Travel Stories – part 4 – THE BEST Excursion ever!


PART 4  of my travel stories.  The cruise was from April 14 – 24th, 2018.  Picking up again, still sailing the western coast of Mexico on the Ruby Princess. This was a 10 day voyage with 5 ports, and 5 sea days.  Last port to visit was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

I’ve kind of “been there done that” with excursion on the 13 cruises I have taken on Princess, and on cruises with Celebrity, Oceana, Carnival and Norwegian.  

My first visit to Puerto Vallarta was on the Golden Princess in 2008, and we had multiple cabins and lots of friends and family along. Everyone decided to do different activities when we ported in Puerto Vallarta.  Hubby and I and one friend had a “wild taxi ride” around Puerto Vallarta with a young driver who failed to listen to the info provided at the port by the tour guide.  Took a lot of good humor to get past that adventure and on with a nice time riding horses in the canyon.  Picture below is with my hubby and my friend Chris!

Horseback Riding in Puerto Vallarta 2008

My next visit was in 2012, and we arrived on the Sapphire Princess.  I had booked a Gray Line tour to a tequila factory up in the mountains.  What a nice tour….except the part about getting back to the ship late and running for the gangway.  That put my sister off from doing excursions that were NOT ship trips! I figured she might be right with a track record of 0-2, so opted to “stick with cruise line excursions.

near Puerto Vallarta Mexico

So, last fall, when we did our Panama Canal transit on the Island Princess, we booked a “Viva Tequila” excursion through the ship.All I can say is this was a TERRIBLE excursion, especially with folks who had limited mobility.  (Boy did Princess Cruise Lines hear a lot about that from me!!!)  The excursion was so bad, we bailed out, and took a taxi back to the port, with a brief Wal-Mart stop (the highlight).  (Seriously, the show that they did at the Viva Tequila location was quite good, the rest of the logistics…not so much)

Viva Tequila Experience 20171108_105918

Tequila tasting 20171108_110014

So THIS trip…what to do was a big decision.  Stay on the ship?  No way….I am always ready for an adventure.  I paged through the excursion lists and settled on an activity that included breakfast, lunch, booze, beach, and a sailing ship.    As the title of this post indicates…even 2 months later…it was the BEST excursion ever!  After looking over the details, and talking to the excursion desk, my sister cancelled out on the day, because of her limited mobility.  I however, hung in for the FUN.  Fourth trip to Puerto Vallarta, and I wanted to be “on and in” the water!

Last good look of the Ruby Princess 20180421_083040_0

In the photo above, you can look across the harbor at the Ruby Princess docked opposite where we have always docked in the past.  The area near where I was standing is all under reconstruction.  (The other dock is MUCH closer to the street and easy walk to Walmart…..)

When I first disembarked the ship in Puerto Vallarta, I was met by a travel guide and grouped with about 10-12 other folks.  As soon as the head count was taken, we were assigned our own “personal pirate” for the day!  Our “personal pirate” was named Poison, and he was going to take care of us for the duration of the trip.  Wow, did he ever!  Before we even arrived at the sailing ship, he had organized our choices for breakfast and lunch, posed for photo’s and made sure we had everything we needed.

Ready to board 20180421_082835_0

Marigalante Pirate Ship adventure Puerto Vallarta Mexico
April 21 2018

As we boarded the ship, he assisted each of us on board, directed us to seats, and hurried off to get drinks for all.  When it was time for breakfast, he escorted us “below decks” to the galley for our fantastic food. He served coffee & drinks and sat and chatted with everyone at our tables. We had our choice of a “Mexican Breakfast” or an “Americano Breakfast”. I chose to enjoy the Mexican Breakfast which was wonderful.  (For the record, my sister was right to cancel, because there was considerable climbing of steps and ladders in this ship!)  My personal pirate,  Poison,  was a young guy, 19 or 20 years old, very fluent in English, and covered in ink art, to include his name on his neck!

This excursion was on the Marigalante Pirate Ship, and we were under sail the entire day!

Setting Sail 20180421_083550_0

Entertainment was constant on this vessel, with a great show performed by the crew, to include a mutiny, and cannon shots, and pirates going overboard.

Entertainment 20180421_153058_0

It was all fun and exciting, and the crew got the passengers  into the fun.

Enjoying the action 20180421_092650_0

You had to get up and dance!

Crew entertainment 20180421_152935_0

We transferred over to a smaller craft for transport to the beach and back from this sailing ship.  Once on the beach, drinks were also unlimited.  Getting off the ship onto the smaller craft was not for the faint of heart, as we descended a ladder to a floating dock and stepped into a small boat.  On arrival at the beach, we got ourselves over the side of the boat and into the water.  All this while barefoot, so we had better grip on the steps etc.  We did the reverse returning to the ship.

