Partially Retired

We are both excited and terrified at the same time, its retirement time! 6 years of planning, multiple planning meetings, eating at home, packing lunches, working overtime for years, driving used cars, we have no cottage, no RVs, no 4 wheelers, using coupons, garage sale shopping, reviews of income, savings, planning.. plan some more and January 1, 2021 or original plan is almost here. David will delay ~35days after January 1st and retire the first week of February. I have already stopped working at so many clients, and should be down 30% on work January 1, 2021, then moving on and less work with the end of a contract March 30, 2021. Our only income will be my part time job at Ascension hospitals, a few Nuclear medicine facilities and our Physics education website. Almost time to celebrate. Next post will be all the people/nay sayers that have told us how wrong we are to retire at 52years old and how we responded.

Sushi at Sea

Were back from our cruise, but then I came down with a fever of 103, and a cough. Since I work in a hospital, prior to returning they made me get tested and turns out I only have a stinker flu – my temp is down to 100 at this point so on my way back to health.

David and I are ready to make some sushi, I love how goofy he is with this hat and face!

So lets move on to fun things, such as Sushi Classes on our Sea Day. We wer on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas and had a sea day, decided to try a Sushi making class, and honestly I learned a lot.

Check out our handy work – we could only eat about 50% of what we made – such a shame!

With out a doubt as soon as I can get over to our local super Asian grocery store, I will buy some ingredients and make a huge pot of rice try this class with the kids as home.

Totem Pole Carving in Ketchikan, Alaska

After our delicious crab early lunch, we headed over to check out some totem pole carving at the Alaskan Rainforest Sanctuary.

https://www.alaska.org/detail/rainforest-sanctuary-totem-park-eagles

We walk over to the totem carving shed to see this beauty in progress.

The Totem artist explaining what step he is on now.

He says the whole process will take him about 4 months and he is 3 months into it right now, and this is his first independent project, but has been an apprentice for many years now.

What his final project will be. Notice the hidden Mickey in the corner of this picture!

David and I are both amazed and while we have no real artistic capabilities, we feel inspired. This totem is planned for the raptor center, which is next door and where we are headed next, the bird sanctuary.

Welcome to Alaska Sign

Were at the edge of Alaska and Canada on a bus tour. We make a quick stop to take a picture of Welcome to Alaska, and Welcome to Canada!

Welcome to Canada on the other side of this roadside stop.
A few pictures of the view

A view from the bus up the hill.

Stop at the side of the road.

Salmon Hatchery – and Seal eating them all up – Alaska

Sharing a few pictures of our visit to a Salmon Hatchery, they hatch baby chum Salmon and then release them into the wild and after years of living out there, they return to the hatchery and mate and then die. The guide we had said their death is the beginning of new salmon and they fertilize the ground. Plus they are food for so many Alaskan wildlife, including this cute sea lion, eating his fill.

Sea Lion scouting salmon

These are the Salmon returning to spawn.

A million baby salmon in the hatchery – jumping out of the water.

Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls, Juneau Alaska

A bus ride from the cruise dock to Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls was only a few minutes from our Port. We had three choices when we arrived at our destination, check out the small museum movie and gift shop – walk over to the river to watch the salmon spawning, or a hike over to the Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls. We choose to hike over, just over 20mins one way. We were really glad we did.

I must admit, on the hike over, I kept thinking we could be eaten by a bear. We had a saying – Bears don’t like surprises, so we talked while walking, nice and loud.

Smells like Heaven

The plaque says – Romeo, the spirit of Juneau’s friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place.

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.

Disney Popcorn & Disney Twins

Popcorn At Disney is Unique. Check out this Popcorn Bucket for 2300yen, or $23.00. So you get the bucket and popcorn, plus refills are cheaper. These buckets come in many different shapes – Steam Boat Willy above and Toy Story Wagon below. We also saw popcorn buckets in the shap of Cinderella’s Carriage, Duffy the Bear (who is HUGE in Tokyo Disney – bigger in popularity than Mickey), and BB-8 from star wars.

Curry Flavored Popcorn

The popcorn flavors here in Disney are Unique. We tried chocolate Milk and Honey. There was also Garlic Shrimp, Curry, Strawberry and of course Butter.

In Addition to the Unique Flavors and Buckets for Popcorn, there was also a twin theme, which apparently is always going on from what I heard from others I spoke with, not just during our visit. Check out some of the pictures of people dressing as twins. There was seriously 100s of people wearing twin clothes, it is hard to not notice this.

Now my daughters are twins, but have not dressed that way since third grade.

Next Post a few more pictures of Disney, then Samurai Museum.

Eiffel Tower

So we saw the Eiffel Tower from a far and walked down to it! Stopped and took a bunch of pictures, had an ice cream, and bought Katrina an Eiffel Tower sucker.

Garion showing off his mini Eiffel Tower he bought!
Katrina showing off her Eiffel Tower Sucker!

Next Post – Under the Eiffel tower and then….. Off to Toyko, Japan!

Paris Pictures

There are so many beautiful pictures from random areas we saw in Paris, these are a few. Some from a top the Hop on Hop off, some just from wandering around. Enjoy!

A wonderful eating and shopping street near Notre Dame.
The busy streets near the Seine river
Notice the Bride entering the building.
Gift from Egypt to France.
There was a protest going on at this area – peaceful and childrens medical rights based.

Beekeeping

The Spring and Fall mean a lot of work to a beekeeper.  We would love to share a few pictures of our hard work.

Walking to the back yard to start some bee work.

20180929_111220  Notice how he only wears the top section and thin gloves.  Yes, he has been stung, but only one time this year, five times last year.  The tool in his hand helps him pull the honey frames out of the boxes.

 

Notice our Caution sign.  This is for legal reasons.

We also collect the wax.  After we extract the honey, we break down the frames and put them in a metal pan, that is put into our home made wax melt box.

The box is closed with the wax inside and it has a clear window that is faced toward the sun, the wax melts out of the frames to the bottom of the box.  It is way easier than picking out the wax.

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Then we take that wax out along with scraps of wax and melt it in a crock pot, and pour it into molds.  We have a lot of wax, and this year we are thinking about making candles for Christmas for our friends.

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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!

 

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.

Hoover Dam

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On the way to Hoover Dam, a quick stop at Lake Mead.

Going back a few weeks, we visited Hoover Dam.   We were already in Vegas, and David has never been and he wanted to see.   The downside, the elevators to the inside powerhouse were down, so we only were able to see the outside and the museum, which was amazing.  The upside of this day trip – a quick nap on the bus ride and beautiful sites, with education learning that fascinated me.  As a physicist, I love learning how things work, and the museum there had a lot of information on both the history of Hoover Dam and the science behind the design.  The quick summary, is there were two years of fertile farming, and then years of severe flooding in the surrounding areas, which lead to this (originally named Boulder Dam) project.  The Dam is a concrete arch gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, right on the boarder of Nevada and Arizona.  It was built during the great depression, which paid super low paying, very dangerous (112 deaths) jobs to those who were desperate and had nothing.   The water is taken into the towers, then down the narrowing funnels to the powerhouse, the water pressure turn the turbines, which make electricity.  There is a lot of past fighting over who gets what % of the energy, but I honestly ignored that portion and focused on the awe and science.

We bought the bus ride on Groupon, with Grand Canyon tour (below)  just two days before we left, and they picked us up at the hotel, took us to a depot, where we sat for about 20mins before leaving for our trip.  Since the Hoover Dam, Powerhouse tour was not available, they did refund us for that portion, and I would definitely recommend this tour.

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Below we are on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which was built to help with traffic and to help with safety on the Dam drive over (to minimum traffic which helps maintain security).  Note each of those (which look like lego blocks are 6feet tall), it looks so small, but the size is almost unimaginable.

HooverDam 2017

 

Seeing the world with my husband, is my dream, and I am living it.  We don’t travel as much as we want, but we make it work, and I love looking back at these pictures and how happy we were and are.

Retirement seminar

So David and I went to a Retirement pitch dinner, where they try and upsell you on a product.  Honestly we know so little about the variety of retirement programs out there.  What we do know:  A Traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement account. You save your $ today and are taxed later when you withdraw the money.  A Roth IRA, is like and IRA where you don’t get a tax deductions for the $ contribution today, but later can withdraw the assets when you retire without paying taxes.    A 401k or 403b is an employer sponsored retirement program. Taxes aren’t paid until the money is withdrawn from the account.  Sometimes employers match these on a smaller amount.  A SEP, is a Single Employer Pension Plan, which really is a small business owner traditional IRAs (SEP-IRAs) set up for employees.  Do not put all your eggs in one basket and diversify as much as possible, save and save in as many different methods for retirement as possible.

But If I am going to retire early, I figure I need to know Everything and make best choices, saving money is good, but saving it smart is better. So this seminar did teach me some things.  What I learned:

  • On a Roth or 401k/403b, you can withdraw your money as soon as your 59.5years old, (before will cost you 10%) and have to start spending these (or be penalized 3%) by age 70.5.
  • 403b’s are more restrictive, but also can allow higher contributions.
  • An annuity can go up, down, or stay the same.
  • A fixed annuity can go up or stay fixed – this is what they were selling – so going to learn more on this and report back later.  It sounds fabulous, but things always do at free dinner seminars.  I plan on researching this subject and getting back to everyone.

