Travel Tips: Family Getaway

For a recent family getaway, we went to Las Vegas for two nights.  We enjoyed a wonderful time, and I will detail our activities in a future post.  But today, I wish to share with you some of my travel tips.  This is not a sponsored post- no one is paying me to talk up their products.  Just a couple of tips and tricks I have picked up along my journey.  I am a strong believer in “paying it forward-” and I hope my experience may help you plan your own fabulous vacations!

paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Las Vegas

 

We packed for all four of us for two nights.  Happily everything fit in one big suitcase. (Always pack your medications in your carry on.) Basically we packed two day outfits for each person, plus pajamas, underwear and bathing suits.  Everyone wears tennis shoes on the plane, and we pack flip flops for swimming. For myself, I packed an extra dress and flats, because I like to dress up if we are going to see a show.  My daughter wore cute skorts that were comfortable in the day and pretty for evening.  My husband and son wore khaki shorts and a polo shirt or t shirt.  We were in Las Vegas, after all!  Where is was no less than 105* F.

When I am in a hot, humid location, I prefer to use liquid makeup.  I find this keeps my skin moisturized and not itchy. I use liquid foundation and concealer, as well as liquid lipstick.  A tube of lipstick can melt.  A liquid lipstick tube with applicator fits the bill.  I also bring along these Almay Q-tip eye make-up removers for touch ups.  When traveling, I bring eye shadow crayons, like these double sided ones I found on Avon (similar here).  They are super convenient! Six colors on 3 sticks and I can do “Sunset Eyes.” sunset eyes Read more about my travel make-up case (and other tips!) here in my post “Cruisin’ 101”

The best tip I have for you is to bring along these microfiber towels.  You can find them in Target, or on Amazon. I hold them one at time under the faucet to fill it with water.  Then you must really wring it out.  A quick “snap” and you are ready to go.  Wear around the neck for instant cooling sensation.  So important when we are traveling in the hot summer.  If you can keep cool, you can keep your wits about you- am I right?

cool kids

Cool Kids

Here is an awesome bag I found on the internet last year. It is called Not-a-bag and it folds into itself for easy storage, then opens up to a regular tote bag, or you can pull the straps through to turn it into a back pack. 25 Euro and worth it.  I pack it in my airplane carry-on, just in case. It is perfect for when you are walking down the Strip.  Sometimes places do not allow backpacks for security reasons (sport arenas), and so this is convenient alternative.

One more thing- I love to read but I did NOT bring a book this time. I had finished my “vacation” book the week prior, because it was so good!  And the next book I wanted to read was a big and heavy paperback.  So I downloaded the free sample from Amazon Kindle (usually 1-3 chapters) and brought a magazine.  #PackLight

I will detail our travels in a separate post, but for now, let me share with you that in Vegas, I prefer taxiing versus using Uber.  Uber is only very slightly lower in price, but the designated pickup spots are NOT at the front of the hotels.  They are in weird locations such as the parking garage, 3rd floor. If you are in Vegas without a car, you don’t want to even enter a parking garage.  For that reason it’s so much easier and more convenient to just take the cab.

Finally I want to underline the importance of planning.  Do your research before.  Think about what you want to see and do, and mock up an itinerary. I used minitime.com for this trip. I am so glad I did, because I found out that a couple restaurants we wanted to revisit had since closed.  Understand that you may need to be flexible.  Things happen.  And in a taxi town, everything takes longer to get to than you think.

Tune in next time to see what we did!

What are your favorite travel tips?

 

Advertisements

Celebrating Guam: Titiyas Flatbread Recipe

Two Lovers Point  panoramicHafa Adai, Friends!  Hafa Adai is the warm welcome greeting from my beloved island of Guam.  Si Yu’us Ma’ase/ Thank you to all my friends and family members who reached out to my mother and I during this past week.  It means so much to us. We are delighted that our beloved island has been spared.  As a thank you, I wanted to share with you a very special and easy recipe for Titiyas or Tiyas (TEE-jus) as my family calls it- a delicious flatbread.  You will find it printed here along with an excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes.  Read on for more information about Guam and her people.