Banana Boat rides 20180421_120344_0

The cove that we went to was wonderful.  They had games for the kids, a banana boat ride, and even a mermaid hidden in a smaller cove!  I liked that they took the kids in big groups to look for hermit crabs, and eventually to find the mermaid!  

The beach cove Puerto Vallarta 20180421_120400_0

Did I mention unlimited drinks??  Served by pirates of course!  My personal pirate POISON kept my glass full!

Another group on the beach 20180421_120354_0

These “pirates” stayed in character the whole day!

Captain and crew 20180421_125454_0

That lovely mermaid was also the Pirate Wench too!

On the return from the beach, they had everyone on board practicing their best pirate skills –  ARRRGGGH !

Old guys play too 20180421_145708_0

The man in the shorts & red shirt did his best to sing while he had a throat full of tequila!!!  He wasn’t as successful as some of the YOUNGER men, but he was still having a great time!!  There were LOTS of games and fun, music and dancing, and a fantastic lunch as we sailed back into port.  Of course, we did the YMCA……and they had EVERYONE (Yes, me too) up and dancing as we sailed.  (There was an Australian man with his family sitting in front of me, and he had broken his arm in Cabo San Lucas on that excursion I didn’t take…..he didn’t cancel out on this adventure, although he was unable to climb down the ladder and go to the beach, he did seem to be enjoying the dancing and drinks as we sailed.)

Pirate voyage over 20180421_153740_0

I am certain we were all acting like pirates as we came into the port!   AAAARGHHHH………What a FUN day!  

If you EVER get to Puerto Vallarta, for a land vacation or a cruise, plan to take this excursion.  Link to the website & Facebook page at the end of the post!!  Go with a sense of humor and a willingness to act silly and have fun.  (Be ready to eat & drink and dance too!)

After we disembarked and were walking back to the Ruby Princess, I spied something on the rocks!

Can you count five in the photo below? There are large and small iguanas on the rocks.

I spy 5 creatures 20180421_155409

Apparently these little guys like the sunshine and the shade. 

Residents of Puerto Vallarta Port

I love the colors of these creatures.  They had orange on their tails.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico 20180608_113705_0

If you want to see more of  my photo’s from this trip, check out my Flickr album 2018 Cruise Ruby Princess photos

Travel stories, part 5 – The final post- coming soon!  Adventures in Coastal Central California 

Wrap up — in my opinion, this was the BEST excursion ever.  For more details, use the links below.

Pirate Ship Vallarta website

Pirate Ship Vallarta on Facebook

Have you ever been to Puerto Vallarta and taken this excursion??  What is your favorite activity in Puerto Vallarta??

Back to quilting soon…………..I promise!


Travel Stories Part 3 and FLICKR chaos – A visit to Loreto Mexico

WARNING – photo intense….don’t say I didn’t warn you…….

preamble……I know…’s taken me a month to get to this point.  Honestly, when I travel, it takes almost twice as long when I get home to feel “caught up”.  My excuse is….I was having trouble tagging my photo’s with my name.  I usually upload my photo’s, automatically,  to FLICKR when I take them, and when I get home from a trip, I annotate my name, and sort them into folders, caption etc. Only then do I sit down and write a blog post!  Well, some folks who use FLICKR (formerly a product of Yahoo) may be aware that the website has been sold to a company called SMUG MUG.  (You may also be aware that VERIZON now owns YAHOO).  All this buying and selling has made my situation with my photos a nightmare.  98% of the time in the last 2 months when I have tried to edit my photo’s on FLICKR, I end up with black screens or half photos. I have tried on multiple computers and just about gave up blogging!  I finally went back through my phone and edited on the phone to the extent of putting my “signature” on the photo and resending to FLICKR.  Then of course, I had lots of duplicate photos to clear out.  For the most part, I think I am up and running, at least until SMUG MUG and FLICKR start to change things again!

So; back to the trip…..last blog post, Whale of a tale , was about my snorkling turned whale watching adventure in La Paz Mexico.   We sailed from La Paz to Loreto where we tendered into the dock from the ship.  The water in Loreto was like glass…..and I didn’t have an excursion planned. My sister Anne and I took the tender into town and then wandered along the embarcadero. The view of our ship from shore was very nice.

Looking out to the Ruby Princess

There was a lovely sidewalk to stroll along and it seemed like the town was just waiting for the arrival of the cruise ship passengers.

Those are stone seals on the rocks welcoming visitors!

The stone seals in Loreto Mexico

And then, of course, there was this big creature!

In Loreto Mexico

Want to swim with it???

And then we looked away from the sea towards the town of Loreto – where immediately across the street from the embarcadero, we could see active construction and repair of a hotel roof.  I really liked the murals in the archways.

