December 30, 2010

We’ll Regret This

Filed under: Marriage,Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 7:00 am

Last night around 10:00 we opted to go to Waffle House for a late night snack.  Amanda posted this as her status on facebook:

Thankfully, my annual physical isn’t for another 11 months.


December 22, 2010

Christmas in New Orleans

Filed under: Personal — Neil @ 7:49 pm

We made our 4th annual trip to New Orleans during the Christmas season.  Here’s a rundown of our trip:

  • We stayed at the Sheraton on Canal.  As usual I booked it through Priceline & saved about 1/2 off of their posted rate.  We paid almost as much for parking as we did for the room.
  • Amanda shopped at Canal Place, Esplanade & Lakeside Malls & along Magazine.  I found a lot of good coffee shops & read while she shopped.  PJ’s had my favorite cup of coffee.
  • We spent Tuesday afternoon at the Audobon Zoo.  It has to be the best deal in the city.
  • Our #1 activity when visiting New Orleans is eating.  We go to the nice places at lunch & do something lighter/cheaper at night.  Here’s where we ate & a few suggestions:
    • Palace Cafe – our 3rd year in a row to eat lunch here; good food & servie; great view of Canal Street.  I had the Catfish Pecan & Amanda had the Pasta St. Charles.  We split the Bananas Foster for dessert.
    • Cafe Maspero – supper on Monday night; I had a shrimp poboy & Amanda had red beans & rice.  Good food @ reasonable prices
    • Emeril’s – our 1st experience at 1 on of his restaurants.  1 of the best meals we’ve ever had.  We both had the 3 course lunch (just $18).  Amanda – gumbo, chicken & waffles, & creme brulee; Neil – gumbo, grilled shrimp, chocolate & peanut butter pie
    • Taqueria Corona on Magazine – 1 of our favorite places to eat in New Orleans; we had a combination of chicken & steak tacos, chicken burrito, shrimp flauta & cebollitas
    • Bourbon House – another Brennan’s restaurant; we had planned on eating @ NOLA’s, but didn’t realize that it’s only open for lunch Thurs – Sunday; good meal, but didn’t compare to Emeril’s.

Now it’s time to get back to the gym.

September 6, 2010

Bike Ride

Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 8:54 pm

I haven’t ridden outdoors in years, but I’m trying it out again.  Last year after my hip surgery the doc suggested that I find another excercise hobby other than running long distances.

On Friday I traveled about 9 miles on the Natchez Trace.  It was a nice easy journey & it  made me want to bike more often.

Tonight, we had plans to eat at my in-laws for supper.  I opted to travel by bike.  It’s about 19 miles.  I made it in about an 1.5 hours.  It felt good to accomplish a longer distance, but if I can walk in the morning I’ll be surprised.

I’m riding a bike I bought in ’97 or ’98 when I worked at Lake Forest Ranch.  The bike is in good shape, but it’s designed for the trails I was riding at Lake Forest & not roads.  If I keep riding I’m going to have to invest some $ in a new bike (w/ a softer seat!).  Here’s a few pictures from my ride today.

Beulah Memorial Baptist Church. I served there for 4 years during & after college.

Road Hazard! There used to be a road/bridge here. Thankfully, I was able to make my way through it w/out having to back track.

Labor Day 2005

Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 7:00 am

Labor Day 2005 is a day that I’ll never forget.  Hurricane Katrina had struck the week before.  Amanda & I had left New Orleans on August 27.  We packed up a few items (we had already evacuated twice before w/ everything we could fit in our 2 cars) & headed north to stay with my parents.

Following the storm & the ensuing lack of electricity we went to my sisters in Atlanta for a visit.  We figured that we’d be back in school in a week & wanted to make good use of our time.  When we arrived in Atlanta news began to break on how New Orlenas was beginning to fill up w/ water.

While we were in Atlanta it was announced that residents of Jefferson Parish would be able to return to their homes beginning on Labor Day.  There was still no electricity or gas in central MS so we bought all of the necessary supplies we’d need for the move in Atlanta.  We bought a hitch cargo rack & all (5?) the 5 gallon gas cans that would fit on it.  We knew that we would have to take gas w/ us to New Orleans in order to be able to get back to my parents home.

Before driving back to my parents we made a stop in rural (rural as in a “town” w/ not even a blinking light) Alabama.  We spent the night.  The next morning we headed out in search of filling up our vehicle w/ gas & the 5 gas cans.  The maximum amount of gas that you could buy at the local gas station was $10 worth.  I needed much more.  I told the store owner our story.  He was a bit skeptical, but he allowed me to fill up our vehicle & the 5 gas cans (I got many angry looks while I purchased 40 gallons of gasoline that morning).  We made it home to MS later that afternoon.

We now realized that there would be no going back to New Orleans for a long time.  We needed to our move all of our belongings in our 2 bedroom apartment (our apartment was not flooded) back to Mississippi.  The problem was there were no moving trucks available for rent.  A deacon at the church I had served let us borrow his cattle trailor.  So, we moved most of our belongings in a cattle trailor.  Amanda loved the fact that her dining table was tied to the top of a cattle trailor!

