Friday, December 21, 2012

2011--Pompano Beach, Florida Sisters' trip

The last few years, my sister and I have managed to go on some pretty great "sisters'" vacations.  So in Nov. of 2011, we decided it was time to do another one.  Since Ken and I already had a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale planned in Nov., I asked Carolyn if she would like to come out and join me a week early and piddle around southeastern Florida.  She agreed to, so I booked us a 2 bedroom condo at Wyndham Sea Gardens in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale.  It's actually about 5 different resorts combined into one: North and South Cabanas Buildings (closest to the office); North and South Waterfalls buildings (just past the Cabanas buildings); Ocean Palms Building (the newest and most updated  at a 90 degree angle to the ends of the Waterfall buildings); Key West Building (the oldest and set off to the side by itself), and the North and South Ocean View Buildings (all studios, I believe).  Ken and I had stayed in the Ocean Palms Building and really liked it alot.  So when all I could get was in the Key West Building, I was afraid it would be old and grungy and disappointing after having stayed in the new Ocean Palms Building.  Although Ken and I are Wyndham owners, I actually picked this week up from RCI exchange company really cheaply.  I also know exchangers are often given the worst rooms, so that had me worried, too.  None of my VIP benefits with Wyndham would be honored as an exchange guest.

Things didn't start out too well.  I arrived a little after check-in time of 4pm and they didn't have our room ready yet.  I waited over an hour before it was ready.  Once in the room, I noticed the plastic cover on the door lock was broken and the toilette seat in the master bedroom was on the bathroom floor.  So I called maintenance, then had to rush out to head back to the airport to pick up my sister, Carolyn.  By now it was raining cats and dogs again.  I waited at the cell phone lot for quite awhile past her arrival time.  Suddenly the "Arrivals" board changed to list her flight as "Cancelled".  What?????  It took off!  Where was it???  After a frantic call to home to have Ken check the internet, Carolyn finally called to say her plane had landed----in West Palm Beach, about 50 miles away.  She was given the option of getting off the plane there or waiting for the weather to get better and continue on to Fort Lauderdale.  We decided she should get off and I'd drive to West Palm Beach to get her.  About an hour later we were on our way back to Pompano from West Palm Beach.

Back at Sea Gardens, things started looking up.  The repairs were made before we got back.  My fears of the older Key West Building not being nice was unfounded.  It had just been renovated and was actually very pretty, not as fancy as Ocean Palms, but quite acceptable!  It didn't look like much from the outside, but it did have it's own pool---albeit cold pool. 
 Our 2 bedroom unit really was roomy and clean.  Although we thought the little bar in the diningroom was rather odd.  The kitchen was behind the bar and was quite small, but adequate.
 This view is from the door leading out to the patio.  The master bedroom is the first door on the right.  The 2nd bedroom is the far door to the right.  Not seen is the tv cabinet and large flat screen tv to the left. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 HAL 11 night Noordam Southern Caribbean Cruise: Barbados; Dominica; Martinique; St. Lucia; St. Maarten; St. Thomas; Half Moon Cay

After our last 2 November Caribbean cruises in less then ideal weather conditions, you would think we'ld learn not to cruise the Caribbean in hurricane season!  But we persisted and gave it another try.  This time we did our longest cruise yet---11 nights on the Noordam and had almost perfect weather the whole time!   We actually booked this cruise while we were on the Eurodam last year.

We started our trip with the 1200 mile drive from St. Louis to Fort Lauderdale.  Took us 2 days with a stopover in northern Florida.  Sure glad we had a Garmin!  Can't believe we use to travel anywhere without it!

I'm sure we elicited a few comments as we drove by in our packed car!

Our daughter, Angie, and son-in-law, Josh, had recently moved to the Fort Lauderdale area and asked us to bring a few items down to them.  So we stuffed the back of our Ford Escape full leaving just a tiny space for our pup, Roxy.  We brought her with us so Angie and Josh could watch her while we went off on our cruise.

We made it to Fort Lauderdale safe and sound and spent a couple days there before heading off on our cruise. 

Finally cruise day came ( Monday, Nov. 5th). 

Friday, September 7, 2012

2009-Pompano Beach, Florida (Oct.)

Day 1:
Finally Oct. 13 arrived and it was time for another trip. We had some Wyndham points to use this year and it was our first experience using our points. I was surprised when Ken suggested coming back to Florida.  Before he could change his mind, I booked it!  Instead of Orlando, though, we decided to go down to Pompano Beach by Ft. Lauderdale. I had to split the reservation, so we'll have to move down the street to another Wyndham in a couple days for the rest of the week. If the next one is this nice, I'll be really happy! I think Ken's even impressed.

Here's our resort, Royal Vista.