Hotel under construction

The street to the town square was very obvious. There was a policeman managing the traffic so the cruise passengers could safely cross the busy boulevard.  What awaited us was simply lovely. We found the And. Juan M. de Salvtierra closed to traffic all the way to the Plaza Publica Loreto

Walking towards the center of town in Loreto Mexico

As we strolled, we stopped to look at the merchandise that all the vendors had out for sale.  I noticed a cute little hotel, that on first glance looked very old. This is the Villa Santo Nino, on of the top places for visitors to lodge in Loreto Mexico.

Villa Santo Nino - a Hotel in Loreto Mexico

Then, I spied the locks on the doors, and knew they must be quite modern on the other side of these great doors.

Cilantro lodging - Loreto Mexico

(I had my eyes open the whole trip for cool doors to post on my blog and link to Norm’s Thursday Doors blog! ) 

There was the Cilantro room, the Yerbabuena and several other very fun names for rooms.

Our stroll continued on to the center of town, where I spied someplace to stop and refresh ourselves!

El Zopilote Brewery & Cocina Loreto Mexico

My sister loves a good micro-brew.  I liked the outdoor seating and the friendly crowd. The food service was less than impressive, but it was tasty!  

Outdoor seating at El Zopilote Brewing Co

I decided to indulge in a lovely local drink too!

Sipping the 1st of many

Of course, there were fish tacos to accompany the 2nd round of drinks, then off to wander the town square.  We enjoyed watching school children sing and dance for the cruise ship passengers, then I ventured into this lovely building.

Loreto Capital Historica de las California

I couldn’t figure out whether it was a museum or a historical society building.

Sign outside the Capital Historica de Las Californias

The inside was very interesting.  There was quite a story being told in the art on the walls up to the 2nd story.  I am not certain what the story was, but the art was quite colorful and graphic.

Graphic art in Loreto Mexico

Somehow I think the Priests were converting people of other faiths –

Priests and the horses

As I stood and photographed, I was wishing for a guide or a handout that told me the whole story.  (Some after trip research is required!)

We did some more wandering in and out of buildings including an awesome hotel on our walk back from the town square to the embarcadero.  We had to stop at the end of street for a little more Guac & Salsa! (And another local beverage of course).

Stop for Guac & Salsa in Loreto

(Trust me, it was as good and fresh as it looked!!)

Another stroll, and before you knew it, we were back on the tender, heading to our lovely Ruby Princess.

The Ruby Princess from a tender

A final look at Loreto Mexico –

Loreto Mexico

As we left port, we cruised south towards Puerto Vallarta Mexico. We had a full day at sea before we arrived in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, the subject of my next post.  I will tell you about my all time favorite fun excursion in Puerto Vallarta in that post.

I leave you with this lovely sunset from the stern of the Ruby Princess, sailing out of the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez. I think this is my favorite time of day at sea! (I won’t bore you with the numerous sunset photo’s I took…but will link to them at the end of this travel stories in this series, so watch for them!)

Apr 20 a day at sea

To my quilty friends who follow my blog, yes, I will return to posting about quilting shortly!  🙂



Linking up to Norm’s Thursday Doors – go check out his blog! Thursday Doors


Travel Stories – part 2 – a Whale of a Tale

 Fair warning, LOTS of photo’s.

Picking up on my adventures in April!  This is a photo travel journal from my 10 day cruise on the Ruby Princess, out of Los Angeles, April 14-24, 2018.

At the end of my last post, we sailed away from San Diego CA and had a lovely “Sea Day” on board the beautiful Ruby Princess as we went South along Baja California. Perfect weather for a sea day!  I spent some time meeting other travelers whom I had chatted with on Cruise Critic and had a photo with them and officers from the crew.

Ruby Princess April 14, 2018 sailing

It was a great chance to hear about the new menus on board the ship and to get to know TJ the cruise director, talk to the hotel manager etc.  Sea Days are my favorite time on a cruise ship. Time to relax, read, listen to an audio book, sit in the sun, enjoy the pool, and sit & sew.  I took my never ending hexi project along for sea days and got 2 double diamonds finished during the cruise.

Our first port in Mexico was Cabo San Lucas, and I was scheduled to do a snorkeling excursion.

Cabo San Lucas Mexico

We had an EARLY morning show time for the excursion, and by the time we tendered into Cabo, it was barely 9 am. We no sooner stepped onto the dock to find out that the excursion was cancelled due to the rough water conditions.  I was frustrated because the vendor with the “SHIP” excursion didn’t notify the ship before we tendered over. Instead, he tried to get us to take one of his company’s other excursions, and pay him directly for that “new” trip. He might have had something enjoyable to do, but I like to plan a bit more. Plus, my sister was still on the ship and if she was going to go into town, I wanted to go with her. SO….I tendered back to the ship and tried to find her.  We must have passed each other in tenders, me going to the ship and her going to town. I guess it was “meant to be” and I stayed on board the ship, and relaxed the rest of the day!  I’ve been to Cabo several times, so I wasn’t sad to stay on board.  I will fill you in on another post about one of the ships guests who took the alternate excursion and tell you his story!

