Why the CDC is SO wrong and What I love about CRUISING

PETRI dish…..Avoid cruise travel……LEVEL 4….Regardless of Vaccine Status…..and so much more…GRAB a headline and run with it. Let me tell you WHY this is so overblown!

Here are a few travel bloggers / vloggers who spell it out clearly –

http://Morgan’s Unofficial Travel Guide – Morgan O’Brien spells out in this video the differences between cruising and visiting Florida theme parks. Morgan and his family spent 21 days in Florida visiting multiple theme parks and returned home (to Germany), and a week later popped positive for C-19, despite being TRIPLE VAXED. Be aware…NOBODY was checking vaccine status at the entrance to ANY amusement park in Florida or asking for your negative test results.

In order to cruise out of the USA, you must be “fully vaxed”, and present a negative test taken within 2 days of boarding the cruise ship. My recent travel (Oct-Nov 2021) on the Grand Princess required me to present my test results and vaccine card prior to boarding, and then I was tested 3 more times while on board.

The cruise ship I was on this past fall had a capacity of 25% !! Most ships are sailing way below capacity. As cruising restarted, the capacity has gradually increased, but let me tell you…it was like sailing on a private yacht! Yet, the CDC talks about the crowding…..

Princess Theater
Princess Theater – nearly empty on the Grand Princess on Oct 18, 2021

The theater never “filled up” so social distancing was NEVER a problem! Every entertainment venue on that ship was like this. EVEN the casino and sail away and deck parties.

Sail away party
Sail away on the Grand Princess Oct 23 2021. NO Crowds here….lots of spacing in outdoor areas
sail away show
Watching from an upper deck, I felt sad that there were so few onboard to enjoy the entertainment

My sister and I went to BINGO which is a popular activity on a sea day, and take a look at the “crowd”….

Vista Lounge for BINGO…..no crowd

So; tell me about “congregate settings” ?? Petri dishes?? Nothing anywhere is as clean as these cruise ships. I have personally observed the rigorous cleaning, the mask wearing of the crew while outdoors, the mask wearing of passengers indoors except when eating and drinking. Elevator limits, hand washing stations at every food service venue, and all the hand sanitizer machines. Take a look at the “health protocols” with Princess Cruise lines – https://www.princess.com/plan/cruise-with-confidence/cruise-health/frequently-asked-questions/us-cruises/ NO WHERE else in America do you find this “level” of health safety protocols. Not in any hotel, airport, amusement park, shopping center, movie theater or sporting venue!

Another Cruise Vlogger – TONY – LA LIDO LOCA – talks about the CDC change to the cruise travel warning. He runs through the numbers and discusses an article from the Cruise Line industry association. The CLIA article states “Vaccination rates onboard a cruise ship are upwards of 95 percent—significantly higher than the overall U.S. population which is hovering at 62 percent” – “

AND …..

  • The latest data show that, even with higher rates of testing, the cruise industry continues to achieve significantly lower rates of occurrence of COVID-19—33 percent lower than onshore.
  • According to the CDC’s color-coding system, a cruise ship may be determined to be “yellow” – and, therefore, subject to CDC observation – if a threshold of 0.10 percent or more passengers (i.e., 7 out of 6,500) have tested positive in the last seven days, or if even just one crewmember tests positive.”

So, yes, the latest variant is highly transmissible, but I submit to you that a cruise ship is far safer than a trip to your local supermarket, movie theater, big box store, restaurant, football game or other sporting events.

Check out Tony / La Lido Loca latest – http://Fighting cruise misinformation

Check out ShipLife and answer the “SAFE” question – https://youtu.be/qfFSSSaoRvs

What do I love about cruising and why do I still plan to go in just a couple of weeks again?

  • I go for the FOOD
  • I go for the Entertainment
  • I go for the destinations
  • I go for the relaxation
  • I go for the fun in the sun
  • I go for the spa
  • I go to meet new friends
  • I go for the wine tasting and the afternoon tea
  • I go for the sunrise and sunsets on the water

and so much more.

Cruise Barista cappuccino
Delightful coffee
Beautiful desserts
Delicious desserts
Morning coffee at sea
Relaxing mornings on the balcony
Breakfast view
Watching the wake
What to do on a sea day
catching some sun rays
Happy Birthday to my sister Anne

Waiters who sing!

Hysterical fun with the crew
Sunrise in Cabo
Sunrise in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Electric bike ride in Cabo
Adventure bike ride in Cabo

And I go for magical moments like this, when Hector, the head waiter, came to our table with his music and really lovely voice!

To quote Tom Pignetti, a doctor, who commented on the LaLidoLoca VLOG post linked above – “I do believe that the CDC is singularly focused on reducing cases and that they are NOT concerned with balancing out other concerns. Considering that, they exert their influence/control where they can. Since cruise lines share information regarding # of cases, that makes them easy targets. People are catching covid in their homes, grocery stores and other places in the community. I had ONE day this week where I had nearly 10 patients cancel appointments due to the patient or their spouse contracting covid. We continue to go to work and care for our patients. I will continue to cruise and am looking forward to my cruise on the Adventure of the Seas on January 26th. I am much more concerned about catching covid in the community BEFORE the cruise than I am catching it while ON the cruise.

So, in spite of the CDC, I will continue to cruise. My next cruise is January 19th out of Florida. The risky part of the entire trip is crowding into the airplane, where I will wear my KN95 duck bill mask! I have chosen to spend my days “LIVING” instead of “WAITING”. And yes, I’m less concerned about catching covid on a cruise ship than I am in my community.

Secret projects have been gifted

December is the month where I sew for gifts that can’t be shown on the blog until they have been gifted.

I’ve been sewing this month….a lot! I’ll share a few pictures now that the gifts have been opened.

