Masks and Thieves

So yesterday we decided to do something we rarely do these days – go out to lunch. One of our favorite places is Sonrisa Grill, the Mexican restaurant at Lake Las Vegas. It’s a fun drive and walk with great food and views.

We noticed that a few people we passed were not wearing masks, which is a bit disconcerting, especially since we’re used to going to Downtown Disney, where the mask requirement is enforced.

And the truth is, while I do wear a mask when I am out, I choose not to do a lot of things because I’m just not comfortable wearing a mask for more than an hour. So, truth be told, I really won’t be flying to Florida during this time – I can’t imagine wearing a mask for 4-6 hours. I’m also not sure I could really do Disneyland, although we’ll get a chance to test how long I can wear a mask at Knott’s Berry Farm next month, although for most of that time we’ll be sitting and eating/drinking so it shouldn’t be too bad. And there’s a relaxation station where masks are not required.

So on the thievery front, we were informed that our “Hitchhiking Ghosts” Christmas ornament was delivered by FEDEX yesterday, but we never got it. When we called Disney, they said they are out-of-stock now and will refund our money. Grrrr! We’d purposely ordered early to make sure we got them and now either the FEDEX driver kept it (not the first time this has happened in Vegas), or it was delivered to the wrong house and they kept our package.

Some photos from yesterday’s lunch:

Blue Sonrisa Margarita

Spicy Margarita

Salmon Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Monday with Sharon at Sea #Cruise #Travel #amwriting

Okay, so our new latest thing is hanging out with Sharon at Sea and the gang on YouTube on Monday nights. We’ve even reserved a cabin for one of their group cruises, and are considering a second one.

So all of this having happened last night, got me excited to make a video for my novels Real Women Wear Red and the sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, to replace the one I had on youtube years ago (before Goggle bought it and messed it al up). I kept thinking I’d try to recreate one, albeit, a bit different than before, but I did keep the same music. It’s just too perfect.

Maybe we can’t cruise right now but it’s such fun to hang out with other cruise lovers, and to relive the glory days of writing these two novels, remembering our past cruises.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Three, Part One

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Today was my birthday and lucky for us, it was “Sea Day Brunch” day – one of our favorite things about Carnival. We’ve sailed on all the major cruise lines and we love Carnival service.

Rich started the day with a birthday card for me, and then we were off to the dining room at the opening of Brunch – about 8:30 a.m. I think.

I wasn’t sure about the Bloody Mary but when the couple next to use ordered one, we decided to join in but made mine a Bloody Maria (tequila instead of vodka).

I had my usual Huevos Rancheros with a fruit plate starter and Rich started with a Bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon and then the Blueberry Pancakes with a side of bacon for his entree.

But the highlight for me is this particular muffin – I think it’s a cappuccino muffin. It’s amazing and I have to have it every time. The chocolate muffin isn’t bad either. I really need to get a good photo of the muffins – I only have a pic of a half-eaten muffin take a few years ago – lol!

We ate our brunch and took our drinks to the Xanadu Lounge, then returned to our suite to change into our swim suits and hung out on lounges on the Serenity Deck.

We returned to the room to nap. For lunch, Rich ran up to Guy’s when we got hungry and brought back a couple of burgers – not sharing this time – lol!

Oh my, no wonder I’m still trying to work off this trip. But birthdays only come once a year, thank goodness!

I was worried about being too full since tonight was my birthday dinner at the Chef’s Table so we skipped the fries. 🙂

Rich will write up the Chef’s Table report.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

As I mentioned here, we ate the leftover steak from Napa Rose for breakfast this morning along with some eggs from the hotel breakfast buffet. Then we headed for the port of Long Beach via my old stomping grounds – childhood home, high school, and other neighborhoods. I’ve posted enough pics about them so I won’t repeat that – lol!

We were a bit confused by the entry to the port due to some detour. But when we looked confused, a bus driver asked if everything was okay via a thumbs up? And so I rolled down the window and asked how to get to the port and he very nicely gave us directions. We were so impressed!

We parked the car in the garage and headed for the new check-in area at were directed to priority boarding and were onboard in no time at all. Because we were suite passengers, our room was ready so we dropped off our luggage and I noticed there were birthday decorations and a bottle of Prosecco that Rich had ordered. Yay! We met our cabin stewardess who was amazing and kept our ice and water well-stocked and cleaned.

