"" Writer's Wanderings: June 2019

Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday Funny--Morning Routine

A trip to the zoo inspired this video. Hope it brings you a smile. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Turtle Kisses

Diving is always an adventure. You never know what to expect. An unexpected appearance of a Caribbean gray shark. A dancing juvenile drum fish. Lobster peeking out of a crevice in the coral. A turtle feeding off the vegetation on the bottom. It was the last one that caught our attention on one dive a few years ago but it was what happened after we spotted the turtle that was so much fun.

You see, the turtle spotted us as well and was attracted to Bob or perhaps it just wanted to come in for a close up. Whatever the case, its curiosity brought it right up to the camera Bob was using and for a moment we all thought Bob was going to get a turtle kiss. The video is so much fun to watch and I'm thankful that our grandson Tyler allowed me to use it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Look Back At Some Cayman Diving

We don't take a whole lot of pictures diving any more. There are few people who would want to sit and look through all of them. Bob has learned to edit the videos pretty well and this is one he put together a couple of years ago that is nice.

If you watch it and feel sleepy, you'll know why we like diving so much. It is very relaxing. We don't fall asleep during the dive though, just in case you were wondering.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Playful Sea Lions

In anticipation of our annual dive trip to Grand Cayman I was looking at some of our videos from other trips and I ran across one that was actually from our Galapagos cruise six years ago. We didn't go diving but we did snorkel with the most playful and entertaining and curious sea lions I've ever seen. What a great memory!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday Funny--Baseball Quips

It's been fun as one by one our grandkids reach that significant birthday where Mom and Dad decide they are ready and responsible enough to have their own phone. It's a perk for Grandma and Grandpa too as we are usually among the first to get notified and the texting begins.

Our Florida grandson has had his phone for about a year and has joined the family text circle during the Ohio State football games. That usually involves Grandpa more than me. With me, he's into the Indians baseball season. Why he is a fan of teams not remotely close to Florida is beyond us but he is wholeheartedly involved.

Last weekend the Yankees were in Cleveland for three games. The first two were nailbiters but Cleveland managed to pull them out. The third game became the same kind of edge-of-the-seat game. The Yankees started out with five runs in the second inning but we came back with four runs in the sixth. It was kind of the way the first two games went with us catching up and then winning.

My phone buzzed. The text read, "We're back in the game!" I responded with "you bet!"

Then came the following text: This is the third time I have seen this movie (smiley face).

I responded with laughing emojis.

Buzzing phone: "I like how in this third movie makes you think New York actuly has a chance."

You can see my response in the picture. Well, the game progressed and went into extra innings. The phone buzzed: "This is like when the dark side rebuilt the death star. "

We lost. The phone buzzed: "Let's hope next time we play them it will be the Empire strikes out."

I'm still laughing.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Horses On The Beach

My favorite pictures from our Costa Rica adventure in June of 2018. Worth another look.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Maria's Field of Sunflowers and Hope

This year's field has just been planted. The sunflowers will be blooming again in September. If you are not familiar with Prayers From Maria, check out their website. There is also a second field being planted along the way to Cedar Point.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Comparing Old-New, Big-Small Cruise Ships

No, it's not a new Seuss book. I found an article that compared old ships to new ships and explored the differences you might encounter. It's an interesting article and found on Cruise Critic if you'd like to read the whole thing.

Basically, newer ships are bigger than older ships. I think part of that trend is because the ships are becoming the destination more than the ports of call. The large new ships are fun if you are not particularly interested in exploring some of the smaller ports where a large ship cannot go. We took a cruise on Oasis of the Seas not long after it came out and thoroughly enjoyed the week. I'm not sure we even explored all there was to offer on the ship and we plan to go again on the Oasis or one of the other mega ships.

There are also more balconies on the newer ships. We used to go for a less expensive inside room but once we stepped up to a window and then to a veranda, it was hard to go back. As the article points out however the verandas tend to be smaller than on the older ships.

Of course there's all the new stuff, electronics, entertainment specialties, even a bumper car ride on the Quantum of the Seas! Wave riders and zip lines make the slides at the pools look tame now.

Older ships are not just old buckets chugging across the waters. Cruise lines do upgrades and makeovers on their ships that help to keep the older ships looking newer and in good condition on a regular basis. The best time to sail on an older ship is soon after it's been reconditioned. New carpet, new beds, new TVs, etc. can be expected and hopefully all the charm of an older ship.

