Our Awesome Travels

Our Awesome Travels
Taken In Quartzsite Arizona Dec 7th 2015

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December 2008

View Larger Map Notice the controls for this New Map on the left side, you can zoom into different areas of the map and see where we are. Wed. Dec 31st New Year's Eve Again nice and warmer 75f (24c) enjoy the weather and relax. New Years's Eve Dance at the clubhouse tonight, have to stay up to midnight, to ring in the New year. Good turn out for the dance about 1/3 rd from Canada. The band played a good variety of very danceable music considering the age group from 52 to 85 years old. Lots of food including ham, cheese, buns, deviled eggs, chips , dips, cake, cookies. We also had pop, coffee, jello shooters, champagne, and party favours. A good time was had by all. New Years Pics Tues. Dec. 3oth Weather today the same. Outside stuff to do, have an early supper and play darts at 5.30pm. Suzie & Joe came in first place and myself & Jim 3rd place. Another fun night. Mon. Dec. 29th Again warmer 72f (22c) no wind and no clouds in the sky and very warm in the sun. Shorts, t shirts, outside play a few games of crokinole and soak up the sun, winter is over !!!! pics Sun. Dec. 28th Bright sunny day about 60f (15c), We took a drive with Steve and Barb and gathered some pecans at the side of the road beside a farmer's field. Back home we got out our Dominoes and played Mexcian Train with Spud, a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. The sun set quickly behind Picacho Peak at 4.12pm and the temperature instantly dropped about 15degrees f , so it did not take us long to pack up the game and go inside, hot turkey sandwiches for supper. drying pecan pics Sat. Dec. 27th Cool overnight, 28f (-3c) and our water hose froze,but was thawed out by 8.00am, I will remember to leave a tap dripping tonight to prevent another freeze. It was a mostly sunny day, no wind but only about 50F(10c). Nice enough for a few walks and sitting outside for a while in the sun. Good weather for a home made soup lunch and chicken, scalloped potatoes and broccoli for supper. Fri. Dec. 26th Cooler today 48f (10c) and a bit of sun. It's a good day to make a big pot of ham and bean soup from the ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner. Then shared huge portions with our friends from Christmas. Yummy, will have lots more for tomorrow. Then dart night at the clubhouse 12 teams and myself and partner Frank came it 3rd place, we rich!! Thurs. Dec. 25th MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!! About 60f (15c). Christmas morning wake up with the Christmas lights on, the Yule Log on TV and Christmas Carols Playing. We chatted with family members on MSN, Skype, or telephone calls for most of the morning, really nice to keep in touch. I made a huge pot of Scalloped potatoes in the slow cooker and homemade sweet mustard. At about 3:00pm went to Spud's deck just as the wind picked up , we put up my tarp and secured it. As we were all eating at 4:oo on his deck. (11 of us, 6 from Ontario, 4 from Washington and 1 from Michigan). An awesome glazed Bone in Ham, scalloped potatoes. scalloped corn, cabbage roll casserole, tossed salad,buns, strawberry cheesecake and another cake for desert.A nice view from the deck and a rainbow to top it off. We enjoyed this get together for Christmas but it was only 63F (17c) with a very cold strong wind, so went home to stay out of the wind and relax after supper . Christmas pics Wed. Dec.24th Nice warm sunny day about 70f (21c), we enjoyed the afternoon in the warm sun and Christmas eve around a cozy porch heater with some neighbours. Tues. Dec. 23rd Cooler again about 60f (15c) with some sun and cloudy periods. Just do a bit more research, chat with the neighbors and play darts in the evening. Always a good time, my partner Margo and myself were tied for last place and had to playoff, well we finally won last place! No prize but we had fun. Mon.Dec. 22nd A drive to Eloy for some groceries, I love the small town IGA with a great meat counter, good prices and good selection of Mexican foods and spices. Back home did laundry and helped Spud download pictures to his computer. Later made an awesome Southwestern meatloaf for supper. Sun. Dec. 21st The shortest day of the year, first day of winter. Sunny warm about 80f (25c), I like this kind of winter, butterflies in the flowers.. Marlow drove about the campground telling us that Flynn was coming home from the hospital. He had major heart operation on Monday and recovery went so well they let him come home early, so a bunch of us waited by the entrance to welcome him home and wish him well. Then we walked back home and took a couple of pics of nice desert gardens. While riding my bike later I saw and heard the monster truck at the Ostrich Farm next door, the engine roaring and the kids screaming as they went over some dunes. Later Joe and Wilma from Winnipeg dropped by to chat a bit before supper. sun pics Sat. Dec. 20th Today is our park Christmas party at the Clubhouse. The park supplies ham, buns, cheese, pop, ice, and the band, we each bring a potluck dish to eat at is run by the park managers Joe & Denise a really great couple. Over 60 attended (our group was 10) with lots of choices for food and desert, the band played, we danced then had a gift exchange at 4.00pm. we were required to bring a gift, minimum $10.00. My gift just happened to be a bottle of Tequila! After the festivities back home and sat around Spuds patio heater after I put up a tarp for a wind break. Toasty warm. party pics Fri. Dec. 19th Sunny day and six of us take a trip to the huge Mesa Flea Market/ swap meet. A nice drive about 90 minutes thru desert country. We can see the snow in the mountains. This is a huge market with over 1,600 booths. It took us about 3 hours to walk including a stop for lunch with live entertainment. Very reasonable prices on most items , but not much we needed. It is real nice to see huge signs about saying " Welcome Winter Visitors" . Then back home to sit in the sun for a bit before it goes behind the mountain and the temperature drops. Then make a nice home made schnitzel for super. Mesa Pics Thurs. Dec.18th More sun little cooler, but still nice. Relax, compute, ride around, read a bit another awesome day. Wed. Dec. 17th Sunny day today and not too cool, so off to Tucson and Old Tucson Studios. It's about a 1 hour drive east into Tucson Mountains with lots of beautiful cactus and desert scenery. We passed Mt. Lemmon on the interstate with an interesting mushroom cloud over the top, there is lots of snow up there at 7,000 ft elevation. The studios are really interesting with hundreds of movies that have been filmed here and we recognize quite a few sets. There is shows going on all day and we watched The Great Tucson Bank Robbery (gunfight) on the main street, Cowgirl Up! ( a country musical) in the Grand Palace Saloon (and one of the dancers got me up dancing!), A Comedy Stunt Show (on the mission set). The Old Reno locomotive, The High Chaparral Set, adobe buildings, Town Hall, and various old buildings and movie props. It was a very entertaining day and quite interesting to see the old movie sets. On the way home we drove into a subdivision with new expensive homes, very nice all pastel reds, and green stucco with red clay tile roofs, nicely graveled lawns and boulevards, no grass anywhere in the desert, even the desert plants and cactus have permanent watering systems, very low maintenance and no snow! Old Tucson Pics Tues.Dec. 16 th With temps around 60f (15c) overcast a bit and wind gusts we are pretty lucky compared to the very cold weather and major snow that most of the country is getting. I can put on socks, sweat pants and a sweater to deal with it. At least we don't have to shovel it. This afternoon we put up our Christmas tree ,decorations and played some Christmas carols on the local radio station. After a BBQ steak dinner we played darts at the clubhouse, and I was partnered with Steve, we tied for first place!! I won some money!! Wow really helping out our budget. Sun. Dec.14th I finished making a large pot of turkey noodle soup and shared with the 11 people that had the turkey dinner with us on friday, yummy on a cooler 55f (14c) day. Put a roast beef in the slow cooker for supper. And after visiting with some neighbours and a bike ride we had a nice tasty meal. Sat. Dec.13th Sunny off and on about 70F (22c) bit strange wind patterns. No wind for a bit then very strong gusts from the SW about 40mph (65kph) or stronger. Then it stops and next from the opposite direction. Looking out to the desert huge dust storms, then clear. We can even feel the gusts rocking our coach quite violently, then quiet. Blowing stuff around lawn chairs and large BBQ's etc... I prepared some turkey soup, to finish cooking on sunday. Also went to visit Flynn & Ginnie in the resort, he is going in for major heart operation on monday. Otherwise a nice quiet day . Fri. Dec 12th. Warm day about 75f (25c) but it feels cool??? Must be getting used to this climate. I cleaned the car today and walk and bike around a bit. After assembling cauliflower with cheese sauce in our slow cooker and turn on low for 8 hours. We are having a Turkey dinner at 4.00pm with our neighbours ( 11 people in all). We consumed Turkey, dressing, cauliflower, green beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie, a real nice feast. Then we gathered around the campfire for a few hours, a few people drop by even the managers of the resort Denise & Joe ( a super couple), another great day. some pics Thurs. Dec. 11th Just a relaxing day a little shopping in Casa Grande, some computing and walk and ride about the resort, and chat with some neighbours. Don't know where the time goes. The internet is free for 2 weeks but they really restrict the usage by slowing you down with the more you upload and download, so its real slow for me right now. I cannot upload any pictures. Wed. Dec. 10th Still warm and sunny (after a cool night). I helped Jack and Gayle clean up their computers for a bit in the morning. Then after lunch we went to Eddies Place in Eloy to meet Steve after his round of golf. Celebrate Barb's Birthday today. We all returned home and had a nice campfire at Spud and Suzie's and enjoyed the fresh air. Tues. Dec.9th Sunny and bright as usual went for a bike ride around the park a few times. Then went for a free pizza lunch, just for listening to a 1o minute sales presentation about Sky Med, (medical evacuation insurance) for which we already had coverage. The pizza was nice thou. Later we enjoyed the afternoon sun after setting up Spuds computer for him, and Steve's digital converter box for his TV, had a bite to eat, then Darts in the clubhouse. A few nice things about Arizona are, no grass to cut, no snow to shovel, lots of sunshine, and awesome views. When the temperature here gets below 65f (18c) the local people here are cold, wearing gloves, winter coats boots etc... hmm never survive in Ontario. some pics Mon. Dec.8th A bit warmer today 70f (22c) and sunny again. Beaudry Rv dealer from Tucson brought 2 new coaches to the park to temp people into buying with free coffee and donuts and prizes to give away, we won a Ball cap (no new coach). Nice to be outside most of the day, but it cools down real quick when the sun goes behind Picacho Peak , about 4:20pm, so time to go inside cook dinner and relax for the evening. Sun. Dec.7th Cool overcast today about 60f (15c). I drove to Casa Grande about 1/2 hour away and picked up a few items, and back home to help Steve fix a few things on his computer. We cooked a nice roast pork for dinner and visited with Spud and Suzie for a bit after supper. Sat. Dec 6th A travel day today, taking our time we are on the road to Picacho Peak RV Resort only 1 & 1/2 hours west of here on I-10. Travelling thru the construction in Tucson about half the distance. We arrived at the Resort at noon, checked in and parked our coach by our friends Steve & Barb, Spud & Suzie, Jack & Gail. I was a year since we have seen 4 of them and it was a nice welcome with a lot of catching up for the rest of the day. And a dance at the clubhouse after supper. We will be here for a month enjoying some nice Arizona sunshine. Fri. Dec. 5th Again a nice day few items to take care of , laundry and vacuum our coach. That's enough "work" for one day. Walk about a bit and enjoy a magazine in the afternoon shade . Thurs. Dec. 4th Cooler today only 65f (18c) but mostly sunny. I was checking tire pressure on our coach when I noticed the inside right dual tire was only 50psi, (I always maintain 90psi for safety) . I checked with the campground office and they told me of Big Dave's Towing does tire work on trucks and Rv's about 1 mile away. I took our coach there and upon investigation the problem was found and the tire was removed, replaced the valve stem and remounted the wheels. This all took close to 1 hour and now we feel safe again, at a cost of only $25.00 including parts labour and taxes. While I was doing this Suzie did another trip to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do some more Genealogy research. We love the broasted chicken available here and planned all day to have it for supper. I walked over at 4:30pm to order only to find out they were sold out until tomorrow. Very disappointing. So we discussed what to do and decided the Chinese restaurant in town was good a couple years ago, so off I go only to find out they are closed for renovations. Hhhhhmmmmmm,. Well I drove around a couple of blocks and saw G & F Pizza on 5th st went in checked out the menu and ordered a regular pizza 11 inch, well this was meant to be. It was without a doubt the best Pizza we have had in many years, since I made Pizza in my restaurant. A 6 slice pizza with 5 items we could only eat 2 slices each even thou we were quite hungry. Leftover pizza is always good. Wed. Dec. 3rd Another nice warm day, walked about enjoyng the scenery and then picked up a few groceries. After lunch I did some cleaning and waxing our coach, then I even went for a swim in the lovely heated outdoor pool and hot tub. The afternoon temperature was 79f (26c) quite comfortable with no humidity. Then relax in the shade and read a bit before it was time to make supper. Tues. Dec. 2nd Sunny and warm after the frost melted with the sun. I took our coach to get an oil change and Suzie went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do some Genealogy research. After a couple of hours she returned home with more leads to check out. She also observed some volunteers indexing the 1916 Canadian census to be launched in 2009 to the Family Search and organizations, quite interesting. She also saw a card for the Erb St. Mennonite Cemetery in Waterloo, Ontario. (and this is in Benson Arizona!). We returned home and enjoyed a beautiful warm sunny afternoon outside in the shade, watching the roadrunner zipping around, a nice BBQ steak dinner. Followed by colourful clouds and later the moon, venus and jupiter together in the clear nightime skies. Then the neighbours Christmas lights. Tues. PICS Mon. Dec.1st Another relaxing day after a very busy November. I made a couple bowls of chicken noodle soup for lunch from our leftover cornish hen. And I filled car with gas today only $1.76 gal (.60 cents a litre). We have had a roadrunner running around our site in the afternoons but too fast to take a picture of this large bird. While sitting outside in the shade (80f , 27c) a woman from British Columbia stopped by to see where were from in Ontario she use to live in Hamilton area for most of her life. We chatted for quite a while as she quizzed us about being full time rv'ers. As the sun set at 5.15pm I fired up the barbie for a couple of juicy chops.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November after the Cruise

