Category Archives: Trips

Los Angeles

During June 2012, we packed up and headed west for our annual family vacation. We drove to New Orleans, LA. In New Orleans, we caught an Amtrak train to Los Angeles. The train ride was la1about 46 hours long. Amtrak was sold out of sleeper rooms, so we had to sleep at our chair. The train ride was very interesting. We saw many sights as we passed through Texas, Arizona and Nevada. The train stopped in San Antonio for about two hours (around 11 p.m.). We used that time to walk around and stretch a bit. Overall, we enjoyed the train ride, but were ready to get off after two days.

We arrived early in LA early June 13th. Mike thought our car rental was through Hertz. Probably because he recently rented Brian a car through Hertz. Hertz didn’t open on time (8 am), but Budget Car Rental was open on time. We waited almost an hour for Hertz to finally open. When Hertz opened, they were unable to find the reservation under Mike’s name. That was when Mike realized he had reserved a car through la2Budget. No harm though, since Budget didn’t have our vehicle ready for another 15 minutes.

Our first stop was the Reagan Presidential Library. The library was very nice. We enjoyed it more than the JFK Library. The library had Air Force One on display. Air Force One was the actual aircraft used through George W. Bush. We were able to walk through the aircraft. Outside was Reagan’s grave and an actual section from the Berlin Wall. Mike bought him mom a replica of the Berlin Wall for watching Forrest. Mike’s mom was born in Berlin.

After out visit to the presidential library, we checked into our house. For our time in Los Angeles, we stayed in a house in Hollywood. On the second day, Mike and Susan went to a taping of the la3Tonight Show. Penelope Cruz and Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars were on the Tonight Show. Mike and Susan sat in the first row for the taping. After the Tonight Show, we went to the Broadway show, Addams Family. The show was held in the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The photograph to the right is Brian and Aaron right before the Broadway show.

On our third day we went to the Grove, which was a shopping district. While there we saw a la4taping of the television show, Extra. Afterward, we went to the Kodak Theater to watch the Cirque Du Soleil show, Iris. Before the show, we visited the famous Chinese Theater. To the left is a photograph of Susan and Brian with the hats they bought near the Kodak Theater.

After the Iris show we went to the Griffith Observatory. The Observatory was on top of one of the mountains. There were two high powered telescopes to use to look at space. The night we went, it was overcast and the telescopes were closed. We enjoyed an Imax movie la5though. Also, we went through the various informational displays. To the right is a photograph at the Griffith Observatory, with the Hollywood sign behind us. Notice the cloud cover that is visible.

On Saturday morning, we woke up very early and went to the studios of Warner Brothers. We did the VIP studio tour. We got to see the outdoor sets that have been used in many movies and television shows. We saw where la6Ellen’s offices were. We got to go inside two sound studios. The tour was very nice. We went through a museum that contained numerous outfits and props that have been used in famous movies. The boys highlight was probably the cars they had on display that were used in various films. Here is Brian and Aaron next to the Batmobile.

After the studio tour, we went to the Peterson Automotive Museum. The Museum was three stories and very impressive. There were many rare cars. Brian begged us to go there. Mike wasla7 impressed with the rare Apple matchbox car from the movie “Cars.” After two floors of “no touch” area, the third floor had various cars and experiments that guests could touch. Here is a photograph of Mike and Brian sitting in an antique car. An interesting fact was that the intersection in front of this museum was where the Notorious B.I.G. was murdered.

On Sunday, we went to Venice Beach. Mike started the day at the beach by running 6 miles. After the run, Mike and Susan rented a tandem bike and the boys rented bicycles as well. la8We rode on the bikes from Venice Beach through Santa Monica. The round trip bike ride was about 12 miles. After the bike ride, we walked along Venice Beach. The photograph to the left is Brian watching one of the street shows. Brian was actually a prop in one of the shows. The boys had some money they wanted to shop with. Almost every block there were “medical marijuana” shops that were yelling trying to get customers. That was pretty annoying. The water was too cold to go swimming. Surfers in wet suits were pretty much the only ones in the water. Since it was Father’s Day, Mike picked where to eat. He asked Susan to pick up some take out Thai food while he relaxed at the house after the long day.

