Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

They sure do keep you busy on these ships! We have been having a BLAST doing trivia three times a day 🙂

We have a few different groups of people we do trivia with and we have been getting to know them pretty well. We’ve won trivia twice now (and come in close a few other times).  We do a lot better at the pop culture questions than we do the geography and world history stuff. Go figure.

We had a ton of fun the other night playing The Liar’s Club—laughing to the point of tears! Basically, three of the crew members sit on a panel.  They are given a word (something which no one has ever heard of before) and they each tell a story which gives the definition.  The stories explain what the definition is, how they know it, etc.  Two of the people are lying…and they are ALL trying to throw you off.  My favorite new word: erecterine.  I dare you to try to make up a definition for that word before looking it up 🙂

The shows have been really neat.  We watched a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration. So cool!DSCN2051


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We also got to see the an AMAZING fiddler named David Klinkenberg.  He played a blue-grass version of Flight of the Bumblebees that would knock your socks off!  We ended up buying one of his cds (though not the Christmas one—they were sold out).  We got to chat with him as well afterwards. So cool!


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Till next post!

The third day in Hawaii was spent in Maui.  We had a walking tour scheduled in the morning.  We had our walking shoes on and were ready to go!


Our tour guide was a historian of the island. He was also an emergency responder, practitioner of Hawaiian medicine, and a minister (just to name a few). 


There actually wasn’t much walking on the tour.  The guy took us around town and pointed to stuff that “used to” be there.  We saw quite a few parking lots.  I did get a couple pics of some cool things.  For example, the birthing stone where the Chieftesses used to have to give birth.  Praise the Lord for modern medicine!




The tour included a Hawaiian fruit tasting.  Which ended up being a trip to a local café where they gave us all a piece of pineapple.  Mmmm 🙂



The true fun began when the tour was over.  One of our friends on the ship told us that Maui onion rings are the *best* onion rings on the planet. 

She. Was. Right.

We asked a local where the best onion rings could be found and she sent us to Kimos—a restaurant that does not sell onion rings.  Go figure! So, we walked across the street and found a place called Moose McGillicuttys (not actually sure how it’s spelled) and they had Maui Onion Rings on the menu.  I paired it with a Moose Mai Tai.  Mmmm!



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Then we were off to find some shaved ice. I had already had some on Kauai, but I wanted to get some that were made Maui-style. Basically, it comes with gelato in the bottom of the cup. I got pina colada flavored ice this time.  It was the perfect thing to have while walking around town and enjoying the Christmas decorations.


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And, of course, I took a few pictures while sailing away 🙂


The next morning we arrived at Hilo on The Big Island—and it was raining.  No beach for us!  Fortunately, there are 2 free shuttles at every port.  One takes you to Hilo Haddies (Hawaiian merchandise store) and the other is run by Walmart (go figure).  We started out at Hilo Haddies where we saw the world’s largest Hawaiian shirt.  Woohoo!



We then walked around the mall. And Walmart.  But ONLY because we were told it is the largest Walmart in the USA <excuses, excuses>. 

We actually spent a bit of time trying to find a café with Kona coffee, since Kona is located on the Big Island. No luck! 

Ah well! Aloha Hawaii! Until next time 🙂


The past few days in Hawaii have flown by!  We docked in Kauai in the early hours of the morning of our second day.



Kauai was definitely my favorite island. We didn’t have any big plans for the day, so we just left the ship and walked into town (less than a mile).  When we got there, we found a nice beach for swimming 🙂

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We spent a couple of hours just swimming, reading, and playing in the sand.

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We also had a chance to try out some shaved ice.  I got a Blue Hawaiian flavored one (can you guess what it actually tested like?).  Yum!

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On our way back out to sea, I went up on deck to take some pictures.  A whale breeched the water right next to the boat (I was on the opposite side, of course, so I didn’t get a picture). But I got some great shots of the island and the sunset. I’ll share a few 🙂

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Bonus points for those of you who get the movie reference in the title (hint: replace Kauai with Ohio).

We made it to land!  We spent our first day in Hawaii on Oahu.  I was so excited, I woke up every 30 minutes or so after 3am.  Just waiting for the sun to peek in from the balcony so that I knew it was time to get up!

We left first thing in the morning to go on a tour of the island. Our tour guide was phenomenal! She grew up on the island and was able to tell us a lot of really interesting information—everything from which movies were filmed here to agriculture to where to buy cookies.  Amazing!

This is a quick snapshot I took of Diamondhead as we drove past.  They call it Diamondhead because way-back-when people saw it sparkle at the top and thought there were diamonds.  Turned out to be calcite crystals though.


