What we are up to now… April 6, 2020

Well not up to much, but up to so much. So David was laid off about 2 weeks ago until April 13, 2020, but we think that will go much longer. So he is doing a bunch of projects he always wanted to do. First he made some shelves for our sons room, then power washed the deck, then prepped the ground and put down pea gravel and pavers under the deck, then built a dock to put in the river behind our home, it is a floatable dock, which means no builders permit. All of our neighbors in the area have docks, we could put a canoe or small fishing boat on it one day. We figure this will improve the value of our home, if we sell it one day. Today he is staining the dock. Then will put in the post holes and drop the dock in the water later this week. He has projects on the back burner of taking down the sides of the deck, and putting up new ones, we will painting those together, and making a D&D table cover with a grid for his D&D nites.

David relaxing on the couch after a hard days work with our Cat Henry.

I am still working, but mostly from home, going into work about 1/week at the hospital, the rest of the work week I spend most of my time answer emails, writing reports, submitting lead shielding reports, writing policies and writing ALOT of lectures. I am updating my website with a new lecture group. Been cleaning the house, working on taxes, planning on painting a hallway this week, and dusting all of the blinds. Cooking dinner every nite, tonight it is Ham.

So holding up fine, what are you up to? Let us know.

Happy New Year from our family!

Happy New Year from our family, May 2020 bless you and your family with Health and wonderful times. We celebrated our New Years Eve by first stopping over to took Laura’s parents to help them fix a circuit breaker that gave us some trouble on Christmas Eve dinner – the lights went out 4 times. David replaced the breaker. Then we toasted with some champagne and then out to Dinner, then Lauras parents were done with all the fun and headed back home. We stopped at Dave and Busters, a giant arcade by our house for about 40minutes of game playing fun. Back home for a drink and celebrating the New Years!

Date Night back on Ruby Princess Leaving Alaska

Were back on the Ruby Princess Cruise ship and having a date night. We are celebrating our Anniversary on Board, before headed over to Vancouver, British Columba. We buy the upgraded King Crab dinner for $29.00 each.

Having crabs for dinner

Its a love boat Anniversary Cake!

We did think the upgrade pricing was worth it, and enjoyed the nite celebrating!

Whale Watching in Juneau, Alaska

Were in Juneau Alaska – On the excursion agenda – Whale Watching, with Allen Marine Tours – and guess what we saw …Whales, lots of them. First lets set the stage, they pick us up in a bus from the pier, and it is overcast and raining – a lot of rain. But when I see the boat I am excited, it is covered and at least we can stay inside. I am not a cold weather girl, so am dressed warm and ready for this.

Heading on to our ship for whale watching, lets Go!

Inside the boat it is warm and we are headed out to look for some whales…

Babe did you get that, nope missed it, but here is a great picture from my husband!

Yes, we saw this!
A whale tail. We were told if you see a whale tail, you are blessed with another year or two of life. Well we saw dozens of tails, so glad to live to 90!

There was a guarantee, if you do not see a whale you get back $100, no worries there, we saw lots of whales.

We also had a wonderful buffet dinner on the whale watching boat and it was all Alaska based locally made foods, we loved it!

A Yummy dinner of everything delicious from Alaska.
The Blueberry dessert was my Favorite, but David loved the Reindeer.
Honestly, I am falling in love with Alaska, and this was supposed to be a trip for David and me just tagging along. One day in and I am enjoying this A LOT!

Date Night – Tokyo, Japan – Grilled meats and giblet hotpot

We have been back from Tokyo for a little while now and wrapping up these posts. So just a few left. Then on to our next adventure.

David and I always try and sneak away from the kids for an evening – we try to do it once a week, but it does not always work, but we steal away time even if just a walk down the street to a mini eatry – the giblet hotpot for some yummy meats on a stick. We tried the chicken skin, chicken wings, asked for a surprise (yep could have been anything, guessing it was heart) and some pork belly. All was delicious.