On our last day in Los Angeles, we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. This was our second visit to a Six Flags as a family. We arrived just as the park was opening. We had just enough time to ride la9every major ride once. We rode one ride twice. Susan surprised everyone by riding all of the rides with us. The boys named Six Flags Magic Mountain as their favorite amusement park that they have visited. After leaving the park, we stopped at Red Lobster, which was right outside of the gates, for a later dinner. The photograph to the right is Brian and Aaron waiting to ride one of the rides.

On Tuesday, we woke up, packed and departed for LAX Airport. The car rental return was the largest operation we had ever seen. Car rental companies lined the streets. Budget Car rental had about 12 lanes to drive into. We then caught our direct flight to New Orleans. On a side note, New Orleans did not have an available terminal for us. We had to wait on the runway for about 20 minutes for a terminal to open.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise

During June 2011, we went on our second cruise as a family. This was Mike and Susan’s fourth cruise together. We left Miami, FL, on June 19th. We were on the ship, the Carnival Valor. Mike cruise20111and Susan actually sailed on the Valor previously, but with a different itinerary. It was overcast in Miami, but the rain held out for us. Our friend Dan Bell traveled with us. We enjoyed seeing South Beach on our way out to sea.

On day two, we anchored at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Half Moon Cay is a private island that Carnival purchased a few years earlier. The island was very nice. Susan and Mike spent the day lounging at the beach. Brian and Aaron spent the day hanging out with their new cruise20112friends. Carnival brought food out to the island to feed us lunch. At Half Moon Cay, Mike purchased another Del Sol frisbee since his other one was getting worn out from use. To the left is a photograph of Mike and Aaron standing near the beach with the Carnival Valor in the background.

Our second stop was at St. Thomas. At St. Thomas we boarded a ferry boat and rode to St. John. Mike and Susan decided to visit St. cruise20113John since they have been to St. Thomas before. We took a short truck ride at St. John to Trunk Bay Beach. We snorkeled around a natural reef at Trunk Bay Beach. We saw a lot of fish. There were schools of lane snapper that swam around us. Many of the snapper would come within an arm’s lengths. Mike saw a four foot tarpon while swimming back to shore. Aaron almost caused the family to miss the ride back to the ferry boat. When it was time to leave, he was about 150 yards from shore snorkeling. Mike had to swim out and get him (without any gear as it was all turned in). cruise20114Fortunately, our truck driver waited for us. To the right is a photograph of Susan and the boys on the ferry ride from St. John to St. Thomas. The photograph on the left is of Mike and Susan with Harass Island behind them. This photograph was taken from the Carnival Valor while leaving St. Thomas.

Our third stop was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In San Juan, we hung out with Dan. We grabbed a cab to the Bacardi Factory. At the Bacardi Factory, we enjoyed two free drinks made with Bacardi. We toured some of the facilities. We cruise20115learned a lot about the history of Bacardi. After our free tour, our cab driver, Susanna, drove us around San Juan. We saw the beach front and downtown San Juan. Susanna dropped us off at the port, where we shopped for some liquor. There was no limit on liquor purchased in San Juan since it is a U.S. territory. The photograph to the right is of the boys at the start of the Bacardi Factory tour. The photograph on the left is our family with Susanna He was a very cruise20116nice man. He was a retired fire fighter.