View Larger Map Notice the controls for this New Map on the left side, you can zoom into different areas of the map and see where we are. Also be sure to click on the many links that I have added in the underlined text. 

Sun. Nov. 30th Some light frost overnight and another beautiful sunrise coming in the front window of our coach. The temperature climbs quickly and our window thermometer shows, 122f (51c) by 10am in the sun, but in reality its only 78f (25c), nice enough. Did a little christmas shopping for grand kids today, putter about outside and relax in the shade, then BBQ a chicken for supper. Doesn't get much better than this.

Sat. Nov. 29th Tombstone founded by Ed Schieffelin Warmer this morning, a good day to take a short trip to Tombstone only 23 miles. One of my favorite places to visit. A busy saturday is always good as all the shops are open, shows happening, cowboys and "Ladies" wandering the streets in period costume. We walk the sunny side of street in the morning, in and out of the various shops, filled with Indian Crafts, Jewelry, western wear and lots of cowboy hats and boots. There is gunshops, and numerous restaurants. Stage coach rides and a few places like the OK Corral, Six Gun City etc where they stage gunfights and western shows. The street gunfights are no longer allowed. You can even take a tour of a silver mine. Museums like the Birdcage Theatre and The Tombstone Court House. All with tails of the Old West, with the likes Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Johny Ringo, the Clayton Gang and so on. From here we found ourslves in Big Nose Kate's Saloon again (Kate Being a long time companion/common law wife of gun fighter Doc Holiday). Always an enetrtaining place to grab a bite to eat with good service and decent pub style grub. This place really has an atmosphere of the old west, with the gunfighter ecsorting you to your table and the singer blending right in, except for the TV screen in the corner with the football game on. On the drive home we went thru a boarder patrol checkpoint, which they have close to the Mexcian border and were asked for our passports, 1st time ever. Another interesting fun day in southern Arizona. Tombstone Pics 

