2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Round Two (For Dad)

I received a copy of my father’s death certificate this week and the reality hit me hard. So Rich took yesterday (Friday) off and we went to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We had no intention of returning a week later so we made it six days later – lol!

It must have been the hottest day of the year, but pixie dust sprinkled on our tram experience both arriving and departing, which cut down on our miles walked (only 3 this time), but, still the heat really wore me out, not to mention give me a lovely glisten. Ha! In honor of my dad, I wore my Dodger Blue hat. He and his father used to go see the Dodgers play and Dodger Stadium was where I saw my first professional baseball game (Dodgers vs Giants – Dodgers won). He once told me, “The Dodgers will break your heart.” 🙂

Here’s my selfie wearing my Dodgers hat while snagging a table while Rich was picking up some food at one of the food booths. We had a great system going and I was so thankful he was up to doing all of that because I just wasn’t. You can catch a glimpse of Rich in some of the photos getting our snacks. Like a “Hidden Mickey.” 🙂

People often say I look like my mother but mostly because they don’t know my father and we do have a similar shape of the face. But the rest (coloring, nose, eyes, hair, etc.) is all dad and his side of the family. My ear for music and taste for food and wine adventures, I also get from my father. So, here’s to you, dad!

We started off with Taste Track this time. I’d had my eye on the Cinnamon Sugar Donut and Rich got the Chocolate Hazelnut with Raspberry – both were delicious!!

Then we swung by the food booths that are on the East side of Future World and while we spotted many items we’d like to try when it’s not so hot (that area is so exposed and still, being out in the open without the lagoon to provide a breeze), we did get the Scallops and paired it with Petite Sirah at the Wine & Dine, I think. Really clever dish and quite tasty. I could definitely go back for more of that.

Btw, many booths were open at this time, which was about 10:30. So then we headed back to Ireland but on the way stopped at New Zealand to get one of our favorites from last year: Mussels paired with Pinot Noir. Just as good as last year!

Soon we were back in Ireland and I have to say, we arrived at all of these booths earlier than I’d expected and were getting full eating our lunch calories for breakfast – lol! We skipped the chocolate cake in Ireland this time but did get the Guinness/Bailey’s shake with chocolate shavings this time and the Irish Sausage with Colcannon again. Yum!! But I do think we’ve had our fill, well, at least until Brother Bob comes down.

So what’s next? Several booths we decided to save for Brother Bob’s trip – we were getting quite full at this point – but we wanted to get back to Mexico to try the Short Rib Tostada. Last week we’d been too full by the time we got to Mexico.

We were also quite hot and thirsty and exhausted. We sat down in the shade a couple of times just to keep from collapsing. By the time we got to the Cantina, I found a table, Rich got us a couple of regular Margaritas from the Cantina – we’d tried the specialty F&W Margaritas last week and once was enough. He then ran over to the Mexico booth and brought back a Tostada, which was so delicious, he ran back for a second one. Yum, yum, yum!! Certainly makes a California girl proud!

At the booth last week, they’d balked a bit about serving him two margaritas, but he convinced them one was for me sitting down. At the Cantina, they had no qualms about serving him two.

We had a great time, the crowds were low on a Friday but it was just so darn hot!! At least the tram system was working efficiently and they even used the shady area for the pick-up. I’d complained about having to wait in the sun a few months back and it was the same last week so maybe they use the covered area on week days but not on week-ends due to needing more space for security? That’s our guess.

At this rate, we’ll be back four times to get the cutting board, although it’s rather small. Somebody on Instagram said they thought it wasn’t as small as they’d heard but I think some of us saw the Food & Wine cutting board you can buy, which is a really nice size that it makes the “free” (on the 4th visit) one for AP holders seem small. More of a cheese board size, if you know what I mean.

2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Round One

So we couldn’t resist the Food and Wine Festival now that the Labor Day weekend and early vlogger crush was over. And we did it in such an awesome way.

We arrived a bit after 9 am and headed straight for the Festival Center for our AP Chef Mickey magnets. We also got the ornament/keychain (whichever works for you) and a gift card, which makes snack purchasing a snap.

Then we made our way to France for our usual beignet and champagne except that there were no beignets so Rich got us some yummy chocolate croissants instead.