Our second port was La Paz Mexico, which is North of Cabo San Lucas in the Gulf of California / Sea of Cortez.  Our port was in an industrial area, about 10 miles from the town center.  Not a pretty place to go shopping!

Wide view of the port at La Paz Mexico

I had scheduled a snorkeling excursion with an early morning show time. This excursion met dockside and we walked over to the boats we were to take for the excursion. The details of the excursion are found here –  SNORKELING AT GAVIOTA ISLAND & BALANDRA BAY  .

Once we were on board and settled into life jackets, we headed out into the channel.  Immediately we discovered that the French /Spanish speaking “dive guy”, and the young Mexican woman who spoke English and the captain of the boat who spoke Spanish ; were going to show us a good time.  We were not 5 mins away from the ship when the “dive guy” yelled about a whale, and the captain of the boat spun us around and took us to see a Humpback whale in the channel.

A whale nearby

Do you see that little disturbance in the water, to the slight left of the white hat?

Definitely something there!  (And LOOK how close to the cruise ship we are!) (The big white one, not the blue one)

Whale blow - La Paz Mexico

Thar’ she blows!

whale surface La Paz Mexico

humpback whale TAIL

And there is the tail!

Not quite a breech but a whale tail is nearly as cool!  I knew right away that this boat captain was going to make sure we had a good time.  His schedule switched from “snorkeling to whale watching” .  He hung in the channel a long time so we could watch the whale and get photos!  None of us were immediately prepared because this was so unexpected.

After we all got the opportunity to take photo’s and see the whale surfacing and blowing, and going back under, we headed out towards Gaviota Island. “As you approach the island you’ll notice that it’s not full of swaying palm trees but covered with birds. The island is a massive volcanic rock, which makes it a natural refuge for hundreds of seabirds. Depending on the time of year, you may see blue-footed boobies, yellow-footed gulls, and great blue herons“. (Quote from the Princess website linked above).  Well, I didn’t have a “great view” for photo’s so I only snagged this one –

Gaviota Island La Paz Mexico

The plan was to come back to this island to snorkel after we had some time at the beach.  So, we circled the island once, then went off to the most beautiful cove and beaches!  

La Paz Mexico Playa Balandra

  Again – from the Princess website – “Balandra Bay lies just a short distance from La Paz and is home to eight inlets, a coral reef, and beautiful beaches. But Balandra Bay is most famous for its unusual rock formation called Mushroom Rock, or El Hongo by the locals. “

Balandra Beach La Paz Mexico

This panoramic isn’t the best below, but I insert it here so you can get a vision of just how big this bay was!

panoramic view Balandra bay La Paz Mexico

Way off to the left was the only beach that you could get to by automobile or bus.  That is how these kayakers arrived for their “ship tour”.

The equipment for the kayakers was great and I would recommend that excursion if you find yourself on a cruise with a port stop in La Paz!  (Our snorkeling equipment was outdated!)

After some beach time, and some very COLD water, we got back on our little boats and headed over to Gaviota Island for snorkeling.  I was watching everyone getting into the water at Gaviota, and seeing their reactions and rapid retreat to the boat, and decided I was not going to risk the extremely cold (60 degree) water.  I was still freezing from playing in the water at the beach and I didn’t have a wet suit.  The only ones who stayed in the water snorkeling were those equipped with wet suits.  I was thinking the whales at the beginning of the trip would be the highlight of my day.  Little did I know that our return to the Ruby Princess would be full of adventure.

Our boat captain, assisted by the dive guy found more whales.  In fact, the captain did a u-turn and took us out to sea much further than expected in the small boat, to chase the whales and capture some photos.  We stayed with this one whale for nearly an hour, and I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did.  I am amazed I was able to capture as many as I did, with just my cell phone.

Humpback whale BREACH La Paz Mexico

So exciting to see this humpback breach. One source below calls this SPY HOPPING, not breach.

La Paz Mexico Humpback whale

This humpback  was less than 100 yards from our small boat.

Whale watching in LaPaz Mexico

They make quite a splash going back down!

humpback whale La Paz Mexico breaching

This was a full breach.

This one was giving us a wonderful show!  Sometimes my view was from the “wrong side of the boat” and I had to get my photo “across” others.

Ahoy WHALE LaPaz Mexico

In the video below, watch for the breach and the tail! It is a short one. You may notice another boat in the shots, this is our companion group, and our boat was similar in size.

