This blog does a number of things for me, one of which is my own personal time capsule or library. When we try to remember when we did something we often turn here. With that in mind this year we decided to replace our pool deck.
We have our own special FAUX in-ground pool. It’s an above ground pool built into the side of what was at one point the Summer kitchen for this 1800’s farm house. From there a deck wraps around it.
It was here when we moved in, and quite frankly needed replaced about two years after we moved in. In 2009 we had our pool replaced, you can see how bad the deck was in the photos on that post here.
Part of the problem was that the new pool wasn’t put as close to the deck as the old pool, so we had to build up a little extra trim to get by.
In 2010, instead of tearing up and rebuilding the deck we used “Restore” deck paint, which was awesome and got us to where we are today. That product worked so well we intend to put it on this deck from the start, or next year.
Over the memorial holiday weekend this year (2018) we gutted the deck, rebuilt a bunch of the foundation, and replaced the surrounding fence too.
The fence still needs painted and will be in the fall.
Lumber and materials were purchased at Menards, though if I had it to do over again I might try Lowes or HomeDepot. I ordered online, and they delivered it pretty quickly. However, I didn’t go pick out the wood and there was a lot of low-quality wood in the decking that got delivered.
Matthew: Hey Dad!, You know that dirtbike in the barn? Me: Yes, the one you’re not supposed to mess with? Matthew: Yeah that one. I haven’t been messing with it. Me: OK, what about it? Matthew: If fits me now. Me: How would you know that? Matthew: I might have sat on it a couple times. Me: Uh Huh… Matthew: It’s just my size, but the tires are flat, we can fix that, and it needs new stickers and I think the brake are frozen cause I can’t roll it very well. I mean it rolls but not very well.
Fast forward to today:
Had a little work to do:
Carb rebuild kit: $30 (or I could just buy one for $23) so that’s what I did.
Air Filter, it’s no longer a home for Mr. Mouse.
Cleaned out the tank (lots of crap in there).
Cleaned out new carb (yes in that order).
New petcock and fuel line
New brakes front/rear (it stops now).
Ready to ride.
In the meantime, I picked up this for myself:
KDX200 2-Smoke of near equal vintage. I had a 220 previously. I should be able to follow him around on this. 🙂
Looking forward to some summer fun this year 😀
I drummed up some LEGACY web content from the pre-blog days. Believe it or not people are still searching for some of it on this site now and then.
Our 2nd Dive trip, so we’re still newbies by all counts.
Prior to the trip we did invest in our own gear. We already had good masks/snorkels/fins.
We shopped around and ended up with Aqualung gear. I opted for the travel-light Aqualung Zuma BCD, Aqualung Legend Regulator with ABS Octo, and basic console with i300 dive computer. We chose to purchase locally over ordering on the internet. Pricing was about the same and we get lifetime free parts for the Aqualung stuff if we have our service performed there. Oh, and the first service is free as in beer. Claudine initially wanted a Zeagle Covert, but when it arrived she did not like how it fit. Fortunately with our trip less than 2 weeks away they had an Aqualung Pearl in her size. Not as ‘travel light’ as I would like but it fits her well, is made for women, and she has more pockets so she gets to carry all the stuff 🙂
We got picked up at the dock on site at the resort. Ocean Three is a larger boat, holds up to 16 divers, and it was full most of the trips. For whatever reason we always got the spots on the back of the boat which worked out well.
The resort is just south of town, and most of the dive sites are on the south west side of the island. Each morning started with about an hour boat ride to the south western tip, to a deeper wall/drift dive. We then headed back north for a shallower reef dive closer towards the city but still south of the cruise ports.
This was our first drift dive experience and at times was pretty crazy. Like hopping on the freeway, straight into the fast lane. It took a couple of these dives before we got comfortable enough to just settle in and enjoy the show. The first couple dives we spent way to much time fighting to keep oriented and trying to stay off the coral. TIP: generally speaking, the current isn’t going to smash you into anything, you’ll flow around, up and over with the current. Until that sinks in you end up trying to avoid things you don’t need to avoid. Kicking with the current zooms you right along and away from everyone, turning and kicking into the current is exhausting. Just go with the flow.
