Reminiscing

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Last year around this time, we took an amazing trip to the South Pacific; visiting islands in the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, and the Marquesas Island.  We boarded a very unusual vessel, the Aranui 5, in Papeete, Tahiti.

We had a wonderful room with a balcony.

The ship had a wonderful crew and amazing food.

During the trip, we visited some very exotic islands….

First there was Tahiti, where we spent a few days exploring before boarding the Aranui 5 and almost a full day after disembarking.

Moorea where we visited with the sharks and stingrays.

On Fakarava we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the Heiva festival activities.

Nuku Hiva is an island that has to be experience to believe that it exists. Its remarkable scenery and welcoming people make this an island that we’d love to return to someday.

On Ua Huka we visited an  arboretum garden and a cultural museum.

We got our exercise on Ua Pou by hiking to the top of the hill to enjoy the amazing view. After our hike, locals entertained us performing the traditional bird dance of their island.   And before bidding this beautiful island farewell, we enjoyed a delicious buffet at a local restaurant.

Te l’lpona on Hiva Oa has the largest tiki statues in French Polynesia! It is easy to see why Paul Gauguin chose to live here.

The Church of Vaitahu on the island of Tahuata has the prettiest stained glass window.

Fatu Hiva welcomed us with music and demonstrations of local craftsmanship.

Rangiroa is the largest atoll of the Islands of Tahiti. From snorkeling to learning about pearl farming, everything here centers around the crystal clear endless shades of blue water.

Bora Bora, so beautiful its name has to be said twice!

If you’d like to see even more photos, visit our online photo album:  https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2017/South-Pacific-2017

It was definitely a trip of a lifetime! Come on lottery, I’d like to do this trip a few more times!!!!!

Once in a lifetime

Over the years, we have taken many great trips. Most of which we consider once in a lifetime simply because the world is so big that we will probably not get back to see the same place again. A few are real stand-outs, like the 70th Anniversary D-Day trip that we took in 2014, our 25th anniversary cruise last year on the Aranui 5 and our most recent trip to Nome, Alaska for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race finish.

We are coming up on the 74th anniversary of D-Day, our friend Clinton Riddle (a veteran of WWII) is over in Europe on the shores of Normandy once again. This year sponsored by the Best Defense Foundation. We wish him safe travels!

About our most recent trip to Alaska, I have been meaning to write about it for a while now. I remember before we left one of my coworkers asked what in the world was I going to do in Nome Alaska for 10-day’s…it’s not very big. Well, I can tell you by the length of time that it has taken us to sort and publish our photos, we did and saw a lot. Nome is unique and for us an unusual latitude of exploration (it is no where near the equator). It is by far the farthest North that we have traveled. And to do so in winter, when there is this white stuff called snow falling from the sky and accumulating in record amounts on the ground, was extraordinary for us.

So why did we go to Nome Alaska in winter? In a nutshell to see and experience the finish of the last great race on earth.

Now we could have just flown up there, stayed at anyplace available, and seen a few mushers cross the finish line, all on our own…and it would have been a good trip. Our past travel experience told us that this event/trip could be made magical by the right tour guide/company. The research for the perfect guide began a bit over a year before the actual trip.

We’ve had some good tour guides and we’ve had some great tour guides, Laurent Dick of Wild Alaska Travel ranks up near the very top of the list. We knew from his beautiful website that the itinerary for the trip was comprehensive, including all of the things we would like to see and do. We had high expectations and they were exceeded.  Laurent even threw in a few awesome surprises.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Experiencing and photographing the finish of the 2018 Iditarod Sled Dog Race _copie-0_IMG_6583
  • Flying to the scenic Iditarod checkpoint of White Mountain_copie-0_DSCN3148
  • Riding a snowmobile to the Iditarod checkpoint in Safety_copie-0_DSCN3706
  • Attending the 2019 Iditarod Finisher’s banquet
  • Tracking down muskoxen by snowmobile
  • Playing golf on the frozen Bering Sea
  • Seeing and photographing the northern lights_copie-0_IMG_6843
  • Experiencing authentic Alaska and learning why ‘There’s no place like Nome!’
  • And, of course, meeting Iditarod mushers and their dogs!

We enjoyed great food.

And even had a little bit of fun photographing all of that snow!

There are many more photos on our online photo album at: https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/AlaskaIditarod-2018

It’s already March!

