Monday, January 28, 2019

An Evening at the Circus

Casa Grande, AZ

Linda and George and Craig and Carolyn came to the house on Saturday.  We were all going to see the Shanghai Circus and decided to meet early for dinner.

Our favorite Mexican restaurant was booked when I called for reservations earlier in the week.  No problem, we went to Manuel's instead.  It was a little out of the way from the community college, but still doable.  

Even though they had the two for one special on the margaritas it wasn't overly crowded and we were seated immediately.  We always think of the time we went here with the Kelpe's. 

The last time we attended a performance at Central Arizona College, the doors didn't open until 30 minutes prior to the show.  At the Southern Fried Funeral performance the auditorium only had  maybe 25% of the seats occupied.

We arrived at 6:45 and I think we were the last ones to enter Pence Center.  There were signs that said the show was sold out.  The usher told us the only seats left were in the very front row.  I was surprised to see that there were six seats.

Bill and I had attended a show when we were in China and I was hoping this would be at least half as good.  I knew that the small theater wouldn't be the same as a place that held large elaborate performances, but I must say I was surprised how well it was done.

Because we were seated so close in the front, we could see how high they were jumping.  I don't know how they avoided hitting the ceiling.
These were Jeri Williams photos.  I had no idea she was there until I saw these on Facebook this next morning.  

I think we all enjoyed the performance.  I was glad Bill drove home in the dark as my night vision is terrible anymore.  In fact, my eye doctor has called in a specialist as she said medication isn't working for me.  The only thing good is my eyelashes have grown but my  red eyes and red eyelids looked like I had been partying a lot.  

We finally stopped at the Chamber of Commerce to pick up the prize Bill won at the recent home show.  It was a pair of work gloves.  Okay, quit laughing!

Turtle Safely.........

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Four Wheels Day

Casa Grande, AZ

Yesterday we spent the day at the Casa Grande Street Fair.  The last time we attended I was on the scooter recuperating from my shattered heel.  The day was just  beautiful.

Parking was a challenge but having a small car allowed us to find a spot that the truck wouldn't have fit in.  

The show was much larger than when we attended in the past.

Notice the "guns" mounted on this one.  It was difficult to get any pictures due to the large crowds.

This T-Bird would have looked better without the port-a-jon in the back.

I much preferred the motorcycles over the cars.

Bill owned a Continental but his never looked this good, but I must say he kept the black finish looking great. 

I believe this was a Crosley.  Notice the "horse" in the bed of the truck.

There were at least four blocks of street vendors selling their wares.  

There was also a band playing and of course any kind of food you'd want from a food truck.  

I have no idea how many people showed up for it, but it looked to me like everyone in town attended.

After the Street Fair, we supported the town in another way.  We attended the first match of the season for the Big House Bombers.  You're wondering who the Big House Bombers are, aren't you?  Well they are the Casa Grande Roller Derby team. 

We were shocked to see the parking lot packed when we arrived 45 minutes early.  We saw our friends, Neal and Candy in the bleachers and we climbed up to sit near them.   Bleachers are much more difficult to climb than I remember but we went to the top where we could rest our back.

We were given a half sheet of paper with roller derby 101 written on it.  Unfortunately, the print was so small and the lighting so poor you couldn't read it.  Instead before the match started the announcer explained what the jammers, pivots and blockers helmets meant.  I'm not sure I ever saw a penalty but the penalty box was occupied a lot.  

The team consisted of all shapes and sizes of girls as well as ages.  I was amazed as they skated around the track and the blockers knocked them down, how fast they got up off the floor.  The EMT were there and only needed twice during the match.  They were all good sports and hugging the opposing team during intermission.  They were a lot of fun to watch and you could see they loved having the crowd watch them.  At one point in the match the Desert Phantoms were ahead by 77 to 41 but in the end the Big House Bombers won by a very large difference.  

I'm sorry we didn't think to take any videos or photos.

Turtle Safely........ 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

I Feel Guilty.

Yes, I feel guilty about not blogging regularly.

Yesterday, we had a visit from a blog reader that we'd never met, Nancy Kissack whose blog I've enjoyed for a very long time stopped by yesterday on her way from Quartzsite to her winter home near Vail.  Even though she didn't spend as much time as we would have liked, I'm sure we'll see her again.  Hopefully, she'll bring Patty, who we've heard so much about through her blog up next month.  I mentioned the Gourd Festival is February 8 -10 and I know she'd enjoy it.  I think there might also be some antique stores worth browsing through.

We also got to meet the rest of the family but I must say, Jonathan wasn't playing second fiddle to the dogs.  He starting talking non stop.  

We also enjoyed lunch at Benihana's with other bloggers, Jim and Sandie Dixon and Terry and Jeri Williams a few days ago.  

Freddy and Delcie also showed up for lunch.  I've been waiting for Sandie to post photos as I didn't take any. These are the photos Sandie took.