 

We then headed for Guys Burgers for lunch. We shared the Straight Up – amazing!! Maybe even better than In N Out! Ohhhhh!!!

Then we made our way to the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Rich ordered a Blue’s Patron Margarita for me then ran over to the Red Frog Rum Bar on the opposite side of the ship and brought back his Rum Jumper (aka Rum Runner).

Rich’s Rum Jumper

Kathy’s Blue’s Patron Margarita

We did a bit of a ship tour, although we have sailed on two sister ships, the Paradise (twice), and the Inspiration. One of our favorite areas is the Adults Only Serenity Deck, especially on this class of ship.

We unpacked our carry-on bags and then it was off for the Muster Drill. Ours was located up on the pool deck. Carnival has improve somewhat with accounting for people by electronically beeping people’s Sail & Sign cards, similar to Princess but Princess is far more efficient. Then it was time for sailaway, although there seemed to be a bit of delay.

Our Prosecco was on ice waiting for us but due to the delay, we headed to the salad bar (Carnival’s is the best!). We made our way back to the cabin where chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, macaroons, and truffles awaited! Eventually, the ship began to move and Rich popped open the Prosecco, poured us each a glass, and we sailed away from our balcony.

I don’t remember doing much more after we sailed away. I think we pretty much just hang out on the balcony, which is our favorite thing to do on a ship. This is why we cruise. We texted with our pet sitter a few times before leaving range. We were pretty tired, as we always are on embarkation day.

Margarita Sunday at Frontera Cocina, Disney Springs

We’re still settling into the beach house but we took some time this weekend to enjoy the beach on Saturday. It’s so wonderful to be living near the beach again. We really love the pinks/blues we see in the sky.

As fun as that was, I’m feeling a bit unsettled living in a new place. We moved across the country, back to Florida for the third time, but we’re living in a place we haven’t lived before. We’ve only been here 2 months – it’s still so new to me. I was really craving a feeling of the familiar. So we went to our favorite church in Orlando, drove through Dr. Phillips and Windermere remembering when we  lived there, and pointed the Challenger towards Disney Springs.

We’d had reservations at Frontera on Valentine’s Day but after participating in FAWM (February Album Writing Month – write 14 songs in 28 days), I got sick 7 songs in, so we had to cancel. We were making this weekend our Valentine’s celebration.

It was a holiday weekend and after twelve p.m., so our usual Lime Garage was full. This was our first time in the Orange Garage and we were a bit confused on how to get to Frontera and ended up taking the long way around. The good news is, on the way back we figured it out, which will help us immensely should we have to park in that garage again.

We bypassed the long line of those waiting for a table and headed for the bar – a trick we learned on our last visit to Frontera. We ordered our usual Blood Orange Jalapeno Margaritas, which were served to us right away, and our lunch entrees (Carne Asada Tacos for me and Short Rib Tacos for Rich), which took a bit longer. We were starving by the time they arrived but they were worth the wait.

We chatted with a nice couple sitting next to us – they’d had dinner there the night before and were back for Margaritas and then had an extra tequila shot before leaving.

After lunch, we headed for the Ganachery. While there we chatted with the CM and the guy in line behind us. The CM was going to Italy and he had been there when he lived in Paris. He mentioned Marseille and we mentioned we would be in Marseille on our future Med cruise. He said we would love it – great food and wine. He wished us a great trip! He was fabulous and why we love people we meet at Disney.

Alas, it was time to drive back to the beach, but were halfway thinking about making our favorite church in Orlando our regular church and combining church and Disney on a regular basis.

Christmas at Disney’s Yacht Club

We knew we wanted to spend Christmas Day at Disney World (outside the parks for crowd and AP blockout reasons) and have Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants. We couldn’t decide which, though, so we changed our ressies several times. But when we read about the new Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club, we settled on that the day before. And we were so glad we did.

Of course we love the Yacht Club – it is our home resort at WDW ever since our first stay there back in 1999 (the Contemporary was Kathy’s first back in 1982). We were very impressed with Ale and Compass – the decor, the food, and the service.

Christmas Lunch
by Rich

Starter (Shared)
Oven-roasted Oysters
with Spinach and Creamed Kale, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Crumbs

Entree – Kathy
Maine Lobster Roll
with choice House-made Vinegar Chips

Entree – Rich
Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich
with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

Wine – Kathy
Domaine Savary Chablis, Burgundy

Wine – Rich
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley

The oven-roasted oysters were fabulous, just the right start to the meal. The breading and accompaniments to the oysters were in perfect proportion to the oysters.