2018 has been non-stop for us. We closed out 2017 and rang in the New Year down in Ecuador (South America). We took lots of pictures and it is taking us a while to sort through them.

Of course we don’t stay home much, which slows down the process of sorting and posting our pictures…but that’s not a bad thing.

Already this year, Pete’s been to a car show or two: https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/NPD-Mustang-and-Ford-Show

https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/NPD-Auto-Collection

And we’ve been serenaded by Elvis, check out our Valentines Day dinner photos: https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/Valentines-Day-with-Elvis/

We rocked out with the Rush tribute band, RushHour: https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/Rush-Hour-Concert

And things got a little weird, when we celebrated Pete’s birthday by going to see the legendary guitarist, John 5: https://clukey.smugmug.com/Through-The-Years/2018/John-5-Concert

Soon we will be off on another adventure…stay tune for the photos!

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful, healthy, and fun-filled 2017! To our family and friends near and far, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy healthy New Year!

Ships we’ve sailed…

Came across a website with cruise ship size information.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the traditional cruise ships that we’ve sailed on with the size of the current largest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.  Harmony of the Seas which weighs 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,479 guests, and 2,100 crew members.

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Holland American Lines / Eurodam (2016): 
GRT: 86,700 
Length: 935 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 23 knots
Registry: Netherlands
Passengers: 2104
Crew: 929
Shipyard: Fincantieri

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Carnival / Victory (2010):
GRT: 101,509
Length: 893 ft
Beam: 116 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2758
Crew: 1100
Shipyard: Fincantieri

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Carnival / Legend (2009):
GRT: 88,500
Length: 963 ft
Beam: 106 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2124
Crew: 930
Shipyard: Aker Yards 

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Celebrity / Galaxy (2007): 
GRT: 77,713
Length: 866 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1850
Crew: 909
Shipyard: Meyer Werft 

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Celebrity / Horizon (2000):
GRT: 47,427 
Length: 682 ft
Beam: 95 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1875
Crew: 670
Shipyard: Meyer Werft

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Dolphin Cruise Line / Sea Breeze (1997):
GRT: 20,416
Length: 606 ft
Beam: 79 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 840
Crew: 400
Shipyard: Ansaldo Sestri Ponente 

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Premier Cruise Lines / Starship Atlantic (1993):
GRT: 35,143 
Length: 672 ft
Beam: 90 ft
Speed: 19 knots 
Registry: N/A 
Passengers: 1062
Crew: 535
Shipyard: CNIM

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Christmas cruise on Holland American Lines Eurodam 2016

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Over the Christmas holiday, we spent two relaxing weeks cruising around the Caribbean on the MS Eurodam.

On board we ate some amazing food.

The staff was awesome.

Holland American Line’s private island provided a nice beach day.

On Turks and Caicos, we hung out at the Margaritaville pool.

In San Juan, we tasted the original Piña Colada at Restaurant Barrachina, walked around Old San Juan, and sampled some local chocolate at Casa Corte.

From Ft. Lauderdale, we took a tour to the Florida Everglades.

We made fishy friends in Grand Cayman.

We explored Cozumel on a rail buggy adventure tour.

We wandered around Key West…visiting Mel Fisher’s Museum, ate Maine lobster rolls at DJ’s Clam Shack (which was featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), meandered through the Key West Cemetery, and did a mini pub crawled – stopping into Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s Saloon.

After the cruise we spent a few days exploring and eating our way around south Florida and the Upper Keys.

 

We finally made it to the Coral Castle.

Had an awesome fish sandwich at Robbie’s Marina.

We spent a few hours exploring the displays at The History of Diving Museum.

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We spent a morning exploring the Fruit and Spice Park.

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We had great pub grub at the M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

We visited two wonderful breweries; Islamorada Beer Company and Florida Keys Brewing Company.

The best meal of the trip just might have been at The Fish House (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

And ended the vacation with a beautiful sunset.

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Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

We’ve had a wonderful, healthy, and fun-filled 2016.  So many new adventures & photos to share with you at: www.clukey.com just click on “Photo Albums”.   And here is a link to our yearly Christmas letter: http://www.clukey.com/Christmas2016.html

To all our family and friends, near and far, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

We have a plan!