We finished our bubbly outside in the shade but at around 10:30, we walked back to Ireland to see if they were opening early and they did. We were first in line and the only downside was that the chocolate shavings for the Guinness Baileys Shake hadn’t arrived yet. But the chocolate cake provided the chocolate after all. And, oh yeah, the Irish Sausage with colcannon  potatoes and onion gravy made for an awesome savory breakfast after the sweets in France.

This totally lived up to the rave reviews we’d heard about and hope to return for seconds and thirds on future visits.

After all of this deliciousness, we headed back to France for the official rope drop at 11 am and stopped in Spain for some chicken and sausage paella and wine flight.

After that it was China for my very favorite Shrimp and Garlic Noodles! Yum!! Rich can’t eat shrimp so he got some kind of Chinese Pancake. We shared everything else.

By this time we were pretty full so our next and final stop for this tasting was in Mexico for the Mariachinand Aye Carrimba Margaritas. Both were interesting but not my favorites by a long shot.

It was very hot, we walked 4.5 miles and were exhausted the next day, although no other aches and pains. The heat really wears you out. We hope to make it back 2 or 3 more times because we barely got starte, but we’ll see. Along about now, a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge sounds a bit more relaxing/refreshing. 🙂

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Four, Wrap-Up

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

I didn’t sleep much at all – either the big dinner or the chocolate cake at tea – but I was definitely ready to get off the ship. I couldn’t get to Port Canaveral soon enough. Maybe I was cruised out or maybe it was the oddness of the cruise or just too many short Carnival cruises. We do feel like we’re slumming it a bit when we’re sailing on Carnival – lol!

There are also highlights that are some of the best at sea, namely, the Alchemy Bar, the Steakhouse, and like we did on my birthday cruise, the Chef’s Table. You don’t even know you’re on Carnival then – no wonder they are our highlights. We’re already missing those – especially the Alchemy Bar. And the excellent service we had on our last cruise when we sailed in a suite. So even Carnival can come through for up-charge items and bookings.

But Carnival is always there to give us a quick fun affordable cruise fix when other ships aren’t available or too long or too expensive to do often. So I can’t say we’ll never cruise them again. But we’re both definitely missing a longer cruise on Princess and our mini-suite. 🙂

Our “Faster to the Fun” group met in the “any time” dining room where they offered tea, coffee, and pastries. We arrived at about 6:30 and were off the ship by about 6:45? Rich probably remembers better than I do.

The garage was right there, so easy to pick up our car, and drive the hour home, the fastest/closest cruise port we’ve ever traveled to.

Chocolate cake (amazing!) and Fruit Tart at Afternoon Tea

The Birthday Boy

Good-night!

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Three, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

We finished getting ready after packing and showering and headed for the Alchemy Bar. This time Rich had the Caribbean Old-Fashioned (Rum), and I had the Antioxidant. Our favorite server arrived with snacks – thank goodness because I was starving – lol!

Our view from the Alchemy Bar

Caribbean Old-Fashioned

The AntiOxidant

Mixed Nuts, Cheese, Kalamata Olives

We then headed to the Steakhouse for dinner. Rich’s report is next.

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Three, Part One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

Today was a sea day so we started off with Sea Day Brunch at about 8:30 a.m. We were seated at a table for two, our head waiter, Marcel, introduced himself and the assistant brought us the bread basket. Of course, I had to have the cappuccino muffin! This time I got a photo of it before I took a bite but I have to tell you, they seem to be smaller now. Rich had the lemon slice.

We decided to skip the Bloody Mary this time – so many drinking opportunities on a Carnival cruise  – you have to pace yourselves – lol!

I got my usual Huevos Rancheros with a side of Hash and Rich started with the Flaming Tomato Soup, Blueberry Pancakes for his breakfast entree with a side of hash. We both had coffee.

Cappuccino Muffin

Lemon Cake

Corned Beef Hash

Huevos Rancheros

Flaming Tomato Soup

Blueberry Pancakes pic from last cruise – no bacon this time

After brunch, we stopped by the Photo Gallery and picked out two photos with frames.

Pools on sea days are always packed – experienced cruisers usually stay onboard on port days and use the pool then – and today was no exception. Eating, drinking, and napping was in order for the big day.

Back to the cabin for some birthday Prosecco on the balcony, watching the sea go by – a favorite activity. We napped and then got up for Afternoon Tea – our first on Carnival and what a silly tea it was. Certainly isn’t Princess!

