Monday, 28 October 2013

Nanaimo update

After that amazing trip with my family, we are laying low here in Nanaimo. Raking leaves, doing a campfire, trying to get used to the cooler weather and trying to do some planning.....but mostly I am missing my little guy! 
Gus is currently in Nuevo Vallarta on his first Mexican vacation!! Of course, Josh & Kathy are there too, along with her whole family. We are super excited for them and can't wait to get some pictures of everyone. Of course, we will pass those on to you as soon as we get them! I really think there should be a "Gus-cam", don't you??
For now, here are a few recent pictures: 
This one cracks me up. Before their holiday, Josh & Kathy took him out
to get a life jacket. Can you see him starting to hold his breath?
Must be from all those swimming lessons. Pretty cute anyway!!
What more can I say! I know, top shelf kinda guy, isn't he??
This is on the plane to Mexico. When you have to get up at 4:00 a.m.,
this is how a guy feels at 10:00 a.m. on the plane!! 
My sister, Julie sent this over to me...ha ha ha!!
No, it isn't Gus, but it could be!!
Cheers friends!! 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cruise - At sea (Late from Sept 29 & 30)

Sorry, just found lots of pictures from some of our early at sea days. The blog does not allow me to insert a blog post in between other posts, once they are done. Anyway, wanted to share these pictures too!! These were fun days, just spent lazing around the pool.  You can really tell this is early in the cruise as we are not very tanned!! In fact, this is when I got sun burned. Silly me. All those months in Mexico and I never burnt, just sit me by a pool and see what happens!!

Also, this was our first formal dining evening. Fun to dress up!!

September 29th:

Nancy, Carmen & Susann

The group's "area"

Slather him up!!

Julie, Mom and Nancy

Lacey and Grandma

Doug and his synchronized swimming team!! (Susann and Carmen)
Carmen, Nancy, Lacey & Doug...

After all the pool time, it was time for dress-up. It is a Princess tradition that all these wine glasses get stacked up in a pyramid and the captain pours champagne in the top one and it runs down and fills them all up. Only problem was our Capt. Binetti actually knocked the top few down. Miraculously, it did not take the whole stack out!! That would have really been something!!

You can just make out the Capt. pouring.
Hope he drives the ship better than he pours!!
Thanks to my dear friend, Danna, for making me this beautiful dress!!
Martin, Julie, Mark, Lacey & Mom

Mom, Carmen, Julie, Lacey, Nancy & Susann
September 30th:

And so we carried on with more pool days!!

Julie, Melissa & Susann.
Melissa never let those drinks run dry!!

Gotta have your orange/fruit juice first thing in the morning, right ladies??

Susann explains the rules of the "area"
Carmen takes pictures so she won't forget!!

Doug and Mark toast that they understand!!

Volleyball time!!

Cruise Director Matt trying, again, to explain the rules!!

Nice form, Carmen!!
(No, I cannot explain that lady's bathing suit behind us....)

I have no form, I just chucked the ball back!!!
In fact, I was in 7 feet of water here-luckily I even survived!!!
 The team!!
Oh my gosh....from volleyball to shuffleboard. I can hardly keep up with this type of activity level!!!!

Julie, Martin, Mark, Carmen, Nancy & Doug

...and the sun sets on another great day at sea!!
So again, my apologies for this being out of order but you can see by the number of pictures and the amount of fun that I couldn't leave them out!! Just imagine that these all took place BEFORE we got to Cabo. In fact, we arrived in Cabo the next morning after these!!
Hey, I never said that following my blog would be easy, did I???
Cheers friends!!

Cruise Wrap-up (Part 2)

I am not sure what else I could possibly add to all the posts of the last few days. I hope no one minded the way I had to do them. I really should have saved that "Cruise Wrap-up (Part 1)" for now, but it came out a bit backwards!!

Some things really do stand out in my mind. 

Ports of Call. Well, Panama Canal has to win, hands down. Even though, technically, we did not get off the ship.Doug and I loved Costa Rica and would like to explore it more. Also Aruba was a very kind and peaceful island, beautiful white sand beaches. I guess they all had something interesting to offer. Nicaragua was the first time we experienced warm, tropical rains. Thanks for that!!

