Thursday, March 26, 2015

Our return trip to Mazatlan - December Getaway

Fall was absolutely beautiful but by December it was getting cold.  It was time for us to take off for a break before winter really took hold.  We can get snow by first of December and sure enough it started to snow the first week.  We had made plans to drive to Tucson at the end of my fall semester and then catch flight to Mazatlán for a return trip.  Last year we went for a week about the same time and loved it. 

So the week  before Christmas, there was a break in the weather and we were able to get out our driveway and head south to Tucson on Friday arriving there late.  We stayed with our friend Grace and the Saturday visited folks at the Far Horizons RV resort where we had previously spent 5 years wintering.  It was great to connect with friends.

The next morning our friend Sam took us to the airport to catch our flight to Phoenix and then to Mazatlán arriving early afternoon.   The taxi ride to our resort was great as we recognized the site of the city and felt comfortable being in spot we had been to before. 

The resort is on the north side of town and on the beach about an hour drive.  The hurricanes of the past summer had damaged some of the resorts but ours seemed untouched.  The beaches hard but the sand was actually easier to walk on than the last year.

The weather was great and the seafood marvelous!   We meet up with two friends, Pete and Janet, who winter for 6-8 weeks every year in Mazatlán.  The week went by fast and we headed for home on Christmas eve.

Brittany and Kason Visit

Mid October, our niece Brittany and her fiance Kason came to visit for a week.   Of course October is premo time for fall colors and we did the toursit stuff and drove a lot.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Summer with Mike & Robert

                       The rest of the summer after the cruise was great hiking and enjoying the great outdoors in the Four Corners. 

In July, we took our new travel trailer (we sold our RV) camping several times.   

We spent a long weekend at House Creek campground.

 Our friend Lee introduced us to great hike at Mud Springs with ruins.  

Later in September, we returned to one of our favorite hiking trails at Fishcreek.

The first of October,  we took a drive over to Utah to check out a site at Montezuma Creek that has marvelous petroglyphs. 

Fall started with wonderful colors.......check back in couple days for pictures.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Final days of our summer cruise/trip

I have been told that folks are left hanging as my blog did not finish the story.  So here are the final days: 

Day 17 - Friday June 27th – Day at Sea
The last full day of the cruise, and a sea day, started with sunshine, deteriorated to clouds and ended with showers.  The day was spent chilling, reading, eating, napping.  It was also time to start packing for home.  Well, at least for Michael and Chuck.   We had bought a few new clothes and new carry on so we packed it up after dinner.  The weather has gotten better as we get further south and the temperature rose to 57 F. 

Day 18 - Saturday June 28th – Dover and head for home
Robert awoke about 4 AM with a nasal infection and drip.  Our disembarkation times are 8:30 am, so we had time to kill before disembarking.  Michael and Chuck were catching Chunnel train to Paris to continue their trip in Europe.  Robert and I, boarded the bus in Dover and traveled a couple hours back to London.  We had been worrying about making the connection to flight home at Heathrow but it was easy and we had plenty of time.  The flight home was long and uncomfortable.  Airline seats in coach on long flights are not designed for lounging and sleeping.  We arrived in Dallas after 9 hours and since we had a night layover, we headed to Marriott to,  hopefully, get some sleep.  

Day 19 - Sunday June 29th – Home at last!
We were up early and caught the shuttle to airport for our flight to Durango.  Upon arrival in Durango, it was time to find our bags.  The American Airlines check-in desk was empty when we got to the terminal. Robert asked the person behind Frontier about bags and he said that American would be couple of hours before an agent was there since next flight was not until late afternoon.  Robert told him we were looking for our bags, which were shipped to Durango via Frontier.  The agent said, “oh yes, I think we are holding some bags” and he disappeared.  After about 15 minutes, he returned with two bags. “Yep, those are ours.”  We were back home by 4pm and unpacked the bags that we did not take. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 16 - Thursday June 26th

Bergen is our last port of call in Norway before returning to our starting point in Dover, England.  Sailing over night, we arrived by 8am in the morning.  Bergen was founded in 1070 AD, the second biggest city in Norway, and is the "gateway to the fjords".