Our fourth, and final, stop was Grand Turk. At Grand Turk, Susan and the boys went on a catamaran sailboat for a snorkeling excursion. They snorkeled near the “wall,” which was a location where the ocean floor dropped off quickly. Susan and the boys could see a lot of fish. Most of the fish stayed about 30 feet away though. Mike went on a certified scuba diving excursion. Mike’s excursion first stopped at the cruise20117“Rolling Hills” reef. The reef was natural. The reef was near the wall. Mike dove to 75 feet. During the dive Mike saw many fish. Some of the fish looked like colorful trigger fish, which Mike is accustomed to seeing in the Gulf of Mexico. On the second dive, Mike dove at the sight called “Coral Gardens.” Mike saw a barracuda with a fish in his mouth. On the way in from the dives, Mike saw the boat Susan and the boys were on. The photograph on the right is Susan and the boys with the crew from the cruise20118catamaran snorkeling excursion.

All of the family thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Mike and Susan enjoyed having their friend, Dan, join them. Brian met a friend, Jordan. Brian and Jordan usually hung out together while on the ship. Aaron met several good friends as well. As with the previous cruise, Mike and Susan had to force the boys to spend time with them during the days at sea. Brian and Aaron always joined Mike and Susan for dinner in the formal dining room. To the left is our latest family photograph, which was taken during the beginning of the cruise.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

New York City

For our 2010 family vacation we decided to travel to New York City for a week. We booked a condo that was about four blocks away from Times Square. On our first night, we checked into our room. We walked to Times Square. We also went to the Apple Store and FAO Schwarz. The Apple store New Yorkwas so busy. It is actually open 24 hours a day. I was hoping the new iPhone 4 would be on display. No such luck. Aaron fell in love with the new iPad. We ate at this place called Baja Fresh. It was good Mexican food. The photograph on the right is Susan, Brian and Aaron in Times Square our first night.

On day two, we went to the site of the World Trade Center. We couldn’t see much. There is a lot of construction going on. It is gated and the gates are not see through. It was sad to think about what went down there. We went to Battery Park. Battery park is where the ferry departs for Liberty Island. We caught a glimpse of the Statute of Liberty from shore. Aaron had a caricature of himself done. He really enjoyed that. The New Yorkphotograph on the left is of Aaron and and the artist that did his caricature. We took a free ferry to Brooklyn. We were dropped off right at Ikea. We also checked out Wall Street. We saw the NYSE. Susan picked up a few things we needed for the house. For lunch we ate at a place called Pizza Pizza NY. It was good. We came home to cook dinner. We had to go back out to Times Square. Susan and the boys wanted to go to Toys R Us. Mike went to the Asics store. They did a foot ID on Mike for running shoes. They video recorded Mike running on a treadmill and scanned his feet with this machine. Basically, they said I should be wearing the same shoes Running Wild told me and Running Wild just watched me walk barefooted. The best part of Saturday was going to see the Lion King on Broadway. It was very well done. Susan and Aaron enjoyed it the most.

On Sunday, we went to Chinatown. Susan and Brian did some shopping. We stumbled into Little Italy. We headed uptown and went to Madison Square Park for a neighborhood BBQ block party. We ate some good ribs. We went to NBC Studios and did some shopping at Rockefeller Plaza. We went to Radio City Music Hall and waited outside by the red carpet for the Tony Awards. That wasNew York an experience. We saw Daniel Radcliffe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, the NY Jets quarterback, Brian Reynolds, Michael Douglas, Scarlet Johanson, Constatine, the band Green Day, Shawn Hayes, and Kelsey Grammar. It was hard to get pictures because we were across the street and all the media people were in our way. We stopped and got some Chinese take out on the way home. We were wore out and called it a night around eight. The photograph on the right is of Daniel Radcliffe signing autographs right beside us.

On day four, Mike started off the morning with a 6 mile run in Central Park. Mike ran the entire length of Central Park. The scenery was very nice. A little hilly, but nothing too steep. We were going to go to the Empire State Building, but visibility was only five miles, so we cancelled in hope of a clearer day. Susan and the boys went to Office Depot to pick up a poster board for the Today Show. We took Aaron back to Toys R Us to get this car set he couldn’t live without. We took Brian back to Chinatown to get him this belt that he also couldn’t live without. We went to Macy’s and Aeropostale near 5th Ave. We checked a couple of times on discount Broadway tickets. We picked three plays that we would like to see if discount tickets come available. No luck, but they said New YorkMonday was the worst day. Susan and Mike went to Central Park. While walking to Central Park, Mike and Susan noticed a lot of trailers parked around this one block. They were preparing to film a movie called Something Borrowed, which stars Kate Hudson. While walked past one trailer we saw Kate getting her hair done. We got a few pictures of her while she was walking between trailers. On the left is a photograph of Kate Hudson in a robe walking between two trailers. We called it a night early since we have to be at the Statute of Liberty at eight.

