Day 257 – People do the nicest things

crushIt’s Sunday, we are hunting for a place to watch the NFC championship game in Temecula.  Everything suggested to us is a chain, and I’m just not in to chains.  Driving around, we notice a brewery in old town.  The Crush and Brew, now that’s a clever little place.  They have a wine side and a beer side and only serve cold foods, it sounds interesting and for a Sunday at noon, it’s perfect for us.  We opt for the beer side, there is a TV and Jenn is our server.  Over 22 beers on tap, some as high as 12%.  Rich is an IPA drinker, so he chooses a sample platter of those, I go for a wheat beer, like usual.

At halftime, we are lamenting the slow start of the forty-niner’s, but have placed our order for the Big Block, it’s a cutting board full of meats and cheese, bread and various condiments.  Perfect for two.  The meal and the beer combined with a winning football game transform a mundane Sunday afternoon in to a great day.  But that’s not all.

During the first quarter, we met Carol and Ernie and their daughter and son-in-law.  They are out touring the area, from Riverside, they like to spend their weekends looking for breweries and good food.  Temecula was their stop today with the help of Yelp.  I overheard a conversation about brew festivals coming up and asked them what they found.  This translated in to thirty minutes of animated conversation with some terrific people.  On top of that, they paid for our first round before they moved on to their next stop and came by for hugs to thank us for the conversation.  Wow, some people are just so nice.  So raise your glasses everyone to Carol and Ernie and all the kind people out in the world like them.  Perfect strangers can become perfect friends.


Day 267 – Carnival Splendor Day Five

pinnacleSo that whole tired thing has caught up to me, we are in port at Puerto Vallarta and I have no desire to go anywhere.  I know there are about a billion things we could be doing in the city, but five days of play has created the need for a day off.  Swimsuits on, we are headed to the aft lido deck for the day.  In and out of the pool and the hot tub, it was a great relaxing afternoon.

Highlight of the day:  the Pinnacle restaurant.  We attended a cooking demonstration back on Monday held at the steakhouse on board, the food was magnificent, so a reservation at the Pinnacle seemed completely in line.  We got to dinner at 6:15, it wasn’t over until well after eight.  A squash soup, a bleu cheese salad, 10 ounce lobster tail with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli followed by a chocolate sampler dessert that included tiramisu, banana pannaceta, and two other delicious desserts.  Oh, I am a happy girl.  Every part of the meal was exquisite.

Our ship was set to set sail today at 11 p.m. – yeah, that didn’t happen.  We had gotten two days in PV because of a repair that is being made on the seals around the propulsion shaft.  From our cabin, we’ve been watching the goings on near the repair site.  After dinner, it sure didn’t look like they were wrapping up.  Not long after, they announced we would be staying in PV another day.  What that meant though was that the cruise was going to last a whole nother day.  Staying in Puerto Vallarta meant we couldn’t get to Long Beach on Sunday, the soonest we could arrive is Monday.  Oh, darn…we have to stay an extra day.  This is our second vacation in six months that we couldn’t get back on time, I’m lovin’ it.

Not everyone is happy about this change, but it’s awesome for us. An extra day is awesome, we are having such a good time, and who cares where we spend Sunday, in town or out doesn’t really have an impact on our world.

Day 268 – Carnival Splendor Day Four

jacobPuerto Vallarta, Mexico, a city of 225,000 people on the Pacific Ocean.  Beautiful ocean views off the port, a city surrounded by mountains, there is not a lot of room for more growth.  As you talk to people who have been here before, they talk about this quaint little city, it is not so quaint anymore, PV is a big city.

We pulled in to port early this morning, when we woke and looked off our balcony, we felt like we had parked right in the center of the city.  There is no movement on the boat and there are grass parks and streets outside. The sun is up and shining beautifully, 80+ degrees for a gorgeous January day.  I’m loving it.

We left the boat with two families in tow, including three little ones, approached by everyone and their dog to grab a taxi for $5/ea or a personal van that would take us anywhere we wanted all day long for $20/person.  There were also car rental places, all we really wanted to do was go to the Malecon and take a look around.  When Nathan suggested the city bus I had a moment of indecision, I probably wouldn’t have thought of that on my own, but I’m so glad we followed through.  The bus stop was right around the corner from the cruise ship, for a total of $8 for the day, that’s not each, that’s total, nine of us traveled wherever we wanted to go.  The bus was certainly an experience, they cruise the city streets at a fast pace, the suspension wasn’t so good, but the brakes worked awesome.  It was a good thing too.  At one time I thought I was going to get to talk about being in a bus crash, but no, we just had an exciting ride.

