Happy Labor Day

We had two parties this weekend, first a dinner for my moms birthday 85years old, and then an ice cream party yesterday for their 64th Wedding anniversary. Both celebrations were September 3rd, but thought why not celebrate twice on two days, twice the fun! So we did, both September 3rd, and September 6th. More to enjoy. Love my family!!!

My parents getting ready to enjoy a steak dinner for the first party, we also had lemon shrimp pasta with capers, and vanilla cupcakes with a light fluffy cream frosting for dessert.

Garion was enjoying 2nd part with the dessert and ice cream bar (6 types of ice cream), with some small appetizers of butter and radishes, spaghetti, a cheese platter, chips and dips, and salami with cheese and pickles.

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.

Day at the Detroit Zoo

We took the girls to the Detroit Zoo today. When they were younger, this was their favorite day. They still loved it. We have not been in two years and we see a lot of changes, including the tiger exhibit.

This lemur was just hanging out
They had the zoo decorated for Halloween, this exhibit said elusive mermaid fish.
Halloween Stay Puft decoration at the alligator exhibit.
The butterfly cocoons ready to hatch and be let out into the butterfly house.

Butterfly house at the Detroit Zoo.

Since our daughters are in college now, we know we get less and less of these fun days with them, so just enjoying this time together.

From Tokyo to Seattle, Washington

This trip is just David and myself, our kids are back at home safe and sound. We flew to Seattle to travel to Alaska, but first stopped in Seattle for the beginning of our travels.

David and I have never been to Seattle, so we researched as we always do a TripAdvisor search, a WordPress search for blogs on the area and last – when we arrive, we ask as many locals about everything fun to do within a short period. We narrowed down our less than 24 hours in the area to a visit to:

1. Pikes Place Market

2. Space Needle

3. Chihuly Gardens

Straight off the plane, we head to our hotel – Seattle hotels are expensive ($230-300/nite) down town, but since we only have one day, we want to be where the action is and stay at the Motif Hotel (just purchased by Hyatt this very week). It is a clean and cool hotel. In fact the entire ride from the airport over in our Lyft, the town looks young and hip – we see many people walking around with dogs and lots of public art. Our first thought is – this town might be too cool for us – lol, so we will soak in the youth and try and learn a new trick or two.

Our view of Seattle coming in from the airport. We head straight from the hotel with an early check in to Pikes Market.

Pikes Public Market is a huge fish, art, collectibles, dining & farmers market – where you walk for what feels like miles up and down and lengths, both inside and outside. It is a wonderful sunny day – warm and perfect for walking. We are only 0.6 miles to the market from our hotel. As we approach the market we realize it is busy, really busy – but we love these types of out door/indoor markets. The first thing we see is….

There are flowers – huge long stalls of flowers. I want to buy some, the flowers are fresh and different from anything I have seen, and really well priced, but we are only in town for one day, so no flowers for us.

Walking around Pikes Place Market.

We buy a cup of hard pressed apple cider at a vendor. Then a BBQ Pork bun and pork meat stick at Mee-sum pastry – the lines were long at Mee-Sum, so that had to mean it was a good place, and it was the bun was fluffy and the BBQ pork stick was perfect.

We looked at so much – I will add in more pictures here as soon as David gets his together, we are in transit today so posting while moving can be hard, but nice to remember while still fresh.

The Best Fortune at Sensoji Temple, AsaKusa Japan

There was a Fortune area in front of the temple, and for $1.00, you can pick a chop stick out of a box, track the symbol on the stick to a box, and take out your fortune.

Dave gets a Bad Fortune!

Oh no! So you take your bad fortune and wrap it up tie it to a metal rod, where they will burn it later.

I also got a bad fortune.
Looking for the box that matches the stick symbol.
But guess who got a good fortune!
Katrina, she got a good fortune! Actually the BEST Fortune! All the rest of us fated a bad fortune. Sabrina wants me to point out, she did not get a fortune.

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.

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!

Train to Toyko from the Airport

Ok, lets head to Tokyo!
Pasmo Card – Best travel plans! – You have to pick up one of these in the train station, it cost 5000yen, or $5 to get one (you get your money back at the end if you ask for it – bargain). Then put money on the card, this is actually very easy, click on the English version of the card machine and just like using a simple ATM back at home, there are multiple YouTube Videos on how this works, but it is easy enough to figure out as long as you know you will need it. We put on $100 for each card and made our way to the AIRBNB.

Tip: You really have to use the subway and train in the Tokyo, so figure it out prior to getting there and the rest you can solve when your there as it is easier than you might fear.

Tip: The PASMO Card and whatever you put on it can be refunded, just ask when you return to the airport prior to leaving the train station and get all your money back.

So, now we have to figure out how to get to our AIRBNB

So when we were on our honeymoon we figured out you can go ANYWHERE with Google maps, as long as you have internet and we picked up our router, so we were good. We have the address we just follow Google Maps, and it looks something like this – EASY.

Notice you will loose signal a lot, but find your way, then keep following the steps, do not close the ap, or you will have to find it again. We are on AirPlane mode – you can see that above, but still using our portable internet router.
Look at the top, Walk 8 mins to the KO pink station….
There is always someone around – ok, they probably can not speak English, but they might know a word or two. Plus they had a universal translator when my card would not work.

