Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

Category: Friends (page 1 of 11)

Anything related to a friend, like hanging out with friends.

We celebrated Livia’s Hawaiian-themed 1st birthday — “Aloha!”

Our friends Kanishk and Sofi had a 2nd child, a baby girl, about a year ago. This past weekend, they invited friends and family to celebrate Livia’s 1st birthday. They did a really nice job decorating the backyard with a Hawaiian Luau theme. Aloha!

Our July 4th weekend was busy

Wow, that was a full weekend.

June 30th — Dinner with friends at Victor’s Cafe in Midtown, the Pitbull and Enrique concert at MSG. then walking around Chelsea and the Flatiron District looking for an open bar.

July 1st — Home from the city, then attending a neighbor’s pool party.

July 2nd — Fairly quiet day, but I did bike an early (and brisk) 21 mile ride with a neighbor.

July 3rd — Stuff around the house, the gym, plus delivery of our bar cart.

July 4th — The kids and I drove down to Philadelphia for the morning to hang out with Paul and Biji Jacob (and family), as they were in town attending a family wedding. We had breakfast with them at the hotel, then went over to the Party on the Parkway street festival down on the Ben Franklin Parkway. In the early afternoon, we walked all the way back to our car in the oppressive Philadelphia sun and heat (we couldn’t catch a taxicab), and drove back to our town, in order to change into swim clothes, and hit up a pool party at another friends’ house.

Exhausting weekend, but a good one.

Spending a Saturday in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

On Saturday, I went to the gym in the morning, After I got back and cleaned up, we drove an hour down to King of Prussia PA to spend a day. We grabbed lunch at this smallish chain called Naf Naf Grill for fast casual Mediterranean. After lunch, we hit up the nearby Crate & Barrel to check out in person a bar cart that we had our eye on. After checking out the size and quality, we plunked down a bag of quarters and purchased it. Here are some pics — it’ll be delivered early next week.

At 2:25 pm, we quickly drove to iFly for our reservation for indoor skydiving , and we met the Fernandez crew. Our reservation was at 3:30 pm, but you’re supposed to get there an hour ahead to sign in, do the safety stuff, etc. Only Namita and the kids, and the Fernandez kids would be participating today. Why? It’s expensive! Below are videos I took of the Ipes. Everyone generally gets two 1-min flights. The first minute seems to be merely experiencing the wind chamber. During your second go-around, you can opt to go all the way up. They all had a great time.

Namita performing some cool indoor sky diving moves at iFly from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

Joshua performing some cool indoor sky diving moves at iFly from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

Lily performing some cool indoor sky diving moves at iFly from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

After the indoor skydiving, we took a walk around the King of Prussia Town Center to enjoy the nice day and the sun, and grab some coffee from Starbucks. We then walked to dinner for our 5pm dinner reservation at Paladar. Very nice place, and good food, but our server kept getting confused with orders.

Farewell party for Sunil and Ligy

Our friends Sunil and Ligy (and kids) are moving to Houston later this month. They’ve sold their house, packed up the stuff, and moving away. We had one last together before they left.  We’ll certainly miss them, and wishing them all the best down in Texas.

My 41st birthday weekend

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

The Ipes dine at the *new* Steak N Shake in West Windsor

This year I wanted to keep my birthday pretty low-key. No big parties. No dressing up.  No big fancy dinners. No polite debating whether the 40-year-olds should go to a club, and see who drops out before we get to the sidewalk.

During the day, I was running around during errands, but the four Ipes met up for lunch — specifically, burgers, fries, and milkshakes — at the new Steak N Shake that somewhat recently opened up in West Windsor. Yes, you heard me. A Steak N Shake located above the Mason-Dixon Line. I can’t believe it, and they have the hats!

In the evening, the brave / fun people met up at Air Trampoline Sports on Rt 35 in Cliffwood NJ. We were going to dress comfortably, and act like kids again. For an hour, we jumped on trampolines, played dodgeball, and jousted like American Gladiators.

20170422_183752.mp4 from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

While they also had a rock wall available, I decided to try to conquer this thing called the Walking Sticks, where you climb successfully higher on these wobbly podiums. It gets high, and you can easily lose your balance. You know what, I’m 41 years old. At this point in my life, the only thing I have to be afraid of in life is quitting. And I ain’t no quitter. Never have been. Never will.