Day five was interesting. The day started off rough. Mike wrote down the wrong date for our Statue of Liberty tour. We woke up early and didn’t realize until we were there. A day early…lol. So we regrouped. We went to the Empire State Building. That was nice. Windy. We postponed one dayNew York because of low visibility. The day we went was 10 miles, which was nice. On the right is a photograph taken at the top of the Empire State Building. Mike was craving a gyro. While searching for one in Times Square we stumbled into a concert promotion for Volkswagon. Katy Perry was there. We were real close to her. Next we went to the Museum of Natural History. I showed them my school identification card to get the discount, which was suppose to be four dollars off. They told Mike they would just accept a cash donation. They wouldn’t even let Mike pay for Susan and the New Yorkboys. Mike only had ten bucks on me, so they got all of that. The museum was okay. It was very long. Four floors worth of exhibits. We seemed to loose interest after awhile. Next we went to the Shake Shack right by Central park for burger and fries. It was very good. We ended the night at a Yankees baseball game. The Yankees beat the Phillies. The photograph on the left is our family at the Yankees game.

Day six was our busiest day by far. We woke up real early to be at Battery Park at 8am. We went to Liberty Island. We were fortunately one of the few people that were allowed to go into the crown of the Statue of Liberty. That was quite an New Yorkexperience. We climbed over 350 stairs to get there. The photograph on the right was taken inside of the crown Statute of Liberty. Next we went to Ellis Island and learned a lot about the early years of immigration into our homeland. We literally ate lunch in the subway because we were short on time. Next, Mike took another run around the outer loop of Central Park. Another six miles. After the run, Mike and Susan rushed off to the Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon. That was a very nice experience. Lisa Kudrow was on the show. Mike and Susan were in several of the shots on the show. After the taping of the Late Night Show, Mike and Susan went back to the condo and cooked dinner. After dinner we went to a second Broadway play, American Idiot. The play was based on the true story of the band Green Day. The play was very good and quite different from the Lion King.

New YorkOn our last full day, we woke up very early and got in line to be the studio audience for the Today Show. We were the second group in line at 5:25. We stood right against the barricades and made it on television! Meredith and Al were not there though. Ann Curry was very nice. She stopped and talked to quite a few people. The photograph on the left is Susan, Brian and Aaron with a lady from the Weather Channel. She was filling in for Al Roker. Next we went on a NBC studio tour. We were able to see the sets for the Dr. Oz show, Saturday Night Live and Football show. We ate lunch at Bubba Gumps in Time Square. The waiter quizzed us on the movie, Forrest Gump. We were able to answer all of the questions except one, I think. We went to the New York City Fire Museum, which was very New Yorknice. They had a whole section dedicated to 09/11. The exhibit was very moving. The boys even got to try on some firefighter gear. The photograph on the right is Brian and Aaron decked our in fireman’s gear. Aaron proclaimed his career as a firefighter. Next we headed to Central Park (the boys had not been there yet). Aaron got to play in one of the playgrounds for awhile. We also visited Belvedere Castle to grab some nice views of the park and city. Then we had to head back to Toys R Us for the fourth time. Aaron had to have these new cars. I tried to score some student rush tickets for the Broadway play Addams Family. Shortly after getting in line, I realized I would only be able to get one discount ticket. So we called it a very early night. Everyone was tired and we decided to pack up. We enjoyed our time in New York City. There was so much to see and do. New York City was the largest city we have been to. The city was very fast paced.

