Ships (as in Cruise)

One of our favorite modes of transportation is the Cruise Ship.  It is also one of our favorite forms of vacation.  summit-bermuda

I have been on 9 cruises and Dave has been on 6.  Our last 4 cruises have been together.  We have been to Bermuda, the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and I have cruised Alaska and the Mediterranean.  There is something magical about being on a cruise ship.  Whether your are in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean or Caribbean, sitting and watching the water go by and seeing nothing on the horizon except blue water is one of the most peaceful moments I have experienced.

Our favorite Cruise Line has been Celebrity.  We also favor the smaller ships in the line, so we have only cruised on the Millennium size ships (about 2000 passengers).  My husband has tried Carnival (his first cruise), and I have been on Holland America (another lovely cruise line) as well as one Carnival cruise.  Together it has been Celebrity and mainly the Summit.  The only other ship we have been on together is the Celebrity Infinity on our passage though the Panama Canal from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale.  What a wonderful trip that was.

 

I also enjoy more traditional cruises, where the cruise ship is our luxury hotel for our trip, not our playground.  I don’t need rock climbing walls, water slides, faux surfing, skating rinks, etc. on my cruise.  While on board I want to relax, maybe take in a show or listen to some music, eat well prepared food that is served to me (buffets are fine for lunch and sometimes breakfast), and take in the occasional Bingo or Trivia game.

Enjoying visiting new places that I may have never been able to explore, such as the sunset over Santorini and wandering the old streets of Dubrovnik on a Mediterranean Cruise.  Seeing the old forts and monastery in Cartagena, Columbia and meeting the indigenous people of Guatemala on our Panama Canal Cruise.  Catching a 50 lb Ling Cod fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska on an Alaskan cruise.  These are memories that will be with me forever.

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My Valentine to My Husband

On this Valentine’s Day my gift to my Husband is this blog.  Dave loves cars.  He especially loves Mustangs and Shelbys .  And so, my gift to him this day are his photos….of cars.

Some of these pictures were taken at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia and some at Shelby American, Inc. in Las Vegas.

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For you Dave XXXOOO.

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Gettysburg and the Killer Angels

During a recent long weekend in Gettysburg, PA , I decided it was time to read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.  Dave and I have now been to Gettysburg on long weekend trips every year for the past four years.  Two of those years during Thanksgiving weekend, one in February and one at the end of June, close to the timing of the actual battle which took place July 1, 2, and 3, 1863.  The first time we went together as a couple to Gettysburg was also the first time I was ever there.

Dave had been to Gettysburg often through the years.  He participated for a number of years as a civil war reenactor with the 15th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, as well as being an extra in the movie “Gettysburg” which was based on the novel The Killer Angels.

What’s in a title?  Michael Shaara’s title evokes a memory from Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine, whose regiment fought brilliantly during the second day of the Gettysburg battle protecting the Union line at Little Round Top.  Chamberlain remembers a speech from Hamlet in which Hamlet states that man is “in action how like an angel!”  Chamberlain’s father, when he heard this says that “if man is an angel, he’s most definitely a ‘murderin’ angel”.  This comes directly from a speech that Chamberlain gave after the war called “Man: The Killer Angel”.

This was so true during those three days in 1863 where over 50,000 casualties were reported.  This is where President Abraham Lincoln would give his famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 in dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg where most of those that died on the battlefield those days at the end of June 1863 are buried.

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Gettysburg National Military Park is a very somber place.  The Visitors Center at the National Park includes a museum and a Cyclorama of Pickett’s Charge, which occurred on the last day of the battle.  These two attractions are not to be missed and provide a nice overview of not only the battle that took place here, but of the Civil War itself.  It is worth spending at the very least a full day at the battlefield and a weekend is even better.

Walking the battlefield is peaceful now, but it does stir in one grief over the loss of life, a memory of a time we should not forget about and awe over what a beautiful place Gettysburg really is.gettysburg-sunrise

 

 

 

Monument Valley

Continuing with our November trip, while we had our base in Page, AZ, we took a drive out to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, through the Navajo Nation which covers most of the top Eastern Corner of Arizona and extends up into Utah.  Monument Valley itself is actually in Utah.  This is a place that should not be missed.  The picture above was taken while on the scenic drive through the park. The scenic drive is 17 miles in total. The road is dirt and extremely rutted in some spots so a high seated vehicle is needed, otherwise I would be worried of bottoming out.

Back to the picture – you can see a snow squall coming in from the distance.  This was November and there are areas of the desert and surrounding areas that do see snowfall in the late fall and winter months.

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This picture was taken on our way back to Page while in the Navajo Nation.  Forrest Gump could have been running on this very road.

Back to Monument Valley.  Below are two of the most iconic sites in Monument Valley, The Mittens.  Buttes that look like hands, or hands in mittens.

The visitors center at Monument Valley is located at the entrance and includes a gift shop, restaurant and hotel.  We stopped in for lunch at the restaurant and had traditional Fry Bread (mine actually was a Navajo Taco).  Delicious.

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As a few of the scenic stops along the drive in Monument Valley, local artisans sell their handmade crafts.  I’m sure during the summer months these stalls are full and even though it was November there were a few individuals still plying their trade.

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Finally, here is a picture of the photographer who took most of these pictures, my husband Dave.