A pair of table toppers, made using Moda Christmas fabric on the front and a heavier cotton twill fabric on the back. It gives the topper a little more weight, plus it makes it reversible for “after Christmas” if the recipient chooses. The pattern came from Carole Carter on her blog “From My Carolina Home“. She has several free patterns and this is the Hexagon Table topper.

Christmas table topper
Hexagon shaped table topper

I varied a bit from the pattern with the strip widths and chose not to do the really narrow strip. They were quilted in the ditch except that last round was done with two rows of wavy line stitching.

Aprons – One for the son-in-law, one for my daughter, and one for the granddaughter –

Dad sized apron for son in law
Dad apron
Vintage apron style on the dress form
Vintage style apron
Kid sized apron
child apron

After the aprons came the pajama pants making. This year each grandchild got TWO pairs of pajama pants. I ordered coordinating long sleeve tshirts to go with the pajama pants. The paw print pair is fleece, the rest are cotton flannel. Some of the flannel prints GLOW in the dark.

My grandson seemed to really like the pajama pants from last year, and he was one of the first to put on those “gaming fabric” pajamas on Christmas. I prewashed and preshrank all the fabrics for the pajamas and the aprons. I washed with color catchers and one of those dark colors had a lot of “excessive” dye, so I gave both mom’s a few color catchers, and ordered them each a box on Amazon for “future washing”. It’s so hard to say which color ran because I prewashed together, but this is what the color catchers looked like after fabric was washed.

prewashing dark fabrics
Color catchers did the job

I was apprehensive about sewing with the fleece, but it was actually easier! No seams to worry about overcasting and raveling in the wash. I use a stitch on my Janome 8900 that is like an overcasting stitch –

Overcast stitch for my flannel projects
overcast stitch

It seems to give a nice finish to the inside of the pajamas.

Overcast stitching
overcast stitch

I had a lot of fun shopping “pre-black Friday” with my friend Nancy. We hit a 60% off on flannel & fleece at JoAnn Fabrics and were able to find things to suit each kid, ages 5 – 9 – 11- 13. The apron fabric for the son-in law (Star wars) and one daughter (Harry Potter) were perfect. They really seemed to like it. The vintage style apron for my daughter was a royal pain in the neck, calling for 1/4″ wide double fold bias binding tape. I used the 1/4″ on the pockets and around the bottom of the skirt, but had to get 1/2″ for the front of the apron and straps. Oh, by the way….the brand at Hobby Lobby is only 3 yards in the pack, and the Wright’s brand at JoAnn’s is 4 yards…..just an FYI. My friend Nancy listened to me moan as I was making that vintage style apron…and suggested I shred the pattern!!!! I zipped right through the rest of the projects, but I have to say, I am very glad I did that vintage apron first, or it might still be on the cutting table. I pressed myself to finish, so I could get on with the rest of the Christmas sewing.

Now that the gifts are given, I need to get back in my sewing room and clean up the cutting table. I have the oddest amounts of left over fleece and flannel and will be looking for clever ways to use the bits up. Any helpful suggestions appreciated!

Hopefully your Christmas projects were received with smiles too.

Travel Adventures in San Diego California while Cruising

During my 18 day cruise on board the Grand Princess recently, we went to San Diego twice. I tried to book an excursion to the San Diego Zoo through the cruise line, but it was not available. My tour desk consultant recommended the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located Escondido, California. The best description comes from their website – “The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. The Safari Park, an 1,800-acre wildlife park, is home to more than 3,600 animals representing over 300 species. More than 1 million guests visit each year, and see wildlife in herds of mixed species, in expansive savanna habitats. The Safari Park also maintains a vast accredited botanical collection of more than 1.3 million plant specimens, representing over 3,700 species. Guests are invited to take part in thrilling safari experiences and create lasting memories, while supporting San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation efforts to save wildlife worldwide.

I am pretty certain I covered all 1800 acres. There was a tram tour included with the ticket price, and I took that, but I still walked over 18000 steps according to my Fitbit tracker. Not very far thru the gate of the park, I started seeing the birds.

San Diego Zoo Safari

My photo’s don’t do it justice, because, honestly, I forgot to take photos most of the time. I was just enjoying the activity and the animals.

Flamingos and ducks

Since I was there with my simple “cell phone camera” a lot of shots at a distance were just not easy to get. Zooming in with the phone pixelates the image, and so I took a few, but mostly, just enjoyed the experience.

Gorilla lunch time

What I quickly noticed is things were very spread out in this wildlife park. The other thing was how much work had gone into the horticulture of the park. It was really like an arboretum. The area in California is very dry and arid, so seeing all this plant life carefully set let me know right away how much care was taken to give you a good experience, as well as the animals a good environment. This beautiful walkway led up to the area where the gorillas were housed. Not quite a jungle, but definitely not California desert.

Gorilla walk

This one little area of succulent plantings shows how much care went into the area the guests were visiting.

succulent plantings
Enjoying the greenery

The views of the mountains in the background show a stark contrast in vegetation.

Habitats at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

savanna habitat San Diego Safari Zoo

The Savanna habitat was huge, and to access it, you could take the included tram ride, around the perimeter, or pay extra for a variety of “safari” options. Those options looked very cool, but the price was pretty steep. You certainly got in closer to the animals with those options.

We could see a large variety of animals from zebras to giraffes from our vantage point in the tram. There were elephants and hippos wandering about. The big cats were in another area, separated from the animals they prey on.

Giraffe at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

It was so cool to see the numbers of animals and to see they had a lot of space in their habitat.

Big open spaces for the animals

One thing that was most interesting to me was the California Condors breeding and nesting facility at the top of a hill. If you click on the link above, you can watch the “Condors Cam” during daylight hours. The California Condor was on the brink of extinction in 1987. “The California Condor has been to the brink of extinction—and back. By 1987, habitat degradation, poisoning, and shooting had nearly eliminated the California Condor in the wild. The 22 individuals remaining were captured for captive breeding programs, which are credited with the species’ survival. California Condors are now being reintroduced into the wild each year.” source – https://abcbirds.org/bird/california-condor/ That said, it was a serious hike up the hill to the area where we could view them from a platform. It was well worth the hike to me.