Video Humpback whale in La Paz Breaching

Now, if you are still hanging on, looking at these photo’s, I have another video to share.  This video is of the humpback whale slapping it’s tail. ” A tail slap also known as “lobtailing”.  Some say it is to stun the fish, and others say it is a method of communication.  Sources for both theories are linked at the bottom of the page.  Meanwhile, turn on your speakers, and enjoy the chatter in the background along with the sounds of this whale as his tail slaps the water.  I only ran a couple of minutes of video, but this whale behaved in this manner for nearly 30 minutes while our boats were in the area.  It was the most interesting thing to watch!

Humpback whale La Paz Mexico video by Mary Deeter

There are several schools of thought on the WHY the humpback slaps its tail.  Since there were no naturalists along on this “snorkeling trip turned whale watching” we didn’t get an explanation.  Here are a couple of sources I have found since I returned home and started questioning the WHY ?  Have you ever seen whales behave in this manner?

My opportunity to see these whales and to spend so much time observing them made up for the “no snorkeling”.  The trip was certainly worth the expense because of the experience.

A couple of lessons learned about the idea of snorkeling on the west coast of Mexico – 1)Equipment – 2) Water Temperature.

This is the not  the first time I have had poor quality equipment on a paid tour in Mexico.  Last year in Huatulco Mexico, they gave us regular life jackets for snorkeling, and again on this trip.  I find them impossible to deal with and they interfere with the fun of snorkeling. I’ve been disappointed for the last time. Next cruise, I will order and take my own snorkel vest.  I should have had a wet suit for early spring cold water.  Huatulco was warm! But, it was early November and the water was so much warmer further south.  La Paz was not so warm in April!  I will check water temperature charts before I book excursions.

I’ve gone snorkeling on Caribbean cruises in the past, and in the Bahamas, and cold water was never an issue, and the same for Hawaii, so I was a bit stunned by the temperatures!  Several people I met during the excursion and on board the Ruby Princess talked about the need to bring your “own gear” to have a better experience. Lesson learned.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of my fun in La Paz on the water. I have a Humpback whale album on Flickr if you want to see more photos.

Stay tuned for one more “travel story” to wrap up the April adventure!  Next stop Puerto Vallarta.  Now I leave you with the sunset as we sailed away from La Paz!

Sunset leaving La Paz Mexico


ps….yes, I have been quilting some this month….but I just had to share this great adventure with you.











Travel stories – part 1- Cruising on the Ruby Princess

(Fair warning – photo filled post!)

In order not to bore you to death, I will break up my posts. (Besides, I have lots of photo’s still to sort through.)

I returned this past Sunday from nearly 3 weeks of travel.  I thought I would share a few of my travel memories.

I spent part of my time away cruising the Baja Peninsula of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez.  The Sea of Cortez is more commonly known in the US as the Gulf of California.  According to Wikipedia “The Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez, Sea of Cortés or Vermilion Sea; locally known in the Spanish language as Mar de Cortés or Mar Bermejo or Golfo de California) is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland.

Our 10 day cruise began in San Pedro CA, then to San Diego CA, and on to the Mexican ports of  Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta and back to San Pedro CA.

I’m sharing a map so you can pinpoint our itinerary.

Before we sailed from San Pedro, I got to visit with my sister Cathi, who met us for breakfast and took us to the port! She lives in So. California and happened to actually be there.  She is usually on the road, so it was a nice way to start the trip, and my birthday!  I haven’t spent time with her in quite a while!

Approaching the port of San Pedro

That is our ship, the Ruby Princess in the background.

We were onboard the ship within 30 minutes of Cathi pulling up to the port.  This was my 4th time on the Ruby Princess, so finding our way around was pretty easy.  Anne had chosen a window cabin on deck 5, just around the corner from the International Cafe and COFFEE !!  Great location on the ship!

Anne & Mary ready to sail April 2018

It didn’t take long for us to dump our carry-on items in the cabin and find our way to our FAVORITE spot on the ship!

A favorite spot on the Ruby Princess

We like this spot on the aft end of the ship because we can watch the port happenings and the busy waterway.

Port of San Pedro California.

and of course, there is a bar close at hand.  Perfect spot for sailaway!

Anne & Little Zack

My sister, Anne, brought along a travel buddy – Little Zack –  he wanted to stow away, but she let him out of the baggage!  Lots of folks at the bar wanted to know about Zack. He was a great conversation starter!  I think 2 of the bartenders signed the back of Zack too.