Fri. Nov. 28th Another cool rainy drizzly morning, but rain stopped and sun came out so not too bad. Lunch was 2nd Chance Thanksgiving, more turkey, gravy, dressing, potluck dishes, a huge pot of awesome turkey soup and lotsa desert, cost was "donations" so real good deal. There was only 54 people today for lunch. After lunch we took a 45 minute drive to Pearce for the Old Pearce Holiday Festival east on I-10 to Dragoon road. There is beautiful scenery and views the huge strange rock formations in the desert and everchanging mountain views with the sun and clouds. Thru the tiny village of Dragoon in the shadow of the Dragoon Mountains. We arrived at Pearce. The Main street was was closed and we parked in a field. The old buildings were alive with vendors, animals and people. A blacksmith showing his operation and a band playing on the street. There was lots of crafts and vendors and everything had to be produced or made by the vendor, local artisans. We chatted with a few and found one couple with a leather booth "Roadkill Salvage Leatherworks" were from northen Ontario and spend there winters in Arizona making some very nice buckskins and leather products. We then returned thru the desert past a few stores irrigated fields ( in circles), pecan orchard and a pistachio orchard. And the empty roads and barren land, what a peaceful feeling. Fri. PICS Thurs. Nov. 27th Cool rainy day in Arizona, with a bit of sunshine, about 60 f (15c), This is the American Thanksgiving Day, Macey's Parade on TV in the morning and our potluck Thanksgiving Dinner in the clubhouse at 1:00pm only $2.00 each and bring one side dish. They supply the Turkey (6 of them) and gravy, coffee & juice. Two turkeys were deep fried and real yummy. There was about 60 people there with good variety of main dishes and lots of great deserts. The one couple beside us was from Ontario, Rock Glen Resort in Arkona (our home park), we have to go to Arizona to meet our neighbours! After walking off lunch we relaxed and did some computing, talked to a few neighbours and watch a couple of movies on TV. It's been a long time since we actually watched TV for more than 1 hour. We did a lot more of that when we were working, no time now. No supper tonight just a small snack. more pics

Wed. Nov. 26th Starts off cooler today, cloudy and supposed to rain. Well we had an Arizona 2 inch rainfall, it lasted 5 minutes and the drops about 2 inches apart. The sun came out and about 78f (26c) for the rest of the day. At noon we went to the clubhouse and checked out the craft sale and chatted with some of the other rvers/ Following this we took a short drive to the Singing Wind Bookshop. Out of town about 2 miles we turn onto Singing Wind Rd. and down a dirt trail in the desert past a few abandoned vehicles and we see a small ranch house. We pull into a small parking lot and see a very weather beaten sign telling us we are here. Over the sign is a huge bell and sign that says ring for service, nice door bell!! Well the shop was open so we walked in and the owner got Carol to give us a tour of their very unique bookshop, an independent bookseller since 1974 with thousands of books on the American Southwest plus more. This gem of a store is quite interesting as is the owner. And still a little old fashioned accepting only cash our checks. From here we returned home to make a batch of coleslaw for the Thanksgiving Potluck dinner tomorrow. more pics Tues. Nov. 25th A little cooler today, but still about 20c most of the day and overcast. Went into town about 1 mile and checked out some local areas and visited the Tourist Office to see what's happening. Benson is a small town with 3 traffic lights a couple grocery stores, a Super Walmart, some local and fast food restaurants, a nice clean place. Close to lots of things, most we have seen, but enjoy the area. Did some more research and outside cleaning of our coach and chat with a few neighbours. Then helped Suzie scan some documents for her Geneology program. For supper reheated the left over fried chicken on the BBQ and made some fried rice , yummy. 

Mon. Nov. 24th Benson Arizona Population 3.824 We are having a relaxing day, enjoying the beautiful warm weather 80F (26c) sunny and clear Arizona skies. The view is just beautiful as usual with the mountains in the background. Not a lot of people here yet as the season is early and less people traveling due to the economy. I walked about the campground and really love the Wash ( dry river bed that fills up when the monsoon rains come). Trees, shade, cactus and sandy. Everywhere you walk these little prickly things stick to you shoes, my bare feet, or socks, and manage to some how a few make their way onto our carpet inside. I checked out the license plates and people from all over, 1 vehicle from Alaska and various northern states. For supper get the BBQ out and cook some pork chops and potatoes. Mon Pics 

Sun. Nov. 23rd 400 miles today -->After a beautiful Arizona sunset. we are up early this morning check email have some coffee and on the road once the sun comes up. We head out at 7.30am from the rest area and 10 miles change time zones so now 6.30 am. About 2 hours further we pulled into the El Paso Rest area to stretch and and as I got out of our coach this woman was jumping, and waving her arms at me from across the parking lot. Lucille and Jim from Nova Scotia, that we met 2 years ago in Quartzsite and ran into again last year. We chatted for a while caught up and carried on our way. small world. Driving I-10 in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona such vast barren land, thousands of miles of rolling hills brush, and flat land, quite beautiful, peaceful and exciting all at once. Every once in a while a small town or city, or an abandoned gas station, or restaurant, even a ghost town. The signs for dust storms and warnings. We even s aw an old cowboy fueling up his truck complete with the hat, dennin, cowboy boots, spurs, large knife and six gun and holster ( check picture here). Just before Benson we were at 5,000 ft. elevation in a rest area with beautiful rock formationS in the area. Then all downhill for 12 miles to the campground at, 3,500 ft elevation. We arrived here at 3.30pm and set up camp, awesome 85f (32c) day. Now realx a bit and have supper, Awesome Broasted chicken right next to our park. More pics 