Food and drinks.They were great. We never gained one extra pound! We were very, very happy about that. We had heard about all the scary stories of people gaining all sorts of weight because of all the great food. I think some call it "float and bloat". That was a relief!! Plus we did not feel like we did without lots of treats and yummy food and desserts!! (who could forget the Baked Alaskas!!)

Shuffleboard. This was tons of fun. I know it doesn't sound like it but when you get your whole family out playing, it was a blast!! The shuffleboard deck was up on level 16 of the ship, right at the back. There were lots of great sunsets enjoyed from here as well!! There was also lots of trash-talk going on too!! Of course, it didn't hurt that we were on a big-ass, beautiful ship in the middle of the warm seas either!!

Mini-Golf. I know. Another thing that sounds a bit lame, but we had a great time up there. We are a bit noisy so when we all arrived, it amazingly seemed to clear right out!! Imagine!!

Trivia in the Wheelhouse Pub. Well, this was a bit of a miserable failure most days, but we did try. Martin and Julie got us going on this and I think, at times, they were sorry to have involved us all. Maybe he and Julie could have found a more intelligent group. It was fun anyway!!

Pool time. Well, it started out innocently enough, this saving of lounge chairs. Eventually, it became obvious that Susann, Mark and Julie could not save enough for us all so they relented and only kept 4 at a time, right by the pool. Hey, when you get up there at 8 am, you can do those things!! Multiple tubes of sunscreen were used, many types of hats and so many drinks that you couldn't possibly keep track!! AND, the pool games......these were put on by the cruise director. Volleyball, which I was in. I do not believe that I actually returned a ball, not even once. The last set of games, the other day, involved Martin, Julie, Doug, Carmen and a few unknown extras. They named themselves.... and they won the relay race in the pool. It was so much fun cheering them on!!

Mostly what I take away was an amazing time spent with some of the most important people in my life. We talked and laughed for 18 days straight...and we all came away better than when we started!! Imagine!! We thank our Mom, again and again for the opportunity!!

While we were away, due to the spotty nature of the internet and the inability to download pictures, we missed a few birthday wishes on the blog. I was finally able to post them on Facebook but not here, so in order of proper birthday dates, may I present:

October 5th - Barb Contreras!!
Sorry we missed you friend but we were thinking of you.
Hope you had a great day with your family in Illinois!!
October 12th - Helen Beglaw (aka Doug's Mom!!)
We love you and were sorry we couldn't call you on that special day!!

October 12th - Bob Bortolin
Our great friend. We are sure that your family made your day special!
(Sorry buddy, but you had to take second place to Doug's Mom here!!)
October 16th. Also, the last birthday, which was not actually on the boat was Carmen's, our wonderful sister-in-law. I don't like referring to Carmen as "sister-in-law" as she is more like our sister!! She also shared a birthday with my Dad, Les Tamas. This made her very special to Dad too!! I owe you a sign!!  
Julie, Nancy, Susann and Carmen...
So, from all your "sisters" A very Happy Birthday to you, Carmen!!!
And that, ladies and gentleman is a wrap!!!
Cheers friends!! 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Cruise - At Sea (Oct 11 & 12)

Well, that was an action packed few days, huh? We loved every minute of it and now, all too soon, we will be back on dry land again. For now, we will enjoy the next few days at sea as we work our way back to Fort Lauderdale and home.

We spent the last few days getting packed up and going for walks around the ship, spending a bit of time in the pools and getting used to the idea that there would be no one at home to cut up the fruit and veggies for us!! (...and no one to make up the bed and put out chocolates for us either!!) 

 One last sunset picture, at sea...

One last Baked Alaska for dessert!!
A Princess Cruises tradition on the last day of the cruise!!

...and one last big gathering!!

Doug, Anastasia (from Russia), Mark & Martin...
She was not our waiter but I think she wanted to be as we were the noisy, crazy table!!
Our little home away from home!!
There is a couch beside me and the deck is behind me...
We awoke to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Oct 13th in the early morning. It is one of the world's busiest cruise ship terminals. There was this Carnival ship in front of us and the one you can just see, peaking out from our front is the "Allure of the Seas". Wow, three of us, in all at once!!

 No, we did not come in under that bridge!!