Click on one of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise

On June 7, 2009, we set sail on our first cruise as a family. Mike and Susan have been on two cruise previously, but this was their first cruise with Brian and Aaron. The cruise departed from Tampa, FL. We set sail on the Carnival Legend for seven days. We had two interior rooms. Cruise 2009The boys were blown away on the size of the boat and everything to do. While on the boat, the boys really didn’t want to hang around mom and dad. Aaron spent time with Camp Carnival and Brian hung out in the teen club. Each night we made the boys join us for dinner so we could catch up with each other. Mike and Susan enjoyed the peacefulness on the Lido deck. Probably one of the funniest memories from the trip was Brian trying to make curfew every night. Brian had a curfew of midnight. Shortly before midnight every night we usually heard Brian running in a full sprint to be in his room before midnight. To the right is a family photograph we did on the first formal night.

About a week before the cruise, Michael injured his foot. Mike was trying to help his friend trailer a boat. Mike stepped off of the pier and cut his foot. A nerve was severed and a tendon was partially severed. A couple of days after the accident, Mike underwent surgery for the first time of his life. The orthopedic surgeon blessed off on Mike going on the cruise. Mike had several stitches in his foot. His foot was wrapped with an ace bandage. Michael was on crutches and could not place weight on his right foot. The injury did come with a benefit. When we arrived at the Tampa port, Carnival saw Mike with crutches and placed him into a wheelchair. We were whisked to the front of the lines and boarded the boat in lightening speed.

Cruise 2009Our first stop on the cruise was Cayman Island. This was Mike and Susan’s first time having to be tendered to land. There was not a dock to handle the cruise ships. There were several other cruise ships at the island when we arrived. At Cayman Island we did a submarine excursion. We got into a submarine and traveled about 100 feet below the surface of the sea. We saw a lot of fish and a natural reef. We were amazed how quick the waters became deep. To the left is a photograph from inside the submarine.

The second stop was Belize. In Belize we did a snorkeling excursion. We took a boat to a natural Cruise 2009reef. This was the boys first time snorkeling. Before snorkeling, Mike wrapped his injured foot to prevent it from getting wet. The wrapping failed, but fortunately Mike did not get an infection. After snorkeling, the boat captain brought us to a small island, which was named Bannister Caye. At the island Susan and Mike relaxed while the boys played sports and rode on kayaks. The photograph on the right is of Mike and Aaron returning to the cruise ship in Belize.

Cruise 2009The last stop of the cruise was the Isle of Roatan, which is part of Honduras. This stop was the least touristy stop of the cruise. Our ship was the only one at port. We didn’t do any shore excursions for this stop. We just walked around the port. There were several shops for us to browse through. An interesting fact is that after Mike returned from the cruise, he learned that he knew someone that was raised on this island. The photograph on the left was taking at the port at Isle of Roatan.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

Miami

On July 27th, 2008, Mike and Susan departed for a one week vacation in Miami, FL. We stayed one night in Orlando to break up the long drive. We were able to stay four nights at Surfside, Florida. Surfside is a beach town that is north of Miami Beach.

On July 29th, Mike and Susan drove to Gator Park, which was in the Everglades. At Gator Park, we took an airboat tour of the Everglades. Out of about 16 people on our airboat tour, we were the only Americans on the boat. Well besides the tour guide. The other guests came from Germany, Spain and Holland. During the airboat tour we saw about four alligators. MiamiAll of the alligator sightings were in the canal we departed from. After we returned from the airboat tour, we watched a demonstration by an alligator wrestler. The wrestler demonstrated the weaknesses and strengths of an alligator. After the show, Susan got to hold an alligator for a picture. When the wrestler handed Susan the alligator he had to leave to contain the larger alligator. Susan was stuck holding the alligator for some time. Of course Mike was not going to touch it! To the right is a photograph of Susan handling that beast.