If you ever find your self in Southern California, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a nice destination for the day.

On our second visit to San Diego, I took a wine tasting tour out into Temecula California. Our first stop was the Wilson Creek Winery where we had a lovely lunch before our wine tastings. One of the most interesting things we tasted was a sparkling wine with an almond flavor. It was a lovely refreshing wine. It’s the one bottle I didn’t get a photo of. Our wine guide told us that particular product helped them to meet their 5 year business goal in 3 years, and is a resounding success. The Wilson Creek Winery is a rather newcomer to the wine makers in Temecula, and a lovely place to visit. I thought a “slide show” might let you peak at some of what we tasted and the views we enjoyed. The white Cabernet Sauvignon is very refreshing and not something I had ever tried.

In one area of the tour at Wilson Creek, we were able to see the “artists work” with wine corks. These might motivate you if you have a collection of corks!

Our next visit was to a Mount Palomar Winery, one of the oldest in the region. We had to choose from the menu for our “tastings” with little fanfare and no tour. The only info on the wine we received was from what we were able to gather from the menu. We were given tickets for our tastings, and could enjoy 5 different types. While the wine was nice, the ambiance in the tasting room was a little less than I expected. Walking around the grounds you could see there had been some effort in making outdoor tasting areas, which would have been a lot nicer. Looking further out at the hills, there was a lot of “replanting” and a lot of barren hillsides happening.

The area around Temecula is filled with wineries, and each has their own “special flavor” or style. Our tour guide pointed out a tour happening as we were driving out, and it was a “motorcycle with a double side car”. The rider takes his 2 passengers out for tastings at a variety of wineries and ensures they return safely to their hotel. So, lots of touring opportunities from every comfort level.

Both times we were in San Diego we left late in the evening. The city has a spectacular skyline, and it’s one of those places where you can sit to enjoy the view from the ship too.

San Diego skyline from the ship

There is plenty to do within the city and around the harbor, if you happen to find yourself in San Diego for a day. We’ve been there in the past and done some touring around the harbor, so I enjoyed these visits that took me out of town to something a bit different.

Note….yes, there was adventure in the wine drinking, the food eating and the day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! Big thumbs up to the tour desk on the Grand Princess for suggesting the Safari park and a big thumbs up to the folks who made you feel so at home at the Wilson Creek Winery.

Have you been out having any adventures lately?? Do tell!!

Travel Adventures in Ensenada while cruising

Last post I shared my adventures in Cabo San Lucas. This post is all about Ensenada Mexico. Backstory – I was on a series of 4 and 5 day cruises out of San Pedro California, the port for Los Angeles. The first and third cruise were 5 day round trip going to Cabo San Lucas Mexica, and the second and fourth were 4 day trips going to San Diego and Ensenada. Typically, I never get off the ship in Ensenada, but this trip, I had to use up a bunch of onboard credits.

On my first visit to Ensenada, I booked a tour that involved wine and cheese. This tour came recommended as a replacement for one that had been booked in another port, but cancelled. (More about that when I write about San Diego!).

The description given by the cruise line is as follows (https://www.princess.com/cruise-search/details?voyageCode=R134 )

WHAT YOU VISIT – Baja-Med Cuisine Experience
Your guided tour through the Guadalupe Valley area includes indulging on delicious locally made cheeses, wonderful wine tastings hosted by friendly wine connoisseurs, and lunch at an award-winning Baja-Med restaurant.
Stops on this tour were hand-selected by Bill Esparza, a James Beard award-winner and leading expert on Latin American cuisine.

Each winery will offer wine at a special ‘cava’ price.

As you make your way through Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll find beautiful scenery among majestic mountains and sierras where vineyards blossom during spring and hold their harvest in the fall.

The description did not do the excursion justice! We left the port on a small tour bus, with only a few adventurous individuals and drove through the city and along the coast line, before turning off into the mountains and into the Valle de Guadalupe. As you came over the mountain pass and looked out to the valley, you could see how fertile the area was, full of vineyards and other farming.

Our first stop in the Guadalupe Valley was in the town of Villa de Juarez, at a cheese shop. Sadly, this was our only view, as it turned out to be closed for an emergency.

Cheese shop stop

We were supposed to have made purchases here, snacks for the day, and maybe something to take home. Olives and cheese were the feature we were promised. The tour guides were horrified to find out it was closed, and loaded us all back on the bus to the 2nd stop.

Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio

This stop was our second, and it was lovely! “Bodegas de Santo Tomas has a rich, fascinating history. As the very first winery in Baja California, Santo Tomas was originally founded in 1888 by native Italian Francisco Adonegui and Spaniard Miguel Olmart. ” (https://www.bajaunitedwines.com/santo-tomas/ )

The views around this winery on a hilltop were astounding, and totally unexpected on my first real “off ship” adventure in Ensenada. Enjoy the photos. This first one made me laugh…when you read the label on the glass!

The view thru the wine glass
Who knew….Applebee’s wine glass in Ensenada!
Looking out over the valley

The views just got better and better, and there were so many places to sit and take them all in.

Wonderful areas for wine tasting outdoors

Just after 11 am, we were tasting wine, enjoying the lovely 80 degree temperature, and I was pleased I had packed a little sunscreen!

Enjoying the view and the weather

This jewel of a winery was something to really sit back and enjoy! I’m sure I don’t remember what I tasted, but the companionship of the others on the tour was great, and it was all delicious. There were SO many wonderful places to enjoy the view.

