Friday, August 24, 2007

2007 Alaska Cruise--Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas, Aug. 24-31 (7 nt): Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert, Tracy Arm

For as long as I can remember, Dad had 2 dream vacations that he wanted to take---one was to go on an Alaska cruise and the other was to go to Ireland. Unfortunately, he never got to do the Ireland trip, but after his first set of chemo, I immediately booked him and me an Alaska cruise. By then he was fighting metastatic prostate cancer and recovered from colon cancer surgery and chemo for colon cancer. By the looks of him, he appeared to be doing well. If he wasn't, he never let on. But within a week of our return, he was in the hospital fighting for his life and on dialysis for blocked kidney tubes due to his prostate cancer. Stints were able to be put into his kidney tubes and he did recover from that, but the cancer treatments were beginning to stop working now. My best friend and great traveling buddy was on his last great vacation with me, but I didn't know it at the time. But this was a fantastic cruise---so much so, that I now have another Alaska cruise booked for my husband and me (his first cruise), as well as first cruise for my brother, his wife, aunt and uncle (my dad's brother) whom will also be joining us. I will cherish this dream vacation with my Dad always.
Here's my Dad dressed up for one of the formal dinners. He enjoyed having a chance to try weird stuff like escargo and foie Gras at these dinners.
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Since Dad lived in Oregon and it was a fairly easy trip to Seattle from where he lived, I chose a RT out of Seattle for our cruise. I really had no idea what ports to look for or what we would see, but I ended up settling on Royal Caribbean for a couple reasons--the RT out of Seattle, the supposed grandeur of all the windows, and the advertising that there was an adult indoor pool and jacuzzi area. Unfortunately the pool area was not just for adults on Alaska cruises, as we found out when a bunch of noisy splashing kids showed up all the time and I inquired about it to some employees. I also didn't find the selection of food all that great, or the crew exceptionally friendly. The ship also became a ghost ship shortly after 11ish at night. Not sure if it's a Royal Caribbean thing or an Alaska cruise thing, but it was eerie wandering around the ship late at night. But the weather was outstanding and the scenery was gorgeous!
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Monday, March 19, 2007

2007-Southern California---Vacation and photographing Rachelle's wedding!

One day I was shopping with my daughter-in-law, Faith, when she got a call from a good friend of hers, Rachelle, who had moved to southern California.  Rachelle was planning her wedding and complaining about how expensive wedding photographers were.  I half jokingly said tell her to pay my way and I'll take her pictures.  Rachelle asked if I was serious.  After a second I decided, yes, I was!  So a spring trip to southern California was in the works!  I had been to San Diego for winter meetings with work (Prestige Portraits) a couple years before and loved the area.  I was anxious to go back for a real vacation.  So this trip served 2 purposes---a wedding and a vacation. 

I was able to exchange a week of my Worldmark points for a week at Welk Resort San Diego through Interval International.  Not really in San Diego, but in a great area just north of San Diego near Escondido.  The wedding was actually going to be in Del Mar, so this location worked out well.   When my sister found out I was going to southern California, she asked if she could tag along.  I said sure.  So on March 18th, she flew in from Oregon and I flew in from St. Louis.   Soon we were checked into the Welk Resort.  The resort was beautiful!  The 2 bedroom unit was large and very nicely decorated.  I also liked that it was somewhat secluded (about 35 miles from San Diego up Highway 15).
Everything in this unit was huge, including the kitchen.
 The master bedroom suite was to the right of the livingroom and the equally large 2nd bedroom and bathroom were to the left of the livingroom.
2nd bedroom
 Master bedroom
This was the view from our unit.
The first few days we set aside to meet with the bride and groom.  But that was usually over lunch or dinner and Tim and FAith were there, too.  I had gotten them a week at the Worldmark resort in San Diego.  They seemed to have enjoyed having their own space.
One of our luncheons with the bride and groom-to-be was in Carlsbad.  I had heard about the flower fields there and was excited to be there when they were in bloom.  So Carolyn and I headed to Carlsbad early and took the wagon ride through the fields of gorgeous flowers.  It was somewhat expensive at about $15@, but I'll probably never get to do that again.

 The fields were well worth the money!
We also had dinner with the soon-to-be bride and groom and Tim and Faith at a steak house in Rancho Bernardo near Escondido.  I believe it was Carvers and it was very good and just down highway 15 from where we were staying.
Speaking of driving, I was surprised how easily we were able to get around the area.  It was easy to cut across to the beach communities.  We also didn't have a problem riding up and down Highway 15.   One of the days we headed north on 15 and ended up at a couple Missions.  As we were wandering around San Antonio de Pala, the priest came out and asked us if we wanted a tour.  We gratefully accepted and enjoyed our tour and visit with him. 
San Antonio de Pala was established in 1816 by Padre Antonio Peyri.  It is the only surviving Asistencia in the mission system and the only mission-related structure still ministering to an Indian population.
 Atop the Bell Tower is a cactus.  Legend says that Fr. Peyri climbed the tower in 1816 to place a cross atop it to indicate that the construction of the Mission was now complete.  He then planted a cactus at the foot of the cross to symbolize that Christ would conquer the desert, not only of Southern California, but also of the human heart and soul.
 Interesting tree.
 Cemetery for Native Americans and early pioneers.
 On it's 180th anniversary it was recognized as a Catholic Historical Site.
 It is still used today and still has a large Indian contingency.
 On down the road a bit, we came upon Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.  Founded in 1798, it is known as the "King of the Missions" and is a National Historic Landmark.
 The first season's episodes of the Zorro TV series were filmed here in 1957. Walt Disney added a skull and crossbones to the cemetery entrance for the series and it's still there today.
 The Mission quadrangle is a four-sided patio approximately 500' square surrounded by buildings and arcades.  The patio of the quadrangle looks different today due to the building of a smaller, inner quadrangle which is the center of the current friary. The larger area, now a Retreat Center, was built for a seminary college in 1950 on the foundations of the original quadrangle.
 model of the Mission.
 Relatively intact, the Mission church has not been significantly altered since its completion nearly two hundred years ago.