After we experienced the Everglades we decided to drive to the Florida Keys. Once we got to the keys, which was about an hour away from the Everglades, we enjoyed the most scenic drive of our life. At several places we could see the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time. We stopped in Marathon Florida, which is about the half way point between the beginning of the Keys and Key West. We visited a public beach to check out the water. The beach was not as we Miamiexpected. There were numerous broken shells and rocks on the beach. The sand and ocean floor was difficult to walk on. There was also several large beds of sea grass. The water was not as clear as the Miami Beaches. We expected the beaches in the Keys to be more beautiful than Miami, but quickly learned that Miami Beach was far nicer. We did enjoy the experience of seeing the beach and driving over the numerous Keys. The photograph on the left was taken at Miami Beach, which was nicer than the beaches in the Keys.

As always several people helped make this trip possible. Mike’s mom and step dad were kind enough to take Brian and Aaron on a wonderful vacation in the Smoky Mountains. The boys were able to have a great experience just as Mike and Susan. Also, thank you to Susan’s mom, who kept a watchful eye over Wiggles.

Click on either photograph to view the entire gallery.

Cancun

On June 21, 2008, we took our first international trip as a family. We flew to Cancun, Mexico, where we stayed for seven nights. We had a wonderful time. We stayed right on the Caribbean Sea, at the Sunset Royal. We also had full privileges at the Sunset Lagoon, which was a sister resort on the intercoastal side of the peninsula. Here is a photograph of Susan standing on the beach near our hotel.Cancun

On one of the days, our family went on a jungle tour. During the tour we boarded a boat and drove through the lagoon. We ended up at a reef. At the reef we were able to snorkel for awhile. We saw a lot of fish.

Something else that we did was eat dinner at Senor Frogs. The dinner was very good, but the entertainment was even better. Aaron got to slide down a slide that began inside the restaurant and ended in the lagoon. Everyone got on stage at one time or another to dance to a silly song. It was a very fun restaurant that anyone that visits Cancun should check out.

CancunOn June 23, 2008, we visited Chitchen Itza, which are Mayan Ruins. Chitchen Itza consisted of two cities that contained quite a few stone structures. Unfortunately, they no longer allowed tourist to climb the pyramid because someone fell off of one the previous year. We found it very interesting how the sound traveled between the structures and how the body of a snake illuminates during equinox at the main pyramid. To the left is a photograph of Susan, Brian and Aaron at Chitchen Itza.

While in Cancun, Mike and Susan went out on the town two nights. The first night, a Wednesday, we went to Coco Bongo. Coco Bongo is a very large dance club. There were several shows through the night. The shows were very good. A hostess from our hotel brought us to Coco Bongo and provided us with balcony sitting above the chaos of the crowd. Another night we visited Congo, which was a small bar on the strip. Not much happened at Congo, but we enjoyed interacting with the crowd. The bottom photograph was taken at the smaller bar we visited.Cancun

There are quite a few people that we need to thank that helped make this trip happen. We would like to thank Mike’s mom and step dad, who made the hotel arrangement and transported us back and forth to the airport in New Orleans. We also would like to thank Susan’s mom and her man friend, Frank, for watching our dog, Wiggles. Thank you to our friend, Dee, who watched our guinea pig, Mr. Jingles. The trip would have not been possible with the collaborative effort of each of these people.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise

On May 5, 2007, Susan graduated from college. To celebrate Susan’s accomplishment Mike and Susan went on a seven day cruise to the eastern Caribbean. On May 31, 2007, we left for Orlando, FL. We stayed one night at a hotel near Walt Disney World. While in Orlando, Mike and Susan were able to go to a Nelly Furtado concert at the Hard Rock Live.

On June 1st, Mike and Susan arrived in Miami, where their cruise departed from. Mike’s mom reserved a room at a condo in Surfside, which is near North Miami Beach. The condo directly on the ocean. Unfortunately the first day it rained.

Cruise 2007

On the second day we went to the Holocaust Memorial. We also headed to South Beach to dine and enjoy the nightlife. We went to Mango’s, a bar on Ocean Drive. On June 3rd, we checked out of the condo and stayed on the beach waiting for time to board our cruise.