Large tables with a view of the tasting room and the valley
Highly recommend Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio in Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada Mexico

Our next stop took us to Casa Magoni Valle De Guadalupe for another round of wine tasting. Our first pour was at the tasting bar, and I paid better attention to what we were being served. The young server was quite knowledgeable. https://casamagoni.com/en/

This is a small, family run winery that has been in business since the late 1990’s. They certainly have an appealing product and lovely presentation.

Casa magoni Valle De Guadalupe
Delightful white wine

We carried our wine glasses with us to the seating area, under this wonderful oak tree. It was a lovely place, in nature, to sit in the shade and enjoy the offerings.

Our seating area under the oak tree

Our small little group filled a table, and enjoyed the dappled sunlight as the wine was served.

Sitting under the oak tree

Our second pour was equally nice, and I made a point to capture a photo of the wine label. Maybe I will find it at home someday.

our second pour

Because we missed our cheese shop stop, our wonderful tour guides made arrangements at this vineyard for something lovely to nibble while we enjoyed our wine. Just take a look at the delights we were able to enjoy with our wine. (Note….this was all before lunchtime!!)

Delightful snacks
Delightful cheeseboard

It was just what we needed and everyone felt refreshed with a bit of bread and cheese and olives

Our next our of Magoni wine was a Sangiovese Cabernet wine. It was spectacular!

Magoni Sangiovese cabernet wine

Just look at that color. The flavor was lovely.

Sangiovese Cabernet wine
beautiful ruby

Our final stop on this tour was for a wine pairing with lunch at Finca Altozano http://fincaltozano.com/

OH MY GOSH….what an amazing experience !!! The “Med/Mex” blend of food was beyond description, along with the setting and views. Go look at the link and then come back! If you are ever in BAJA California….make a reservation and go spend the afternoon, eating lunch, drinking wine, and enjoying the views. This was the best time ever!!!

Finca Altozano

My photo’s don’t do the food and the flavors justice. Take a look and let me know if your mouth is watering, and take a look at the faces of my table companions. Everything from grilled octopus cooked in soy sauce, citrus, ginger cilantro and roasted peanuts to a lovely “panzanela” salads and garden risotto, and roasted lamb. The menu at the link below shows the wonderful food options and descriptions. It might might give you an idea of the abundance of local flavors. Those gardens in the photos account for the freshness of the food. My friends at the table were stabbing the last bites of octopus and Portobello mushrooms, to not leave a bite behind. Honestly, if you asked, I would tell you I don’t eat lamb. This was the loveliest lamb I never ordered and so delicious. – https://stitchinggrandma.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/86ddb-eng-27ago21.pdf

The views of the gardens were stunning and the variety of seating for dining was amazing. (So were the tortillas, and bread, made by hand right on site.)

How do you top this kind of adventure…..well….you have to return to Ensenada. And, I will NEVER “not get off the ship” when I do. Years past I would only get off and shop right in the stores in the port, but they all closed due to COVID and have not been reopened.

When I returned the following week, I really had a hard choice to make….food/wine or action/adventure!!

I chose the “action / adventure”…but got surprised by a little wine at the end! I signed up for an excursion that was an ATV ride in/around the wine country of the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada. Sadly, the tour cancelled because NOT enough adventurous people signed up. When I went to the tour desk, my favorite tour employee explained I was the “only” brave soul on the ship! Imagine that! He made a recommendation to me to try the “Baja Off Road Buggy Adventure” and I took his advice.

When we boarded the bus, there were just 7 of us on that adventure. On our way, the tour guide showed us the official “downtown” area of Ensenada, complete with red sidewalks! This was to help the “tourists” find their way around town I guess. We road the small bus again up to the Guadalupe Valley and beyond to a small village, called Santa Rosa, off of dirt roads. Once we turned off the main roads, it was a bumpy ride into the village.

We were given bandanas to wear over our nose and mouth, goggles and helmets, and directions on how to operate the dune buggy. Because I was taking this adventure on my own, I was the sole occupant in the buggy, doing the driving. I took my place as “last in line” because I wasn’t sure quite how fast I wanted to drive. There were lots of warnings about possible roll overs, so I erred on the side of caution. We were instructed to “follow the buggy ahead” and slow down if we can’t see thru the dust. As Baja is rather dry, there was a LOT of dust. There was an ATV following our group, and I am sure I spoiled his “fast ride” because I did “slow down” in the dust so I could see where the road was going and where the rocks and ruts in the dirt trail were!

My dune buggy for the ride

We did a little hill climbing as the blue line on the map shows. At the 1/2 way stop we had a chance to look back at the hills and trail we had just ridden while we stretched our legs and drank a little water. The shade was appreciated! We had great laughs, looking at each other and how covered in dust we all were!!! My charcoal grey sweater was going to need a good wash!

We had to slow down as a group a couple of times to allow for the roaming cattle in one of the villages we went through. Most of our ride was in an area that was unpopulated.

Just a little dusty

We were so dusty at the end of the ride that the guide got out the electric leaf blower, and had us all line up to get blown off! Just brought home a little of the Baja with me. After the ride, and the “clean up” we did a little “wine tasting” to wash the dust off! (Of course, we drank a ton of water before that….). There was a little “snack window” where we could purchase food, and I chose a bag of chips to go with my dust and wine! They looked and tasted like Lay’s Potato chips, but had a different name. I didn’t mind at all.

The guides poured the wine and encouraged us to enjoy as much as we like, as he had no other groups coming that day.

This couple offering the tour / wine tasting are brother and sister, and they were such a delight. So, we all enjoyed the wines, each of us had a favorite. I liked the Chardonnay the best, and even the “non-wine” people said they were very nice.

When we went back to the ship the first thing I did was put those dusty clothes in a plastic packing bag for laundry at home! Even my shoes were coated in brown dust. The tour guide had said, you don’t look like Gringo’s any more!! We all had that nice “brown” look of the locals, but it was just dust!

