RedStrong Red (default) BlueCalm Blue GreenFresh Green

Chose your color scheme.

Archive for "Travel"

New Year’s Eve

Posted on January 15, 2022 by under Life, Travel.    

What do you do for New Year’s Eve when you have an early wake up the next morning for a pickleball tournament? You stay in and drink in the hotel lobby and play Mexican train dominoes and Uno all evening.

Untitled

I set up in the lobby and started making drinks from my Shaker & Spoon cocktail kit while we were waiting for Tiffany and Donnie to come down. This random guy comes over and asks if it’s the “manager’s special” because he wants a drink, I guess. I’m like, “Sorry, dude. This happy hour is private.” LOL.

Untitled

I made drinks for both me and Tiffany.

Untitled

The four of us enjoyed some cocktails while playing Mexican train dominoes. It’s nice to be able to drink and not have to worry about driving home (or anywhere for that matter). The guys looked quite serious because Brian was seriously losing and Donnie was hot on my heels (I was the points leader for most of the game but Donnie ended up winning at the end by a mere two points).

Untitled

Everyone was in it to win it. Except for Brian because, after his triple digits in the first round, he didn’t have a prayer.

Untitled

I’m so disappointed that we didn’t get to drink these shots. They came in the cutest jars. However, the size of them was somewhat intimidating. I mean, the jars are cute but they are a good size so there’s a lot of alcohol in those shots.

Untitled

Tiffany won at Uno on NYE but I owned it the next night.

Untitled

I think one of my favorite memories from the weekend was when Tiffany and Donnie and Brian all banded together to help Brian win the round and keep me from winning. I think I had 4 wins, Brian had 3, Tiffany had 2, and Donnie had 0 wins. We were in the 10th round. If Tiffany, Donnie, or I won the round then I would be the winner. The only way they could prevent me from winning is if Brian won the round and tied me at 4 wins, which would force a sudden death tie breaker round. So even though, Tiffany and Donnie were both ready to go out, they weren’t going out because because they wanted Brian to win.

It was three against one and I still won! That was definitely one of the weekend’s highlights for me. Of course, winning gold in mixed 4.0 with Devon was nice too.

That was pretty much our NYE weekend. Until next time. GNG.

No Comments

Missouri Pickleball Club

Posted on January 10, 2022 by under Pickleball, Travel.    

When we arrived in Missouri on Thursday, all the courts at the tournament site were completely booked so there was no open play to be had there. Thankfully, my friend Christie Pink, who lives in St. Louis, is a member of the Missouri Pickleball Club. MPC touts itself as the largest indoor pickleball facility in the nation. I think that’s true right now but might not be the case because pickleball facilities are sprouting up all over the place.

Untitled

We ended up paying $22 each to play for two hours. It’s not cheap but it would have been even more expensive had we not come in as Christie’s guests. It made me feel like they were keeping non-members out just by making it super expensive to play there. I think the guy told me that if we were to book courts ourselves, it would be $40 per hour plus a $10 hourly guest fee. Members can get the courts for $24 per hour and their guests only have to pay $5 per hour for the guest fee. So for us, it was $12 for the two hours of court time plus $10 for the guest fee (instead of $40 per person). It’s like Chicken N Pickle weekend rates without the awesome CNP food and drinks and fun ambiance. And they charge guest fees on top of that, which at least you don’t have at CNP.

Untitled

The facility itself was clean and well lit and the courts were spaced just right. Other than being expensive, the facility was great overall and we were with a great group of people. So the company was well worth the visit.

Untitled

This is my friend Christie with Brian Garner behind her and Donnie and Tiffany Lesperance in the red shirt. Christie is so fun. I am so grateful for her bringing everyone together and setting up this play for us. We wouldn’t have gotten to play on Thursday night otherwise.

Untitled

I wish they would open a place like this in Wichita (because there’s not enough places to play indoors with a good playing surface in the winter time) — just not as expensive. LOL. Anyway, pickleball always makes me work up an appetite. We ended up having Burger King for dinner late that night after we finished playing because there’s a BK right outside our hotel. It worked out for me because I actually like BK. Until next time, GNG.

No Comments

St. Louis Trip

Posted on January 9, 2022 by under Food and Drink, Travel.    

We traveled to St. Louis, MO last weekend to compete in the Dink-in the New Year pickleball tournament at Vetta Racquet Sport Sunset. Since Tiffany and Donnie Lesperance were staying in the same hotel, the four of us decided to carpool.