There are some things to watch out for  though when choosing one over the other. We made the mistake of sailing on one of the very first voyages of a new ship a several years ago and found that most of the new electronics that were supposed to be available for cruisers enrichment didn't have all the bugs worked out. We don't book now until the new ship has been sailing a few months. And then there was the old ship we sailed that was not in the greatest of shape since it hadn't been reconditioned in a while and we were still too inexperienced to have checked it out--something our travel agent should have done. And then there was another ship that we recognized as coming from one cruise line that had gone out of business and sold its ships. It was old but had been refurbished so nicely it was a joy to spend a week cruising in it.

Small ship? Big ship? Old ship? New ship? You decide. Do the research. Get the feedback from Cruise Critic or other cruise forums. Decide if you are cruising to see the ports or enjoy the ship more. Your cruise will be more enjoyable if you know what you want and find the best fit for you.

Ah, so many ships. So little time.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday Funny- Flowers?

When I was growing up we lived across the street from a nice older German couple who kept their home in tip-top shape and even more so, their flower beds. I doubt there was ever a weed allowed to get a foot hold in the perfect soil that was tilled and fertilized and kept in optimum condition for the best growing conditions.

Now our yard was nothing much to look at. A bed of petunias, some evergreens gracing the front of the house and a lawn that was usually looking pretty good and full of clover--which the bees loved. More than once in a summer I would end up with a bee sting from running barefoot through the yard.

Mom had a great sense of humor and one year decided to have some fun with our German neighbors. Way before it should have been time for full blooming flowers to be in the yard--especially our yard, my mom went out and bought a bunch of plastic flowers. In those days we didn't have the cloth-like flowers or "silk" flowers we do today. They were fairly realistic though, certainly from a distance. 

I don't know how she managed to get them in the ground without our neighbors noticing but Mom would chuckle every time she saw our neighbor standing in his yard, hands on hips, staring across at our "blooming flowers." 

He must have thought that eventually they would die from neglect or a good frost since they had been planted so early. A few weeks later, he could no longer stand it. He came across the street and up to the house to ask my mother what kind of flowers she had planted. She took him around to the front flowerbed, pulled one out and said, "Plastic!"

Now our German neighbors were a bit stoic but I remember my mom saying she saw a bit of a smile appear on his face and he went home shaking his head all the way. Once Mom was in the house, she burst into peals of laughter and we heard about the one she'd pulled over on our neighbors for years after.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Unique Sleeping Accommodations In a 727

This week I've explored the idea of sleeping in a bedroom underwater and in a glass igloo but now comes the idea of sleeping in a 727. What's so unique about that, you ask? Everyone who flies any length of time has slept on a plane flight. This is not a plane flight.

In Costa Rica at the Hotel Costa Verde you can get some unusual accommodations in a refitted Boeing 727. It was a plane that was salvaged when taken out of service and secured in a hillside with a view. The inside was totally renovated to include two bedrooms, each with its own bath, a kitchenette and microwave and of course a flat screen TV.

An ocean view terrace is attached and there is a private entrance up a river rock, spiral staircase. Lots of surrounding garden--it's Costa Rica, a rain forest.

The inside is an all wood interior and furnishings are hand carved teak. It looks a bit like a rustic lodge room. Pictures are at the hotel's website. 

This accommodation, unlike the previous two, is actually somewhat affordable. Prices range from just under $300 to around $800 depending upon the season.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wednesday--but not Wordless

I thought that I would never see
        A tulip blooming on a tree!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Another Way To See The Northern Lights

Okay, so I'm not a cold weather fan. I am, however, intrigued by the Northern Lights. Finland is one of the places in the world that is easily accessed and a place where viewing the phenomena is optimum. Enter the idea of staying in a glass igloo.

In Levi, Finland is the Golden Crown Levin Hotel. And yes, they have glass igloos. Now before you shiver hear the description. You can fall asleep in a luxurious warm bed on a fell slope (that means a summit) admiring the Arctic sky--wait! I want to stay awake and see the Northern Lights. Guess that just means I can stay warm while I do. Continuing. . .A breakfast buffet is included and there's some mention of not having to leave the igloo but I guess I'm confused about that unless it's connected somehow to the main restaurant area.

A suite igloo has a private terrace with a hot tub. Yup. Just see if you can race from the tub to the room without your feet sticking to the ice.

The pictures look beautiful as do most travel pictures advertising hotels and resorts. I'm sure if the actual experience is even half as good as the pictures, it would be amazing.

Again though, it would keep Bob up all night wondering how to pay for it. The igloos/suites run over $1,000/night. I didn't convert the numbers exactly. The price in Euros was shocking enough.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sleeping Underwater

We love to dive. Put on the gear, jump in the water, spend thirty to fifty minutes exploring and enjoying the marine life, then pop to the surface and live to dive another day. There are other ways though to enjoy underwater sea life including submarine rides for tourists, snorkeling, and of course for those who want to stay above sea level, aquariums.