My sister took a small shuttle bus trip from the port into downtown for shopping, and there were only a few people on the bus for the short trip. If you are physically able, walking to the downtown for shopping is about a 15-20 minute walk. She was fortunate and had a guide take her to all the places she asked to see, including a restaurant for a delicious lunch. She could not have walked the distance so the bus ride was a great option. She said the food was great and all the shops were happy to have her browse.

I know that when I go to Ensenada next time that I will be “off the ship” for some adventure and food, and I would encourage anyone traveling there to take a look at the Guadalupe Valley wineries, restaurants and other activities. Heck, next time I might just go downtown to eat fish tacos!

Where ever you go, what ever you do, choose to have an adventure!! More in another post about my fun at our San Diego port of call!

Travel adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Last post I talked about the adventure in travel while flying and new requirements for cruising. This post is about the fun adventures I had in one port of call, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I sailed on the Grand Princess, beginning October 18, for a total of 18 days , 4 cruises. We went from San Pedro California to Cabo San Lucas on a 5 day cruise, round trip, then from San Pedro to San Diego California and Ensenada Mexico round trip for a 4 day cruise. We repeated each of those cruises a second time. This gave me an opportunity to try a variety of activities at each port of call.

On arrival in Cabo San Lucas Mexico for the first journey, I signed up for an excursion that was definitely a new adventure for me.

Booking through the cruise line, I boarded a bus that took me up the coast to a ranch, called Tierra Sagrada – Cabo Adventures, Todos los Santos, Playa Cerritos Sur Pecadero, Mexico. My adventure for the day was a CAMEL RIDE! Yes, a real camel!!

Camel ride Tierra Sagrado

Our camels were “tethered” together and we had someone walking along to make sure they behaved . Our ride was about 20 minutes long from start to finish, and there were lots of photo’s being taken by the resident photographer. I guess I was unprepared for purchasing the whole collection of photos, so I came away with just this one copy, but a lot of fun memories. I can officially say I was “kissed” by a camel, had an experience that I would encourage everyone to do! The excursion included a ride on the sandy beach and through the desert.

At the end, we learned a lot about the animals, and then took a nature walk thru the desert gardens to the restaurant, where we were served at a buffet some typical Mexican food. I really enjoyed everything I ate, and I also enjoyed the tequila tasting after the meal.

Meal at Tierra Sagrada Cabo adventures
Chicken Mole, pinto beans, caprese salad, green bean salad, broccoli, potatoes and a quesadilla

Chicken Mole is an interesting flavor, with a hint of chocolate. Some make mole with chocolate, and other recipes do not. This one was fairly rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy. I had not had Chicken Mole since I was in the 7th grade at a friend’s birthday party. All in all the food was delicious!

The tour company, Cabo Adventures did a great job with their facility out in the desert. Check out the offerings – https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/outback-and-camel-safari

My second visit to Cabo San Lucas was also just as much fun, but a lot more activity. The excursion was also with Cabo Adventures, and I went prepared to “buy the photo pack” ! This time I was booked on an Electric Biking Beach Tour. (https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/electric-bike-adventure)

We road out across the desert first and then back along the beach. These fat tire bikes could really get through the sand, especially with the electric motor the bike had. It was almost like riding a mini-bike. Out of our group, 2 ladies dropped out of the ride, as they didn’t feel confident or in control. I am overly cautious, and kept my speed down, so I didn’t spin out or spill. I got to see some video from one of the cruise ship employees on the ride when he spun out and crashed !. I think he was showing off for one of the dancers from the ship. I was without a doubt the only “senior citizen grandma” taking this ride, but I had a great time. This was much more “active” than the camel ride. They loaded us up with safety gear and we road for about 2 hours. It was definitely and adventure. It did take some “getting used to” riding these power assisted bikes. Other than starting off, you really didn’t have to pedal much, but as a person who rides bikes, it just came naturally for me to pedal. The bike had a throttle and a speed controller, and you could get going pretty fast. Laughing was part of the activity for sure.

This excursion included lunch and margaritas! While the meal may look the same, I made different choices, including ribs and a green salad.

Another wonderful lunch Tierra Sagrada Cabo Adventures

Our tour guide was making the margaritas, and liberally pouring them for us! It was a great way to relax after the exhilaration of the bike ride.

No visit to Cabo San Lucas can be without a view of the ARCH !!

The Arch in Cabo

Returning to the ship, I enjoyed some relaxing in the hot tub after the bike ride! Our ship stayed in Cabo overnight, and during the evening many people were out on shore, having dinner and enjoying the town. I pretty much had the pool area to myself!

relaxing on board

Early the next morning I got to see a wonderful sunrise from our balcony.

Dawn in Cabo

Little did I know there was a fishing tournament starting just past sunrise — promoted as “World’s Richest Tournament, the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament“, hundreds of boats were milling around near the cruise ship and the rocks.

boat fishing challenge

At one point, the boats all took off in various directions, as fast as they could go!

Heading out to fish

It’s a high-profile yearly event where competitors put down astronomical entry fees to lure a marlin big enough to take the jackpot.

Since our ship stayed anchored overnight, I was able to enjoy the view of the rocks, while eating my breakfast….million dollar view !

Breakfast in Cabo

My sister and I found a great spot on the back of the ship to hang out and visit for the morning and still have a view of “the rocks”.

Anne and Mary in Cabo

All said and done, our visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, both times was a resounding success.

Check back later this week for some of the action from San Diego and Ensenada.

Travel challenges

Let me start by saying that I love to travel, and am usually fairly flexible with changes. I’m not such an old grandma that a few changes or hurdles will spoil my trip. Right now, you HAVE to be patient, and know that changes is the word and flexibility is key.

Do you remember those rubber toys, Gumby and his horse…..well, I feel like you must be as flexible as that toy to travel during this time.