Our first dive trip was in Grand Cayman so that was our frame of reference. If Grand Cayman is a 10 on a 10 scale, Cozumel is 8, 9, and in some slow spots 10 as well.
The wild life was amazing, we saw quite a few turtles, eals and spotted eagle rays that were huge.
There was a photographer on all but one dive day and captured most of what we saw.
Having been spoiled by Neptune Divers in Grand Cayman, who keeps the dive group smaller (Max 8 Divers), I’m not a fan of a full boat of 16 divers plus a photographer and two dive masters (19 people in the water). Especially when half of those divers don’t realize that it’s a big freaking ocean you don’t need to be on top of other people. When the dive master would try to draw your attention to something it was like 12 moths to a flame and half of them had no sense of “space”. I had more fun just hanging out around the perimeter and got to see a lot of things like eagle rays just off in the distance that they didn’t get to see.
Because we could use the resort credits with Aqua Safari we did, and in the same situation I’d do it again. But if I have a choice I’ll use a smaller operator next time like the highly recommended Scuba Tony in Cozumel.
After getting certified in 2017 and doing our first Scuba trip in Grand Cayman we were ready to go again. We added Nitrox/Enriched Air diver to our certifications last fall and looked forward to going to Cozumel with the couple that we went to Grand Cayman with.
They organized group trip to take advantage of a third room free deal at Cozumel Palace. So after spreading the cost of the two rooms across 3 couples, our out of pocket was less than $2000.00
That included 7 nights of all inclusive goodness, meals and alcohol. It also came with $1500 worth of resort credits, which we used primarily for scuba, and a couple’s massage and still left the resort with almost 300 credits for the next visit.
Our other out of pocket expenses were:
$450 each for the flights.
$350 for a baby sitter for Matthew while we did the morning dives (coverage from roughly 8am to 1-2pm each day). We were initially told they had a kids program for Matthew to be in while we dove. Turns out that wasn’t accurate. They do, sort of have a kids club, and Sonya who runs it was great, but it’s only available in the afternoons and you cannot leave the resort while your kids are in there. Meaning you cannot leave your kid(s) there and go dive. We were forced to hire a babysitter which they set up for us for $10/hour. Mrs. Martha (the sitter) was amazing and worth every penny.
Tips for Scuba, spa, occasional exceptional service plus the required dive T-shirt.
We also rented a Jeep ($99) to run around the island including a visit to Chankanaab marine park (admission was free and provided by the resort), a little beach time looking for sea glass, visit to Coconuts for lunch and then downtown for some shopping.
$72 for parking at the Airport (economy)
The on-site dive shop/operation is run by Aqua Safari. We were able to use the resort credits for our morning two tank dives. The out of pocket expenses you have to pay were $16 per person for taxes plus $2 per person for the daily marine park fees ($36 total). They picked us up every morning at the dock on site. We also had a $14 daily up-charge for Nitrox, optional, but it was completely worth it.
We also completely avoided the time-share/membership sales pitch. Though if you could get through it, you could score a free jeep rental, and/or other freebies.
Outside of cruise ships we had not previously stayed at an all-inclusive resort. Given the ‘value’ our expectation weren’t very high.
First, the resort is small, some might say ‘intimate’. I think there are only 169 rooms? There are 3 onsite restaurants, which really means there is only one, but it’s divided up into 3 sections; the fancier higher-end, dress code required Italian restaurant, as well as a Mexican and Oriental themed restaurant. There is an additional buffet outside, so I guess, technically 4 places to get some food as well as room service 24/7.
Drinks were also included, beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The liquor was weaker, so you needed to get two of what ever it is you wanted. Seems that’s run of the mill for all-inclusives though.