Sat. Nov.22nd 370 miles today Arrived at Culberson County rest area at 3.00pm Another nice day of traveling, not a lot to see, lots of Interstate 10 and the rolling hills and vast lands of Texas. Good roads, the speed limit being 80 mph (125kph) and people still speeding. Have free internet again , will make use of it. We did see a lot of road kill, mostly deer, so many I quit counting at 40. We fueled up today $2.09 gal but 33% exchange on Canadian dollar so .77 cents a litre, still a good price. a few pics

Fri. Nov. 21st. Met Suzie 18 years ago today!!! What a way to change my life. Thanks Suzie Love you. Now we pack up early and get on the road 9.00 am to head thru Houston to follow I-10 all the way to California many miles. We traveled 300 miles today and stopped for the night at a secure Texas rest area for the evening with free Wifi, in Kerr county about 1 hour past San Antonio. Fueling was a treat $1.82 a gallon is .65.9 cents a litre at 25% exchange rate

  Thurs. Nov. 20th A bit more research, do laundry and enjoy the nice weather again.

  Wed. Nov. 19th We puttered around a bit did some more loading programs on my computer and did some research & planning for the winter. And seeing as the economy and investments are not doing too well and the Canadian dollar is only worth .75 cents US we decided it would be more cost efficient to stay in the southern US states drive less and use our membership campgrounds to their full extent, than do our Mexico trip this year. This would save us a few thousand dollars and we will still be warm and exploring.

  Tues. Nov.18th I spent a most of the morning setting my computer up. Luckily I had back up everything in mid september (some 20,000 pictures) and had posted our Blog (that I had worked on all week)yesterday with over 300 pictures from the cruise. I was only missing a few pictures but had fortunately had emailed them to friends and family and was able to get them from my Gmail on the web.(Gmail keeps mall you emails) Later that day Rob & Pat from Durham Ontario came over and we cooked our 13 lb turkey , (Squeezed it in the oven) mashed potatoes, brocoli and cheese sauce.

  Mon. Nov. 17th I was up early wanting to post our Blog from the cruise and the many pictures that I had taken. about 4 hours later I was done. A nice warm day so I will wash our coach top to bottom. A little later my computer crashed. Would not boot up at all, the blue screen of death!!!!! New camping friends Steven and Janice, from Ottawa were here and he happens to be a computer geek. Well he worked on it all day but was unable to retrieve any data at all. But did finally reformat the hard drive and re-install windows XP. What a frustrating day for him, especially as they were leaving in the morning for Rockport Texas.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cruise Nov.2008

