This is the Life.....
I'm just about a year late in getting this blog up.
Early 2017 found me happily retired and planning adventure after adventure. As we were planning our trip to China (in March and early April), I noticed a fantastic deal on a cruise through the Panama Canal with one of our favorite cruise companies, Holland America. (Yes, its for people like us who don't stay up late partying and like some of the more "genteel" entertainments -- cooking classes, academic lectures and classical music.)
Anyway, the deal was so good, that I thought, "heck, why not?" and I booked our 20 day cruise and added an extra few days on our own in the Florida Keys since we landed in Ft. Lauderdale and who knows when we'll be there together again.
So, we left in late April for almost a month away from home. (Our front yard sprinklers broke while we were gone -- so we had quite a lawn regeneration project once we got home....we now have a gardener.)
We started our adventure as we like to do, via train. We got a ride to the Riverside Metrolink Station and rode it to Orange where we hopped onto a transfer to Oceanside. From Oceanside, we just jumped on the Coaster (San Diego County's commuter train) and ended up a the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego, just a short walk downhill to the cruise terminal. The terminal is right near the Star of India at the San Diego Port. It was a stress-free, cheap way to get to our boat without inconveniencing those we love. And, its a bit of an adventure in itself -- as long as you have your routes well planned out in advance!
|This was taken from the train on our way to the cruise terminal in San Diego -- a great way to start our adventure.|
|Our ship, Holland American's Maasdam.|
|We attended some cultural classes on Mexico and made these paper flowers. (I remember doing something similar in elementary school.)|
|We used our flowers to decorate our room number in the hall. One day, we discovered the prettiest ones (mine) missing. We had a little mystery to solve but never did find the culprit.|
|Second port, Manzanillo. We just walked through the town. I got a visor, we got just a little lost but figured out our way back without stress.|
|We just hung out at a lot of beaches. I love the stress free life of a cruise or time at the beach. About the biggest worries are what to eat and how long to sleep.|
|At another on-the-beach restaurant, I ordered shrimp. It came with eyes, legs and feelers -- not quite what I was expecting, but, hey, why not?|
|We visited a banana plantation in Nicaragua.....loved it!|
|Getting ready to zip line in Costa Rica|
|The food in Costa Rica was muey bueno!|
The Panama Canal
This is our ship crossing another one heading the opposite direction.
|It took a complete day to go through one end of the canal -- starting in the Pacific Ocean and coming out the other end in the Carribean Sea in the Atlantic. Bucket list item -- check!|
In the Carribean
|Aruba -- my first time scuba diving. Loved it and now I want to certify so I can do it again.|
|Is this not the cutest port town?|
Our last stop of the cruise, Turks and Caicos
|Our wonderful cabin guys. Its so nice having a made bed (even after a nap) and chocolates and a cute towel creation waiting for us as we came in each night. They even helped us try to find our stolen paper flowers.|
The Florida Keys
|After landing in Fort Lauderdale, we headed to Key Largo for a couple of nights in an AirBnB cottage rental. We enjoyed Key Lime Pie, driving down the Overseas Highways to Key West, a day at Everglades National Park, a trip to an alligator farm, a ride on an air boat through the everglades and a fun dinner cruise and tour of very expensive homes in Fort Lauderdale on the Jungle Queen.|
|The Overseas Highway|
|Ernest Hemmingway's Home in Key West|
|An alligator in the wild at Everglades National Park|
|We both held a baby alligator -- that wasn't really on the old bucket list but I'll say "check" anyway.|
We few into LAX and finished our trip the same way we started it -- on the train. From LAX, there is a continual bus that goes to Union Station and from there, there are regular buses heading all over Southern California. We used Uber for about a five buck ride home and it was all good (except for the dead grass). And no matter how much we love to travel, there's nothing like coming home to your own kitchen and food, bathroom and most importantly, your own bed.
I has something else to come home to as well -- a new job. I called this sweet period of rest and travel my first retirement. I had a great job offer I just couldn't refuse. And, I'm enjoying my new job as a sales manager for Aetna. It helps cover our health insurance (until we qualify for Medicare) and is helping save for more trips during my "real retirement".
What a great vacation this was -- I gained six pounds and a year later, I've only lost maybe three, but I'd do it ALL again in a heartbeat.