I started this trip back on Oct 17, flying out of a small airport in Maryland to a much larger airport for a connecting flight. My morning began at 430 am, eastern time. I knew I was in for a long layover. I paced myself for that layover.

I knew that from the moment I went into airport I would be wearing a mask, until the end of my travel day. I felt safest wearing an N95 mask on the plane and around other people in crowds. BOY was that a great decision. I ordered my masks on Amazon and actually found some made in the USA . The face of the mask looks like a duck bill and my hubby said I look like Donald Duck. Tempted to use a pen and paint on some eyes!

My layover lasted until early evening when I boarded the next flight. I was heading to Los Angeles and it was about a 5 hour flight. All was great until I realized we were sitting on the taxi way for a long time. We ended up returning to the gate, waiting for a maintenance repair, then waiting again for a new flight crew. During this time, we were stuck in our seats, for more than two hours. I was glad I had downloaded the app on my phone for the airport shuttle service I was using. I was able to rebook my pick up at LAX ….twice. I was using a company called Primetime, and it was very easy to reschedue. It was nearly midnight, California time before I got to the shuttle. And it was close to 1 AM before I got settled into my hotel room at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. I do recommend both Primetime Shuttle from LAX and the Crowne Plaza if you are sailing out of San Pedro. I had a safe ride to the hotel and a good nights sleep and lovely breakfast at the hotel. I felt refreshed and ready to board the Grand Princess on October 18.

Many people will say that the restart of cruising is not without it’s struggles. Getting ready to sail involved using the new “Medallion App” and also getting a COVID test 48 hours prior to sailing. I ordered my test online using the link on the Princess Cruise Line website about 6 weeks before our cruise. It came quickly and I was ready to do the test the day before I flew. The challenge with the at home test was using a “device” that was flexible in terms of the camera and angles to avoid glare etc. Thankfully I had just ordered a small tablet and my husband was helpful holding it to get the best angle of my drivers license, the Abbott test card, and me, all in the same view. TRICKY!!! He was suggesting that next time we use a plug in camera that is easier to move around. The online Abbott test, using EMED went well….except when we lost internet signal in the middle of the test. Once it restored, everything worked well and in a few minutes I had the official letter that said my test was negative. I knew it would be, as I had a test that was done at a health center earlier in the week, and have been “isolating” for about 2 weeks prior. I didn’t want to risk exposure so close to the cruise. If you follow the cruise industry, you are aware that the rules put forth by the CDC have been changing weekly and you really have to be vigilant in staying up to date. Again, this is the challenge of travel and such a challenge for the restart of cruising. I love cruising enough to “act like GUMBY” and “be flexible”. (My husband said it is NOT worth the headaches)

We joined the Grand Princess on October 18, sailing for a total of 4 cruises, ending on November 5. That created a set of challenges as well, as some where along the line, our trips were not “linked” in the Princess personalizer on the website, or on the new “Medallion Class app”.

My sister and I arrived at the terminal independent of each other I was there and upon trying to check in for embarkation, my Medallion would not work.. Three supervisors later, they figured out the problem, and pomised it was going to be fixed by the time we got to the gangway. That added 45 minutes to the embarkation process, and a fair amount of stress. By the time my sister arrived we had it fairly sorted out and were able to board quickly.

Let’s talk about the Medallion App….and the devices and the little Medallion itself. I’ve used the Medallion before, on the Regal and the Crown, in 2018 and 2019. It worked reasonably on those ships. On this series of cruises it has been a giant failure. Thank goodness for people like Carrina and Elizabeth on this ship for trying to fix the “tech” failures of this program. Between my sister and myself, we have spent an hour, every day of the cruise dealing with some problem the medallion magically has. Think the new CEO of Princess, who developed this technology needs to have a look at the “error logs ” associated with our cruises! The nice lady at the customer service counter, Elizabeth, has made us her special project until we disembark. So far, she has sent a nice bottle of bubbly to our cabin, and gifted us EACH with a spa day, where we had massages! She has even come up to visit us in the cabin to help resolve issues, as it is challenging for my sister to walk a lot and stand at her counter for long periods of time.

The Princess Medallion replaces your traditional key card to enter the room. It is also a locater device, so the crew knows at all times where you are on board, and whom you have been in close contact with. You use it when shopping, buying drinks or coffee, and in the casino. You use it when you book tours, arrive in the dining room and so much more. The thing looks like an Apple Air Tag, and fits in those Apple watchbands. The APP is something you download to your cell phone or tablet and you can order (presumably) a drink right to your location from anywhere on the ship. I’ve been able to get that to work once. You also can use the television screen in the cabin to order snacks or drinks for delivery to the cabin. And if you are inclined, you can play games on the app, and gamble in your lounger by the pool or play bingo on your phone. So many things have been added to the app that in my humble opinion, it is well overloaded and just a total waste. My husband calls it programming BLOAT. Ours have stopped working, multiple times and led to much annoyance WHLE on the ship. PRE-Cruise, the app was a royal pain and equally frustrating, as information would just randomly disappear. Keep your fingers crossed that for the next six days we can keep it all working .

Speaking of working, I know that the crew members on board the Grand Princess are very happy to be back on board, and we are taking extra care to thank them for the lovely service they provide. When asked, each will tell you the story of how things were in their home countries, how the vacinne distribution is going etc. Many crew members we encountered in the last 2 weeks have been with Princess for more than 10 years, and these jobs provide for their families around the world, and are superior in pay to what they could earn at home. The level of service is amazing on Princess, and I highly recommend the cruise line if you are looking for a pleasant sailing experience. I’m certain that they will work out the bugs with the Medallion and the App in the near future.

Next post will be after I am home, when I can edit my photos and include them. I’ve had some great excursions, and can’t wait to share them with you.