What a place to call home - right across from these huge ships!!!
We were scheduled to get off the boat about 9:30 a.m. There was a slow down in the US government which meant that there weren't enough customs agents on duty to check in 3 cruise ships of people. I imagine that would be about 6,000 people all coming in, pretty much at the same time!!
This day, we headed off to the hotel for an overnight stop and then it was two flights and we were all safe and sound back in Vancouver (...well, 2 flights for most of us, except for Mark and Carmen. They had one more flight back to Vernon!!). 
All the air travel went off without a hitch,. Everything was on time and all the baggage arrived with us - imagine!!! Mom and her travel agent, Tina, at CruiseShip Centre in North Vancouver did an amazing job arranging everything.
I know I can speak for all the family when I say it was an amazing experience. Everything was fabulous and we had the most wonderful time......"Thanks Mom"!!!!! 
In a word, it was all P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!!!
Cheers friends!!

Cruise - Aruba (Oct 10th)

Aruba was a different arrival time for us. Instead of arriving at a port in the wee hours of the morning, we pulled into port about 1:00 p.m. That was nice because we could "see it coming". Oh my gosh, the blue water!! We have never been on the Caribbean side of the continent before so it just amazed us. This island is only 20 miles long.

None of us booked any "official" excursions. What we decided to do was to hire 2 van cabs so all 9 of us could go "together". There wasn't a cab big enough to hold all of us. We had two great guys and they drove us all over the island to all the spots that were important...



For a tiny island, they have a pretty big dock!!
They have a huge cruise ship industry....

Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations. Arawak Indians would visit these rocks
in order to hear incoming thunderstorms and to draw on the rocks.




Vantage point from high up on the rock formations....

Sisters....Julie, Carmen, Susann and Nancy 




Grandma, Lacey & Susann, rest in the shade at the rock formations.... 

Nice, tidy little neighbourhood...

Church is closed to visitors and is only open for services. The tourists kept
showing up in bathing suits, no shoes and no shirts so the priest said...."Nope"

I thought it was funny that this sign was right across the street from the church!!

California Lighthouse. It was named for a steamship that
sunk off the coast. The lighthouse was built in 1910

I know, I just had to do it!!!




View of the north side of the island. No swimming here.
The tides and currents are too strong!
After our tour, the drivers took us to one of the best beaches. They arranged for the restaurant folks to give us a table and let us use the beach. We had such a great time, all of us together!!! WE all agreed that we loved this particular beach. You could put up the flags at your beach chairs and they come with your drink order!!


 Caribbean Sea foot shots!!


Bathing beauties...Julie, Carmen & Susann
The water was like bath water, about 26 degrees Celsius (84 degrees F)
"You know who" is never far from our minds..... 


Back we are at the little downtown core....super cute!!

Back at dock, safe and sound...
So, that evening we went to one of the shows on board. Actually, it was the second time we had watched this "Mentalist" Brent Webb. Apparently he has performed at the White House for 2 Presidents and on the Las Vegas strip. He is pretty amazing. Mark and Carmen ended up on stage and he did some very amazing things. Carmen ended up drawing a picture of a house, which he already knew she would draw. Go figure. Mark did a bit of card game guessing. We all agreed that if it hadn't have happened to us we wouldn't have believed it!!
After he was done with them on the stage he sat and, I guess, and "read" our minds in the theatre. Earlier in the evening he asked us each to write down 4 or 5 important things in our lives. We had to fold up the papers and then drop them in a big bowl. There were hundreds of people in that theatre and therefore hundreds of little folded pieces of paper in that bowl. He never touched the bowl, at all. He never came anywhere near it. He said if I call out something, a name, that means anything to you, stand up. For a moment, he had his hand over his eyes. The first thing he said was....."GUS". Nope, I am not kidding. I had goose bumps on my arms as I stood up. Not one other person stood up at that name and what would the odds be that he just "guessed" at that name. I AM a believer that's for sure.
Anyway, here are a few fun shots of Mark & Carmen, up on stage..... 

Mr. Doubting Tamas.....


Carmen, busy drawing!!!
Aruba was our last official port. I think it was one of my favourites. I think this was because it was the only port that we all went together for an excursion. We all had a wonderful day. I am sure the memories will be with us for a long, long time!! We can't thank our drivers, Rich and Albert enough for giving us a little glimpse of their Aruba.
Next up is 2 sea days and then Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Cheers friends!!