We were first to arrive, waited for about 5 minutes and then were seated in the back next to a window at a table for six. We were offered tea – I asked for decaf so was given Lipton for free and Rich chose the Coconut Tea and was charged $2 – is that silly or what? And even sillier, were offered two tiny tea sandwiches – cucumber and salmon – and dessert. I had an amazing chocolate cake and Rich had a tart.

Salmon and Soggy Cucumber Sandwiches

A mother/daughter from North Carolina were seated at our table and we chatted for a while – I think I included the gist of that in the opening post about how odd the cruise was. Ha!

We returned to the cabin to pack and shower and get ready for the Birthday Steakhouse dinner with pre-dinner cocktail at the Alchemy Bar.

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Two, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

We made our way back to the Alchemy Bar for sailaway drinks. Tatiana appeared and took our drink order: French Kiss for me this time and Rich’s usual Perfect Storm and brought us some snacks.Have we mentioned how much we love the Alchemy Bar? It’s a relatively new bar fleetwide that was part of Carnival 2.0 a few years back. It’s so different than the rest of the Carnival experience – super fabulous and classy. We hung out with people from Tampa and other like-minded people. Super fun!

(Note: the French Kiss made an appearance in my novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon – a favorite drink from Top of the Mark in San Francisco).

We were seated next to a photographer so we decided to try getting photos done there. Then we spotted another theme so we posed there and then Rich noticed the photos at the piano and suggested we stop there. We ended up purchasing photos from the last 2 stops – they turned out really nice.

We continued on to the “Anytime” dining room and were seated right away. This was also done really well on the Liberty – better than any ship on any cruise line – no wait at all.

The menu was just okay – Carnival food is hit and miss. I had a Shrimp Cocktail for a starter. It was fresh. And the I had Prime Rib, which was quite tasty but the menu had listed horseradish but they brought around this gravy. It came with a small, shriveled baked potato, which I skipped.

Rich had the Stuffed Mushrooms as a starter and then the Teriyaki Salmon with rice cake. He really enjoyed it. We both had Vanilla Creme Brulee for dessert – at least a few bites.

The Lemoncello man came by so Rich had one of those and the guy in the pink sport coat sitting next to us toasted him with his Tequila shot. So wished I’d gotten a photo of him. He was so entertaining. That’s one thing that’s true about Carnival. Later you look back and think “Wow! What an interesting cruise!” lol!

After dinner we strolled the deck noticing the fascinating clouds at sea.

The French KissThe Perfect Storm

Rich at the Alchemy Bar

Kathy at the Alchemy Bar

Mushroom Appetizer (Rich)

Shrimp Cocktail (Kathy)

Teriyaki Salmon (Rich)

Prime Rib

Creme Brulee (R&K)

Lemoncello at Dinner

Interesting lighting on deck/clouds at sea

 

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Two, Part One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

We placed a 7:30-8:00 a.m. room service breakfast order the night before and it arrived around 7:20 a.m. Coffee, Raisin Bran, banana, and a couple of pastries. I had coffee, half a banana, and Raisin Bran and Rich had Raisin Bran, half a banana, and the pastries, which he said were pretty boring. They looked it – lol!

We stood out on the balcony and watched the Nassau arrival, noticing two ships were already in port. One was obviously a smaller RCI Majesty of the Seas” size ship and the other I said was either a hotel or a ship – lol! Turns out it was the new MSC Seaside we’ve been hearing so much about. Here was our chance to check her out.

Huge and stylish, I suppose, but so not our thing. None of these humongous ships these days are our thing. Ruby Princess is about as big as we go, at least if we have a choice. If not, we’re not sure if we’ll even cruise anymore. We booked both the Royal Princess and the Regal Princess, Princess’ new huge ships, and we cancelled both of them.

Once docked we watched the MSC Seaside passengers disembark and gather for tours. Tons of people! It was quite hot in Nassau this time of year (I was there in May once and it was too hot for me), so we stayed onboard the ship – been there and done Nassau a few times.

After our ship started disembarking, we headed for the aft pool. We swam in the pool and had it to ourselves for a bit. Then we got out and Rich ordered us each a drink of the day, which was some blue thing but wasn’t too sweet – it had more of a lime tang.

We decided to take our drink and dip our feet in the pool but some know-it-all swore that yesterday people were told drinks were not allowed in the pool. We thought that was odd because we’re usually quite turned off by the number of people standing in the pool with their drinks. It was also odd because a bar server had asked if we wanted drinks when we were in the pool earlier.

