Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas

We’re counting down to Rich’s birthday cruise to the Bahamas. After the month we’ve have, we really need to get away – we’re so glad we made the decision to book another cruise when we got back from my birthday trip to L.A./cruise to Ensenada.

I’m looking forward to my first Margarita and Rich can taste those Guy’s Burgers. Sipping, relaxing, noshing… ah, life at sea!

Shadow, Daisy, and I are up again during the night. I’m hoping they’ll keep quiet and let Rich sleep before getting up for work in a couple of hours. They’re now asleep at my feet as I write this. In this moment, we’re all okay so it’s hard to get up from the computer and go back to bed.

Shadow is getting better about howling his grief – I suppose we all are. It still takes Rich and I by surprise, though, like all the places we still see him or the little things we did with Skipper in mind and now we either don’t need to or don’t especially want to. His presence is all over this house – I suspect we built it for him. After all, he was king! 🙂

Looking back at a few photos from the Vegas years, I’m posting a few of Skipper that especially stood out this morning. And as much as I was desperate to leave Las Vegas, I do miss it sometimes. Certainly, the memories. I definitely needed a break from it, though.

Late Sunday afternoon reminded me of how good we have it here. We just hopped in the car and drove to the beach and there I was dipping my feet in the water. Heaven! You can’t do that in the desert.

A friend and I were talking about meeting my father 16 years ago and how it was too short and I realized I knew Skipper longer than I knew my father.

That reminds me of a story about a woman I worked with in San Francisco when we were in ours 20s. Her dog died and then her father died and I said to another co-worker, “She seemed more upset about her dog dying than her father.” And Stefany said, “I suspect she got a lot more love from her dog than she ever did from her father.”

Anyway, here’s to Skipper. Look at those eyes – he would give me that look and he seemed so human. I will miss him forever! Love you, sweet boy!

 

 

 

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Saying Farewell to July from Port Canaveral

July was a tough month, as it always is. Usually, it’s about the weather but not for the weather this year. I’d much rather spend July in Florida than Las Vegas. Much easier to handle.

Still, I didn’t escape a tough July. In the midst of celebrating my birthday back in California, we lost our precious Skipper and then two weeks later, my father.

It was a tough weekend trying to cope. But we did take a little trip to Port Canaveral to check out the route to our upcoming cruise. Any excuse will do – lol.

This time we tried brunch at Fish Lips. Rich had the chicken and grits and I had the shrimp and grits and he had a Blue Triangle and I had a Jalapeno Margarita.

Chicken and Grits (bottom) and Shrimp and Grits with Margarita (top)

Bermuda Triangle

After brunch, we walked outside to take some photos of the Carnival Liberty (our next cruise) and then were drawn into walking down to Grills, where we usually dine when we’re in Port Canaveral, to see the ginormous Oasis of the Seas (RCI). Well, that was an amazing sight and we were enticed to sit down at the Tiki Bar area and order a couple of drinks and desert. What a blast!

We were anxious to get home and find out more about this ship, thinking it would be awesome to sail again from Port Canaveral. But when we watched a Youtube video, we realized (once again) these ships are so not for us. We don’t want so much inside activity – outside Promenade decks seem to be disappearing in favor of more revenue producing venues. Even Princess has cut back on the outside Promenade Deck and aft pool, which were our two favorite things about Princess.

Being at sea is the whole point of the cruise for us and we want to be aware of that as much as we can.

Carnival Liberty

Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas from Grills

Rum Runner (Rich), Margarita (Kathy), and Key Lime Pie (shared)

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Five

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

We got up early, Rich brought us some coffees and pastries while I showered, and we made our way to the Theatre to wait for disembarkation. We were off the ship by about 7:15 a.m. We saw our friend April and her friend again and we chatted once again. She wished me “Happy Birthday” again – really fun girls!

We had so many ideas about what we might do this day since we were flying back to Florida until the next day. One popular idea was to go to Disneyland if we got off the ship early. Well, we were off early but we were exhausted so we drove to Newport Beach.

It was only 8:30 am but already all parked up. So we drove to Huntington Beach and had breakfast at Norm’s – where our favorite pancakes in the world awaited and the friendliest, hometown experience.

Then we went to Mass at one of our regular SoCal churches. We were blessed to have been part of a baptism. So far, we were really feeling at home again.

We also drove around some of our favorite neighborhoods and when our hotel wasn’t ready early like we’d requested, we drove to Corona del Mar, hoping to enjoy the beach there. Nope – parking full. We ended up taking the ferry to Balboa Island, although there was quite a line of cars ahead of us.

This was a favorite childhood hangout for my family, including my mother who used to hang out there as a teen. My novel, Letters on Balboa Island, was inspired by all that.

Exhausted from getting up early and driving around, we decided to park at our hotel and wait in the lobby for our room. They’d offered a pool view room but we waited for our water view room.

We ended up ordering room service – burgers and wine – and relaxed and sipped and watched the sun set over Balboa Bay where I used to go with my family to watch 4th of July fireworks!

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip (Pre-Trip Report) Updated

So excited, I’m jumping up and down! We’ve been going back and forth with how to celebrate my birthday in SoCal. Longing for home, we’ve booked and unbooked hotels near the beach, near Disneyland, and then finally booked a cruise. But I started to miss Disneyland. So, here are the latest plans:

Wednesday:

MCO to LAX, check into Anaheim Hilton. Dinner at Napa Rose

Thursday:

Drive to Huntington Beach, breakfast at Norm’s, then drive up PCH to Long Beach where we will board Carnival cruise ship at the new terminal – can’t wait to try the new terminal! Cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, round trip.

