Kathy’s Birthday Trip to Disney and the Beach, Part 3

The next morning, Rich brought back some breakfast from the hotel and I heated up the leftover pork chop to go with, which was still so amazingly delicious. If you think you don’t like something, think again if Andrew Sutton is preparing it. That’s what I love about food – the surprise.

We packed up and got on the road via one more look at the beach. Ah….

Around Barstow we were thirsty so we drove through Del Taco for their “mini” shakes, but that location doesn’t have them. So we got one shake and a Diet Coke to share.

The road was pretty busy, especially where it narrows to 2 lines each way on the Barstow to Vegas stretch. But the line of cars heading back to L.A. on a Sunday were even longer than before. Note to LA to Vegas travelers: do not drive home on a Sunday or, if you must, get up early!!

Anyway, here’s a video of the pianist in the Grand Californian playing “The Sound of Music,” us relaxing and enjoying our home away from home. Can’t wait to go back for Rich’s birthday for a stay at the Disneyland Hotel and catch up with the parks.

Our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist

For videos of our most recent time living in Central Florida, check out our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist on our new YouTube Channel.

Leaving Florida: What I Will Miss

I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
Soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
Squawking gulls flapping their wings,
Treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.

I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
Scribbling my early thoughts,
Clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
Making room for gratitude and thankfulness.

I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
Strolling World Showcase,
Martinis in the Wilderness,
Dipping my toes in the ocean.

I will miss our dream kitchen,
White cabinets and quartz countertops,
Undermount lights with a view,
Morning walkers and evening golf carts.

But most of all I will miss
The last house where Skipper lived.

 

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!

 

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

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)

As I mentioned here, we ate the leftover steak from Napa Rose for breakfast this morning along with some eggs from the hotel breakfast buffet. Then we headed for the port of Long Beach via my old stomping grounds – childhood home, high school, and other neighborhoods. I’ve posted enough pics about them so I won’t repeat that – lol!

We were a bit confused by the entry to the port due to some detour. But when we looked confused, a bus driver asked if everything was okay via a thumbs up? And so I rolled down the window and asked how to get to the port and he very nicely gave us directions. We were so impressed!

We parked the car in the garage and headed for the new check-in area at were directed to priority boarding and were onboard in no time at all. Because we were suite passengers, our room was ready so we dropped off our luggage and I noticed there were birthday decorations and a bottle of Prosecco that Rich had ordered. Yay! We met our cabin stewardess who was amazing and kept our ice and water well-stocked and cleaned.

 

We then headed for Guys Burgers for lunch. We shared the Straight Up – amazing!! Maybe even better than In N Out! Ohhhhh!!!

Then we made our way to the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Rich ordered a Blue’s Patron Margarita for me then ran over to the Red Frog Rum Bar on the opposite side of the ship and brought back his Rum Jumper (aka Rum Runner).

Rich’s Rum Jumper

Kathy’s Blue’s Patron Margarita

We did a bit of a ship tour, although we have sailed on two sister ships, the Paradise (twice), and the Inspiration. One of our favorite areas is the Adults Only Serenity Deck, especially on this class of ship.

We unpacked our carry-on bags and then it was off for the Muster Drill. Ours was located up on the pool deck. Carnival has improve somewhat with accounting for people by electronically beeping people’s Sail & Sign cards, similar to Princess but Princess is far more efficient. Then it was time for sailaway, although there seemed to be a bit of delay.

Our Prosecco was on ice waiting for us but due to the delay, we headed to the salad bar (Carnival’s is the best!). We made our way back to the cabin where chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, macaroons, and truffles awaited! Eventually, the ship began to move and Rich popped open the Prosecco, poured us each a glass, and we sailed away from our balcony.

I don’t remember doing much more after we sailed away. I think we pretty much just hang out on the balcony, which is our favorite thing to do on a ship. This is why we cruise. We texted with our pet sitter a few times before leaving range. We were pretty tired, as we always are on embarkation day.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day One, Part One

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)

Before we get into the actual trip report, I must get the sadness out of the way. We’d just landed at LAX and picked up our rental car and were trying to find the 405 S but missed our turn. Rich pulled into some driveway, I don’t remember now because I was totally devastated by the phone call from the pet sitter: “Skipper is gone!”

