Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A great trip, but a sore butt.

We are back home after a long trip starting about 11 AM Sunday morning. Going through Customs in St Maartin was nothing like the circus we went through in New York. It is obvious that 9/11 changed a lot about the way people entering this country after visiting a foreign land are treated. Just saying.

A four and a half hour flight to JFK in New York followed by a five and a half hour flight to Los Angeles gives new meaning to the term “sore butt”.

We arrived in LA at 12:30 AM Monday morning, picked up our luggage and waited until almost 1:30 for the hotel shuttle to take us to the LA Hilton. By the time we got to our room it was almost 2 AM LA time but 5 AM St Maartin time.

I had picked up a cold on Friday which made for a miserable flight. I had trouble clearing my ears as we descended in altitude.

By 2 AM I just flopped into bed and then couldn't sleep. Too much antihistamine I am sure as I don't normally take that stuff.

We took the 11 AM Airbus back home yesterday morning arriving about 1:30 PM. A very long trip.

Don't get me wrong, we loved the trip both to Orlando and St Maartin. It is the travel that gets tiring.

I want to include one or two photos from St Maartin to finish this.

Also, as bad as I feel, there is no time to rest as I leave Friday morning for Death Valley.

I did sleep for several hours last night, thank goodness.

 I am thinking of having a 10 foot canvas print made of this for my living room wall so I can enjoy the view whenever I want. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Trade winds, pool time, ocean, biki……

Oh, that too!

We arrived in St Maartin on Sunday afternoon after getting up at 3 AM for a 6:15 flight from Orlando to Atlanta. About a 2 hour connection then on to St Maartin. The rooms are very nice. We are in a studio with a kitchen and dinning room, a balcony over looking the pool and the ocean. Very, very, nice!

We have restaurants nearby and a small grocery for most things we might need. The roads are very hilly here at Pelican Point near the bridge from Simpson Bay. We can see the planes land and take off from the airport and it's infamous beach at the end of the airstrip.

We have spent a lot of time in the pool and lounging in the shade. When the trade winds are blowing it is really nice but rather hot and humid if they stop.

Some photos from our stay so far.

Cindy and Clyda in the pool.
Nice pool with ocean in the background.
 Clyda, Cindy, and Gary.
Cruise ship heading for Phillipsburg nearby.
Sunset last night.
 Dinner at Bon Appetit (French).
Waiting for a bus.
 Lunch at the beach.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

At a Timeshare South of Disney World.

Our trip from home to Florida was looooonng. We took the Airbus to Los Angeles at 6 PM for a 11:15 PM flight to Detroit. We had time for a leisurely dinner at LAX before our flight. The flight was fine and we arrived about 6:30 AM. Why Detroit you ask? Our friends Cindy and Gary were flying to Detroit from San Francisco so it made sense to meet them there and fly together to Orlando.

We had only minutes before our flight left for Orlando as they were calling our name when we arrived at the gate. We actually got an upgrade to seats closer to the front to the plane. I had asked for a wheel chair for Clyda and glad that we did as it was a half mile between gates. Oh, we also had a TSA pre-check on our tickets so we didn't need to unload everything from our bags to go through security.

Arriving in Orlando, we got the rental car and drove to Mystic Dunes, a Diamond Resorts property South of Disney World. It is a big property with 23 buildings and over 900 rooms. Beautiful grounds but outdated furnishings in the units but Diamond will eventually upgrade them all.

We drove to what we thought was Downtown Disney where there is shopping and restaurants that you can visit without paying a Park entrance fee. Everything is under construction and all the close in parking lots were full so we left.

We came back the next day when there were less people and took a ride on the free boats that travel between parks. We went to “Key West” and had a leisurely lunch before going back to Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs (The name changed last week). We saw the movie “The Martian” which was very good. 

 Disney Springs.
Boat ride around Disney Springs.

After the movie we drove towards Orlando and the “Orlando Eye” a giant wheel like the London Eye or The LINQ in Las Vegas. We all rode the “Eye” which takes about 25 minutes to make a complete loop. It was dark by the time our trip started but as flat as Florida is you can see a long way. As a matter of fact, we can see the fireworks from Disney if we go to the 6th floor balcony at our timeshare.

The Orlando Eye.
Aboard the Orlando Eye.

Yesterday we drove to Cocoa Beach and did a 2 hour boat tour of the Banana River where we saw lots of birds but no Manatees. We picnicked at a local park, walked to the beach which was interesting as it was full of people, unlike our February visit when very few people we on the beach.

Ed and Clyda prior to the boat tour.
Cindy and Gary .
Pelicans roosting in the Mangrove trees

We drove North of Titusville to a Manatee viewing area the boat captain had told us about and saw numerous Manatees feeding in the shallow water of a boat launch area. There were large and some quit small Manatees along with one who appeared to be very large. It was snorting and showing its flipper. Quit interesting.

We then took a 7 mile drive through the St Johns National Wildlife Refuge and then drove to Christmas, FL where we had camped in February while on our Florida trip. We went to the Orlando Wetlands Park nearby which we had also visited last February.

Today, Thursday was a pool day.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Update on weekend trip.

Weekend trip to Pismo Beach to celebrate our friend Don's birthday.

A great weekend with friends and lots of good food. I cooked brats Friday night for about a dozen people. They are best cooked in beer with a sliced onion for about a half hour then grilled for a few minutes. Serve with sauerkraut and condiments.

On Saturday I helped grill tri-tips for 18 or 20 people. We cooked outside then wrapped the tri-tips in foil to finish cooking. We ate in the RV park club house which has a nice kitchen with lots of counter space to serve from. The meal was finished off with a birthday cake for Don.

On Sunday morning Budd and I cooked bacon, sausage, eggs and pancakes for everyone. We have this breakfast down to a science as we have done it so often. Budd does the bacon and eggs to order and I do the pancakes.

Later, Sunday morning we drove to the Lompoc Elks club for a one night stay. We have friends who live next to the club which is convenient. After visiting for a while we drove to Buellton for a relaxing wine tasting at Alma Rosa winery followed by a very nice dinner at Industrial Eats next door to the winery.

I had read about Industrial Eats in this months issue of Sunset magazine. They featured wine and food on the West coast starting in Santa Barbara and ending in Southern Oregon. We each ordered something different to eat. The restaurant menu is printed on brown paper hanging on the wall and features PIZZA and NON-PIZZA items. The meats are outstanding as they do their own butchering. I had probably the best burger every which was the Sunday special menu item. It was a perfect way to end a Sunday with friends.

Saturday afternoon Clyda and I are off on a two week adventure with our friends Cindy and Gary. We will spend a week in Florida at a timeshare then another week in St Maarten in the Caribbean before flying home. The flying portion of this trip will be a strain on Clyda to be sure. I always book her an isle seat so she can get up and move around. This trip has us in the air 4 times with each time made up of two flights. Lots of air time.