Monday, August 14, 2017

Alaskan Cruise 2017 - Day 5: Skagway

7/10/17

On this morning we made our 2nd port of call:  Skagway, Alaska.

The view from our balcony at 5am this morning
I believe that small town on the water's edge is Haines, Alaska

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Alaskan Cruise 2017 - Day 4: Juneau, Part 2

Continued from the previous post.

That's the Mount Roberts Tramway.  You can just make out the tram near the top in the photo.  Riders board a gondola at at the docks and ride to the top where there are scenic views, hiking opportunities, a nature center, shop, restaurant and more.

Alaskan Cruise 2017 - Day 4: Juneau, Part 1

July 9th - Port of call:  Juneau, Alaska

On this morning we were still under power with a noon arrival in Juneau.  We crossed time zones and gained an hour so I was up earlier than usual.  It was about 55 degrees and the sky was overcast with a light rain - perfect weather for traveling north in my opinion.

I put on my shorts, t-shirt and hoodie to go walking and left Todd sleeping.  Since it was raining too much to walk on the track on deck 11 I went down to deck 4 - the outside area there (where the lifeboats are) encircles the entire ship and is almost completely covered.  I don't think I've already posted it, so I've included a cutaway of the ship's layout below.

This morning's view from our stateroom.  Love it.
Deck 4 with the lifeboats hanging above
I've drawn this handy diagram to show...
Just kidding.  Picture from royalcaribbean.co.uk

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Alaskan Cruise 2017 - Day 2

July 7, 2017

Morning broke in Seattle and put on my walking shoes for a 4 mile walk around the area.  I didn't have an agenda in mind when I left the room, but by the time I hit the street I had decided to head to the Space Needle (about a mile and a half from the hotel).

The early morning empty lobby of the W
Made it.  I took a couple of photos then continued on my way.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Alaskan Cruise 2017 - Day 1: North To Alaska!

Earlier this month we returned from an Alaskan cruise with my in-laws John and Norma.  Neither Todd nor his parents had ever been on a cruise before.  I had been on a cruise to the Bahamas in high school, but that was so long ago that this was like a first cruise for all of us.  Alaska turned out to be the perfect destination since it was much needed break from the Texas heat.

We sailed with Royal Caribbean on the Explorer of the Seas.  The cruise departed from and returned to Seattle, Washington, so to ease travel fatigue and stress we bookended the trip with an overnight stay there at each end of the trip.  We'll definitely be going back for a dedicated Seattle vacation in the future - what a fun place!

We flew out on July 6th, so John and Norma drove up to spend the night with us on the 5th.  We got up the morning of the 6th and they went to breakfast while Todd and I took the cats to be boarded - so hard to leave them!  All of us met back at the house then made our way to the airport.

We made it through security and down to the gate with plenty of time to spare so we grabbed a bite at Einstein Bros. Bagels.  I had a turkey sausage, egg and cheese bagel.  As we were finishing we received alerts that our gate had changed to another terminal.  Pressed for time now, we made our way to the Skyline train that connects the terminals and had just boarded when...it broke down.  Luckily, it was up and running again within 10 minutes and we made it to our new terminal and gate with just enough time to stop at the restroom before boarding.  Whew.

The flight was uneventful.  We received a meal on this flight so I had a veggie enchilada, corn salad, romaine lettuce, wheat roll and glass of red mystery wine.  Dessert was a really good lemon coconut cake and a cup of coffee.

Love taking photos of clouds from above

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Disneyland Trip 2017 - Day 5

Well, we had a really good time and this trip totally satisfied the "got to get away" urge.

We checked out and waited out in front of the hotel for about 40 minutes for our Disney bus to come to take us to LAX.  The ride back was uneventful and we still had time to kill so we hung out in the new international terminal for a bit.  Then it was back to home and hearth, rested and relaxed!

I'm ready to go...where's that damn bus?
We saw this ginormous British Airways double decker plane getting prepped for takeoff
This thing was just massive
Getting close to home.  From up here civilization just looks like a bioluminescent splotch on the Earth.

That's it for this report.  Thanks for sticking around and waiting for the finish!

Now, let me tell you about Alaska...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Disneyland 2017 Trip - Day 4

Up early again for another power walk through California Adventure.  This time the lead instructor (I guess) joined us and we stopped near the end in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area where she led us through several stretching exercises.  Bonus!  I know I said it before, but it's worth repeating:  These walks were really the highlights of the trip for me.

