Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Running (walking) with Disney - Day 1

Travel day - fail

It all started out well, and oh so very early.
The kids actually woke up before my 2:45 alarm went off.... I said EARLY.
We got dressed, ate a bit and were off.... Like cold, sleepy turtles in the dark.
With no traffic, it was a fast drive to the airport. We had time to get some breakfasty food and the mandatory Starbucks.

Side note: the holiday season is over... Note that my cup is not red :(
And my name has been reduced to one syllable.... Cute.

Back to our story :)
The flight plan today is to hop through Houston, spend four hours enjoying all the airport has to offer then fly into Orlando. Landing around 7 in the evening. Grab some dinner, check into the hotel and sleep til it's 2015.

All went as planned....
First flight went well.
Well-mostly,  shortly after takeoff, I noticed something going on in the aisle, a man was lying in it. Flight attendants were hustling about and a passenger a few rows back had offered his help. The man lying down was eventually ok, after some oxygen and help walking. Hubby told me later he  thought we might land early to get the guy medical help, but we didn't. (We should have seen this as a sign of things to come)
Houston airport had many treasures to be found..
Ruby's Diner for lunch
Amazing vending machines - nail polish vending machine!!!
And a train to take us around the terminal.

Enjoying the train around Houston Airport

Then somewhere about 3:45 into our wait... Things started to seem off...
The flight crew arrived but not the plane.... Even though it was on the ground in Houston since the night before.
Well, we had some delays....
And then we boarded.
But before we could get to the runway the pilot ran into an issue. So after hanging out on the tarmac for a spell (we're in Texas y'all) we parked in a different gate and maintenance came out.
They tinkered for a while, said "all fixed" and left. But our pilot said Nope, it's not working well enough. So they came back..... And once again said "all fixed". This time we were ready.
There was drama along the way. People really upset and wanting to get off the plane...some even did, but then came back.
But now we are once again trying to taxi to the runway, and our safety first pilot come over the intercom once more to apologize and say the plane is still not fixed.
So after getting back to yet another gate, we unloaded, still in Houston.
Note: we were on board that plane for about three hours. Just wandering around the airport, trying to take off. Flight time from Houston to Orlando: 1:45.
Stood in line to get new boarding passes for a flight at o'dark thirty tomorrow and vouchers for hotels and food.
What an adventure! 200+ people trying to keep a good attitude. Many having lost New Year's Eve plans and reservations. And now spending it in assorted hotels around Houston.
The cab to the hotel was fun. A sweet Jamaican man singing along to country music on his radio. Welcome to Texas!
And happy new year!!!
Almost, anyway. I am determined to be asleep before 2015, so good night.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A weekend in the sun... just for mom

I spent this last weekend in Arizona.
A friend and I met in Phoenix and enjoyed a girls' weekend in the sun.

I so rarely travel on my own.. it's kind of odd when it happens.
I am not going to do a really detailed post on what we did when... but I have some pictures :)

Cool plane, right. 
A really long escalator in the Phoenix airport

The Phoenix Zoo

Broccoli Pizza... and the kids said it couldn't be done! 

Dessert from the Cheesecake Factory... sorry, no cheesecake

A life changing English Muffin from La Grande Orange...Hey, that's what they told me. 

Really really yummy iced latte.... something with honey - who knew? 

Our view from our Tea at the Biltmore.
Our best tea yet, I think. 

Old town charm

The Grand Canyon  - a great way to end the trip!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Welcome Home - Day 9

Another amazing trip comes to an end.

I tried to get up early enough to watch us go under Lions Gate Bridge and take pictures, but sleepiness was weighing me down... Luckily hubby was a bit more awake than I... and he took pictures.

Good Morning Vancouver
It was an early morning, but that is kind of the deal with disembarkation day.
Our Head Server gave us a tip last night, and told us to leave our carry off luggage in the room when we came to breakfast. The room is ours until 8, so this was his way of trying to relieve the luggage congestion in the dining rooms.
I don't think other head servers were sharing this info, but our section was fairly easy to walk through :)

We had breakfast and went back to the room to pick up our gear and head down to the lobby to wait for our group to be called. We could have lingered longer in the room, I suppose, but we didn't want to hold up our stateroom host too much.
We found some chairs on the 4th floor by the windows, but we could still see and hear the calls for unloading groups. And of course it wasn't long until we (reluctantly) left the ship.

In the end, we made good use of our internet package

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hey! Where did the sun go? - Day 8

Last day at Sea... in the fog?

This morning it was clear and beautiful. But about an hour later is was soooo foggy... you can barely see. The ship is actively using its fog horn.

Can't see the coastline :(
foggy day
But we have a day full of activities and the cruise director says it's temporary... and he has been right on the weather all week so far.
It turned out to be a full day. Our lady spent most of the day in the kids club, soaking up every bit of fun they could throw at her. It all then was put on stage for a show the clubs do the last night for parents. It was fun to see all the kids on stage clapping and dancing with Mickey and Minnie.