Kathy’s lobster roll was wonderful – not over-dressed, just delicious chunks of lobster on a nicely-sized roll. Kathy enjoyed an ideal pairing of hard-to-find Chablis.

Rich’s medium-rare skirt steak was incredible – tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The caramelized onions and truffle vinaigrette were especially nice touches. The Syrah was a splendid pairing, achieving a lovely balance between blackberry fruit and sweet smokiness.

After our meal we walked the Boardwalk, stopping at our usual kissing spot, and popped into the Boardwalk where we were each offered a complimentary peppermint sugar cookie. We continued our walk full circle to the Yacht Club – Rich even skipped his usual Boardwalk skip – and two stools at the Hurricane Hanna pool bar called our names and we each had a Margarita.

We chatted with other guests from St. Augustine, noting that this is the real replacement for the Trout Pass Bar at Wilderness Lodge. It has the same vibe that Geyser Point sadly does not quite have with so many families gathering there.

After our cocktails and conversation (love this about Disney World), we were in search of coffee before we hit the road and ended up at Beaches and Cream where Rich got us two coffees and two ice cream sandwiches (huge but yummy – lol) while Kathy grabbed us a table overlooking Stormalong Bay.

We stopped in at the gift shop where Yacht Club coffee cups captured our attention, made our purchases and then we drive back to the beach.

It was a gorgeous day out – low 70s compared to mid 50s at the beach. What an awesomely perfect Christmas! Disney for the day was even better being able to return to our new home at the beach.

The BoatHouse

We made ressies at the BoatHouse at Disney Springs for after church late Sunday morning. We planned carefully what we’d order so that we weren’t splurging too much financially and calorically. We decided against drinks and dessert, although the Chocolate Bundt Cake we saw on the Mouse Steps video was quite tempting.

By the time we got there, we ended up ordering drinks and dessert – lol! At least we shared the dessert. I don’t usually go for dessert but Rich says a meal isn’t finished until you have dessert so he asked for two spoons. So clever of him – it was worth every calorie. Oh, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

We noticed a group sitting in the boat as soon as you enter the restaurant. We were seated in dining room #3 in the back, which was a bit quieter, although we had to ask to be reseated by the window – she was rather lame, especially since Mouse Steps raved about the service here. Our server was fine but nothing special.

We ordered a couple of Margaritas and then Rich ordered the Amberjack Tacos for him and the Shrimp Po’ Boy for me – delish!! I mostly ignored the fries that came with so I could “help” Rich with dessert – Chocolate Bundt Cake with Valrhona Fudge Sauce – oh yeah!

We noticed the Dockside Margarita Bar and the Hangar Bar – hope to catch up with them soon.

On the way out, we stopped in at the gift shop and purchased a little Rubber Ducky with Captain’s Hat and boat – so cute!

Overall, we had a great time – the perfect setting for us – and we hope to be back.

 

Epcot Says “We’re Back!”

My excitement for the opening of Epcot in the fall of 1982 began early as I was privy to the attractions through work when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having grown up near Disneyland, I was motivated to visit WDW because of Epcot – not the Magic Kingdom. When Epcot first opened, you reserved a dining reservation by speaking to a CM through some kind of futuristic booth, which was such a thrill. My first meal was at San Angel Inn. Therefore, Epcot and San Angel Inn still signal “we’re back” on any trip to WDW.

Back then, living in California, I couldn’t get to WDW very often. I’d only been in 1982 and again in 1987. Rich and I took our first trip to WDW together in May of 1999 when we were determined to one day live in Orlando so we could fully enjoy this amazing World.

So, then, of course, when we first moved to Orlando in 2003, the first place we headed was Epcot. We remember so clearly staring up at Spaceship Earth as we approached the ticket window saying, “This is our local park now!”

Five years have passed since we were last at any of the WDW parks (in November we only stopped in at Disney Springs with dinner at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge and boated over to Ft. Wilderness and back), and the excitement for Epcot was as high as it had ever been.

We arrived at around 9 a.m., parked in the first section and walked to the front gate, stopping in at bag check (Rich was wearing a small fanny pack – next time we might leave that behind), and entered with our brand new Annual Pass. Unfortunately, our Magic Bands did not arrive in time. We have them now and can’t wait to return to the parks with them – far more convenient.