Afterwards we went back to the room.  Todd went back to sleep and after resting for a while I got cleaned up and went to Disneyland.  It was the "Extra Magic Hour" day for resort guests so I was able to get in before the 9am official park opening time.  First stop: Splash Mountain.  Or maybe not.

Todd's corpse-like post-walk repose

I was going to ride Splash Mountain but there was a rope blocking access to that side of the park.  Then I remembered from last time that during early morning access only Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are open.  Bummer.  I switched gears and got in line for the Matterhorn Bobsleds instead.

Matterhorn waterfall
Boarding area

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Got To Catch Up

I've gotten behind - we just returned from a(n amazing) cruise to Alaska with the in-laws and I haven't finished posting about Disneyland.  I'll try to wrap that up quickly so I can move on to "Seward's folly".


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Disneyland 2017 Trip - Day 3

Todd joined me for the power walk this morning - kudos to him for getting up early.  We had another great walk and got to watch (as we passed and then later looped back through the same area) them rehearsing and shooting a commercial with Mickey on a cherry picker.  Neat!

After the walk we again got breakfast at the Hearthstone Lounge and took it back to the room to eat and relax/nap until the park was open.  We planned to spend this day and the next at Disneyland, so we were not in any hurry today.


A menacing shadow behind the curtains turns out to be just a big moth.  We managed to shoo him out onto the balcony where he glowered at us before flying away.
Good morning Disneyland

Monday, June 12, 2017

Disneyland 2017 Trip - Day 2

Up at 5:30 for the 6:00am power walk I mentioned in the previous post.  This is free activity for guests staying on-site; you just have to sign up at your hotel or by calling guest services.  Space for each walk is limited to between 10-20 people depending on the day, but I ended up doing this each morning of our trip and we didn't have more than 8 people each day.  The walk itself is 2 miles and takes place in the California Adventure theme park before it's open.  As you go, the cast members leading the walk give facts about the park and answer any questions you have.  It's like a fast, exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.  Taking photos is not allowed on the walk.

The meeting point for the start of the walk was at the Grand Californian entry gate to the California Adventure park.  I arrived at 10 'til and there 4 others waiting.  About 5 minutes later our Disney cast member fitness leaders arrived and after a quick roll call we signed our liability waivers and were given neon yellow safety vests to wear.  Two other guests arrived, and while they were filling out their liability forms the last 2 guests arrived.

The deserted entrance to the park from the hotel.  Waiting to get my walk on.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Disneyland 2017 Trip - Day 1

Hi, how's it going?

At the beginning of this month Todd and I took a trip to Disneyland for a relaxing, no-hassles vacation.  We had been looking for a quick getaway, and the various Disneyland crowd calendars showed that the beginning of May would be a good time to go, so we went.

Waiting for our plane at DFW Airport.  Not this one though.  Right airline, wrong plane.
Hello Los Angeles, you dirty, dirty diamond

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kurios

For Christmas my brother got the entire family tickets to see Cirque Du Soleil: Kurios on its current tour.  The big day finally arrived yesterday, and after a great dinner at Mariano's restaurant (where the frozen margarita was invented (the original machine now resides with the Smithsonian - for real - check it out)) we all drove over to Grand Prairie for the show.

And what a show!  I won't give away any details, but I highly recommend going to see it if you can.

The show tent was set up in the parking lot of Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie
Entering the world of Kurios
Waiting for the "doors" doors to open
#KURIOS
The stage is set - on with the show!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hi

How's it going?  Just checking in.  I hope to have some new posts in the not too distant future.

See you then.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New Kitten(s)

After we had to put our last cat to sleep in March, we knew we weren't ready to be pet owners again right away, if ever.  Aside from the inevitable pain when they die, it's really, really, really, nice not having to deal with the litter, food, and cat hair everywhere every day.  Plus it's super easy to travel, which we did quite a bit of.

However, to misuse a quote: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."  Todd and I recently began talking about another pet, which led to perusing local shelters online.  It was all very casual until Thanksgiving, which was held this year at my brother's house.

After lunch, the cat race clearly sent their little cat ambassador - a catassador, if you will, in the form of my brother's cat - on a deadly mission of endearment.  Armed with only the cold resolve of a killer and a warm, vibrating love bomb strong enough to wipe out the population of an entire 7-11, the cat zeroed in on its target and detonated it's payload right in my lap...by curling up and purring itself to sleep.

That's when shit got real.