Airline travel is no longer the luxurious comfortable method of travel that it once was, and one day our crotchety older selves will no longer be willing to put up with its inconveniences. But until that time, we have decided to explore as much of the world as we can (traveling beyond the borders of the United States of America)…once we have had enough of the cramped airline seats and bad connections, we will acquire a motorhome to become North American nomads exploring as much of the USA (and Canada) that our new “wheels” can conquer. We may also opt for a sailboat to further explore the world…

So, why did we just spend a week of precious vacation time in Colorado? Even the best of plans should be a bit flexible to allow spontaneous moments… And this deviation is all the fault of Frontier Airlines. They had a deal that we just couldn’t pass up. For both of us (and one checked bag), it was $126 round trip ATL to DEN!

We jumped on the flight deal without a single thing “to do/see” planned for the trip. With just a few short weeks to plan, we reached out to our friends on FB and the internet for ideas. And boy oh boy did we find out that there is no shortage of things to do in Colorado.

We had a very busy and awesome vacation, if you weren’t following us on FB here is a trip report. If you ever find yourself in Colorado, you may want to check out some of the awesome places we visited!

Friday, we stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Atlanta Airport South.  Doing this greatly reduces the chance that any Atlanta traffic will interfere with us getting to the airport on time.  And included in our hotel rate is a weeks worth of airport parking!

Saturday early am, we took a taxi to the ATL airport. The train to the gate was not working, so we had to walk all the way out to our gate in concourse D.

The Atlanta to Denver flight on Frontier Airlines was pretty uneventful…no frills, pay for everything, uncomfortable seats.

After sorting out our rental car (the first had a flat tire), we visited the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs. Had a great docent-led history tour of their Westpac facility. And had an awesome talk/demonstration on a Link Trainer (aka “Blue box” or “Pilot Trainer”), a flight simulator produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by the Link Aviation Devices, Inc.

National Museum of WWII Aviation

Link Trainer

Pete with a Lockheed P-38 Lightning

We had lunch at The Airplane Restaurant just down the road a bit from the museum. The food was better than expected and the service was great too.

1953 Boeing KC-97 Tanker


We spent a little time exploring Garden of the Gods (park), even doing a little hiking. The scenery is just gorgeous here.

After our hike, we checked into the Comfort Inn in Pueblo and cleaned up a bit to get ready for dinner out on the town. A little bit about the hotel: we were pleasantly surprised as it was very comfortable with good amenities and great staff.

Our friend Jo came by to pick us up for dinner tonight. She gave us a short little tour of Pueblo, taking us to an overlook of the reservoir. It would have been an awesome spot to view a sunset but the clouds blocked the suns descent.

We had a great dinner with Jo at Tocayo Mexican Grill & Cantina where her niece worked. The food was awesome, and of course the service was good, but even better was the margarita!

We all went for after dinner drinks to PDub Brewing Company, a local brewery and soda fountain. Pete had some tasty craft brews while Jo & Mary enjoyed some unique sodas…sarsaparilla anyone?

Sunday Morning, we went the Colorado State Fair to watch some of the NRCHA/AQHA Cow Horse Show. It wasn’t as exciting as we expected…so, we wandered the grounds taking in some of the other livestock events, like a goat show and long horned cattle show.

Soon, we were hungry for lunch. So we followed our noses into the fair grounds, finding some tasty grilled meats and corn on the cob. While enjoying our lunch, we were entertained by the Fiesta Day Free Entertainment.

Needing a break from the fair, we took Jo’s advice to go explore a local attraction, Bishop Castle. An amazing building and interesting owner who we were able to speak with a little bit.
We had an OK dinner at the Shamrock Brewing Co (they were out of a few things that we had wanted to order).

We returned to the State Fair to watch the Youth Freestyle Reining competition. The kids did great. And this was fun to watch, even tho Mary was distracted and “lured” (LOL) into dog training discussions…imagine running into Schutzhund people at a horse event!

Monday morning, we met Jo and her sister at a famous breakfast burrito restaurant, however it was closed for the holiday. Plan B was set into motion and we ventured to another great restaurant Musso’s for breakfast burritos that soon won’t be forgotten, yum!

After breakfast, we visited Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Had a great time with the volunteers there!

A space shuttle tire that has actually flown in space.

Pete with an F-104

For lunch we decided to try the Brues Ale House. What a great choice! Good food, great service and irresistible desserts.