We Arrive In Tokyo!

A Twelve and a Half hour flight, over Russia to Tokyo. Low priced and tight seats, argh, but we are here. It takes about 1 hour to get off this flight and thru security, collect our luggage, pick up our phone router, so we can have internet and leave our phones on airplane mode, then figure out how to get to the train. Were off!

Were Here

Oh no, we have about 4 hours to check into our Airbnb, but not enough time to visit Disney Tokyo like I thought we might, and we have all this luggage and so we decide to check in our luggage at the airport holding area – it cost 1000Yen, or $10 to store three pieces for 4 hours and we hit the local mall.

Narita Airport Welcome!
Bus stop to the Local mall from the Airport – spend our time seeing something while waiting to check in our AIRBNB.
Busses in Tokyo Run EXACTLY on time, NEVER late – Notice the English

While we figure out what is going on, a local TV Station interviews us on why would you vacation in Japan! Super cute – I hope to find that one day. We buy a bus ticket to the local mall – and check out this plastic food that helps us figure out what to eat.

We might not know what were eating, but we can get an idea from the plastic examples of the food. Notice the English. The pictures match the food pretty closely – and you can kind of figure, that meat looks like pork.

So we choose a place to eat- the girls want Italian – yep first meal is Italian in Tokyo!

The pictures and some English on many menus, make things easier. A Set is a complete meal, so you order just the food, or if you want a set, that would include a drink and some kind of side. Prices are reasonable, the girls ate a Pizza Margarita at the Italian Mall with a Salad and Soda, they shared and the entire price was 1150yen, or $11.50 – very reasonable, and different than what we were told prices would be – we were told to expect this meal to cost about $25.00 – Glad it was cheaper!

Grocery Store Fish Market in the Mall. So many choices I am overwhelmed

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.

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!

Epic Adventure Before it begins

Epic Adventure – Before it Begins

Our family trip to Paris, France – Tokyo, Japan – Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The Airbnb’s are booked.  In Paris we will stay at:

In Tokyo we will stay at:

Let us compare afterward – what we booked and what we got.  So this is the before, same post after the trip with the details of each location.

We have the exchanged moneys, we used a credit union, which had no fees according to my husband and his mother – Wings Credit Union.  Next time we exchange I will for sure ask a lot of questions on this no fee, same exchange to assure this is true, as I want to report back to each of you.  It seems too good to be true, as the airport charges the best fees I have found, and my current bank has large fees associated with foreign money exchanges. 

Tip:  Check with a Credit Union or a friend who could exchange $ for you at a credit union for great foreign money exchange fees.

We have the credit cards – we are bringing two, one each with no foreign exchange fees (this could cost you upwards of 10% per transactions, so very important to have this in place). 

Tip:  ALWAYS bring two credit cards when traveling – as I will read about in a future post, if one is compromised you will have a back-up.

We have our luggage picked out, our three largest suitcases, with another in each (for bringing home gifts).  We are traveling with three of our five children and sometimes we question why we would ever do that, but I already know the answer, I love them unconditionally and cannot wait for this Epic Family Adventure.

Flying out of Toronto Airport on Air France.

Black Sand Beach – Iceland

It is cold (32-40 degree F) and rainy and icy and snowy in Iceland, mostly overcast, EVERY DAY. BUT it is incredible and If you have a good coat and weather proof gear, your in for a treat. Dress in layers, because inside buildings are kept really warm. Day trip to the Famous Black Sand Beach in Iceland.

Beekeeping Day

My husband is a beekeeper, its alot of work, for an entire year.  This year we had four hives, but only two produced honey and those two will probably die over the winter, they are week already so the odds are against them.

My husband wants to stop, I’m gonna try and convince him to continue. I’m allergic to bees but I’ll start helping them if you wear a bee suit they can’t get you any how. And I’ll buy an EpiPen be ready just in case.

I like to keep the hives for the honey but I also do it for the passion of my husband and for the environment I feel like we’re really helping out this way.

It would be great if I could get everybody to convince my husband to be keeping his worth it just right in give him some positive support.

I’ll post more on beekeeping later this week

 

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!!!

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FAMILY!!!!!

Chickens!

 

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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.

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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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Cars of Cuba

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20180409_16195920180409_16183320180409_16175520180409_16173320180409_100935Cigars, Castro, Rum, Heat, Colorful Buildings and Cars from the 1940s and 1950s are the things we think about when we think – Cuba.  This post is about the cars of Cuba!

While I know practically nothing about classic cars.  I do know these are beautiful and I love the vibrant colors.   I could look at these all day long.  Havana is a moving car museum and makes all those fields I have walked thru looking at sitting classic cars seem like a museum of the dead.  Havana is a living moving classic car show.

These are a source of pride to the Cubans.  These classic automobiles are held together with bubble gum and blender motors (a quote from our tour guide).  He said Cubans have suffered and had so little, due to the 1961 US Embargo, for so long – but they make due, they fix and they mend, and they preserve regardless of the limits that are set on them  – and that makes they proud not angry.  A great lessen in life.

 

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These mini cabs are so adorable.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.