How did we end up here? We've lived in Northern Illinois for 20 years. Way too long for this vegetarian! Thankfully, we're only a Metra ride away from Chicago.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Floating with the Fishes

We road tripped to New Orleans last week and hopped aboard the NCL Dawn. We booked within 30 days of sailing and reserved a guaranteed balcony for three of us for the price most people pay for one person. The Statue of Liberty was pointing at our room.

Our first stop was Cozumel,Mexico. We all went on a snorkeling excursion at three different sites. Our boat was this cute wooden boat.

The current was crazy strong at 2 of the spots but was so worth it when I spied this green turtle!

Our next stop was Roatan Honduras. We headed to West Bay Beach for the day. I booked the taxi/chair rental through Shore excursioneer. We were able to swim out to the wall of the Reef directly from the shore. It was amazing!

We stopped at the Roatan Rum Company for rum tasting on the way back to the ship. There was a great view of the beach we left behind the rum store.

Our third port was Belize City,Belize. Two of us headed to snorkel for the day and visit the island of Caye Caulker. We booked our excursion through Coral Breeze Tours.

My favorite snorkel stop here was swimming with the nurse sharks and sting rays.

I could go back to the fishing island of Caye Caulker. No paved roads and the only vehicles allowed were golf carts. 

 Another interesting item we noticed in Belize was the lack of plastic bottles. All the water was served in these bags. I wonder how long it will be before the US eliminates plastic bottles too?

Our final stop of the week was Costa Maya,Mexico. We stayed right at the pier to float and snorkel the day away again.

Room service coffee in the morning was no extra charge and it was wonderful to drink coffee with a view of paradise.

This was the "sign" under my coffee.

I agree completely!

We had a different perspective of Jackson Square from the Mississippi River coming back to New Orleans port.

The three of us had a great week.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Beautiful Caribbean

Our trip started on New Year's Eve aboard Amtrak via the "City of New Orleans". Because of flooding of the Mississippi River we ended up being bussed around the track flooding from Southern Illinois to Memphis, TN.
The train was a great way to ease into vacation. 
New Orleans was freezing cold! Good thing we dressed for Chicago weather when we left.
We rode the streetcars, visited the French Market, and stayed in the Garden District for a few days.
We were all ready to set sail for the warmer and sunnier Caribbean Islands.
After a couple of days at sea we arrived at our first stop,Island #1-Grand Turk.
We spent the day lounging on the beach right at the cruise terminal. Our boat, the Carnival Dream, looked huge compared to this Princess Cruise Boat on it's journey around the world. 
We spent the next day at sea before arriving at Island #2-Aruba. We spent the day on beautiful powdery white sand beaches and visiting a bar with great views of those beaches.
The next day we were on to our third island-Bonaire. We rented a car and headed to go kayaking in these beautiful clear waters.
And through the protected Mangroves.
Viewing beautiful flamingos in the wild.
We stopped at a local distillery and bought some delicious cactus liquor before heading back on board.
During our next sea day I went to the ship salon and shortened my hair by about 10". 

Our next stop(Island #4)-St. Kitts. We decided to rent scooters for the day. It was fun but terrifying as we had to get used to riding on the "wrong"/left side of the road.
We visited Caribelle Batik.
And drank some local rum while sitting in the rain forest.
We rode to a spot where we could view the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Caribbean Sea on the other.

The next day we rented a car in Antigua(Island #5). Not only was I driving on the left side of the road but the driver's side was on the right side of the car. We headed to the north east side of the island to Devil's Bridge, a natural limestone bridge crossing the waters of both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
Beaches were beautiful here.
We were unable to dock at our last island, St Marten due to large ocean swells so we had one more beautiful day at sea. 
Over the days on the ship there were delicious mojitos.
Mini Golf with the family on the top deck.
Formal dinners with my Mom and Dad.
Ping Pong at Midnight.
Cribbage games, coffee drinking and knitting on Lido deck.

Lots of relaxing and goofing around as a family.
And one of my favorite things, watching the sun sink into the sea.
It was hard to get on the plane in Puerto Rico knowing we were heading back to temps that were 80 degrees colder. 
I am so very thankful to have made some beautiful memories with my family.

Monday, November 09, 2015

This one time

on spring break(this past March), we loaded up the car and drove straight south until we met the Gulf of Mexico. As we get older, the winters in Chicagoland seem to get colder and last longer. Our first food stop on the way south was for bbq for the meat eaters at a spot outside of Memphis.

We spent a couple of days along the Gulf beach at a cute town called Bay St Louis,MS.

We rented a nice apartment through HomeAway to enjoy the sand and the sun. It was only a block from the beach!

After a nice day on the beach it was time to head an hour west to New Orleans. What a change from the sleepy beach town!
We rented another apartment through HomeAway but this time it was a studio right on Bourbon Street. 

I doubt other people would take their kids sight seeing down Bourbon Street at night but since we were staying right there we thought we might as well. Here they are standing outside of Lafitte's bar.

We visited cemeteries,

walked around Jackson square,
wandered through the French Market,
toured the Jazz Museum,
rode the street car to the Garden District,
and spent some time listening to various bands along Frenchman Street. We were there on St. Patrick's Day and experienced catching beads from the parade moving through the French Quarter.

Finding gluten free food was extremely challenging in New Orleans. It's the only city we've been to where menus are not clearly labeled and finding food for the two celiacs in my family was very difficult.

There was more bbq,

Bananas foster prepared tableside(for breakfast!).
Really good coffee!!
Beignets at Cafe Du Monde for the ones who can eat wheat. And coffee au lait for those who can't.
And lots of Zapps Potato Chips. Terribly unhealthy but at least they were clearly labeled gluten free! Trust me no one wants to be around a "hangry" Dad.

The two days in New Orleans flew by and it was time to hop back in the car and head back home. We made a stop in downtown Memphis this time so I could listen to live blues and walk on Beale Street.
It was a marathon driving trip of 2000 miles and only lasted 5 days but it was one of those family road trips you "wish you would take but just haven't gotten around to yet". Well, we finally did it! And once we arrived back home I wanted to go back and do it all over again. A week or so later I scheduled our next adventure. Heading back to NOLA for New Years Eve!! I can't wait for more fun times together.