On Sunday, June 3rd, we boarded our cruise ship, the Carnival Valor. We booked a seven day cruise that went to Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. The Valor was quite larger than the last cruise ship (i.e. the Sensation) that we cruised on. On day two of our cruise we stopped in Nassau, Bahamas. We booked an excursion to tour the Atlantis Hotel. We took a boat from the port to Paradise Island. We had two tour guides that walked us through the hotel while telling us about the history of it. We got to see the underground aquarium and the public areas. After we were done touring the Atlantis Hotel, we went to the straw market to buy a few gifts.

cruise20073On day four of our cruise, we arrived in St. Thomas, which is a U.S. Virgin Island. We booked a snorkeling expedition, but were able to go shopping before our excursion met. We went downtown to buy a few gifts and to take advantage of the high duty free liquor allowance. We then boarded a van to go on our snorkeling excursion. We departed St. Thomas on a catamaran to go to a cove. We snorkeled for about an hour and half. We got to see an array of colorful fish, a sea turtle and a sting ray while we were snorkeling. The photograph below was taken on the catamaran after we snorkeled. We then went back to the pier to board our ship.

On day five, we arrived in St. Maarten, which is a unique island. The southern half of the island is owned by the Dutch and the northern section is owned by the French. We took a taxi to Orient Beach and just enjoyed a day in the sun. The beach was nice. There were numerous restaurants and bars along the beach.cruise20072

On June 10th, Carnival rudely returned us to Miami. With no other option, we disembarked our cruise. We then headed for Cocoa Beach, FL. We stayed one night in a Holiday Inn on Cocoa Beach. We went to the Ron Jon Surf Shop and did a little shopping. After hanging out on the beach for awhile (we didn’t get any pictures) we retired for the night. The next day, we returned to Pensacola.

We would like to thank several people who helped us make this trip possible. Susan’s mom watched the boys and Wiggles while we were away. Also, Susan’s brother and sister helped entertain Brian and Aaron while we were gone. Mike’s mom obtained the condo in Miami Beach for us. Our friend, Dee, and her sister watched Mr. Jingles for us. Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible. We had a wonderful time. We can not wait for the next cruise!

Click on the photograph to view the entire gallery.

Orlando

During Spring Break 2007, we headed south for OrlandoOrlando, Florida. We were able to stay at one of Mikes mom’s timeshares, the Sunshine Resort. While in Orlando, we got a three day play pass at Walt Disney World. This was Mike, Brian, and Aaron’s first time at Walt Disney World. Susan went once as a child.

On the first day (Tuesday), we visited the Magic Kingdom. At the Magic Kingdom we were able to ride almost every ride. We did have time to ride every ride that we wanted to. At the end of the night we caught the fireworks show before heading back to the resort to prepare for day two.

On day two of our adventure at Walt Disney World we visited the Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom was Mike’s favorite park. There was a motorized palm tree that interacted with people as we waited to enter the park in the morning. The palm tree was quite funny and even spoke Japanese at one point. While at Animal Kingdom we went on a jungle safari, visited the petting zoo, saw several plays and rode most of the rides. Our favorite ride was Expedition Everest. The photograph below was the tree of life at Animal Kingdom.

orlando2On our third and final day at Walt Disney World we visited MGM Studios. The photograph on the right was taken at MGM Studios. At this park we saw several nice stunt shows. We also rode the Tower of Terror and the Rocking Roller Coaster rides. At the end of the night there was a laser light show, Fantasmic, that was well done. Lasers were reflected off of water falls to show various Disney characters.

Unfortunately we only had three days to spend at theme parks. We plan to go back to Orlando to see Epcot, Sea World, Universal Studios and some of the water parks. We would like to thank Susan’s mom and Frank for spoiling Wiggles while we were away. Also, we would like to thank Mike’s mom and Phil for setting us up in a nice resort at no cost.