What do we have as far as retirement plans and income- well we currently we have a huge diversification – I have a 403b, with a small match plan.  David has a 401k.   We are not 401 millionaires.   We both have retirement accounts – David has stocks, and mutual funds, and MESP accounts for the kids college, which he is still adding to.   I have two SEP accounts – one for each business I own – an education website, and a physics consulting group.  These were added to at the advice of my tax accountant, who told me send a certain amount of money to these each year to avoid taxes in the current year.  I have a small Roth IRA, and an IRA.   I have three MESP accounts for the kids, that a funded.  We have three rentals, which I bought one at the peak of the market and two at the downfall.  We have an investment property, that too this point has not generated any money.  I have two pensions (one fairly small), and two pensions from my ex-husband (which can be collected upon 6 years after we retire).  David has a pension.  We cannot collect on our pensions until 3 years after we retire (at 55 years old) but that would be at a low rate, and waiting would be smart.

So we are need to bulk up and figure out how to live for those years in between when we retire and we can collect on our retirement funds.  Another post in the future will detail our plans, even though these are in flux and well honestly we are not 100% sure.  I guess we will learn and figure it out as we go.

 

 

Next Trip?

The cover picture, is David is holding a baby turtle at a turtle farm we visited in Grand Cayman, our first family trip together in 2015.  So we are now together almost 4 years.  I was divorce Feb 13, 2014 and joined Match.com the end of Feb 2014 and met David after about 30 coffee dates in 30 days (yep marathon dating) and after a Tim Hortons coffee date, I was hooked.  So end of March 2014 will be four years.

So now, we are trying to plan our next trip, which is always a masterpiece theater trick of timing, cost and minimizing kid inconveniences.    There is an upcoming winter break we could slip away for a few days, and so trying to find some close by 4 day trips.  Maybe New Orleans, or Mexico, or a 3 day cruise.  Some place warm for sure, but too short to head to China, or Greece or Italy.  So next we must plan.   I think the planning is half the fun, and waiting for the next trip is so much fun imagining what we will do once we are there.

Disney for Two

David and I just returned from Disney today, What a fun time.  Two and a half days alone with my husband, what a treat!

Yes, we were just in Disney in July, but that was with four kids, which had its drama and I was exhausted at the end of the trip.

Florida this October weekend was cooler, and actually invigorating.

We stayed at the time share – Summers Bay, which is a timeshare my husband has from way back.  We went down for an owners meeting, that turned out to be a sales pitch.  We did not let that stop our good time, and it was interesting to hear their offers.  They start with a deal for $11,600 upgrade, then only $8,000 for a lesser version, then $4000, then $3000.   I learned alot, so my time did not feel wasted, but don’t think I will be sitting thru one of those again soon.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful.  Sharing some pictures of us at Universal City Walk, we also enjoyed an afternoon at Disney Springs (used to be Downtown Disney).

Ok, so reviewing the images, I realize, we  saw the blue man group show, and then mostly ate.

We stopped at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal City Walk … they specialize in milkshakes, wow they looked amazing, the table behind us was a birthday party and they had one each.  We saw them making a potted chocolate cream, which was a pot of what looked like hot fudge – super decadent.  We had the chocolate bread, a peanut butter candy, baked apple macaroon, and a savory chili Brussels sprout dish to counter all the desserts.  I LOVED this place.  Steam punk meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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On Saturday we took a break from eating and cooled down in Disney Springs, Jock Lindsays Hanger Bar.  The cool headed monkey was so lite and refreshing, I want one right now.

 

We also had a quick snack at Universals City Walk – Camacho Cantina.  The corn pudding in the enchilada was so moist and delicious.   I was just starting to enjoy the mariachi band, when the finished up for the nite.

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The nite before we went to Joes Crab Shack and David ate all he could. 20171013_213207

We were back home Monday early and we really just love these little escapes.  I forget sometimes just how much I love being with David, and then I Also feel guilty for wanting him all to myself, he is also a wonderful Father and sharing him when were home is important to me, but damn I love all this alone time.

Next alone trip…. Chicago in November for RSNA – Radiological Society of North America.

What Does a Nuclear Physicist Do?

Most people when they find out what I do for a living, they stop talking to me, sometime they walk away.  For awhile there I stopped telling people what I did for a living, but after being shunned (but also made some of my best friends) at a pre-school meeting, I decided… I am who I am, if I am shunned or berated for being me, I will accept that.

So what do I do?   Let me give you a little past history of my career, I have been practicing 29 years this November 2017.