Our 18-year-old cat Skipper, who was more our son than pet, was looking amazingly well on his birthday in April. Our new vet who made house calls told us his kidneys had improved and he was doing quite well. We began to hope he’d be with us for several more years. But as the weeks went by, when he had good days and bad days, we realized this was probably his last year.

He was still having good days and bad days but on the day we left, it looked like one of his bad days. He didn’t wake us up at 6 am yelling for food. He was sleeping in the closet when I got up and peeked in on him. Rich carried him to the food dish and he ate a bite or two. He was a bit slow so I picked him up and carried him back to the closet where he loved to hide out and sleep for hours. Before leaving the house, we both peeked in on him and told him we loved him, hoping he’d still be here when we returned from the trip.

The pet sitter blamed herself for not checking on him earlier (we reassured her it was not her fault, and I blamed myself for leaving him, but Rich and our friends pointed out that this was Skipper’s way of shielding us from pain, and of doing this his way, as he did everything in his life his way. He was a very private cat – “stealth kitty” we called him.

This was our first pet that actually just died – we’d always had to make the Euthanasia choice for each one and that was extremely painful. Just writing this report is a bit too much so I’m not sure I can go into the many ways he was so special like I did for the other cats when they passed. It’ll probably take more time before I can do that.

But I just looked at my iPhone to gather pics for this report and I was greeted with this message: “On this day July 20, 2017.” Of course, there were 2 photos of Skipper. But I will post one of my favorite recent photos of Skipper when he and Shadow were hanging out like father and son, as if Skipper was revealing the secrets of the world to Shadow. We just had this photo framed and it looks adorable.

It will be good to get on with the trip report because, in spite of the sadness hanging over our hearts, it really was a wonderful trip! Later, when I can, I’ll share Skipper stories as a tribute to him. But, for now, I’m just too sad and depressed, to be coherent.

Photo taken in 2015 when Skipper (on left) was 15 years old and Shadow (on right) was 16 months

Skipper looking good on his 18th birthday, April 9, 2018

Our last photo of Skipper, just 4 days before the end

We love you, Skipper!
April 9, 2000-July 11, 2018

 

The Great Movie Ride and Geyser Point Bar & Grill

We decided to hit the Studios this past weekend and ride The Great Movie Ride one more time before it closes in August/September, according to rumors. We were surprised by the Robert Osbourne narration – we hadn’t been since that had appeared about 3 years ago. We love Robert Osbourne and it was great hearing him again.

The parking lot was so confusing, we ended up going out the exit when we were trying to park. Grrrrr! But eventually, we were parked and seated in the tram. I have to say how much I love kids at Disney and people-watching in general. It fills my soul, giving me that kind of casual people interaction I crave so much now that I’m no longer working onsite. You know, being surrounded by people, especially in a fun environment, exchanging smiles or maybe a word or two.

We had a FP+ for The Great Movie Ride so we headed straight there.

This was the first I’d seen so many people with their iPads in the air taking photos, recording, etc. Disney forbids selfie sticks, why not iPads? They’re so intrusive. Haven’t really seen that much at Disneyland. Anyway, I sat there taking photos with my iPhone since it was probably the last time we would ride this.

Afterwards we grabbed a couple of Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches – yum! – and watched the Star Wars parade.  We stopped to read the Brown Derby menu, but then strolled through a shop, took photos, and made our way out of the park.

Next stop: lunch at Geyser Point Bar & Grill

With Trout Pass Bar closed, we were really curious about Geyser Point – what would it feel like? Could it ever take the place of our beloved Trout Pass?

We found some comfortable seating, watched the interaction with the bartender and guests sitting at the bar realizing that’s the place to be for that Trout Pass feeling – we’ll sit there some time.

Rich ordered the Captains Mai Tai for him and the Grand Margarita for me. We recognized these as pool drinks at the Grand Californian.

Then we opted to share the Cheesy Barbecue Brisket we’d heard so much about and the Salmon BLT. Wow! The salmon was as tasty as if we were dining at Artist Point. We so loved that – next time we might each get one and skip the Brisket – didn’t wow us quite as much as we’d expected. Tasty, though. We thoroughly enjoyed our drinks, lunch, the company, and the view.

We were glad we’d arrived before noon because by the time we were leaving, the place was packed. People were sitting on rock formations eating, and a group of nice ladies came up to us as we were paying the bill and asked if they could have our table. “Sure,” I said, “Go ahead and have a seat,” as I pointed to the two chairs we weren’t using.