Window Seat

Window Seat: San Diego Babymoon, Day Four, 05.15.12

One quick thing I want to say about picture posts – despite the fact that it looks like I have TONS of photos (and I do), I really do try to not be one of those people who live on their cameras. I’m very much a fan of “live your life, don’t document it.” At the same time, you should see how many photos I took that aren’t worth keeping. I snap quickly, put the camera away, and move on. This results in some awesome photos and some duds. Basically, know that I don’t live behind the lens, but I do like to take lots of photos and journal because it keeps the memories more alive for me.

This post (along with all of the other San Diego posts that will follow) were actually written while in San Diego. I hope you enjoy this recap of our babymoon! Be warned – this is very photo heavy.

***

We slept in a little later this morning than usual, but we were still down at breakfast by 8 a.m. Breakfast is the same thing everyday; I’m very thankful they have fresh fruit, so I’m at least getting some nutrients there.

We went to Sea World, which opened at 10 a.m. Oy vey, the day started off rough. We got in a VERY short line (maybe 12 people in front of us, max) to exchange our vouchers for tickets. We didn’t get our tickets until forty-five minutes later. Every single person in line was taking about ten to fifteen minutes with their transaction. Ours was over in less than two minutes. I do NOT understand why the line took so long. Regardless, by about 10:50, we were headed into the park.

The rest of the day was awesome. We went to the Shamu Show at noon, which was truly incredible.

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We grabbed a quick bite of lunch, and on our way to lunch, we saw some other people having a dolphin expedition.

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We also enjoyed the various aquariums around the park.

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After the Shamu show, we checked out a few various exhibits and went to an amazing acrobatics, dolphin, bird, and whale show called Blue Horizons.

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Leaving the show, we saw this lady with this awesome backpack.

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All day long, Tina and I have talked about a half-serious-but-not-really-but-yeah-kinda-really desire to move to San Diego and get a job training marine animals at Sea World. Tina is a biologist; I’ve got a degree in psychology. We could make it happen.

We signed up for a Behind the Scenes tour at 3:45. The coolest thing ever happened. We were on the tour alone! Just the two of us, so we literally got a private tour of some behind-the-scenes magic at Sea World.

We got to feed romaine lettuce to some sea turtles, but the coolest part was getting to see some of the animals that, for various reasons (usually rehabilitation), were not out in the main park. We saw the hospital and the water treatment facilities; it was amazing.

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By this point in the day, our feet were toast. Tina wore sandals, and she’s pregnant, so her feet were super tired. Still, we trudged over to the penguin habitat, because we’re both fans.

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And finally, after five o’clock and completely wiped, we drove back to the hotel, showered, and are prepared to just sit back, relax, and watch Glee. Don’t judge.

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Window Seat: San Diego Babymoon, Day Three, 05.14.12

Several months ago, I did a weekly series on Stellar Path called The Window Seat, where I talked about my family’s various travels. I abandoned it, around the time that work just got too overwhelming, but I am picking it back up. I had talked about TWO days of our Babymoon to San Diego, (Day One, Day Two), and I am picking this feature back up with Day Three.

This post (along with all of the other San Diego posts that will follow) were actually written while in San Diego. I hope you enjoy this recap of our babymoon! Be warned – this is very photo heavy!

***

Breakfast was much the same. Good and very filling. This morning, they had raspberries. I can’t help it – apparently, I’m a fresh fruit dork.

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View as we are leaving the hotel…

Since we had a cruise at 7:00, we decided to save Los Angeles for a day when we didn’t have to be back. We’re planning to go on Thursday; today, we decided to go to Last Exit Mall (aka Las Americanas Mall) about one mile from the Mexican border.

It was a pretty standard outlet mall, and I’m just not a shopper. However, I did get a $500 leather jacket from Wilson’s Leather for $149. I also purposely got one smaller than would fit now, to give me some motivation for weight loss for the winter.

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On our way back, we stopped at Tuna Harbor (very close to the hotel) and ate at the Fish Market. We sat outside, right above the water. It was a little chilly, but the food was amazing! Tina got a lobster roll; I got cod, prawn, and scallops “fish and chips.” It was amazingly good. We may very well go back for dinner some time.

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We also did a bit of exploring around the restaurant. There was an exhibit set up for Bob Hope and a gigantic iconic statue of “the kiss” from WWII.

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After leaving the restaurant, we came back to the hotel and laid out by the pool. A few brave souls tried to swim, but we just enjoyed the sun for about an hour. I got a little pink; Tina got burned. Apparently, pregnant women burn easier than non-pregnant women. Who knew?