Where in the World is Guam, Anyway?  a blog post written by my dad!

Why Guam was targeted.

Keep Calm, Guam. An interview with Korean expert and BBC notable Robert E. Kelly.

I visited Guam During the Nuclear Standoff and Loved Every Minute of It

My Guam Journals – posts and pics from my family’s vacation in Guam two years ago.

MY GIFT TO YOU: An excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes- Available on Amazon in print and on Kindle. Stories and Recipes including more about Guam, including the Chicken Kelaguen recipe mentioned in many of the above links.

Remembering Grandma Santos

I was so fortunate to have my grandma living with us when I was a young girl. I loved her then, and I have even greater respect and admiration for her now. She was with us for all of our special occasions. She let my beloved cat cuddle near her, even though she wasn’t particularly fond of cats. She was so warm, and genuinely loving, as my relatives from Guam are. She always made sure to snuggle and hug my sister and I when it was the other sister’s birthday. And she could fry Vienna sausage like no one else.

I cannot even imagine the hardships she endured, growing up on Guam in the early twentieth century. Her island was captured by Japan during World War II happened, and her family was forced to march between villages along with the other native islanders. Her young son became separated from her during the march, and wasn’t reunited with the family for a day. Can you even imagine?

She sure made me feel special and loved, and I know she did the same for her other twenty-six grandchildren. She walked us to the park at the top of the hill so we could play on the playground. She wore a lace shawl over her head, reminiscent of how Catholic women had to cover their hair in church in pre-Vatican II times. I still remember the shiny black patent leather Mary Jane’s with the big fat buckle that she gave me one year. (Maybe that’s why I have always loved Mary Janes!)

Sometimes when I find a food truck now I will ask them to prepare a meal that I remember my grandma cooking for us. It is basically eggs and rice, with fried Vienna sausage. Then I douse it with soy sauce. (You know you are an Asian Pacific Islander if you keep a bottle of soy sauce in your desk at work!) The likes and loves start pouring in when I post a picture of my meal on Facebook or Instagram!  Many of my family, friends, and followers remember this comfort meal.

I remember the Tejas that Grandma cooked for us. Tejas is short for Titiyas, the traditional flatbread. I remember watching her making this in our home, when I was growing up. She’d give me a little of the dough and I could make my own tiny tejas. If I concentrate on the memory, I can almost smell her presence — Rose Milk hand lotion and Cheerios. It’s wonderful to now watch my own children make tejas with my mom.

I miss you, Grandma.

 

Titiyas

Flatbread from Guam

(pronounced tih-TEE-jus or TEE-jus for short.)

My grandmother would make this from memory, without ever measuring. My mom studied her process and came up with these measurements.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter

½ cup sugar

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup milk (or coconut milk, per my mom)

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar.

In the same bowl, pour in the flower and baking powder.

Stir just the top dry ingredients, before mixing all together with the milk.

Mix until contents form a ball.

Separate into five balls.

Flatten each ball and roll between two sheets of waxed paper with rolling pin.

Cook on griddle one to two minutes each side.

There is no need to use oil/spray on the pan because of the butter.

Makes five large tejas.

Great with cheese and ham. (Even spam.)

I hope you enjoyed reading.  Let me know if you have tried Tiyas!

Biba Guam!

 

 

 

 

 

My Alaskan Cruise: Day 7

Come vacation with me!  I love to write about my family’s vacations.   I hope you are inspired to plan your own exciting journeys! Have you been on a cruise?  Have you been to Alaska and Canada?  Let us know in the comments!

My daughter and I rise early again for our early excursion.  I am so excited to be in Victoria, Canada! This is a special place I remember visiting when I was a young girl, and now I get to share the experience with my little girl. We are going to see the beauteous Butchart Gardens.