Another small project done

I decided to replace a very worn out small handbag that I have been using daily for at least 3 years. The bag is tattered on the corners, and has gone through the washer and dryer many times. I bought it for travel use at the local Eddie Bauer Outlet, on a whim, for less than $10. I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of it for certain.

With a trip coming up this weekend, I decided I could “MAKE” a new bag, but make it slightly LONGER than the original bag. One thing about the original I love was the outside pocket on the back that my big fat cell phone could slide into. I loved the 3 zipper pockets, but I know my sewing talents don’t go that far, and I am thrilled I got one zipper in, and made it work.

I’ve made quite a few things like this, only smaller, in the embroidery hoop. I’m limited on the length though, so I took the skills I learned from machine embroidery and came up with this bag.

New bag
front of the bag

I finally used one of those lace zippers I had on hand. (More than a year ago, my friend Nancy & I split an Amazon order). The zipper goes across the top. I made the bag substantially longer so my bigger wallet would fit in. I bought the wallet, handmade, from one of the ladies at the Assisted living facility where I used to volunteer and I just love it. I was always jamming it in the old bag.

Again, while making this project, I dug into the “leftover half square triangles” that I have sitting in a basket.

I decided that the pocket on the back of this bag could be divided, and my phone will fit on either side, and still have room for a pen or a mask or my ear buds.

pockets on the back

I ended up using the same woven strap from the old bag, as it is in pretty good shape. I can always make a fabric strap later if I choose. With so much white on the bag, I imagine it will be in the washer on a regular basis. The rings are “key ring overlap” style, so taking off the strap and replacing it should be easy.

When I was working on this, I was thinking “proto-type” for a bag done using some wonderful vinyl that I have. It looks and feels like suede, but I wanted to be sure I had worked out the process…when to attach the zipper, where to leave the opening for turning, how to attach the bits for the handle, how I wanted the pocket to work etc.

Overall, without a pattern I am quite pleased with the outcome.

I used Pellon 973 Fusible fleece on the back side of the main fabric, nothing on the back of the lining.

fusible fleece for the bag

Turning the bag thru the opening on the side of the lining was fairly easy, as the Pellon fleece is very soft and easy to work with. There are no “raw edges” on the bag to be bothersome. I quilted thru the outside bag fabric using one of the special stitches on my Janome 8900, and I think that helps give it some character too. It will certainly keep the fleece from shifting when it gets washed. (All the white means it will need washing on a regular basis!!)

close up of the quilting
Close up of the stitching

I still want to make another bag using the wonderful vinyl product, and have to “think through” the process of adding all those extra zipper pockets etc. But for now, my new purse kind of matches my sister’s bag I made yesterday.

The picture below is my old bag on top of the new one, and you can see how much bigger I made it.

Replacing the old bag

So, there you have it, a one day project! (Really just an afternoon of creating and having fun!)

What are you working on this week?? Any suggestions for adding multiple zippers in outside pockets?? I’m sure I can figure it out, but will spend my evening hunting through videos on you-tube looking at suggestions!

Another finish!!

I spent my afternoon on Sunday finishing up the bag for my sister. Yesterday’s post was about using the scraps. I have to report that this one used scraps in the finish too.

Where yesterday’s post left off, the outer part of the bag was quilted. Adding the boxed corners, using a 2″ square felt right. It makes the bag “wider” and will accommodate more than just her tablet. Not knowing the size of her device, I went for bigger.

2" box corner
Before the lining goes in.

I made nice wide handles and used the same Bosal In-R-Form in them.

Handles attached
handles attached

I like using the Bosal In-R-Form for bags as they have good shape.

I decided to put two pockets inside with the lining, one of which is divided. It is big enough to hold my cell phone and the other pockets might be useful for cords, power devices etc. I also added magnetic closure at the top as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Inside pockets Anne's bag
Pockets are so important

The bag came together fairly easily, and I wish now that I had made MY bag in this fashion!!

Finished bag

It turns out to be a very room bag. I put my tablet down inside and there is plenty of room to toss in a paperback book or a deck of cards, along with your wallet and other necessities. If she decides it is “too big” for her tablet, then she can use it as a tote bag or a big purse.

Plenty of room
Plenty of room for chargers and your wallet and other girly stuff.

This was fun to make for my sister and I told her if she doesn’t find it useful, then to pass it on to someone else!

The only yardage use in this project was 1/2 yard from my stash for the handles and the lining. Everything else was from the scrap storage. (The pocket fabric was leftover from my bag lining from yesterday!)

Do you enjoy sewing bags?? I learn something every time I make them. Yesterday’s lessons were to slow down and think the plan through. It was a good lesson for today, as it all came together nicely.

Using up some scraps

Last week I posted about my class project, the To the Nines pattern, where I had a “fat seam allowance”. Those discarded blocks have been turned into something useful! I decided to use them as the basis for my new “tablet sleeve” for my upcoming cruise. Hubby thinks the cover / added keyboard give it protection, but I wanted to make a cover / sleeve for the device.

Since I only had 4 orphan/discarded blocks, I knew I would have to make a few more. The tablet is about 8 x 12 and I was using 2.5″ squares. I ended up with 8 squares x 5 squares for the front of the bag, and the same for the back. I quilted it using Bosal In-R-Form for the batting.

Here is the result –

leftover 9 patches

I used a light fabric for the lining.

Snug fit

It is a fairly snug fit with my tablet. It isn’t going to fall out. There is some extra space along the top. Originally I was going to roll the top edge down to make a cuff, but then I decided the cord needed to go in too.

My husband suggested I add a velcro closure and handles, which I did AFTER the sleeve was made. Now, I guess it is a bag not a sleeve!

Handles added

Boy adding the velcro and handles after the bag / sleeve was already made was a pain in the neck!! Lesson to self….think the project all the way through before rushing through the creative process. I probably should have unstitched the top edge of the bag where the lining joins the outside and opened up the side seam….but that would have been too easy. Instead I fought with the narrow opening and my open arm on the sewing machine. I got it done…but I should have thought that through better.