We spent hours in town, Jacob played on the beach as the waves crashed in, he loved the waves chasing him up the beach.  There is a little plaza with some brass sculptures, we played there for a bit too.  We found a little torta shop for some sandwiches and then we walked along the Malecon and viewed the sights.  Our final stop downtown was a great little restaurant on the grotto, then a walk through the gauntlet.  We walked the flea market on the way back to the bus stop.  Every little space is filled with a different vendor and they all want to sell the trinkets they have.  It’s like walking to the blowhole near Ensenada.  La Buffadora is an iconic place, but sometimes it  doesn’t seem worth it to be harassed by those trying to sell you stuff.

Back on the ship around sundown, we were too full to have dinner, but we stopped in for dessert.  Imagine our surprise when our table of twelve was completely empty.  Tip, our waiter was happy to see us and fed us dessert as requested.  We dropped in on the Spectacular theater for the local folklore show and then back aft to the Piano Bar to listen to some terrific music.  We spent hours listening to the piano, then a quick stop at the pizza bar before bed time.  I’m pooped, we are running fast and furious and loving every minute of it.  I don’t know why I didn’t start enjoying cruising before now.

Day 269 – Carnival Splendor Day Three

caboCabo San Lucas, the tip of Baja, a small spit of land at the end of Baja CaliforniaSur.  We actually spend a lot of time in Baja, but we rarely get to Cabo, it’s just a little too far down the tip past La Paz, and everywhere else we go in Baja provides awesome views and entertainment, as well.

Dawn arrived just as we were pulling in to Cabo, we cruised past the Arch and Lover’s Beach and dropped in to the port stopping right in the middle of the port.  We anchored there and then took tenders over to the beach a couple hours later.  We immediately walked past the tourist section until we found a taco shack.  We love taco shacks.  A little al pastor, Camerone and Pescada and we were in business. Great little tacos, we moved on down the beach with our tummies full and a plan.  We were headed to The Office, based on a recommendation from a friend.  We stopped at an info booth and looked at a map, the guys there were great, Rich bs’d with them for a bit and then we headed out following the map.  We turned at the big wash and headed down the beach.  The sand was soft, very soft, we felt like we were working out with every step.  We continued down the beach, step after step after step.  Along the way, Rich stopped a local and asked where the Office was?  It turns out, we were going the wrong way.  After the local went along, we smiled at each other and made the turn.  It was even longer back the other way.  So, our work out done, we stopped at the Mango Bar and drank beer.  That seemed the smarter way to spend the afternoon.

The Mango was fun, lots of contests on the stage, from beer drinking to booty shaking, the staff was fun and kept us entertained.  When it was time to return to the ship, we caught a water taxi back, no more trudging through deep, soft sand for us.

Back on board, we found a sandwich, then Rich had an acupuncture treatment and I had a massage.  The Cloud Nine spa is a beautiful area, very peaceful and the therapists are awesome.  We went back to the restaurant and grabbed some dinner, then off to the Dive In Theater for a little Captain America.  Follow that with a late night comedy act and then I ran off to babysit for my grandson.  I love Jacob, he is an enjoyable three year old.  We read and played, he tucked me in and then he fell off to sleep, I wasn’t far behind him.  When the girls came home, they surprised me, I was drooling in never-never land.  Babysitting chores done, I joined Rich at the last comedy hour.  This is so much fun.

I am loving this cruise ship life, but I’m so not sure when I’m going to catch up on my sleep.

Day 270 – Carnival Splendor Day Two

elegantNo rest for the wicked on our little cruise.  Late night last night followed by an early morning.  As soon as the sun was up, Rich was up too, I sent him to breakfast on his own before I got up to shower, our plan was to meet up before 11.  I headed out to the Scrapbook session, it turned out to be just a meet and greet with a bunch of professional scrapbookers.  These ladies totally knew what they wanted, I was just a wannabe.  Too much pressure, I can’t compete with that, so I bailed and went back to the room, in time to meet Rich and go to an acupuncture seminar.  It was interesting how much information we got from Victoria regarding Chinese medicine in general.  I volunteered to be the acupuncture “victim” to prove that it didn’t hurt, that was a first for me.