Cooking up our dinner date snack.

Around Tokyo – 1st Day

We learned the subway system really quick, you have to – my main goal was to NOT get separated. We did have the plan of if you get lost, stay there for 2hours, if still no one comes back, get a taxi back to the house.

We wanted to go to Tokyo Disney the first day, but it was Raining pretty hard, and by the time we got our luggage we realized we only had a half day, so we decided to check out the area after the mall visit and here are a few pictures from the first afternoon.

We had Shabu Shabu, Pork Loin. Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water and served with dipping sauces. Apparently we were eating it so wrong, we were drinking the dipping sauce like a soup and dipping the vegetables one at a time and eating them. Some one from the next table came over to explain how to eat it correctly. You take the vegetables and put in the boiling pot for 5mins, then add the meat strip in the boiling vegetable water for 1min, pull it out, dip it in the sauce and eat it, eat the vegetables in between. Honestly this was a delicious meal and we LOVED it, wish I could have eaten this everyday.

Delicious, so Good

TIP: In Japan, people will stop and help you if you look confused or lost, this is a wonderful benefit for a tourist.

This is our street where our AIRBNB was, it was filled with little stores for shopping, pets, a mini grocery store, 7-11, wine store, and about 10 restaurants. We checked out everything we could.

We played a little Pachinko – a Japanese form of pin ball, but combined with a Video Game.

Tomorrow is Disney Day!

Paris Date Night

We like to date, even when traveling, we think it is part of what keeps us together – grown up time to re-connect. My daughter recently asked David, what was he looking for in a date when he was first dating me – he said companionship – he wanted a companion to do things with, talk with, travel with, enjoy his time with. That is part of what Date night is for us. So we date.

Were exhausted, after 20 hours of traveling, but we make time for a date.
Date night dinner of roast beef with mushrooms and au gratin potatoes for me with a glass of cabernet – 20Euros.  David had cheese and bacon risotto with a coke – 23Euros.  A wonderful meal at the little café about 2 blocks ~5mins walk, from our Airbnb.

TIP: Wine is cheaper in Europe than a Coca-Cola (soda pop).
I say go with the local lifestyle and drink wine!
We sit and talk away the evening, people watching and amazed at the beautiful buildings that surround us. I love this man and our time together.
Parisian buildings that surround our dinner.
The view all around us
Liked this wall posting we saw on our walk home. David, Architecte, 1821 – lol!

Next posts: Notre Dame and The Louvre Museum.

Arrive in Paris

We arrived in Paris, France after a long and tight (economy) flight – we drove to Toronto, Canada from Detroit, Michigan only 3 hours in good traffic from our home – this will save us about $1000 per ticket using this method.  I recommend this as an option for considering any travel.

Tip:  Check airports within a few hours of your home for potential flight discounts. Driving a few hours can save thousands.

We Arrive!

Room check in was at 3pm, we asked to check in early, but they said the room would not be ready, so we had to keep busy from 10am until 3pm. We decided to separate – as everyone in our group – except our youngest son Garion had already been to Paris, and he wanted to see the Catacombs.  So the girls and myself took off for the ….. Zoo a favorite from out last trip and a side trip to the Curie Museum.  We each purchased a subway ticket and left Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport, with our luggage.  David and Garion, never made it to the Catacombs – too long of a line for their patience.

Tip:  Book Paris Catacombs online in advance  – 30 days if you really want to see them.

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David and Garion stop at the Arc De Triumph, when the Catacombs were busy and a long line.

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile – means Triumphal Arch of the Star. I heard there were a lot of recent riots in this area, but a quick check of the recent news showed those were over months ago, so lets go! The Arc de Triomphe was built to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It is HUGE. More picture to follow in future post. ††

Zoo in Paris Jadin des Plantes - heart of Paris.
We visited this Zoo in 2008 when traveled there with the kids, they loved it and wanted to see it again. We walked with our luggage to the Zoo, it was hot, and hard to drag around the luggage, but we really enjoyed it!