I’ll start with most physicist have multiple jobs, and most are introverts who have ADD and quite a few of us have type A personalities.  I like to keep busy, but not at the expense of my family.  That would mean for me for years when the kids were little, I often took my children along with me to work ALOT.    I can remember bringing my elementary school children with me to my hospital office, which was the size of 10 normal offices (it was also next to the morgue in the sub basement) and I had space to let them run.  I would tell them, if they played nice while I answered emails and filed away papers, I would take them for McDonald’s, which was a great bribe that worked.  They have sat under tables in the Operating room conference area while I spoke on surgical radiation safety.   I dragged them to nuclear offices and asked for them to sit quietly for 20 minutes in the empty because closed office reception area when they were as young as 10 and 12 years old, while I quickly worked and had a receptionist keep and eye on them.  I would tell them if mom could do two nuclear accounts today, we could go to the zoo afterward.  If mom could write one lecture this morning, we could go out to lunch.  If mom could just test one quick test on mammography machine after dinner and you guys could sit in the closed facilities break room, I would buy a video on the way home and we could all stay up late and watch it together.   Physicist often work before and after hours, or weekends when patients are not around, we are called hospital vampires for our slipping in and out and being unseen.

I have worked at two large hospitals in the Metro Detroit area as both a Diagnostic Nuclear Physicist and a Radiation Safety Officer.  These jobs allow flexible hours perfect for raising children and working the most during school hours, but they also often allowed me to type paperwork at home, often with the kids asleep.  I work for a consulting group, that only wanted me to work evenings and weekends, which was ideal.  I started performing my own consulting for small jobs, such as helping to clean up and close nuclear facilities, or write radiation safety education lecture materials for facilities, or performing nuclear audits.  I decided to partner with a friend and worked endless extremely early mornings, even on family vacations, writing lectures to start up my website on education for the required training of 80 hrs for all Cardiologists who want to open their own clinics, or practice Nuclear Cardiology.

This week for me was the end of a quarter, last week of September, which means all Nuclear sites I cover must have an audit completed.  I work hard to not cram them into the last month, but it is always a busy week.  I also performed a nuclear lecture on Radiation Hormesis (the theory that small amounts of radiation exposure are actually healthy for you) at the local chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.  I had to perform one digital mammography unit service call re-evaluation.  It is federal law that certain repairs performed on mammography have to have a physicist evaluation prior to human use, they are closed until that physics test is passed.  I performed a preparation and surgical procedure using Sir-Spheres, a liquid Yttrium 90 radionuclide used to treat liver cancer (these are long and exhaustive procedures, but the patients are last option of treatment stage, and I feel good to know this is life extending for them).  I visited a Nuclear Cat facility to start a re-calculation on reduced time of holding cats after an Iodine-131 thyroid treatment, this is a medical vet technology, but also performed often on humans as well.  I had my annual review with my hospital job, she said she thought it was unique I said in my comments about my job, that I love my job, which I do, I told her I was retiring in three years, and we laughed.  I performed multiple audits of my hospitals cancer treatment center, to audit the other physicists work with HDR (high dose rate- nuclear materials) cancer treatments to assure these physicists are performing their work with the highest standards.  I audit their work and I am audited by many different federal, state and insurance agencies to assure my work is at the highest standards.  I performed four lead room shielding evaluations, where you place a source of radiation Tc-99m in the center of a newly leaded x-ray room, and measure the radiation on the circumference of the room to prove there is not radiation exposure leaking out of the room, it should be a perfect lead box that is sealed from radiation leakage, so they can start using x-ray radiation in the room and keep people on the outside of the room safe.  I tested one new orthopedic office and three new CT room installs.   Whew!

I am so happy the week is over, and I get a rest week, although I don’t intend on resting too much, I am going to try and finish up outstanding work and send out a ton of emails tomorrow.

I’ll post another weeks work schedule in the future, sometimes I do really fun things.  More to share……Radiation symbols

Graduation!

The twins Graduated!  We had a big party and just finished up cleaning up the house – three months of prep (we even painted part of the house & re-did the kitchen – which should add to re-sale value and we get to enjoy it in the mean time).

My whole life I have always said if I could just raise these children to become happy, healthy and great members of the world, I would be happy.   I am one step closer. Whew!!! as all parents know, you start to think – this will never happen, the late night homework helper, drama filled situations, school events, vacations where no one is happy, messy everything, an ex-husband who argued every single step of the way with me, to the point I was the bad person of the family – another post for another day I suppose.   So glad I have David now to help with the support – we might not always agree, but we never never say it in front of the kids….team work to the end on the subject of kids.  Stand or fall, we do it together.

So now the girls are graduated and off to study graphic design at the local community college and then off to an art school to finish up a bachelors.  I could not be prouder of them.  How lucky am I to have two such wonderful daughters who are respectful, smart, beautiful and with the biggest kindest hearts and they are finally on the way to be the adults they want to be.

The bonus is – David and I are one step closer to our dream of retirement.  In fact we even had two whole days with no kids this past week.  We did not do much, but did sleep in, went out to breakfast, took naps, enjoyed the quiet (missed them a lot for sure).  We imagine this combined with travel as how our retirement will be – just enjoying life and each other.