We stopped off at a couple spots to take photos of the beautiful beaches.  Right around here is where they filmed From Here to Eternity 🙂

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This is called Rabbit Island—which is strange since it’s a bird sanctuary.  It got the name because someone brought rabbits to the island. The island eventually became overrun with rabbits and they were destroying the plant life (which hurt the birds), so they had to get rid of the rabbits.  Still call it Rabbit Island though 🙂


Quick break at a local shop.  We found a statue of a local high school sumo wrestler. 


Last stop was at the top of the island on a cliff.  I never knew there was such a thing as wild chickens, but there are.  They live here. Right along with the wild “cats” 🙂


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Beautiful views at the top, but VERY windy!


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They mention Elmira, NY on this!



Afterwards we walked around Honolulu a bit and got our picture taken with Miss Hawaii (scariest thing I’ve done yet).




Saw the food truck from Hawaii-50 (this pic is for you, Fiona):



And mostly just got to see some neat stuff—like a chocolate mouse 🙂





Next stop—> Kauai!

See ya later, LAND!  Anson and I are on a cruise to Hawaii!  There is no internet on the ship.  Well, technically there *is* internet, but there’s no way we’re paying the $75 to use it. I was planning to write on the blog when we got home, but Anson thought it would be a good idea to write as we go so that we don’t forget anything. He’s a smart man 🙂

We got on the ship a little after noon on Thursday and went straight for the room.  We have a pretty amazing view from our balcony. 

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Shortly after arriving, we participated in the mandatory emergency drill.  Apparently every cruise must do these drills prior to leaving port.  We read the instructions before we left:  Bring your life jacket and your cruise card to the muster station, don’t let the strap of the life jacket drag on the floor, do not put your life jacket on, etc…pretty easy stuff.  It was somewhat annoying when they also read the instructions aloud over the intercom…and then read them again…and again.  Though it shortly became apparent why. The drill ended up being pretty entertaining–we watched every single rule get broken.  People had NO IDEA what was going on.  It was nuts!  The staff was amazingly patient though and got everyone through it.

We spent most of the first day exploring the ship and participating in a scavenger hunt.  Everyone who finished got entered into a drawing.  And then sleep.  Lots and lots of sleep.

The next day we got up and went to see The Princess Bride on the big screen.  We’ve also (thus far) watched Big and a good chunk of Back to the Future. It’s like this cruise was made for me! 

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Handsome man on deck!



After that, we went to see who won the drawing for the scavenger hunt—Anson did!


Of course, we won free dinner on a formal night. And, of course, we didn’t plan on going to any of the formal nights. So, we gave our prize away to some nice people we met at breakfast. 

One of the great things about the cruise is that there are lots of trivia events.  Like I said, it’s like this cruise was made for us.  Or, it’s made for older people. And Anson and I just fit in alarmingly well with the older crowds that make up 90% of the people on the cruise (we are one Steve Guttenberg away from Cocoon here).   Ah well, who cares? Everyone is so nice, we always get invited to join a team.  I enjoyed my first real pina colada at the first trivia. And we won the second trivia!  We got a bottle of champagne—still trying to find someone to give that away to  🙂

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During our down time we have been enjoying playing cards, reading, and swimming.  Hopefully I’ll get better at taking pictures of all this stuff as the cruise goes on :) 

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I feel like the past few weeks have flown by!  I went to Maryland and got to hang out with the Hotovy and Horton families for a couple days.  It’s always fun seeing everyone :)  And I have some cute pictures of Leonie to share!



After my visit, I hopped in a car with the Dallavalle family and headed to Disney!  I’ve posted a ton of pictures on facebook, so I’ll only share a couple of favorites here.

The first Disney day we went to Epcot. I didn’t have high expectations as it’s always been a running joke in our household that Epcot is the most boring place on earth.  It was my FAVORITE part of Disney!  I really enjoyed getting to see the different countries and could probably spend a few days just exploring the park. 


The second day we went to Hollywood Studios.  There were a lot of fun rides and the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground was definitely a highlight.  In fact, the entire park made me want to go home and watch movies I haven’t seen since I was a kid!


The third day was Animal Kingdom. It was probably the hottest day of the week (which is saying a lot). We went on a safari and it was a ton of fun—elephants make every day better.  Plus, I got to try my first mojito!

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Days 4 & 5 were spent in the Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately, it rained both days. But we still got a lot of fun in!  It was great to get to ride some of the iconic rides—It’s a Small World, Dumbo, Teacups, etc.  Plus, we got to ride Splash Mountain—Kira is not scared of roller coasters at all!

The girls also got a makeover at the Bippity Boppity Boutique and we had brunch at Cinderella’s castle.  SO AWESOME!  I want to go back and do that again 🙂


After a full week of rides, shows, princesses, pools, ice cream and the hot,hot sun, it was time to go home.  It was a great trip and I am so glad I was invited to go!