TIP: Figure out what you will do with yourself, and where to put your luggage between the time you arrive in Paris to the time you can check in. Wish I would have checked the luggage, and saved the long haul to the zoo carrying our luggage.

We read that the zoo is the second oldest in the world, and was built in 1793 with the animals coming from Versailles after the revolution – instead of killing the animals during the revolt, they saved them and they eventually ended up here.

We wanted to visit the Marie Curie museum, but honestly we were beat tired and it was 3pm, so we skipped it and headed to the Airbnb for a rest.

Next post: Date night in Paris with my handsome husband & Notre Dame, she still stands – and under repair.

Notre Dame, still stand!

Chinese Lantern Festival – Philadelphia, PA

At the end of our visit with our Son in Phily, PA, Brett had to head back to his job at Dover Air Force Base for a 6am Shift on Sunday. While we only had Friday and Saturday to be with Brett, the visit was wonderful and this left a date nite for us parents. We chose to visit the Chinese Lantern Festival -which was at Franklin Square, within walking distance from our rental apartment. The festival moves from town to town and is in downtown Philadelphia thru June 30, 2019. This website has more information: http://historicphiladelphia.org/

Walking into the Festival

The Festival has these Extreme oversized light sculptures, some that move and change colors. There is also food, alcohol, acrobats, snacks, vendors and these incredible visual explosion of color and showmanship of what looks like paper or silk lighted lantern art. I loved this and would recommend it with a 10 out of 10. The price was $20 each, and even though it rained the entire time, I did not even notice I was so memorized. Fun night, and my husband is wonderful company.

David with Angel Wings – he says – see I told you I was an angel
In front of the mouth of a dragon!
Panda Tree that Changed Colors, it was Magical!
As it became darker it was even more magical.

Henderson Castle – Kalamazoo, MI

Had a date weekend with my husband. We visited Henderson Castle for a dinner date, while you can stay at Henderson Castle, we did not. What a great date night. This is a little history of the castle: The Castle was built in 1888, by Frank Henderson. He was the owner and president of the Henderson-Ames Company which made uniform regalia for secret societies, fraternal organizations, and the military. I noticed many pictures through out the bar of Males in Church robes, Militia service outfits, and Fancy Pants outfits, the bartender explained a quick history lesson of the Castle and how these clothes were his handy work. The Queen Anne style house cost $72,ooo and was designed by C. A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The house has twenty five rooms, seven baths (one with a thirteen-head shower), an elevator, a third-floor ballroom.

Davids beard is looking a little shaggy in front of Henderson Castle.
Fancy Romaine Salad.
We had steak, which was really tasty, but $$$ – Good thing we had a Groupon.
Beautiful interior

Overall wonderful Nite, beautiful location and I heard they give tours and I would really have loved to do that, but they were scheduled. Not going to lie, service was slow, no one ever answered when we called or even called us back to confirm the reservation. But we did not care because we were enjoying each other and the conversation. Without the groupon – this would have been a very expensive meal. Would I go back, sure if I was willing to wait, and had another Groupon.

Y-12

20180417_072218As I am driving thru Oakridge, Tn – I see atomic symbols everywhere – so my interest is peaked.  Following signs to the Y-12 museum – I have to investigate what this unusual atomic symbol is with the name of Y-12.  I learn Y-12 is a national security complex tucked away and rarely heard and the small museum is a wealth of interest to a physicist and history buffs.

Y-12 itself is a National security complex with three primary national security missions that protect our country.  They maintain the US nuclear Stockpile, reduce global threats, and fuel the US Nuclear Navy.

The museum show cases instruments and stories of Radioactive history.  My favorite part of this museum is this newspaper article.  This is the site the Atomic Bomb was made!  For some reason… Manhattan Project, made me think the WW2 Bomb was made in NY, but nope, it was made here.

