Jun 2016 Western Caribbean Cruise – Oasis of the Seas

The girls (Mom, Daughter and I) cruised 4-11 Jun 2016 to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico.   This was our first cruise.   Lessons learned:

1.  Don’t start your cruise on your travel day.  We discovered that even with insurance, if your flight is delayed or anything happens that makes you miss your ship, the best the insurance can do is fly you to the next port.  This will shorten your cruise, and in our case by 2 days.  I don’t know what other compensations are available, but the cruise ship waits for no one!  So this time we flew a day early, spent the night in a hotel that provided travel to the port as well as pick you up when you return.   You have a choice if going directly to the airport or do more excursions before boarding your plane.

2.  Remember to pack sundries because they cost lots of money while on the cruise.  Examples of things to bring are:

  • Sea bands or motion sickness meds
  • Over the counter meds for tummy issues, colds, pain, etc
  • Your favorite snacks unless you know you can get them on the cruise.  Examples includes nuts, chips or your favorite treat.
  • Sunscreen, insect repellant

Continue reading

13-14 May 2016 – Food That Tastes So Good!

We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by visiting the Shenandoah area.  Besides seeing the sites, one of the other treats was the fabulous food we tasted along the way.  Below are some of the highlights:

 

Joe’s Steakhouse In Front Royal, VA

IMG_4144

Scallops Beurre Blanc – pan seared sea scallops with shallot, mushrooms and tomato in a beurre blanc sauce

 

 

IMG_4078

Stuffed Haddock with crab and cream cheese, finished with a light tomato-basil cream sauce, brown rice and mixed veggies

 

Claire’s At The Depot in Warrenton, VA

IMG_4138

Mediterranean Lamb Chops on a Bed of CousCous – the chops were cooked with fresh herbs grown in their own garden!

 

 

12933110_10154101496012720_6425763473043924755_n

Claire’s At The Depot Herb Garden

 

 

IMG_4135

Southern Shrimp Salad – Yummy!

 

 

12113304_10153683051892720_644257883206246780_o

Aunt Beatty’s Decadent Chocolate Cake – for the chocolate lovers!

 

21 May 2016 – Shenandoah, VA

My husband and I haven’t done a weekend getaway in a while so we decided to go someplace we’ve been talking about for at least 10 years – Luray Caverns!  Following are just a few treasures.  If you love nature, the caverns should definitely be on your bucket list!

Some history:  Cold air rushing out of a limestone sinkhole atop a big hill west of Luray, Virginia, blew out a candle held by Andrew Campbell, the town tinsmith, on the morning of August 13, 1878. So began the discovery of Luray Caverns.

Campbell, three other men, and his 13-year-old nephew, Quint, were exploring the area, looking for a cave. With the help of local photographer Benton Stebbins, the men dug away loose rocks for four hours before, candle in hand, Campbell and Quint slid down a rope into the cave. They could scarcely believe what they saw. The party had discovered the largest series of caverns in the East, an eerie world of stalactites and stalagmites seen by the light of a candle.

Luray Caverns, Luray, VA – in this section of the caverns, the water collected provides a mirror image of the structure above!

 

 


 


 

Debra & Al Saletta Luray Caverns 13 May 2016

 

Not only did we visit the caverns but we checked out some local attractions.  Following are pics from our visit to the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge in Mount Jackson, VA.  First, a little history:

One of the best-known covered bridges is the 204-foot single-span Burr arch truss known as Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge in Mount Jackson. The Meem’s Bottom Bridge was constructed in 1892-93 from materials cut and quarried nearby for the massive arch supports and stone abutments, which extended 10 feet below the riverbed.  It was deeded to the Highway Department in the 1930’s in return for assuming its maintenance.  This long span over the North Fork of the river carried traffic for more than 80 years before being burned by vandals on Halloween 1976.  After salvaging the original timbers, the bridge was reconstructed and eventually undergirded with steel beams and concrete piers. The bridge was reopened to traffic in 1979 and is still in operation to date.  One of the many stops along the Wilderness Trail in Shenandoah County! (Source:  http://www.virginia.org/listings/OutdoorsAndSports/HistoricMeemsBottomCoveredBridge/)

 

 

 

 

We also toured the Route 11 Kettle Chip factory.   If you like potato chips, you’ve got to try these!

route-11-potato-chips-3737

Route 11 Potato Chips, 11 Edwards Way, Mount Jackson, VA  22842 540-477-9664

14 May 2016 – Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

I’ve always wanted to travel on Skyline Drive, and today Al and I got the opportunity.  The total distance is 109 miles which runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  The nearest city to our entrance was Front Royal, VA.  We started at the North entrance at SR 340 and drove about 50 miles to the first exit at SR 211 in Thornton Gap.

It was a beautiful day for the ride – no rain, just blue skies.  The combination of different trees and foliage made the drive colorful and awesome.  Nature is truly amazing!!

Since Al qualified, we were able to avoid the entrance fee of $20 a private vehicle.  We paid $10 for a lifetime membership for all National Parks.  In fact, as long as one person in the car has a lifetime membership, everyone in the car can enter the national park free of charge!