At noon we made a great discovery, we attended the cooking demonstration held at the Pinnacle Steakhouse.  Not really sure what to expect, we found some incredible food.  The chefs demonstrated a Mushroom Cappuchino (soup), blue cheese salad, awesome chicken stacked on macaroni and cheese and potato wedges, and tiramisu for dessert.  They served all of the above in small portions to everyone at the demonstration, it all tasted incredible.  The macaroni and cheese was all done with white cheeses with truffle oil added.  I love truffle oil.  Following the great, unexpected meal, we stopped by the Lido deck because our grandson was swimming.  We got to dance and watch the various contests being held.

Following that we found the jazz band, then were lucky enough to find some people we had met the night before.  One of the best things about cruising is the people that are on the boat.  You can be as friendly as you want to be, fortunately for us, we make friends easily.  We enjoyed a couple of hours with Beth and Brian from Oregon and then ran off to get dressed for the Elegant dinner.

Dressed in our best, we made a quick stop for a consultation with the acupuncturist before dinner.  The meals on the ship are always so good, our head waiter, Tip, is friendly and remembers all of our names.  We followed it with birthday cake for Jimmy (that is part of why we are here) and then we headed out again.  The Spectacular theater hosted the Las Vegas themed nightclub show.  Lots of singing and dancing, then we moved to the aft of the ship and took in the comedy stylings of Seth Buchwald.  A quick stop in the Nightclub for a little dancing at the 70’s night, we went back for more adult comedy and then hit the pizza parlor for a late night snack.

I have no idea what time we finally bailed for our room, like I said, no rest for the wicked, Rich keeps us moving constantly.

Day 262 – Tearful Goodbyes

haleyMy baby girl left on a jet plane today.  Three+ months in England, Ireland, Scotland with two added weeks in South Africa.  We were able to see her and take her to the airport at LAX today.  I was so happy to be able to do that.  She is so excited, as she should be.  Haley is performing with the Young Americans on their UK tour until mid April.  This is her first tour.  Now, a tour for them means doing 2 ½ day workshops in the schools with kids from 8 to 18.  They teach them song and dance and how to perform on a stage.  She had this same experience when she was 13 and it changed her life.

In fact, it changed all of our lives.  Haley became a performer, she started singing, she started acting and it created a lot of time and energy that we spent in the theaters.  For the last two years of high school she worried extensively about where she would go to school, she wanted to attend the Young Americans college, but to do that, she had to audition.  That turned out to be quite a chore, the first summer at camp when it was time to audition, she had to catch a bus, so she missed it.  The second year she auditioned, it was late July, she was due to start at AMDA in November for her first semester of college.  On August 5, she got the call, she was in!  Now to find a way to get everything done to have her at the school by August 25.  We did it and she was on her way.  The first year she lived “on campus” and participated in all the shows, for summer she went back to camp as a teacher this time instead of a student and then the fall of her second year, she was on Res Cast.  Haley choose Res Cast so she could be back on campus finishing her class work instead of touring.  So this UK tour is her first.

I was very strong when I was with her at the airport, sent her a text after we left reminding her how strong and capable she is, that she is beautiful and hard working and deserves to be on this tour.  I also told her I loved her.  She called for one last phone call after she had loaded on the plane and before they closed the doors, one last I love you before the actual phone calls cease.  I was great until I hung up the phone.  I lost it then, I broke down and cried, we have been running so fast and furious just taking care of details that I finally realized how much I am going to miss her.  Haley and I talk almost everyday, besides my husband, she is my best friend.  I am so proud of her and so happy for her, I already miss her lots.  Thank goodness, she writes a blog too, I will be able to enjoy her time in the UK as much as I enjoy my time and travels.  Check out her blog at Life as a YA, she speaks in such an authentic voice.  I love my baby girl – oh, and it’s her birthday, she turns 20 today.


Day 271 – Carnival Splendor Day One

carnivalWe’re back!  Awesome week on the Carnival Splendor – this was our adventure from day one.

