Almost 8 years ago to the day was our first trip to West Baden. Can’t believe it’s taken us 8 years to get back.
I really don’t want to ruin it, but the days after Thanksgiving, well the place is empty. We did the Saturday/Sunday/Monday thing and had the place to ourselves again. There probably weren’t a dozen other guests at the hotel on Sunday. What a great way to spend a long weekend.
This trip we didn’t spend any time at the casino. Instead we ran around antiquing and checking out the French Lick Winery.
I did skip the massage this time and let Claudine use all of the spa credit for herself.
So after the 335i debacle, I still needed to upgrade my ride. The new role at Juniper has me spending way too much time in the car between Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. The RX8, as awesome as it is, just isn’t a highway road warrior car. I need comfort and quiet so that I can continue to live on the phone an in conference calls while I drive around.
During the debacle I got to drive relatively new Honda loaner and I just wasn’t impressed. I had also test driven a few other cars and just couldn’t shake the feeling I got in the BMW so we started looking around.
As much as I loved the performance associated with the twin-turbo 335i, we decided to take a different approach. We lucked into a pretty good deal on an older and larger 528i.
No Turbos, just a regularly aspirated straight 6. *most* of the bells and whistles. The bluetooth integration works well. The nav is old and crusty and non-updatable because it’s DVD driven, and it doesn’t even have heated seats. Who orders a car without heated seats these days? It’s had most of the normal BMW leaks fixed recently and the stealership just put brakes all the way around and new shoes too. So it’s likely I can drive this for 2-3 years and flip it without having to buy brakes and tires.
It’s a quality long distance commute vehicle. I’ll report back on any maintenance that’s required. We’ll see how much the Bring More Wallet adage is true. So far it gets a smooth 30MPG on the highway so that’s a significant boost. I can get from Dayton to Louisville to Columbus on a single tank. That I like.
Claudine and I had been planning to get our SCUBA certification for a while. In the fall of 2016 we booked our classes with Scuba Unlimited. Our plan was to do all the prerequisite work here but do the open water certification somewhere warm. Grand Cayman to be exact.
So basically, for my 50th birthday that’s exactly what we did. We did the classwork and pool work in November and December of 2016 and the open water work over the week of May 13th through 20th, 2017.
We booked a condo for a week in Grand Cayman at Seven Mile Beach Resort with some friends (the same one’s who recommended Scuba Unlimited) who have a time share there and who has been spending a week on Grand Cayman since the early 90’s.
The flight down was anti-climactic. Since we’re staying for a week and everything is expensive on Cayman we brought a suitcase full of food at the suggestion of the folks we’re going with. (Sandwich fixings, meat, some steaks to grill, etc, etc.) So that we can cook our own breakfast and lunch, and have a cookout once or twice. We also brought 4 bottles of wine (4x 750ml). We also each brought a liter of liquor from the Duty Free. Claudine a bottle of Vodka, and I opted for a bottle of Kraken rum. For those doing the math, you can see that’s too much. You’re allowed 1 liter of liquor per person, or 5 liters of wine, but not both which was a misunderstanding on our part at the time.
During the immigration/customs shakedown we disclosed that we had some FDA approved meat, which they wanted to see. Upon inspecting the meats they discovered the wine. We had declared the 2 liters of Vodka and Rum but totally disregarded the wine. Customs wasn’t happy with that and we were now treated like world class smugglers. In the end it cost us $12 duty. Not the end of the world[tm].
We rented a car from Andy’s Car Rental who matched a budget price, it was $89 US for the whole week. The car was a midsize, which in the US is a sub-compact. I’d do that again, I’d think.
On the way to check in we stopped at the grocery and picked up all the other things we needed but didn’t bring. Condiments and the like, we also discovered, outside of alcohol, food prices weren’t all that outrageous so we’ll not be bringing a suitcase full of food next time.
The condo was great, two bedrooms, nice living area, on the first floor, thanks to our Hosts. About a half a block walk to the beach.
We arrived on a Saturday, with time to settle in and get a little beach time. We would spend the next 6 days diving and enjoying the Cayman life.