 

skyline_drivelarger

A portion of the Skyline Drive Map, located at http://www.sherpaguide.com

Continue reading

17-20 Mar 2016 – Miami, FL

 

Welcome to Miami!

 

Trump National Doral, Miami, FL

My oldest daughter invited me to the 2015 AT&T Awards Summit in Miami, FL. She was one of the top VIPs recognized by AT&T for her sales record in 2015.  Imagine spending 4 days and 3 nights at the Trump National Doral and being treated like royalty with an all expense paid trip (flights, hotel, food, activities, and free gifts!).  The gifts consisted of iPads, designer Michael Kohrs purses with matching wallets, kitchen items (dinnerware setting for 4), pots and pans, expresso machines), camping gear, mountain bikes, tablets, cameras, wine storage coolers, jewelry, designer watches and sunglasses.  I could go on and on.  The gifts were just awesome!  I need to be clear that we only got one gift each but my awesome daughter gave me her ticket so I was able to get TWO gifts!

Continue reading

4 Jan 2016 – New Years in Baltimore, MD

Happy New Year!  We decided to celebrate the New Year in Baltimore, MD.   There’s so much to do in the area.  We decided to go to the Medieval Times.  Our first time going was a couple of years ago.  At the time, my Mom didn’t want to go to Medieval Times because she was “winning” at the Maryland Live Casino.  Anyway, this past weekend we all went and we enjoyed it!

The Dinner and Tournament shows start at 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm.  We chose 4:30 pm.  Everything is first come first serve to include seating.  We decided to splurge and get the VIP Royalty package since we got such a good deal on the prices.   See specials here.

We were royal guests of the King at the Tournament of the Knights.  Doors opened 75 min prior to the show.  There was a four course feast with either chicken or vegetarian.   During the medieval times, there was no silverware so we ate with our hands.  The meal starts with tomato bisque soup in a bowl with a handle you use for drinking.  Next we got warm bread, a half roasted chicken (a little salty, but the most tender, juicy and flavorful chicken I have ever had in my life!), herb-roasted potatoes, half corn on the cob, and a pastry of the castle.  We were all disappointed with the pastry.  In the past, it was an apple turnover, but they served us a toll house chocolate chip cookie.  😪

Continue reading

1 Nov 2015 – Buffalo Botanical Gardens

One of my favorite places to go is the Botanical Gardens in Buffalo, NY.  I know this sounds crazy, but the place is really popping with exotic plants, waterfalls, and some of the best scenery around town!  My Sister in Law takes us for a visit every time we go to Buffalo, and I look forward to it!  Generally, the gardens feature selected displays, contests and seasonal plants and activities.

In this post, I am sharing some of my favorites photos from my visits.  Let me know what you think.  I know there are some nature lovers out there!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

IMG_2957

 

IMG_1476

IMG_1547

77174_1659283130842_4349314_n

149156_1659286850935_1769448_n

149085_1659143647355_57235_n

 

Between The Dashes

29 Oct 2015 – Restoration of Historic Barnes House at Montclair Community Library

On 29 Oct 2015, the Montclair Community Library in Prince William County held a ribbon cutting ceremony.  The community has waited for this library to be completed since the early 1990s!  Following is a picture of the new library.

 

Montclair Public Library Ribbon Cutting Ceremony - 29 Oct 2015

Montclair Public Library Ribbon Cutting Ceremony – 29 Oct 2015

Continue reading

26 Oct 2015 – Alexandria, VA – Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial

As you know, I live near Washington D.C. which is full of history!  I recently discovered a historic site in my local area that I think is worth a post, the Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, VA.

During the Civil War, there were many slaves that fled to Alexandria for freedom and a better way of life.  There were so many freedmen (called contrabands) moving to this area because of the Union occupation, that it created a refugee crisis.  Many arrived destitute, in ill-health, and hungry.  Initially, the government placed the contraband in barracks, but disease ran rampant and many died.

In 1864, after hundreds had perished, the Superintendent of Contrabands ordered that a property on the southern edge of town, across from the Catholic cemetery, be confiscated for use as a cemetery.  

In the first year, burials included those of black soldiers, but African-American troops recuperating in Alexandria’s hospitals demanded that blacks be given the honor of burial in the Soldiers’ Cemetery, now Alexandria National Cemetery. The soldiers’ graves were disinterred and moved to the military cemetery in January 1865.  The last burial in Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery took place in January 1869.  (Source:  Contrabands and Freedmen Memorial)

Continue reading

30 Aug 2015 – Las Vegas, Baby!

Las Vegas is one of our favorite places to vacation!  We have stayed at the Luxor, Caesar’s Palace, and the Stratosphere.  You would be surprised that our favorite place to stay was the Stratosphere!  When you think about it, you don’t spend a lot of time at the hotel.  You must get out on the strip and enjoy the town!

Concerts, food, skydiving, shopping, casinos, the canal shops at the Venetian, the Eiffel Tower, the Luxor Museum – so little time, but so much to do!  We have to go back because we did not tour the Grand Canyon or the Hoover Damn.

 

IMG_0022

Jasmine and Deb in front of Caesar’s Palace

Continue reading