This posting was done after our 7 day Caribbean Cruise with many pictures and itinerary of some of the daily things that we experienced. -->
Sun Nov. 9th
We made our way from Willis to Galveston and the Carnival Cruise Terminal, about a 2 our drive right thru Houston on I-45. It was a Sunday morning so not too much construction and traffic. In the area of the pier we observed some damage and cleanup attempts from Hurricane Ike as well as around the cruise terminal. The process of boarding is well organized but was still about 1 hour for security checks and obtaining room cards and etc. Not bad for 2,974 passengers. We had our luggage with us so went directly to our room and unpacked and were by the pool deck in short order for some refreshment. At 3.30pm was the mandatory fire drill for everyone on the ship. We then made ourselves familiar with our ship. Our Stateroom was on deck 1 the Riviera deck, the many lounges, internet café, restaurants and dinning rooms were on Deck 4 & 5 and 9, 10, 11 & 12 were the pools , hot tubs, waterslides, various eateries including the huge buffets.
We had an early dinner seating at 6.00pm in the Renoir Upper dinning room where we met 2 other couples at our table from Saskatchewan, Canada and Washington State, fellow Coast to Coast Members and Rvers. This is a Coast to Coast Member Appreciation Cruise with about 200 members on this ship. Returning to our room was a Coast to Coast knapsack with some goodies and information for us.
Mon. Nov. 10th
At Sea
We turned our clock ahead 1 hour to keep with the time zones. Up early and grab some coffee in our stateroom while we checked out the days activities that we may wish to do for our first day at sea. About 7.30 am we went to the Lido deck and grabbed a quick bite of fresh fruit and fresh cooked eggs. We then sat by the front lower pool for a while with more coffee before exploring the ships outside decks, was a nice day but very windy. (there is 3 pools and 5 hot tubs, the rear pool has a sliding roof).At 11.00 am there was a seminar about all of the shore excursions available, so many of them!! About noon a huge ice block was brought out by the pool and carved buy a staff member with a hatchet in 12 minutes, he had to work fast so it would not melt. A nice swan. After this was a hairy chest competition that went on for more than an hour, very entertaining along with live music.
At 2.30 pm was our Coast to Coast welcome cocktail party in Henri’s Disco, with snacks and information on a contest somebody will win a free Alaska Cruise buy the end of the week. Following this, stopped at Alfred’s Jazz Bar and the internet café, (check email) then back to our stateroom to relax a bit before changing for our “Cruise Elegant” dress code in the 2 main dining rooms, this is mandatory for these rooms only tonight, but very nice. It’s amazing to see the extravagant tuxes, dresses and gowns. (one woman got honorable mention for the most luggage- 15 suitcases!!!) There is so many other places to eat that are equally good where dress code is casual.
After diner we went to Las Vegas style show of music and dance in the Toulouse Latrec theatre, very nice. Stopping by the casino to test our luck with $1.00 and listen to a nice band for a while on the way. There is so many different lounges and types of entertainment on boat.
Tues. Nov. 11th
at Sea
Today is a much warmer and humid morning at sea today so up to the lido deck for more coffee. Suzie wants to do some reading to day so I can explore the ship some more. The forward decks, running deck mini golf, so many different areas. At 11.00 am is a talk about on shore shopping, quite interesting and informative. We later grabbed a bit of Asian food from one of the many buffets, walked about a bit more then did a Galley tour from the Monet dining room. The Galley has 158 cooks feeding almost 5,000 people 22,600 meals a day!!!! Can you imagine???? The impressive kitchen areas were spotless and everything gleaming stainless steel with a few cooks demonstrating making cake flowers and carving fresh vegetables.
Back by the pool deck to watch some games going on , hula hop and a bean bag train along with more music and reading.
Supper at 6.00pm in the dining room then to the Lido deck again by the forward deck with a band playing Rock and Roll music and dancing, in the moonlight, until the wee hours of the morning. We left at 11.00 as they were setting up a beautiful buffet, we have a tour of Montegoa Bay Jamaica in tomorrow.
Wed. Nov. 12th
Montego Bay Jamaica
We arrived at the pier at (9.00am as scheduled) and proceeded to de-ship and went directly to our tour bus. A nice air conditioned coach (21 seats) as the weather was quite hot and humid. They drive on the left side of the road and as the driver said “the left side is the right side, the right side is suicide!!” We sat next to Russ & Judy from our table in the dining room. Thru town past a KFC ( translated for women as Keep From Cooking or for men as Keep Fat Coming – they like fat women) From here we proceeded to drive 2 hours thru the country side to the Appleton Rum Tour. The trip was amazing, very narrow, bumpy roads winding thru the mountains and many small villages.( almost like a 2 hour roller coaster) Houses and shacks right at the edge of the road or a rock wall or cliff beside you. Many vehicles swerved as we rounded bends and quite close when trucks approached. The driver and tour guide were very friendly and informative, telling stories, jokes and a lot about Jamaica. The driver commented if another vehicle looks too close just close your eyes and when you open them all will be better, no problem! Jamaica is a 3rd World country so not many Jobs, most people live in small shacks that look abandoned, but they have food and everyone gets an education and health care. Minimum wage here is $50.00 US per week if you can get a job. We had a quick rest stop at a service station and back on the road. Gasoline here is about $1.50 a litre Canadian. We arrived at Appleton Estate Rum Tour about 11;30am. Here we sampled some rum punch and did an escorted tour of the facilities. This is a beautifully landscaped estate and has been in operation for over 100 years. We were shown how the original press was operated buy a burro to extract the juice from sugar cane to make then make brown sugar and molasses. This is put thru an extractor to separate these products and then molasses is fermented to make rum. They now produce 46,000 litres a day of rum and age it in oak barrels for 3 to 30 years. We then sampled some pure cane extract and viewed one of 16 aging homes with about 8,400- 45 gallon wooden barrels in each. From here we returned to have lovely buffet of BBQ chicken, rice, squash and desert with a rum sauce, then unlimited samples all of all the rum products produced here. The bus tour back was different route and also quite interesting with narration and some Jamaican music along the way leaving us enough time to return to our ship for a lovely dinner and relax around the pool and listen to some Karaoke, such a beautiful evening, too nice to sit inside the theatre.
Thurs. Nov.13 th
We anchored offshore this morning at 7.00 am and were ready to get on the Tender (small boat ashore) for our 3 hour Best of Cayman Bus tour. We were at the bus by 7.35 am and our driver Mr. Charles was ready to go. We saw the highlights of Georgetown and headed along the coast to 7 mile beach. Past the Governors house on the beach, a condo complex destroyed by a hurricane then to the beach. Beautiful clear blue waters and beach sand that looks and feels like sugar.
From here we went to the Cayman Turtle farm and toured for about 1 hour. There is over 7,000 turtles here and the breeding turtles are huge 350 to 500 lbs, about 15 to 20 years old. We were able to pick up some 2 year old turtles which were quite large. Then we proceeded to sample some Tortuga Caribbean Rum and Rum cake, awesome cake!
Next our tour took us to Hell, Grand Cayman, a small village that is named so because of the landscape here, there is a gift shop and post office , also the weather was very hot and humid, perfect heat for the setting. Fuel prices here were about $5.00 US per gallon for regular gas.
We then proceeded back to the pier past some very large and expensive homes. We then walked about the downtown area and checked out some of the shops, mostly high end- jewelry stores and tax and duty free shops. There is no tax or duty here on Grand Cayman but most things are expensive otherwise.
After a nice lunch on shore with a view the ship and watching people snorkel at the beach, we walked about exploring more, purchased some yummy Rum Cake and returned via tender to our ship. We sat by the pool for a while and enjoyed calypso music and another band and watched some deck games, before going to dinner (Cruise Elegant) so we got dressed up a bit. Awesome again as usual Prime Rib, Lobster, shrimp, escargot, baked Alaska, were our choices this evening. Then walked about the ship for a while and took in the main show in the Toulouse Lautrec Theatre Lounge a nice song and dance show with many colourful costumes and great music. On our way back we checked out the country music in the casino, Blues in the Blues Bar, Easy listening in the lobby and Jazz in Alfred’s Bar. There are so many choices. Later the disco opens at 10:30, a Rat Pack Tribute at 11.30pm, too late for us.
Fri. Nov. 14th
We arrived Cozumel at 10.00am as scheduled and were guided in buy the pilot boat ( tiny compared to our ship) next to the Carnival Valor a sister ship. An ambulance came out the pier to take someone off our ship, I hope they were ok. It is amazing to see all these people going ashore from 2 cruise ships, (about 3,000 people per ship). The cruise season starts at the end of November and there can be as many as 6 cruise ships at a time here!!! We checked out some of the shops on the pier then took a taxi downtown. Walking past all the shops and street vendors was interesting. Picking up a few items and bartering with the Mexicans is fun. We went to Casa Mission restaurant and enjoyed a very inexpensive, delicious Mexican lunch. From here we walked back to the main street and headed towards the cruise ship. The sun, heat and humidity became quite uncomfortable so we grabbed another taxi back to the cruise Terminal (about 5 miles) here we sat by the water at Fat Tuesdays for a refreshment and watched the many passengers heading back to the ship. We returned about 4.00pm and promptly went for a swim in one of the many salt water pools on board. We then went for another delicious dinner in our dining room, and checked out some more activities on board. Country music in the Lobby, a great juggler and comedian in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge, Blues in the Blues Bar and some Karaoke in the Degas Lounge, we even made our donation at the casino while walking by. Another awesome day.
Sat. Nov 15th
Final day at sea
A much cooler day today, windy and overcast and quite large swells on the ocean. They had to empty the forward pools as water was splashing on the deck We had a nice breakfast in the dining room and went to the lounge to listen to the cruise director tell some jokes and information about leaving the ship tomorrow. In the after noon we took in a game show at the lounge and walked about some more, stopping to check email and use up a few minutes on internet time.
At 5.00pm we attended a farewell cocktail party for Coast to Coast, with draws for many prizes including a free Alaska Cruise, but no luck here either. Then a lovely dinner and farewells with our table mates in the dining room. Walk about the decks for a while taking in the sites sounds before retiring for the evening.
Sun. Nov. 16th
We are up at 6.30am as our ship is pulling into Galveston Port, I got us some hot coffee to wake up , then have a shower , check the internet , pack up and have our final breakfast on board. Because we did not have to check our luggage, we waited for out deck number to be called to disembark. We make our way to the lobby, and down the gangplank and right thru customs, shuttle bus and we were at our car in the parking lot by 8.15 am. From here we drove thru Galveston’s empty streets. A good job has been done here of cleaning up the debris from IKE, but there was still quite a few boarded up houses. We drove along Seawall Blvd past the devastated State Park past the Community of Jamaica Beach. This is a very high end area of nice homes on stilts that do not look too damaged at first glance. There is a lot of garbage by the roadsides, and machinery moving mountains of sand and debris to reclaim some property and attempt to restore electric and water services to these once beautiful properties. From here we made our way north on I-45 to out coach parked at Castaways RV resort in Willis Texas. Arriving home about noon there was a sign on our door “Welcome Home Yates” a nice touch. We thought is was from Steven & Janice we meet before we left. But find out Rob & Pat from Durham Ontario were parked 2 sites from us, small world and a nice surprise. I went to the grocery store for a few items and good deals to be had, like a 13 lb turkey for .39 cents a pound ($5.00) Wow! Now just to figure out how to cook it in our coach.. Both couples came by later and we chatted a while before supper. Then relax in our own house after an awesome week on the cruise.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