We’re experiential people so all of those criticisms we voiced about all of this beforehand were silly – Rich is loving all the online stuff, reserved FP+ and dining all on his phone. We had an 11:10 a.m. FT+ for Test Track and a 1:30 p.m. for Spaceship Earth. But when we saw no line at Spaceship Earth, we headed right in. Ah, also important to be the first ride.

Then we headed for France in World Showcase for a morning pastry via Mouse Gear for a quick browse but nothing grabbed our interest. We hadn’t been to the Boulangerie since it started opening before 11 and expanded. We were surprised it was now located inside the France Pavilion. For some reason, we thought they’d built onto the old location. There was plenty of inside (air-conditioned) seating, which was a nice change.

I looked for my usual puff pastry with cream filling that I’d been eating since opening in 1982 but it was no where to be seen so I ordered a Napoleon, wondering if that was it. Rich ordered his usual Apple Tart. But when I saw what the Napoleon actually looked like, I cancelled it and didn’t know what to order. Rich pointed out the Beignet so I chose that.

We also got a cup of coffee to share and sat down. We were pleasantly surprised to discover the Beignet was filled with chocolate or hazelnut chocolate as Rich said. It was absolutely scrumptious and is now our new favorite pastry. Next time we’ll get two! We didn’t think to take pics until we’d already had a few bites. 🙂

We headed back to Future World and stopped in to visit Figment in Imagination. We love this ride – lol! Figment cracked me up, more than ever. Is it my age or because we haven’t seen him in a while?

Then it was almost time for our Test Track FP+. We waited for about 10 minutes and then 5 minutes before, we were allowed in. This was our first ride since it was updated and found the design part to be more fun than just watching a move like before. We created an outrageous car that was pretty fast. And then on the open track, we were racing so fast, I realized this may be another ride on the list of “too old for” these days. After hitting my head on a train and tripping in Mazatlan, I’m becoming a bite more cautious. And that’s okay. There’s still plenty of fun to be had.

After our ride, we were hungry and headed for the Cantina in Mexico. It was packed and getting hot out and we really wanted to eat at San Angel – after all, that’s our traditional go to meal on our first day. For some reason, we thought the Cantina would be fine. We checked the dining app but it showed there weren’t any more ressies to be had until 2 p.m. Still, we approached the podium and asked if we could be seated and, yes, they found us in their system and we only waited for about 5 or 10 minutes. We were seated a table away from the tables on the end with the view of the boats.

What a thrill to be back here! We both ordered tacos – pork for Rich and beef for me – and two House Margaritas. I have no idea why but I forgot to take any pics of the Margaritas. Guess we were just too busy enjoying ourselves and our drinks. It was dark in there so the photos didn’t come out that well, but we had a blast!

Tacos de Carne (Beef tacos with Flour Tortillas)

Taco al Pastor (Pork tacos with Corn Tortillas)

The photo that says, “We are back and having a blast!” We also realized that one reason we were having such a blast is that it’s been a while since we’ve been. We don’t plan on wearing it out like we did when we lived 2 miles from Cinderella Castle.

We were tempted to walk the loop around World Showcase but by now it was getting late, we were tired, and it was hot so we exited World Showcase, waved at Pluto on the way, made our way through Future World, and out to the parking lot, got in our Jeep, and drove home. It was around 1 p.m. by this time so we were in the parks for 4 hours, having clocked 4 miles. What a memorable day!

 

Memorial Day Weekend APs

So after another Friday night at JBs Fish Camp, we headed for Disney Springs Guest Services on Saturday to trade in our Annual Pass vouchers for the real thing. We really like this Guest Services at Disney Springs – it feels like a park attraction. Well, guess what? The wait was 45 minutes. So we got our text set up and hung out a bit. We were starving so we checked out a couple of restaurant menus so we’d have something lined up after our “appointment.”

Deluxe Burgers was ridiculous – we weren’t about to pay $25 for burger and fries at a walk-up window and hope to get a seat. So we returned to Guest Services, sat in a couple of rocking chairs, took some photos, and enjoyed some people-watching while waiting.

Front porch of Guest Relations 

Eventually, we walked over to Frontera Cocina by Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless. As a California girl who grew up on Mexican food, I was really interested in tasting his Mexican food to see how good it could be with him being from Chicago. 🙂

I didn’t really think we had a chance since he’s one of the few celebrity chefs without a restaurant in Las Vegas. So we checked seating availability and the CM at the podium said we could just walk up and sit at the bar. Okay.