I slept for about 24 hours after getting home.  After the first day, I managed to stop getting lost in my own house 🙂

Now, back to reality!  I have some church stuff coming up this week—game night and a Council retreat. Anson will spend the weekend coding <insert sounds of shock here>.   Next weekend we’re going to the Renaissance Faire—expect pictures!

On Day 2 of our trip, Angie and her family showed up early in the morning.  The Inn was nice enough to let them check in super early—so awesome 🙂


We started off the day by going sledding. The girls were super excited about the sledding hill out back.  There wasn’t any fresh snow, so it was just a hill maintained by the Inn.


It was a lot of fun going down the first few times.  The girls were having a blast!






After the first few trips down, we had packed down the snow enough that the hill was almost completely ice. That’s when we all started wiping out.  All the adults had sore bottoms—the kids were lucky enough to have super-padded snow suits.

Mia was the first to sustain an injury. She had a bloody nose. As they were carrying her up the hill, she was screaming “I want to go down again!”  So, we let her :)  After the adults got sore enough, we all gave up.




Later that day, we all went to the Unique Gift Shop. No cameras allowed.  But, there was a neat moose outside.



They had some cool hand-crafted stuff. They claimed the chocolate they made was as good as lindt—it wasn’t.

We then went to the Norman Rockwell Museum.  Also an unheated warehouse :)  The girls had a lot of fun!  It was really neat to see all the artwork.  Mia’s favorite was the one where the dog was trying to pull the boy’s pants off.



Kira liked trying to act like the people in the paintings 🙂



After the museum, we went to a place called Kelvin’s for lunch. It was pretty awesome food.  Angie got a sandwich called the “Kelvinator” which I’m pretty sure contained multiple kinds of meat and french fries. So good!



All the girls got peppermint patties! Love this pic!


Kira played some Flow Free over lunch—love it!


When we got back to the inn, we got to meet up with Anson’s parents. 


And then—PAJAMA PARTY!  We watched White Christmas (in Vermont—yay!), ate candy, and just had an all-around good time.





What a great way to end the night!  The next day….the vow renewal!

Anson and I travelled to Vermont to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  We went out for a whole week and renewed our vows somewhere in the middle. It was awesome 🙂

The flight was as expected.  I had to get a pat down by security (much more extensive than it used to be!).  The lady was laughing with me by the end though—said she appreciated my being so nice about it.  Anson took pictures. I will not be posting them 🙂

The drive from the airport was amazing.  We drove past lots of small-town Christmas decorations, flannel stores, cookie shops….ahh, Vermont!  They also had a radio station playing Casey Kasem counting down the Christmas hits.  Best. Drive. Ever.

The next morning, we started to explore Vermont.  We spent the day with our very awesome friends, The Risneys, who travelled with us.  The restaurant at the inn was heavenly.  Everything was very rich, but worth it!

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We then headed to the Maple Museum.  When we walked in, we appeared to be in a gift shop.  By the door, there was a sign that said “Museum Tour $1.75.” So, we stood waiting until an older lady finally noticed we were there and we were able to ask about the tour.  We paid our money and she led us to the back.  She had to come with us to turn on the lights and warned us that there was no heat inside.  Awesome.


The first thing we saw was this guy:


He gave us a speech about maple syrup.  We were cold though, so we didn’t stay to listen to the whole thing.  The next guy we met was this guy:

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One of the best parts of the museum is the combination of reality and stuffed animals.  They also had some pretty paintings and interesting signs.


And some pretty creepy stuff.  Anson thinks the first guy is the creepiest because of his hands. I think the second guy is because of his eyes.  We need a tie-breaker.


As we were leaving the museum, we got to watch a 1980’s slide show about how maple syrup is made.  We then went to the tasting room where there was a fantastic selection of treats to try.  I sampled all the different kinds of maple syrup and a few of the other local products.

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We then walked around the gift shop and made a few purchases. Yummy stuff!

After that, we headed into downtown Rutland for lunch. Unfortunately, almost all of Rutland is closed on Mondays.  So, after a time, we happened upon a small restaurant that we thought might work.  We walked in and saw the tables decorated with Charlie Brown trees.


Normally I would think this was cute.  However, in this particular case, it was just sad.  We ordered lunch—I ordered a turkey sandwich.  When they brought it to the table, it appeared to be an entire pack of store-bought lunch meat that had been cut in half and placed on the bread with a piece of lettuce.  They also put approximately an entire bag of sunchips on my plate.  I took a couple bites of the sandwich before I became very unsure that the meat on my sandwich was actually turkey.  Ugh.  It’s tempting to write Robert Irvine and recommend this place to Restaurant Impossible! 