Anyway, this woman would not rest until we took our drinks out of the pool. What a weirdo! We didn’t want to make a scene so we got out and finished our drinks. Sheesh!

We started to get hungry but the Seaside Shack didn’t open until noon so we waited until about a few minutes before and Rich went over to place our order. He came back with a beeper. He also brought us each a soda.

I had the Lobster Roll, which was a bit odd – it was so bready with a bit of lobster sitting on top. This was $12. The fries were amazing – they might have been Guy’s fries. Rich had a Clams basket.

We returned to our cabin for a nap and woke up to watch the MSC Seaside leave. Then Rich went to Scoops and brought us each some soft serve in a cup. We then waited for all of our passengers to return to the ship before getting showered/dressed and ready for another fun sailaway at Alchemy Bar, photos, and “formal” night, which is now called “Cruise Elegant.”

Beautiful turquoise waters of the Bahamas

Cruising into Nassau

MSC Seaside Foreward

MSC Seaside Midship to Aft

Port of Nassau with Atlantis in the Background

Sailing Away from Nassau

 

 

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day One, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

It was too hot to do our usual sailaway from our balcony so we headed to the Alchemy Bar for martini tasting. We really enjoyed the Alchemy Bar on the Miracle, although we skipped it on our last cruise on the Imagination. It was still the Rotterdam Bar when we sailed on the Paradise and the Inspiration, sister ships to the Imagination.

The Alchemy Bar on the Liberty was positioned much more like it was on the Miracle, which we really enjoyed.

Rich was torn between two different drinks but our server’s input convinced him to go with the “Perfect Storm” and I had the “Fiery Tropical Passion Martini.”

The Alchemy Bar

Sailing away from the Alchemy Bar

“The Perfect Storm”

“Fiery Tropical Passion Martini”

We popped into the piano bar, which was next door, but didn’t make it back for the entire cruise – lol!

We were getting hungry so we tracked down the Sushi Bar,  which was in the buffet area.

I grabbed a booth and Rich ordered the Sushi.

Sushi platter – “Spicy Tuna ” for Rich and “Bang Bang Bonsai Roll” for me.

Rich’s comments: The Spicy Tuna roll was absolutely incredible. It was very spicy, but the flavors came through too, including the asparagus. This is some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, and I had to return to the sushi bar to let Fakim know how much we enjoyed it.

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day One, Part One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

This was Rich’s first cruise from Port Canaveral – I’d done the “Big Red Boat” cruise with WDW package back in 1987 when Disney was affiliated with Premier Cruise Lines before they launched their own cruise line. This was also our first cruise living this close to a cruise port. So one hour from home, we parked in the parking garage and were onboard by 11:15 a.m. – pretty awesome!

We dropped off our bags in our cabin and started to unpack but then realized we should make our way to Guy’s before it got too busy. I claimed a table and Rich placed our order – 2 burgers (came with 1 order of fries). This time we knew better than to share – we each had our own – lol! I skipped the fries this time – they’re delicious but I was saving room for the burger! Ha!

Back in the room we continued unpacking and Rich’s birthday cake arrived from Cherry on Top – I’d preordered it. The bottle of Prosecco was there, too.

We each had a slice while the Prosecco was in the fridge chilling. It was tasty but we aren’t big fans of  fondant.

We hadn’t seen our room steward so we didn’t have ice yet. We were in a junior suite on our last cruise and we were spoiled by the service. It really helps to book a suite or special cabin of some kind to get good service.

Our balcony faced the sun and it was too hot and sunny to sit outside so we rested on the bed until our muster drill at 4 p.m. We sailed away promptly afterwards – always seems to be on time from Florida – sailaway is always running late in California. Gorgeous view!

 

Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas: The Oddest Things about an East Coast Short Summer Cruise

As I mentioned before, after my birthday trip to California with a short cruise to Ensenada, we decided 3 days was not enough. So then we booked another 3 day cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral for Rich’s birthday about 3 weeks before the cruise. We got the last balcony cabin on Deck 7 (the Empress deck?), which is a desirable sandwiched deck, meaning, there are cabins above and below instead of being under or above a public room.

We just returned home today and we had a blast but before I get into the report, I’ve gotta say, out of 18 cruises, it was the oddest cruise I’ve ever been on. I’m going to have to clear my mind of this before I can even think about getting to sleep tonight.