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A few more interesting pictures to share:

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A “Moon Box” manufacturered here at Y-12 that was used Moon lunar geological samples to Earth.

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Sample badges and ID for Y-12 workers, looks just like the badges I recall from Manhattan project workers, although these are just samples.

Interesting side trip for a Radioactive Geek Girl!

 

Gatlinburg, TN

I am spending a few days in Oakridge, Tennessee for Work training, and our group decided to take a quick trip to Gatlinburg.  1.5 hours on the back roads and we were there – an explosion of all tourist trap style shopping, drinking, eating, and things to do you can squeeze into a small area.  We walked around downtown, which is right around the corner from DollyWood.    We stopped in the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine store and for $5, you get to sample 13 mini shots of liquor of every kind and a $5 coupon for anything over $5 in the store.  I bought my husband a T-Shirt our group pooled our money and bought a fifth of our favorite Moonshine – Caramel Apple Pie.    We shared our fifth with a few fellow students in the hotel lobby after class, then ate at Calhoun’s on the Water in Oakridge.  A delicious meal at a beautiful location for a fair price.   Love Gatlinburg!

 

5 things I wish I knew before I went to Cuba

 

20180409_213740I knew you cannot use credit cards in Cuba, and they have cigars and rum, but I did not know….

 

  1. We were told we had to have a cultural tour booked or we would not even be allowed to step off the Cruise ship (or if we flew in – not step off the plane).  This is not true.  The threat is empty.  We saw several couple walk off the ship (they were Americans) they said they had nothing booked and were unconcerned and when we were back on the ship they said they had a wonderful day.

2.  Everyone in Cuba, LOVES Che Guevara!

 

ErnestoCheGuevara  was an Argentina Marxist Revolutionary, a doctor, an author, guerrilla leader and HERO in Cuba.  He was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his picture and vision has become a symbol of rebellion in Cuba and popular culture.

I saw two pictures of Fidel Castro, saw 1000 pictures of Che Guevara.

3.  Every person in Cuba (except politicians) make only $50 per month.  You could be a doctor or street dancer, it is the same salary.

4.  We had no idea how much to get in Cuba dollars, so we got $150, which was more than enough since there was not much to buy when on a tour.  We did buy rum, one cigar, a necklace at a local children’s center and could have bought typical tourist trap t-shirts and carvings and plastic items you could get at any tourist trap location, but we are past that type of vacation item. When your on a tour, you do not have an opportunity to buy much, but if your so inclined sharing a few dollars with the locals, would be wonderful, considering #3.

5.  The Cuban people are wonderful, we expected them to be angry with many things, including our President, but did not find that true.  I was not afraid even for a minute, and would not be even if we were wondering around town ourselves, it is a safe place.   We would go back in a heart beat, but first so many other choices to explore!

Tropicana Club, Cuba

I figured out how to add videos! Better later than never! so this is older post updated.

We only had two days in Havana, Cuba – so we made the most of it – a day of everything, then an evening trip to the Tropicana Club.  I would describe it as an outdoor larger version of the “I Love Lucy” Show’s – Ricky Ricardo’s Club – which was also originally called Tropicana – then renamed Club Babalu.  David and I saw the Las Vegas review – Jubilee, and this show is superior, the dancers have a fire, the music is the over the top and beats Jubilee for me.

We took a bus on a 20min drive to the Tropicana, which had a huge entrance first with a Billboard show casing the Tropicana Club name and a dancing ballerina (club icon), then we drive down a tropical foliage filled drive to the entrance.

We stood in line a long line, but only for 5 mins to walk thru a lobby,  where a Tropicana show girl hands out a cigar to each man and a flower to each women.  There is a sign posted  – all must pay to take pictures inside the club, which we did (hence our photos and videos), but we saw no one else pay and no one was stopped from taking photos, so if you skipped this fee, I don’t believe there would be any trouble for you.  We then huddle into what we assumed would be an indoor theater, but instead we were walked outside to a lush outdoor garden amphitheater style venue, with elaborate overhead lighting.

