Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May your life be blessed with love, good health and peace in the year ahead.

We feel bad for our friends and family in the Midwest who are dealing with crazy winds and wicked cold weather. We are so grateful to be here in sunny Yuma where the highs today and tomorrow will be 75 degrees. We are definitely missing our family, though! Thank goodness for video calling!

Since my last post in October, we've been back in Yuma enjoying our life here. We've played plenty of golf, enjoyed time with friends and did a few projects around our park model. 

One of the fun events we participated in was the annual golf cart Christmas parade. This was our first time now that we have a gas golf cart, and were able to make it around the entire resort. Our previous cart had old batteries, and wouldn't have made it.

There were over 60 golf carts in the parade. Everyone decorates their cart with lights and whatever they come up with. This is just part of the line up waiting for it to get darker.

Here is our cart looking festive.

Many of the participants dress up including myself and some of our friends.

These guys were super creative with their gingerbread house. They did say it was quite hard getting in and out!

After the parade, we all met at the main hall for cookies, cupcakes and hot chocolate and coffee laced with some holiday cheer. It was a great time.

Last night on Christmas Eve we had several friends over for dessert and drinks. It was a beautiful evening, and the new firepit was just right for the chill in the air.

I've decided that while we are stationary in Yuma, I will not be posting as much to this blog. It tends to be the same year after year, and I don't want to bore anyone. I will occasionally post on Facebook if there is something that might be of interest.

I will continue to keep the blog active to record future trips we are planning. When I started the blog, it was to record and share our full time RV journey, and to keep family and friends informed of our travels. What I didn't expect to happen, is that it has become a travel journal for me as well. Many times I refer back to it to help me remember someplace we've been.

This summer we will be headed back to Wisconsin and Nebraska to visit our family and escape the heat in Yuma. Our next planned vacation trip is in October with back to back cruises to Australia and New Zealand. This has been number one on my bucket list for a long time!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Panama Canal Cruise - Last Two Days at Sea

 Days 12 and 13 of our Panama Canal cruise were at sea days on our way to Tampa. There were several fun events planned for those days. The event I enjoyed the most was the International Parade of Nations. Crew members from over 60 countries working on the ship were able to carry their nation's flag in the parade. After they all lined up on the pool deck, each country was introduced. Some of them did native dances as they were introduced. It was a fun and moving event. Ukraine was given a great deal of applause. If only the rest of the world could come together in friendship and respect as was shown at this parade.

Earlier in the cruise, we had been told that it had been Captain Stig Nilsen's 40th Panama Canal crossing on this trip. The crew presented him with a plaque commemorating that momentous achievement.

Our ship, Serenade of the Seas, had spent the summer doing Alaska cruises. Our cruise was actually a repositioning trip to take it to Tampa for the winter Caribbean cruises. The captain thought it would be fun to bring ice from an Alaska glacier through the canal. At the parade, the ice was brought out for everyone to see and touch. There must have been extra space in the freezers.

It was another beautiful day for a picture.

We had another formal night, and I was able to convince Kevin to have our picture taken. 

That night they had a thank you party in the atrium with free champagne. I didn't stay up late enough, but Kevin said it was very crowded. There was even a balloon drop. Here they are ready to go. There were thank you balloons on the railings on all levels.

The full moon was beautiful!

The final day they had a roast pig in the Windjammer Cafe.

And, a very tasty raspberry cream cake as a thank you dessert. Outstanding!

We had no problems at the airports or with our flights from Tampa to Miami, and Miami to Los Angeles. As we rose into the sky from Miami, there were thunderstorms in the area which made for some interesting clouds.

We had left our car at a park and stay hotel in LA, and flew back to pick it up. The drive back to Yuma was interesting with an hour of thunderstorms and then some heavy fog in the higher elevations of California between San Diego and Yuma. Kevin did a great job getting us home. And, so ended a wonderful trip with memories that will last a lifetime!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Panama Canal Cruise - Cartagena, Colombia

I forgot to include a few facts in the Panama Canal Transit post. The cost for our ship to go through the canal was $350,000. The cost for the large cargo ships to cross in the new canal is $1 million. A maximum of 40 ships are allowed to cross per day. The annual amount of ships crossing is about 14,000.