Cruising has not really been my idea of fun.  I’ve done it once before, with my sister and one of my best friends, we did an Alaskan cruise, and while it was fun, I didn’t think it was the end all be all vacation.  So going on a cruise this time was something I was just a little mediocre about.  My daughter, Kayla, invited us.  She got married earlier in 2012 and her family was going to celebrate her father-in-laws 60th birthday, so all of Lindsey’s family is here.  Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Sister-in-law, nephews and us.  We are here for Kayla.  Now, I love my daughter, but years ago, I vowed never to vacation with her again.  We joke when we introduce her that she is “Kayla Krehbiel, ruining vacations since 1987.”  She just gets stressed out about having fun and then wigs out.  But that’s another story.

So the cruise wasn’t really our idea, but we embraced it.  It’s been on the agenda for months, we just got lucky enough to call it a Honeymoon Cruise after we got married 15 days ago.  Rich is ecstatic, I don’t think he’s ever actually taken a vacation, so this is a brand new experience for him.  I didn’t recognize how ecstatic he was until we got to the dock.

I always let him make the plans when we are headed somewhere, whether by plane or now by boat, I would tend to stress him out because I don’t arrive as early as everyone else, so planning departures is always his job.  He said we were leaving Temecula for Long Beach by 10:30.  We were out the door by 10:10, a quick stop for breakfast on the way and we arrived at the departure port at 1:20.  Perfect timing.  Kayla and the rest of the family were already on board, we were standing in line.  Now for those of you who haven’t had this experience, try to picture it.  3006 passengers being herded onto a gangplank in less than three hours.  There is a huge dome that swallows all the people and spits them out where they need to be.  It’s pretty painless, they dropped us in to some lines and then moved our lines forward.  You can tell they’ve done this before.  We were through the lines in no time.  We had dropped our bags with the porter already and then moved through the line to get our room keys.  Of course, I hadn’t printed any documents to carry on, guess what?  It’s not a problem, we didn’t need anything except our passports.  So easy.

On board the ship, we checked out our room.  Just a standard space with a balcony, it’s probably comparable to our regular living quarters.  Kayla came by the room to check out ours, they are in the bowels of the ship in a small interior room, it’s perfect for them, not much sway down there.  We appeared for our mandatory safety briefing.  Don’t even think about skipping that, the stewards check all the rooms, including the balconies for stowaways.  The extent of the briefing was how to put on your life vest and where to go.  A worthwhile thing to know.  We visited with some couples around us and the time passed quickly.

After the briefing, we toured the ship as we left the dock, a rain squall came in just as we were leaving, so not many people were out getting pictures of the skyline as we left.  We had most of the exterior to ourselves.  Starting at the top, Deck 11, we toured the spa, the Pinnacle restaurant and moved down to Deck 10.  Lots of water structures there for playing on, then down to Deck 9, the Lido deck.  An indoor pool that was being filled, a huge movie screen and the food.  Huge spaces to feed those 3006 people more than they need to eat at any given time.  There are restaurants parked all over the Lido deck.

At six we appeared for the family dinner, our table captain appears to be fun, he made our grandson, Jacob, enjoy eating his dinner, and that is an accomplishment all in its self.  Dinner was good, Rich and I excused ourselves for the Ballroom Dancing lesson.  A little cha-cha and a little salsa dancing.  There were a few times we bumped bellies because I was going the wrong direction.  After the dancing, we stayed for the rest of the evening in the Spectacular, Spectacular stage.  I got picked to play on their game show.  Never done that before, I didn’t know many of the answers, but I had a blast.  I played with Matt and Moody and we laughed a lot.  It was fun, we followed that with Bingo and the night show and finally ended with the comedians.  There is so much to do, I didn’t think Rich would come to bed.  He’s a little afraid of missing something fun.  We had a great time on our first day, there is so much to do and so many people to meet.  We are enjoying that immensely.  I can’t wait to see what he wants to do tomorrow.

Day 272 – Wheelin’ California

johnson valleyJust two days ago we were north of the Phoenix area wheelin’ some virgin ground for a race course, today we spent the day in the California desert wheelin’ some space that is very well known.  Johnson Valley lies east of LA, between 29 Palms and Apple Valley, there is a nice little mountain range with a dry lake bed on it.  It is used primarily by people on motorized vehicles of some sort.  We saw everything today from motorcycles and ATV’s to 650 hp buggies out there.

We played in the sand a little bit with some guys that are testing their vehicles for the big event coming up next month.  The King of the Hammers is a race that happens every February.  It is an Ultra4 event, so we know a ton of people participating, from the promoter to some of the UTV stock guys and a lot of folks in between.  This is the race all aspire to be in.  We will be out there camped on the lake bed for a couple of weeks ourselves.  It’s a great time to spend time with friends from all over the country and to get acquainted with new ones.

