2023 Year in Review

My annual update if posted here.

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Trading Care

Dale has been considering knee replacement surgery for several years, and finally pulled the trigger on October 18. Since it would be difficult for him to climb in and out of his RV during his recovery, he put his Minnie in storage and stayed with me for about 6 weeks. He was an excellent patient, recovering in record time. Even the doctor and physical therapist were amazed at how quickly he was walking without a walker or cane, and even riding a bike. He left here right after Thanksgiving and took his RV out to Quartzsite for the winter.

In appreciation for me taking care of him during those weeks, he agreed to take care of Hanna for me on two upcoming trips.* Carrie and I made our annual Christmas visit to Disneyland the second week of December, and we dropped Hanna off with Dale, meeting up with him at the Tesla Superchargers in Quartzsite on our way through, and picked her up on our way back three days later.

I’m planning to go on a Mediterranean cruise in May with Brian and Carrie, and will be gone for about two weeks. Dale has agreed to care for my pup while I’m gone. After surveying my side yard where I store my Minnie, he determined if I pull forward a few feet, he can get his Minnie in behind mine. (City ordinances declare RV’s stored on residential properties must be behind gates and fences.) He will stay in the house with the dog, but have his RV here, both saving on storage fees (which I would have covered), and also having access to his personal and household stuff. So it should be a pretty good situation for both of us.

*Just a note: the couple I used to trade dog sitting with recently had to put their beloved Sheltie down, and have informed me they are done having dogs around, so I’ve lost my perfect dog sitting situation. Not only were they free, they loved Hanna and I loved Laci, we both knew our dogs were safe and well cared for while we were traveling. Going forward, I will be more limited with the number and frequency of my trips or will need to find options to take her with me. So more RV travel, and fewer Disney visits and cruises.

So that wraps up Fall/Winter 2023 for me.

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New upgrades to an old house

A while ago I decided to upgrade my carpeted floors to wood, and Brian contacted one of his flooring contractors, who offered to give me a great price on installation. I chose an LVT (vinyl tile) plank from Home Depot, and scheduled a late August install. The six rooms took about five days to complete and then another day for the baseboards. I got area rugs for the family room, living room and master bedroom. I also bought new recliner furniture for the family room, and moved my oversized family room furniture to the (more formal, little used) living room, replacing the 25 year old Herculon covered sofa-bed that was in there. After some additional accessories and tweaks, it feels clean and complete now, and I’m really happy with the new look.

Now my bathroom floors need an update, because the brown ceramic tile doesn’t look great next to the new planks. If I had a husband, he’d be pulling his hair out (if he had any hair – wink wink, brothers) over my continuing wish list. 🙂 But those updates will wait for another day.

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Two graduations and a birthday

Lauren’s Institute For Education recognized two students who graduated this year. One was our sweet Lauren. There was a lovely ceremony held at L.I.F.E. with family and friends in attendance. It was heartwarming to watch these two young people be honored for completing many intense hours of disability therapy and education.

In lieu of a party, we took Lauren to Disneyland. It was a girl’s trip, with Carrie, Diana (Lauren’s therapist), Bev (Dennis’ friend) and me, along with our guest of honor. We had a fun time, and stayed at the Pixar Pier hotel. It was my very first time staying on site, and we got a military discount due to Bev’s status as a veteran widow. It was a nice experience, but one I will not repeat often; the rather ordinary hotel rooms are quite over-priced.

Steven graduated from high school this year, and the ceremony was on Memorial Day weekend. That made a slight challenge in booking airline tickets. I ended up finding the best deal by flying in on Friday and home on Wednesday. Ken’s parents were also in town for the grandson event, but since I had “reserved” the Holsinger guest room first, they ended up in a hotel for a couple of nights. (It pays to book early.) Fortunately, they have recently bought a second home in the Boise area, and it was ready for them to occupy it by Sunday, so they had their own place for the rest of the week.

Graduation was on Saturday evening. Steven graduated with honors, and also got mentioned in the Vice Principal’s speech as the senior who was most responsible for helping the school to win a multi-school spirit competition. Leave it to Steven to shine among the masses.

There was a big party on Monday afternoon, with lots of Steven’s favorite foods, outdoor games and swimming.

On Wednesday, Robin dropped me at the airport at noon for a 1:40 flight. As I was checking my luggage, I got the first of eight text updates from the airline announcing delays for my flight. The explanation was an issue with the brakes on the plane at the last stop. Well, I certainly wanted the brakes to work properly, but I didn’t enjoy sitting in the gate area for over seven hours. Finally, at about 7:00, I approached the agent and asked if this flight was going to make it at all, and she said, “I don’t think so.” She searched for other flights to get me to Phoenix, and I ended up booked on one the next morning through San Francisco. I took an Uber back to Robin’s and climbed back in the guest bed until 4:15 the next morning. That plane did take off on time, and I got home about five hours later. Luckily, Daryl picked me up, saving me an additional Uber ride.