Day 11 brought us to Cartagena, Colombia where we had booked a city tour excursion. When I first saw that this cruise was stopping in Colombia, I was a bit concerned.  For years we had heard how the country was infested with drug lords and was very unsafe. Friends who had been in Cartagena on a cruise, encouraged us to take a tour as it was a beautiful city. I'm so glad we did.

Our tour guide was very proud of his city and explained how fifty years ago things were very bad due to drug cartels. He said most of those drug lords are now in prison in the US. He also told us that fifty years ago less than half the children in the country attended school. They have made education a priority since then, and now 95% of children attend school. Their country is flourishing with these changes.

We started our tour with a drive up a steep and narrow road to the La Popa Monastery built in 1612. Here's a view of it up on the hill from our ship.

Here's the outside of the monastery up close. The second picture is the chapel and alter with our tour guide, Benny.

There were many of these fruit carts all throughout the city, sometimes in the road. Mangos sell for a dollar a box. Such a deal.

The traffic was horrific. Our bus driver was a miracle driver. I would never want to drive there. Also, there were motorcycles scooting through between cars like crazy. This was a police car on the pier.

Our next stop was the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress built in 1536. At that time the Spanish owned this land. Gold, silver and emeralds had been found, and the Spanish were constantly being attacked by pirates and other privateers. We did not go into the fort, but stopped for some picture taking opportunities. 

Cartagena reminded me a lot of Jamaica with venders constantly in your face trying to sell you their stuff. It was also quite hot and humid, so we took a few pictures and got back on the bus.

A statue of General Blas de Lezo is prominent at the fort and throughout the city. He was a Spanish navy officer best remembered for the Battle of Cartagena in 1741 where forces under his command decisively defeated a large British invasion fleet. Throughout his career, the general lost his left leg, left eye, left hand and complete mobility of his right arm. He continued to fight despite all his injuries and died four months after the 1741 battle from typhus.

Throughout the city there are these women dressed in costumes. They will let you take a picture for a price. There is usually fruit in the basket on their head which they will also try to sell you.

Our next stop was the old walled city. This was the original city built in the 1500s. Originally, the coral, limestone and shell wall was over 17 miles long. There are about 5 miles remaining. There are now lots of hotels, restaurants and tourist areas in the old city. Here's a typical square. Lots of bright colored buildings. It has a Caribbean feel to it.

Here's a section of the wall with vendors lined up along it. Our guide is pointing to the balcony across the street, which is one of the longest in the country. 

The San Pedro Claver church was originally constructed by the Jesuits in the late 1500s. It is named after Saint Pedro Claver, a priest who came to Cartagena in 1616. He worked tirelessly to help the slaves, treating the sick, ministering to the slaves and campaigning for them to be treated better. At the time, it is estimated over 10,000 slaves were sold there annually.  If you look closely at the bottom of the alter, you will see Claver's skeleton. 

This statue outside the church is of Claver and a slave.

Here's a view of the old city from outside the wall. You can see the church towers.

I enjoyed our tour, but my favorite part of Cartagena was the free bird and animal park at the entrance to the city from the pier. It was kind of a zoo, but the birds, monkeys and sloths were not caged. I think they stay around because they are fed. 

There were several red howler monkeys in the trees.

There were some anteaters in a pen. I was surprised how big they were.

This sloth was slowly moving around in the tree.

There were several peacocks around. I've never seen a white one.

There were lots of beautiful parrots and macaws. Wow, were they noisy!!

Peacocks and parrot up in a tree

I had hoped we would see Scarlett Macaws in Costa Rica, but at least I saw them here.

There was one lone toucan among all the parrots.

As I had mentioned, it was very hot and humid throughout the day. Shortly after we arrived back on the ship, a huge thunderstorm blew through. As we were pulling out of the bay, I took this picture of the Cartagena skyline.

This was our last port of call. My next post will cover the final two days at sea on our way to docking in Tampa, Florida.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!