The resort was nice, very clean overall. The rooms were exactly like what is pictured on the web-site. We had two double beds, an in-room Jacuzzi tub, nice sitting area, and balcony with hammock. Read that again, twodouble beds. Had it just been Claudine and I we’d been good. Claudine drew the short straw and shared a bed with Matthew and didn’t sleep well the entire trip. The rooms could have easily held two queen beds. We wanted to get one of the loft rooms with a king and two doubles but they didn’t include those in the buy two get one free special that we were part of.
The outdoor pool area was clean and nice, again exactly as pictured, not a lot of marketing magic going on.
Note: there is no beach, but you are on the ocean. There’s a great area for swimming and snorkeling and at times there is a life guard on duty. They have snorkel gear on-site and paddle boards for kids 14 and older. Matthew and I spent two long afternoons snorkeling. Lots of good wild life to be seen in their little area.
Food quality: On a scale of 1 to 10, and I’d put Royal Caribbean meals about about an 8/9 on average. I’d put the Cozumel Palace food in the 5-8 categories. Some stuff was pretty good. Breakfast, with made to order omelettes was well above average. Most other meal items were average to above average. Nothing was really exceptional though.
Service: Service was spotty, when you got service it was good, but there were too many times when we had to go to the bar (while sitting at an outside table) to get a drink or get someone’s attention. Same with food at the outside bistro. Once you ordered food it got there fairly quickly, but you had to work to get it sometimes.
One of the couples did the $300 romantic dinner which included Surf/Turf Steak/Lobster which they said was excellent.
At the end of the day the value was still amazing. Once we back out our scuba costs which we used credits for the bulk of it, it was a great deal and we’d gladly stay there again. We know how to work the system now. We know when we need to be at dinner to not have to be on a wait list, and how to get someone’s attention. Every one of the staff that we interacted with was great. Martha the sitter took good care of Matthew and he eventually knew . just about everyone that worked there.
The Diving: I would rate the actual dive staff a 10 out of 10. They really took care of you on the boat. From helping with your gear to the dive masters being super attentive. The went out of their way to help Tammy who was 6 weeks from having a knee replaced. From making her transition to and from the boat as easy as possible to getting her in and out of the boat after dives.
The boat itself was very clean and well maintained. They provided towels, bottled water, and fruit between dives during the surface interval.
Some of the drift dives were a bit ‘exciting’, like hopping in the fast lane of the freeway with no way to get off. We’ll eventually get used to it but some of the currents were pretty aggressive for our newbie dive status.
Palancar Caves, Palancar Reef, Paradise Reef, Chankanaab Reef were all amazing calm dives.
While we will look at other options on the island, we’d would definitely stay at Cozumel Palace again if the right opportunity were to present itself.
Yes, we love our coffee we’ve loved our Krups coffee maker. Actually we’ve had quite a few of them and I wrote about that here.
Since the last couple of repairs making one good Krups out of two, we’ve been looking for the next replacement. We located what we wanted and just waited for the right deal. We got that deal this weekend (Black Friday) on a refurbished unit from Seattle Coffee Gear with a 2 year warranty.
The Saeco Moltio Carafe HD8869/47 Superautomatic Espresso Machine
Removable Bean Hopper – Removable bean hoppers make it easy to clean and swap out beans. (Comes with two hoppers so we can now have decaf) Double Thermoblock – Dedicated steam and brew thermoblocks offer unbeatable on-demand heat. Removable Milk Carafe – A refrigerator-ready milk carafe makes it easy to store milk when not in use. Ceramic Burrs – Heat-resistant ceramic helps preserve the delicate aromatics of espresso beans. Pre-aroma – Programmable pre-infusion helps to reduce channeling and improves shot-to-shot consistency. < This sounds like marketing nonsense. Programmable – Set and save your ideal drink temperature, coffee dosing and water to milk ratio.
All the things we wished about in the Krups, with a removable, washable brew unit and a few other upgrades.
It’s very early in, we ordered this as a co-Christmas gift. It arrived today and of course we needed to set it up and make sure it worked. It does. No point in putting it away until Christmas.