I asked Brian and Carrie if I could tag along on a cruise with them sometime. They had just booked a week in January on the Norwegian Escape for their family. They made arrangements to upgrade their one bedroom suite in The Haven to a two bedroom, and I paid the difference. It was a lot cheaper than a private cabin for myself in the exclusive upscale area would have been, though slightly more than a standard stateroom on the lower decks. However, it was well worth it. The accommodations were supreme, and service was exemplary. Many of the things you pay extra for in a standard cabin were included in the Haven’s suites.

We flew to Miami on a red eye flight on January 4, and boarded the ship about 11:00. They served us lunch in The Haven reception area while we waited for our room to be ready and luggage to be delivered. We explored the ship, and watched our ship leave the port from the Sundeck.

We had four ports of call: Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. We had booked excursions in all four ports. We did a Catamaran and snorkel cruise in Roatan. Unfortunately, Andrew tripped on deck and severely sprained his ankle, and required a wheelchair for the remainder of the week.

On the catamaran
Snorklers

Harvest Caye is a small island owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Many of the cruise lines do this, as it’s a way for passengers to visit foreign countries that may not be safe for American tourists. They still get a taste of the culture and climate, but are completely isolated from the mainland dangers. Carrie and I did some window shopping while the guys played water sports.

On the morning we docked in Costa Maya, Carrie woke up sick. The boys and I had booked a dolphin encounter, but Andrew’s ankle prevented him from going, so Brian stayed “home” to be nursemaid. Nathan and I really enjoyed the dolphins; it’s quite an awesome experience.

Extremely gentle and affectionate animals
The dolphin is pushing me by my feet. It was fast!

By the time we got to Cozumel, Brian had come down with flu, and he and Carrie both quarantined themselves in their bedroom. I took Nathan and Andrew (in his wheelchair) and we went off on our excursion to Chankanaab Adventure Park. This is a small sea life park with a few attractions, including dolphin and manatee encounters, sea lion show, crocodile exhibit, and a replica Mayan village. There were also pools and a beach for swimming. We had a good time, though pushing that wheelchair on packed sand was hard work.

Andrew was enthralled with the Mayan exhibit. He stood on one foot for a picture.
Crocodile exhibit (Notice the pointed snout. Gators have a rounded head.)

We arrived back in Miami the morning of January 11, and Brian and Carrie were feeling some better. We had booked a final excursion riding an airboat through the Everglades. This was a great experience, and we all really enjoyed it. By the time we got back to Miami, Brian and Carrie were worn out, and we went straight to the airport to rest and wait for our evening flight back to Phoenix.

Gator sunning himself.

This adventure has made me want to do more cruises to exotic places around the world and, if I can swing it, to stay in the luxury suites.

07. September 2019 · Comments Off on Fun year · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

I have not written a blog post here since my annual review, so I’ve got some catching up to do.

In February, I updated my kitchen by having new countertops installed, putting a fresh coat of white paint on the cabinets, laying new wood-look floor tile and updating the backsplash and window coverings.

Before

After

In March, I went with Carrie and the boys to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Although Disneyland and California Adventure are our favorite theme parks, we like to visit Florida once every couple of years to catch the attractions we don’t have in California. Since Carrie and Brian have a timeshare, we usually get a condo near the parks, and I pay for the car rental. I have had Southwest frequent flyer miles from my credit card that I have used the last several flights, so it’s actually a more affordable trip than one might think. Of course, tickets into the theme parks are the biggest expense by far, but you really can’t put a price on family fun.

Nathan made Eagle Scout this year, and his troop ceremony was held at Brian and Carrie’s.

I took my Minnie to New Mexico this spring to spend time in the state parks there with Dale, I wrote all about that on my RV blog.

It’s been a very long, very hot summer here. Instead of monsoon, we had “Nonsoon”. Summer thunderstorms have been few and far between, and temps have been in the one teens the majority of the summer months. We decided to celebrate Richard’s recovery from his critical illness earlier this year, and what better way than with a barbecue and swim party at Brian & Carrie’s.

Robin and Ken put in a new pool this summer, and I hadn’t visited since last Thanksgiving, so I flew up to Boise to spend a long weekend in mid-August.

While I was there, I mentioned to Robin that I was doing a quick trip to Disneyland the first week of September, and suggested she sneak away and join me. She said yes, and we had a wonderful three days together experiencing all the Magic. The parks were the least busy I can ever remember, and we walked onto the majority of the rides in both Disneyland and California Adventure. The only downer (and it was a huge downer) was the heat wave Anaheim was experiencing. With temps in the high 90s (one day even hit 101°) and humidity climbing to 85%, we were melting. It was a good thing we didn’t have to spend much time waiting in long lines in the sun or we would have packed it in and gone home. But it was a fun three days and something we haven’t done together since 2003.

I’m getting ready to head out on a fall trip in my Minnie. First I’m going to Gulf Shores in Alabama to join Wendy and Denny’s friends and family celebrating their Golden Anniversary. From there, I’ll make my way back to Mississippi to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway all the way to Nashville. I’ll be blogging about that on my RV blog, so catch up with my adventures there.

By the time I return, it’ll be holiday season. Hard to believe 2020 is just around the corner!

I drove my Tesla to Boise for Thanksgiving week. It’s been quite a few years since I spent a Thanksgiving with the Holsingers. I’ve been up to Eagle for Christmas and New Year’s many times, but they were making travel plans for this December holiday, so I thought turkey day would be a nice change of pace. Besides, it would be another opportunity to take my Tesla on a road trip, and test out a colder climate and the impact on an electric vehicle. I experienced the reduced battery range that cold temps cause, and also the importance of tire pressure. By the time I drove as far as Flagstaff, I started getting continuous “low tire pressure” warnings.