My birthday is Tuesday, so it qualified me for some birthday ice cream that I shared with everyone.

John and Cindy Walker also spent a couple of days here.  We enjoyed taking them out to the Dwarf Car Museum and of course out to eat.  We actually did take photos but they are in the camera that is in the fifth wheel.  They will be joining us for the Winter Blast next month.  

Turtle Safely.........

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Sister Ship

Casa Grande, AZ

A bus picked us up after breakfast for a ride to Speyer, Germany.  It was comical because the city had a large parking area for all the tour buses.  The Viking bus was already parked when we arrived.  Jorn, told us that the Viking bus had to wait  for the local guide and if we hurried we could beat them to the bathrooms at the top of a hill.  Our group hurried so fast up the hill, that we beat Jorn.  You have to pay to pee in Europe, but Grand Circle pays for you.  Some of the group arrived before Jorn could pay so the potty guard ended up being paid twice.  

Here's the "gate" to the town.  One of the vendors setting up for the Christmas markets said he pays $1,000 Euro per week to place his owned portable shop in the square.  I can't imagine what it would cost for a busier Christmas market.  You have to make a big profit to cover that.  The price does include the land and the electric.

We enjoyed our home hosted visit.  It's always nice to visit someone's home and learn about a specific family.  This one was a little strange because one person had taken the trip before.  On his previous trip he visited someone that had portraits like this lady had hanging on her wall.  When he asked if it was the same artist she said "yes".  Our friend then asked if she knew the artist.  She said, "yes, it was her ex-husband!"  It turned very quiet after that and we were glad it was time to leave.

The bus took us back to the MS River Melody.  It is a sister ship to our previous MS Rhapsody.  It was nice to be back on the water.  Our luggage was waiting in the same cabin location and stateroom number.

The following morning we docked in Strasbourg, France. Jorn walked us over to the trolley stop and gave everyone a trolley ticket.  The trolley took us to the Christmas shops and the Strasbourg Cathedral.

The trees were just starting to lose their leaves.  

This is the Strasbourg Cathedral and is an important monument from the Middle Ages--11-15th century.

Here's the side of the cathedral without the scaffolding.

If you saw the news a few weeks ago about the terrorists  shooting this is where it happened.

Here's how all the storefronts looked on that street.

We all took the trolley back to the ship at different times but the crew was waiting for us.  Each crew member had a letter spelling out "welcome back" and of course there was drinks and refreshments.

Since it was Thanksgiving, turkey was on the menu for dinner.  I couldn't make up my mind and they brought two entrees for me.

Turtle Safely..........

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mainz is our last name in German

Casa Grande, AZ

From Luxembourg we took a 20 minute bus ride to the town of Trier, Germany.  Once again, we had a wonderful local guide.  Here's the Porta Nigra known as the black gate.  It was built around 200 AD.

You find magnificent buildings like this right in the modern downtown area.

These buildings were very intricate.  

Our guide showed us where everyone was meeting for our lunch and gave us some time to shop in Trier.

I guess I must have been gabbing too much at lunch at Zum Domstein because I didn't seem to get any photos.  Maybe it was because I was so excited that I bought the last two boxes of the special chocolates in the store while we were shopping.  Every day on the bus, Jorn hands out something local that we can try. Jorn, told us to go into the department store and go to the grocery in the basement if we wanted to buy some Trumpf chocolates. Why, you ask, are they so special.  Besides these being the best chocolates I've ever tasted, the insides are alcoholic.  I plan to use these two boxes for happy hour at the Montana Circling of the Wagons in Quartzsite next week.  One problem, there's so many coming, I probably won't have enough.  

After lunch we boarded the bus for Mainz where we will stay for two days at Hilton Hotel Mainz.  

Once again Grand Circle had a great buffet meal with many selections.  Of course, I eat twice as much I should when it's a buffet.  

The following morning a local guide joined our program director for a walking tour of Mainz and a visit to the Gutenberg Museum.  

Not only did we see the printing press but we actually had someone from our group assist in the pressing a page!

The museum supplied folding chairs so everyone could see inside the enclosed room.

After the museum, we visited a another church.  After touring Europe one might get tired of seeing so many, but once inside they are all so different and with a local guide you don't miss all the stories.  

The bus was leaving the hotel in the early afternoon so those who wanted to take a one hour small boat ride from St. Goar to Boppard could go to that town.  Only a small boat could go through that section of low water.

