Bucket List New Orleans Complete!

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The ladies hit New Orleans and had a blast! October 6-9th 2016

Thursday: We Arrive

We flew out mid-day Thursday and landed without issue. We quickly hopped in a cab and headed to our Air B&B home owned by Bob. It was a beautiful shot gun house 2 blocks off St. Charles.
We spent the evening walking around, stocking up at Walgreen’s and ordering Reginelli’s Pizza for dinner.

Friday: Time to Explore

We started Friday with a 3 hour walking history tour of the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery #1.
After that we grabbed lunch at Joey K’s and had drinks on Magazine St.
We then jumped on the Trolley using our Jazzy Pass and headed to the French Quarter. We saw a wedding processional, had lots of yummy drinks and got lost trying to find our way home.

Saturday: Time to Eat and Walk 6+ Miles!

We walked forever today!!!
We started at the Irish House for lunch and it was great.
All the trolley’s were full so we hiked a few miles past Lee Circle down to Lafayette Square to the beignet festival.

The weather was hot and the festival was super busy so we zipped into Harrah’s Casino for a few pulls on the slot machine. After we each lost, we headed up the hill to look out over the Mississippi and view the Natchez Steam Boat.

We strolled Jackson Square and stole a table at Cafe Du Monde for beignets.

Anita had her fortune read and bought a candle to clear away the bad spirits.

We finished our day at the Louisiana State Museum taking in the history of Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina.
We wandered home on aching feet and ordered dinner in.

Sunday: A Very Long Day

Sunday morning we headed out early to see the Uptown Garden District. We were not disappointed.  Audubon Park, Tulane and Loyola were all beautiful and the houses were stunning mansions.
We had lunch at the Blind Pelican and headed back for our Taxi to the airport. That is when things got crazy.

After a 4 hour delay in a freezing airport we finally made it home. The photos show we may have gone a bit stir-crazy.

We had so much fun!!!

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I can’t wait until November when the hubby and I head off to Vegas for our 17th wedding anniversary!  Talk to you then!

On a side note…Spirit Airline did offer us a $50 discount on our next booking….Where can I go in January?

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FREEDOM!!!!!

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This weekend (Friday-Sunday) the hubby is headed out of town for a guys trip to San Antonio. I was happy he was getting away and was thinking what Dane and I could do over the weekend. Then I checked my email and found out that Dane has a Boy Scout camp out Friday to Sunday as well.

OMG…OMG…OMG…OMG!!!!!!!

Do you know what this means?

The house will be empty! If I clean it on Friday evening, it will stay clean ALL weekend! I can do anything I want. I can drink wine at 11 AM in my underwear while watching Housewives of Orange County and no one is going to make fun of me or judge me for watching rich, spoiled women scream at each other.

I don’t have to share the TV or smack Stephen in the head when he snores at 2AM. I get 48 hours of awesome-me time and I don’t have to be accountable to anyone.

There will be quiet time, when I light candles and pretend my life is calm and serene. It is going to be magical.

Only 4 more days and heaven awaits!

PS: I love my family….I really do.

2016 Trips to come + CRUISING 2017!!!

2016 is coming to an end really quickly! I wanted to let you know what I have coming up.

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At the end of September the husband is headed to San Antonio for a Punk music festival with his good friend John. I get to skip this one…yeah! I booked them a hotel right next to the venue. He told me that they could have stayed farther away to save money, but I explained my point of view. Do you want to go to an all day punk festival full of beer swilling 20 year-olds and use porta-pottys all day? What if you get a headache or want to take a nap? You’re 41 not 21! He agreed and they are happy to have an easy escape and a clean toilet.  With age, comes wisdom.

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The first weekend in October is the ladies trip to New Orleans. Mom, sister-in-law and myself are headed to the big-easy for beignets, hurricanes and ghost tours! We even plan to get our palms read. I am not so sure I want to know what my future holds, but who knows? Either way, we should have some serious fun.

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The first week of November, hubby and I will be in Vegas for our 17th wedding anniversary! We are going disc golfing and driving out to the Hoover Dam. We are also set to see Blue Man Group in the splatter zone and Ka front row, center! It should be an awesome trip. We are staying at the Luxor for 4 days.

That will wrap up 2016 for the traveler in me. Maybe I will spend December just cleaning my house and napping?

