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Caribbean Cruise 2013

Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam

Once again we sailed the high seas and again it was on Holland America. This is our third cruise on this line and have never had a bad experience (I assume you have seen the news). We had a great occasion also as it was our twenty year anniversary!!!! What a better way to spend it than on a glorious ocean liner with a beautiful wife!!

We started by taking a red-eye flight to Ft Lauderdale, my first time to Florida! The problem with that was our arrival was very early in the morning and we couldn’t board the ship until early afternoon. We killed time by hanging out in a Starbucks and walking around a shopping center that most stores hadn’t even opened yet……booooring! When we finally were in the boarding area, we had a big surprise for some friends of ours. Cordell had to stay back in Snoqualmie. He gets to go over and stay with Jenny, our pet sitter! When she picked him up, she was on her way to take care of our friends Rich and Gloria Monsoor that live up here on the Ridge. We talked about where we were going and she said it sounded very familiar. She checked their itinerary, and we were on the same cruise! What is weird about this is, it is the SECOND time it has happened! They were on our last two-week cruise to Alaska! When we found them in the boarding area, they were floored! Now we had cruise buddies!

It was a wonderful cruise and the weather was warm and the seas usually calm. We made stops at Grand Turks where we did a Segway tour and some awesome snorkeling. The overall impression we had there wasn’t that good. People seemed lazy and there was litter and trash everywhere. Seen it, don’t need to go back. Then we hit San Juan, Puerto Rico! What a vibrant place and pretty clean. We hit the Bacardi Distillery and went to the old fort of El Morro and walked through the old tunnels and took great pictures and a video of the surrounding area! Next we stopped in St Maarten on the Dutch side of Philipsburg. It was pretty hot and muggy there but we absolutely loved the place. It was so cool and the people were happy and content. The place was spotless. We walked about the shops and along the boardwalk. We stopped at the Blue Bitch Bar for some refreshingly cold beers and something to eat! Across the Bay we saw some condos that we may be able to stay in via our timeshare so we may be back to the beautiful place! Our last stop was at Half Moon Cay which is a very beautiful island, but owned by the cruise lines and just a place for the passengers to drop some more money! It was fun anyway and they provided a good BBQ! Then it was back to Florida boo hoo! Since we had almost a full day to kill since we were taking a late flight back to Seattle, we decided to do one more excursion. This one was to the Everglades for an airboat ride and a visit to the wild animal center there! It also included a transfer to the airport so that worked out great! We only saw one alligator on the boat ride. The Everglades are very dry and this upsets them and they move to other areas with deeper waters. The animal center was very cool. Debbie held a baby alligator and even touched the tail end of a huge boa which is a feat in itself since she is terrified of snakes. Finally we got on the plane for an uneventful trip home. It was a great time! Check out the pictures here! Can’t wait to see what happens during the next twenty years!

Seventeen Years

Ahhhhhh yet another year has passed of wedded bliss with my sweetie. We put another notch on the anniversary pole. There are now seventeen notches logged. This was my year to plan the secret get away and I had a tough time figuring out just where to take my girl. After some serious pondering, I came up with the idea of a ski weekend might be fun. Since the Winter Olympics had just been held in Vancouver/Whistler, that destination was discarded as an idea. After doing some research and putting out some feelers, a buddy of mine gave me the idea of taking the train to Whitefish, MT and skiing there. At first I thought that may be to far to go just for a weekend, but after checking into it, it looked like a great idea. On Friday afternoon we hopped on the Amtrak Empire Builder and away we went. Debbie has been on Amtrak before, but I hadn’t and neither of us had slept on a train. I had booked a sleeper car which was nice, but very small. We had to sleep in bunk type beds that brought back memories of childhood. Along with the sleeper came dinner in the dining car! I was very impressed  with the quality of food on the train. Sure beats airline food any day! Then came sleeping……oh boy! Debbie had chosen the upper bunk which she later regretted as it was small, hard, and had no window to look out. She got little sleep and I didn’t fare much better! With all the rocking and noises and whistle stops, I mostly watched the clock and tossed.

We arrived in Whitefish early the next morning bleary eyed but ready to start our adventure! We got shuttled to our hotel, the Grouse Mountain Lodge, which was a big beautiful lodge right on a golf course. There would be no golfing on this trip as there was still snow on the ground. Even though it was early morning, our room was already ready so we could head right up and get freshened up. Even though we were dead tired, we decided to head up to the slopes for a half day of skiing. After a quick breakfast, we got the shuttle and headed to Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort! It was beautiful and the weather was gorgeous, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day of spring skiing and we had a blast. We skied pretty good for not having much sleep, but once we got back to the lodge, we didn’t last very long. The next day we put in a full day on the slopes then went into town after we were worn out. Whitefish is a very cool place surrounded by mountains and lakes. As we usually do when we visit new places, we think we might like to live in them and Whitefish was no different. This place has possibilities for a future place for us to land after retirement and could be a target on our six-year plan as Debbie will have 30 years in the State Retirement System and can throw the working world away! We plan on a return trip to spend more time checking things out.

After walking around town and grabbing a bite, we headed back to the lodge and readied for our trip home. It would be another all nighter on the train again and we had a plan. Deb took the lower bunk and I had to suffer above. We headed to the lounge car and had a few adult beverages to get us happy and tired. When we were ready to crash, took a couple of Tylenol PM, shoved in some ear plugs, and hoped for the best. It helped, but we still only got a fitful night’s sleep but managed to get up before the last call for breakfast. As I type this back in our warm cozy home sore, tired, ready to sleep in my own bed, I realize I won’t get to posting the pictures on our Flickr page until sometime later, so I won’t even post this until I do. It may be a few days before you even read this.  It was worth every sore muscle and every hour of lost sleep and another anniversary memory to never forget!

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