This is about half of our unit--a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with full kitchen, free wifi, and great views. The whole area to the right is the master suite, complete with large jacuzzi and huge bathroom with washer and drier. To the left is the 2nd bedroom suite with 2 queen beds and a large attached bathroom. This picture doesn't show the large entertainment center directly to my right with stereo, tv, desk, and cabinets. Behind me is the lanai with a side view of the ocean. You can actually see sunrise and sunset from the lanai.

 master bedroom

2nd bedroom

Here's the ocean view from our patio. We're on the 8th of 9 floors--rm 8806.

By the time we got to the resort, it was past 4. After unloading and checking out the resort, we headed across the street to Stingers for pizza. It was pretty good, not great, but we were pretty hungry.  By the time we were done there, it was getting dark.  That pretty much does it for our first day.

Friday, August 31, 2012

2011 and 2012 In and around Georgia

I never consider heading to Georgia for a vacation!  That is until my daughter and son-in-law moved there in 2010.  That's when I discovered Georgia is a great place to vacation.  And it's even drivable from St. Louis (9 hours) or a quick cheap flight away.  Unfortunately (or fortunately---we'll see!), in the summer of 2012 they moved again---this time to Ft. Lauderdale.  So this blog is about the few trips I took to Georgia while they lived there.

On Dec. 15th of 2010, I rode with Angie from St. Louis to Atlanta to help with the move.  First impressions weren't that impressive. 
 We spent the first night in a hotel.  The next morning we met the movers at their new home.  It was a nice townhome, but why would anyone want a place with 3 stories!?  They actually lived about 20 miles north of Atlanta in the city of Alpharetta. 
After spending much of the next few days unpacking, it was almost time for me to fly home.  We left for the airport early and were able to spend a couple hours at the spectacular aquarium in downtown Atlanta.  I love aquariums and found this to be one of the best.  Angie was a great guide!  When she lived in St. Louis, she actually worked on the Atlanta Aquarium as the architect from PGAV Architects in St. Louis in charge of their new penguin enclosure, as well as the outside walkway from the parking garage.  I'm happy to say the penguins seem to enjoy their space!

 Another of the displays
 A huge whale shark in the huge tank! 
 Some south American fishies.
 They were even decorated for the Christmas season.

Monday, July 9, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri!

OK---not a vacation for me. This is my "home". But it really is a pretty neat vacation city. Lots of history and lots of free activities!

Just a little info to start with:
The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Lacl├Ęde and Auguste Chouteau, and after the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port on the Mississippi River.  Much of the area is a fertile and gently rolling prairie that features low hills and broad, shallow valleys. Both the Mississippi River and the Missouri River have cut large valleys with wide flood plains.  With a Metropolitan Statistical Area  population of 2,812,896 it is the 18th-largest MSA in the country and has a total area of 66.2 square miles. 

Summers are hot and humid with the humidity often making the heat index feel well above 100°F. Fall is mild with lower humidity and intermittent bouts of heavy rainfall. The first snow flurries usually coming in late November. Winters are cold with periodic snow and sleet and temperatures often below freezing, however thaws are usually frequent. Spring brings frequent thunderstorms and mild temperatures.

On to some of the sites of St. Louis:

Anheuser-Busch Brewery!  Now Anheuser-Busch InBev, it operates 12 breweries in the US and 18 in other countries and is headquartered in St. Louis.  It's been around since the mid 1800's and I believe the company will be around awhile longer!  They still have tours here and they're pretty impressive.  The place is CLEAN.  And at the end of the tour, you get to sample some of the goods.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Kauai trip condensed for Shutterfly book

This was our 11th trip to Kauai, first for our good friends Coni and John Schneiderjans.  It was fun showing newbies around our island again!  For the first week, the weather was pretty good, then the rains began.  Hanelei even got 50" of rain in the week that we left.  It was in the low 80's most days and it was pretty windy.  Unlike the last couple of years, there was not a lot of vog this year. 
I was able to work a little Wyndham VIP magic with our timeshares this year.  Managed to get both weeks in 2 bedroom oceanview Kauai Beach Villas units for 1/2 the amount of points normally required.  We did have to switch rooms after the first week and didn't get as good of views as we have in the past, but they still weren't bad.  The first week we were in a ground level H building unit.