We had a meet & greet (informal) with some folks from Cruise Critics shortly after the “MUSTER Drill”.  This is the first time (in more than 17 cruises) we haven’t had to drag our life jackets to the MUSTER Drill. What a relief.  Our luggage arrived in our cabin within an hour of our embarkation, and we were unpacked before the MUSTER Drill. (That’s also a first).  We had early dining (5:30 pm) and met our lovely table mates whom we would dine with for the duration of the cruise. A table for 8 is a nice size, easy to “move around” nightly, sitting next to different people, and getting a chance to get to know each other. I’m not a fan of the early dining, but you do finish in time to catch the sunsets!  Late dining is too late.  Other cruises we have done any-time dining, and you never know how long you might have to wait for a table, or whom you might share the table with on any given day.

We sailed overnight to San Diego Ca. We had no specific plans. I wanted to take the Seal Tour, and Anne want to find local microbrews.  We were able to take a free shuttle bus from the dock over to Sea Port Village.  We ventured into  The Headquarters  a 1939 Police Station and took a few photos.

Mug shots The Headquarters San Diego

We both served a little “time” in the police station lock up!  Just wondering what our “mug shots” would say!!!

The Headquarters Jail

“Tourists running amok in San Diego”

At the HQ Jail in San Diego

“WILD SISTERS – wanted for having too much fun” or something on an early Sunday morning!

The LINE UP with Anne

Not sure if my sister took a photo of ME next to the lineup wall, but if she did, I would be the “TALL” one….lol…..

The San  Diego Sea Port Village is a pretty place to wander around, shop, eat and play!  Definitely designed for walking, browsing, sitting and people watching.

Seaport Village San Diego CA

Carousel at Seaport Village San Diego

I loved the old carousel!

History of the Looff Carousel

Too bad it was so early!  There wasn’t time to go back later for a ride.

Sweet little bear

We eventually found our way over to the  San Diego Seal Tours kiosk, inquired about pricing and accessibility.

San Diego Seal Tours

No way my sister was climbing those steep steps with her bad knees.  We didn’t book the excursion with the ship, because the steps were too steep.  I checked out the website and saw you could board in the Seaport Village using a handicap lift, suitable for non stair climbers and wheelchairs.  With that concern resolved, we booked ourselves on the next available SEAL.  What a great time!  This vehicle tours along N. Harbor Drive, and the Embarcadero, past the airport and eventually into the San Diego Bay.  Along N. Harbor Drive you could see all the wonderful walking areas, as well as the military installations that San Diego is known for.  The “splash” into the water was uneventful.  The views from the water were terrific and the tour was well narrated. Blankets were provided in case the wind was too much.  It was colder riding along on the road at 35 mph or higher than it was on our 5mph ride in the water.  The “water ride” was pretty noisy as you will note in this video. I was hoping to catch the sounds of the harbor seals “barking”, but the background noise over powered the sound of the seals on the video.

Video in San Diego Bay

Fishing bait station

These platforms had “bait fish” underneath. I think the seals liked their resting spot!  Commercial & recreational fisherman stop at a booth on the platforms to purchase their bait in the bay, before leaving the harbor area to go deep sea fishing.

Of course, as our sail came to an end, all sailors get a silly hat to wear!

Silly Hats on the San Diego Seal

I was able to catch a quick photo of the launching ramp as we approached it to exit the water.

Boat ramp for the Seal Tour San Diego CA

A short drive up the ramp and we were back onto N. Harbor Drive.  I enjoyed the sunshine, the blue skies and palm trees!  (At home it was dreary, damp and cold!!)

We finished our day with a little shopping, and a nice lunch with local beer at Buster’s Beach House.

Sail away from San Diego was wonderful to watch.  This really is a beautiful bay.  I haven’t been to San Diego since I was a child, and I enjoyed visiting. It looks like the kind of place you could go and spend a week.  Rent a bicycle or just walk along the Embarcadero.  The weather was perfect.

San Diego Bay

Leaving San Diego, next stop – Cabo San Lucas Mexico.

Ruby Princess leaving San Diego Bay

More pictures and posts on another day!

In betweens

Do you have those days where you are just uncertain of what to do?  I had “free time” last Wednesday in my sewing space!  I FINALLY finished putting the backing together for Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and was at a loss for “what’s next”. (No, no photo yet……) (The backing is so huge, I just can’t find a place to lay it out for a photo!)

I have LOTS of projects but wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on. Some of the hesitation comes from the fact that I am leaving on a big trip this week, and I am not sure I want to dig into something new.  (I have LOTS of UFO’s I could work on….)  I could “load” Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and prepare it for quilting on my frame.  I could get one or 2 of the scrap quilts off of hangers and order some backing and batting and ship them to OneBlockWonderWoman to practice on when I visit at the end of April.  Or, I could play with something new. Or…I could pack up Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and backing and mail it off to One Block Wonder Woman and quilt it when I visit.  (She actually approved of the idea today, so I think we have plan!)

