Trailer Travels

Trailer Update #One

So the trailer is coming along. Kevin has been making some great progress. I’ll admit, I’ve been useless. I haven’t helped him at all. I know that doesn’t paint me in a very good light admitting that, but I can’t take credit for something I didn’t do.

The first picture in the slideshow is where he insulated the ceiling. Then he painted the beams to blend in. Then it looks like he put up some beams to make it look cool. (Can you tell I’m totally winging this and have no idea what I’m talking about?)

The fourth picture is when he took the wood off the walls and painted the beams with some sort of rust protector because apparently, that wasn’t done when we bought it even though they told Kevin that it had been. Were they just not expecting him to look that closely?? Anyway, Kevin was disappointed by that and it made more work for him.

Next, he insulated the walls. Then he put the wood back up. “We” are going to eventually paint the walls a light gray, I think.

The seventh picture is when he bought some cabinets to put under the bed. The cabinets look blonde in some pictures but they are actually a reddish brown. “We” will eventually paint them white.

The thing I love the most about these cabinets is the 10th picture where one of the cabinets is open and you can see a wire basket. That’s where we’ll put our dirty clothes.

Because my top three pet peeves when we go camping is:

  1. Dirty clothes
  2. Where to put our shoes after coming in from outside
  3. Easy access to our clothes

I think we have the dirty clothes dilemma solved. And I think we have the “where to put our shoes” dilemma solved, too. Now, to come up with an organized way to access our clothes.

Kevin built our bed frame on top. Obviously, he will support it on the other side of the cabinets. I bought two narrow twin mattresses from Amazon for us to sleep on. I ordered two mattresses as opposed to just putting one mattress on there because I’m a fish out of water when I sleep and I don’t want to disturb him when I’m flopping around. This is how it’s set up on a cruise ship and we love it.

Kevin also built a back wall and put grey shiplap up. He plans on putting a toilet on the other side of that wall for our late-night pee breaks. (We’re old. We can’t go all night without peeing and neither one of us is thrilled with the idea of getting up, putting on shoes and then trekking to the campground bathrooms).

I think Kevin is going to start working on the kitchen next. He bought a sink at a home recycling center for $15 bucks. In fact, that’s where he has found most of the materials so far for the trailer – which works out great for us because we’re not wanting anything too fancy for this and we certainly don’t want to spend too much money on it.

We’ll eventually take a full video of the trailer so you can get a better idea of how it’s looking and where everything is.

More to come ..!

Florida 2020

Back from Florida

It’s a strange time to travel. Everyone is walking around with a face diaper, erhm, a face mask on and eyeing each other in anger or suspicion.

We were supposed to be cruising around Northern Europe right about now. But of course, 2020 (or China) had to be a bitch and ruin our plans.

Ruin a lot of people’s plans.

Actually, ruined a lot of people’s lives, let’s be honest.

We had booked this cruise last year. And I really thought, I was CONVINCED, in April that we would be able to go on our cruise by September because COME ON, this nightmare can’t last that long, right? RIGHT??

*SIGH* We had planned on flying to Amsterdam, driving to Rotterdam, catching the boat and cruising to Germany, Southampton, and France. We would have been gone nearly two weeks and I was looking forward to being gone for two weeks.

I was GUTTED when MSC canceled our cruise. Since the cruise line canceled, we opted to apply that money to another cruise with a $500 bonus (which means for us, specialty dinners on board which cost extra and something we would not pay for normally).  It sucks. And I’m trying not to be selfish and bitter about it, but I am feeling selfish and bitter. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to take this cruise next year, but with the way things are going, who knows.

So plan B. We wanted to do something. One, because we wanted to get away and have SOME sort of vacation, however selfish and trite that sounds considering a lot of people don’t even have jobs right now. But two, we wanted to prove to ourselves, and the world, that we were NOT going to allow COVID to run our lives. Not entirely. We’re already being forced to wear masks everywhere and not participate in certain activities anymore. I can’t take any more restrictions!!

We wanted to get away, but where?

My employer, at first, published travel restrictions – if you take a cruise, go to New York or leave the country, you’ll have to be tested for COVID when you return and self quarantine for 14 days when you get back. Which was a bummer because my first thought was Bermuda. We LOVE Bermuda and if you’ve never been, I highly recommend you go, if you get the chance. You will never find a more beautiful beach. Soft pink sands. It’s just gorgeous. But with my employer’s travel restrictions, we knew that was out of the question because one, there is no way in hell I’m getting tested for COVID. Ever. And two, who has the time to be off work for two straight weeks, and/or the paid time off to use for two straight weeks? (Again, I’m sorry if this sounds selfish to all of you that have been out of work – first world problems, I realize. But we all have problems that are uniquely our own).

So Bermuda was out.

We would have to pick something in the states, other than New York.

Kevin and I started talking about when the kids were younger and we would go to the Florida beaches every year. Then we discovered cruising and haven’t been back to the Florida beaches since. I started doing a little research and we decided on a short three-day stay in Clearwater Florida.

We opted not to stay a whole week for two reasons:

  1. Kevin really couldn’t be away from his work for a whole week
  2. The beach is great, but it gets a little boring after about three days.

We ended up staying at the Royal North Beach.

I wrote this next bit when we were actually in Florida.

Travel day –

I wasn’t very hungry before leaving for the airport so I ate half a doughnut and two pieces of toast, primarily because I wanted to coat my stomach before taking an Excedrin. I always take an Excedrin on travel days as it helps prevent travel/dehydration headaches and I tend to get a bit stressed on travel days. (Traveling is stressful, don’t deny it).  I don’t like to drink a lot on travel days because then I have to pee all day, hence, dehydration issues.