Somehow my in-laws didn’t see us, and so they missed the bus.  (They got on the next bus).  We love these little bus tours, the friendly guides/ drivers and their oft cheesy remarks.  It’s a bit chilly and there are clear umbrellas at the gardens for everyone to borrow, if needed.

imageThe Gardens themselves are exquisitely gorgeous, every bit as wonderful as I remember.  We take many photos and enjoy the lovely blooms.  We enjoy a rousing ride on the carousel, and a light snack of popcorn, after.  My daughter had just said, if I were separated from my granddaughter and there was a merry-go-round, I would know that that would be the place to meet.  When sure enough, her grandparents approach the carousel!  She runs to greet them, it is really cute.    The carousel and the popcorn stand accept our U.S. Dollars, and give me change in Canadian dollars.  I love the Sunken Garden, and the Rose Garden the best.  The fountains are beautiful.  I am deeply moved by the Love and Peace rose, vintage 2001.

image

delsol

Butterflies by Del Sol (white indoors, sun-activated colors!)

We take a photo near the tea room where my parents took my sister and I thirty-some years ago. I tell my daughter the story of how we waited over an hour in the heat, and my little sister ordered both a chocolate sundae and a chocolate shake.  Our sweet mother balked, but my dear father said it was okay, as he knew he would be lucky enough to help her finish both!  Smart man!  She delights in this story, but we do not have enough time to dine here today.  Our tour bus awaits.  And since they didn’t wait for my in-laws before, I doubt they will wait for us if we are late.   We say goodbye to the in-laws and get on our bus. We will pass a cool spinning globe in front of a Starbucks, as well as the famous Empress Hotel. The bus is stopping at the Empress, and I decide we should exit here.  It is a lovely pier area, and very near our next excursion.   We take some more obligatory tourist pics.

 

image

Near the meeting point is another Starbucks.  Happily we run inside for a lunch/snack/drink.  My sister in law and niece are inside!  They just finished their excursion: a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown.  We enjoy a lovely mother-daughter reunion and share our stories.  My husband brings the boys (our son and nephew) off the ship after their lunch, and we all meet up for the Hippo Tour: a bus that turns into a boat.  The kids are delighted- it really is a unique tour.  Unfortunately for us, although we are first to line up, they boarded from the end of the line and we ended up with the worst seats on the bus- right behind the driver / tour guide  in the heat with closed windows and no leg room. The kids squished in the middle and got good views, but all my photos have the windshield in them.

IMG_3638[1]The bus becomes a boat and we float through the water.  We see a seaplane land in the water, which was very cool.  Our Hippo sails so close to our Royal Caribbean ship that the ship’s wifi pops up on my phone!  After the water ride, we drive through a park with lovely peacocks everywhere. After the tour, we split up again, and my son stays with me to souvenir shop in town, and the others walk back to the ship via another park/playground.

We are looking for another baseball cap for my son’s collection. But of course, we must also stop for the famous fudge, that was once eaten in space! I am using my Canadian dollars and coins, and I am looking for a penny, when the cashier  reminds me that they don’t have pennies anymore!  I vaguely recall this news from more than a few years back.  Why do they continue to ring up amounts with pennies, then, I wonder?  The fudge is fantastic.  I try the famous maple, Dear Son tries another flavor. It’s quite fun exploring with my son, just he and I.  He navigates quite well, shares appropriate observations, and some punny jokes. It is in many ways, like hanging out with another adult 🙂  It is sprinkling, and I consider taking a penny cab back to the boat, but we can handle it.  And I log a ton of steps today!IMG_3695[1]

We return to the boat and meet for dinner.  Tonight will be for packing.  You can pack by 10pm and the staff will take your luggage off the boat for you, or  you can select early departure/ walk-off luggage, which is what we will be doing.  We packed light.