So, for dinner we went to the restaurant at the inn. Pumpkin risotto—so good 🙂


All in all, a great first day in VT! 

Today, Sheri and I took an impromptu road trip to Roslyn, WA.  For those of you who don’t know, this is where all of the outdoor scenes for Northern Exposure were filmed. Anson bought me the first few seasons of the show a couple of years ago and I LOVED IT!  So, upon discovering that the town is a mere 90 minutes away, I decided it might be fun to go explore 🙂

Side note:  Sheri and I are wearing matching outfits. It wasn’t planned. It was fate!


Everyone in the town was so nice! It’s such an old fashioned looking place to visit. Lots of fun stuff to see:


One of our first stops was to the Gift Shop.  AKA—Dr. Fleischman’s office 🙂



There, we got a tour map of the town. We skipped a lot of the homes because I couldn’t remember what the homes looked like on the show. I’ll have to watch the show again and drag Anson to Roslyn. Out next stop was The Brick bar where we had lunch.  Can you believe it? We actually ate at the Brick!



Of course, we stopped by the radio station, KBHR. It’s still set up! So cool!



Had to get some ice cream from Café Cicely!



We did discover a couple of AWESOME spots that had nothing to do with the show.  For example, we found a gnome!



And, this was probably the most wonderful surprise I could imagine:


It’s like this town was made just for my enjoyment 🙂

And, lastly, we got some pictures with the painted wall.




It was such a great trip! I can’t wait to find a new adventure! Or maybe just repeat this one 🙂

I just got back from my whirlwind tour of MD and NE.  Phew! There was so much going on that I didn’t take very many pictures (I was too tired!).  However, Kira helped me out and I think we got some good ones. I will share what I have (warning: this will probably be a LONG post).

First things first—Kira’s Birthday Party!

Kira had her 5th birthday while I was out in MD.  It was at an art studio and the kiddos got to make some pretty neat sculptures.  Angie and I (but mostly Angie) made her cake, so we got to be creative and have fun as well.

This is Angie icing the 4 layers of strawberry cake.  The layers alternate between pink and purple, but it was a little hard to see until we cut into it.  The icing was homemade buttercream. Soooo good :)  We (and by “we,” I mean “Angie”) decorated with more pink and purple—pretty much anything Kira said she wanted on the cake, Angie took it as a personal mission.  What a great mom!


Kira really enjoyed her birthday party! She got to wear a special dress, have a special cake, and run around with all her friends!  Too cute!



While in MD, I finally got a chance to see Mary and Tim’s house. And meet their new puppy, Jake!  However, the time change was beginning to get to me, so I was too tired to run around taking pics.  Lucky for me, Kira took an interest in my camera. She is, of course, a much better photographer than I am.  So, while I took this super cute pic of Mia trying on Uncle Tim’s hat:


I’m pretty sure Kira took the rest of these (though my dad may have taken 1 or 2 to show her how the camera worked).






Truthfully she used up my entire 1g card taking photos. I had to toss a bunch, but it was really tempting to keep them all and recreate Mary and Tim’s house in a collage.  🙂

And then came the roadtrip.  20+ hours in the car.  We tried to stop and rest in Iowa, but all of the hotels were booked. So, we drove straight to Omaha in one trip.  We did get out and play at the rest stops:



Angie and Kira even did their exercises! Go Angie and Kira!


Cuteness overload. Where was I? Oh right! We’re in NE now…

Well, we went to Desi and Brandon’s beautiful wedding.  None of the pictures of the ceremony turned out well.  I didn’t have enough light for my camera to get an un-fuzzy shot.  However, Kira ran around with my camera at the reception. More pics by Kira (except the few that she’s in—I took those):






Naturally, we stopped at the Book Store. Had to get some NE gear so that we could fit in when we walked around town:


The day after the wedding, we made a trip to the zoo with family. It’s always fun to see the cousins!

Kira actually walked across the bridge this time! So brave! And, in case you didn’t know, the NE zoo is AMAZING!









And, we got to visit a couple of times with Grandma Hotovy! She snuck me chocolate.  What can I say? The woman knows me 🙂

Kira took all these photos (love that girl!)


My new favorite pics of my dad:


“Make a silly face Aunt Rachel!”



It was so great getting to see Grandma. Now you all know where Angie and I get our good looks from. And our love of chocolate 🙂



Well, I think this post is getting ridiculously long. But, I just can’t resist a couple extra pics of my super cute nieces:




Alright, I’m done now. I promise I’ll post all the pics (these are just a few) on facebook so that people can tag/share them. Some day. <evil laugh>