Anyway, I think the colors of the bag go nicely with my lavender tablet.

new tablet
Lavender Tablet with keyboard

I showed my sister the bag I was making and it reminded her of the bag I made for her Kindle years ago. She gave the kindle away to one of the grandkids but still has the little bag. She has a tablet she will be bringing on our trip in a week, and I asked her if it had a sleeve or a bag. It does not, so I offered to make her one. When she sent me a photo of it, it looks like it is the same one I have and similar size. She asked for it to open on the long side like the Kindle bag. She also liked the short handles.

I went to work on her bag, last night after dinner, and pulled some left over half square triangles, and this is what the front panel of the bag will look like.

starting another sleeve

Those half square triangles were the abundance from Addison’s Quilt I made 5 years ago ! (I could have made two quilts with all those leftover blocks!)

I decided to “start bigger” with this bag, box the corners, and add a pocket inside for the charging cables and other “stuff” she might want to carry with it. Her device has the same detachable keyboard, but without having exact measurements, I am erring on the side of caution for size. My bag/sleeve could have been a bit bigger in hindsight.

I started by making two panels for the front and back of the project then stitched them together at what will be the bottom of the bag, then quilted it onto the Bosal In-R-Form. I used the same serpentine stitch with my walking foot for both bags. At the center bottom seam, I did straight stitch in the ditch and 1/4″ on either side of the seam.

my sister's tablet case in progress

When the sides are stitched together it will look something like this —

another tablet case

Of course, there will be handles, and lining and the bottom will be boxed . I think I will add a magnet purse style closure on the bag. It seems that magnetics and electronics aren’t a problem anymore, as the keyboard to my tablet attaches “magnetically”. (My husband loves that connection concept).

I hope to finish this second bag up today. I’ve picked out a print turquoise to go inside for the lining and the handles. She doesn’t want long handles, just something to slip over her arm, not her shoulder.

95% percent scraps used for both bags, just a little additional fabric from the stash for silly things like straps and pockets and lining. Between them both I only used one package of the In-R-Form that I had on hand. Very convenient.

I will take the bag for her tablet with me on my flight to California next Sunday. There simply is not enough time to mail it and ensure she has it before she travels to the port.

Tablet vs phone
Size matters!

I took a picture of my phone next to the tablet to show her how it would be so much easier to see.

Honestly she had forgotten she had it, so yesterday she charged it up and her daughter helped her get some things connected and running. I’m really glad she is bringing her tablet, and my mission is to help her learn to use it, to use her phone as a hot spot, and get all her a favorite websites loaded. She has a serious vision issue due to her stroke last year, and the size of the screen on the phone has been making things challenging for her this year. I hope using it daily on the cruise will reinforce the simplicity of using it when she is at home.

That’s it for today! Are you working with scraps? Have you ever gone full steam ahead like me, only to realize later how you “should have” done something differently?

Linking up to Oh Scrap – Quilting is More fun than housework!

Meeting a fellow blogger

This week I had the pleasure to meet in person a fellow blogger – Carole Carter, who writes the blog called From My Carolina Home. If you have followed me for long you know that I love her projects and often share links to what is happening on Carole’s blog.

Carole agreed to be a speaker at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild in Lewes Delaware and to teach a class. Normally she doesn’t travel this far, but she was able to tie it in with some other activities, so she made the exception.

Her presentation at the guild was delightful, inspiring and interesting. She made lots of sense in her methods for storing scraps, or what she calls “Scrap Dancing”. She really is a dynamic speaker and if your guild is looking for speakers, I would highly recommend Carole. Her personality bubbles, and her projects are so much fun. To help cut down on how much she had to pack, several of us brought projects that we had made using Carole’s patterns. It was fun to see them on the stage along with her projects.

Carole at the guild
During the guild meeting

We had the joy of going out to dinner with Carole and her husband on Monday night, and were joined by fellow blogger Pat and her husband. Pat’s blog is called Sunlight Through My Windows . I hope we didn’t bore the men while we talked blogging and quilting and other hobbies. It was fun getting to know the husbands. Pat & I are moderators for Carole on her facebook group, so we had lots to talk about.

On Tuesday, Carole taught a class for the guild, which I signed up for. It was a joy to be back “in a quilting class” after so long. Carole provided her pattern called “TO THE NINES” to the students, along with a special tool from Studio 180 for marking 1/4″ lines. We used it when we were making those flying geese. We also received several brands of batting samples in very nice booklets that we can refer back to the next time we are shopping or ordering.

We learned lots of techniques in the class, a speedy way to make flying geese, some fast methods for piecing 9 patches called webbing. Of course, only those speedy sewers and those that don’t talk in class get everything done, so I did come home with some unfinished sewing. Truth is, my 1/4 inch seam allowance got fat, and rather than ‘rip’ out seams, I decided to just make a bunch more at home so I could assemble my project. I was using my featherweight and my magnetic seam guide and I were not getting along. I finished up my sewing today. My first block looked pretty darn good!

Stars block
To The Nines pattern 36x36

These blocks went together pretty quickly using Carole’s methods for chain piecing and webbing. The top at this point is 36×36. A small inner border and a bit wider boarder will finish it off nicely. All the fabrics except the background came out of my scrap storage system. I have the sizes this pattern uses already cut and on hand, so once I decided on a focus fabric, I pulled things that I thought would blend prettily. My focus fabric had purple, lavender, and multiple shades of blue and greens.

This was pretty fun to do, and I needed a day where my brain could just focus on sewing and nothing else for a few hours.

Have you had a chance to take a class from a quilter you follow on line? What do you suppose I will do with those “9 patches” that came up just a little “short” ?? I think they are perfect size for pot holders!!!