We’ve gone to tournaments with Tiffany and Donnie before but this was our first time actually “traveling” together and traveling with these two is quite interesting because they love Mexican food. They don’t love Mexican food in the same way that normal people love Mexican food. They “really” love it. To the point where they could eat Mexican food everyday of our trip. And that is pretty much what we did. LOL. Thankfully, Brian and I enjoy Mexican food too. Otherwise, we would have been having nightmares like our friend Karen Fox did on our last trip to St. Louis.

We arrived in St. Louis on Thursday afternoon and had a late lunch at this place called El Maguey. However, I couldn’t even tell you which specific one because apparently that is like the most common name for a Mexican restaurant. There are El Magueys everywhere. There’s even one in Derby.

Untitled

Here are some pictures of our meal.

Untitled

Tiffany had some lunch fajitas.

Untitled

Predictably, Brian always gets a simple bean and cheese burrito covered with queso.

Untitled

I got some grilled tilapia and shrimp, which was so good.

Untitled

The next day we found a Mexican restaurant a few miles from the tournament venue called San Jose.

Untitled

San Jose Mexican Restaurant was a step up from El Maguey the previous day. They were playing fun bachata music while we were there and the decorations gave the restaurant an authentic ambiance.

Untitled

Untitled

Once again, Brian got a bean and cheese burrito.

Untitled

I don’t remember what Donnie had but this is a picture of it.

Untitled

Tiffany had the Guadalajara chicken.

Untitled

And, I must have been really hungry because I missed taking a picture of my Mexican chicken soup. It was really good. It reminded me of the Mexican soup I used to have at this place called Wrap It Up in downtown Kansas City. They had it as a special on Wednesdays.

Untitled

I thought the food was really good, as was the service. Our server was very attentive, checked on our table regularly, and kept our drinks/chips/salsa replenished without prompting — unlike at some places.

Untitled

I managed to talk everyone into getting an entire pitcher of margarita. The server helped my case by telling that anything we could not finish we could take to go. I think it took a couple of days to drink the rest of the leftover margarita.

Untitled

We loved San Jose so much that we returned the next day. This time with Donnie’s doubles partner Mark Steiner who, I guess, loves Mexican food too.

Untitled

I had a giant plate of pork with some kind of flavorful red mole sauce, side of rice, and some elote (Mexican street corn). Brian gave me some of his guacamole. My dinner (which was also my breakfast the next morning because I couldn’t finish it) was delicious!

Untitled

I think these are Donnie’s and Mark’s plates. I’m pretty sure I didn’t take a pic of Brian’s place because it would have been the same thing three days in a row.

Untitled

Speaking of eating the same thing on consecutive days, Tiffany really liked the Guadalajara chicken because she got it again.

Untitled

This trip is the most consecutive days of eating Mexican food I’ve had. Thankfully, I never tire of eating Mexican food either. Anyway, now we know what to expect when traveling with Tiffany and Donnie. Until next time, GNG.

No Comments

Another Weekend, Another Tournament

Posted on November 19, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies, Travel.    

I traveled to Great Bend last weekend for the Turkey Classic. I hadn’t been playing indoors on wood gym floors much over the last year or so but my friend Ramon Lozano is one of my favorite mixed doubles partners so, when he asked, I couldn’t say no. We had dinner plans with Madison and Lindsay that Saturday night but mixed was scheduled for Sunday so I accepted the invitation thinking I could do the dinner and then just drive over and back on Sunday.

My friend Sandi Dobbs (mother in law of Mason McCanless, another pickleball friend) invited me to play in women’s doubles. I was already going to be there for mixed anyway and there weren’t many teams so we were trying to help them out. Plus, Sandi said I could spend the night at her house so I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth on both days. Then, come to find out, there weren’t that many women’s teams signed up so they were going to consolidate all of the play to Saturday. Anyway, it was a bit of a mess but it all worked out.

If I were only playing mixed I probably could have left Wichita around 10 o’clock because mixed wasn’t until the afternoon and it was only a two hour drive. With gender doubles starting at 8:30 AM, Karen and I left her house at 5 in the morning to get there with plenty of time to find the school and settle in.

I told Karen I’d been waking up in the middle of the night at 2 and 3 AM because I hadn’t been sleeping well lately. Little did I know it was all training for the day of our early morning drive to Great Bend.

Karen Fox, Jen Reifschneider, Sandi Dobbs and me

Untitled

The day before the tournament, Karen’s women’s doubles partner Janelle Lindeman backed out and so Karen ended up getting Jen to fill in. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because she got a partner upgrade.

