryffindor, thanks of course to Harry Potter.  The funny thing is, I had to look up the name of the hotel because I only know it as Gryffindor. 

Deb got me a good book for Christmas, which is very different from the political thrillers I enjoy's a book on the Eiffel Tower written from the construction, feasibility, etc stand point.  Never knew there was so much controversy behind it, including Parisians not wanting it... I am enjoying it thoroughly and learning much about it's construction.  They started talking engineering and I couldn't help but be intrigued!  I'm sure when we are in Paris in two months I'll be quite ready to start telling Deb how the tower was designed for wind!  Dorky engineer, I know...

Book: Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

Happy New Year 2011...

Happy New Year to everyone...and sorry it's so late.  We have been busy with family, friends, work, etc etc...  Hopefully the holidays were great for everyone.  Ours were wonderful.  We got to see all the family between our travels to St Louis, Denver, Florida, as well as those who came and saw us in Houston.  No doubt about it, we are tired!

We kicked off the new year at our friends' black tie party...I even pulled out the tux for it...why not, considering we bought it for the wedding.  We had a great time that night..

A blurry shot, but this is all we have...unless others happened to snap one. 
The next day I hit the links for our annual New Years Day golf game...with two foursomes at Wildcat.  Definitely was a hard course...wasn't as bad as two weeks prior, but wasn't good either.  We were dealing with very chilly temperatures along with gusty winds.  I went "tin cup" once again, but at the end of the day, it was a great day at a great course.
Our last visit was by Deb's mom and sis, who both came down for a long weekend to share a belated xmas.  Kitty got a gift, which she loved...a chirping bird.  We obviously have to hold Roma as she'd likely swallow it whole leaving a very disappointed cat. 

Kitty doesn't make the blog much (with Roma hogging all the time), but today she does:
Many more things to come as the new year moves forward...will have to get to posting as time allows! 

Happy New Year all.....