Joel Conquers the Walking Sticks from Joel Ipe on Vimeo.

After we all got hot and sweaty, we met up with our friends Lenny and Evanessa at Big Ed’s BBQ in nearby Matawan for endless all-you-can-eat ribs. My God, there was a lot of food.

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

Lazy Sunday afternoon with the Josephs

On Sunday, I went to the gym, we all went to church, and had lunch at home. After lunch, we drove down to my south Jersey to watch my niece Abigail play soccer, then we hung out at the playground, and around my sister’s house. We later had dinner, had some birthday cake, then got on the road home.

Oh, in case you were wondering about birthday gifts…

  • a couple Amazon gift cards (always appreciated)
  • a new Polar H10 heart rate monitor for when I go cycling or working out while traveling
  • a new lens hood for my Nikor 55-200 mm lens
  • a replacement copy of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI on blu-ray, since no one knows what happened to my original set

 

This is how you celebrate being 41, people.

St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl in New Brunswick

On St. Patrick’s Day, I met up with a few friends for an already-in-progress pub crawl in New Brunswick. I think it started at Old Bay, we hit two more places for drinks and dancing, and we ended at some point eating a very late dinner at Mamoun’s on Easton Ave. Good evening.

 

Namita’s 40th birthday party extravaganza in the Riviera Maya – Monday

Sadsies.

After breakfast, the ladies (plus Teo) tried to find some of the Wisconsin guests and their 10 am Zumba in the water class, but never found them. Namita and I ended up picking up some souvenirs for the kids at the gift shop, then heading back to pack our suitcases.

Although we had to check out by 11 or 12, we could have the bellman come to grab our suitcases, then we could hang out, eat, and drink on the resort until we had to catch our transportation back to the airport. I checked us out, then met the rest of our traveling companions on the beach. We had a few more drinks, then went to the hotel tub for one last dip.

I went to the nearby spa to shower, freshen up, and change my clothes. I met the rest of them at Kampai for our last meal (lunch.) We ended up lunching longer than expected, and ended up briskly walking to the main lobby.

Thankfully our limo (our limo!) had not left without us. We had an uneventful ride back to the airport, no delays with our flight, and no issues overall. Soon enough we were in the minivan and on our way home to New Jersey.

Overall, it was a really fun trip. We had some great food, enjoyed the sun, and met a lot of nice Midwest folks. I do wish the weather had cooperated more. Teo & Sofia never got to go snorkeling or parasailing, and none of us got to enjoy our beachfront dining experiences.

Namita’s 40th birthday party extravaganza in the Riviera Maya – Saturday and Sunday

I decided to combine the next two days, because we really spent the majority of our days in the pool drinking beverages, meeting very nice people from Milwaukee, Nebraska, and Iowa.

Saturday was kinda cool because Teo and I played beach volleyball with some folks, which was a first for me.

Cancun 2017 (102 of 115)Teo, Sofia and Nums did get beachside massages in the late afternoon, and I went to work out at the gym.

Saturday night we went to Rincon Mexico for dinner and we were supposed to see some fire show at the resort theater area. Unfortunately I got sick (bad indigestion or gas or something) and Teo ended up doing me a solid and running to the resort gift shop to pick up Pepto Bismol and Tums. Nums and I didn’t make it to the show, and Teo & Sofia caught the tail end, then went to the Guacamayas bar that stays open until 2 am.

Bummer.

Sunday was more time at the bar, plus Nums got another massage. We met a few more people from Nebraska at a hot tub on the Casitas side, and ended up drinking and chilling with them for another hour or so. Teo and I made two separate beer runs to empty our respective mini-fridges of all beer and champagne.

We grabbed Sunday dinner at Fuego, another Mexican restaurant. After dinner, we caught the last 20 minutes of “El Dorado Karaoke”, then got another two rounds of drinks at Guacamayas next door.

We had an opportunity for a beachside dinner, but the weather never cooperated in the evenings. For both Saturday and Sunday late afternoon and early evenings,  a heavy rainstorm and high winds would move in and hit the area. Both evenings during sunset, it was either raining or raining and windy. We never got to eat on the beach, so that sucked. Teo and Sofia had also planned to go snorkeling during the weekend, but the high winds cancelled excursions both days. Double bummer.