There were some last minute women’s sign ups so instead of having to play with the men, the women ended up with their own division. There were eight teams that were divided into two separate brackets after pool play.

Untitled

Jen Tiano and Jenny Cole (holding the frozen turkeys in the above photo) won the top women’s bracket with Karen and Jen taking second (pumpkin pie filling prize) and me and Sandi in third (stuffing prize). They didn’t actually send you home with the food. Those were just props for the photo. But you did get a gift card so you could buy your own food. I’m actually grateful for the gift card because I don’t really like stuffing that much. LOL.

Untitled

There were twice as many men’s doubles teams as there were women’s so they ended up with multiple brackets. These were the top guys: Chris Heck and Klee Watchous (first place), Ramon Lozano and Jeret Johnson (second place), and Justin McClung and Shawn Clark (third place).

Untitled

There were 20 or so mixed doubles teams that played in the afternoon so there was a gold bracket, silver bracket, and bronze bracket. I’m not sure what happened in the other brackets but Wichita swept the gold bracket with Jen and Chris taking first, Jenny and Klee taking second, and Karen and Bo (not pictured because had to leave to deal with his car troubles) taking third. Ramon and I finished in fourth, losing to Karen and Bo in the back draw.

We joked that Chris, Jenny, Jen, and Klee flew in (yes, Klee flew the four of them in) just to do some exhibition matches. LOL. Chris joked that the drive from his house in West Wichita to the hangar in Benton was half of the drive time to Great Bend, which a little exaggerated but somewhat accurate. The drive would have been 2.5 hours from my house but it was only a little less than 2 hours from Karen’s house. I’m glad she decided to ride with me because it made the drive go by super quick. It also gave the two of us an opportunity to catch up.

Tomorrow Karen, Ramon, Bo, and I are playing in the team tournament at Nahola. I’ve only ever done it once and it was a complete fluke. I wasn’t part of a team but rather a last minute fill in. The teams this time are stacked with great players. It should be a super fun, competitive time.

Until next time. GNG.

No Comments

No Medals but Had a Ton of Fun

Posted on November 18, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies, Travel.    

Some people bring back medals from their out of town tournaments. I bring back new friends which, in a way, is even cooler than medals. One of my favorite things about going to pickleball tournaments is making new friends and reconnecting with friends I’ve made from past tournaments. It’s a lot like ZINCON in that way.

Brian and I originally planned to drive down to Oklahoma on Thursday night because I wasn’t sure what time I was playing on Friday but, when I found out that our division wasn’t starting until 11:45 am, we decided to cancel our Thursday night stay and only spend one night at the hotel to save money. We were originally going to take Saki with us but then realized we wouldn’t be able to take her inside the tennis facility so she ended up getting boarded which ended up using the money we saved on our hotel stay.

This tournament was set up differently in that tournaments are typically held on Saturday and Sunday. This one held events on Friday and Saturday. Gender doubles was on Friday and then mixed was on Saturday.

Untitled

I played with Jen Reifschneider in women’s doubles. I’m glad she agreed to play because I originally only had mixed lined up. This was only our second time playing together. We played together for the first time in ICT Fall-out back in September. We did pretty well (getting further than any of the other local women’s doubles teams in our division) and I had a lot of fun playing with her. I had high hopes for this tournament but also knew that it would be challenging because it was a sanctioned tournament and typically players play their actual level (or sometimes lower) instead of playing up.

We had the misfortune of playing against the gold medal team in our first round and then just had a rough go during our second match. I felt like we really should have medaled because even the gold medal team felt like we were their main competition (we were the only team to take them to 3 games, until the championship match) so I think we were just unlucky.

Untitled

Anyway, once we were out, I took advantage of the time to catch up with friends like Michael McLemore who I only ever see at pickleball tournaments. I also enjoyed watching everyone play and taking a few pics.

Untitled

We had dinner at Industry that evening. Our group consisted of over 20 people. Most of us were from Wichita but some were from Hays. We also made some new friends. I invited the two girls who won gold in our division to dinner because (a) I had no bitter feelings at all, and (b) they were super nice. I ran into Jenna earlier that day in the restroom and she was super complementary about how Jen and I played. She didn’t gloat and wasn’t a jerk so I invited her and Danae and Danae’s husband Barrett to join our group for dinner. Incidentally, she lives close to the restaurant and Danae and Barrett were both staying with her so it worked out perfectly. We did have to add another table and a couple more chairs but we made it work and everyone seemed to have a great time visiting with one another over dinner. Pickleball peeps are the best!