Snow on the Supercharger

Frosty car

Chilly morning in Richfield, UT

Since my Yuma trips in October, Tesla has added “Navigate on AutoPilot” to the firmware. This feature incorporates lane guidance, on and off ramp navigation, and blind spot awareness when driving on the highway. I’ve found the autopilot works great out on the open road, but in crowded cities, especially with lots of semi trucks on the road, I get a little nervous that my car doesn’t give an inch when someone encroaches on my lane. So I typically turn off the auto steer as I come into heavier traffic, and drive with just the traffic aware cruise control engaged.

At 1025 miles from my house to Robin’s, I like to stop at a hotel about halfway between us. I price-checked on Orbitz, and selected economical hotels that were near Superchargers. Hotels with destination chargers tended to be about twice as expensive as I like to spend, so I didn’t book those, but it may be worth it to folks who don’t want to spend extra time charging at the end of a long driving day and who have money to spare.

I admit I was surprised that charging stops took more time than I anticipated, but I really didn’t mind the waits. I always got out and walked around a bit to stretch my legs and to use the restroom. Sometimes I wandered through a store nearby or got a snack, but many times I just got back in the car and perused my phone. I spend a lot of time at home on my phone or iPad reading news, blogs and social media, so I didn’t feel like doing it in the car while I charged to be much different.

When I arrived at the Holsingers, they all ooh-ed and aah-ed over my car, but since it was dark, no one took rides. I made it clear anyone was welcome to do a test drive anytime, but sadly no one took me up on my offer. Instead, we stayed home all week watching TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, chatting and — most of all — EATING!

Steven and I worked on a fun puzzle together while Ken made scrumptious food.

Robin put together a 1000 piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Lucy is a good girl.

Friends of Robin and Ken joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Casey smoked the turkey in a bacon wrap, and we provided the sides.

Who doesn’t love bacon?!

We had a delicious meal and a lovely day, topped off with silky chocolate pie (the Holsingers fully embrace that Lafferty tradition!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m planning a three day trip to Disneyland next week. My friend Glenda is going with me. It will be fun to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations and holiday spirit with her in the Happiest Place on Earth. Merry Christmas everyone!

It was time to make my annual visit to the dentist, especially since a) I hadn’t been in 18 months, and b) I had a toothache. Anticipating a possible root canal and/or new crown, I decided a trip to Los Algodones was in order.

Daryl had driven to Los Algodones several weeks earlier in his Tesla Model 3 so I knew where the Superchargers were and whether there were any amenities nearby. The Gila Bend charger is at a Carl’s Jr, but the Yuma charger is adjacent to a small hotel and city meeting center with no food options at all. My Tesla Model 3 has enough range to make it from Mesa to Yuma without charging, but since I didn’t relish spending 30-40 minutes sitting in my car or a hotel lobby, I decided to take advantage of the Gila Bend charger and top off on my way through. I have also read on the forums that stopping more often for shorter charge times will result in more range, since charging slows the closer to full the battery gets. So I stopped in Gila Bend and charged while I used the restroom and bought a breakfast sandwich, then got back on the road.

I arrived in Los Algodones just about 10 minutes before my appointment. I turned my phone off since I don’t have free roaming, and walked across the Mexican border. One has to have resolve and determination to push past the dozens of street hawkers asking if you need dental, optical, pharmaceutical or trinket recommendations. I have been to Dr. Sonia’s office once (with Richard & Dianna), and thought I knew just where it was. But after walking down 2 different streets and not finding it, I turned my phone on just long enough to check Google maps, and turned it back off. (Of course, in that two minutes, three What’s App messages came in. My siblings and I are a chatty bunch! 🙂 )

Dr. Sonia quickly determined the ache under my crown was not new tooth decay, but inflammation in the gums. The crown has a bit of a gap between it and the next one, creating a lovely spot for food to get trapped. Although I am a dedicated flosser, Dr. Sonia says food has made its way up into the gum line where floss cannot reach, and I needed a deep cleaning in that location, plus a new crown that seated better and filled the gap. I asked how much this would all cost, expecting between $300-600, and she totally surprised me by saying $180 for the crown and $70 for the deep cleaning. Sign me up! She did the workup and impression for the new crown, and I made an appointment for the following week to have the new porcelain beauty installed.

I stopped at the Yuma Supercharger before heading back up I-8. Daryl was right; there was not much nearby to hold one’s attention. I walked over to the hotel to see if there was anything interesting, but not even a gift shop or vending machine was to be found. (Since I was still numb, a vending machine wouldn’t have done me any good anyway.) By the time I returned to my car, I had plenty of charge to make it to Gila Bend. I made another quick stop at the Carl’s Jr and “gassed up”. This time I charged about 10 minutes to get me home with plenty of range left on my car.

Charging at 483 miles of range per hour!! (My home charger gives 22 mph.)

I’ve used the Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and Enhanced Auto-Pilot (EAP) around town, but this was my first chance getting out on the highway and really putting it to use. Interstate 8 is a perfect test track because there is much less traffic than I-10. By hanging my hand on the steering wheel, I get enough resistance to satisfy the safety reminder, and also allow the car to handle all the steering. I was listening to a good audiobook, or I might have found myself getting sleepy. I think that’s a possible danger of auto-pilot or self-driving; you fall into a daze and lose focus. I can’t wait for more EAP and self driving features to be unveiled and delivered in future weeks and months that will make this little car even better and safer than it already is.

The following week, I made my way back to Dr. Sonia’s to get my new crown put on. Second verse, same as the first. The drive was a dream. I’m looking forward to driving to Boise for the Thanksgiving holidays, and now I feel like I’ve got some experience under my belt that relieves range anxiety. I love my car, and I love my shiny new tooth!

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