Besides, I would eat lunch, it would be fine. (Famous last words)

We got to the airport about 10:00 AM. We bought some coffee, put it in our thermos’s and waited for our plane to arrive, which was a few minutes late. If it had been any later, our whole day would have looked very different.

We got to Dallas just in time to make a mad dash to our next gate, which was boarding as we walked up. We didn’t have time to buy lunch or even water before we boarded the plane. We could have bought something, we technically had time as it was a full plane, however, the food lines were long and looking back, I’m glad we didn’t, because an airline person came on board as we were waiting to take off making note of empty seats and bringing standby people on. The plane was packed. So, if we hadn’t been in our seats they might have given our seats away. That would have sucked.

Which, side note, we absolutely did not social distance. However, it was mandatory that everyone wear a face mask – they wouldn’t allow you to fly, and they would bane you from future flights if you didn’t wear a face mask. Still – it was weird and uncomfortable to be that close to strangers as we have gotten used to NOT being around strangers.

So. We’re on the flight to Tampa, waiting to take off and neither one of us has eaten much since breakfast. No time for food. We were both fine, honestly. I’m used to fasting and Kevin seemed like he was fine. The no water thing though, that was what I missed the most. And the airlines are not serving any food or drinks during flights right now so … all we had was the coffee in our thermos.

But, shame on us for not having snacks. We’re seasoned travelers and we know better. But we just thought, meh, we don’t really eat snacks when we’re traveling and it’s just extra weight. Of course, the first time we DON’T take snacks is the time we NEED snacks.

Live and learn.

We noticed, as we’re taxiing in at Dallas and Tampa, that there are FLEETS of airplanes grounded on the sidelines. Kevin counted 37 American Airline planes grounded in Dallas. It was sad to see so many airplanes not being used. And that explains why they were packing us in like sardines on the flight out of Dallas – the airlines can’t afford to fly planes that are half full.

We get into Tampa around 6:30 PM. The manager of our hotel, (we stayed at the North Beach hotel in Clearwater), had called Kevin right as we were boarding our flight out of our hometown and told him, due to COVID, the office was closing. Kevin told him that was okay because we weren’t going to check in until around 8:00 PM anyway.

The manager then text us shortly after we landed in Tampa and gave us the key code to room 201 so that we could bypass the office and get into our room. We would then check in with him at 9:00 the next morning.

That took some pressure off us to hurry up and check in as again, we were pretty hungry when we landed in Tampa and we didn’t know if we would have time to get anything to eat before everything closed.

We navigated to the rental car desk, got our car and drove toward our hotel.

(Side note about the rental car. It’s a dark blue 2020 Chevy Malibu and I hate it. The headrests are too high up and every time the car jerks, my head would slam back into the headrests and the clip in my hair would loosen and dig into my scalp. Also, it has an “auto-start” feature. So every time we came to a stop light, the car would shut off! At first, it freaked me out, but it would easily start back up once Kevin pressed on the accelerator. I guess it’s suppose to save on gas, which I’m sure it does, and act more like a hybrid, but wouldn’t continuously shutting down and starting back up wear out the starter quicker? What do I know about cars. Anyway, that was a weird and scary experience, we thought we got a lemon at first. Kevin likes it; it freaks me out. I don’t care for that feature, at all).

We stopped at McDonald’s, grabbed a quick quarter pounder, then found a grocery store and picked up groceries for breakfast and lunch. (Our hotel room came with a kitchenette). We finally got to our hotel about 8:30 PM. It was Saturday night and there was a TON of traffic and lots of people walking around. We had to drive through downtown Clearwater to get to the north side of town to get to our hotel and it reminded me a bit of New Orleans – just the party atmosphere, the closeness of the shops, the number of people walking around.

Once we arrived at North Beach Hotel, we walked through the gate, walked up to our room, (which is a corner room), put in the passcode and voila, we were in!

I was a little worried when we arrived because there were some party goers in the pool and they were loud, but it quiet down about 11 and we both slept pretty good. I took some pictures of our hotel room.


Day One – Sunday

It’s raining. Tropical Storm Sally is blowing through – we’re on the western part of the storm, and though it’s not storming, it’s a steady rain. We are literally across the street from the beach but the weather is preventing us from truly enjoying it. Kevin went out this morning to check in and grab some coffees (we didn’t realize the kitchenette didn’t already have coffee or we would have bought some when we went grocery shopping last night). He said that he walked across the street to see the beach and nearly stepped in dog poop. People are so annoying and consideration is a lost art.

He said there were a few people on the beach and a couple was walking out with beach towels – they weren’t going to let a little water RAIN on their parade. (See what I did there?)

Since it was raining, and was due to rain all day, we stayed at our room for the morning and worked on our laptops.

It as a really relaxing day. Our hotel room was set up more like an apartment and it was very comfortable. After lunch, Kevin drove us up and down the coast. We didn’t have any plans, we just wanted to familiarize ourselves with the area and determine if this was somewhere we wanted to come back to on a yearly basis. Just long enough to separate ourselves from “real” life, recharge, regroup. We had to stop at a gas station and pay $1.50 for air (FOR AIR) to fill up a low tire. (It’s a rental … don’t they check that sort of stuff??) and then we stopped at Sand Key Park. We plopped on ball-caps and walked down the beach in a light rain. More of a sprinkle, really. But it was SO NICE. Very few people out. The temperature was pleasant.

