Matthew, golfing at the diamond in the rough.

Matthew and I, both fighting illness and on the back end of getting rid of strep and/or bronchitis.   Were bored to tears at home so we packed up our golf clubs and headed to the little Diamond In the Rough down the road.   I didn’t blog about this place last year when I found it because I wanted to keep it to myself.

I’m talking about Forest Hills Country Club.   Smack dab in the middle of Middletown, Ohio is this little 100+ year old 9-hole golf course.  It is not fancy, but it is challenging and tough.  5 par 3’s and 4 par 4’s, with two sets of Tees for each hole that makes each hole different enough to keep it interesting.  (3 of the par 3’s are 200 yards from one set of tees).   Narrow fairways and small greens.   A nice, quiet (and cheap) place to play golf that’s literally 5 minutes from our home.  We have lived here for 17 years and had no idea it existed until it showed up on GolfNow last year.

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There is no pro shop, but there is beer/drinks. There is fairway and rough, no first cut, second cut, third cut.  There is water on one hole and it shouldn’t really come into play.   It’s a great little place to sharpen your skills with the small greens, about half have pretty good undulations to them.  It’s also very quiet.  Just a great little place.  It’s no where near the standards most folks expect today’s golf courses to be, but it is over 100 years old and that’s pretty dang cool.

Matthew is currently 8 1/2 years old and had been playing golf since the start of last fall.  By playing golf I mean he comes with me to the driving range and bangs on some balls.  I have taken him to Forest hills about a half dozen times and he’s usually more interested in driving the cart and gets frustrated pretty quickly.

Today something clicked with him and he’s really been striking the ball well.  (Might be something about keeping both feet on the ground) But if you know Matthew, he’s already an 8 year old golf expert :)   So I just have to feed him little tips and tidbits here and there and let them sink in.   Today a lot of that came home to roost.

On the south side of Forest Hills are two holes #4 and #5.  Both Par 3’s.  #4 is an uphill 200 yard narrow par 3, and #5 is right along side and down hill.  I think these are the two hardest holes on the course because they are so narrow and anything right on #4 is out of bounds, lost.   #5 is just an optical illusion and while being downhill seems to play much longer than it would indicate because it’s always, and I mean always into the wind.

On June 26th, Matthew carded pars on both, back to back.  Here’s where our balls laid after our second shots on the uphill #4 hole.

Forest Hills #4
A Par in the making

We both made those par putts.

Matthew then carded another par on the downhill par 3 #5 while  I carded a double bogey (5).   I don’t think I’ve ever par’d them both back to back.

In both cases he smoked his driver, about 150 yards for him, then stuck his 9-iron 4 feet from the hole.  We had practiced all day the day before with his 9-iron in the front yard.

The then proceeded to make both putts.

He was extremely excited that some of the things he’d been working on were coming together.   It was a great day.

 

 

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

For those that are not aware, my daughter Maggie has been sky diving since the fall of 2015. Due to a few events in her life, she decided she wanted experience as many things as should could. She would not be held back and she would not wait around on anyone else. She took a tandem sky dive as part of her #pearladventures tour and fell in love with it and has been sky diving ever since.

So fast forward to June 12th, 2016. That’s the day that her sister Molly had scheduled her first tandem sky dive and I was there just to observe.

If you’re not aware, a tandem skydive simply means you don’t need any skills or training. You get harnessed up and strapped to an instructor. Ideally, someone who’s done this before :) So you get the full effect without having to do any work.

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Here’s Molly’s tandem video.

After Molly completed her skydive, I mentioned that a tandem sky dive would make the perfect fathers day gift. Claudine decided right then and there that was a good idea so lets do it NOW.

So we did. We also called Michael.

So I was able to take my first tandem sky dive with my eldest son. How cool is that?

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If the photos aren’t enough there is full video evidence below:

(Maggie was on the same plane as all of us, she’s the skydiver in the pink helmet.)

I cannot recommend this enough, it was amazing.

I highly recommend the folks at startskydiving.com The location in Middletown, Ohio is one of the top rated, if not the top rated drop-zone’s in the nation.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

There comes a time in every boy’s life when it’s time to learn to cut the grass.  Matthew’s training started today.  Fortunately for him it doesn’t involve a push mower.