I napped, and we went to Hornblower Tours for our Sunset Cruise. This was the only stupid part of the day; we went to the address on our cruise tickets, 1066 North Harbor Drive. We parked about a quarter of a mile away. Well, it turns out that we actually had to walk down to 1800 North Harbor drive to board the ship. Rather than move the car, we walked the difference. The lady at the ticket booth said she didn’t understand why they didn’t print the right address on the ticket voucher and didn’t know how to fix it. (I dunno – maybe a sign on the ticket booth at 1066 that that is NOT where you board the ship. *sigh* Regardless, we got on the ship.)

It was a very fun experience. We were fed a three course meal, salad, steak with potatoes and broccolini, and a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with a cookie crust. We literally just cruised around the harbor, but it was a lot of fun. We also got some amazing photos. It was a three hour tour (snicker), but it felt a little long. By 9 o’clock, we were ready to go. (It went ‘til ten.)

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Still, we had a good time.

We’re both dead tired. Hopefully, we’ll wake up refreshed for a fun day tomorrow at Sea World.

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Window Seat: San Diego Babymoon, Day Two, 05.13.12

This post (along with all of the other San Diego posts that will follow) were actually written while in San Diego. I hope you enjoy this recap of our babymoon! Be warned – this is pretty photo heavy!

***

We got up REALLY early. Tina woke up at 5 a.m. I was up by a little after six. We are still apparently on Central time. We showered and headed down to the buffet by seven.

It was very good, and given that it was free, it was even better. It would have cost $22.95 each, and it would NOT have been worth that, but free… awesome. It had the standard breakfast buffet fare (photos coming on a future day’s post), but my favorite part… the fruit! I ate one plate of nothing but fruit. So freaking good.

And one photo of the view from our table…

We had nothing really planned for the day, so we decided today would be a good day to go to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a three hour drive away, but that was fun, too, because we saw some amazing landscapes that we just don’t have in Kentucky.

Tina and I were both especially impressed with all of the wind turbines. It reminded me a little of the truly awful movie M.A.C. and Me.

After driving for three hours, we stopped at a Carl’s, Jr. for a quick bite before we set off to go hiking. Most surprising to us was that it was in the high 60s in San Diego, but by the time we got to the high desert, it was around 100 degrees. Amazingly huge difference. (And we packed all wrong, thinking we’d be in hot weather all the time and not just far inland.)

We stopped at the Visitor Center, talked to a Ranger, and then headed into the actual park. It is largely a driving experience, but we got to stop several times to take photos and do a bit of exploring.

It was so beautiful; it was almost like being on an alien planet, because it just looked so different!

A nice shot of Tina and Moon Pie…

First tumbleweed we’d ever seen! (Other than the restaurant.)

I have no idea what I’m doing here.

Our rental car is the gray one beside the red car. This is a small parking area at the highest point in Joshua Tree.

And I get to cross an item off of my Bucket list, because we hiked in Joshua Tree National Park! (I want to visit all of the US’s National Parks.)

After leaving the park, we stopped at a small gift shop and bought our Joshua Tree Christmas Ornament. One of our travel traditions is to buy Christmas ornaments of the different places we visit.

They also had this very cool piano out back. We tried to play it. As you might expecting, a piano, outdoors in the elements, doesn’t sound so good. Looked cool, though.

And then, it was time for the LONG drive back to San Diego. We stopped a few times to stretch our legs and so forth, but eventually, we made it back.

On the way back, we stopped at Fillipa’s Pizza Grotto and ordered an all-white pizza (garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, and provolone) to eat in the hotel. Even though it was a bit cooled, it was DELICIOUS!

We’re currently in the hotel, full up on pizza and watching Bob’s Burgers. It’s 8:30 here (10:30 back home), but we’re wiped. It’s funny how driving in the car for what felt likes years can tire you out. But we’re back in the hotel, going to sleep soon, and tomorrow will be a fun, new day of our babymoon!

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Window Seat: San Diego Babymoon, Day One, 05.12.12

This post (along with all of the other San Diego posts that will follow) were actually written while in San Diego. I hope you enjoy this recap of our babymoon! This one isn’t very picture-heavy, but some of the later ones have TONS!

***

We left the house at a little before seven this morning. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and we quickly dropped our car off and took the shuttle to the airport.

I have a story to tell about this vacation first. We earned the miles from Travel Hacking (thanks Steve!) so this trip was already virtually free. There were various fees and taxes and so forth, but by and large, we’re going to San Diego, for a week, with airfare, and a few attractions (San Diego Zoo, Zoo Safari, SeaWorld, a tour of San Diego’s old brothel district, and a sunset cruise) for only using select credit cards for about six months. We could have been more efficient with our miles, for sure, but this works great for us.

After we got our airline tickets, Tina still had 60,000 miles left over. She called American Airlines, told them we were going on our babymoon, and asked if we could use the 60,000 miles to upgrade our flights to first class. Much to our surprise and delight, they agreed and gave us the first class upgrade for free!