I could be bummed that the weather was not cooperating, but what good would that do? The fact is, we’re not home, we’re staying in a very comfortable hotel room/apartment, right across the street from the beach (even though we can’t see the beach from our windows) and it’s quiet and soothing. Royal North Beach hotel is right on the outskirts of a residential area so it feels a bit like we’re part of the locals. We’re away from the mega hotels and it’s just … cozy. Did I mention it’s quiet??

After walking on the beach for a bit, we got back into our (lousy) car and located Pier 60, which was what we wanted to visit tomorrow and then went back to our room, watched Back to the Future two and three, ordered Domino’s pizza and just vegged out.

This is the kind of vacation we wanted. We didn’t want to have to be anywhere at a certain time. We didn’t want to have to get up at the asscrack of dawn, hurry and get ready, hurry out the door, to participate in an activity. (Like an excursion on a cruise). This place is awesome but the only thing to really do is the beach which again, is what we wanted. We just wanted a nice, relaxing, chill, do-what-we-want-when-we-want kind of vacation.

I am hoping for some sunshine at some point while we’re here.

I’m really glad we didn’t book the whole week because honestly, three days is about all we can handle – a whole week might have been a bit too much for both of us.

Day Two – Monday

Still rainy. Tropical storm Sally was determined to stick around. In fact, the Weather Channel made a lot of comments about how slow moving she was. We got off lucky though, it could have been pouring the entire time we were there. It did rain quite a bit, but there were periods of time when it either stopped entirely or just sprinkled. We took advantage of this to walk down to Pier 60. It was a little over a mile to get to the area. We got sprinkled on but it was actually nice and cool, until we left the coastline and started walking between buildings, then it got to be hot and humid. By the time we got back to the room I was dripping sweat. I get so annoyed with myself whenever we go any place tropical – I just can’t handle the humidity. It’s like it triggers my body and I just start perspiring like crazy.

We did stop to get some ice cream and it was nice to eat ice cream while looking at the ocean. Another check on the trip list.

When we got back to the hotel, it was still only sprinkling and was actually lightening up a bit so we donned our swim wear and headed to the beach. We spent a very relaxing two hours on the beach. You wouldn’t think sand is hard until you don’t have chairs and are forced to sit on the sand for a few hours. Kevin napped and I just sort of zoned out on the waves. It was so relaxing to just sit and veg out. I didn’t have to be anywhere, I didn’t have to worry about … anything. I was totally relaxed. It did sprinkle on us but again, it was nice. It was cloudy so we didn’t have to worry about being too hot.

Kevin and I walked the beach for a bit and he hunted Abalone shells – he wants to use them in a “project” though he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet.

We ordered pizza Sunday night and we made it last for three meals. So, we had pizza for dinner Monday night, too. Again, not exciting but very relaxing.

I’m quite sick of pizza.

Day Three – Tuesday

Another rainy day. Disappointing because once again, I was hoping for at least one sunny day but alas, Sally just wouldn’t move on and bother someone else. So. We slept in, had a relaxing morning at the hotel and then it started clearing up. We finished off our pizza (honestly, I can’t even stomach thinking about having any more pizza at this point – I’m so pizza’d out). We ended up spending the majority of the afternoon on the beach again. I tried to read but it sprinkled so I worried about that affecting my Kindle. Kevin went walking for Abalone again and when he got back to me he said he found a place where we could rent chairs and an umbrella. So I packed up our stuff and walked down to the pier (about a mile), rented chairs and we wanted an umbrella, but they were so slow that I think the guy thought he was doing us a favor by “upgrading” us to a cabana, though I wish he hadn’t. It stifled the air and we would have preferred an umbrella. But it was nice to actually have chairs to sit on and we enjoyed a solid two and half hours on the chairs before the skies started darkening again and we walked back to “our” section of the beach.

We got cleaned up but it was 5:00 PM by this time and I really didn’t want to put on a full face of makeup that late in the day so we Googled nearby taco places, found Taco Bus, went on to their website and ordered dinner.

We went and picked it up. It was a cool restaurant. It was made to look like you were ordering from a food truck from inside the building. Kevin got beef tacos, I got a chicken bowl and we got some rice, beans and chips/salsa. It only came to $21.00 but we had so much food we couldn’t finish it. It was delicious though.

We spent the remainder of the night watching “Storage Wars” and “Deadliest Catch.” We only watch those shows whenever we go on vacation because we’re too cheap to pay for cable. Actually, neither of us like watching much TV so it just doesn’t make sense to pay for something we’ll never use.

And that brings us to now and my final thoughts.

The hotel: We stayed at the Royal North Beach hotel and we really liked it overall. It was convenient, cheap, and more of an apartment than a hotel room. We had a full kitchen, complete with a kitchen. We bought groceries and were able to eat breakfast and lunch without having to stress where we were going to eat everyday. And of course, we bought enough pizza to last three meals. We saved a ton on food this trip.

I REALLY liked how housekeeping left us completely alone. They never came in to make our bed and we didn’t have to stress about getting out so they could do their thing. When we needed fresh towels, we put the dirty ones in a small clothes basket and put it outside our room. Housekeeping would then exchange fresh towels, a trash bag and toilet paper. So we never, not once, saw anyone from housekeeping. That may not be for everyone, but I LOVED IT and think more hotels need to implement something similar. It just took a lot of stress of being out of the room so they could do their thing.