Rich checked our wait time at Guest Relations and they said we were #5. We sat down again, but then got the text saying we were next. So, finally, we got our APs. The CMs are pretty awesome and all went well. To celebrate, we headed over to Frontera Cocina and found a couple of seats at the bar.

We started off with a couple of Margaritas, the Frontera for Rich and a Blood Red Orange Jalapeno for me. For lunch, Rich ordered the Carnitas tacos and I ordered the Carne Asada tacos. Rich loved his Carnitas and this Carne Asada was the best I’d ever had. It was amazingly flavorful. Rick Bayless definitely knows what he’s doing and why wouldn’t he? A real Mexico aficionado, he goes straight to the source in Mexico. I figured it would be good but this was amazing! I could do this once a week.

The Frontera Margarita

Red Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita

Carnitas

Carne Asada

 

Lake Las Vegas on A Roulette Wheel of Wants

We’ve come up with about 5 variations of what we could or should do next. It’s like a roulette wheel of wants – it spins around and lands on different desires.

Sunday we landed on Lake Las Vegas, one of our favorite places to get away, explore the village, pop into shops, stroll the Promenade alongside the water, picnic lunch on the grassy area, or eat a yummy lunch at our favorite – Sonrisa Grill.

We were seated by the window, and Rich ordered his signature drink – Mai Tai – and I ordered my signature drink – spicy Margarita. We snacked on a basket of colorful chips and fresh salsa, which was a step above most places.

Rich ordered the beef enchiladas and I ordered the beef tacos – both quite tasty and the closest we could get to SOL, our favorite Mexican restaurant in Newport Beach.

After a quite tasty lunch and drinks, we enjoyed our Sunday stroll, along with other people doing the same thing as couples and families. We even grabbed a pecan chocolate bite from the Rocky Mountain candy store for dessert.

It was really a lovely day, and a rare day in the Las Vegas area where you feel like you’re doing something normal. Here are a few snaps and a video:

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richlunch

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Margaritaville

Last night was Margaritaville at our house. Thursday starts the weekend, right? 🙂

We discovered this delicious Pineapple Serrano Margarita at SOL in Newport Beach, and Rich found something similar to that in the liquor store that replaced Fresh and Easy. We tuned into Jimmy Buffett on the Margaritaville station on SiriusXM. And when I’m listening to Jimmy Buffett, going all Parrothead, I’m ready to move to Florida no matter what.

The night before last was the first time we felt positive about it all in the evening. In the morning, we’re fresh and ready to do what it takes. By the end of the day, we’re tired and fearful and thinking we should call the whole thing off. But Wednesday night, we were feeling much more positive after work. Maybe because I’d found a rental in our old neighborhood that I loved so much. I’ve been watching and there’s been one available about once a month. Hopefully, if we were to go, there’d be one available for us. However, the main problem is location – it would be about a 40 minute commute. And its isolation got to us last time. But it is just about an hour to Disney, onramp to offramp.

The stress is really getting to us – the next event doesn’t happen until Thursday of next week. This was our choice to give us more time to give them our answer. In the meantime, we’ve made ressies at Disneyland for the Food & Wine Festival – just in case we say no.

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville Trip Report Wrap-Up

Okay, so that’s a wrap for another trip report! In the meantime, we need to figure out how to get our videos from my iPhone to Youtube without going through the WordPress App because we have now run out of space. The iPhone to YouTube stopped working after the last upgrade so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or I need to figure out how to fix it.

Another possibility is to upgrade our WordPress account for more storage and a few other handy tools. Another idea is to archive reports onto another blog to free up some room here. We’ll give it some thought and let you know how we’ve solved this problem.

Thanks for reading the report – we really appreciate the “likes” to let us know that you’re reading it.

Here are the direct links to each post:

Pre-Trip Report

Day 1, Travel Day

Day 2, Part 1: Tampa

Day 2, Part 2: Tampa

Day 3, Sea Critters and the Beach

Day 4, Part 1: A Bit of Hawaii

Day 4, Part 2: Disney Springs and Wilderness Lodge

Day 4, Part 3: Artist Point

Day 5, Wild Night in Orlando and Frenchy’s on Dunedin Causeway

Day 6, Part 1: Thanksgiving (Pool and Beach)

Day 6, Part 2: Thanksgiving (Dinner)

Day 6, Thanksgiving Extras (Private)

Day 7, Finale and Travel Day