A check in to cover various happenings

Sorry I haven’t posted for so long. Things have been rather busy lately

2014-09-06 12.11.41Trip to Miami for a Cruise.

2014-09-27 19.33.27-2 Stacey petting Casper the camel at Wellsville Days

2014-09-20 20.04.39Francine with her glow in the dark necklace at Daniels B-day.


Hopefully I’ll have time to fill in the details later. Things have been crazy busy. Off to Arkansas and then Detroit next week. Both the land of opportunity I assume.



Review of Starved Rock Lodge Illinois

Starved Rock lodge main room

Starved Rock lodge main room

Starved Rock is a state owned vendor run lodge / hotel in Central Illinois. It is a great place if you enjoy outdoor hiking in a historic lodge setting.  This lodge and the cabins are part of the CCC Civilian Conservation Corp depression era socialist program under FDR. They built the cabins and lodge between 1933 and 1939 under the CCC.  Although I’m no fan of this program as it helped extend the depression like the Obama stimulus program effect on a higher level.  The result is a beautiful and special place. A true gem in Illinois. Check out more photos on the website link below.


Sorry I don’t have any photos of the rooms. I stayed in the main lodge hotel type rooms. They are a little dated but nice and clean. If you are expecting a luxury hotel this is not the place. If you want a semi rustic lodge with 1980’s style rooms that are clean then you will be more than happy here.  Bring your hiking or tennis shoes as there are miles of well maintained trails and walkways. I usually run the trails and they are easy to navigate. There are many steps in places so it could be a challenge if you have walking challenges.

The lodge is also a great place for a meeting. They have a number of board room style meeting rooms available.  The indoor pool is fantastic.  The main dining room has great food and service as well as a very nice setting with large fireplace.  The bar is tucked back in the corner of the dining area but is very nice with great views, beer selections and food available from the main menu.  I also enjoyed the gift shop which sells the typical t-shirts but also has some higher end items as well.

Best choice for breakfast would either be the coffee snack bar in the lobby of the lodge or the main dining room depending on your speed.

View from Starved Rock patio

View from Starved Rock patio

Starved Rock Lodge

Starved Rock Lodge

Lodge lobby

Trip Review MSC Splendida

My wife and I traveled to Europe and cruised on the MSC Splendida from Rome last year. I wanted to give a few photos and brief review of that cruise for your enjoyment.

We flew from STL to FCO on US Airways in Envoy class. Envoy is really business class. We did not luck out and get the lay flat seats but did have the angled seats which did allow us to sleep some on the way.   We had a brief layover in Philly on the way to Rome. The flights happen to be smooth and easy. This was in late January 2013 and we got lucky with weather on the travel and on the ground in Europe.  Once we got to Rome we stayed over one night at the Intercontinental IHG Rome at the top of the Spanish steps. I will try to cover our details on another post some day.  The hotel was nice and we got to see a lot of Rome before heading to the cruise terminal the next morning.

Hotel front IC Rome Hotel window IC Rome

To get to the cruise terminal there is a train station in the town of Civitavecchia with several trains per hour going to Rome. Local trains take you to Rome’s central station (Roma Termini) in about an hour and 20 minutes. Faster trains can make it in under an hour. The station is close to the entrance of the port. Several blocks from the port “entrance” but I’d say a couple miles to the actual ships. You can walk to or from the port gate to the train station and there is a free shuttle bus usually to and from the ships. We took a cab from our Rome hotel to the Termini station and got on a train to the port. It was crowded but thinned out as we got out of the city as people get off on each stop and the port is the last station if I remember right.

Train station at citivechia

Here is the train station near the port. Big sidewalk, safe little town, no worries that I could see.

We walked to the port, got on the shuttle bus and arrived at the check in tent like deal next to the ship. We booked a “Yacht Club” room which is a basically a balcony suite but has a personal butler and is in a segregated area of the ship on the very top deck forward. It’s like a luxury ship within a ship. We really splurged on this but it was worth it for this trip.

Yacht club hot tubs Yacht club deck

It has it’s own deck, pool and hot tubs. Its on the top deck and in front of the ship so they have lots of wind defecting glass panels but the views are great. It was too cold to swim in the pool in January but this ship also has a several other outdoor and an indoor pool. We did use the hot tubs on the Yacht Club deck which was great.

On this Cruise we went to Genoa, Marseilles, Barcelona, Tunisia and Palermo Sicily. I won’t go into details about each port in this post but each was great. It was cold in France but the other ports seemed warm for this time of year. I’d guess it was 6o f degrees most days.

Being in the Yacht Club you can eat at any of the restaurants but you have exclusive access to a private restaurant for Yacht Club folks only. The service was great.

Here are a few more photos of the ship:

Yacht club balcony room

Yacht club balcony room

Yacht club bath Yacht club stairs

One of the highlight for my animal loving wife was the camels at the port in Tunis

camels on Tunisian port

I enjoyed the free Yacht Club minibar and the F1 simulator onboard

minibar F1 simulator

We took too many photos to post here but we had a great time on the Splendida and will sail MSC again as soon as we can 🙂

Ship rear Getting back on in Sicily Main deck stairs ship side


This is my first post on this new blog. Not sure where this is headed but it will mostly be about me thinking out loud for your enjoyment. Hopefully you will find some value in what I have to offer. My plan is to feature my odd thoughts, deals I find, travel, running and some bucket list type stuff.

A little about me.  I’m a 40 something Christian father and husband to great kids and a beautiful smart wife. They are my joy and value in life.  I don’t want to over share but my hobbies include marathon running, miles and points collecting, travel, RV’ing and apparently blogging.

Stay tuned.

Do I look cold in this photo?

Do I look cold in this photo?