I have to say – flying first class was a huge mistake. I can’t go back to coach. I was comfortable. Not comfortable for flying on a plane, but comfortable.

Flying is ruined for me now. First class is the way to fly.

We made it to Dallas on time, and we grabbed a bite to eat at the food court. Moon Pie was kicking up a storm, but I still can’t feel it yet.

Leaving Dallas, we hit a snag.

After boarding the plane, we had to wait for maintenance to come fix a toilet. That took about half an hour. After that, they announced there was an electrical short. Finally, after we had been on the plane, at the gate, for over ninety minutes, they apologized and put us on a different plane.

At long last, two and a half hours later, we were airborne. Yes, the delay sucked, but I’d rather have a delay than die on a plane, y’know?

On the longer flight from Dallas to San Diego, first class was AMAZING. If I was a drinker, I would have racked up. Several people around us were drinking wine; the lady behind me ordered Kahlua. I LOVE Kahlua. However, since Tina can’t drink, I don’t drink. It’s just fair. But I digress. Plenty of free drinks.

Rather than get a little bag of chex mix, we actually got a hot meal. We had the choice of a grilled chicken salad or a grilled chicken sandwich. Tina and I both took the sandwich, which came with a salad, a bag of pita chips, and some hummus. Unbelievably good. And just when we thought it couldn’t get better, they came by with warm cookies and milk in wine glasses. Seriously.

I can never fly coach again. On the return flight, I’ll have my camera ready to snap some photos.

San Diego was a surprisingly tiny airport! A very nice lady saw Tina and me trying to take a photo of ourselves with my cell phone, and she volunteered to take one for us.

And being the dork that I am, I took a photo of a cool seashell collage in the men’s room.

And another pic of an exhibit about airports in the airport…

A shuttle took us to Alamo, and we soon had our car, a Kia Forte, put our GPS in the windshield, and headed off to our hotel.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. We are staying at the Sheraton Marina and Bay Towers. We wanted to be in the Marina Tower; we discovered we were booked in the Bay Tower. Our desk clerk upgraded us for $20 a night to a nicer room in the Marina Bay. When we told him it was our babymoon, he gave us some free tickets to the breakfast buffet, too. Yes, I realize we had to pay for an upgrade, but I’ve checked in at hotels on some many other occasions and gotten nothing but a poor attitude, so getting to speak with someone who was willing to work with us was a great experience.

Oh, and best yet? This room has the best view I have EVER had from a hotel room (other than in a tropical locale). We can see the harbor and the skyline.

Parking does admittedly suck here, and it’s $22 a night. Yuck. But oh well. Can’t have everything.

We went to Wal-Mart tonight to buy some drinking water. We brought our water bottles and plan to stay hydrated. And as it was kind of late at this point, we stopped at a Subway for some sandwiches.

We’re about to hit the hay. It’s been a long day. Exercise was pretty lacking, but we’ll definitely get our activity in. Right now, I need some sleep.

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Window Seat: Antigua Honeymoon, Day Seven & Eight, 10.15.10 & 10.16.10

I used to run several blogs, one of which was called The Window Seat and provided detailed, photo-heavy posts about my travels. Well, I don’t travel much, so I decided to just save those posts here. Periodically for the next little bit, I’ll be sharing posts about my most recent travels. This is my last recap of our wonderful honeymoon to Antigua in 2010, and then I’ll be sharing our trip to San Diego with you!

***

Breakfast at Bayside, as usual. No pictures, because, as stated previously, breakfast is the same each morning. I am definitely going to miss the passion fruit. At some point, I’m going to see if I can track it down back home. I’m thinking Whole Foods… maybe… if I’m lucky.

We went to the pool, read a bit, swam a bit, and after a drink at the bar at 10:30 (Frozen Mud Slide for Tina, virgin frozen drink for me), we went to Barefoot for lunch. I got the steak fries and chili; Tina got the quesadilla. The quesadilla was good; my lunch was also excellent, if a bit spicy. They definitely like their hot spices in Antigua. No pictures of this meal because I didn’t have my camera on me.

By that point, we had just absorbed too much sun, so we went to the room to cool off and rest for a bit. We also went to Bayside again to catch the tail end of the lunch buffet; nothing new to report there, either.

At 4:00, we went to Eleanor’s for tea. I got a spice tea; Tina got orange. It was served hot, though, and a few sips were all we could take. We then spent a bit of time wading in the ocean, collecting shells and sand to take home. Tina has a plan to make a Christmas ornament that is filled with sand and some tiny shells we’ve found here.