Our last full days of vacation were slipping away.

 

Namita’s 40th birthday party extravaganza in the Riviera Maya – Friday

Oh my, what day.

Cancun 2017 (44 of 115)We spent most of the day in the main swim-up bar at the El Dorado Royale. Based on our explorations, while there are 9 swim-up bars between the Royale and Casitas properties, 8 of them are  really quiet. Not to stereotype, but it seemed older guests liked the peace and quiet. We made our way to the big swim-up bar / pool and spent most of the day there. You’ve got three restaurants surrounding this pool so it’s the place to be, if you ask me.

Teo, Sofia, and Nums enjoyed drinks in hand-carved coconuts and pineapples after breakfast. We spent nearly the entire day in the pool. Of note, around 2 pm, we walked over to participate in the daily tequila tasting. For some reason, people kept pouring their shots into my cup. Sometime after the tequila tasting, we were all well… hydrated.

At some point, on the way back to our rooms, all the while stumbling / giggling, we stopped and swam around in a large salt water pool. Eventually we made it to the rooms, and got ready for dinner at the Casitas Italian restaurant. Wow, great food.

Cancun 2017 (66 of 115)Later around 10 pm, we took a golf cart ride to the Royale lobby, and caught a cab into town (Playa del Carmen) and went to our destination for the evening  – Coco Bongo.  Now. I’ve been to the Coco Bongo in Cancun at least twice now, and I know it gets super crowded on the main floor. I highly recommended that we purchase VIP tickets ahead of time, which turned out to be an good idea. after all We were escorted to our balcony area, where we had waiters running drinks for us, and also escorting the ladies to the rest rooms as needed. The Playa Del Carmen version appeared to be smaller than the Cancun version, but I could be wrong. Still, very entertaining.

We ended up partying until about sometime an after 3 am, and only after we got the girls on stage to dance. Check that one off the list! We grabbed a cab, and we were home 30 or so minutes later.

What a day. What a night.

Namita’s 40th birthday party extravaganza in the Riviera Maya – Thursday

I began planning the centerpiece of my wife Namita’s 40th birthday celebration months ago. We discussed maybe even a year earlier of getting a number of folks together, flying somewhere warm without children, and relaxing. As the months ticked inexorably closer to Dec 2016, most people couldn’t make it. The good news is we had narrowed down the vacation destination to either Cancun or the Riviera Maya. Luckily, our resident “Always down to party!” friends Teo and Sophia were looking for a vacation.

The kids would stay over with their grandparents for the extended weekend (Wed night – Tues morning.) The four of us were leaving Thursday early morning at 3 am. We stayed up to finish packing (as usual) and we were on time to leave. We drove to Queens, dropped off the car at off-airport parking, did the whole get to the airport / check-in / security thing, and then waited around at the concourse. There were a lot of people at JFK even at 4:30 am.

Cancun 2017 (15 of 115)No issues with our United flight, and we arrived on time. Namita slept and I watched movies on my iPad. We fought past all the pushy folks selling ‘adventures’ and excursions, and found Lomas Travel. After waiting about 10-15 minutes, our Lincoln MKX limo showed up. I knew our agent Travel Tom was up to something, but wow. We enjoyed a very comfortable 45 minute ride to the El Dorado Royale / Casitas in the Riviera Maya.

We took a large golf cart over to the Casitas section and checked in at our own personal Casitas lounge. We had an excellent lunch at the Asian fusion restaurant Kampai then went to check out our fabulous rooms. I surprised Namita with an upgrade to the Casitas section, and Travel Tom surprised Teo and Sofia with a free upgrade to Casitas as well!

Cancun 2017 (39 of 115)We relaxed for a bit, then I went to check out the resort with Teo & Sofia. Namita needed a few more winks of rest, but she joined us later. The resort was expansive  – very stretched out with many pools, canals, etc. We were a little surprised to find the swim-up pools and bars closed promptly at 5 pm in order to get ready for dinner. We did hang out at one of the beachside bars to drink.

In the late evening, we had reservations at Fuentes, what they call a culinary dining experience. They have a rotating set of chefs come in to design a series of appetizers and entrees and desserts. They also make the meal in front of everyone, and have it on camera for everyone to see.

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