Sandos Eco Resort, Cancun Mexico

We decided to start rating the locations we visit on our travels.  Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the best experience we could ever imagine.  The Sandos Eco Resort, in Cancun Mexico is a great family all inclusive.   We spent 7 days at this resort, and never ran out of things to do.   We are giving the resort an 7.5.

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Our favorite dining locations were the surf and turf, Los Lirios, with the best filet I can remember eating in a long time, and the potato soufflé was also very tasty.  The Japanese Teppanyaki (table top cooking style) Steakhouse, El Templo, was a fun nite, but you will need a +5day ahead reservation, so do that when you book your trip.  We also really loved the Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo De Brazil.  All of these are on site and included.  The two buffets, International and Italian, both were OK, but there was a large choice of food, and almost always open for a quick snack.   All of the dessert at the site we just above OK,  mostly dry cakes and the lower end of flavors.

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By far the best part of the resort, and the entire reason our daughter choose this specific location was – the animals on site.  This trip was for our twin daughter we are graduating high school, they wanted the beach, the Caribbean and site with lots of animals.  The Sandos.com website showed us quite a few animals and the location delivered.   There were rabbits, donkeys, dear, peacocks, sheep, pigs, monkeys, tapirs, coati, dogs and lots of stray iguanas and cats.  Animals were noted on signs as rescues and site animals are spayed or neutered and fed everyday, there areas were very clean and you could sign up to be an animal caretaker and feed them at lunch time.  There are signs not to feed the animals, but my daughters did feed them – a lot, and even though they look skinny they looked happy and would stop eating when full.

Baby Deer

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There was plenty to do, and ALOT of walking.  We were in the furthest location from the beach, our daily location of choice, so much walking I have the blisters to show it.   There are bicycles to borrow, but we never used them.  There are several pools, including an adult pool by our rooms, a mini water park with quite a few water slides and a big sized kids pool.  We spent most of our time at the beach which honestly it was way too rough to actually swim safely.  This for my husband was the biggest turn off of the resort – he loves the ocean and it was unsafe to swim.   We did really enjoyed the man made cenotes for swimming, these were cool, and it was hot.  There were fish and turtles and quite a bit of algae in these cenotes, so not for everyone, but we loved it.

The nite time shows were actually great.  The Sunday Fire show at the onsite Mayan ruins were just incredible.  We recommend you go to all of the variety of ancient Mayan culture shows.  There was also a Freddy Jackson Tribute show, a Disney Princess show and a super hero show at the Theater – which were cute, but don’t worry if you miss them, save your show time for the culture shows in our opinion.

Our rooms were very clean, and huge, and the best part, there was really cold air conditioning, which is important, because the days were SUPER hot and it was so nice to sleep in the cool.

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So, would we go back, yes.  But we are the type of family who likes to see what is next, so maybe after many other visits to many other places.  Next blog, pictures of the beauty of the resort.

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Cancun Mexico

Were on a Senior Trip for the girls in Cancun, Mexico!   I forget my regular life – my Metro Detroit life, where I get up at 4:45 am to make sure my husband has his lunch, tea, and breakfast when he heads off to work, I then crawl back into bed and talk to him on the phone for 30 minutes as he drives into work.  Back up at 6:15am to get ready for the day, make sure the kids are awake for school, I remind all three kids I love them and to kick the world’s butt as I drop them off.  I either work from home, or off to kick the world’s butt.  After the kids are home, I plan dinner, we eat and I continue to work until I get to sleep next to my husband.   He tickles me until I laugh so hard I beg him to stop, and we cuddle like two lost puppies until the next morning… 4:45am.

My husband has a saying I love: “I do not think we are better than anyone else, but I also don’t think anyone is better than us”.  So I know we are not the only ones who work hard and tirelessly, but what surprises me is how I forget how to relax.

But as soon as I walk in the huge Lobby of the Santos Carcacol Eco Resort, with its thatched roof and large hanging chandeliers the size of a car, the air is heavy with flowers and your handed an orange mango drink with tequila and I stand there with my mouth open looking around while we wait for check-in and I forget all about everything but the moment.  I have a whole entire week with my daughters and husband to enjoy them….. fun relaxation times to be posted soon.

Reykjavik, Iceland Trip

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Volcano Visit My favorite part of the trip, other than getting David to myself for fours days was the Golden Circle stop at the Volcano, Kerio.  It was POURING sleet and so windy I was cautious not to fall down into the volcano.   I am more of an inside type of girl, but I just loved this, I wish we could have walked down the stairs to the crater, but we only have a 15min window.  I read in the summer you can swim in this crater, and it looked so beautiful I pictured myself summer swimming even in this ice storm.

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We were just in Reykjavik, Iceland, enjoying our 4 day trip, I wrote a lot of this post from the airport awaiting our flight to JFK New York airport.