Unfortunately for me, this means he’s gonna be cutting the field that was the horse pasture for a while until he gets the hang of a 800lb 60 inch zero turn mower.

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And that’s probably going to be a while.   But for his first time he did great!  I think he only ran into about 3 or four fence posts, even though I cut the first 8-10 feet inside the fence before he got started Smile 

The best part is, it’s still going to be fun for him for a while, and doesn’t feel like work.  Maybe I can get him to pay me to let him do it Smile

Cruise 2016 (Oasis of the seas)

This year Claudine and I decided we needed our own vacation.  So just like 5 years ago we booked a cruise.  This time on the Oasis of the seas, Royal Caribbean’s largest ship to date.  (At the time I’m writing this the Oasis class is still the largest ship, there is dispute over which one of the ships is actually the largest, it might be the Allure).

This blog post will be about the highlights of our cruise, it’s not going to be a review of the cruise or the ship.  That will come later.  The short review is simply this:

We love cruising, we love the all inclusive nature, with the opportunity to see multiple ports of call, good food, good atmosphere, add in the rocking of the boat and it’s the best sleep you’ll ever get.

This cruise was not without its challenges.  In short, it is unlikely we’ll ever cruise on the Oasis again.  We might try the Allure, but not the Oasis.  This has nothing to do with cruising itself, but Royal dropped the ball more than a few times on this trip.   We heard from plenty of other passengers including a few that had previously sailed the Oasis and other Oasis class ships that this was below their normal expectations for service and quality.  It is unclear to me if this is a company wide issue or if it’s an issue with this ship.  In the past we found our trip on the Freedom of the seas to be a 10 out of 10, the same ship (Indy) was more like an 8 out of 10 with respect to service/entertainment.   Using the same scale, the Oasis probably only scores a 6.5-7, and that’s not ‘awesome’.   Still at the end of the day, you’re on a cruise ship!, and it was still hella fun, and still an outstanding value.    Details on this will come later.

We booked our 7 night, Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Oasis of the seas through Costco.  Including flights from Cincy to Fort Lauderdale we were all in for a little less than $3000 USD ($2400 for the cruise/$600 air fare).  This was an upper ‘superior view balcony stateroom’.  I’m sure this isn’t the ‘ultimate deal’ but it was in our minds a pretty good deal.

We flew down one day ahead of time because we wanted to avoid the stress that comes with flying in the same day you depart, anything can go wrong and if anything goes wrong you’re about to have a bad vacation.

We landed the day before and spent the night in Fort Lauderdale Renaissance hotel by Marriot using points so it was essentially free.  We took an uber ride from the airport to the hotel for $13.00.

We spent that day taking the sun trolley to Fort Lauderdale beach and kicked around there for a while.  That evening we met my cousin Sally and her husband Dave for dinner.  It was a great way to ease into the vacation.

There was a shuttle from the hotel to the cruise ship port for $6.00 per person.  We arrived at the port early (about 10am), ahead of the crowd.  We basically walked right in, registered and sat for about 45 minutes before they let us board around 11:30am.

Our room was 12178, 12th floor room 178, port side front of the ship fairly close to the elevators.

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The first day (Saturday) was fairly uneventful, walking around getting used to the ship and how to get where you want to go or need to go.  The mandatory muster drill at our station was also uneventful.  It was odd to me that there were no life jackets in the room what-so-ever and all were located at muster stations.  Our muster station was inside the sports bar.

This ship holds almost 6000 people or about twice as many as the Freedom class which were the last two ships we sailed.  The ratio of crew to passengers is allegedly higher, but only percentage points higher.  It sure didn’t feel that way.

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Continue reading Cruise 2016 (Oasis of the seas)

Tuft and Needle–Mattress Review

First, I’m not a mattress expert or a traditionally trained sleep specialist.  Although if sleeping were an Olympic sport, I could probably pretty easily make it into the regionals.

I know how to sleep.

We recently ordered a Tuft and Needle Foam Mattress and when I posted that via Facebook folks said they wanted to know what if we liked it.

So here goes.

