Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 Nov. 8-15 Western Caribbean Cruise on the Eurodam: Key West; Grand Cayman; Jamaica; HMC

When we "temporarily" moved to South Florida (as my husband likes to put it), I figured this might be a good time to try and get some good deals on last minute cruises.  Don't know how good of a deal we really ended up getting, but I managed to keep from accepting the up sell offer to a suite.  I had already upgraded us for $100@ to a balcony from the $499 OV room I had originally booked.  The first up sell offer arrived about 3 weeks before our trip and was $499 for a signature suite and $699 for a Neptune suite.  About a week later I got another up sell offer for the same super high price.  When we finally got our Verandah guarantee room assignment, I noticed we were in a less desirable room near the front of the ship with metal half walls on the veranda and no tub.  I called and requested a different room.
About 4 days before our cruise, we got an email with a new cabin number---mid ship, tub, and with a super deep veranda with Plexiglas walls and even 2 lounge chairs on the deck as well as the 2 other chairs, ottoman, and little side table.   About a day or 2 before the cruise, I called again because I noticed a couple suites opened up and I wanted to see if I could get an up sell for really cheap, like we did a couple years ago.  This time they quoted me $250 for a signature suite and $350 for the Neptune.  I was tempted, but also curious about the VA room we were reassigned.   Apparently there are 4 of these rooms---1 on either side of the lifeboats, so they're a little deeper then the boats are wide (about 14').  I read a lot of mixed reviews about those rooms.  Some people liked the extra space, others didn't because most of the veranda wasn't covered and, therefore, didn't have privacy.   I wonder if that's how we ended up with it.   I don't know for sure, just that there were no veranda rooms showing available for the last week or so before the cruise.
I'd say the actual covered area of our veranda was about what the regular verandas have.  We were on the sunrise side of the ship most of the time, so only got to watch sunset from our veranda 2 nights.  But I did spend a lot of time out there enjoying just gazing at the water.

This was my 2nd time on a Western Caribbean cruise.  Our ports were Key West, Grand Cayman, Jamaica (Falmouth), and HAL's private island in the Bahamas---Half Moon Cay. 

 2015-11-8 Embarkation day!


2015-11-9 Key West:


2015-11-10 Sea Day


2015-11-11 Grand Cayman:


2015-11-12 Falmouth, Jamaica:


2015-11-13 another sea day:


2015-11-14 Half Moon Cay:


2015-11-15 disembarkation day:


This was my 16th cruise.  Considering how my 1st one was, being evacuated back to Ft. Lauderdale with my Dad, I'm happy to say they've all been great since then.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 Orlando

2015 Oct. Food and Wine Festival in Epcot

Our good friends, the Schneiderjans, from St. Louis, are always inviting me to join them in Orlando.  So I finally decided to do that.  After all, I've never been to the Food and Wine festival!  Plus Ken won't go to Disney anymore.  So I booked 3 nights in the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort and Ken and I enjoyed a short vacation in Kissimmee---Ken hanging out at the resort a lot of the time and me running around with friends!

Oct. 26---on to Orlando----

Oct. 27---Epcot's Wine and Food Festival---

Oct. 28, 2015---pool time and dinner at Dixie Landings---

Oct. 29, 2015---back to South Florida

I really enjoyed the fact that it only took us about 3 hours to drive to  Orlando now instead of the 15 from St. Louis.  I was even able to get a great fare to STL from there and sent Ken home to STL from Orlando for a couple weeks.  Then I drove back to South Florida.  Hopefully we'll do more of these short fun trips.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

2015-2016 Living in South Florida!!!!

I started out making this post like most of my other travel posts.   But it got so LONG that I decided to start a whole new "South Florida" blog with a more traditional blogging style.  I edited this post with links to my new "South Florida" blog so it would be easier and faster to see specific places or things that we especially enjoyed in South Florida.  

  To check out my specific Florida events or places, click on the links below.  Some of the events or places will have multiple posts, some will just have one (be sure and click on the "older posts" link at the bottom right of the post):  


Our Apartment in Coral Springs, Florida

Biking around our neighborhood

Some of our trips to Deerfield Beach

Loxahatchee Federal Park

Cardinal games here in South Florida

Snorkeling at Red Reef Park

Some of our Food Trucks meals

Independence Day fireworks

Hugh Taylor Birch Park in Fort Lauderdale 
Tradewinds park

our rainy trip to Sanibel

our Summer weekend trip to Bahia Honda in the Keys

South Florida lightning


A walk along Ft. Lauderdale beach and dinner cruise on the Jungle Queen

3 Mountains Park in Broward and a Broward Heritage covered bridge

Butterfly World in Coral Springs 
     or see by date: 10/19/2015 ; 11/4/2015 ; 2/18/2016

Our mini Oct. trip to Orlando: Wine and Food Festival; Wyndham Bonnett Creek; Dixie Landings; Port Orleans

Gold Coast Railroad Museum and Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Miami 