So we started to verbally weigh the pros and cons of a new cat or dog while stepping up our online shelter search, but it was clear the battle had already been lost.  After ruling out a dog, it was just a matter of when, not if, we would get a cat.  Then it happened:

"Nicole was found with her sister living on the streets.  She is super sweet and loves to have tummy rubs." read the posting on the Dallas County Humane Society website.  It was love at first sight.  I mean, look at those eyes!  Plus she has a cute crooked tail (apparently from being broken at some point) that she curls up like a piggy!

Following the instructions on the Humane Society website, we emailed our interest and followed it up with a completed 4-page(!) adoption application.  We got a response that evening that Nicole was still available and we could meet her the next day.  We were so excited!

Friday, December 2, 2016

New York/Pet Shop Boys - Day 5

The time for leaving finally came, as it always does.  We had an afternoon flight on Monday the 14th, so we had a relaxing morning packing and having breakfast.

Dough at City Kitchen was so good that we went back again for our last New York breakfast.  This time I had a really well made cafe au lait donut that I savored while watching the world go by out on the street.

We walked back to the W, grabbed our packed bags and checked out.  Our Uber driver took us to LaGuardia and after getting through security we had about an hour and a half until our flight.

We'll be sharing our flight today with, let's see...
...looks like Olaf the snowman and Peppa the pig.  Their 4-5 year-old owner and her dad sat down in the chairs right across from us even though the whole gate area was available - can't really blame them though as it was right by the windows.  She plopped her friends on the window ledge then spent the rest of her waiting time watching a movie on a cell phone while chewing on her blanket - it was sopping wet when her dad took it away from her before they got up to board.  The blanket, not the cell phone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New York/Pet Shop Boys - Day 4

This was Sunday the 13th and our last full day in New York.

We slept in and so it was nearing lunchtime when we left the hotel.  We walked a few blocks to Toasties on 49th and sat at the window as we ate.  I had the Cordon Bleu (on a roll) which was a chicken cutlet with grilled honey baked ham, melted mozzarella, grilled onions, lettuce & tomato.  It was delicious.

When lunch was finished we took the R train downtown to the Oculus and One World Trade Center.  The Oculus is a transportation hub for the area, but it's also a giant shopping mall.

Waiting at the 49th Street station
Having fun with the Prisma App:





Arriving in Lower Manhattan at the Oculus.  Not very crowded when we arrived...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New York/Pet Shop Boys - Day 3

This was Saturday the 12th.  We started out the day with Dough at City Kitchen.  City Kitchen is a collection of different food vendors brought together in one space.  Dough makes donuts.  Large, very delicious donuts.

I had the salad-plate-sized mocha almond crunch
Todd's dulce de leche with toasted almonds

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Almost Forgot

I forgot to add in my last post that I picked up this neat "pop up theater" in the Dairy visitor center/gift shop while in Central Park:

The laser cut paper construction comes flat in a envelope-sized package.  Once removed you bend the folds in the opposite direction to form a cube.



While I don't see it online, the Central Park Conservancy does have other great items available in their shop on the web.

New York/Pet Shop Boys - Day 2

Friday, November 11th - a great day for a stroll through Central Park.

We started off with breakfast at Kellog's NYC, a branded cereal bar just down the street from our hotel.  This was a "Malted Nutty Banana" which included Krave chocolate cereal, malted milk powder, toasted hazelnuts, sliced banana, and skim milk.  It was a good combination.
Who doesn't love cereal?  Not this guy.
USS Maine National Monument at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park.
Subtitle:  Three youth at rest.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

New York/Pet Shop Boys - Day 1

On Monday we returned from a 4-day trip to New York where we saw the Pet Shop Boys again in concert at the theater at Madison Square Garden.  This was our third trip to New York (the last was in November of 2014 - read about it starting here), so we didn't do some of the typical sightseeing this time.

Let's jump right in, shall we?

We flew American this time and were served breakfast on the plane.  I had steel cut oatmeal with shaved coconut and dried fruit, brown sugar, and butter.  It came with vanilla yogurt, a side of fresh fruit, and milk.  Todd had biscuits and gravy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Birthday Phantom

After our return from Vegas, for her birthday we took my mom to see the national tour of the new production of The Phantom of the Opera at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth.

The cast was excellent as was the production.  The new staging was innovative and fresh, but the standout (for me) was Katie Travis as Christine DaaĆ© - what a talent!  Go see this show if you can.

Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, TX (taken from the parking garage)
Looking up at the covered infamous chandelier before the show starts
The chandelier after the "crash" at the end of Act 1.  Even though I've seen the Phantom before, it was still quite dramatic especially since we were underneath it.  Mom (and I) got a chuckle that I gave out a little involuntary yell when it came down.  :)