Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Search Feature

I'm a little late to the party, but I've added a search feature.  I have to go back and add labels to some of my posts, but hopefully this will help when hubs hands out the web address and says....check out the posts on Chicago or China or France.


I sound like a broken record....I'm behind!

A little teaser....cherry blossoms in full bloom in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wind and Wine on Danger Charters

We tend to be creatures of habit.  One of the things we like to do when we are in a beach town is find a small sailing excursion.  We aren't fans of the large 30+ boats where you feel like part of the herd.   After a terrible experience on the Princesa Yelapa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1997 we will never again take a large boat excursion.

Danger Charters out of Key West offers a Wind and Wine tour that features watching the sunset as you taste a variety of wines and light snacks.  The wine was plentiful; crew attentive; and sunset divine.  If we ever make our way back to the Keys, I'd quickly book another trip with Danger Charters.

 Chuck after a few glasses of wine (see the perma-grin).

Around the Keys

A few pictures from around the Keys.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Butterfly House and Nature Conservatory in Key West

The afternoons were so hot and humid that we needed a bit of a break, so we headed into the Key West Butterfly House and Nature Conservatory.   It's located on Duval Street, closer to the Southernmost Point, not all the restaurants.

I love butterflies; however butterflies are more attracted to Chuck than they are to me.  It is supposed to be good luck to have a butterfly land on you.  As we (slowly) walked through the butterfly house, Chuck continually attracted butterflies.  Perhaps it was his khaki shorts that reminded them of wood....err a tree or maybe he smelled sweet.  Every time I turned around another butterfly was perched on his shoulder, his pants, the camera bag.  I think he has all the luck needed for awhile!

The deets:  1316 Duval Street; Open 9-5; admission is about $12; however you can find discount coupons, for a few dollars off, in the travel magazines located throughout town.

Surprise Downpour and Flooding in Key West

And we were off for a long weekend in the Florida Keys and Miami.  Ever since Chuck read On the Road with Charles Kuralt, he has had the Florida Keys on his bucket list.  We arrived at MIA, trekked over to Avis and picked up our Chrysler 200 convertible.  An aside:  the Chrysler convertible has come a long way since my sebring in 2000!

Back to the trip.

We envisioned a series of bridges on Highway 5 as it connected the various islands of the Keys.  If you've never been to the Florida Keys, this is probably how you envision it, too...long bridges with the ocean flanking both sides of the car and quick descent to land for a few miles, another bridge, repeat.  Not so fast. Our expectations were set a bit high.  At one point I muttered..."gee, this is like driving through Door County, but a little more rundown."  I suspect the journey down Highway 5 in the 70s, 80s and even 90s was a different experience, but in 2013, it was a series of billboards, weathered buildings, neon yellow storefronts hawking t-shirts and sandals.

On the way down we stopped at Burdine's for lunch...and to watch the storm roll in!  Burdine's is a bit tricky to get to, but trust your GPS as you turn down the small alleys and eventually end up in a gravel parking lot that seems to double as a parking area for boaters.  Climb the steps up to the restaurant and enjoy the view of the canal, the cold beverages, table games and fantastic food.  Here are the tripadvisor reviews.

After lunch, I was on deck to drive the rest of the way to Key West.  The sky turned black and the rain came down in sheets.  I spent the next two hours with some slow white knuckled driving and navigating flooded streets.  As I'm driving on Front Street in Key West, Chuck says, "keep driving, drive slow, don't make a wake, but don't stop driving"....and water begins to trickle in the floorboards.  Luckily we managed and there were no superior driving skills or perhaps Chuck's superior navigation skills.

A few pictures from the flooding in the Keys taken about 3 hours after the big downpour, so the waters already started to recede.

 Duvall Street

Front Street

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Time flies

Holy smokes!  It's been 9 months since I last posted and I have a long queue of posts that were ready to be posted.  Ready. Set. Go!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Anniversary weekend getaway to Chicago

We love living in the greater Chicago region.  A trip into downtown Chicago is easy, well, unless we're in road construction season, then it's a bit more challenging.