Venturing back north towards Denver, we stopped for a brief visit to the US Air Force Academy Chapel. From the visitor center we strolled the one-third-mile paved nature trail walking to the Cadet Chapel that soars 150 feet into the Colorado sky. Our timing was awesome, after briefly visiting the inside of the chapel, we heard the sound of the bugle playing “Retreat”, followed by the playing of the National Anthem. Everyone outside, stopped what they were doing, faced the flag, and placed their right hand over their heart when the National Anthem began to play. Beautiful, yet a poignant reminder of the Airmen and other service members who came before us and the sacrifices they made so we can be where we are today.

Next we walked around the Honor Court, which contains bronze statues and aircraft memorials from various groups.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning (one-quarter scale)

We continued north checking into the Comfort Suites Lakewood/Denver arriving a little too late for the dinner that we had planned….plan b, grab a bite to eat at the next event we have scheduled. This Comfort Inn was also very nice, with good bath amenities and friendly staff.

We had very little time to get cleaned up before heading out for the Sammy Hagar and the Circle concert the at the one and only Red Rocks Amphitheater. The weather could not have been more perfect.  It was an awesome show at an amazing venue. The food at the venue was nothing special but it filled our bellies.

Sammy Hagar rockin’ at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Tuesday morning, we explored Dinosaur Ridge walking a paved road where alongside of it is evidence of ancient Colorado and the creatures that once lived here…dinosaur tracks!

We had planned to eat at Casa Bonita for dinner last night but ran out of time. So, we decided to fit it into today’s plan. Casa Bonita is more than a Mexican restaurant, it is a tourist destination that just about can’t be described..it must be experienced.

We drove thru the small town of Bailey (where a friend lives, but he was out of town today) on our way to South Park County.

We arrived into the town of Fairplay very late in the afternoon and checked into the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel. The original Fairplay Hotel was built in one of the boom times of the 1800s, and is the site of a number of legends, historical events and ghost stories.  Our room was just big enough to fit the king sized bed.  The bath amenities were pretty good and the staff was great.  The owner even told us a bit about the “spirits” of the hotel.

Briefly we walked Main Street, Front Street, and peered into the South Park City Museum. South Park City Museum, located at the west end of Front Street in the town of Fairplay in Park County, Colorado, is an open-air museum that represents a mining town between 1860 and 1900. Sadly, we did not have time to explore the museum before it closed for the day.

It was a short 2/10ths of a mile walk to South Park Brewing Company. We each got a four beer flight sampler, doing so we sampled almost all of their beers. For the most part we liked all of their offerings. Mary ordered a strange one, Imperial S’mores Stout, and yes it tasted just like we were sitting around a campfire. Since Mary doesn’t like stouts and Peter doesn’t like flavored beer, this was our least favorite, but you gotta give it to them on craftsmanship to be able to come up with such a beer. We had such a good time here; chatting with the locals, eating good food and getting a brewery tour…it was a little bit sad when closing time rolled around.

Wednesday morning, we walked on down the street to the Brown Burro Cafe for breakfast. Such a small town, guess who we ran into? The owners of the brewery having breakfast at the table next to us!

We checked out of the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel and drove off down the road to American Safari Ranch where we had a 2-hr horseback ride followed by a 1-hr ATV ride. We had a great time with Devon, our guide, on the horses. The weather was perfect and our horses (Gypsy for Mary, Breckenridge for Pete) were well behaved. After horseback riding, the ATV was a little anticlimactic.

Back to Fairplay for lunch. We took the recommendation that Devon gave us and ate at the Park Bar. We had a cold beer and a delicious wrap. …and guess who showed up at the bar while we were eating…the brewery owners!

It was getting late and we needed to head off back towards Colorado Springs…but first a little detour to drive through Breckenridge to see that tourist trap….wow, glad we didn’t stay long…too many people!

We had a nice leisurely ride, passing pasture land that occasionally had small herds of antelope on our way to Colorado Springs.

After checking into the Drury Hotel in Colorado Springs. We were a little disappointed with the bathroom  amenities at the Drury Hotel… not fond of the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers (even tho they are more environmentally friendly), the quality of the provided soaps seemed poor.  …there was no hand lotion, face wash, or other extras that were available at our other hotels.  And they absolutely had the worse bath towels…way to rough!

We had a nice dinner at the Phantom Canyon Brewing.

Thursday morning, we had an appointment to get base passes to visit the Peterson Air & Space Museum. The volunteer museum docents were waiting on us. They knew we were coming and we’re excited to show us around. And once they found out who Pete works for, well we were given the VIP tour. The base pass is only good for a short time and we had other things planned for the afternoon or we would’ve stayed longer.