It was a wild day.  Amanda’s brother pulled the cattle trailor w/ his truck & we had 2 other vehicles.  Traffic was horrific.  At about Hammond (60 miles north of New Orleans) you had to exit off of I-55 onto Hwy. 51.  We sat in traffic for hours.  Hwy 51 is just barely above the water level.  The smell was awful.  We were a total standstill for most of the time.

We finally made it.  Loaded most everything up & headed back home.  My biggest mistake that day? Opening our freezer to find sevral pounds of shrimp that I had bought the day before we had left.  I can still smell it.  We returned the next day to retrieve the rest of our items (the air conditioning went out in our truck on our way to New Orleans.  Another fun day.).

In January we were finally able to go to Amanda’s school to see her classroom.  Her classroom remained almost exactly as she’d left in on the Friday before the storm (the school received about 12 ft of water, but her room was on the 2nd floor).

It was a loooong, hot, miserable day that I hope I never have to repeat.

August 30, 2010

Remebering Katrina

Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 3:51 pm

It was 5 years ago that Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast.  Amanda & I were living in New Orleans as I attended NOBTS.  It was a defining moment for us.

Jobs, school, friendships were all gone/changed in a moment.  It was a chaotic time as we learned to deal w/ everything.  Through it all we found God to be faithful.

As tough as it was looking back I’m glad that we went through it.  God used it as a catalyst for us in just about every area of our lives.

The pictures are from Amanda’s school in St. Benard Parish.  The 1st picture was from a room on the 1st floor.  The 2nd was from an upstairs room.  It’s amazing what 12 ft of water can do.  We were able to go back to her school for the 1st time following Katrina in January.  Her classroom was on the 2nd floor.  Her class looked almost exactly like she had left it on the Friday before the storm.

August 23, 2010

Marriott Pen

Filed under: Personal — Neil @ 6:00 am

Saturday Amanda & I went shopping together. When we shop together it goes something like:

  • I start out strong, going store to store.
  • I then go into each store only to quickly move to the next while she continues to shop.
  • I find somewhere to buy a coke/coffee & read.

Yesterday, was no different.

I made it through several stores before bailing to read. I remembered to bring a couple if books with me, but I had forgotten a pen. I don’t read without a pen.

I searched through her car until I finally found one in the glove box (When’s the last time you stored your gloves in there? Me neither.). Not just any pen, but a Marriott pen.

It immediately took me back to the year we spent in New Orleans while I was in seminary. I worked at a Marriott on Canal Street.

It wasn’t the job I planned on having while in seminary.  It’s a story for another day, but I ended up as a seminary student working in the French Quarter.

I learned more there than I did in the classroom & certainly more than I would have at a church (plus, I’m not easily shocked by the stories I hear from teens after what I heard, saw & smelt in the Big Easy).

I’m thankful that my plans didn’t work out. The valet/doorman job was much better & allowed me to pay cash for seminary while I was going to have to borrow $ on a part-time youth ministers salary.

I’m thankful that my plans don’t often work out.

August 3, 2010

1 of the problems of vacationing by yourself…

Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 2:00 pm

is you have no one to take pictures for you.


Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 6:00 am

The above picture was the worst of the oil that we saw along the Alabama Gulf Coast.  It was taken in the bay just behind the bridge over Perdido Pass.

Early last week there was almost no sign of oil.  We saw just a single tar ball on Monday (that one was found on my leg) & Tuesday.  It was signficiantly worse on Wednesday.  I had my 1st experience showering w/ Dawn.  As the week went on it got better.  You cold see a slight sheen on the water’s surface & would notice it slightly on you when you got out of the water.  If you weren’t looking for it, you probably would not have noticed except for the slight stains on your swimsuit.

The crowds on the beach were maybe 1/3 of what’s typical during the summer.  The crowd was more like you were visiting in September than July. It was sad (but also kind of nice to not have long waits at the restaurants).

June 1, 2010


Filed under: Personal — Neil @ 7:00 am

We made a quick trip this weekend to Atlanta.  Here’s a brief review:

  • I used Priceline to book our hotel room.  As usually we saved $$$ & stayed in a great hotel.  I’ve used Priceline probably a dozen times & I’ve never been disappointed.
  • The Georgia Aquarium was worth the visit.  Not as good as I expected, but still worth the time.
  • Downtown Atlanta feels really safe.
  • There was a church convention meeting in our hotel.  I wasn’t a fan of church groups when I worked in a hotel & I’m still not.  Yes, this puts me in an awkward position.
  • I like the fact that the Braves have left the old outfield wall of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium & a marker where Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun landed.
  • We ate lunch in the 755 Club (where the picture above was taken).  Pretty cool watching batting practice while eating overpriced ballpark food.
  • I wished we lived closer to major professional sports teams.
  • We had the option of sitting in the 755 Club (air conditioned) or in seats behind the Phillies dugout (hot & sunny).  I opted for the great seats near the field.  Amanda disagreed w/ this decision.

April 2, 2010

Why I’m not buying an iPad

Filed under: Marriage,Media,Personal — Neil @ 9:34 am

  1. I’m waiting on the 2nd generation iPad.  The lack of multi-tasking, camera, & a few other capabilities in this model are a big negative to me.
  2. Amanda would kill me.  The conversation would go something like “You spent $500 on what?????.  You already have an iphone & an iMac!!!!!!!! Your such a !#@!  %#@! @%&*!#@!!!!!
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