Last minute cruise 

Hobie Island for city skyline photos for Coral Springs Camera Club

Old car show at Festival Flea Market and cool garden shop

The Everglades

Birding at Peaceful Waters Sanctuary in Wellington, South Florida  
     updated 1/29; 3/1

Birding at Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County
     or check out my trips there by date:  1/29; 2/11; 2/293/9; 4/14

Birding in Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach (about 4 miles from Green Cay Wetlands)
     or check out my trips there by date:  1/29; 2/6; 2/14 ; 2/26; 2/293/93/183/213/284/84/144/22  ; 4/29

Fern Forest in Broward County

Tree Tops Park in Broward County

The Flagler Museum in West Palm Beach

Evergreen Cemetery in Ft. Lauderdale---historic cemetery on the "birding trail"

Cardinals Spring Training game in Jupiter!  

Spring trip to Naples, Sanibel, and Captiva 

Balearia ferry over to Grand Bahamas for the day 


( To check out my daily "South Florida" blog, click HERE )


There are over 50 different species of birds that call the sanctuary their home - See more at:
There are over 50 different species of birds that call the sanctuary their home - See more at:
There are over 50 different species of birds that call the sanctuary their home - See more at:

Monday, September 14, 2015

2015 STL road trip

8/19-9/10: road trip to St. Louis by way of Daytona, Edisto, and Knoxville.
When Ken agreed to rent an apartment in S. Florida for the year, he also claimed he was going to go back to St. Louis every 4-6 weeks.  So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when it was almost 3 months before he decided to head back for the first time.  His good buddy and x-work contact was going to be in St. Louis the beginning of September and had rented party rooms at 2 Cardinal baseball games and invited us to one.  That was enough incentive to even get me to come back to St. Louis for a "vacation"!  So on Aug. 19th, we jumped in our car and started our long trek back.  

The day after the food trucks we headed off on a road trip that took us to a night at the Wyndham Ocean Walk on Daytona Beach; the Wyndham King Cotton Villas in Edisto, South Carolina; 3 nights in Knoxville at our son and daughter-in-law's house; 2 weeks in St. Louis;  2 more nights in Knoxville; 2 more nights in Edisto; and finally back to Coral Springs.  Just a few pictures to highlight that trip---

2015-8-19 so long Coral Springs  


2015-8-20 on to Edisto    


2015-8-21 on to Knoxville


2015-8-22 Knoxville


2015-8-23 Riding around West Knoxville


2015-8-24 on to St. Louis


2015-8-25 MOBOT   


2015-8-28 and 29---visiting with friends and family   

2015-8-30---St. Louis Zoo 

2015-8-31---kids'  old house

2015-9-3---Butterfly House

2015-9-5---Cardinal game with Bailey's  

2015-9-6 to Knoxville and Boomsday celebration

2015-9-8 to Edisto

2015-9-9 Botany Bay

2015-9-10---on to Coral Springs

 It turned out to be a fun 3 week trip.  Even though at times I felt like we were back in the dark ages---no cable tv, just digital antennae; no computers, just a phone; no ac for the hottest part of the trip!  Was great seeing Tim and FAith and all our friends and family in St. Louis.  Am I ready to move back there---not hardly!!!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015-8-25---Missouri Botanical Gardens 

Day 1- I met up with a photography friend and she and I went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and shot pictures of everything.  They were still set up for the Chinese Lanterns exhibit, so we got to see it by daylight.  This is made up of bottles of different colored water.
 found some more butterflies--Monarch, I believe.
 and lush beautiful plants.
 even found the reflections in the Japanese Garden pond interesting.
 colorful dragonfly
 More of the Japanese Garden.
 zig zag bridge in the Japanese Garden
 in the Italian Garden.

 The St. Louis symbol Flore de li made up of tiny plants.
 Karen getting a macro shot in the patchwork garden.
 more of the Chinese lantern decorations.  They light up at night.
 more Chinese Lantern lights.
 and, yes, more.
 close up of a hybiscus flower.
 cone flower
 bee checking out the garden, too.
 flowers with the Linean House in the back ground.
 some of the many roses.
 some of the many Chinese Lanterns.
 lastly, a water lily.  We spent 5 hours there catching up and exploring.  It was a fun time.
I do miss our Missouri Botanical Gardens!  It is impressive.  But so are the reciprocal gardens we find around the country!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Knoxville, Sevierville,Gatlinburg birthday trip

About a week after we got back from our month in Florida and 2 week cruise in April, I was on the road again.  This time to the Knoxville area with my son and daughter-in-law.  While we were on our cruise, Tim accepted a transfer to the Federal Courthouse in Knoxville.  So on my birthday, I left with them to go house hunting and checking out the area.  I knew it would be beautiful, I've been through Tennessee many times, but had no idea how much fun the area really is!