Michael and Michael

As we finish our cruise, we are now at the gateway to the fjords, an odd way to finish a fjord cruise, as the beauty is now behind us. However, we did not know the beauty of a hidden wonderful mountain lake only a few steps ahead of us above the fjord. The day was sunny, warm and clear. 

The four of us got off the ship very quickly and walked up to the station for the rail up the mountain.  The rail was called the funicular (Floibanen) up Floyen mountain 1050 feet above sea level. Spending very little time in the ticket line as we were early. we went directly to the platform to board the next car.   Here comes the train!  It was an exciting ride up the mountain with fantastic views of the city of Bergen.

                      In about 10 minutes, we got to the top of the funicular, fast and exciting, looking down on a sunny Bergen.  The view of the port was amazing.

Chuck decided not to hike so he took the next car down and did some souvenir shopping before returning to the ship. The other three of us, Michael, Robert and Mike, hiked up to a slightly higher elevation from the upper funicular station and walked around a small scenic lake.  

                                                    The reflections on the lake were amazing.


The signage was interesting and funny.   Norwegian's have a great sense of humor!

 And the reflections in the lake were amazing.  
I must enlarge this photo and print for my collection!

Their were electric lights in the park on poles placed on rocks; it must not me very windy here or else the poles would have toppled over.   Robert could stick his finger under the pole. 

At the end of the hike there were totems in the playground area for kids.  The carvings were of excellent quality. 

On our return to the ship, we had no delay in returning on the funicular, catching the first car after we got in line.  When we arrived at the lower station, we saw that the line stretched all the way through the station and out onto the sidewalk.  With a car every 10 minutes, the line must have been well over an hour long. So getting to the earlier trip, we avoided the very long lines. 

The lower station is adjacent to the old, historic part of Bergen.  The McDonald’s has no sign outside, simply the name over the doorway and small golden arches in the upper parts of the windows.   It was definitely not like our big arches in the states.

A quarter-pounder costs 120 kroner, or $20 US. When Michael tried to take a picture of the price display, the girl behind the counter said that he could not take a picture inside.  He said, “Is that because you don’t want people to know what your prices are?”   So I just took a picture of Robert in front of McDonald's.

We walked to the Fish Market, which had huge quantities of salmon, shrimp, lobsters, and even whale meat.  Robert and I tasted free samples of whale meat, which was smoked and tasted like smoked salmon. 

Vendors were selling fresh vegetables, trinkets and of course lots of fish; it was more like a farmers market. Robert tasted whale, sort of like salmon but lighter taste.  The whale meet is dark.

As we left the market on way back to ship, there was a vendor selling reindeer burgers.  It was lunch time and we were hungry, however, $15 for a specialty burger was still a lot when we could get free lunch on the cruise ship.  


The three of us then went to Old Bergen and walked around the 1720 era buildings, which had been warehouses centuries ago, but are now expensive shops. What shops in Norway are not expensive? Notice the buildings in the top left corner, see how they lean.  They were originally warehouses along the waterfront.


On our way back to port, we passed a restaurant with a sign outside. Here is the menu in Korna's, or Norwegian currency; so divide by six.  

The Bergen Castle was on our way back to the cruise ship.  We looked at the Rosenkrantz Tower from the outside, having no desire to pay $10 each to walk up and then down the stairs to the top, as we had already hiked enough for one day and stairs was not really on the let’s do list.  

We were also in no mood for $20 hamburgers, so we returned to the ship for lunch and then chilled for the rest of the afternoon.  Wanting to watch the departure of the ship from the port, we went to the bow of the boat and hung out on deck.  Waiting and waiting, it seemed as we looked down onto the dock that the crew were waiting for something.  The captain finally came on the load speaker to announce that our departure from Bergen would be delayed as we wait for a passenger who had to have medical treatment in town.  When the passenger finally arrived in a car, it appeared that he had broken his forearm or wrist probably on the cobblestone sidewalks in town.