We join the karaoke line-up and Dear Daughter selects Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  This Cyndi Lauper classic is a bit to high for my alto range, and I regret I did not do it justice.  Fortunately my sweet girl skips happily around me during the instrumental break, and we are saved.  But I do not think I will share that video.  LOL.

Tomorrow we will disembark in Seattle, and enjoy the city before we head home in the evening.  Can’t wait to share more with you!   I will also be sharing my godson’s video with you.

 

 

 

My Alaskan Cruise: Day 6

I’m writing about my recent cruise to Alaska.  Have you checked out my entries for the other days? I hope that by writing about it, you will be inspired to book your own vacations! Here’s what we did on Wednesday of the cruise.

Today is another Day at Sea and we do the morning breakfast routine.  There is not much different from other days, if you have been reading along.  Starbucks after the buffet. The weather is nice and there is not the crazy rocking that we enjoyed when we were sailing north a couple days ago. It has been very comfortable wearing  a t shirt or  tank top  with shorts or a skirt on the ship, just bring a sweater or jacket if you are on deck in the afternoon and evening.  It was too cold to for surf simulating or  rock wall climbing, but ping pong in the secret covered area is perfect.  The kids opted not to attend any of the kids club functions.  Sunset has been extremely late for us, around 10:30pm!  The return to ship time has also been comfortably late, as in 8:30pm.  We of course returned early for dinner and evening activities.  But I do recall that the return times were much earlier in the Mediterranean ports last year.

I liked Princess a lot, the food was slightly better, to be honest.  Princess is like the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas,- beautiful, fancy, chocolates on your pillow, maybe a little dated.  Royal Caribbean is like the Venetian Palazzo- newer bigger, and so many amenities- like the rock wall and surf simulator.  Not that we used them.  So Princess is just fine for us.  Know what I mean?  Royal Caribbean has a lot more families.

After brunch, we make our way to the lounge where the Spelling Bee will be held.  The girls are so happy to find the spot for their last elusive selfie from the selfie challenge yesterday, in this lounge.

Surprisingly, my son does not volunteer- although he is a Spelling Bee Champion, as well.  He just wants to watch.  That’s okay. There are about 8 individuals and some adults, some kids.  The hostess has an Australian accent, and she mispronounces the word Tyranny, and a foreign child gets it wrong.  An adult- an English teacher- wins.

We decide to swing by the Captain’s Corner in the theater, where the captain, cruise director, and hotel manager and another high official (engineer?) are taking questions.  It’s great fun, they are so comical.  I love when kids ask questions, like Who’s driving the boat? Have you ever hit an iceberg?  The boys will finish the entire session, but the rest of us gotta go see the Ice Skating show “Spirit of the Seasons” again.  The grandparents haven’t seen it in full yet (since it was cancelled during our first attempt at rocky seas), and we are trying to get the seats nearest the aisles where the performers invite little girls to be in the show.

We are so lucky to get the second row, so we strategically place my daughter on the aisle seat.  When the time comes, the performers are looking at the family in the first row, their little girl is not budging, however.  I see the performer start to look around for another participant, because the show must go on!  And I say to my daughter, stand up, and Go! Go! Go! The performer looks relieved.  I hope the first little girl’s parents are not mad at me, but she wasn’t moving!  So my daughter happily gets into position as they help guide her into the sled. What an experience for her!  I’m so happy she gets this chance of a lifetime.   This is during the Winter part of the show, and the performers are dressed in wintery attire, taking turns pushing the two little girls (one from the other side) around on the ice rink. The other day her brother had his moment in the spotlight, today is hers.  The smaller rink is an intimate venue, and the audience applauds warmly as she gets out of the sled and exits the rink.   Let me tell you, this is right up there with the first time she met the Princesses at Disneyland when she was 3 years old. #mommybeams

IMG_3468[1]

That’s my girl!