I also really liked how we didn’t have a room key. We had an electronic keypad that we input a code for and that’s how we got in/out. So again, we didn’t have to stress about making sure we had a room key with us whenever we left the room and we didn’t have to worry about accidentally locking ourselves out of our room.

The only thing I really didn’t like about the room was that the floors were FILTHY. The whole apartment had tile floors, which was good, but they were so gritty and nasty that I had to literally wash my feet before getting into bed at night and/or wear flip flops to prevent having to wash my feet. I get that it’s probably really hard to keep the floors clean because of everyone tracking sand into the room, but this wasn’t just grit from the previous occupants, it was clear the floors haven’t been mopped in quite some time. I think I was especially sensitive to that because I have a thing about clean floors anyway.

But other than that, we really enjoyed staying there and would stay there again. There are four hotel complexes in a row near our North Beach hotel and I think we are going to try and stay at Hotel Cabana next time as we have decided that we are definitely going to stay in Clearwater again. We really enjoyed the area and how our hotel was just on the outskirts of the “busy” area so it was super quiet and we sort of felt like a native of the area given we were so close to residents.

We really want to find a place we can go to for a few days to enjoy the beach every year and Clearwater is definitely a contender.

It was really nice to see Kevin relax for a change. He’s the kind of person who NEVER relaxes, he’s always doing something. He’s one of the most productive people I know (I always joke that I married the female version of Heather, my doctor’s PA as she’s one of the most productive people I know of the female sort). He napped and was FORCED to do nothing but relax. In turn, that relaxed me. In fact, Kevin brought a little PS2 game console thing and he has spent a good portion of this trip just playing that. (And when we return home, he won’t touch it again until next vacation).

We had to air up our right front tire on our rental car several times. We came out one morning and it was 14 pounds of air! That was super annoying but I suppose that’s a risk you take when you rent a car. So, the low tire was always on our minds whenever we used it to go anywhere. (Which was only twice, the first day when we drove up and down the coast and when we drove to Taco Bus for food).

Now, we’re currently sitting in the Tampa airport waiting for our flight to Dallas to board. We have about a three-hour layover in Dallas so hopefully we don’t have to stress about getting off the flight and running to our gate in Dallas. But you never know how it will go, I suppose.

We’re being smart about this this go around and we bought water to put in our thermos’s, which was another smart thing to bring along with us, too.

I think we spent the perfect amount of time at the beach though Kevin says he wouldn’t have minded staying another few days. He really responds to the beach and feels like he could easily live on the beach. He used to CRAVE the beach when we were first married and the kids were younger but then we got hooked on cruising and we just sort of forgot about going to the beach. Now, because of COVID and who knows when the cruising industry will be up and running again, we’re back at it again. I have a feeling that this trip has re-awakened Kevin’s passion for the beach.

They are getting ready to call our flight so it’s time to wrap this up. I already miss it.

So that was our trip. It was short, sweet and wet. Again, the weather could have been so much worse so I feel like we were lucky to just get some sprinkles now and again. And the cloudy weather actually made the beach more comfortable than it would be if it was sunny the whole time.

We have so many frequent flyer miles built up that we’re talking about taking another small vacation in the spring. Maybe. It really all depends on what happens after the Election and this COVID nightmare.

But for now. It was fun to get away and thumb our nose a bit at the pandemic disaster.

Cruise 20

Sailing to Northern Europe

Kevin and I will have been married 30 years in May 2020. And since we love to take cruises every year, we’ve decided to do something really different this go around.

We’re going to Northern Europe.

The only cruise line, well, aside from Norwegian, which is too expensive, that sails to that area is MSC Cruises. We’ve never sailed on MSC before so this will be many firsts for us. We’re not going in May, but we’ll go later in 2020.

It took a lot of toggling windows back and forth between the MSC cruise website and American Airlines, but after running nearly every scenario we could think of, we opted to fly into Amsterdam and drive to Rotterdam, which is where the boat will sail from. It’s about a 50-minute drive and luckily, they drive on the right side. It’s a straight flight from Dallas to Amsterdam, granted, a nine-hour straight flight, but still, it’s better than the other options we tossed around. We’ll leave from Springfield, fly to Dallas and then to Amsterdam. We’ll get in to Amsterdam at about 9ish AM, rent a car and drive to Rotterdam. Turn the car in, stay the night in Rotterdam then sail out the next day.

We’ll sail to Hamburg Germany, have a sea day after that, then sail to Paris, London, Belgium then back to Rotterdam. We’ll then rent another car, drive back to Amsterdam, check into our hotel in Amsterdam and spend the rest of the day exploring Amsterdam. We’ll fly home the next day.

We had initially thought we would take a cruise to the Mediterranean and we will eventually do that, but Northern Europe caught our attention because Brandon recently flew to Belgium to meet some online friends, (I won’t even tell you how nervous I was for him to leave the country and meet virtual strangers. Though, he said he had been talking to them for nearly five years online, the most nerve wracking part of his trip was hoping that someone would pick him up from the airport and be a real, legit, normal person. I’m happy to report everything worked out great and he had a fantastic time).

We looked through Brandon’s pictures when he got back and it was GORGEOUS. The architecture, the history … just everything. And that is when we started looking at cruises to Northern Europe. We didn’t even know there WERE cruises to that region until Brandon’s trip.

I’m beyond excited though. I’ve always wanted to go to London/Paris and I can’t wait to explore. There are a TON of excursions to choose from and we’ll probably just stick to the excursions where we walk around the cities and learn about the history. We feel like that is the best way to see the sights.