Bill and I stopped in a small quaint clean restaurant for a bowl of soup.  It was 41 degrees, so it sounded perfect.  It was packed but we found a very small table.  The waitress was perfect.  We both asked for soup and she said she didn't have any.  "No problem, I'll find you something better."  We told her we weren't very hungry and would share a dish.  Bill wanted a beer, and she said she knew the perfect one for him.  She arrived later with a huge skillet of food and scooped out two plates full.  I'm not sure with the language barrier what it was, but it was delicious.  It had melted cheese, pasta, ham, onions and I have no idea what else in it. We said we weren't hungry but we ate that whole plateful and it didn't dent what was in the skillet.  She came by and told us "eat, eat, eat".  We both had another plate of it.  By now we are really getting full.  She came by again and said "eat some more".  Before we could say "no," she had dished another plate for both of us.  She said every "local" can eat the whole portion without sharing.  She was so much fun, Bill said he'd adopt her and take her to the states.  When he reached in his wallet for his credit card, she said she'd be waiting for the adoption papers.  She wasn't a spring chicken.  

We had so much fun, we forgot all about taking the trip to Boppard.  Nothing can take away the experience of interacting with people in a different country.  In time we'll forget some of the places we saw, but not this experience.

Turtle Safely........


Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Water is Too Low

Casa Grande, AZ

We had a change in our itinerary due to the low water levels on the river.  

All of the streets in these towns are all made of cobblestones.  It's amazing how old they are but in perfect shape.  Of course, nearly everyone walks everywhere so there's little automobile traffic.

Jorn took our group on a tour of  Bernkastel.  He also pointed out all the restaurants in the town and told us their specialties.  The reason Jorn did this was we were all given 160 Euro to  cover our lunch for the next few days.  The tour includes all beer and wine they must have thought we were heavy drinkers. 

Jorn led our group into this tunnel for a wine tasting tour.  The wine was very good and available through Costco.

Here's a shot of the vineyards.  I'd be rolling down the hill if I had to pick those grapes with or without drinking the wine.

Here's the door to the tunnel of the winery,  I'm sorry I didn't remember the dates on it.

After our wine tour we had some time to walk through town and to stop at a restaurant for lunch.  We were told there just wasn't a restaurant big enough to accomodate the 115 passengers that departed the ship.  

After a nice lunch along the river we said good-bye to our ship and boarded a bus.  Our bus took us directly to Luxembourg to the Hilton Hotel.   Originally, the trip to Luxembourg was going to be an optional tour that lasted all day.  Now we are going to spend two days in Luxembourg without the long bus ride from Trier.  The optional tour charge was also waived.  

Our luggage was in our room when we arrived. I was happy to see a huge bathtub in our room in the Hilton.  Dinner wasn't bad, but nothing like the food and service on the ship.  They made sure our private dining room had plenty of waiters to keep the wine glasses full.  Grand Circle couldn't have done more to make up for the low water and the deviation in the itinerary.  

The following morning the buses took us to the American Military cemetery.

A local guide told us about the Battle of the Bulge and helped us understand this area of World War II on the map.

This grave is where Patton wanted to be buried, with his troops. 

I would have been very disappointed if we hadn't visited the American Military Cemetery.  Here's a different picture of Patton's grave.

After the cemetery tour, we went into Luxembourg for a guided tour of the city. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world and encompasses less than 1,000 square miles.  We learned why such a small country is such a good ally to the United States.  

It had an old world look as well as a very modern look.

Our local guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the country as well as the capital city.

This was the government building but since it was Sunday it was closed.

Here's some views of the city we saw.  We enjoyed lunch in town and then we took the first bus back to the hotel.  You could stay longer in town as the bus made several trips to the city center from the hotel.  

Turtle Safely.......

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Back to the Eleventh Century

Casa Grande, AZ

The MS Rhapsody arrived in Cochem at 8 am and by 8:30 we were boarding a minivan to take us up the hill to the Reichsburg Castle.  

If you look closely the ship is docked by the bridge.  Now that explains why we didn't walk up the hill to the castle.  What a ride that was with sharp turns and a very narrow one lane road.  

Even though the ship docks in these quaint towns, you can see why they had the minibus for us to ride to the castle

Here's a little history about the Reichsburg Castle.  It is believed that it was built in the eleventh century and King Louis XIV burned it to the ground in 1689.  The palace remained in that condition until 1868 when Louis Ravene purchased it to be used as his summer residence for his family.  Cochem acquired the estate in 1978 when it opened to the public.  

Bill always loves to see all the hand carving in these castles.

This photo doesn't show the intricacies of this ceiling.

I stood next to this suit of armour to show you  a comparison of how big this man's suit of armour is.  

This photo shows a typical view of the Mosel River valley.  

After the castle tour we spent some time in Cochem with our program director showing us the sites in this quaint town.

We finished the included tour in time to return to the ship for lunch and shortly afterward we set sail for Bernkastel, one of my favorite stops.  

We enjoyed sailing toward Bernkastel, Germany.  Here's how tight the ship was in a lock.

We sailed past many grape fields on our way to Bernkastel.  Next stop we will get to taste those Riesling grapes on a wine tour.

Turtle Safely......