IMG_3475[1]

Spirit of the Seasons, Winter. 

I think this is the day they go back to ping pong, so I just do my own thing and find somewhere to read. The girl cousins create their own dance routines, entitled “Spirit of the Cousins.” I love how they incorporated ice skating moves into their dances. My eleven year old niece is lifting and spinning my eight year old daughter, and she loves it.

 

After a quick pseudo dinner in the Windjammer- it was closing so there was no good food available and I had to text my hubby to bring his daughter some pizza from downstairs- we head to the Ice Rink for Open Skate!  How many of you can say you’ve ice skated in the Pacific Ocean?  Actually, not me, as I decided to just watch. My back had just recovered from that first night on the sofa bed, and I didn’t want to risk hurting it.  My son and godson and I watched as my hubby and his sister took the two girls out for a skate. I really enjoyed watching the boys watch people fall.  The one time my daughter almost fell, she said it was fun!  That’s because her daddy and godmother each held one of her hands and she was saved.  IMG_3484[1]Watch her fall in slow motion on my godson’s video, which I will post at the end of these journals.

Afterwards, we head to the Theater for the evening performance. I always enjoy the music of a live band.  It is a nice time to relax and enjoy our Shirley Temples, even if sometimes we snicker a little during the performances.

We walk by Karaoke but since my song of choice was featured in the evening performance, I am not feelin’ it.   Dear Daughter knows when she is turning into a pumpkin and declares it her bedtime.   I bring her to the room and let the boys wander together.

Tomorrow is a Port day at Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada!  I am so excited!  There will be beautiful flowers everywhere!

Have you been on a cruise?  Have you been to Alaska?  Drop me a line!

My Alaskan Cruise: Day 5

Hello Friends! I’m in the middle of journaling my recent vacation: a family cruise to Alaska. I hope that in writing about our trips, you may be inspired to plan your own vacations, too!

We are awakened this morning by the announcement from our cruise director, stating that we are at Dawes Glacier  in the Tracy Arm Fjord and the captain will begin a 540 degree turn of the ship so that everyone can see it.  We are near the first viewing side, and let me tell you, it is majestic. It is a mile from my balcony.  I can’t help but think of how lucky we are to be able to see this beautiful side of nature in Alaska. We take photos, but we are still in pajamas, so after we rotate past, we go change so we have better clothes on for the next pass (and photos).  We observe calving, the collapsing of glacier parts into the sea. It is very noisy, it sounds like a  thunderous earthquake, even though only a little falls.  We train our binoculars onto the cotton candy pieces, but we do not see any seals or any other animals. Later this day we will see whales, which is so exciting!  Alas, they do  not photograph well, as they splash and disappear.

Enough talk.  Here are some pics of the Dawes Glacier.

IMG_3364[1]

IMG_3365[1]

IMG_3381[1]

IMG_3392[1]

IMG_3400[1]
We meet up with the rest of the family for breakfast in the buffet.   This is basically another day at sea, with the added bonus of glacier spotting in the morning. The 3 youngest kids enjoy a Selfie Scavenger Hunt activity, taking pictures of themselves all over the ship. I will be spending some time by myself this morning, I venture to the Chapel, but as half of it has been taken over by a baby play area, it’s kinda weak, in my humble opinion. Even better, however, is the Dizzy Gillespie Lounge, talk about a room with a view!  Surprisingly, most  folks up here are sleeping in chairs or reading books.  I thought about reading, but THIS VIEW!

IMG_3404[1]

The kids and my hubby and sis-in-law like to play ping pong.  So it seems like they go there a lot!       I am glad hubby has the sense to avoid this basketball challenge from our godson, after what happened last year on our Mediterranean cruise.  I will enjoy a Swedish Massage at the Spa today.  There is an Acupuncture seminar in the waiting room, so I enjoy part of that, as well.  The massage therapist is from England and she likes my sparkly pink nail polish.  🙂  This is a nice hour of bliss.