BIG NEWS!!!!!

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2017 is set to start with a surprise cruise to Mexico!!! Didn’t see that one coming!!!!

My mother-in-law has been talking about a cruise with family for 20 years. She finally got all the ladies to agree and her and the 4 daughter/in-laws are headed off on a 4 day cruise out of Galveston Texas to Cozumel! I have never been on a cruise and I am super excited.  Thanks Mom-in Law!!!

This will kick off 2017 travel beginning mid-March.

I’ll post again when I get back from New Orleans. Remember to travel, life is short. Don’t wait 20 years to plan a cruise!

Long Time-No See!

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Did you miss me?

It feels like forever since I did a post. We got back from family vacation and school started and life just got too busy!  I’m back with a vacation  recap!

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Family vacation recap!  The last week of July we headed out for a week away, with plans to drive through Louisiana, Mississippi and land in Alabama to see the Atkinson Family in Enterprise. From there the two families headed south to Panama City Beach, Florida for fun & sun!. After that, the we (just us 3) took off for Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola, Florida, then on to Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana!

Vacationing with other people is tricky at times, as we had competing desires and plans. Compromises were made and no one killed each other, but there were some tense moments.

We did have fun. The beach was beautiful, even though it rained a bit. We had a great Air B&B house with a screened in pool and got to go snorkeling and saw dolphins swimming in the bay! Dane and Stephen’s favorite was the blue crabs that swam around them. They are so cute!

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We swung by the USS Alabama to see the ship on our way to New Orleans. It was amazing but the submarine was claustrophobic.

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In New Orleans, we checked into the Hotel Bourbon Orleans. The #1 most haunted hotel in the state! We were on the 6th floor where the orphanage and morgue used to be. Unfortunately, the ghosts were on vacation and we didn’t see any. Be aware if you stay in downtown New Orleans…there is no parking. We did valet and our car was parked 20 miles away!

New Orleans was beautiful and dirty at the same time. It is an awesome city to explore.

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Finally, it was time to head to the swamp with air boats and alligators! This was cool.

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All in all, it was a great trip. I will say, one negative that I did not anticipate was constantly being on the move. We were in a different hotel almost every night. It felt like we were constantly packing and unpacking the car! This I can do without. Lessons learned!

We are back now and in full fall mode with school, work and more travel planning. WE have 3 more trips planned for 2016 and a new exciting adventure planned for 2017!!!

To be continued…

Overwhelmed and Excited

2a4bc48170e43ef43849f5537b2957b7I am totally overwhelmed with what needs to be done before we leave town on Saturday. I have a house sitter in place, so at least the animals are taken care of. 🙂

We are going to leave Saturday morning to drive to Fort Rucker, Alabama to visit friends and then all of us are traveling down to Panama City Beach for 4 days at an Air B&B. We plan to be gone 8-9 days and I have not even thought about laundry or packing.  I figure, we will get there eventually. Anything I forget we can pick up at Walmart, right?

I am excited about the drive and using Road Trippers to help plan our stops. We hope to hit Sci-Port Museum in Shreveport, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi Museum of Natural History, First White House of the Confederacy and last but not least, The largest Rooster made of Car Bumpers!  Somewhere along the way we will find a hotel and sleep Saturday night. We plan to arrive at Fort Rucker mid-day Sunday.

Panama City looks like it will be a blast. I have never been, but I hear it is gorgeous.  We are planning to hit the beach and do a snorkel cruise for dolphins. I also plan to take the guys para-sailing whether they like it or not. I just hope I can unplug and relax for a few days!

I will update you when I return and hopefully have some awesome snorkeling photos using our underwater cameras.

Victoria, BC Part 2

We are half way through our journey…be sure you read Part 1 here.

Wednesday 6/15/2016

We were up and ready after a good nights sleep! It was time for the Butchart Garden tour. Everyone says you have to go…mom and I were like, really…flowers??? Snore! They were right!!! OMG…I have never in my life seen a place that was once an old rock quarry turned into something this beautiful. And this was just the beginning!

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There are multiple gardens on 55 acres and they are all built on the remains of a limestone quarry by the wife of the owner starting over 100 years ago.

The flowers were beyond perfect and even the trashcans were beautiful!

