Monday, May 25, 2020

2020 Travel

An update of our travel so far in 2020 . . .
I am beginning to wonder when or if we will be able to travel.  It has been six months since our last trip.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Review

I know some will find it hard to believe but this year we traveled less than usual.  Even though we were not on the road as much we still managed to explore some cool places with fun experiences too.

Colin's Favorites
1.  skiing at Copper Mountain
2.  White House for Medal of Honor Ceremony

Heidi's Favorites (in no specific order)
1.  llama Hike in Utah
2.  riding bikes on Mackinac Island
3.  relaxing on beaches of Cabo San Lucas and Turks & Caicos
4.  White House for Medal of Honor Ceremony . . . it was historic, emotional and awesome!

I use an app on my phone called Tripit . . . I started using it in 2011.  I love it and it is free!  It keeps all your trip plans organized which makes it easy to keep hotels, activities, and flights organized.  They have a feature that keeps track of you Travel Stats which I just discovered.  So here is the Distance Traveled for 2019:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

good bye Turks and Caicos

Today is our last day in Turks and Caicos.  I am determined to explore and eat as much as possible before we must leave for the airport.  I enjoyed breakfast so much at Neptunes that I went back.  I mean the view is amazing as is sitting in the open air too!
I took my last walk on the beach with no one around . . . 
. . . it was so nice, but it is time to head back home.  I went back to the room to pack our bags and grab Colin.  Now here is my biggest pet peeve of this room . . .
. . . the gap between the door and jam was large.  Thankfully no lizards managed to land on us but I am almost certain they were in our room roaming.  We grabbed a quick lunch at Dinos Pizzeria before catching the shuttle to the airport. 

Our flight was delayed for several hours but we finally were in the air . . .
I managed to eat at 17 of the 22 restaurants.  I skipped the three that had a dress code and the other two just couldn't make it with the limited hours open.   It was a relaxing few days and just like that our last trip of 2019 is over.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Turks and Caicos day 2

Another early wake up which really is nice for me.  I left the room and hardly anyone out and about.  I walked down the beach enjoying the peacefulness . . . I am finally in a vacation photo!
I had avocado toast for breakfast at Neptunes and then next door to Bayside Restuarant for fresh fruit.  I walked a lot which was good since I was going to be eating a lot today.  I lounged by the beach and pool for hours.  When I got tired of one off to the other which really was all I did most of this trip.  I returned to the room around noon to see if Colin wanted to join me for lunch and beach time.  He decided he wasn't going to leave the room so off I went again.  I didn't pay to sit in a hotel room but he could make that choice.  I left him a room key and told him I would see him back at the room for dinner.  Trust me I was not happy with his choice but wasn't going to let it spoil my day.  So I continued my restaurant tastings with lunch at Barefoot by the Sea for a fish taco, then to the Jerk Shack for chicken and roasted corn on cob on the beach of course!
Then off to Marios for dessert!  Throw in some beach walks and swims to burn some calories too.   Now here is the funny part.  Remember Colin was holed up in the room while I was out exploring.  I was laying by the pool when out of the corner of my eye I saw him walk by.  I ignored him and  just watched him.  He finally saw me and came over ready to go to the beach.  Of course I made a big deal about him finally leaving the room.  He fessed up that he left to go get food but forgot the key and was locked out.  I laughed . . . kids never want parents around until they need something.  He wanted to go to the beach so off we went.  It was nice to play in the sand and just watch him be a kid at heart.  I know he was a bit bored being by himself but he is sort of used to that when we travel.
I continued to do this . . .
After a few hours we returned to the room to change and head out to dinner.  I went out alone for some pre-dinner food.  As I was walking I noticed the sun setting . . .
Glad I took a minute to stop and enjoy.  My first stop was for sushi at Soy, then on to a buffet sampling at Giuiseppe's and Colin joined me for dinner at Arizonas   I had shrimp and grits while he had a huge T-Bone steak . . . such a Texan.  We rounded off our night with dessert and coffee at Cafe de Paris and a late night snack for Colin at Bobby Dee's.  I was full but was so fun to eat at so many different places too.  We never had to wait for a table as the resort wasn't super crowded.  My favorite part of the day was just relaxing!