We quickly change into our formal night attire.  I am wearing the same charcoal dress and the silver side of my reversible necklace, hair up.

IMG_3903[1]We take some more formal photos, but there are too many of us on the backdrop, and it looks weird. I do wish I had maybe purchased a couple of them, but they wouldn’t let us combine pics from our 3 different family accounts into one discount purchase.  Annoying.

This evening we will enjoy another round of Shirley Temples as we enjoy another entertainer performance show.  This guy can really play the trumpet, man.  He’s got chops!  He also is kinda reminiscent of Tom Jones. Sometimes (more than half) the entertainment is watching the entertainment.  Am I right? It’s kind of cheesy and kind of funny, and still the talent of the live musicians shines through.  My mother would love it!   I don’t think my godson appreciated it though.  I think he was trying to fall asleep during it 🙂

Cheesecake lolly-pops before bed, and it’s another time change.  Time to set our clocks forward an hour to Pacific Daylight Savings Time.   Tomorrow will be another day at sea: a special opportunity at the Ice Show, and more ping pong and maybe Karaoke…

My Alaskan Cruise: Day 4

Good Morning, and Happy Fourth of July!

Today my daughter and I are heading out to port early, as she has selected a shore excursion for just the two of us.  The rest of the family will head into town later for the Fourth of July Parade and then they are all taking an excursion together in the afternoon.

My daughter and I dress quickly and quietly and head out to the buffet.  Today there are strange mascots about- we pose with a couple of them, but it will cost $19.99 for that photo, later.  We search for Fruit Loops, alas, we search in vain.  It is a Frosted Flakes kind of day. I am delighted to have this special time with just me and my daughter.  She is such a joy, in all of her eight year old wisdom and playfulness. IMG_3304We are running slightly late, so we opt for the golf cart ride from our end of the pier, past the other two ships, and to the port. She says, I hope no one in our family gets jealous of us riding this golf cart today!

Fortunately, the excursion meeting points are literally just off the pier. Someone asks us if we are here for zip-lining.  Not today! I zip-lined last year on Guam.  My daughter is so excited as they give us our wrist bands, tokens for gold panning, and drive us through town. We learn that a gallon of milk costs about $7.00  in Skagway.  Wow.

We are on the Gold-Panning, Dog Musher, 40-Below excursion, which is a visit to Klondike Gold Fields park. IMG_3917[1]

Our first activity is the Dog Mushing.  We watch a video and visit with an actual Dog Musher who participated in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.  This is a neat opportunity to learn about what they do.  My uncle participated in the Iditarod race in 1987, finishing 34th. What an accomplishment!  From here we meat another established musher, and he shows us to a training run round the loop, and we get to meet and hold the puppies!  Ohmigosh they are so cute!  And this dog musher is not bad, either, amIright?IMG_3918[1].JPG

From here we visit a 40-Below Chamber.  We don borrowed parkas and basically step into a freezer.  There is also a simulation of the Northern Lights.  It sure is cold.  Brr!

IMG_3919[1]

Finally, we get our turn with the “pay dirt.”  My daughter has been so looking forward to this part.  She even cleared a wide space on her special shelf in her bedroom before we left, saying, “This is for my gold.”  We each get a little, but she is delighted.  After we put our specks into the little film canisters, it’s time to visit the assayer.  I tell my daughter that my grandfather, her great-grandfather, was the Chief Assayer at the San Francisco Mint.  It’s pretty cool to have a family connection to these professions we are meeting today.  She beams over her $7.77 worth of gold, and I purchase the special display case for her.  I must say, $7.77 is pretty lucky!

IMG_3920[1]

As we bus back into town, the rest of the family is also returning to the boat from the parade.  We get to dine together and share our stories, before heading out to town again.