Since we had the hardest time figuring out how to pronounce Reykjavik, /ˈrā-kyə-ˌvik, -ˌvēk/  (Ray-clay-vick).  We heard about 4 different pronunciations prior to arriving but only one when there in Iceland.

There was a lot of expected and unexpected adventure.  The expected that came true:

  • It was raining, sleeting, snowing, overcast everyday.
  • The outside in January 2017 was as cold as in Detroit, MI.  30-40 degrees each day.
  • The seafood was very fresh and tasty. So we ate as much as possible.
  • There was so much to see and do the 4 days was not enough.  The Golden circle tour was overwhelming beautiful.
  • We loved every minute of it & would go again for longer, but after we travel many other places first.
  • Our tour group thru Gate One was Great, we heard from others they do a wonderful Peru trip as well.

The unexpected and what we saw:

  • The inside of all buildings were very warm/hot – this was due to the almost free geothermic (Volcanic) heat on the island.  We were told the average household could be heated and provided  as much hot water as they want for only $100 per month, so they crank the heat. So bring layers so you can take them off to prevent you from overheating inside.
  • Our dream trip to the Blue Lagoon was a fail, it was booked everyday we were there until after 7pm/dark (booking ahead would have been smart). So we didn’t give up and instead traveled  to the secret lagoon.  The secret lagoon, was much smaller with only about 25people visitors during our visit.  We booked  our tour for ~$90 US/person the night before in our hotel lobby, the next morning a van picked us up from our hotel and they drove thru sleet, 1hr 20mins to the lagoon, for a 2hr dip.  We loved this, and could have gone everyday, if it were closer.  The lagoon water was so hot near the edges it felt like we were starting to cook, but in the middle it was extremely relaxing.  We loved the apple and pear alcoholic beverages, we recommend buying these before changing.  David walked the pathway surrounding the lagoon, he said it was very slick so I stayed put.  We cannot compare this to the Blue Lagoon, but everyone in our Gate One travel group did say they thought it sounded better, and the Blue Lagoon was super touristy.

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  • While we did read the food was very expensive, it was still way over what we were expecting.  A small bag of chips from the local market was $5 US, a single soda was $5 US, a bowl of soup was $10 US, and  a sit down dinner anywhere with one alcoholic beverage each was at least $200 US.  Alcohol was about $7-22 US per drink, with most single drinks or a glass of house wine in the $11 US range. We wish we would have stopped at duty free and got a single bottle of liquor, and drank before we went out.  You can purchase an entire bottle at duty free for the price of a single drink in town.   We did pack snacks and ate them on the excursions, we were glad to have them.  We did have a Hot Dog House, plain hot dog for $4.70 US, which was extremely tasty.

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  • We stayed at Hotel Klettur in downtown.  It was clean, respectful, nice, with small minimal rooms – but who cared, we were out all day, and slept at night.  They had all the amenities we needed and a free breakfast buffet.  It did take us about 10mins to figure out how to turn work the room lights.  Turns out you have stick you room key (or other ccard) in the slot next to the door above the light switch.  Also if you take this out when you leave, your left behind electronics will not charge.

  • We did see the Northern lights, but they were not spectacular, in fact it just looked like a green smoke cloud and we only saw them for maybe 1-5minutes.  We were told when booking the package that you might not see the Northern lights so we felt lucky to get one good photo below.  We drove from site to site for over 5 hrs at this first site below, we visited a church (in the pouring rain of course), and I took these pictures, because we saw no northern lights at this location, but thought it was pretty.

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    • NOTE***  You will never get a picture of the northern lights with your cell phone, you need a higher end camera with a 30second time set, and a stand.  Your in a field in the dark, there will be no where to prop your camera, you need the stand.


We also visited the Hallgrímskirkja  a Lutheran parish and largest church on the hill in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674).   My boss said I had to go, because he had been to Iceland twice and both times it was under construction and he could not see it – it was part of our Gate One downtown tour, but I took these pictures for my boss, Ray Carlson.   It reminded me of a smaller version of Gaudi’s church in Barcelona, Spain – BUT, all while no color.

Icelandic Horse. Short – Stout – Hardy Breeds – But they would have to be in this weather.
  • We visited an Icelandic Horse Farm Tour. It had a short presentation with time to pet the horses.  I really enjoyed this, especially since it was POURING sleet outside, and we were inside. We learned the Vikings brought over the best horses they had and to this day any new horses are forbidden to be imported to Iceland to preserve the purity of this breed.   David thought it was OK, he was more interested in the landscape viewing, which was still to come.
Icelandic Horses roam free all year, heading to the Mountains in the Spring and returning back to the plains in the Fall.

