Mediterranean Cruise

I have joined Brian, Carrie and the boys on a couple Caribbean cruises and had a wonderful time. When we got off our last Carnival cruise, we started making plans for our next sail together. Brian & Carrie had cruised the Mediterranean five years ago, and wanted to do it again, including some different ports. Carrie started researching cruises, and we settled on an 11 day Norwegian trip with port stops in Croatia, Greece, Italy, France and Spain. It looked like a fantastic journey, and we decided to further splurge and book a family suite in the Haven. To top it off, we reserved business class seats with lie flat pods for the overseas flights. In preparation, we also booked sightseeing excursions in every port. I really wanted to see some famous historical sights since it was my first visit to the area.

We had a fantastic time, and fortunately, no one was sick or injured this time around! I’ll let the captioned photos below recap our wonderful adventure.

Cruise route

Venice, Italy

Group selfie in Venice

Basilica San Marco in
Piazza San Marco
Venitian canal

Split, Sibenek and Trogir Croatia

Gregory of Nin introduced the Croatian language in religious services (to replace Latin)
Lion sculpture from Egypt, nearly 5000 years old.
A beautiful Croatian church

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatian coast
Old olive mill demonstration
Old Town Square
View of Old Town walls
This courtyard was used during filming of Game of Thrones

Corfu, Greece

Palace of Empress of Austria, Elizabeth, in Corfu
The Old Fortress of Corfu
Shopping in Corfu

Messina & Taormina, Sicily

Messina, Sicily city view
Sicilian coast
Ancient theater ruins in Taormina
Carrie strolling a village street in Taormina

Naples, Italy, and Pompeii

Pompeii theater
The Forum was the heart of the city which surrounded it.
A courtyard that has been excavated
Many paintings and wall art survived the ash destruction and excavation
Naples coast
A group selfie taken on a Naples street

Rome, Italy and The Vatican

This is all we saw of the Colosseum as our bus whizzed past it. No stop or tour this trip.
The Vatican Square. The center balcony is where the Pope makes occasional appearances.
The Vatican Square where the people gather to hear the Pope
St. Peter’s Basilica
Another close up view of the altar of the Basilica

We went in the Sistine Chapel, but photos and talking are not allowed inside.

Pisa & Florence, Italy

Good thing we got there when we did, so I could prop this back up.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Santa Croce Basilica
Of all the churches we visited, this was the most beautiful
Stained glass in Santa Croce
The tomb of Michaelangelo (inside Santa Croce)
The tomb of Galileo
An exact replica of Michaelangelo’s David in the Piazza Della Signoria

Nice & Cannes, France

French coast
Cannes, France
Town square in Nice, France

Palma & Sollen, Majorca

Village of Sollen
Church in Sollen
Riding the train down the mountain from Sollen to Palma
View of Palma from the train

Barcelona, Spain

City view of Barcelona
City street in Barcelona
From the top of the Hop On Hop Off city tour bus
Statue of Christopher Columbus
Athlete village from the
1992 Olympics
Olympic flame
Dinner on board the ship
The Norwegian Escape
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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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