Fourth.png

They will visit a proper Dog Musher training facility, and we will explore town. We have been given a map with coupons from the ship or maybe the pier staff, I forget which.  My daughter uses it like a treasure map, and we collect a poncho, a totem pole charm, and a train charm for her.  I pick up a tanzanite necklace (free), tanzanite studs, and an icicle stretch ring for like $15.  It’s so cute how they call Mystic Topaz “Northern Lights” up here. The town is alive with the Fourth of July festivities, and we observe a tug of war in the street.  We enjoy some old-timey music outside the Red Dog Saloon, and pick up some super-cool sun-activated color souvenirs at Del Sol, before heading back to the ship.

We bring our paints and art supplies back up to the Windjammer.  We set up shop near a panoramic window, and enjoy watercoloring.  We honor my friend Noel who watercolored on her travels, before she passed away. I highly encourage painting along your travels.

IMG_3928[1]

 

Here are some pics from the family at their dog mushing excursion.  More puppies!

We all dine together in the Sapphire Dining Room. The girls have a system where they trade vegetables.  After dinner, we enjoy Shirley Temples and watch the magician show in the Theater.

 

And finally, we happen to pass by Karaoke singalong as they are playing “We Are Family,” so me and my daughter step up to the mic.  I know this is what you have all been waiting for, right?  Here’s our lil video!  So much fun!

I get the kids in bed and then step out for a late night dessert with my husband.  Someone recognizes me in the elevator from Karaoke.  That’s always fun. 🙂 We are enjoying these cheesecake lolly-pop’s in Café Promenade. And we are happy with this day.  Tomorrow there will be glaciers!  I can’t wait to show you the amazing pics of the glacier just off our balcony!.

 

 

My Alaskan Cruise: Day 3

I woke up refreshed after having slept on a real bed! The rocking has calmed somewhat, it’s now very mild only to remind you that we are on a boat.  Which I love. My kids say that the do not even notice the gentle rocking. We have gained an hour overnight, as the ship set clocks back to Juneau time overnight.

We have our standard buffet breakfast in the Windjammer.  There are omelets made-to-order in the back. Fruit Loops are offered today, very exciting for the kids (I don’t usually let them eat sugary cereal at home).   We are at sea for the morning, docking in Juneau after lunch, where we will enjoy our planned excursion of  Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier. My sister-in-law says there was a Geography Trivia event in the late morning.  This is my dear son’s area of specialty and he is even wearing his National Geographic State Geo Bee Participant tee shirt from earlier this year. The cousins and my sister-in-law will enjoy watching and supporting him.tavern

The Geography Trivia event is a gathering in a small lounge/bar area called the Tavern. Through the decorative port hole windows, we can see the lush green land as we approach the Port of Juneau.  The crew member hosting this trivia event is standing behind the grand piano.  There are some families, but mostly adults playing. There can be teams of up to 6.  My husband and I are sitting near our son, but he is the one playing. My son is a 4-time School Geography Bee Champion, and 3 time State Geography Bee Participant, finishing 12th, 8th, and then 4th earlier this year.  The questions are a little different that the sample questions he is used to, for example: How many times can the state of Rhode Island fit into the whole of the state of Alaska?  (This is the only question he missed.  He guessed 420 and someone else had guessed  500 and the answer was like 480.) And, Drive from Nebraska to California in only four states.  This one we had to talk out our answer.  Does Nebraska border one of the Four Corners states?  Which one?  Colorado? Okay, Colorado meets Arizona at the Four Corners, Arizona borders California.  Boom. My son won the contest, to  much applause, and a few shouts of “Ringer!” His prize: 6 Royal Caribbean Highlighter Pens. My son said it was the Highlight of the cruise. winner

After lunch in the buffet, we make our way off the boat and onto the Pier.  There is much confusion as the person in charge did not have paperwork nor a telephone number, nor even any information about the time start and meeting location. We had to pay for a shuttle to take us a mile away to the meeting point.   We enjoy a chartered bus with a friendly driver, who entertains us with such comments as “And the Juneau State Capital Building, voted the 50th most beautiful capital building in the United States!”  We always enjoy when the tour guides include humor 🙂  He points out all this awesome wildlife so casually: “OH there’s another bald eagle for you, anyway as I was saying…” I can hardly get my camera ready fast enough to capture the image.  Here is a pic that my godson took.

eagleMy godson also made a video of our trip, I think I will share that after my entry of the 8th day (with his permission).