We also booked a balcony room! Kevin surprised me by upgrading to a balcony room our last cruise and I’m afraid I’m spoiled now.

I can’t wait to take pictures!

We have a whole year to plan and narrow down details, but for now, it’s a done deal. We booked our cruise and reserved our flights.

Gah! I’m so excited!

Camp NaNoWriMo, Las Vegas

Las Vegas Trip – 2014

So the last time I updated you on our vacation experiences/pictures, was 2013. Wow. I’m really behind. I’ll try and work on this starting with our vacation in 2014.

We didn’t go on a cruise in 2014. I think part of the reason is because we didn’t have enough points built up on our credit card to cash in for a flight and we didn’t even think of driving to a port, back then, so we went to Las Vegas.

But I think the primary reason we went to Las Vegas that year was because Kevin needed CPE credits to maintain his CPA license and we thought it would be fun to go to Las Vegas and kill two birds with one stone.


Kevin had his seminar until 2:00 every day and for the life of me, I don’t remember what I did while he was doing his thing. I think I just walked around the hotel because I KNOW I would have left the room so housekeeping could do their thing and I seem to recall reading my Kindle, (really, when am I not?) out by the pool a few times and I’m sure I would have taken my laptop … but it seems I could never find an outlet to plug the thing in to so I don’t really remember doing a lot with my laptop, sadly.

After Kevin finished his sessions, we walked around and took in the sights.


This building was by far the coolest building I saw, or have ever seen since.


Kevin was pretty big into Nascar at the time so he was pretty excited to see the M&M car.


The night lights were incredible. The whole city transformed into magic.


We went to the famous strip:


And saw some people dressed up as various characters.


They even had a zipline stretched from one end of the city block to the other and people would routinely fly above us. I wanted to try it but I couldn’t talk Kevin into it.


We toured the Hoover Dam – it was like something out of a movie.


We dressed up and went to see Shania Twain in concert.


Kevin was in heaven because he LOVES Shania Twain. In fact, he told me the other day that she’s going to be back in Las Vegas with another concert. He wants to go. I wouldn’t mind going back to Las Vegas.


The hotels are so impressive. We stayed at the Tropicana positioned more on one end of the strip.

Saw a few celebrities, no big deal.


They weren’t very talkative and looked a bit waxy, but hey, it was still cool to see them.

Spiderman kept bugging me. Man, that guy hangs out everywhere.


We have badges on here … I seem to recall we went on a tour and stopping at the Las Vegas sign was one stop. I think we also visited the famous Pawn Stars shop on this tour, too.


Yep, here’s Chumley.


And inside Pawn Stars.


The rest of the trip? Well, let’s just say that story will stay in Las Vegas.


Pretty sure we’ll go back to Las Vegas one of these days.

Post Nine

Camp NaNoWriMo, Vacations

A List of Past Cruises

We just got back from another cruise. Well, we didn’t JUST get back, we went mid-May.

If you didn’t know, Kevin and I are BIG cruisers. It’s fun and most importantly, we feel like we get our money’s worth.

When you mention cruising to people they immediately discard the idea. “It’s too expensive. Cruising is for rich people.”  I can tell you right now, neither is true.

As with anything, you have to budget for a cruise but when you break down the cost and really see what you’re getting for your money, it’s actually a really good deal.

I mean, just the cost of the room and food nearly justifies the cost alone. But when you break down the number of places you stop, each port that you visit, again, you can’t beat the cost. Imagine how much it would cost you if you flew to each of these places? Then the cost of a hotel room and food on top of that. Don’t forget entertainment and taxis, tips, etc.

You honestly can’t beat the cost of a cruise – and I’m speaking of experience on that; I’m married to an accountant!

Kevin and I try and go on one cruise per year. We have an American Airline credit card that builds points toward airline tickets each time you use it. We also started using the Barclays card, which builds even MORE points toward airline tickets. (Honestly, we HIGHLY recommend looking into the Barclays card). We use our credit cards for everything – I can’t even tell you the last time I used cash for anything.

Now, keep in mind, we pay our cards off every month. Building points toward airline tickets only pays off if you’re not paying crazy high interest payments each month. But we figured, we’ll be buying this stuff anyway, why NOT use a card AND build points while we do it.

However, even though we build a lot of airline points each year, we don’t typically have enough accumulated by the time we’re ready to go on our next cruise the next year, so we have been alternating years we fly somewhere with driving to a nearby port other years.

For example, the last four years, we flew one year, the next year, we drove to New Orleans, then flew the next year, then drove down to New Orleans again.

That way, we continue to build points, don’t pay for flights, and we still get to go on a cruise every year.

In fact, I can’t even tell you the last time Kevin and I paid for airline tickets.

The points cover our airline tickets, it does not cover checking baggage. But still, it ends up costing us maybe $100 dollars to fly when we cash in our airline tickets – FOR BOTH OF US. I’d say that’s quite a deal.

Even though building points sounds great, and it IS great, there is a downside. Cashing in your points means you’re at the mercy of the airline. The available dates and times are limited. Which means, there will be times you have to fly at odd times, or have one or more layovers, or, you have to stay over someplace an extra day or two because the flight plan doesn’t exactly match your travel plans. And yes, then you have the extra cost for the hotel and food but even after factoring that cost in, it’s still cheaper than paying full price for airline tickets for each of us.

In short, it’s worth it. And if you have to stay over someplace, we take that time to do a little sight seeing – when are ever going to be back? Might as well take advantage of the time we’re there.