***Disclaimer***  The food portions were small and there were breaks between all this ridiculous calorie intake.  Well and naps on the beach too.  I didn't just go from place to place and eat . . . well okay so maybe I did but guess what?  I have no regrets.  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Turks and Caicos day 1

I was up super early so I quickly left the teenager sleeping and off I went to sign him up for a day of fun!  The resort has a Discover Scuba program that teaches you the basics of scuba and lets you dive the same day.  Since I was up early, I headed to the dive shop and snagged the boy a spot in the 10am class.  I knew he would be thrilled to wake up 'early'!  I spent hours wandering around the resort checking out the different villages and having a solo breakfast.  I tried a buffet place, Reflections and will not be going back there as it reminded me of a cruise ship buffet but worse.  It was at that point I decided that I wanted to try and sample something at each of the restaurants . . . all 21 of them!  I ventured back to the room to wake Colin.  Just as I expected he was thrilled until I told him he had 15 minutes to get up and get dressed.  I told him today was his only chance to do this class so he became a little bit more motivated.  I dropped him off and signed the waiver and off I went to enjoy my day.  I found a chair on the beach and enjoyed doing nothing . . . no book, no magazine, nothing and it was fabulous!
I wandered back over to the Dive Shop to see if I could see Colin a bit before his lunch break.
Since he didn't eat breakfast he was starving so we stopped at Bella Napoli for pizza . . . and since it is an all inclusive resort he manged to drink so many strawberry smoothies while I had a few drinks too.
We decided to head to the room for a bit of a nap before Colin had his afternoon dive.  Just as I expected he had a blast and was thrilled to get to head out to the open waters.   I took a little nap too since I had been up so early and spent so much time watching the blue water!  It was back to scuba class for his first official open water dive and me more of this . . .
Look at that water!  Isn't it just amazing!  You know I almost had a hard time not having anything to do but managed just fine too.  The time alone seemed to go by so fast and I arrived at the dock just as he was returning . . .
He is hooked so guess we will have to plan another vacation so he can do the PADI certification course.  We headed to try a couple new restaurants too; Mr. Mac and Curls 'n Swirls . . . both were food trucks at different parts of the on property water park.  Both were cute and fun especially if you are hanging out at the water park which we did not as it was full of little kids and not exciting for a teenager.  Of course we had to walk by Bobby Dee's and Colin insisted on stopping for some pizza.  It is the one restaurant that was open from 11am-6am!  It's a 50s diner theme and always full of people.  You could order food or they had walk up buffet of typical American food.  I wasn't impressed.  We went back to the room to hang out before a late dinner at Schooners Seafood Grill which had a really good sea bass.  Tomorrow we hang out again . . .

Sunday, November 24, 2019

to Turks and Caicos

So I might have had a small panic attack as we went to return the rental car . . . I could not find how to get in the rental car return garage.  We entered airport property via a side road so signs were non existent too.  I started to panic because I knew there was only one flight from FLL to PLS today so if we missed our flight it would be a huge issue.  I finally decided to exit the airport and start over.  This time we would enter on the main road and out of nowhere there were the magic purple signs for rental car return.  I was about to start crying happy tears . . . Colin was smart and just sat in the passenger seat silently!  I dropped the tank off and of course no receipt since everything is email so off we went.  As we waited for our flight, I received an invoice for the rental car . . . it was about $20 more than expected so I started looking at the charges.
Fuel Service $15.99?  I drove the car 31 miles and filled it up with less than 2 gallons of gas and had the receipt to prove it.  I decided to call and ask about the fee because I knew waiting until we got back home would drive me crazy.  I was put on hold while they investigated.  I was told according to my contract since I drove less than 75 miles it is a courtesy to low mileage customers to not have to fill the rental with fuel when it is returned.  Well isn't that so kind of Budget Rental Car!  What?  Insane if you ask me!  I had no clue, but said I would be happy to email the receipt showing the fuel purchase less than a mile from the terminal.  More holding . . . so he agreed to refund me.  I had no idea if I was getting $3 back or the fee but either way chalked it up as a learning experience.  Renting a car is always the one thing I cringe the most about when I travel.  I think it is often a scam and ridiculous fees especially at airports but some times we need a car!  Also, do not leave without getting some sort of receipt immediately!  I knew this but since it was less than a one day rental figured I would be good . . . WRONG again!  Oh well it was all good and wasn't going to let $15.99 plus taxes ruin my trip.