Mom and I were sure a garden would be a waste of time for us, but Butchart Gardens proved us wrong. I could spend days there just reading a book. One of my favorite spots was a peek-a-boo hedge at the inlet that opened up to an amazing dock.

We had a bit of time left over after Butchart and Roger, our guide swung us by his favorite spot in Victoria, The Government house. It also had amazing gardens and views.

The flowers were gorgeous here as well!

Once we returned to Victoria Harbour, we headed out on a tour of the Gourge. It was fascinating listening to the history and we got to ride on the cutest boat around.  We also got to see the famous blue bridge. It is the last of it’s kind and they are tearing it down this year.

We wound up our day eating at the Docks, at a lovely harbor view table and went to bed smiling.  People here are so nice!

Thursday 6/16/2016

We hit the Grand Pacific breakfast buffet since we knew lunch was going to be light on our wine tour. While there we asked our waitress what the deal was with all the high tea in the area. She said it is tradition to have high tea, but it has gotten out of hand. The Empress Hotel is the #1 place to go. For $91 per person you get tea, scones, cucumber sandwiches and little cakes. We decided that was a tradition we could skip. I don’t even really like tea! We spent a the little time we before our tour had watching the ferry from Seattle unload and load. It was amazing to watch all those 18-wheelers come off a boat! We also got to see the blue bridge go up! It doesn’t happen often.

We spent the next 6 hours with Colleen of Island Time tours. She took us up into the Cowichan Valley for a wine and vinegar tasting tour. We traveled through the rain forest and came out into a beautiful country side full of grapes and family farms.

Our lunch stop was at Hilary’s Cheese Shop in Cowichan Bay. The food was good and the view was so quaint!

After 4 stops and about 20 wine tastings we were feeling pretty good. We were still standing…barely!

Arriving back in Victoria around 5, we decided to go to the local Casino. Do not do this. It was boring and it looks just like every other small casino. We got back to the hotel around 8 PM, jumped into bed with a movie, local cheese and breads and opened a newly purchased bottle of wine. Good night!

Friday 6/17/2016

I was awoken this fine morning by a sharp tapping. I arose to find a seagull sitting on my window sill tapping on the glass. I think he wanted some of the cheese and bread from the night before. I woke up mom and we prepped to watch the First Nations authentic canoes paddle into the harbor. It was the BC Aboriginal Cultural Festival kickoff at the BC Museum.

We get to the museum right as they opened and were first in line to beat all the little kids! Our first stop was the baby mammoth Lyuba. She has led to amazing discoveries for scientists and seeing her in the flesh was amazing.  We went through the First Nations language center and the Becoming BC  history display. It was enlightening.

After the museum, we were ready for lunch. Everyone said we had to go to Red Fish, Blue Fish. Even the locals go there. I am glad we weren’t too hungry, since I spent 1.2 hours standing in line at a fish shack. It was worth it. I took this picture of mom as she appreciated the view and held a table for us.

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I really wanted to see Fisherman’s wharf, so we jumped into the cutest taxi ever and headed that way.IMG_9635

Fisherman’s wharf was worth the trip. We saw harbor seals close up and walked the docks of floating houses.

At the hotel we packed and then headed out to a walking ghost tour of the city! The city was beautiful at night and the light rain lent an eerie feeling to the ghost stories and tiny Fan Tan Alley.

After the tour, we slowly meandered back to the hotel knowing our trip was coming to an end soon.

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Saturday 6/18/2016

Last day…We had a bit of time before we needed to check out, so we decided to make the most of it. We toured the local James Bay community market and walked around the back of Parliament. That building is beautiful from all sides.

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We swung around to the side of the Empress and saw part of the Crystal Palace garden.

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Finally we stopped at the 115 year old heritage Redwood that was planted in front of Parliament. The root structure is amazing and I now want to visit a redwood forest.IMG_9781

It was time to catch our cab back to the airport. The trip back was difficult due to a lot of TSA security lines and a delayed flight, but we made it home in one piece.

Victoria, British Columbia is a place I would love to see again. A week is honestly not enough time. See you next time Canada!