Basic Dive Log details for each of the dives:
Sunday: Dives 1 and 2 of our 4 Certification Dives.
At the Aquarium (46 ft /41 mins) and Victoria’s Secret (48 ft / 44 mins) Dive sites. At each of these sites we did skills for the first 20 mins in a sand spot and got to spend the rest of the time enjoying the dive.
Monday: Dives 3 and 4 of our 4 Certification Dives.
At Darvin’s Theory (60 ft / 38 mins) and Spanish Anchor (50 ft / 40 mins) Dive sites. At each of these sites we did skills for the first 20 mins in a sand spot and got to spend the rest of the time enjoying the dive.
(Yea! we’re now certified)
Tuesday: Dives 5, 6, and 7
At Sentinel Rock (80 ft / 28 mins) and Turtle Schooner (39 ft / 42 mins) Dive sites and afternoon at Stingray City (14ft /32 mins).
Sentinel Rock was a little deeper than expected, with our first swim through, completely awesome. Turtle Schooner was a sweet shallow reef dive. Our afternoon dive was a shallow dive at Stingray City west where our give master spent time feeding the rays.
Wednesday: Dives 8 and 9
Two short dives at Turtle Reef (60 ft / 45 mins) and (58 ft / 39 mins).
Our first real experience with significant current. Dive one was a bit tough, dive 2 was better despite the shorter down time. Spent some time working on buoyancy.
Thursday: Dives 10 and 11
At Slaughterhouse (104 ft / 35 mins) and Anglefish Reef (52 ft / 52 mins) Dive sites. Slaughterhouse was awesome, deep wall dive with swim through, Anglefish Reef was also amazing, we’re hitting our dive stride now.
Friday: Dives 12 and 13
At Round Rock (100 ft / 35 mins) and Kittewake (61ft / 44 mins) Dive sites. Claudine and I coming through the 100 foot swim through. I’m behind and below.
We had an amazing week, 2 dives a day on average, looking forward to buying our own regulators and BCD’s. We ate at some amazing restaurants while we were there. We also had excellent Snorkeling at the beach at the resort.
New to me wheels. I’ve been driving the RX8 for 4 years now and have loved every mile that I’ve put on that car. But the new job requires me to travel a lot more than I bargained for. In fact I’m making the rounds between Cincinnati , Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Louisville and Lexington regularly so I needed something more comfortable and more suited for highway travel.
I’d been saving my pennies for a while and had been looking at quite a few options. Then this presented itself:
She’s in incredible shape, nearly like new with 57k miles. Smooth, quiet, and super comfy.
This is the first BMW (Bring More Wallet) I’ve owned. We’ll see how this goes.
Basically a stock 3 series with Premium package. Nav / Leather / Heated Seats / Premium Sound / Bluetooth (all the iDrive goodness). It just needs to be driven and I plan to do just that.
So far, the only thing I have changed was updating the Navigation maps to 2017 maps from the 2011 maps it probably came with. That took about an hour.
I plan to leave it bone stock as I did with the RX8 and simply take care of her with maintenance as required.
Exactly 7 days after purchase and 320 miles later, it appears that the twin-power turbo has imploded. Right now I’m driving a loaner from Joe Morgan Honda where the vehicle was purchased. They appear to be standing behind it with the 3 month, 3000 mile warranty and have shipped the car to their sister BMW dealer in Dayton.
The news is back. She needs an entirely new engine. Something about suspected ingested turbo parts. So the options presented to me are as follows:
Option A: Voss BMW (sister dealership) has sourced a 2011 N55 engine with roughly 10k fewer miles. This engine would come with a 12 month PARTS ONLY warranty (no labor). I have enquired about them including an extended warranty so that remains to be seen.
Option B: They will ‘un-sell’ me the car. Refund my money and I walk away. This obviously seems like the no brainer choice. Or is it? If there’s a warranty is that a better deal?
Well, after much consternation and discussion with multiple people who’s opinions I respect, I have ultimately opted for Option B. So…