So again, win/win, really.

And that is how we manage to go on a cruise every year. Remember when I said you really need to budget for vacations/cruises? Well, Kevin has set up a cruising account made up of investments, and that’s the money we use to go cruising. So, we’re saving for retirement and basically cruising on the interest from our investments.

Another perk of being married to an accountant. 🙂

When we were driving back from New Orleans in May, (it takes about 10 hours and it’s really not a bad drive at all), we got to talking about how many cruises we’ve actually been on in our lifetime. We took our first cruise for our tenth anniversary. (Blake was about 8 and Brandon was 6 – they stayed with my parents for half the week and Kevin’s parents the second half of the week). We started naming them but honestly, we knew we were missing a few. (How sad, and how awesome, is it that we lost track of how many cruises we’ve been on? What a great problem to have!)

Kevin, being the super Excel geek that he is, made a spreadsheet of our cruises and I’d like to list them now, have a record of them, because if I don’t list them somewhere, we’ll lose track again.

  • 2000 – Honeymoon cruise – we left out of Miami and cruised to San Juan/St. Thomas/Virgin Gorda – Carnival Paradise
  • 2009 – left out of Miami and cruised to Belize/Honduras/Cozumel – Carnival Valor
  • 2010 – left out of New York and cruised to St. John’s, NB/Halifax – Carnival Glory (this was right after Kevin’s’ motorcycle accident – he walked New York streets with a walker!)
  • 2011 – left out of Port Canaveral and cruised to Orlando/Nassau/Freeport – Carnival Sensation
  • 2012 – left out of Vancouver and cruised to Astoria OR/San Francisco – Holland America Zuiderdam (this was only a three-day cruise – TOO SHORT)
  • 2013 – left out of Vancouver and cruised to Alaska (rode the train into the Yukon territory) – Holland America  Statendam
  • 2014 – no cruise – we vacationed in Las Vegas that year
  • 2015 – left out of Honolulu and cruised to Hawaii (big Island)/Kauai/Maui – Norwegian Pride of America (This was our 25-year anniversary trip)
  • 2016 – left out of New York and cruised to Bermuda – Norwegian Breakaway
  • 2017 – left out of New Orleans and cruised to Montego bay/Jamaica/Grand Cayman/Cozumel – Carnival Dream
  • 2018 – left out of San Juan and cruised to St. Thomas/Antigua/Barbuda/St. Kitts/St. Lucia – Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Sea
  • 2019 – left out of New Orleans and cruised to Key West/Freeport/Half Moon Cay/Nassau – Carnival Glory


So I’ve been on 11 cruises, and Kevin has been on 13 cruises. (He took a cruise with the boys and LeRoy a few times without me).

Looking over that list, I would say … my favorite cruises were; 2000 (it was our first cruise and everything was new and exciting), Alaska, Hawaii, Bermuda and the one we just got back from.

2012 Alaska is AMAZING and we will most definitely be back.

2015 Hawaii was fun and so beautiful, but it was expensive and we were in a port every day, which was fun, but utterly exhausting. Tip: book a cruise with at least one, or two sea days. Give yourself a chance to relax and catch your breath.

2016 Bermuda is breathtaking. The beaches are pink and super soft. We both loved it and will absolutely be going back for more.

2019 This past cruise was so smooth, literally. Every day the waters were smooth as glass, very little rocking. It was awesome and VERY unusual. If you go on a cruise, you need to plan for one or two patches of rough seas. The captain does everything he/she can do to stay clear of rough seas but sometimes it’s inevitable. You’re on the ocean after all, what do you expect? Just take a Dramamine, sit, relax, drink a ginger ale and the waters will smooth out eventually. Whatever you do, don’t walk around. It makes the sea sickness worse.  This past cruise was also awesome because we sailed to Carnival’s private island, Half Moon Cay. It’s a private beach, plenty of room to enjoy the beach (you just have to walk away from the crowds a bit but it’s worth it), and there are no vendors there trying to shove their wares in your face. We will MOST definitely be back for more.

My least favorite cruises?

2009 The cruise itself was fun and this was the first time the boys cruised with us but I hated the ports. Belize/Honduras were pretty but super hot and humid and they had armed guards walking around with guns. Not fun.

2012 The cruise was just … meh. it was a short cruise and we just didn’t really have time to enjoy ourselves. And Astoria Oregon was beautiful but boring.

The rest of the cruises were fun, just nothing spectacular about them. I mean, every cruise is great, don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful, but certain trips are just … perfect, others, are just fun.

If that makes sense.

We are planning our next cruise. It will be our 30th anniversary next year so I want to do something extra special. We have been saving our airline points and plan on flying to Barcelona Spain to take a Mediterranean cruise. It will take quite of bit of planning, the flight itself is about 14 hours long. And we will likely have to stay an extra day or two in Barcelona before flying back but somehow, I think we’ll find something to do.

Post One








Planning Vacation in 2016

So, I bet you can’t guess what’s on my mind right now…


I initially told Kevin that we weren’t going on vacation this year, that we were going to have a staycation and save some money ….

And then I got to talking to a friend of mine at work and she was raving about her stay on South Padre Island and I thought … hhmm…. that wouldn’t be too expensive, right??

And then I talked to another friend of mine at work who just got back from Destin, Florida and how she rented a car to drive down there and I thought … hhmm…

So I started doing some research.

Let me just say, that I LOVE doing vacation research. The possibilities are nearly endless.