We did hit a lot of road construction near Nashville.  The highway was even closed a few miles near there.  So we took a bit of a detour through Nashville and found a great restaurant to get some dinner at---Peg Leg Porker
 We figured it must be good with the line waiting to order.
 My pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese were excellent.  The "kids" rubbed ribs and sandwich and sides were also very good--so they told me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 (April 17- May 1) Southern Caribbean Cruise: St. Thomas; St. Barths; St. Lucia; Barbados; Grenada; Bonaire; and Curacoa

 We enjoyed our 2014 Maasdam cruise so much, that when  we received an email with an OBC offer if we booked a future cruise --- we checked the Maasdam itineraries and decided to go back to the Southern Caribbean in 2015---but for 14 nights this time (our longest cruise yet) and with some new (to us) ports of call (Grenada,Bonaire, and Curacao).  We booked a Spa Oceanview since we like being higher on the ship and it was almost affordable.  A couple months after booking our 2015 cruise, they offered a free Beverage Package and a cheaper fare for new bookings.  Since it was well before final payment, I called and got the reduced fare and the Beverage package, but had to give up our "welcome back OBC" which was only $50@.  After that, we waited about 7 months for the cruise to finally get here.  I was surprised the rates never lowered again.  Since we're not big drinkers, I didn't figure we'd get much use out of the Beverage package and would have given it up for a lower fare.  No further reduction came, but it turned out really nice having the Beverage Package.  On board they were charging $44.99/person/day for the package which included up to 15 drinks a day as long as they were under $7@ ---per person!   We did end up using the drink package a lot---a couple beers a day, bottled water, soda, hot chocolate... .

2015 April--The Maasdam (suite A 182) and around the ship:


2015-4-20   St. Thomas---8am-6pm:


2015-4-21  St. Barths (8-3)  Shell Beach:


2015-4-22  St. Lucia---8am-3pm: Pigeon Island


2015-4-23  Barbados (8-5): Folkestone


2015-4-24  Grenada (8-5): Aquarium beach 


2015-4-26   Bonaire (8-5): Eden Beach (Spice Island)


2015-4-27  Curacao (8-6) Blue Bay


We were suppose to have a stop at Half Moon Cay, but the surf was too rough, so we ended up having another sea day.  Although I was disappointed, I was really happy with the way the rest of the cruise went and the beautiful weather we had at all the other ports.  Can't wait until we board another ship for ports unknown!


Friday, February 13, 2015

2015 On to Maui from Kauai:

 Usually we spend our whole vacation on one island, but this time I took advantage of good award travel itinerary to Kauai and from Maui.   We did have to pay $90@ plus $15 for one checked bag on Hawaiian for our flight between LIH and OGG, but I felt it well worth it to get to see Kauai for a few days, too.  But the 6 nights flew by and before we knew it, it was time to head to Maui. 

Feb.12, 2015--on to Maui from Kauai:

Feb.14, 2015--Valentine's day and Whale Day:

Feb. 15, Sunday: Whale Tales, West shore sights.

Feb.16, 2015---Kapalua and TripAdvisor Meet and Greet:

Feb. 19, 2015---Road to Hana and beyond:

Feb.20---Maui Ocean Center:

Feb. 21, 2015---Wailea Coastal Walkway:

Feb.22, 2015---Olowalu:

Feb. 23, 2015---The Dumps and Kameole 3---
Feb. 24, 2015---Back to the Dumps and a visit from Elvis:

Feb. 25, 2015--Maluaka, Ioa Valley:

Feb.26,2015--Depression setting in!  Time to go home:

I'm finally getting Ken to stay in Hawaii longer and longer.  Sure makes for a welcome break from midwest winters!!!!

To see my blog from Kauai, click here---   2015 Kauai

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015--Feb. 6-12 Kauai trip # 13! Then Maui---Feb. 12-26, trip #3

Finally---Feb. rolled around again and it was time to take our annual trip to Hawaii.  This time we're going to 2 islands: first 6 nights on Kauai; then 14 nights on Maui.  When I went to book our award tickets on AA, Maui wasn't available for STL-OGG, but Kauai was --- so I was more then  happy to travel to Kauai first!  This is our 13th trip to Kauai.  Most of them have been for at least 2 weeks.  I figure that gives us over 6 months here now!  Doesn't that make us residents?!
Click on the dates to see lots of pictures and blog of our trip----

Feb. 6, 2015 --- Travel day (STL-LIH)

Feb. 7: north and Anini---

Feb. 8, Sunday: walk along KBV beach; drive through the East side; snorkel Poipu; waimea canyon overlook; dinner at Kauai Brewing Company; sunset by Koloa Landing---

Feb. 9, Monday:  Lydgate

Feb. 10, Tues.: high surf, no snorkeling :(

Feb. 11, Wed.: Lydgate

Feb. 12, Thursday: heading to Maui

 This was the shortest amount of time we ever spent on Kauai.  Hardly got to do anything!  No canyon this year.  No north shore snorkeling (except the one time at Anini).  Didn't even get to Poipu.  If I didn't blog, I'd be wondering what we did for 6 nights!!!  At least we get to spend another 2 weeks on the islands.  On to Maui!!!!  To follow us there, click on :  2015 Maui