Anyway, during my “free time” on Wednesday, I finally made a decision when the never filed stack of embroidery designs fell off the heap on my desk. Since my big table was clear, I took the papers there and sorted them for filing in my  4 embroidery design binders. Once that was done, I pulled out a couple that I loved, and grabbed some pre-washed towels that I keep at hand and got busy playing with the embroidery machine.   These were fun to stitch out, and I played around with different methods for stabilizing, so it was educational along the way!  Definitely a fan of hooping tear-away stabilizer, the SPRITZING it lightly with 505  spray, and pressing with my fingers, the towels towels to the now sticky stabilizer. I learned from experiments that plush towel or towels with nap need denser designs.  I am pretty pleased with how these turned out. 

Fun stitching on Kitchen towels

The design with the spoon is heavy enough to go on a terry towel, but the word KITCHEN on the dark towel is not dense enough.  I still need to give them a wash, but I think they turned out well overall. The white towels are from the craft section at Walmart – they are called Aunt Martha’s Vintage towels  and come in a package of 3 for a reasonable price. I like them because they are sturdy and have great hanging loops in the corner.  The are LARGE too, 18×28 and wear quite nicely. Periodically I stitch them up and use them for gifts.  They are meant to be used, and I think with using just tear away stabilizer on the back, they are very usable.  The black dishtowel I purchased in a bundle, specifically to embroider on. It is a loop terry, and I won’t buy that kind again.  I have a whole box of red terry kitchen towels to play with.  I think they will get Christmas motifs. I’ve been saving them for a day just like this!

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to take another class from Cheryl Lynch (  This class was held at Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro DE, and was the MINI-Mosaic Class. (More about that class in a minute).

This is the 3rd time I have had the chance to take a class with Cheryl.

In 2014 I did a project in her class called Sensational Silk, when she taught at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild in Lewes De.  I was happy to take that project and “show it off” when she lectured in March at Helping Hands Quilt Guild in Dover DE.

Barn Raising in Silk
27 x 39″

This small wall hanging is made from dupioni silk and batik.  When I learned how to stabilize the silk for cutting into half square triangles, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments.  I was later able to transfer the method to other “non-quilt fabric” when I made this baptism banner for my granddaughter. That shiny gold fabric was just “perfect” for the cross, but would have been a bear to handle without that stabilizing lesson I learned with Cheryl.

Lori’s Baptism Banner, created by Grandma Mary

Then, of course, if you have read my blog for any bit of time, you might remember it was Cheryl who taught me the method for making my Pet Mosaic Quilt “Mittens“.  (I wrote about this project ALOT in 2016 & 2017…)

Mittens wins Viewer's Choice at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show

(Mittens is about 56×56″ and hangs in my living room. It was fun to take him “off the wall” and to the Helping Hands Guild meeting too, so Cheryl could see him “finally finished”)

When I had a chance to take another class from Cheryl, I jumped at the opportunity.  The mini-mosaic is a “much smaller” project than either the silk or the pet mosaic. We used 3/8″ squares for the project!  When I left the “all day class” – I came home and continued to work on the project after dinner.

Building the Mosaic

I was so engrossed that I kept at it until I had the entire mosaic completed!  Let’s just say midnight was a surprise to me!  I have more to do to “finish”, but this is where I have left off for now –

Mini Mosaic Project

The finish size is somewhere around 11″ x 14″ after quilting, borders and binding. But for now, it is still a “work in progress.  There are lots of steps to be taken yet, but Cheryl’s pattern is very clearly written, and I don’t think finishing it is going to be too hard.  She was right, it is a bit addictive.  In the project container Cheryl gave us everything we need to finish except our borders and backing. She even gave tips in class for hanging.

Meanwhile, the stack of tank tops I was going to embroider “before the trip” this week were left to sit, while my suitcase has been packed.  I have a busy week with various things before I head to California!  I’m looking forward to a 10 day Baja Peninsula and Sea of Cortez cruise leaving from California on Saturday! Snorkeling, sunshine, sea days await, as does some time with my favorite brother and One Block Wonder Woman(OBWW) after the cruise. Better get busy and pack up Grandma’s Kitchen and send it off to OBWW so it is waiting for me at her house!  (I can’t believe I get to quilt it on her new Gammill long arm!)

Just curious – do you ever take classes from the same teacher?  We are lucky to have so many venues in the mid Atlantic area where we can !


Note – each of the projects in this post have been written about previously. If you want more info on any of them, you can use the search function and the stated names to find those posts. 

Cardmaking for Safelight Project 2018

If you are a new reader, or have missed the previous posts about the Safelight Project 2018, do go back a few days and see what I have been doing!

Carole has asked for help, and I am sharing her post – Safelight Project 2018 again. She mentioned the responses have been fairly quiet, so I hope you can help make a little noise.