Click on one of the photographs to view the entire gallery.

Maine

In June 2006, we drove to Saco, ME. The drive was actually a short one since we were already in Boston. The main purpose of the trip was to visit one of Mike’s Army buddies, Bill Kendall. Mike and Bill went through basic training, specific job training, and airborne school with each other. They were also stationed together at Fort Bragg. MaineWe had not seen Bill since he got out of the military in 1999. The weather was great while we were in Maine. We spent two of the three days at the beach. We thought the water would be freezing, but it actually wasn’t too much colder than the Gulf. We enjoyed kayaking in the calm waters. The boys actually camped out in a tent during our stay. On our last day we drove to Freeport to check out the outlet stores and L.L. Bean. In the evenings we grilled up some good food and then hung out by a bonfire. It was great seeing Bill and meeting his new finance, Melanie, and Bill’s sister. Click on the photograph to view the entire gallery.

Boston

In June 2006, we took off for Boston, MA. We stayed on Cape Cod. Mike’s mom reserved a room for us at Mashpee, MA. We drove more than 1,400 miles to reach Cape Cod.

During a week long stay we visited Boston and Plymouth. On our first day, we went to the Plimoth Plantation. There we learned about the pilgrims and the Native Americans. BostonThe plantation was setup to be very lifelike. The many characters acted as if they were from the pilgrim days. This stop was probably the most educational visit we have had during a vacation. Here is a photograph of Brian and Aaron sitting next to one of the Indians at the Plimoth Plantation. Afterward we went to Plymouth, MA, and checked out the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock. We also ate at Lobster Hut, where Susan and her family use to eat. We ended our first day at the JFK Presidential Library. This was all of ours first time at a presidential library. The photograph below was taken outside of the presidential library. Downtown Boston is in the background.

BostonOn our second day we went to the Franklin Park Zoo and the Boston Children’s Museum. The zoo seemed to be lacking, but the children’s museum was the best we have seen. Brian and Aaron really enjoyed playing in the museum. At one point, Mike’s mom called Mike. Susan and the boys thought it would be funny to dress Mike up while he was on the phone.

On our third day we took a cruise of Hyannis Port. During the cruise we saw the ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. We also saw the Kennedy compound. The owners of Old Navy and Home Depot also live at Hyannis Port. After we cruised Hyannis Port, we met with some of Susan’s family members. Her Aunt Eileen and cousins live in Rockland, which was only 30 minutes from where we were staying. After talking for awhile at their house, we went to Lynwood Cafe, which is a pizza restaurant that Susan enjoyed during her visits as a kid. The photograph below was taken right after eating dinner with Susan’s family.

boston4

On our fourth day we went to the New England Aquarium. We arrived just in time to catch the early whale watching excursion. We rode on a fairly large boat that departed through Boston Harbor. It took us about one and a half hours to get to the location where whales normally hang out. The trip out was very rough. After seeing numerous whales, the rough trip was well worth it. I think this experience was everyone’s favorite during the trip. After we returned from whale watching, we visited the Aquarium. The Aquarium had the best jellyfish and penguin display we have ever seen. The photograph below was taken on the whale watching trip.

On our fifth day we followed the Freedom Trail around downtown Boston. BostonWe saw many historic sites. We also stopped by Cheers to have lunch. Although the bar was similar to the television set, there were significant differences between the two. The real bar was quite smaller than the one on television. Before leaving, we stopped by the produce market and picked up some produce at unbelievable prices.

On our sixth day we just hung out at the resort. We also went to Lobster Hut to try a Lobster. Mike and Susan realized Lobsters were not for them. They will stick to crab legs and shrimp for now!

This trip would not have been possible without the help of several people. Mike’s mom and stepfather obtained the resort in Cape Cod for them and also watched their guinea pig, Mr. Jingles. Susan’s mom and her boyfriend, Frank, watched our dog, Wiggles, for us. We would like to thank everyone who helped make this trip possible. We will have wonderful memories for many years because of your help.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.