But would you ever in you wildest imagination consider sleeping in a room underwater? I came across an unusual resort that has an underwater bedroom. It's called the Manta Resort and is in Zanzibar. Out in the middle of a bay, a fancy houseboat of sorts is anchored. The roof is a sundeck and the living area is at sea level but the bedroom is straight down a built in ladder to an underwater room.

The sides of the room of course are all acrylic so you can observe the sea life around you. You can turn on small lights at night to attract and see some of the night critters like octopus. Turning the lights off though apparently gives you a view of the bio-luminescent creatures, which if you watch the video, might just keep you up all night with flashes of light.

Me, I'd be up all night worried that a good wind and a rough sea would break the anchor lines and we'd float off to the middle of the ocean. Bob--he'd be up all night wondering how we were going to pay for a room that costs $1500 USD/night. Guess we'll pass on this one.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Time For Some Velvet Ice Cream?

Visitor's centers are to the travel addict like candy stores are to the candy lover. We happened to stop to peruse one as we waited to meet family for lunch halfway between our place and theirs. I picked up several pamphlets of attractions and things to do in the area. I live in Ohio but I am still discovering new places to see. One of the pamphlets showed an old grist mill with an ice cream factory. A little history and a great treat. What better combination?

On our way to Columbus that next week, we decided to stop off and check out the grist mill and factory. We'd been to the Mount Vernon area often but never traveled Route 13 further south than that. It was beautiful countryside on a clear and sunny day. The grist mill turnoff was well marked near Utica just past the Route 62 junction. We pulled in and found we had arrived just in time for a factory tour.

Our energetic guide took us out of the shelter where a video of the history of Velvet Ice Cream usually plays and suggested that she give us the information herself since we seemed to be invaded by some pesky wasps. She did a great job of filling us in as we sat on a stone wall and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine.

In 1914, Joseph Dager began Velvet Ice Cream in the basement of a confectionery shop in Utica, Ohio, using a hand cranked ice cream maker. He would make just enough to quickly run out and sell it before it melted. Finding a supply of ice eventually led to a wider distribution and the business began to grow. In the 1930s a small factory was built behind the confectionery and Dager expanded even further reaching groceries and restaurants as far away as Columbus.

When they needed to expand, the next generation of Dagers found an old 1817 grist mill near Utica that fit their company's reputation of old fashioned goodness and moved their factory next to it. It became their trademark.

Our guide took us into the viewing area of the factory where we watched as ice cream was put into containers, capped and sent off to an instant freezer that freezes the mixture within minutes.

We stopped in the restaurant and enjoyed terrific trail bologna sandwiches being careful to save room for ice cream. I tried the sweet and salty caramel flavor that was heavenly. As we enjoyed our cones, we wandered through the small display of old ice cream makers.

All in all a perfect oasis for a summertime outing.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Remembering the Island Airline's Tri Motor

[There is a restoration project going on at the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton. Great museum if you visit the area!]

A deep rumble permeates the plane and its passengers as they taxi to the end of the airstrip. A pause. A turn. The pilot, Harold Hauck, looks back at his passengers, grins, and then turns to the controls as the Ford Tri-motor he pilots gallops down the runway and finally lifts into the air. It is a thrill I fondly remember from my youth in the late 50s and 60s as my family made our weekly visit to their vacation home on South Bass Island in Lake Erie.

The Ford Tri-motor, or the Tin Goose as it was nicknamed, was a major mode of transportation for the Island Airlines of Port Clinton, Ohio, for over 50 years. At one time I believe they owned three. It carried passengers and cargo to the Lake Erie Islands of South Bass, Middle Bass, North Bass, and Rattlesnake. In the winter, it was the only means of public transportation to the islands and was used as a “school bus” for the children on the outer islands who attended school at Put-In-Bay or Port Clinton on the mainland.

My very first plane ride was in the Tin Goose whose corrugated metal sides shone brightly in the sun. The Goose had room for two pilots and seventeen passengers who sat on small metal seats padded lightly with vinyl cushions. The back of the metal seat barely made it to the small of an adult’s back (the restored version appears to have much more comfortable seats) and most hunched forward to look out the windows as the plane flew its scenic route. Often cargo was stacked on one side of the plane, passengers sat on the other and when the plane banked, hands would go up to be sure the cargo stayed in place.