I looked up cars and it would cost us about $300 dollars to rent a car for a week. I thought, okay, we’ll drive to South Padre island, it’ll take us two days down there and back, we’ll take our time, stop off whenever, wherever, we wanted … we would get the XM Satellite option and Kevin would have all sorts of stations to listen to .. it’ll be cool.

Then I started researching hotels in South Padre island and things to do – which admittedly, wasn’t much. But that’s okay, we would relax, enjoy the sun/beach. Our Hawaii vacation, though freaking awesome, was anything but relaxing, we went on excursions every day and we were constantly on the go. But we figured, WE WERE IN HAWAII, and we would likely never go back, so we wanted to see as much as we possibly could. And we did. We island hopped and we got some pretty fantastic pictures, which I have yet to show you or talk about, but I’ll get around to it, eventually.

I presented my ideas to Kevin. I was excited, I had a plan. This would be different, relaxing and relatively cheap compared to vacations in the past.

Kevin was less than thrilled with my idea. In fact, he shot me down. In fact, he hated the whole idea.

He wasn’t excited about taking four days out of our vacation to drive. He’s never been one to like driving anyway, he feels like it’s a waste of time so no, that idea was shot.

I didn’t give up though. He wanted to cash in our frequent flyer miles and fly down there, the problem is, there really isn’t any place to fly TO. There’s Brownsville, TX, but American Airlines doesn’t go there, the closest we can go is San Antonio. So I thought, okay, let’s fly into San Antonio, spend a few days there, see the sights, (they have a hop-on-hop off boat tour thing which I thought looked fun), and then we would rent a car and drive the five hours to South Padre Island, spend a few days on the beach, drive back to San Antonio and fly home.

Again, Kevin shot me down. I just couldn’t get him excited about South Padre Island.

I got to talking to my friend again at work and she mentioned she wanted to spend her 25th wedding anniversary at a Sandal’s resort.


So I started researching Sandals in the Bahamas. We’ve talked about wanting to go back someday. I figured we could fly out of Tulsa using our frequent flyer miles and stay at the resort for four days, then come home. We would then have a few more days at  home to goof around.

I started shopping prices, dates, things to do, which admittedly, there wasn’t much to do during the day at the Sandals resort, the beach, of course, but so many days of sitting on the beach and even I, who loves to sit and read, would get bored. So I figured four days would really be all we could handle. But there looked like there would be plenty to do at night, so that would be fun.

I approached Kevin and he loved the idea. Sandals is basically a cruise on land. It’s all inclusive, which means it includes food/tips/drinks. We love that concept because then you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to eat and how much it’s going to cost.

We HATE spending money on food. You’re literally eating your money. Hate it.

I had everything lined up. It would cost us about $2,200 dollars for four days. Remember, our flight was “free” with our frequent flyer miles, we would have to pay taxes (GRR) and luggage fees.

I hesitated clicking the “book it” button. We sat around and talked about it for a while then we went to the Sandals website to look at pictures of the resort. (We were booking the resort through – highly recommend, by the way).

The pictures were nice – full of nicely-dressed people standing around with smiles and drinks, looking happy and oh-so pretentious.


Kevin and I looked at each other. “Do we have to dress up for this place?” Kevin asked.

“I hope not,” I said. “Though if we want to eat at some of their nicer restaurants, we’ll have to dress a little nicer than a t-shirt and shorts.”

Now, we know the pictures on the Sandals’ website are meant to entice and advertise for their resort, but honestly, it sort of turned us off because we’re t-shirt/shorts sorts of people and if we’re going on vacation, the last thing we want to do is dress for work. (Well him, anyway, since I’m in scrubs all day every day).

So. We scratched the Sandals idea. Though we would still like to go to one of the resorts some day – we’re not totally tossing the idea. And $2,200 for four days?? We could go on a cruise for cheaper than that.

Which brings us to our latest vacation idea – another cruise.

People, you just can’t beat a cruise, you truly can’t. It’s not as expensive as you might think it is. Especially when you start comparing what you get on a cruise and what you get when you have to pay for all of the individual goodies by themselves.

Again. I fought against another cruise. I love cruising, don’t get me wrong, but they are hard on me. I’ll be honest, I get seasick. Not so bad that I’m stuck in my room puking my guts out, but there have been a few occasions when we have run into rough waters and I’ve had to sit, breathe and drink ginger ale. (Which helps a lot, by the way).

I really wanted to take a break from cruising this year. But then Kevin said, “do you really want to look back at our lives and have nothing to show for it? Look at all of the fantastic vacation pictures we’ve taken over the years and how many stories we have to tell. Let’s do it.”

And still, I hesitated.

And then, I noticed how tired Kevin was looking. He’s been working really hard lately and taking very little time off. For those of you that don’t know, he is self-employed which translates into, he is always working. When he’s not at a client’s, he’s working from his office after 5:00 and on the weekends. He never really gets away from it.

Which got me thinking, what if we went on another cruise, he would have no choice but to relax if we did that. We’re out in the middle of the ocean, he has no where to go.

One of the places we haven’t been to is Bermuda. And to reach Bermuda, you leave from Boston or New York – which we have yet to visit Boston, (well me, Kevin has been for business) and we want to go back to New York because that was the year we left for a cruise from New York for the Bahamas shortly after he had his motorcycle accident and we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted because he was weak (and probably shouldn’t have gone on vacation so soon after his accident anyway).