November 2008

Don't forget to check out the interactive map at the bottom of the page, places we have visited

  Sun. Nov. 9th Having our coffee and last minute packing before we head off to the Cruise Terminal in Galveston. Our Ports of Call being Cozumel, Georgetown Grand Caymen and Montego Bay Jamaica. We don't expect much reasonable internet on the ship so will have to update the Blog and our many pictures after we return on Nov.16th. check this link for our itinerary

Sat. Nov. 8th. We had a relaxing day at home, getting things together for the cruise and chatted with our neighbours from Ottawa. Forever enjoying the warm sunny weather. 

Fri. Nov.7th 274 miles today FUEL PRICE !!! $1.83 uS gal @ 25% exchange 0.60.9 cents a litre WOW!!! at the Flying J in Houston We departed Lafayette at 8.45am heading west to Willis Texas and checked into Castaways RV park at about 2.00pm. here we will leave our coach while we go on our Caribbean Cruise on sunday The drive was good, but driving thru Houston is one place that people try to avoid, with the constant construction and an unbelievable maze of interchanges and overpasses. One thing we had forgotten about was the Texas U turns, when exiting the thruway on the ramp the very left lane is not the left turn lane, it takes you right under the overpass and back up onto the thruway in the opposite direction you were travelling, confusing at first but very convenient. We set up once we found a suitable site, aimed our satellite dish then a quick trip to local grocery store for a few items. While checking out the campground we ran into a couple that camped beside us in Abita Springs LA. small world. For supper we enjoyed a roasted cornish hen with Swiss Chalet sauce and fries for supper, yummy. Tomorrow we get ready for our cruise.