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Victoria, BC Part 1

My mom’s bucket list trip this year was to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada from June 12-18th. It was spectacular. I am going to tackle this post in chronological order…in 2 posts. It’s too long for 1. 🙂

Saturday 6/11/2016

Time to check in for our flight 24 hours before departure. We were flying Alaska Airlines operated by American. This sounds easy right? WRONG! I logged on to Alaska Airlines and they tell me to check-in with American. Okay. I log on to American and they say to check in with Alaska….uhhhh, now what?  I decide to pick up the phone, after 4 calls and 5 people I find out that it is a glitch in American’s system and we will have to check-in person. Not fun at DFW airport. On the good side, we were arriving to the airport super early and we already had assigned seats, but it just made me tense.

Sunday 6/12/2016

4AM wake-up to head to the airport…ugh! (See previous post) We got all checked in with no trouble and manged to grab a seat free between us for extra space! We landed safely in Seattle and headed over to the smallest commercial plane ever. It had propellers! We did a few uncomfortable drops in the air due to air pockets, but I had enough Xanax in me to feel okay about it. The view out the plane was breath-taking (previous post).

We grabbed a $60 cab to our hotel (35 minutes) and arrived at about 2:30. Check in was not until 4PM and our room was not ready, so we headed over to talk to the concierge. He recommended Island Time Tours for a great Butchart Gardens tour and a Wine tour. We booked with Colleen, our guide and headed to the restaurant across the street (Steamship Grill) for a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine. The sun was warm, but the air was cool on the water. They had blankets at each chair to get cozy! At 4PM, we headed back and got a great surprise. The Grand Pacific could not find a room with 2 beds so they upgraded us to a 2 bedroom suite!!!!! We had the best view possible. Two balconies with windows that wrapped around the whole corner of the hotel. LUCKY!

We unpacked completely. I can’t live out of a suitcase. I want to feel at home. Then, that evening we took a stroll and used one of my Groupons the Argyles’ Attic and had a lovely dinner. We were back to the hotel relaxing in the hot tub by 8:30 (10:30 our time).

Monday 6/13/2016

We started our day with breakfast at Belville’s next door to our hotel. They have Cheez Wiz at the table (like a jelly packet) Weird! It was our first day and we needed a tour, so we jumped on our hop-on bus (Groupon!) and started to get a lay of the land. We saw some beautiful sights and made plans for what we wanted to come back to.

One of the stops was for Craigdarroch Castle, so we hopped off there for a tour. The castle was amazing. Such a rich history. The woodwork and stained glass was pure art. I could live here!

We jumped back on our little bus and headed back to the city. They dropped us off right near Smith’s Pub, where I had a lunch Groupon. We ate a fine meal of burgers, fries and cider and then were off to the Robert Bateman Center to appreciate some art. It amazes me when someone can create a painting so life-like it looks like a photo. Across from the museum was the Victoria Parliament (Victoria is the capital of BC). The tour was free so we took advantage.  What a magnificent building. The Architect who designed it also did the building the Bateman Center is in and the famous Empress Hotel. Listening to the issues of Canada makes me realize that politics are crazy everywhere.

That night we decided to head out to a very expensive seafood restaurant. I had a plate of King crab legs that gave me food poisoning 3 hours later. We watched a movie while I was doubled over. At least it only lasted a few hours and I was able to sleep.

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Tuesday 6/14/2016

Today was the day! Whale watching!!!!! I got a great Groupon deal for our tour and we had to meet at 9:30. We had a bland breakfast (tummy was a bit raw) and downed Meclazine for sea-sickness like they were tic-tacs. Both mom and I have big issues with motion.  We met up with Five Star Whale Watching Tours and headed out for a 3 hour tour. Luckily we were not on Gilligan’s Island. The wind was crazy as we entered the Juan de Fuca Straight between Canada and the USA.

The light house was picture perfect. We saw seals, sea lions, a bald eagle, otters playing in the kelp and a few humpbacks swimming along. The views were unimaginable and if you ever get the chance, GO! It was amazing. Plus, neither one of us got sick!

We returned to a quick lunch and then headed to Miniature World. I know it sounds weird, and it was, but it was also amazing. Someone has a lot more patience than me. Look how tiny! That window below was the size of my thumb nail.

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At this point it was 6PM. The wind, sun and ocean had drained us. We trudged back to the hotel feeling like we could barely stand, but we kept moving. We got in and ordered a pizza, opened a bottle of wine and started a movie.

IMG_9532I passed out at 7:15 and slept for 12 hours. We both woke up rested and ready to tackle another day!

To Be Continued…