 The cemetery has been in continuous use since the founding of the Mission in 1798 and it is the oldest burial ground in North San Diego County still being used.


On the 23rd (if I remember correctly), we headed out in the late afternoon to a park in Del Mar for the wedding rehearsal.  While we were out that way, we also checked out the Children’s Pool — or the “Casa,” as locals have called it (Close to downtown La Jolla)—it is a tiny cove protected by a concrete breakwater. It was once a swimming area for children until the seals and sea lions moved in.
A photographer's delight!

 This guy looks like it had a bad encounter with something.
 Lots of cute little baby seals here.

The next morning we were back out that way for the wedding.  What's a wedding without a little anxiety?!  At least this one wasn't caused by me.  They waiting past the scheduled start time for the flowers to show up. They were about to start the wedding without flowers when the van finally showed up.  The rest of the day went great and it was a beautiful wedding and fun reception.
Actually taken the day before at the rehearsal. 


With the wedding over, it was back to vacationing for a few more days.  Carolyn wanted to check out Coronado Island and I was happy to oblige.
 We found a place to park and walked along the beach to Hotel del Coronado.  Parking is a challenge on this cute little island, but the walk was nice.
They were even constructing a new phase of the Del.  This was called something like "The Village".  I think they're condo type accommodations. 
 Beautiful beach for volleyball.
 Finally we reached the Hotel del Coronado.   It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world.
 More of the beach by the Del.
Some of the landscaping around the hotel.
 It was once listed by USA Today as one of the "Top 10 Resorts In The World", though it has since been removed from that list.
 Chandelier in the lobby of the Hotel del Coronado.

We also spent some time in the downtown area of Coronado.  Saw some interesting modes of transportations.  Like this bike.
 And these bikes.
Even stopped for a bite to eat in a cute little restaurant.  I don't remember the name of it, or even what we ate.  But I was impressed with the painted walls.
Another place we hit was Cabrillo National Monument. 
  It commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. This event marked the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what later became the West Coast of the United States.
 The park offers a view of San Diego's harbor and skyline, as well as Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island. On clear days, a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana, and Mexico's Coronado Islands are also visible.
 Woodrow Wilson reserved 0.5 acres of Fort Rosecrans to construct a heroic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.  By 1926 no statue had been placed, so Calvin Coolidge authorized the Native Sons of the Golden West to erect a suitable monument. The statue of Cabrillo was finally executed by sculptor Alvaro de Bree for the Portuguese Government in 1939, who then donated it to the United States.
Back by our resort, we finally decided to check out Belle Marie Winery in Escondido.  More so to see the Chateau Dragoo then to check out the wines.  We did get to enjoy a couple of the tangerines here, though.   Possibly the best tangerines I've ever had! 
 Belle Marie makes at least 30 different wines each year that are only available through their website or tasting room.  Those were the days before I had been to any wineries.  I didn't know about sitting on the patios and enjoying a glass of wine back then.  We only wandered through the gift shop, then left. 
 Wish I had checked out the rest of the grounds and the wine!
Our week was quickly coming to an end!  So we met up with Tim and Faith again and headed over to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. 
 It is one of the largest tourist attractions in San Diego County.
 Now known as The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, it is a 1,800 acres zoo in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, near Escondido.  The main purposes of this zoo were to be species conservation, breeding of animals for the San Diego Zoo as well as other zoos and providing areas where zoo animals could be conditioned.  There is a nursery where visitors can watch baby animals being hand-reared----
  as well as a nearby petting corral.
 The park is in a semi-arid environment and one of its most notable features is the Africa Tram which explores the expansive African exhibits.
 Visitors view various plains habitats from Africa and Asia.
These free-range enclosures house such animals as antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, cranes, and rhinos.
 Rhinos in the African plains.
 A large lagoon is home to numerous species of waterfowl.
One of the antelopes or Asian deer in the savanna area.
 Opened in October 2004, Lion camp houses the park's African lions in a 1-acre exhibit.
 The general layout of the park, designed by Charles Faust, included a large lagoon with a jungle plaza, an African fishing village, an aviary at the entrance of the park and approximately 50,000 plants were to be included in the landscaping.
 There's even an elevated area where you can feed giraffes.  Nearby you can purchase leaves to feed them.
 Looking for some more food.
 In the summer of 2003, the San Diego Zoological Society and Lowry Park Zoo captured 11 wild African elephants from the Hlane Royal National Park in Swaziland which was becoming over populated with elephants.  Seven of these elephants were taken to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and they have produced thirteen babies as of 2013.
 The park also has extensive botanical gardens and beautiful landscaping.
As of 2013, it cost $44 to get into this park with unlimited safari rides.  I forgot what it cost when we went there, but it was well worth it.  We spent most of the day there and really enjoyed it.

We had a great time in Southern California.  I'm not one who usually cares to spend a lot of time in populated areas on vacation, but I really enjoyed this area of California.  There was still plenty of nature to enjoy and traffic wasn't too bad!