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Glen Canyon – Page, AZ

There is an iconic photo that all seem to take of Horseshoe Bend at Glen Canyon.  My husband opted for something a little bit different.  The picture above is of the Bend, but looking down the Colorado River with others seen in the distance on the left to give the canyon perspective.  This was at sunset on the evening we arrived in Glen Canyon during our November 2016 trip to Utah and Arizona.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area include not only the “Bend”, but Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam – along with numerous other amazing wonders.  Page, Arizona which is located right at the Southern end of Lake Powell by the dam, is where we stayed for exploring not only Glen Canyon, but also to visit Monument Valley (more to come later).

From the trailhead, it is a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike to Horseshoe Bend and well worth the visit.  If you are afraid of heights, getting right up to the edge might be a bit scary – it was for me.  Dave had is tripod and camera perched right on the edge – he claims he was 1/2 foot away from the edge, I don’t think so.  To be honest I had a little bit of a panic attack just watching him.

Exploring the area includes a visit to the Glen Canyon Dam.  Built in the 1950’s (well after Hoover Dam) and created not only Lake Powell, but Page, AZ as well.  There is still controversy over the dam as it altered the natural flow of the Colorado, but it still is a beautiful area to visit.  At the visitor’s center they offer a nice tour of the dam itself which Dave went on while we visited.

Being there in November is not the time to grab an iconic houseboat and spend time on the lake itself.  Instead we spent our time marveling at the Canyon itself.

Utah Adventures – Part 1 – Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Our Thanksgiving week adventure started in Las Vegas where we spent a couple of days relaxing before our real adventure began.  We traveled from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah, where we spent the next three evenings and used it as our base to explore Zion National Park.  Our first stop was to the parks Visitor Center.  We had planned on scoping the park out the first day, maybe take a short hike to warm up the muscles, but that wasn’t what was in store for us.  It was Tuesday morning and the Park Ranger indicated that if we really wanted to hike Angel’s Landing (one of the more strenuous hikes in the park) that we should do it that day, as starting on Wednesday the park and that particular trail would get much more busy with the Thanksgiving Holiday.

I was a little apprehensive, as I am not in the best of shape, and sheer drops of +1000 ft are a little scary.  However, my Husband, Dave, was determined to do this hike all the way to the summit.  I turned to Dave right then and there and said let’s do it.  When we got to the parking area for the hike (during the summer months and holidays the park runs shuttle buses to help ease the traffic), we noticed that a lot of other people had the same idea of hiking Angels Landing that day.  Not to worry, we parked about 1/4 mile away from the trailhead and started our trek up.

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The first part of the hike is many, and I mean a lot, of switchbacks up the mountain.  About 2 miles of I believe 3 sets of switchbacks (may have been 4 sets – I stopped counting after the first set).  Yes, I had a pretty heavy backpack on as well (my camera was inside as I was concentrating on just making it up the 2 miles).  I had hiking poles, which I found came in very handy.

After two miles we reached Scouts Lookout.  I found this nice website Hikespeak.com that provides a really nice write-up about Angels Landing hike and Scouts Lookout.  This is where I stopped and let Dave go the rest of the way up to Angels Landing.

From Scouts Lookout to the top of Angels Landing is about a half mile.  The park has put up some chain links in certain areas to help with the climb, but my husband said that it was still a very difficult hike/rock scramble up to the summit.  Dave made it up to the top and said that he was in such awe as to the view and scenery he didn’t concentrate on picture-taking.  I still think he took some pretty awesome pictures.

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Dave was up on the summit for about 3 hours.  I was very happy to see him coming down the rocky trail and that he didn’t fall off the edge of the summit.  The final challenge was working our way back down the switchbacks for the 2 miles back.

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After making it to the summit and back we both felt exhilarated and tired.  The next day we took a leisurely hike to the Emerald Pools, lower and middle, and then had lunch in the lodge.

More of our Thanksgiving adventures to come……

 

Intrepid Photographer

Dave and I just returned from an amazing vacation to Nevada, Utah and Arizona.  We took so many pictures, that it will take a bit to process all of them.  In the meantime I decided to post a couple of my pictures of what I call “The Intrepid Photographer” (or pictures of the Husband).

The first one above is a picture of the “Crazy” Photographer.  During our trip my husband was continually looking for that shot down the road, so I snapped one of him taking one of those shots.  You can see a little snow and even ice on the roadway.  This picture was taken in Arizona on the way to Monument Valley.  Looking forward to seeing what shots Dave got while kneeling out in the middle of a road where the posted speed limit was 70 miles an hour.

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We started the trip by flying into Las Vegas.  We spend a couple of days there before setting off for Utah.  Here is a picture of Dave at Red Rock Canyon.  Behind the Visitor’s Center they have a platform where you can get a 360 degree view of the entire park.

We went from Las Vegas to St. George, which became our home base for a few days as we explored Zion (will post pictures of our Angels Landing adventure soon).  After Zion we moved to Kanab ( on Thanksgiving) to explore Bryce.  Below are a few “Photographer” pictures I took in Bryce at and near sunrise.

Kanab is known as the Little Hollywood of the West.  As we were leaving Kanab on our way to Page, we stopped at a few landmarks along the way, including the old Gunsmoke set.

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While in Page we visited both Glen Canyon and Monument Valley before heading back to Las Vegas and our flight home.

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Stay tuned for more on our November adventures.