A good mattress should last between 8 and 10 years.  According to the Internet.  Just google it and that’s the answer you’ll find so I’m using that.

We’ve had multiple mattresses during what’s so far is a 26 year marriage.   Admittedly in the beginning we had cheap ones.  We had a water bed when we first got married (Don’t judge me, it was the 80’s).  Then a cheap King mattress set, and at one point we got a new foam mattress from the in-laws who didn’t like it or found it to soft or something.  I can’t remember the details.

But what I do know and can easily recall is our last mattress.     We decided it was time we had a ‘good mattress’ and we bought that in 2008 from the Original Mattress Factory.    They are, or were highly recommended in our area.  At the time we purchased a Orthopedic Luxury Firm Mattress.

Proof: OMF_LuxuryFirm

We probably spend $1000, maybe $1200 I can’t remember exactly.  But it came with box springs and a new frame.

That was 7 years ago.  I bring that up because a good mattress should last between 8-10 years if cared for.  I believe we cared for our mattress.  We flipped it and rotated it often, in fact they sent us reminder emails every 3 months.    The reality is, the mattress had been bad or done for at least 2 years before we replaced it.  Meaning it only lasted maybe 5 years.    It was broken down and had low spots where we slept and it was like rolling up hill in the middle.   Not good.

We finally decided this was the year.  I’d heard about Tuft and Needle while listening to Dave Ramsey Pod casts while I mowed and it was time to check them out.

After reading many reviews I was convinced it was worth trying.  They have a 100 night sleep guarantee.   So if you don’t like it, well you get your money back.   Our mattress as so bad that was worth taking that shot and there were folks who took them up on their offer and didn’t have any issues.

A good number of reviews claimed this mattress was too ‘firm’ for them.  Especially too firm given that it was a foam mattress.   This concerned me a little.  While we had a ‘Luxury Firm’ mattress, I didn’t need anything firmer.

So we ordered it.  It was pretty uneventful.  Their website buying experience is pretty straight forward.  They ship it to you in a box all compressed.  It weighed about 70 lbs.

You pull it out, put it on your bed, open the bag, it expands in about 1 minute.  Then over the next 12 hours.  (Initially we were concerned it wasn’t the right size, as after it had expanded it was about an inch short on all sides but that went away in about 4 hours.

Initially it was ‘soft’ but we got used to that almost instantly.  The first thing Claudine noticed was that I didn’t wake her getting in or out of bed any more.  So that was huge.

We generally stay at a Marriott when we travel and they are known to have pretty good beds.   Certainly better than what we were currently sleeping on.    After Christmas we took an overnighter to Chicago, and compared to the Tuft and Needle Mattress we’d been sleeping on for about two weeks, the Marriott mattress wasn’t as good.

So, your mileage may vary but given that they have a 100 night sleep guarantee, if you’re in the market for a mattress, give them a try.

I guess my biggest take away from all of this is how the Original Mattress Factory advertises that they aren’t the norm.  That they have lower cost, better mattresses than the ‘retail’ chains.   Well I think the mattress industry has been disrupted by internet foam mattresses.   I would never buy an Original Mattress Factory Mattress again.  Not even their foam mattress which retails for 2.5x the price of this Tuft and Needle Mattress.

Before I wrote this I chatted with a Tuft and Needle person and confirmed their mattress has a 10 year warrantee.  If in 5 years I have issues like I had with the Mattress Factory Mattress, I’ll shoot them some photos and they’ll replace it.   I believe that will actually happen.

So to recap, the things that we like about it are.

  • The purchase experience, delivery and set up was simple.
  • The mattress is super comfy for us, it’s soft, much softer than our “Luxury Firm Mattress”.    Honestly I don’t know what a firm foam based mattress feels like.  If this is it, I like it.
  • It has enough edge firmness you can still sit on it.
  • It has next to no bounce, I can get in and out of bed without disturbing Claudine.  That’s good, in a Happy Wife Happy Life kind of way.
  • I’m a side sleeper and it’s nice and comfy that way, doesn’t bother my bad shoulder that our other firmer mattress did.  I simply couldn’t sleep or lay on my bad side long.
  • I really like that it’s flip free, no maintenance.

If things change I’ll update this review.

 

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