Lawry’s Steak House, Chicago Illinois

We recently had dinner with friends and co workers at Lawry’s Steak House in Chicago Illinois, see previous post for more of this dinner site. We go every year to Chicago for RSNA, the Radiological Society of North America. This is our Dinner spot. Sharing a few pictures of the beautiful site! It is filled with history and we love it.

Dinner live carols! Check us all out video taping, everyone!

Me and my Boss Ray enjoying a wonderful meal together!

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!

Chihuly Glass Art Garden, Seattle Washington

I first heard of Chihuly, when visiting Kalamazoo, MI and they had a show of his art at the local Glass art shop. One of the reasons I starting working in Radiology was the cool way you could look thru the film – it was translucent and how every image was different. I have now been working over 30 years in Radiology and film no longer exists, but I still love looking at the images on the monitor. I feel drawn in to Chihuly glass in the same way I do when I was first attracted to Radiology imaging, both have a depth and detail and I am fascinated. These pieces are huge in scale, which makes it fun like a giant animal or sea creature.

Neon Yellow Blown Glass next to the space needle nestled in a black grass garden.

How amazing!

I loved this place, David, he was more interested in checking out the bees in the garden and testing his theories of electric charge and bees on flowers. Oh well, we both had fun!

Space Needle – Seattle, Wa

Second on our list while in Seattle, Wa for one day on our way to Alaska is the Space Needle. We honestly do not know much about the space needle, except it is tall and cool and we want to check it out. I did just learn today that the space needle was built in 1961 for the world’s fair. The glass floor is new from a recent renovation – which is good, because it turns out the glass floor is our favorite part.

Walking up to the Space Needle after a quick Lyft ride over.
We bought our tickets – and did not realize thought we would not have enough time to make it over to Chihuly gardens, and turns out the gardens are right next door, so missed out on the shared deal you can buy as we purchased these tickets at the base of the space needle.
TIP: Really look into a joint deal on travel sites, prior to dismissing the option.

Video (from the top) of the elevator we just rode up to the top of the space needle.

Picture from the top and the glass bottom, people love to lay on the floor and snap a picture of the suspended look. It is for sure an uneasy feeling walking over the glass portion for the first time.

David having fun with the glass bottom from the top of the space needle.

You can buy at drink of wine or beer or a soda/water at the top or a light snack meal. We did not, but instead just reviewed the views from the top.

Wait a minute: “This will be to Seattle what the Eiffel tower is to Paris” – then we have back to back seen Both the Seattle and Paris towers… this is us in June. (wait it was late July, time sure does work weird when your on vacation).

https://daveandlaurasdream.com/2019/07/10/eiffel-tower/

Late Nite Pokemon MagicKarp snack in Tokyo

Late Night snacking – we come across this pokemon Magic Karp snack made of a warm cake filled with pudding (choices are chocolate or vanilla) we buy one of each and they are incredible. Just perfect for a Tokyo Late night snack.

210 yen or approximately $2.10. A deal for this warm delicious treat.

Nakamise Shopping Street, Sensoji Temple – Asakusa, Tokyo Japan

Our family left the Confucious Temple and walked toward our goal of Nakamise Shopping street and Sensoji Temple. We heard this was a great tourist location, and we are tourists and want to shop.

Check out the serious number of little stores here – like a tourist shopping paradise!
We buy a lot of little gifts.
High five a statue, and head on over to the temple
Katrina, David and Sabrina posing in front of the Sensoji Temple Entrance.
David and Garion in front of the temple entrance

Lets go In!

Sometimes I stand in awe – thinking how lucky I am. During this trip it is probably my 100th time of just thinking how Blessed and lucky I am to be here with my family. Even when looking at these crazy demons in a temple. Inside the temple it is even more interesting things. I buy a health charm for my mom and say a quick prayer of safety and health for everyone in my family and the world and we walk around the grounds next. We see a Prayer/Fortune area, will check that out in the next post.

Samurai Museum – Tokyo Japan

David at the Samurai Museum, Tokyo Japan

The one thing David really wanted to see in Tokyo was a Samurai show or a Samurai Museum. We tracked it down on Trip Advisor, it is in the same area as the Robot Café. We did want to see the Robot Café it was on our list but changed our mind after reading the Trip Advisor reviews and realizing how much it cost – $64.00 after a 60% discount coupon that you have to wait 24hours to collect. We opted out. We walked over to the Samurai Museum and it was a short 15min wait until the next tour and show, so for $16.94 we bought a ticket on Trip Advisor, it was $19.00 at the site, and waited while shopping the gift shop.

David loved this one the most, he even bought a mini replica of this samurai outfit.

Honestly, this was a wonderful tour, we learned ALOT, and it was interesting all the way thru – even to my ADHD kids, and we even got to watch a samurai & ninja show and then ask questions at the end. I really enjoyed this and I did not think I was going to.

We really enjoyed this combination history lesson, museum quality piece and stories that went with each piece in a tour, then the Show and Dress up time. I recommend this stop if you visit Tokyo.
These two hams loved playing samurai and dress up!

Disney Tokyo

This is what I have been waiting for the Entire Trip, the one thing I REALLY wanted to do in Tokyo – Go to Tokyo Disney. I actually want to go to every Disney Park in the world, so all that is left is the waterparks in Florida and Shanghai and China Disney parks. I researched that today is a great day to go as the Tokyo Disney crowd calendar says it is moderate, which is the lowest crowds at the park the entire time we will be there – Never go during high, because it turns out it was still pretty darn busy there.

TIP: Use a Disney Crowd Calendar – just do a quick web search on this and it is easy to figure from there.