Preparing to leave port, we hung on the deck and watched the crew remove the ropes.  There was an interesting ship in the harbor with a helipad; it was a sea explorer ship. (See it sticking out on the front of the ship?)

The cruise ship moved from the dock using the ship thrusters and then turned around 180 degrees to go out to sea, which took about 2 hours.  The thrusters allow the ship to navigate departures and arrivals without a tug boat.   

Tonight is our last formal night and the first in which lobster tail was on the menu.   All of us ordered two except Robert who had three.  Another great day!     

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 14 - Tuesday June 24th – Day at Sea & Day 15 - Wednesday June 25th Geiranger, Norway

Day 14- June 24th is a day at sea.  
Having been up until midnight, we slept late and had a late breakfast in the Lido.  It was a quiet day at sea.  We read, played cribbage, worked on puzzles and napped.  Oh, and ate of course!  In the late afternoon, we went to a lecture about Geiranger and Bergen, our last 2 ports of call. 

Dinner was our special dinner in the Pinnacle Grill due to our toilet episode which was finally fixed; dinner was followed by a show by Oli Nez, who played several wind instruments and it was a very good performance.  

The weather today was overcast and cold, rising to 41 F.  Upon returning to our room each night, our cabin stewards would have pulled covers down, set out chocolate and left us towel art such as elephants and monkeys.  It was delightful to return to our room to see what has been created in our absence.

Day 15 - June 25th - arrival in port of Geiranger, Norway

We sailed into Geirangerfjord, which was amazingly beautiful.  Cruising on a fjord is like a riverboat cruise—very smooth and very close to land.  

Geirangerfjord is the jewel in the crown of the Norwegian fjords 9 miles long and 800 ft deep with a  fairytale landscape with its majestic, snow-covered mountain tops, wild and beautiful waterfalls, lush green vegetation and the deep, blue fjord.

We passed the 7 Sisters Waterfall, which faces the Whiskey Bottle Waterfall across the other side of the fjord. The Whiskey Bottle Waterfall was male and was said to have been rejected by all the 7 sisters, hence his bottle shape was upside down.


While sailing the fjord, Robert spent some quality time signing with the British Deaf couple.

The arrival in port of Geiranger was beautiful.  
We could see a waterfall cascading down the mountain through town. 

All of us went ashore, but Chuck returned to the ship while the other three of us decided to walk up to the waterfall coming down the mountainside.  When we got to the waterfall there was a series of steel steps that was a beautiful walk along the waterfall.

There was mist from the falls and the water was  churning heavily and there were sheep grazing in the grass along side the waterfall flow.


After reaching the top of the walkway, the views were awesome.  This was the only port on the cruise in which there was no other cruise ship. You can see our ship in the background. 

Mike on the landing of walkway along side the waterfall.  

Returning to the cruise ship and dock, we walked down the other side of the waterfall on a winding road heading back to town, stopping at a church to sit on a bench and admire the views.  One of the sites was an RV park on the left side of the town from our vantage point.  There were RV, trailer and tent campers.  It looked like a beautiful spot to camp. 

Geiranger is small tourist spot and artsy.

The walk back down the along the waterfall was neat passing interesting shops and "yard art". 

Diner in the dining room and then to the theater to see Lance Ringnald, a US Olympic Gymnast in 1988 and 1992, perform amazing feats of strength, coordination and skill, along with a banter of comedy, piano playing and singing, and juggling.  

Chuck, Michael and Robert attended the Indonesian Crew Show at 11 PM.  They wanted to see some the performance of our some of our dining room. The weather today was the best we have had since being in Stavanger last week being sunny with scattered clouds.  The sun was warm, but the air was cold.   Robert received a text from British Airways…our bags are in Durango, CO.   It was a good day!

We sail overnight to arrive in our last port of call, Bergen, tomorrow morning.