So I started researching a cruise to Bermuda. Kevin told me dates that would work for him and his business and I set to work

I went to Royal Caribbean’s website first, because we haven’t cruised on that line yet, but their cruises were only 5 days and leaving from Baltimore and New Jersey. That didn’t work for us.

Then I went to Norwegian’s website – we sailed with Norwegian last year when we cruised the Hawaiian islands and we really liked it. I started with leaving from Boston, but the dates didn’t line up so I looked at leaving from New York.

The dates matched.

Then I went to American Airlines’ website to look at flights. I always start my search leaving from Springfield because if we can avoid driving four hours to St. Louis/Kansas City/Tulsa, then we’re going to try and avoid it. The down side to cashing in frequent flyer miles is that you’re limited on your dates. You just sort of have to make it work if you want to cash them in. And since paying for flights can cost $1,000’s of dollars, we make it work.

To my surprise and delight, flying from Springfield would work. (If Springfield hadn’t worked, I would have checked Tulsa then Kansas City – we try and avoid St. Louis airport unless we don’t have any other choices).

Here’s a little tip if you’re looking into booking a cruise – bite the bullet and arrive at your destination the day before you’re supposed to board the boat. We flew down ON the day we were departing one time, ONE TIME, and never again will we do that. It was beyond stressful worrying about whether the flights would leave on time because one little hiccup and we risk not boarding the boat in time. In fact, the time we flew down on the day, we were one of the last to board, we cut it that close.


So we always fly in to the city the day before, spend the night and then it’s no big deal to get to the pier the next day in plenty of time. In fact, we’re always one of the first batch of people to board the boat.

This particular cruise is from Sunday to Sunday. So, the plan is, since we want to spend a few days in New York to finish sightseeing the places we didn’t have a chance to see last trip, we will fly in on Friday, get to New York about 11:00 PM, then we’ll have all day Saturday to sight see. Sunday, we’ll have a nice breakfast, check-out of our hotel and make our way to the pier.

There was one flight back on the Sunday the ship returns but it was at 7:30 AM and the boat won’t dock until 8:00 AM, so that won’t work. We’ll have to spend Sunday in New York, do more sightseeing, then catch the plane back home on Monday. It will be back to work on Tuesday. It will be rough, and I’m sure we’ll be exhausted, but we’ll handle it.

We haven’t booked it yet – we’re still talking, but I think we’re about 80% sure we’ll do it. This is what we do every time we plan on going anywhere – we talk it to death before taking the plunge.

Yes. It will be expensive (but not as expensive as other trips), but you know what? I work hard, Kevin works harder. We deserve one week of the year for some R-and-R.

Don’t you?

Cruise 13 - Alaska

The Statendam

So. Alaska.

We went in 2013. I’m behind – deal.

If you’ve never been on a cruise, well first of all, you NEED TO GO ON A CRUISE. It’s awesome. It’s our preferred vacation for sooo many reasons. I’ll have to write a blog post sometime: “tips from a veteran cruiser.”

Anyway. Whenever you go on a cruise, you have to do a safety drill. It’s mandatory. You HAVE to participate. If you do not, they will hunt you down and MAKE you participate. Everyone hates to do it, but it is nice to know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. This picture is me at our lifeboat station. Only, we went to the wrong lifeboat station and we were the last ones to get in line and it was embarrassing because they don’t dismiss you until everyone has gotten into line and been checked off the list.

We got a lot of dirty looks from fellow cruisers that cruise.

Kevin and I still laugh about our stupidity to this day.

We sailed on Holland America’s Statendam. It was an older boat with even older people. I think we were the youngest on that cruise.

One of the first things we do whenever we go on a cruise is put our luggage away in our rooms (once they’re ready – a lot of times, they are loading up the boat and cleaning your rooms whenever you first go on board so you end up hauling your carry-on luggage everywhere with you until your room is ready. Annoying, but it is what it is), and then explore the boat. We like to walk from bow to … whatever the back of the boat is called (you’d think I would know that by now). This gives us a chance to get our bearings though we usually end up getting lost or turned around every single day. We usually get the hang of the boat by the end of the cruise.

One thing I consistently forget to do is take pictures of the inside of the boat. We’ve been on some TACKY boats, but the Statendam wasn’t that bad, really.

This was the library. We spend a lot of time in the library on the boats. Mainly because that’s where you can hop onto a computer and access the internet, which, I might add, is ASTRONOMICALLY expensive. But we have to access it because Kevin needs to be able to check into work and make sure Blake has things under control.

Which, I might add, he does a pretty fantastic job of keeping things running. We did have a bit of a scare though on this cruise. Kevin couldn’t reach Blake online and his phone was getting spotty service so he couldn’t call him. Kevin saw that our brother-in-law was on Facebook, messaged him and asked him if he could call Blake and make sure he was okay. Blake was supposed to have delivered some paychecks to a client and the client contacted Kevin and said that Blake hadn’t made it in yet. That didn’t exactly sound like Blake so we began to worry. Our worry was compounded whenever we couldn’t reach him. Our brother-in-law connected with Blake, asked him to sign on and everything was fine – he had overslept. He got a little bit of a butt chewing for that one but it all ended on a positive note.

(And in case I haven’t mentioned it before – Blake is Kevin’s bookkeeper at his office).

The food is always pretty good on cruises.

In fact, that’s always one of our favorite parts. You can always get something to eat and you don’t have to even think about where your next meal is coming from. That’s always a pain whenever we go on vacation.

Come to think of it, I hate thinking about food, period. It’s a good thing Kevin likes to cook or I would have starved my family a long time ago.