Thursday was Mom’s 99th birthday, and in memory of her, several of us gathered for lunch at Joe’s BBQ, one of her favorite restaurants. I made it home in time to join everyone. From there I hurried over to Brian & Carrie’s to pick up my happy puppy and bring her home.

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2022 Year in Review

My annual review is posted here. (It’s a little late.)

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Carnival Cruise 2022

In January 2021, I cruised with Brian, Carrie and the boys to the western Caribbean. I’ve been wanting to cruise the eastern area, and after the pandemic eased, the Reeds were ready to sail again too. We booked a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras, Carnival’s newest and largest ship. It’s pretty spectacular, with a lot of wonderful amenities, exciting playground, and a variety of excellent entertainment. We booked two cabins, one for Brian and Carrie and one for the boys and me. The were adjacent to each other, with adjoining balconies.

We were on deck 10

The last cruise we took left from Miami, and we flew a red eye to the Miami airport and went straight to the ship. That overnight flight was brutal and left us all tired for our first day aboard, so this time we decided to fly in to Orlando the day before and spend the night in a hotel. That worked much better as we were all more rested for our first day on the ship.

A roller coaster on the top of the ship!
Several water slides and pools

We sailed out of Port Canaveral and had two days at sea as we made our way to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The excursion I did there was a walking tour of the historical sights in old San Juan. It was very interesting and I would rate it five stars for those who enjoy history and are capable of walking a few miles. But the day was very hot and humid, and much of the tour was in the sun, and I was pretty miserable by the last few blocks. Here are a few pictures I took:

Colorful houses along the city streets
Beautiful cobblestone streets made of blue stone
cast from furnace slag ballast on Spanish ships
We walked up the hill to this old fort.
Yes, I did get a stamp for my NPS Passport book!
View from the fort
Ocean view from the fort
View of the city from the hilltop
Public library (Puerto Ricans love color!)
An iguana was sunning himself on the grass
Capital building

Our second port stop was Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. Carrie was recovering from foot surgery (which she reinjured in the Phoenix airport!), so she and I chose an excursion that would involve limited walking: a bus tour of the “Mountain Views and City Sights”. The mountain views were pretty spectacular, but the city sights on the way up the mountain showed what a dirty rugged life many of the locals live. Tons of garbage along the roadside, and run down overgrown shacks with a multitude of cars, junk and kids in the yards. The second portion of the tour took us to some of the historical areas and those were nicer. Again it was a hot muggy day, and we were anxious to get back to the ship before the end. Meanwhile, Brian and the boys did a zipline, waterfalls and swimming excursion.

View of the city from the mountain top
(Tram cables behind us)
Christ the Redeemer at the top of Mount Isabel de Torres
The surrounding jungle had lots of different kinds of trees including cacao.
We went into this beautiful church
Gorgeous stained glass window at the back
Carrie & I rode in a bicycle taxi to and from the ship to rest her foot.

Our third and final port was Grand Turks, Carnival’s resort island in Turks & Caicos. We booked a snorkel and stingray excursion for the whole family. First we went out a few miles from shore where there was coral and colorful sealife, and we put on our snorkels and fins and jumped in the water.

That’s Brian in the middle of the picture.
Andrew is in the rainbow shorts.
Two Carnival ships side by side in port.

From there, we motored over to a small beach cove where many stingrays come in to mate. They are very habituated and friendly, and allow folks to handle them.

Nathan holding a stingray

I mentioned in the beginning that we had excellent entertainment all week. I think it was the better than Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. Lots and lots of different options: musical stage shows, comedians, games, casino, and the typical lounge acts.

The red curtain is actually large video screens that change backdrops throughout the shows
Some of the shows included aerial acrobats along with the singing and dancing.
This Broadway revue was in the smaller theater.
During the day, they used the Center Stage area for group games.
Notice the video screens are lifted a little, and now display the Bingo numbers.

Our final day was a sea day as we made our way back to Port Canaveral, then to Orlando where we caught a flight home, after spending the whole day in the airport. Since we had all our luggage and couldn’t check it until three hours before our 6:00 flight, we had to just hang out there. At least the Orlando airport is nice, with a mall and lots of food places inside.

It was a great trip and the boys were wonderful roommates. We’re ready to plan our next cruise.

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