Disney Sea Map
The map including rides and details of Disney Sea, Tokyo
Entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea – Wide shot

We take a train about 45mins from our Airbnb to the entrance to Disney Tokyo, and wanted to visit both Disney Sea and the Disneyland Parks, there are two Parks. But you cannot swap between – no Park Hopper options. No using the tickets we have from the Florida park you have to buy new ones. A one day price one park (we decided on The Seas based upon previous online research) is 7400 yen or $74.00, in comparison todays price for Disney World is $109.00 for one park one day.

The best price deals though were inside. Food and snacks in comparison to Disney World are extremely well priced you can buy an ice cream large for $3.00, this frozen treat is made of a frozen jello on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle and rice crisps sprinkled on top with a creamier than you get in the US style frozen custard on top – it was 550yen or $5.50, Bargain in Disney!

You can buy a quality tasty chicken curry bun sandwich for $5.00, and it is cute! More on food in a future post.

View from when you walk in
View of Arabian Coast
The boys in front of Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Crystal Skull Ride

Check out my two bearded guys faces on the screen – nothing just pan face nothing, lol!

This is a YouTube Video of the Indiana Jones Adventure Tokyo ride for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OEkTOubp8g

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!

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.

Arc De Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile or Triumphal Arch of the Star in Paris, France. It is a monument to the fallen solders of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The name of all French Victories and general are inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces.

You can walk under the circle intersection of twelve roads and pop out in the center – and walk around checking out the twelve roads surrounding – you can take the elevator up to the top – but the line was HUGE – or you can book this in advance and skip the line – remember the tip of doing these at least 30 days in advance.

Hop on Hop Off Bus – Paris

Hop on Hop off bus

On the Hop On Hop Off Bus – Paris

You see them all over the place in the major tourist towns – Hop On, Hop Off Buses.  We love them.  This is probably our sixth time using a Hop on Hop off, but we have no favorite.

Tip:  Use the HopOn HopOff Bus service at the time and place you are in.

Tip:  Buy your tickets online (best your phone in hand) – it is always saves money and time.

We have checked into it from every way, waiting in line at the location, buying from the bus driver, buying online – the cheapest and quickest way is buying right off your phone.

We did learn something new this trip – buy the service you are standing in front of.  We bought one we saw driving by – but then could not figure out where the stop was – looking at a map on a website of stops and trying to find it was – ARGH!  After a 30 minute lesson of figuring out a stop and standing at several other service stops that we did not buy (3 services with three different stops location made a difficult morning for us).  Finally after a lot of back and forth and we were on our way.  Even with the bus service app downloaded we could not find the stop quickly.  Follow a bus, find the stop, buy the tickets.

TIP:  Get to the stop, buy your bus passes for the service at the stop – even if you miss that bus, another will be back shortly.  Trying to figure out even on a map from your phone exactly where a stop is at is much harder than you might think.  Follow a bus, Find a stop, then buy the tickets. 

Tip:  Sign up for PayPal prior to your trip, link it to a credit card – this will making buying things online so much quicker, and you won’t have to put in a credit card while standing on a street corner. Plus your safe if your account is compromised.

Notre Dame – still standing just like us!

Notre Dame is still standing – battered and in renovation, but she is still standing despite what we all thought was the end of her and the fire that was so devastating only just 2 months ago.

This month David and I will be married 3 years and together 5 years. We are winning against the odds of a second marriage succeeding. Our marriage and my life is testament that regardless of your current situation, you can fight hard, and win – in a big way. Our children are thriving and growing up surrounding by love and we are a family. Six years ago, my life was so different. I was in the middle of a divorce and thinking my life was over, I was fighting for my health, my finances, and my children. I was devastated and burnt down to my core. At the time I could have never predicted that point of my life was just the beginning of things to come. I still have to pinch myself to believe this is my life. I feel so blessed and grateful, it can be overwhelming.

Seeing the Grand Dame was also a memory of 2008, and my last visit to Paris with my parents and children. When we were there, we went to Palm Sunday Mass, which was crazy busy with mass mobs of people – in fact we were separated by the crushing crowds. I was just laughing about that with my parents last night – what wonderful memories of this trip, and the memories are still strong.  

Six years from now, I would love to visit Notre Dame and see her completely re-built, toast her and myself for both over coming against the odds.

Armada Fair

We visit the Armada Fair annually, we look forward to the atmosphere the animals, the food, the exhibits.  So much fun.  Check out these fun pictures!

Bunnies!

PIGGIES!!

Sheep!!!

20180813_192524

FAMILY!!!!!

Chickens!

 

20180813_195608

 

So many more fun things at the Fair!  It runs thru today, so if you want to go, plan on it for next year

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.

20180417_072621

20180417_072755

A few more interesting pictures to share:

20180417_072058

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

20180417_072243

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!

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

20171208_101301[1]

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.

HooverDam1 2017

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.

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.

2017101495141433

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.

20171015_210748

 

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.

Date night Back to the Future

We had a great date night at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s (DSO) Back to the Future Movie play along nite.  We first ate dinner at Hop Cat a cute restaurant about four blocks from the DSO, which was a fine walk during the day, but at night… I was glad David was there with me.  I can not believe I used to walk thru Detroit at night after grad school at Wayne State University by myself at 11pm, 1 block only, but crazy I did that back in the 1990’s.

We shared a plate of Vladimir Poutine Crack Fries, there was chili gravy, Peruogi and well the kitchen sink on those.  I had a salad to counter the fries, David had a Bar Zee Hamburger.  We could not finish it, so took most of it home for lunch the next day.  I would go back for sure, but I also saw a restaurant I saw on one of those competition cooking shows I watch – Rock City (next visit).

We really enjoyed the show, I believe it was a one day event, but they do have a Home Alone show coming up for Christmas.

I still really enjoy my husband, he is my best friend and marriage and this partnership is just like I always imagined marriage would be like, but never experienced until I met David.

 

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.