And a flower at the resort…

We also found out there is a $28 per person Antiguan departure tax. Yikes. We weren’t expecting that, and as plastic people (which we are changing as soon as we get home, but for now – we’re plastic people), we don’t have that much cash on us. I didn’t want to carry a lot of cash with us to a foreign country, so we literally brought just enough for tips and such. However, we went to the concierge, in a bit of a panic, and were told we had two options. One, there is an ATM at the airport, or two, we can do a cash advance on our credit card here at the resort that is just a 10% charge. We’re doing that option, because we don’t know how much the ATM will cost. We have $40; we need to borrow $16 more in American. We can only got it in Antiguan money, but they’ll accept that, too. I’m not entirely sure of the exchange rate, but it’ll probably be around $40 EC or so, including the 10% charge for the resort. Roughly $20 in American money, and frankly, we feared a foreign ATM charge might be that much.

We have received our departure packet (which is how we found out about the departure tax). This has been a great vacation, but I’ll admit – I’m ready to get back to a normal routine. I’m ready to tackle this diet head-on and get this weight off! (Plus, I know I’ve gained at LEAST ten to twelve pounds here, if not more. Yikes. Gotta get that off fast.)

We’re going to Barefoot for lobster for dinner tonight, and I think Tina wants to go to Mario’s again for dessert. The lava cake was delicious.

***

Waiting for Barefoot to open…

The pool at night…

Barefoot at Twilight…

We ended up having the spiny lobster at Barefoot. Unfortunately, they had sprayed for mosquitos before, and that serves to get them stirred up, so we were both bitten horribly while we were waiting for our food (and even while we were dining). The spiny lobster, though, was amazing. I’ve learned that Tina absolutely LOVES lobster. I like it, but I’d just as soon have a good shrimp dish.

The fun bread basket…

The fires going near the restaurant…

We also went to Mario’s after we had digested for a bit. I was craving steak, because the steak here is AWESOME, and Mario’s delivered. Tina got the lasagna, not so much because she was actually hungry but because… well, it was free, and it could be a midnight snack. The steak ended up being so good that I’m wishing I had another one to bring back myself. Oh well – at least I can cook a good steak, too.

The lava cake was dessert for both of us. Oh man, it was so good. I have to find a recipe for lava cake when we get home.

We’re going to the piano bar later. This is probably the last entry I’ll type here, because we’re packing for tomorrow, and I’m about to put my keyboard away.

***

What follows was written AFTER we returned home. We didn’t make it to the piano bar, and sadly, there was an amazing cultural event near Bayside and I didn’t have my camera! It was basically a live show about the culture of Antigua, complete with a steel band, costumes, dancing, and more. It was amazing. If you come to the Sandals Resort in Antigua, they have this show every Friday at 9:30. You MUST go, and take your camera.

After that, we went back to our room.

***

No more words actually written in Antigua, even though I do still have a shorter eighth day post (and a few photos) to make, along with one more random photos taken on day seven.

One feature that I thought was very neat was that the lights in the room operated by the key card, so as soon as you got in the room, you put your key card in the light switch and you wouldn’t walk off and leave it or otherwise lose it. There was also a button for “Do Not Disturb” and “Clean Room,” so you didn’t have to put a door hanger on the doorknob. You just had to push a button.

This post was written AFTER we returned home. Sadly, our eighth day in Antigua was a very short one, as we left the resort at 12:30.

We went for the breakfast buffet at Bayside. I still miss Passion Fruit, and I haven’t had one since.

We had to set our bags out in front of the door by 10:30, and the concierge took care of them. It was nice knowing we didn’t have to keep up with our luggage ourselves, especially as we weren’t leaving until after noon.

With our clothes packed, we couldn’t go swimming. What we did do was take our books and go up to the open-air lounge above the swim-up bar at the pool. It was cooler up there with the breeze coming in off the ocean. Beautiful morning.

Closer to time to leave, we decided to grab a bite at the pizzeria, as the flight back to Miami was about three hours long and we wouldn’t get to eat until we landed back in the states.

A few photos sitting at the pizzeria, waiting for our pizzas…

The flower in her hair was from the flowers all over the resort…

After pizza, we headed up to the main lobby to wait for our escort back to the airport…

We were crammed into a resort van with four other couples leaving at 12:30, too, and it was then off on the fifteen minute ride to the airport. Tina had a window seat and snapped pictures the entire time back. I stared at the floor of the van and tried to concentrate on making my dramamine work better.

Tina took this picture because she thought the little bathroom lady looked hippy…

And for our very last picture of the honeymoon, walking across the tarmac to climb the stairs and board our plane back to the states…

That’s it until our next vacation! Thanks for “traveling” with us. 🙂

***

Next week, I’m going to provide a recap of San Diego! After that, I have some travels to Gatlinburg that I still haven’t shared, and I may try to write a recap of Las Vegas from Christmas 2011. While I didn’t write a daily journal for Vegas, we did take some photos, so I’ll at least share those, along with our thoughts of the various shows we enjoyed!

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