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Monday, May 30, 2016

Let's Tile the Back Patio...

This house was pretty much move-in ready when we got here.  In other words, there was little to nothing that we really needed to do.  Oh sure, we had to create The Island with the fire pit, but for the most part, we could have just moved in and been completely happy.

And then we went to Floor and Decor.

Last weekend, along with the help of our son-in-law, Tyler the Tiler (our new name for him), we knocked out the patio, laying the tile on Saturday, then just grouting and cleaning up on Sunday.  My knees exclude me from the hard work of actually laying the tile, but I did my part by cutting the tile and handing the other two each piece.  All In all, great team work.
This was the starting point.  You'll notice that our house has Hardie siding on the back (the other three sides are brick), so we wanted to get a tile that would match well with the color.  I think it worked out.
We found the center lines and determined where we would need to make cuts, and from there, it was just a matter of getting started.  Our tiles are porcelain with a slight texture to the surface in case it gets wet so we can avoid somebody slipping.  We bought the 18" squares just becaseu that's what we have inside. It also made the job go much quicker. 
Half way done.  We purposely did one side first just because we wanted to keep the walk way to the back door open as long as possible.  Yea, call us lazy, but it worked.
Tyler makes sure the edges are perfect.  We bought a matching plastic edge that goes under the outside tiles so it looks clean and professional when looking at it from the yard.  It worked out very nicely.

On Sunday we got to work with the grout,  The color we chose matches the fake grout on the tile.  We got started early but really had to race before the sun came out to keep our bucket of grout from drying up.



In the end, the job came out great and though we were all exhausted, it was a great project for us.  And no, I'm afraid we won't be hiring out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Part One: The San Antonio Weekend...

Over the last several years, Eva and I have tried to take a small road trip as sort of a break and to celebrate our anniversary.  This year, we had planned a small excursion to Houston and Galveston, but in light of the floods over the last several weeks, we decided to stick a little closer to home.  And from the point of view of my recovering knee, I'm glad we did.

We have always enjoyed downtown San Antonio and it doesn't take much to convince us to get a night or two in a hotel downtown.  At the last minute, after changing reservations at least three times, we opted for our first stay at The Emily Morgan, an historic hotel overlooking the grounds of The Alamo.

If you've been to San Antonio or scene images on TV, you've seen the Emily Morgan, even if it wasn't obvious.  It is a tall thin looking high-rise (Thirteen floors in San Antonio is a high rise, for sure) that is shaped like a V, making a wedge between Avenue E and East Houston.  If you imagine an overhead view of The Alamo (Google is your friend), where you are facing the front, You have The Menger on your right, The Crockett behind and The Emily Morgan to the left. 

I mentioned changing reservations several times because at first, I had this idea that we would want to be on the Riverwalk itself.  But after talking about what we had planned, the location closer to the Alamo worked best.  I'll post separate entries for each, but our agenda included a dinner at Morton's Steakhouse (which is located behind the Menger and next door to The Crockett), some time at Pat O'Brien's piano bar (across the street from The Alamo), and a visit to a few museums (The McNay in Alamo Heights and The Dolph Briscoe downtown). The Riverwalk, a place we love to visit, took a backseat this weekend primarily due to my knee situation.

So just a few thoughts on our hotel.  I think when you choose to go the historic route, you risk your room being a little too antique.  I think that is my complaint with The Menger.  We've stayed there numerous times and we just decided that for the money, the rooms were not comfortable enough.  Both the Crockett and Emily Morgan have figured out that people want to see all the historic stuff in the lobby, but prefer modern amenities like new sinks, new showers, and toilets that can flush a dozen golf balls, if the need arise.
Our room was a double queen suite. Apparently, this was an upgrade from the King I had originally reserved. It was clean, spacious, and ins spite of the smaller bed, it was comfortable with lots of pillows.
The bathroom was fantastic and looked fairly recently remodeled.
On the second floor, the Emily Morgan has a fitness center and pool. They did not have the jacuzzi open but we still took our drinks down and enjoyed sitting outside for a while. We didn't eat in Oro, the restaurant inside the hotel, but we did stop by for a drink and to watch the end of a Spurs game. The atmosphere was friendly and we chatted with a couple from Houston taking a break from the floods. Overall, I'd say we enjoyed the Emily Morgan for the comfort, location and friendliness of the people we encountered. A bit more expensive than your local La Quinta or staying at a place away from the main tourist area, but for this particular visit, well worth the cost. As a final note before moving on to some of the attractions, I just want to say that San Antonio really gives it to tourists, not in a good way, in the form of taxes. When you figure into the cost of your stay, between the hotel/motel taxes, if you rent a cab, or get a car rental, and all that other stuff, just do yourself a favor and automatically add $100 to your bill. In fairness, the city bends over backwards trying to accommodate tourism, attract conventions and keep the place clean and free of urine soaked sidewalks. My concern though is, it almost seems like many people watching a budget for their vacation might consider a day trip to San Antonio versus staying the night. Who knows?