Untitled

We just keep adopting people into the Wichita Pickleball family. LOL.

Untitled

Here are some pictures of our food.

Untitled

I tried to get as many food pics as I could but it was just too difficult because everyone was so far away from me.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Brian and I got a couple of the charcuterie plates to share with everyone as we waited for everyone to arrive to order dinner. As is what typically happens, we ordered way too much food. Brian and I only ate half of our pizza and we couldn’t do anything with the rest of it because we were staying at a hotel (Avid) and going home the next day.

Untitled

Speaking of our hotel, I got to meet Alvaro Terron Gonzalez aka the Spanish Sensation or Jay 2.0 at breakfast the next morning because he just happened to be staying at the same hotel. He is super nice and graciously agreed to take a photo with me. I think he is still getting use to the idea of being famous.

Brian says he think I am more famous than Alvaro. This never would have occurred to me had this guy not asked to take a photo with me when I was at Riverside Tennis Center last week. He said “his mom is a huge fan” – his words not mine. Maybe Brian is on to something and maybe I am really more famous than I realize?

I am usually the one fan-girling so to have someone ask to get a pic with me kind of made me feel special. We’ve come full circle, friends.

Untitled

And speaking of full circle, my friend Justin (one of our friends from Hays) recently posted this on Facebook. Naturally, I got a kick out of it. Alvaro is super nice. I found out that he is good friends with Michael Douglas, my mixed partner for that tournament. Any time that he wasn’t playing he came to watch us play.

He was watching when we played against Kali Wilson and Kyle VonAhn and saw our heartbreaking 15-13 consolation bracket loss which ended our tournament run. I thanked him for coming to watch us and he said it was fun to watch and then also added, “Too bad Michael didn’t show up today!” to mess with Michael – LOL – who was standing right there. Alvaro is not only nice and handsome but he also has a great sense of humor, and he is climbing the ranks of my list of favorite people.

Untitled

Speaking of Michael, here’s a picture of him in the awesome team shirt that I had made for us. I had to make a different shirt (rather than a Wichita Pickleball one like mine and Jen’s) because Michael is from Tulsa, OK area.

Untitled

I think I did great on the shirt design because the tournament director Gene Click totally got a kick out of it. #NailedIt — I wish there was a prize for best dressed because Michael and I looked amazing in our team uniforms.

You are probably wondering how I got teamed up with Michael for the SMASH 2021 tournament. That is a really cool story actually. We met through the ICT Classic pickleball tournament back in June. He and his partner Deana Holman sent me and my partner Mason McCanless into the consolation bracket on their way to taking bronze.

Michael Douglas ICT

Even though we lost that match it was quite memorable. He said he was amazed how Mason and I managed to win the first game 14-12. I’m pretty sure we were down 0-8 or some insanely huge deficit like that. Michael said was super impressed at the significant amount of mental fortitude it took for Mason and I to turn that game around and actually win it. As you can see from the screen shot above, we lost games 2 and 3 pretty decisively (11-5, 11-5) probably because it took all of strength and focus to win that first game. LOL.

I think Mason and I would have made a deeper tournament run had we not encountered the silver and bronze medal teams so early in the tournament. That was unfortunate. But, anyway, those were the circumstances with which I met Michael. I guess I must have made quite an impression because he invited me to team up for a future tournament.

Being a lower level player, I was naturally super excited to have someone of Michael’s caliber invite me to play. I was like, “Wow. Seriously?” I didn’t even care what the tournament was or when it was. I was all in.

I had my mixed partner lined up months in advance but didn’t have a women’s doubles partner but, as luck would have it, Jen Reifschneider just happened to be available so I managed to snag an amazing women’s doubles partner too. If I was going to podium at a sanctioned event, this was the one. This is the first tournament ever that I’ve ever had teammates who are much higher level than me.

I didn’t come home with any medals but it was such a huge honor playing with both Michael and Jen. And, I also got some compliments on my game. I mean, I could have played 3.0 and 3.5 (because my ratings in women’s and mixed are actually low enough that I could have) and medaled rather than playing 4.0 in both events but how much fun would that have been? Plus, Michael says I belong in 4.0 so I guess I’m going to continue playing 4.0 for a while until I make some podiums.

Progress is slow as molasses but I’m still truckin’… until the next tournament. GNG.

1 Comment

« Older Entries «