The most exciting trip for me came later when my husband and I hitched a ride on the mail route on the Tri-motor. We lifted off and touched down at each of the islands where mail pouches were exchanged. Landing and take-off at Rattlesnake Island was as exciting as any amusement park ride could be. The airstrip was cut across the little island and the pilot had to judge his landing quickly at the start of the runway so that he had enough distance to brake and turn before falling off the cliff at the other end. Take off was equally exciting as the plane gunned engines at one end of the runway and took off with a burst of “speed” while everyone held their breath to see if we could lift off before reaching the lake on the other side.

There were only two crashes that I know of in the islands. One took place on Kellys Island in 1954 and the other at Port Clinton in 1972. The pieces-parts of the Island Airlines Tri-motors are shown here in a series of photographs taken in Vicksburg, Michigan, where the plane was being restored.

There is a restored Tri-motor that tours in the summer and offers rides. What a privilege we had to ride at a $5-10 rate when we were kids. Fond memories.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Mediterranean Cruising? Don't Miss Village of Eze

[This was another popular post from the past. The Village of Eze was one of our favorite places to visit in France and is accessible from a stop in Monaco or Nice if you are there for the day.]

One of the places we were most eager to see on our trip to southe
rn France was the old medieval village of Eze which sits high on a rocky peak looking out at the Mediterranean Sea. It is situated between Nice and Monaco. We took a bus from the Nice bus station that dropped us off in Eze but the old village of Eze is actually still quite a climb up the hill.

The 12th century village is built right into the cliff area and seems to be one with the mountaintop it sits on. Tiny streets barely wide enough to get a horse and cart through wind all around in a circle at the base of what used to be a castle. Little shops are in every nook and cranny as well as some cafes and restaurants.

There are two hotels in the center of it all and I’m sure it costs a pretty penny, make that Euro, for a night’s stay. One was featured in one of Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown segments.

At the very top is a cactus garden, Le Jardins Exotiques, amid the ruins of the old castle that used to be there. Sculptures are nestled here and there among the cactus. You have to pay to go through the garden but it is the only view in town—er, village. The views were wonderful and the cactus interesting although it’s not my idea of a relaxing garden with all those prickly needles lurking around you. The sculptures were very serene though and had some interesting verse posted next to them.

The whole old village is stone and has been restored to, yes, attract tourists which I’m sure abound in the high season. We arrived early in the day and of course off-season so we were able to leisurely wander the streets stopping to catch our breath when needed. Thankfully it was all down hill on the way back.

Our last stop on our travels through France was to Monte Carlo which is actually in Monaco. We had stopped here once on a cruise and wanted to actually get to see the inside of the casino. We waited for it to open in the afternoon and walked into the central lobby area. There is a huge stained glass dome over the area and off in each direction on the other three walls were large wooden doors through which you enter the gaming areas. There is a 10 Euro cover charge/person to go in—something we would not have been able to recoup at the tables since we don’t know how to play anything. But it was fun to imagine Sean Connery or Roger Moore wandering through in search of their special James Bond martini.

Monday, June 03, 2019

B&B or Hotel? Where Would You Stay?

View of Bay of Islands from Allegra House
[This was a popular post back in 2016 when I first posted it. I thought it was worth repeating as many of you will be planning your summer travel if you haven't already.]

There are times when I'd rather stay in a hotel than a B&B but so often we've had a much better stay in the latter. Why? Because the hosts are usually eager to make your stay the very best it can be. They are a valuable source of local information. Often there are things to see and do that they can suggest that are not found in your travel guide. They also know the best times to go, the great foods to order and try, the easiest ways to get somewhere.

A hotel will usually have a concierge who can do a lot to book places for you and suggest restaurants and get you transportation if you need it but somehow it just isn't quite the same as the friendly B&B hosts we've had. It is so much more businesslike rather than homey.

The B&B will also create a more intimate atmosphere for all of those staying with them and you will undoubtedly have breakfast with other travelers who seem to be a lot more friendly in that type of atmosphere. Shared adventures and information are all a part of a great travel experience.

Breakfast at a B&B can be quite exquisite or very down home. We have stayed in one where the smell of fresh baked scones woke us every morning and another where eggs were gathered from the hens in the backyard. I never knew fresh eggs could taste so good.

Often the B&B will be a less expensive way to travel but if you are looking for luxury, a hotel is not necessarily the way to go. There are some truly luxurious B&Bs. Yes, you will pay more but the experience just might be worth the price.

On the other hand, we have stayed in a couple "bare bones" B&Bs where we got the minimum and were glad to have only spent a night or two. Of course that can be said about a few hotels as well. Bottom line: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Find the reviews and make your decision. If you are the friendly-want-to-meet-people person try the B&B.

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