Marine City, MI Date Night with David

While we cannot travel, we still can enjoy each other and date each other, so tried a new place, the Marine City Fish Company. We were told, get a reservation, but we did not need one at 4:30pm on a Friday, the only time they told us they had one, it was fine, we are dieting and starving, so eating early sounded great to us. I would recommend a reservation after 5:30pm for sure. The weather was PERFECT for walking around town afterward.

Beautiful night to walk around and enjoy the fall weather!
David told me how one time many years ago he went scuba diving at this exact spot, that was BL – Before Laura time.
We shared the scallops and they were delicious
I also ordered a salad, but couldn’t finish it, so lunch on Saturday.
Really cute decor.
Fun Fall date nite in Marine City, MI
I wanted a drink, but was the designated driver, I would have ordered a Coho Cosmo – next time.

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.

Bridgetown, Barbados – Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise

We are back for awhile now, but posting on our Jolly Roger Cruise. This was so fun – we would both take this cruise again in a heart beat. We were picked up at the cruise ship dock, we took a short ride to the boat, where we had the chance to buy a lunch – either buffet or hamburger – we just ate breakfast, so shared a $5 hamburger. Good thing, because the rum punch on this cruise was triple charged and we needed the lunch. Rum was free.

First we snorkeled and saw baby sea turtles, and a sunken ship – wish we had more time here, but time flies by when your having fun. Wish we had some pictures to share of the baby sea turtles, but hard to carry a phone underwater.

Then we headed about 30 minutes away and they pulled out a plank, a pirates plank and we all jumped off, then a rope swing.

Bacardi Tour, Puerto Rico

What should we do other than eat, swim, sleep in late, enjoy each other, and hang out on a Beach…. we decided to Tour the Bacardi Distillery. We Uber it over… and David says as we pull into the Bacardi complex, they should name a building after you. I do love Bacardi Silver Rum!

The Sunrise, a sweet orange tropical drink we could purchase upon arrival.

We decided a history tour of the distillery, a mixology course on three infamous Bacardi drinks. All super delicious and what a fun experience, we were laughing thru the entire mixology course. We are sharing a few pictures of our time here. More to be added as soon.

Coins we were given to purchase one drink upon arrival, we both choose the sunrise drink. Orange, Lime, Grendine, Rum – Delicious!
My finished product of a Bacardi Mojito at our Mixology course.

More pictures to add this afternoon, awaiting David’s photos to add, and lets face it, his are superior to mine.

Happy New Year from our family!

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

Lobby at the FireKeepers Hotel – 7 pillars of the Tribe Battle Ck, MI

The Lobby at the FireKeepers hotel is a Huge entrance with a light up tower at the center, and seven pillars of the Tribe and humanity surrounding it.

– Humility, Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Truth, Honesty. Love is my favorite. David’s favorite is Bravery.

Love the local Indian tribe history and will be sharing a book I purchased on the history of the Casino Indian Tribe the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi in the gift shop as soon as I am done reading it. You can read more on the Hotel History at this link: https://firekeeperscasino.com/about/our-story/

Huge center tower
1sec video of the light tower

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.

Chateau d’If – Count of Monte Cristo – Marseille France

David and I have both been working so hard over the last two week, and trying to catch up at work from all our summer travels. All this hard work has us reflecting on our past travel and working hard toward our current travels.

We are sharing a previous trip we took a few years back to Marseille, France and Chateau d’If. David insisted we go to the prison where the Count of Monte-Cristo (a mythical book published in 1844) was based. David loves the book of the man, Edmond Dantes, who makes a wonderful comeback from prison to a Count with revenge. David loved the book so much he insisted I watch the movie together prior to our trip, and I was impressed as well.

We purchase our tickets and take the taxi boat over to the island, it is a crystal aquamarine blue and green Mediterranean sea, contrasted by a harsh rock island.
David and I soak in the surroundings and stop for a conversation of the site and to enjoy each other in the moment. We toasted the sea, the prison and how blessed we are to be together.
Marseille, France in the background with a toast of coffee and wine.

3 Best things on our Ruby Princess Alaska Cruise Trip

If you have followed us for even just a few posts, you have noticed we like to keep our posts nice and short and to the point. On our recent trip to Alaska we enjoyed these three things the most:

1- The peaceful, spiritual feelings when out in nature. Whether we were staring at a glacier, hiking thru the woods, or out in the bay watching whales. We loved the outdoor time. Alaska is truly the last frontier feeling for us and we absorbed it all in. So the walk over to the Mendenhall glacier/Nugget fall, the Whale watching tour and the time off the bus ride that took us up the mountains – were all the best. Laura was truly not interested in going to Alaska, and agreed for David, who wanted Alaska for years, but Laura became a true believer in Alaska and we both cannot wait to return.

2- The Ruby Princess Cruise ship was beautiful with many high end accents everywhere. Compared to Holland America it was decadent. There was a greater cross section of people on the Princess Cruise, all age ranges and style and we preferred that over Holland America significantly older cruise ages. The Food was superior on the Holland America Ship, but both ships were really tasty.

3- The time together. We are still really in love and find each other interesting to be around, we are each others best friends and playmates. When we are at home, we are so busy with work and kids and household chores. It was nice to enjoy each other again.

We are back to real life, and going to catch up on a few posts, but still enjoying our trip and the memories.

Raptor Sanctuary – Ketchikan Alaska

We walked around the corner and – there was a bald eagle, sitting in the enclosure. We are from Michigan and have seen maybe two bald eagles in our life time (outside of a zoo). In Alaska, it is more like – there is an eagle, there is eagle, there is another. This location, took in injured birds and gave them a home if they could not be returned. I consider that one of the highest honorable things a person can do, care for those who cannot. (guess that is why I am in medicine). Check out these wonderful birds.

Another bird and the handler, explaining the incredible work they do at this facility with birds of prey.
This poor little guy was rehabilitated, but then could not make it on his own in the wild, so they brought him back, and he seems happy here.
One of the many, many Eagles saw in the wild.
A few totems at the site just outside the raptor sanctuary.

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.

Glacier Bay, Alaska – Part 1

These were our views from the deck of the Ruby Princess, it was so breathtaking, I am posting in two parts. Few words, mostly pictures

In my mind this is the entrance to Supermans secret layer….
He was floating by on an iceberg.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Paris Date Night

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

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

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

Next posts: Notre Dame and The Louvre Museum.

Sushi, Saki, and the Chicago Field Museum

What an enjoyable evening with my husband at the Hitachi Buffet at the Chicago Field museum. We walked 3 blocks over from our Fair Field Inn Ontario street hotel to the AAPM, American Association of Physicists in Medicine cocktail party at the Chicago Hilton. Then to the Hitachi Party. All the Japanese Sushi and Saki we could want, then tours of the museum at our freedom. An incredible night!20181127_205830

I love this Sexy Man at the RSNA Hitachi Field Museum Event.  I feel so lucky and blessed to have these incredible times with him!20181127_195807

Ray Carlson my Boss toasting with my husband a Saki Special!20181127_192626

The Shrimp were so tasty, but I loved the Bai Bun the best, like a cloud of tasty!20181127_190843

An RSNA event at night with over 1000 people at the Hitachi Dinner with Sushi, Saki and at the Chicago Field Museum. 2018112795174758

David, Me and My Boss Ray Carlson!201811279517545420181127952013012018112795174754

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!

 

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.

 

 

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.