It’s like all the stuff you hear about on social media coming alive on the cruise. It’s an honest observation and I hope nobody takes offense.

In the Minority

Was it summer or was it Orlando or was it the 3-day itinerary? I’ve done 3-day cruises before – even from Port Canaveral –  but this is the first time we were so obviously in the minority. Were we, perhaps, onboard a Black Baptist Church convention or something? On our Ensenada cruise, there was a group of 300 that was part of a Mobile-app company cruise. So it could be we were onboard with some sort of special interest group.

What makes these groups odd or even a short cruise odd is the most people are first-timers and first-timers can seem odd to experienced cruisers. For the first time ever, during the lifeboat drill, one man complained about not seeing the demonstration well enough. “Hey, can we get a demonstration of how to wear that?” as if he were being deprived of life-giving information, as if it were being deliberately withheld. I tell you, I’ve never seen anyone complain of that. “Just get it over with and let me get on with my cruise” is the usual attitude.

And the two groups of white and black were quite segregated throughout the cruise. I tried to be friendly and get them to open up whenever I got the chance, because in my world, we mix. But this is another thing I’m noticing about cruising these days – people are cruising with large groups or families and they’re remaining closed within the group. This isn’t what cruising has been about since I start cruising in 1982. But I’m noticing it more and more. At least on Carnival… in the summer…

Black Women Shaking Their Booty

What’s with this thing with crowds of people shouting and egging on Black women bending over shaking their booty? Must be a cultural thing. On our L.A. cruise, it was all about Hip Hop. I don’t even know what to call what I saw here – “Baby’s Got Back?” Belongs in the category of “Things I Wish I’d Never Seen.” Probably not part of a church group – there goes that theory.

Good Old Boys, Pink Dinner Jackets, Shots at Dinner, Border Crossings

Oh my! That was one of the more entertaining things about the cruise. The young southerner in his Pink sport coat downing shots next to us at dinner wished Rich a happy birthday when we ran into him again the next day. Too bad I didn’t get a photo of him. Belongs in the “Things You Usually Only See in the Movies” category.

The women from afternoon tea who when the sever asked where she was from said, “The United States.” “Duh,” he said. “It’s a big place – where exactly?” Turns out “North Carolina.” She talked about “crossing the border” driving down to Florida for the cruise. Has she never left the state before? Apparently so because she talked about traveling for her job. And when California was mentioned, as in where I’m originally from, she said she was supposed to travel to either San Diego or San Francisco and asked which one was north? Really? I’m from the West Coast but I think I’ve got East Coast geography down pretty well – even before I ever moved East.

Face Tattoos

I’ve also gotta say this tattoo things is getting way out-of-hand. A discreet tattoo is one thing, but I’m not a fan of sleeves or body tattoos or now face tattoos. It’s not a good look for the long term. Besides, I’d seen it all back in San Francisco in the 1980s – I thought we were done with all of that back then.

Culture Shock, My Faith in Humanity Restored, and a Life-Saving Moment

I’m reeling a bit from the culture shock, as I usually do living in Florida and cruising brought it all up close and personal in a tight space. But my faith in humanity was restored when a man we’d seen at the Alchemy Bar over the course of the cruise was  celebrating his 17th wedding anniversary with his wife in the Steakhouse (amazing food, by the way) as we were celebrating Rich’s birthday.

We were sipping our martinis and heard some really loud noises, not understanding what was happening. But then we realized the man named Steve was choking. It was quite frightening and a couple of men got up to help him, with other people offering suggestions on what to do.  Finally, one man lifted him up out of his chair and executed the Heimlich and released the lodged meat and we all applauded.

Steve and the man who saved his life hugged and became best friends for life with Steve buying the man rounds of drinks. It was an incredible moment!! And my heart soared at such generosity among us sometimes crazy, whacked out humans in this scary screwed up world we all live in. So often we’re the problem but sometimes we’re also the solution. It’s a beautiful thing!

Steve (right) and his life-saving hero (left) sharing a celebratory drink

As our crowd cleared out of the Steakhouse, the new group coming in were all Black. What’s up with that? Is it a culture thing – do they prefer to eat later? Were they cruise newbies and hadn’t discovered it until there were only later reservation times available? I don’t know but it seemed odd to me.

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!

 

“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!