The Mendenhall Glacier is a beautiful cotton candy blue.  We have only one hour here, and the guide recommends a 45 minute medium hike to the waterfalls. But he stresses that there will not be enough time to visit the Center if you do that.  Most of our party hike to the Falls, but my daughter and mother-in-law and I decide to do our own thing, check out the Visitor Center, Gift Shop, and enjoy a shorter hike.  I am so happy to share this with my young daughter, as I recall visiting my first glacier in Alaska when I was about her age.  We  enjoy a short walk to the beach and take numerous photos, also talking with the other visitors, as you do.  We even use our binoculars to try to spot our family members walking to the falls.  It doesn’t work.  They look like ants.

ice

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau

 

 

us.jpg

falls

Our tour guide drives us to another lookout point at Douglas.  He takes our family photo with our ship in the background.  Can you say Christmas Card?

xmas

As we return to our meeting point, our party divides.  My husband, sister-in-law, and the boys decide to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens with me.  So we stay in town a bit longer.  The grandparents take the girls back to the ship and will dress for fancy dinner.  I’m glad they can enjoy this special time together.  I’m glad to have an opportunity to watch this fabulous movie again!  We are looking for a drugstore in town, as we’ve discovered our ship does not have self-service laundry.  The one drugstore does not, so hubby takes advice from the pharmacist and walks a mile further to a grocery store.   This is like the Road Block in The Amazing Race in which only one team member can participate and fulfill the task. Sis-in-law heads back to the shuttle.  I take the boys to Alaska Fudge store, as we wait for my hubby.  I pick up a cute tee shirt for my daughter along the way.  As we wait on the benches near the shuttle, I find myself without a book, phone (hubby took it because  Apple Maps are better than whatever he has on his phone), nor tablet. I didn’t bring a book or tablet because I’d wanted to lighten the load that is my backpack for the excursion.  I thought, there’s always e-books on my phone!  But here I am without a phone.  And with two teenage boys who each have their own phones, and they don’t really want to be talking to their forty-something mom/aunt.  It is like pulling teeth, but I get some very interesting conversation from them.

Hubby returns and he’s all energized from walking.  We decide not to wait for the shuttle, and begin the walk to the pier.  It sounds great, but everyone is taller than me with longer legs, and I can’t keep up.  Hubby teases me and asks if I will be doing the “band walk” as he calls it.  If you squat a little, your legs will cover more ground.  Yes, this is a thing I remember from marching band, when you have only four counts to get to your next mark. There’s a moderately steep incline and it now begins to more than sprinkle, I’d call it a light rain.   I’ve stopped counting the busses that pass us, I don’t want to notice if it is the one that we could have taken.  The walks takes longer than we thought, and now we do not have time to eat before the movie.  (Who said that you don’t get any exercise on a cruise?  I logged over 15,000 steps today!)

ucandoit

“You can do it, Honey!”

We go straight into the theater where SIL is waiting.  Luckily, I have some yummy cherry bars in my backpack.  Afterwards, we go back to the buffet, before we return to the grandparents’ room to collect our daughters.

 

My daughter is dancing deliriously and clearly having a  grand old time.  We walk by the karaoke singalong to check it out, but it looks lame.  The bartenders are singing, begging for singers. But I am not singing the Commodores.  She’s a Brick….HOUSE. Ow.

Tomorrow we will be in Skagway, for the Fourth  of July! There will be gold panning, 40-Below chamber and PUPPIES!