This is our first time flying with our Southwest Companion Pass on an international flight!  Of course the flight is only about 2 hours so will be super easy.  I mean I pay and Colin pays $5.60!
Hello Turks and Caicos . . . your blue water is so pretty and can't wait to jump in!
As part of our package, hotel transfers were included and super easy!  We are here . . .
Check in was a bit confusing as two families named Sims arrived at the same time.  I was questioned a few times that it was just me and the child to which I continued to say yes . . . apparently single parents don't come here?  We were given an overview of the property and explained all about the all inclusive benefits.  Colin was like this is my kind of vacation place . . . we shall see how long his excitement last!  We were shown to our room which seemed to take forever.  Now in all fairness I booked the cheapest (which isn't really that cheap) room possible and well I guess that is why I feel that we are in no mans land and on the third floor.  We are in Caribbean Village West Room 375 . . .
. . . could we be any farther from the center of the resort?  I'm not complaining as our room was for sleeping and showering.  I mean there were some minor issues like the room was bit dated and could use a refresh.  The bath had a bit of mold in the shower but nothing I was going to complain about mainly because I had unpacked and didn't want to move.
The view was okay too . . . I could see the water so that is a bonus . . .
. . . honestly I was going to be lounging by the pool or on the sandy beach so the view wasn't a big deal!  We managed to get a reservation at the only place that requires a reservation, Kimonos Teppanyaki which was Colin's choice since it was a cook in front of you place.  We also stopped by Bobby Dee's for an after dinner snack and ice cream!   I can't wait to explore tomorrow!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

It seems like it has been forever since we were off on a trip.  Thankfully we both have off school and work the week of Thanksgiving so it was the perfect time to escape from home even if it is just a few days.  Since I waited so late getting a flight to our final destination was a bit of a challenge so we are spending a day in Florida before we head to the real destination.  We arrived after lunch so we only had the afternoon to explore.  I rented a car and after a forever wait in line we were on our way . . . did I mention how much I absolutely hated the rental car?  I had reserved the smallest/cheapest car possible but they were sold out so they gave me a full size Jeep Wrangler.  Colin was excited; me not so much.  I never realized how stinking large these things were.  I felt like we were driving a tank and was not happy in the traffic.  So we headed out to our one and only stop of the day, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.  It was right across from the beach, had hiking trails and bike rentals too.  I figured we could spend a few hours enjoying the warm sunshine that we have not had in Texas lately.  So we paid our fee, grabbed a quick lunch at the restaurant with live music, and set out to explore a bit.  I loved renting the bikes and riding the loop around the park a few times. . .
. . . and stopping to explore and look for lizards!
 I found it so odd that literally across the street from this was the beach and ocean!
The old trees were so cool . . .
. . . and last we hiked one of the short trails.  I was always alert because I feared some critter jumping out . . .
It was back to the car for a quick stop at Target for all the things we Colin forgot to pack like an extra swim suit!  Tomorrow we fly to our real escape, and I can't wait to return this ridiculously large rental Jeep!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Utah day 4

Today we leave Torrey, Utah.  It sure is going to be hard to leave these views and fun lodging!
Colin thinks I book boring trips so today was all about him.  I finally found a guide available to take him fishing.  Before we head out of town, we will spend half a day fly fishing and by we I mean I will pay and watch and Colin will fish.  He was so excited!  Me not so much . . . but I did enjoy hanging out watching him learn a new skill.  I mean every where I looked it was so peaceful and beautiful.
He loved catching the fish even if they were a bit small . . . there are five species of trout in this part of Utah and he caught 4 of the 5.  I highly recommend booking a private guide with Chuck the owner of Capitol Reef Outfitters.  We spent half a day with Jeff who was super nice and his fishing buddy was one of the best behaved dogs I have ever met!  I have loved the laid back cooler weather of this trip . . . just what I needed before we start back to school and schedules and a really long stretch of no traveling.  I'm not going to lie sure going to miss this . . .
. . . it was back to Salt Lake City to catch our flight back to Texas!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Utah day 3