Lockheed Super Constellation

Lockheed Super Constellation

F-104 (on a stick)

We had a quick lunch at Paravicini’s Italian Bistro, the first of many restaurants this trip to be featured on the tv show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (DDD).

Next on the schedule was a train ride on the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. Since 1891, millions of passengers have enjoyed a high-altitude adventure on The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest train in the United States and highest cog train in the world. Departing from historic Manitou Springs, the railroad climbs to 14,115 feet. The tracks wind through boulder-strewn canyons and forests of pine and aspen before ending high above timberline where vistas of the Great Plains and the Continental Divide unfold. On top of Pikes Peak is the only time/place this vacation that we felt we wanted to wear our jackets.

After our Pikes Peak adventure, we drove to Denver having dinner at Dae Gee Korean BBQ, another DDD restaurant. The food was quite tasty and the service was great. It is a “pig out” all you can eat restaurant…the first serving was large enough for us that we didn’t need seconds.

We checked into the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton.  This Drury did not improve the disappointing bathroom  amenities we experienced at the last Drury… it had the same shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers and the quality of these also seemed poor.  Again there wasn’t any lotion, face wash, or other extras that were available at our other hotels.  And they too had the worse bath towels…also being way to rough!

Friday morning, we went to the Denver Zoo. It’s a nice zoo, although some of the enclosures did seem a little small. Mary was happy to see a few animals that she hadn’t seen before (African wild dogs and Przewalski’s Horse).

Amur Leopard

African Wild Dog

Golden Lion Tamarin

Bongo (antelope)

We had lunch at the Atomic Cowboy.  Yup another DDD restaurant.

After lunch, we met up with Andrew, a friend from the Starfighters air show team, at Wings Over The Rockies Air Museum. Pete and Andrew spent a lot of time checking out the museums F-104. Mary was much more interested in the 3/4 scale “Star Wars” X-wing fighter.

We stopped back by at our hotel, the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton, to take part in their 5:30-7:00 snacks and drinks. Tonight’s snacks (pasta and meatballs, salad, chips and nacho cheese) were more than enough for dinner.

Well, sadly, we have come to the last scheduled event in this awesome vacation adventure. Tonight the Wings Over The Rockies Air Museum is having a special movie premiere of the new Tom Hanks movie Sully. The movie is based off the real life event of US Airways Pilot Sullenberger when he was forced to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese. Miraculously or perhaps due to the incredible skill of the crew and rescue workers, all of the 155 passengers and crew survived. After the movie, a panel of aviation experts were on hand to answer questions and discuss what had been sensationalized for Hollywood and what were actual events.

It was still early after the movie and we weren’t ready for this vacation to be over….so we stopped into Station 26 Brewing (nearby the hotel) for a one last Colorado craft brewed beer.

Saturday, we checked out of the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton and had another uneventful Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Atlanta.

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What an absolutely amazing vacation! The weather cooperated everyday.  Everywhere we went the people we met were truly gracious hosts.  Believe it or not, there were quite a few things that we couldn’t fit into our schedule this time.  Colorado we will be back!

Another great Sail Windjammer vacation

We just got back from a weeks sailing thru the Grenadines with the Parrish Heads in Paradise & Limin’ Place on board the S/V Mandalay.  Here are just a few photos (more coming soon)…enjoy!

We made a few new friends.

A lot more friends….

Jimmy Parrish and Limin’ Place entertained us all week!

For the most part the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful.

Snorkeling did not disappoint either.

Sail Windjammer is not known for gourmet cuisine, but we didn’t exactly starve either.

One particular “snacks & swizzles” was made 10x better when some passengers bought a few local fresh fish to share!


It was a great week to be aboard the S/V Mandalay!


Shopping list…

When we get down island to Grenada and the grenadines, we have a few things that we always like to find to bring home. The first is Jack Iron rum which I previously posted about.

The second is Nut-Med. What is Nut-Med? Nut-Med is spray on comfort for aching muscles, joints and nerves. I’ve had planters fasciitis in the past and this little potion provided some much sought after relief from the pain (at least for a little while).

http://www.nut-med.com/story.htm

The third is Grenada Chocolate….and well, chocolate doesn’t really need an explanation, does it!

https://www.grenadachocolate.com

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