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This picture does this location no justice.  It is a 180 degree theatre, with a waterfall dancing stage to our far left, a main stage for singers directly ahead, a mini dance bridge in between.  To our right was a three level tower of dancers and in between the main stage and this tower was a hidden full orchestra.

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This picture also does this club a small justice there is stages to the left and right.

The girls and the costumes are incredible.  There were tall statues of art with about 12  costume changes that each were more over the top than the previous, we saw bikini (no nudity) wearing model ladies, with fruit baskets 3 feet tall on their head, they wore chandeliers on their heads, they danced in the 80 degree night heat like it was nothing.

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There were acrobats and singers and non stop Mambo, cha cha cha rhythms action for the entire 1 hour 45 min show.

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You get an entire bottle of rum (and a big bottle, larger than a fifth) to split with four people at your table, each person gets a tiny glass bottle of Coca-cola along with a bucket of ice.  So of course we drank most of it in the flaming heat, which made our bus drive home a boisterous spectacle to our bus mates, we laughed so hard, I think we had everyone else laughing too.  I highly recommend the Tropicana Club for the Havana experience!  We sat at the back, and I would have paid the extra $30/ dollars for a middle closer seat, but the front section is not necessary – all views are amazing.

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First day on Vacation

Short post.  We flew into Fort Lauderdale, Fla the night before our cruise, and we spent the night at the Link hotel, about 12 minutes from the airport, $100.00/nite with breakfast, small rooms, but clean and free transportation to the airport, but it only runs until 8 pm and we missed the ride to the hotel from the airport.  We woke up around 7:30am, ate breakfast and shuttled over to the airport again, where we took another shuttle to the cruise ship yard.

A day a sea, and then we will be in Grand Cayman.  Looking forward to posting next.

 

Bon Voyage

We are headed out to our 7 day Cuban Explorer with Holland America Cruise, on the Veendam.  We started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida then to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, to Cozumel, Quntana Roo Mexico, then Havana Cuba, back to Ft Lauderdale.   We choose this cruise specifically for the Cuba Experience and we are really are very excited to step foot in Cuba.   We did read in our paperwork, we had to book an excursion or we will not be allowed off the ship, and that is a recent change to the US requirements.   So we booked an 8hr – Best of Havana, and a night trip to the Tropicana Club.  While many might not ever even consider visiting Cuba, for us something about seeing what has been forbidden is a thrill.  This might be a short window of opportunity that we never get to experience again, but if we enjoy Cuba, and it is still possible a longer trip might be in our future as well.

This is our third cruise together as a couple, but Davids ~10th, I only started cruising when I met David, so my third cruise.   This is our second with Holland, where the population is significantly older, but then again our cruise with Celebrity was also an older group.  I guess most can afford to cruise when they are older and finally have the time, so the ships population is filled with motorized scooters, canes and stories of grand children.

When I checked online reviews of the Veendam, I see Excellent reviews, and that it is a small ship with a max capacity of 1350.  We will report back on what we experienced upon return.  I am sure I will drink a few Cuba Libras (Rum and Coke) during this trip, so I will try and report back daily on our adventure, or might forget a fact or two.

Cruise to Cuba

After weeks of looking for a trip that we could take together (no kids) during the time our youngest would be on spring break (and could go to his mothers) we finally found a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico – Grand Cayman  – and two days in Havana, Cuba.  It is a Holland America Cruise, smaller older ship.  But the cost total for seven days and a day before stay in Fort Lauderdale is under $2100.  We searched Travelzoo, Travelocity, Groupon, Cruise.com and finally found a trip that meets all our criteria.  Whew, a lot and I mean a lot of looking (months of looking) our deal was on Cruise.com, but cheaper directly thru the Holland America site (like $150 each cheaper).    Now just to dream and figure out excursions, hopefully loose a few pounds and buy a nice outfit.