Friday:

Day at Sea – Sea Day Brunch, Chef’s Table birthday dinner

Saturday:

Ensenada – booked a wine and lunch excursion in the vineyards. Were so wowed by the vineyards in Ensenada several years ago. Who knew Ensenada had such a wine culture? You usually think of Tequila when you think of Mexico.

Sunday:

Return to Long Beach. Drive to Disneyland – get park hopper – do Disneyland in the morning, check into Anaheim Hilton for afternoon rest, and then back to DCA for the evening – Dinner at Carthay Circle (martinis and amazing biscuits, here we come!)

Monday:

LAX to MCO

I’m so stoked about getting to do Disneyland, the beach, and a cruise for my birthday! In the meantime, we’ve got a little overnight trip planned for Epcot and the MK as a pet sitter test run. She seems really great and was recommended by our visit but it’s always good to do a short trip close to home before flying across the country and going out to sea. Just in case anything needs to be ironed out.

 

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip (Pre-Trip Report)

You might recall we’d booked the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort for my birthday in July. It’s a semi-milestone year for me and feeling homesick, I really want to get back to SoCal. On a side note, Valerie, our Vegas petsitter, originally from Long Beach, and her husband moved to Long Island, NY two years ago and she’s having the same homesickness. “I didn’t know it would be this hard,” she said. I knew it was hard, but I didn’t know I would miss “home” so much so early this time around.

Anyhoo, what to do, what to do to make the most of this trip to get that feeling of home? We have booked and unbooked and rebooked so many different things. Including Paradise Pier. Some of you may remember the time we stayed there about 10 years ago (the “Big Kahuna Family”) with all of our trials and said we’d never stay there again. For one thing, it’s an awfully long walk to the parks and you can no longer cut through the GC to get to DCA due to security reasons. Bummer!

And we love to cruise. And, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Flower & Garden post, we’re missing Mexico!

Really thinking hard about spending the whole trip hiking around the parks and getting to/from them, especially with this latest hip flare-up at Epcot. It’s too bad the GC is so outrageously expensive these days – that’s the resort we truly love. So we changed it up. Here are the new plans:

Wednesday:

MCO to LAX, check into Queen Mary area hotel (not staying at the Queen Mary again – yikes!) Have dinner/drinks at our favorite restaurants/bars on the Queen Mary.

Thursday:

Board Carnival cruise ship at the new Long Beach terminal – can’t wait to try the new terminal! Cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, round trip.

Friday:

Day at Sea – Sea Day Brunch

Saturday:

Ensenada – booked a wine and lunch excursion in the vineyards. Were so wowed by the vineyards in Ensenada several years ago. Who knew Ensenada had such a wine culture? You usually think of Tequila when you think of Mexico.

Sunday:

Return to Long Beach. Drive to Huntington Beach, grab a burger at In N out, catch up with my beach cities and check into hotel in Anaheim. Birthday dinner at Napa Rose that night.

Monday:

LAX to MCO

Valerie said she flew back to LA to visit family and it made being back in Long Island harder! I’m hoping that hitting the highlights in SoCal will satisfy that need and that returning to our beautiful home in the Orlando area will show me how great life is here.

Some of the fun we had at Hussong’s the last time we were in Ensenada:

First Light in Florida

The best reason for living in Florida is waking up before the sun is up, sipping my first cup of coffee out on the Lanai, soaking in the quiet, the pond tranquility, the fascinating, moving clouds, and the many hues displayed in the morning sky. Absolutely breathtaking! It’s like having a mini vacay before daylight.

Being an early riser these days, I often do this alone, but sometimes, like yesterday and this morning before work, Rich joined me. I’ve been snapping pics from my iPhone but I’ve dug out the regular camera and may be taking some photos using it next.

Once the sun was bright enough to blind us, we drove off to the beach and enjoyed a morning walk on the beach and then Rich got our “Margaritaville” beach chairs, and we sat on the beach, enjoying the smell, feel, and sounds of the ocean. Heaven!

Oh yes, and then we opened up the “Director’s Cut” from the latest Coppola shipment, celebrating the California birthday plans Rich has made for me.

 

Port Canaveral

Waking up on a Saturday morning with so many options can be daunting.

After mulling over a few possibilities last Saturday, we chose to drive to Port Canaveral to see the cruise ships and to test out the drive for a future cruise. It’s always fun to see the DCL busses whizzing by. It was a nice familiar sight after living in our new beach town for a month now. We love it, but it is an adjustment to living in an unfamiliar place.

We also had lunch at our usual, Gulls Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar, although we noticed several other restaurants along that row for a future visit. My lunch was so sparse, I was starving afterwards (a few grilled shrimp and nothing else), so we shared an amazing chocolate cake. Basically, I had a margarita and a piece of chocolate cake for lunch – lol! We managed to take a shot of it after a bite or two. 🙂

Rich and his Summer Breeze

Chocolate Chip Cake (minus a bite or two)

After lunch, we walked along the water to see how close we could get to the ships. There were 4 ships in port that day: Disney Fantasy, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Sunshine.

Norwegian Epic, Disney Dream, and one of the Carnival ships in photo