 2nd week view, from our 2nd floor F building unit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012--Maui May sisters' trip

May 28-June 4, 2012:

When my sister suggested we take another sister's trip, I immediately thought of where we should go----Maui!  I had Hawaiian airlines miles which were about to expire and  I had lots of Wyndham points left over after getting our Kauai weeks this past Feb. for half off.   So I called Wyndham and had them place a Wyndham week into Trading Places for me in exchange for a 2 bedroom condo in Maui from May 28 - June 4th.   All I had to do was pay for my flights to/from STL-PDX. 
The day finally came and I was on my way to PDX.  My sister, Carolyn, picked me up and we headed back to Dallas, Oregon, for a couple days.  Then we spent the night before our Maui flight in a hotel by the airport.  On the 28th (Memorial Day), we were on our way bright and early (to me!) to catch our 10:30 flight to OGG.  Since Ken and I usually travel to Hawaii from STL all in one day with a couple stops and long layovers, this travel day seemed to go fairly quickly.  Only long part was the 2 1/2 hour layover in Honolulu.  Originally we were suppose to fly non-stop to Maui---one of the big reasons why we picked Maui over Kauai, but Hawaiian decided to eliminate that flight and keep an extra 8000 of my miles that I used to book the non-stop instead of a connector flight---I was not too happy about that, but Hawaiian was!  The only good things about it were the views of Honolulu and Maui county as we flew over them.
Not sure what part of Oahu this is, but there looks to be some great snorkeling there!
                                       This, of course, this is Waikiki Beach. 
 I believe this is Olowalu on Maui close to mile mark 14 on Hwy 30.  Great looking reef there, too!

Finally arrived in OGG about 4pm (7pm Pacific Standard Time) and Carolyn headed off to get our rental car.  Carolyn had reserved it, so she got to be my chauffeur for the week.  I did bring a Garmin, which came in very handy!  Soon we were on our way from the airport.  With Walmart on our way to the condo, we made a stop there first.
Check in at Maui Hill was a breeze.  It is in the more residential and "affordable" town of Kihei on the dry southern part of the island.  I had called and requested an oceanview room and even though I knew it wasn't too close to the ocean, we did get a bit of an ocean view.  The 2 bedroom condo was very nice.  It even had an "owner's" closet with beach chairs, snorkel gear (although I brought my own), and other "toys".  It was also nice having air conditioners in the livingroom as well as each bedroom.  Most places I've been to in Hawaii only had ac in the bedrooms, if at all.  The kitchen was small, but adequate.   I spent many mornings on the lanai waiting for Carolyn to get up.  I would definately stay here again.
Livingroom to diningroom and kitchen
 master bedroom
huge lanai
ocean view from our lanai (main office is the orange roofed building to the left)
They also had a very nice pool by the office.  I don't know if it was heated, but it felt like it.  We enjoyed it and the jacuzzi several times.  One morning we went to an orientation "breakfast" by the pool (under the big "umbrella" tree) and I even won a sunset cruise.
 We loved the landscaping around the resort.  Here's another of the many interesting trees.
 There were lots of plumeria trees blooming.  I'm so use to seeing the trees bare of leaves and with only an occasional flower on them when we go to Kauai in Feb.  It was a treat seeing them in full bloom and with lots of lush leaves.
 Always love seeing the Bird of Paradise flowers!
 What would Hawaii be without the colorful bougainvillea plants?! 
 I have no idea what these are, but they are certainly interesting, too.
 More plumeria

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Kauai---Feb. 16-March 2 (Schneide trip): Na' Anina Kai garden; Just Live Ziip line tour; Smith's luau; Coffee plantation; Waimea canyon; Polihale;

 2012 Kauai---Feb. 16-March 2 (Schneide trip): Na' Anina Kai garden; Just Live Zip line tour; Smith's luau; Coffee plantation; Waimea canyon; Polihale;

Finally, another year has flown by and we are in Kauai again!  This makes Kauai trip # 11 for us.   For 1 of our 2+ weeks we are excited to have good friends Coni and John Schneiderjans join us. It was their first time to Hawaii, so we were anxious to show off "our" Hawaii!

Feb. 16, 2012:  Travel day from St. Louis

Feb. 17, 2012 : Lydgate

Feb. 18, 2012: East side and Lawai

Feb. 19, 2012:  East side and Poipu

Feb. 20, 2012: Anini

Feb. 21, 2012: Lydgate, then to the airport to pick up the Schneides

 Feb. 22, 2012: kee, Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei

Feb. 23, 2012: Kilauea, Na 'aina Kai sculpture garden, Anini

Feb. 24, 2012: Just Live Zip Line, Smith's Luau

Feb. 25, 2012: Sicker then a dog today!

Feb. 26, 2012: South Kauai, Kauai Coffee Plantation

Feb. 27, 2012:  Waimea Canyon, Polihale, Poipu

Feb. 28, 2012: Anini

Feb. 29, 2012---Leap day! Tunnels and Kee

March 1, 2012: Tunnels, again

March 2, 2012:  Lawai and Poipu

We had an interesting time at the Lihue airport, too.  Between the time we checked in and printed our boarding passes and the time we got to the airport, they changed the type of plane they were bringing in and everyone's seats were reassigned---and mostly not together.  

  Another great Kauai vacation!  Loved sharing it with friends.  Can't wait to come back!