Thurs. Nov. 6th Cooler today and a little bit of rain showers. Suzie took Angelo out to get a new computer program and help him set it up. I puttered about the RV making a few adjustments here and there. A relaxing day. The I made supper for our hosts a peameal back bacon roast (not available in the USA), garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with cheese sauce. 

Wed. Nov.5th Bright and sunny day welcomes us and 22c (74f) by 8.00am. We went to Jon's school where he teaches grade 5-6 students part time to meet his students. They wanted to meet some Canadians and wondered if we really said EH! They were delighted to meet us see our Canadian Flag and some of our colorful money. Later we took a 30 minute drive south to Avery Island home of the one and only Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory. Here Tabasco Pepper sauce is made much the same way as it was well over 100 years ago, but now they produce 700,000 bottles a day. The Capsicum frutescens pepper plant from which Tabasco is made are hand picked every August and mashed with Avery Island salt, packed in white oak barrels and aged 3 years. Then it is mixed with premium vinegar and stirred for a month strained then bottled. From here it is shipped all over the World with labels printed in 19 non English languages. After the tour we went to the Tabasco Country store just full of everything Tabasco related. From all the many sauces, including A-l Steak sauce , Heinz Ketchup, dill pickles. relishes, dips, popcorn, peanuts, ice cream, soda pop enhanced with Tabasco sauce. Even clothes, decorations, cook books and utensils all available. Later that evening we went to the Bonefish Grill for an amazing dinner of seafood, beginning with Mussels Josephine and Bang Bang Shrimp, very tasty! Imperial Longfin, Sea Scallops and Shrimp, Sea Bass, and Mahi Mahi all very tasty. Wed. Pics 

 Tues. Nov. 4th We left Abita Springs at 9.00 am and onto I-10 west we stopped at Camping World for a couple of RV items then continued on to Lafayette Louisiana. The raised interstate above the swamp for about 18 miles is quite interesting. We arrived at Jon and Angelos about 12:30pm and parked in their driveway. Jon then took us on a very informative narrated tour of Lafayette, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, the huge "Live" Oak tree and above ground cemetery. (a live Oak trees is never without leaves, the new ones push the old ones off). We were enlightend as to the Cajun heritage, which is the French (Acadians) that had settled in Nova Scotia in the 1700's and were banished from there by the English , then they made their way down to the Gulf of Mexico and up the Bayou Teche to St Martinville and Lafayette. We toured more of the area and the amazing ships logs, eternal flame and some of the family crests. We returned back to their place and were treated with an amazing cook it yourself meal, called a Gourmet, (dutch) with small personal fry pans and our our meat, beef, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, spices and sauces to cook our own meal and chat, accompanied by a nice salad, fresh bread and good wine, a delicious social dinner. Lafayette pics

Mon. Nov. 3rd Still awesome weather, do laundry in the morning and a trip to Walmart for a few items. We chatted with our new neighbours from Ottawa Ontario for a bit then BBq some chicken wings for supper. Getting ready to head out Tuesday morning to Lafayette Louisiana and vist with Jon and Angelo for a few nights, they have full hook-ups in their driveway including 50 amp electric, water and sewer. From here we plan to take a day trip to Avery Island to see the Tabasco facility. On friday to campground north of Houston where we our coach while we take our 7 day cruise on sunday. Not sure when we might have internet but will update our blog when we do. 

 Sun. Nov.2 About 75f (25c) again and a nice day to take a drive to New Orleans and visit the French quarter once again. We left about 10.00am and drove about 1 hour across the causeway (40 kms long) and made our way into the French Quarter. Amazing place always changing. A street vendor recommended a few local restaurants for lunch so we checked them out and ended at Cafe Maspero at 601 rue Decatur. Excellent recommendation. Huge portions and very reasonable prices. A large corned beef sandwich and clubhouse for Suzie both with fries and 3 beers only $20.00. Good service, nothing fancy but nice, we could not eat it all. We later walked down Decatur to the French market taking in the sights and sounds of the street entertainers and musicians, then made our way up to the famous Bourbon street with wall to wall clubs , and music overflowing on to the streets. Some of the houses have there stairs right onto the sidewalk and many had their doors open, you were only 10 feet from their living room quite interesting. We checked out a few shops and grabbed a beverage as we walked along for a few hours. About 3 hours later we made our way back to the car and drove the causeway back to the North Shore. Another recommendation was Daiquiris and Cream that we stopped to check out in Mandeville. It is a drive thru like a donut shop but all they serve is beer and Daiquiris and mixed drinks, no coffee or food!!! Back at our campsite to check email relax and have another campfire, no supper too full!! Another great day French Quarter pics 

Sat. Nov. 1st Wow November already and another bright and sunny day 75f (25C) relax and enjoy the weather. Putter about a bit and do some minor maintenance. We had a nice BBQ steak for dinner, baked potato and broccoli and cheese sauce. Then had the neighbours over to enjoy our propane campfire. Only 8 more days until we depart from Galveston for our 7 day Carribean Cruise.