Because I could go on for more than any one person would want to read.  I included a few more pictures with captions to explain the beauty and awesome of Iceland.  So we would recommend you visiting for sure.  I did want to note, to visit most of the best of nature – you will have to first take a long bus ride, then walk – up hills, down stairs, often longer distances and in the extreme Iceland weather.  Many of our tour group decided to skip most of the tour – they were not interested in walking, or leaving the vehicle, for anything other than a quick looksee, then straight to the food area of the stop.  Therefore I recommend you go to Iceland before you cannot, why fly so far for a bus ride to a periphery view.   

Hot Springs
Driving to Horse farm view. – Pretty much most of the island view, notice no trees.
Every view in Iceland, notice the blur of the sleet hitting us from every direction.
Hot Springs – we were warned not to step to close, as these are severe burn hazards.
Bay in Town, with mountain view.
View at the top of the continental divide walk.

Reykjavik, Iceland Trip

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We were just in Reykjavik, Iceland, enjoying our 4 day trip, I wrote a lot of this post from the airport awaiting our flight to JFK New York airport.

Since we had the hardest time figuring out how to pronounce Reykjavik, /ˈrā-kyə-ˌvik, -ˌvēk/  (Ray-clay-vick).  We heard about 4 different pronunciations prior to arriving but only one when there in Iceland.

There was a lot of expected and unexpected adventure.  The expected that came true:

  • It was raining, sleeting, snowing, overcast everyday.
  • The outside in January 2017 was as cold as in Detroit, MI.  30-40degrees each day.
  • The seafood was very fresh and tasty. So we ate as much as possible.
  • There was so much to see and do the 4 days was not enough.  The Golden circle tour was overwhelming beautiful.
  • We loved every minute of it & would go again for longer, but after we travel many other places first.
  • Our tour group thru Gate One was Great, we heard from others they do a wonderful Peru trip as well.

The unexpected and what we saw:

  • The inside of all buildings were very warm/hot – this was due to the almost free geothermic (Volcanic) heat on the island.  We were told the average household could be heated and provided  as much hot water as they want for only $100 per month, so they crank the heat. So bring layers so you can take them off to prevent you from overheating inside.
  • Our dream trip to the Blue Lagoon was a fail, it was booked everyday we were there until after 7pm/dark (booking ahead would have been smart). So we didn’t give up and instead traveled  to the secret lagoon.  The secret lagoon, was much smaller with only about 25people visitors during our visit.  We booked  our tour for ~$90 US/person the night before in our hotel lobby, the next morning a van picked us up from our hotel and they drove thru sleet, 1hr 20mins to the lagoon, for a 2hr dip.  We loved this, and could have gone everyday, if it were closer.  The lagoon water was so hot near the edges it felt like we were starting to cook, but in the middle it was extremely relaxing.  We loved the apple and pear alcoholic beverages, we recommend buying these before changing.  David walked the pathway surrounding the lagoon, he said it was very slick so I stayed put.  We cannot compare this to the Blue Lagoon, but everyone in our Gate One travel group did say they thought it sounded better, and the Blue Lagoon was super touristy.

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The Secret Lagoon in Hvammsvegur – 845 Flúðir

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The Secret Lagoon, the brochure said: Secret Lagoon natural hot springs are located in the small village called Fludir and are in the Golden Circle area. We have kept it natural and unique for our guests so they can get the true Icelandic feeling. The pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling.

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We took our phone in the lagoon and took a few pictures

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Around the Secret Lagoon you find several hot spots.A walking path is built for our guests so they can have a closer look at the boiling, spouting hot springs

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Notice the pathway around the lagoon, slippery when wet (always wet)

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They definetly promote drinking in the springs.

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+4% alcohol apple drink

  • While we did read the food was very expensive, it was still way over what we were expecting.  A small bag of chips from the local market was $5 US, a single soda was $5 US, a bowl of soup was $10 US, and  a sit down dinner anywhere with one alcoholic beverage each was at least $200 US.  Alcohol was about $7-22 US per drink, with most single drinks or a glass of house wine in the $11 US range. We wish we would have stopped at duty free and got a single bottle of liquor, and drank before we went out.  You can purchase an entire bottle at duty free for the price of a single drink in town.   We did pack snacks and ate them on the excursions, we were glad to have them.  We did have a Hot Dog House, plain hot dog for $4.70 US, which was extremely tasty.

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Seabaron Fish Store. A very little dive restaurant downtown Reykjavik. The food was so tasty, you look at the food in the cooler, and order. I messed up and ordered WAY too much, I thought the Loster was with fish meat also, but it was Lobster soup with a plate. Also the place while had great food, looked like someone house not an eatery. We sat at long skinny table right next to others

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Kabob Dinner at the SeaBaron

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Lobster Bisque, so good.