I am about to decide to never take my child on vacation.  I mean when you stay up late and sleep late it seems like a waste of time and money.  I have tired to lower my expectations when I travel with the teen but well it is frustrating to say the least.  Also this no plan trip is sort of wearing on me too.  I’m a planner.  I like to make the most of my time when I’m on a trip and today has been a bit of a disaster.  The housekeeping guy literally started circling the wagons at 8am in his golf cart in the gravel.  Even knocked on our door and woke me up.  Now this place uses big master locks so if I haven’t turned it in then I’m still occupying my wagon.  I know it is small inconvenience but it is annoying too.  We are changing lodging so we have 5 hours to fill in our day.  This is where the no planning thing backfires.  Colin wanted to take a fly fishing trip so thought perfect until we couldn’t find a guide.  I do have something planned at 5pm so don’t want to venture too far and miss it.  My head is spinning . . . literally because the kids at the playground outside our wagon are out early and having one hell of an adventure in the playground all while my kiddo sleeps.  I know I should not complain because kids playing outside is great.  So we finally get up and check out.  Since it is so late we grabbed a quick lunch at Subway.  We are going back to Capitol Reef National Park for a bit more exploring!  I also make a quick stop at Gifford Homestead for a cinnamon roll!  They tell us that the plum orchards are open today so we decide to go pick and eat some plums!
Now in Texas plums are not this small . . . supposedly they say everything is bigger in Texas. I swear I have seen cherries in Washington larger than these plums.  While the plums are small, they are tasty and tart too.  No one else was picking plums so we had the pick of the trees and there were so many!  It was back to the car from some cruising the scenic route . . .
We found a table by the river and noticed a deer all alone in the field eating fruit!  We stood and watched her for a bit . . .
While Colin frolics in the river, I eat . . . 
I am not sure he was suppose to be in the river but he had a good time . . . 
It was near check in time for the new lodging so off we went but decided to check on our deer before we left . . . 
Tonight we are staying at Capital Reef Resort.  The resort has many types of lodging options but the main reason I picked it is so we could stay in one of these . . .
It was super nice inside too.  I was amazed at the quality of bedding and amenities inside too.  It even had a very large television which we never even turned on.

Our tour for this evening starts at the resort too.  We are going on a hike with these guys!  
Meet Woody . . .
. . . and Wall-E too!
I am so excited about this little adventure but must admit I was a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by my llama.  It took me a bit to warm up to him but he was a good llama once I took his lead!
We took a break and the llamas did too.  They were given these special 'biscuits' which they loved!  I was amazed at how well they got around and were just so fun too.  They talked and made noises and never complained!
The views of the area were so pretty . . .
Our time was up so back to the resort we headed . . . you can see the resort in the distance
I had originally planned to say at this resort the entire 3 nights we were in the area as they also had wagons.  However the cost of the wagons here was almost double the other place.  I was very happy with my decision and we basically stayed two nights for the price of one plus had a great steak dinner too at Broken Spur Inn & SteakhouseCapitol Reef Resort was larger and had a few more amenities that seemed more updated but both were clean with great locations.  Now that it was getting dark the fire pits were turned on and it was time for s'mores!  I had picked up supplies before we left Salt Lake City but the resort also sold kits.
We were joined by a family from the Netherlands.  They were super nice and were on their six weeks US trip.  This family has spent a lot of time in the US especially Texas so they were fun to talk to.  I would say the majority of the people we have encountered the last few days were European.  The sun went down and it dropped to the 50s!  It was so nice because I knew in a few short days we would be back in Texas melting away!