For our 17th wedding anniversary, I know, gasp 17 years, you must have been babies when you were married, blah, blah, blah, blah...we decided to go to Chicago for the weekend.  Because our anniversary is in April, the weather is always hit or miss, and this time it was a bit overcast with a mix of flurries/cold rain!

We stayed at the gorgeous Palmer hotel.  As always, Hilton took care of us and we had a spectacular room. Our tour of Chicago included shopping on Michigan Avenue aka the Magnificent Mile, seeing the Bean in Millennium Park and taking the typical reflection photos, a few museums, lunch at Bub City and walking around.

A few pictures...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hollywood Beach

Before I embark on my next adventure, I should probably post the "drafts" that have been sitting here for quite some time.

During our trip to Miami and the Florida Keys, we decided to head up the coast a bit and check out Hollywood Beach.  After a few days on South Beach, the" barely there" clothes (do I sound like a prude), we decided that maybe heading north would be a better match for us.  Ahhhh, our khaki shorts and polo shirts are a much better fit up here :-)

Hollywood Beach has an amazing boardwalk next to the ocean that runs just over 2 miles.  It's not the traditional wooden boardwalk that you would see in Atlantic City, but it's a nice wide concrete sidewalk that has the beach/ocean on one side and restaurants/shops on the other.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review - Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

Five glorious days on the island of Maui.  After 9 days of enjoying the Big Island and Oahu, we spent our remaining 5 days on the island of Maui at the Grand Wailea.

I had a difficult time decided where to stay in Maui.  Should we rent a villa, stay at a hotel, timeshare..should we stay in Wailea, Lahaina, or somewhere in between????  I decided on the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea, primarily because our of Hhonors status and the additional perks we would/could be offered.

The property is lovely, but at times appears to be in need of a little facelift.  Our room (in the Napua tower) was 600+ square feet of pure luxury.  We had an extra long balcony with a lounge chair/chaise, two oversized cushioned chairs and a table.  The lounge chaise was a nice addition to the balcony and I managed to 'lounge' quite a bit!!

The walkways and some of the buildings needed a fresh coat of paint and a good scrub.

Upon arrival we were met with a lei greeting, quickly checked in, and out items delivered to our room.  The large marble bathroom had a separate water closet, large soaking tub, separate glass shower and large two sink vanity with oversized shampoo, conditioner and soap.  I'd go back just for the shampoo and conditioner :-)

The Napua tower does have several perks over the other rooms.  There's a wonderful daily continental breakfast that includes cereals, fresh fruit, a few hot items, pastries, toast, and a variety of beverages.  In the afternoon there is tea and cake service.  In the evening, there is an open bar with heavy appetizers in the lounge area.  I had a little love affair with the Wailea sunset with malibu rum instead of spiced rum.  Yum!

There were a few things that left a bad taste in my mouth...and they are primarily related to the use of the swimming pools.

  1. If you want a guaranteed shade location for the full day, you have to reserve a 'cabana' for $300 a day. Yes, $300 a day.  For $300 you get a cabana, two (maybe 4) lounge chairs in the shade and 2 (maybe 4) reserved lounge chairs in the sun.  
  2. Each day, you have to go down to the pool, obtain a new bracelet (each day is color-coded), then take your towels (assigned to you and you can be charged if not returned) and find a place around the pool to claim as your own.  
  3. Now, you cannot leave your items unattended for more than one hour; otherwise, they will (threaten to) take your belongings and your chairs can be given to someone else. 
Really?  REALLY?  If I'm paying upwards of $500 a night to a Waldorf Astoria property, I do not want to be bothered with a plastic bracelet to 'permit' me to use the pools.  And, if I want to set my towel down along with a magazine at 8 a.m., walk the beach and come back at 9:30, I expect my chair to still be there.  Sigh.

A few pictures.  Although, I sure didn't do a very good job of capturing the moment digitally.  I did, however, did an amazing job of experiencing the moment and making memories :-)

 The view from the lobby.

Nightly turn down service.

The resort entrance was already decorated and lit up for the holidays.

You can get married at the chapel on the property.

The leis from our greeting at the Grand Wailea.