Our young man did one activity in the club this morning, then hung out with me or Dad the rest of the day. Enjoying the last day at sea in a much mellower way.
Hubby and I had a meal on our own.... shocking and very rare for us. We had brunch at Palo on the ship. With the kids at the clubs for a bit we dined like grown-ups and loved it. The food at Palo is decadent and the service matches. We prefer the brunch to the dinner there, so this was perfect.
Hubby also has a chance to return to the Rainforest Room on board and I had the chance to take a nap... not a bad vacation :)
The evening provided us with a bit of a challenge.

(This may be a bit TMI, so forgive me and skip to the closing if you like)
Our young man is high functioning autistic. He sees the world very black and white. And he is horrible at reading his body and communicating his needs :(
Our little family has an unfortunate tradition on every vacation... he throws up. It usually only happens once each trip. Its not a bug, virus or food poisoning. It is the combination of him eating too much and carrying his stress/excitement in his tummy.
Well, apparently Hubby was thinking just yesterday that we were going to make it through a whole vacation without this grand tradition happening... darn him for not knocking on wood ;)
Tonight at the big stage show... right during the introduction, after we had waited in our seats for 25 minutes for it to start... it happened :(
Poor kid. And poor hubby, who was in the thick of it, shall we say.
We extracted ourselves as best we could from the row... thank you to the family who gave me the baby wipes. And took our boy up to the room.
Whew... but that wasn't all... the poor kid was sooooo upset to miss the show. He was crying... and pleading with hubby to stay. This is the black and white part, his plan was to watch the show in the theater... nothing could bend this.
I had gathered help from cast members to get us out with as little disruption as possible, and they "encouraged" us to watch the show on the TV in our stateroom... as opposed to coming back. Ships don't take tummy issues lightly.
So we could still see it, but the venue would be different. Sigh - the physical clean up took way less time than the emotional. We all survived :)
There seems to always be one family that has some crazy thing happen.... today was our turn.
And the tradition lives on.
He is fine, as he always is. Still a bit sad about not seeing the show in the theater, but hoping to do things differently "next cruise"... oh please, lets do that differently ;)
He has decided that, that was the worst place to get sick...  it's so nice I can laugh about this.

- Ok, its safe to come back to the conversation if you were staying away for TMI :)
We ended the evening in our room, watching the coastline and the half moon. Our weather has been amazing.. I think I said that a few times this week. And we have LOVED the balcony stateroom.
We are already back in Canadian waters and should be back into Vancouver around 7:00. We need to be at breakfast at 7:00 and out of our staterooms by 8:30... the process here is a bit different than in Port Canaveral. We will see how it all goes in the morning. The kids are already asleep... sounds like a grand idea.

Last sunset from our balcony
Great moon 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Catch a fish in Ketchikan.... if you are a bear - Day 7

Another sunny day in Ketchikan :)

This is funny because Ketchikan gets the most rain in the US. And today was bright and sunny... not even a cloud in the sky. Amazing.

Breakfast - even the melon is fun! 
Our seasoned cruisers. Don't they look like they have this cruising thing down? 
That is the Safeway in Ketchikan... this isn't important, but it is where the Starbucks is.
Waiting for excursion to start... 
really comfy chairs :) 
We pull into Ketchikan a bit later than other ports, so we were up and able to see the ship pull in. Our excursion wasn't until after lunch, which was nice to not be in the initial crush to get off the ship.
Our excursion today was a float plane ride to Neet's Bay, to see the salmon hatchery and the bears - who are also fans of the hatchery.
This excursion only started two weeks ago, as prior to that the bears were elsewhere on the island. And today we saw at least 5 bears at the river (we saw 5 at one time, but it's hard to say if it was the same bears coming and going).
Ready for lots of pictures ......

Our float plane "airport"
the view out my window! 
Ready for take off
enjoying the views
lookin' for bears - amazing weather, did I say that?
eating a fish
too many pictures to caption them all... bears! 

Salmon hatchery... really amazing. Soo many fish. 
looking to see if any were going to jump out... almost! 

watching the bears - it was an wonderful experience 
the dock area, near where we re-boarded our float plane
flying back to town

our shadow

That ship looks familiar...
This whole excursion was amazing.
The float plane ride was awesome!
The bears were amazing!!
It was all very very cool. After our flight back to Ketchikan we lazed a bit on the ship, looking over our pictures and talking about all our fun. And dinner wasn't too far away.
After dinner we watched the ship pull out of Ketchikan. It would seem we lost two passengers in Ketchikan, as even after they pulled the gangplank the crew was still looking into the distance for stragglers and the all calls continued for two people from deck 8.
We are fairly sure we left two people in Skagway, but they could (for a pretty penny) catch a flight into Juneau and meet back up with us the next day. In Juneau we saw some runners.... who made it just in the nick of time.  But in Ketchikan, missing the ship means flying back into Vancouver and missing the whole last day of your cruise - BUMMER.
After wondering what fun the folks from deck 8 were having that caused them to miss the ship, we headed to the evening show - a really really good ventriloquist. The little lady and I left early to get her to an activity in the clubs she was hoping to attend.
Another great day! I am a bit sad that tomorrow is the last day :(
But we plan to make the most of it.

I loved being on the balcony this time of evening each night.