Today was purely a social call, we were a little afraid of breaking the Jeep today, so we didn’t play on the rocks.  It just didn’t make sense with our next destination.  We are headed out on a Mexican Riviera cruise for the next week and didn’t want to miss the boat.  My goal is to write every day we are away, but not post until we get to port.  My Mexican Tel-Cel card will work there, and is so easy, even I can do it.  Besides, there will be too much to do to worry about posting too!  Have an awesome week everyone, bon voyage.

Day 273 – Taking Stock III

50Where does the time go?  I can’t believe it’s been a full quarter since my birthday and time to take stock of my goals again already.  December flew by, there were so many things going on, just add Baja to Thanksgiving to Montana to the Wedding to Christmas to the Rose Parade to New Years and I’m tired just thinking about it.  I’m also really happy it’s all over.  Nothing like piling on stress when you really don’t have to.

Part of my journey through my 50th year is identifying goals that are laid out on my What’s It All About Page and then looking at them monthly to see how I’m doing.  This is what we look like after the first quarter.  To do fifty in the year, I should have 12.5 done already.

  1. Call 50 friends – 4 done; short by 8.5
  2. Make and send 50 cards – 10 done, short by 2.5
  3. Fold 50*20 origami cranes – 0 done, short by 12.5*50
  4. Watch 50 classic movies – 8 done, short by 4.5
  5. Read 50 books – 11 done, short by 1.5
  6. Take 50*7 pictures – 50*4 done, way up
  7. Write 50*7 blogs – 78 done, right on track
  8. Visit 50 new places – 6 done, short by 6.5
  9. Do 50 new things – 9 done, short by 3.5
  10. Write 50 chapters – 12 done, right on track

This is the off season, I really should have more time to work on some of this, it’s just not working out so well.  Time to double my efforts and get to work.  Thank goodness I enjoy all this stuff!

Day 274 – Wheelin’ Arizona

2013-01-04_10-59-49_92Sun shining, temps in the low 60’s, a dirt/rock road, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Ok, maybe a few more degrees on the thermometer, but it’s hard to beat the Northwest Arizona desert.  The rocks and boulders are huge, the Saguaro are stately, birds abound.  We spent the day doing a little off-roading and a little hiking, our goal today was to make sure we could put together a race course on some private property north of Congress, Arizona.  What we really got to do was spend time together doing what we love, being outside, adventuring.

Top off a day like today with cooking for good friends in their kitchen and I am one happy camper.  Thanks to Charlene and Matt for putting us up, or is that putting up with us?  They are watching our cat, Callie, while we go off on a little sea cruise this next week.  Have you met Callie?  She is our traveling cat.  A calico that has been in the family for years, when we moved out of our home in December 2011, she moved with us.  She had picked our family out of all the neighborhood families about 8 or 9 years ago, no one really remembers, we just know she moved in on her own accord.  She’s old and pretty passive, likes to do a little exploring, but doesn’t generally wander too far from the trailer.  She goes with us everywhere, when we are going to be away from the trailer for more than a couple of days, we find someone to come visit her.  While we were in Baja, a friends’ 16 year old daughter visited her daily; when we went to Montana, she went with us – she spent most of her days on the bed in the hotel watching the Travel Channel.  During the “season” she moves from place to place with us, she loves when the drivers start coming in for the weekend, you can tell she thinks they have come to see her.

The one thing Callie doesn’t really like is other animals.  She doesn’t have front claws so she doesn’t start a fight, but she does hiss and carry on when they get too close.  Most dogs ignore her, which she likes just fine, this week she is staying with another cat.  Piston has always been an off-road cat, he came out of Oroville, California a couple of years ago as a kitten, a little bit of a tweeker, he is playful, very playful.  We were a bit nervous getting the two together, apart from the age difference, the attitude difference is huge.  Piston likes to be in your face, Callie is more indifferent.  It’s been fun watching the two interact.  Piston has been great, he just wants to play and he succeeds in sneaking up on Callie over and over again.  Callie has taken to high ground, or at least defensible space, I think she’s hoping he will get tired of her.  We’ll see how the week progresses when we pick her back up in 10 days.  In the meantime, this is what life looked like this morning for the two of them.