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Lunch at the Geyser Restaurant,

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We had dinner here, but had to make reservations to get in the night before. This place had a 3 course meal for ~$

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Fish Stew at Old Iceland Restaurant. Chunks of fish, white wine, a so creamy shellfish soup. This was so warming and tasty. Kr 2890 in Icelandic prices ~ $27US.

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Dessert at the Iceland House, A brownie sundae, with fresh fruit, and some delicous brown butter sauce

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Hot Dog House $4.70US dog

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We were hungry and A steakhouse sounded good at the Vinhushen Steakhouse, downtown Reykjavik. A meal of Mink Whale with gravy that was really good. The Mink whale $25US tasted like a tough steak. Glad I tried it., but dont need to eat it again. David had horse $30US, which tasted like tasty steak.

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Drinks – $11 US for a wine, $5 US for a bottle of pepsi. Expensive, but common prices

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The closest meal to our Hotel Klettur. Easy walking distance tasty food.

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At Jorgensen Kitchen and Bar, David had Cod with veggies. He loved it and not just because we were hungry after our 5hr flight and 30min travel to downtown.

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Lunch at Jorgensen Kitchen & Bar, this meal along with Davids bowlof cod and & veggies was $50.00 US, no drinks – this is typical prices for Reykjavik

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While we didnt have a meal or drink at the Drunk Rabbit, it looked like a great fun place to visit.

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We had a drink of blueberry liquor at this site, it was noted in the local flyer as the locals place. We tried both types of blueberry liquor, to me the tasted the same. One was $11US , one was $22US. David liked the cheaper version.

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Did you know Chuck Norris when he enters a room, he doesn’t turn on the lights, he turns off the dark!

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A candy store downtown

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We didnt eat here, but we did see quite a few Thai and Chinese food eateries. We figured lets eat Icelandic while in Iceland

  • We stayed at Hotel Klettur in downtown.  It was clean, respectful, nice, with small minimal rooms – but who cared, we were out all day, and slept at night.  They had all the amenities we needed and a free breakfast buffet.  It did take us about 10mins to figure out how to turn work the room lights.  Turns out you have stick you room key (or other ccard) in the slot next to the door above the light switch.  Also if you take this out when you leave, your left behind electronics will not charge.

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  • We did see the Northern lights, but they were not spectacular, in fact it just looked like a green smoke cloud and we only saw them for maybe 1-5minutes.  We were told when booking the package that you might not see the Northern lights so we felt lucky to get one good photo below.  We drove from site to site for over 5 hrs at this first site below, we visited a church (in the pouring rain of course), and I took these pictures, because we saw no northern lights at this location, but thought it was pretty.

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  • NOTE***  You will never get a picture of the northern lights with your cell phone, you need a higher end camera with a 30second time set, and a stand.  Your in a field in the dark, there will be no where to prop your camera, you need the stand.
  • We visited an Icelandic Horse Farm Tour. It had a short presentation with time to pet the horses.  I really enjoyed this, especially since it was POURING sleet outside, and we were inside. We learned the Vikings brought over the best horses they had and to this day any new horses are forbidden to be imported to Iceland to preserve the purity of this breed.   David thought it was OK, he was more interested in the landscape viewing, which was still to come.

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We also visited the Hallgrímskirkja  a Lutheran parish and largest church on the hill in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674).   My boss said I had to go, because he had been to Iceland twice and both times it was under construction and he could not see it – it was part of our Gate One downtown tour, but I took these pictures for my boss, Ray Carlson.   It reminded me of a smaller version of Gaudi’s church in Barcelona, Spain – BUT, all while no color.

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My favorite part of the trip, other than getting David to myself for fours days was the Golden Circle stop at the Volcano, Kerio.  It was POURING sleet and so windy I was cautious not to fall down into the volcano.   I am more of an inside type of girl, but I just loved this, I wish we could have walked down the stairs to the crater, but we only have a 15min window.  I read in the summer you can swim in this crater, and it looked so beautiful I pictured myself summer swimming even in this ice storm.

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Because I could go on for more than any one person would want to read.  I included a few more pictures with captions to explain the beauty and awesome of Iceland.  So we would recommend you visiting for sure.  I did want to note, to visit most of the best of nature – you will have to first take a long bus ride, then walk – up hills, down stairs, often longer distances and in the extreme Iceland weather.  Many of our tour group decided to skip most of the tour – they were not interested in walking, or leaving the vehicle, for anything other than a quick looksee, then straight to the food area of the stop.  Therefore I recommend you go to Iceland before you cannot, why fly so far for a bus ride to a periphery view.    Another reason we are sure 52years old is our goal to retire.

 

Next Travel – David’s close friend is getting married in India in March, still not sure of those details, but we are going – that should be fun.  Then spring break with our 20 year old twins in Cancun Mexico at an Eco friendly resort – Sandos Caracol Eco Resort