This project is to support women  in the shelter who are  escaping domestic violence. Carole has coordinated this project in 2017 and now is asking for reader’s help in a small way.

 If you are a “maker” – there are makeup bags, sunglasses holders and cards to make.  If you are a giver, she could use small financial contributions. Please take the time to read her posts and see if you can help in a small (or LARGE) way if you are able.

I made the make up bags and sunglasses holders and tissue packets (they were a bonus) last week, and decided to add some cards to the package before it went out in the mail yesterday.  I am by no means an awesome card maker, just a novice, but I had fun.  My supplies are limited to the stamps, and paper products on hand. (Dreaming of more stamps…..).  I do have that wonderful Brother Scan n Cut my children gave me for Christmas a few years ago, so I gave it a run on a few cards. (One of my daughters has a Cricut and she is getting lots of practice with it). I cut out lettering and a coffee cup for these cards.  When it came to stamps that gave positive messages, I am extremely limited. You will see a lot of repetition.  My printer in my craft/sewing room is acting up, so I decided not to try to print inserts for the cards, just stamp and hand write little messages.

Coffee card

I cut the coffee cup with my Scan n Cut, and stamped the message and used a sharpie for the squiggly steam . I used my Fiskars corner punch for the flower corners.

Coffee card sentiment

This is my favorite card, because I am a coffee lover!  I even decorated the envelope –

Coffee beans

I showed this card to my sister in California yesterday who is a coffee drinker. She gave it a thumbs up!

This next card I used the Brother Scan n Cut to cut out the lettering. One word is preloaded in the machine, so the letters are “welded” together. The other words I typed in, and then they were cut as individual letters. They are tricky to “stick down”. I ended up with a glue stick instead of tape runners.

You are Special

and the inside –

Sentiment in card

The card below had several elements layered.  The flowers were cut with the Scan n Cut, the centers punched with creative memories punch.

Layering elements

and the inside of the blue card –


Again, the flowers had to be applied with glue stick instead of tape runner. ( If you make cards and have a tip, let me know what you use on items with lots of open area for adhesive. )

Sometimes I cut up cards I have received and save elements.  This next card was a thank-you note, sent to me by the church in Colorado where I donated the Log Cabin Cross Banner nearly 3 years ago. ( )  (Someday I am going to re-write the directions for that pattern!! )

I cut the center of the card out, trimmed it to the size I wanted and applied it here to a new card base.

Single Ray of Sunshine

and the inside –

Be the Sunshine

This is another card where I have added elements from those saved cards.

Card layering

lots of layering to give some dimension.  I liked this card because I have butterfly stamps I can use!

Inside the blue butterfly card

I see butterflies as a symbol of re-birth and new beginnings.

This next card, I cut a “window” with the Brother Scan N cut, and the bottom border.  I used some purple butterfly fabric behind the window. Glue stick to the rescue there too.

A window in the card

Sentiment inside window card

All of these photo’s are in my FLICKR album called Paper Crafting. The album is kind of a journal of my paper crafting, and is available to view here –

I love getting inspired by other card makers.  This set of 6 cards is pretty simple, but they were fun to make.  Coming up with inspiring words was a little harder.  I can not imagine what these women have gone through before they escaped the violence in their life.  I hope these will be a little bright spot in their lives as they start to rebuild. 

In closing, I want to say that I always get more personally out of doing these projects for Carole than I give. The gift to me is in the giving.  Won’t you help in some small way?  Carole has sponsors for her blog, and they are offering some gifts in return!  Be sure and follow her too –

Safelight Project – 5 Sets Finished plus a bonus etc.

I finished up 5 sets of sunglasses cases & makeup bags for the Safelight Project 2018 . Info on a previous post – Safelight Project 2018

Each set used 2 fat quarters , with fabric left over.   I had fun with the quilting too.  I am a much better “straight-line” quilter than a free motion quilter!  My little featherweight was great for the straight-line quilting.  It also powered through that hook & loop tape.  I put a heavy duty needle in when I started this project because I battle with the hook & loop tape if I don’t.

Safelight Project 2018

BONUS : This was a great Fat Quarter project. In fact, I realized I had some “extra” fabric after making the sets, so I decided to make Tissue Holders to match.  I found a good tutorial on You-Tube  Mini-Tissue Holder Instructional Video

These were quick and easy additions to the project.  In fact, they were so easy, I ended up making another 4 out of some scrap fabric I had sitting on my cutting table. I will send them all along to Carole ( her to use as she see fit.  (They hold one of those little purse packs of tissues).  These will go out in the mail on Monday.


Lots of ETC this week.  Our ONE and only Senior Quilt top is stitched and halves are joined and it is set up at the church for the members to sign and offer good wishes. It will be set out for several weeks for signing. I still haven’t managed a photo!  Maybe after the service on Easter!

Sewing with the Seniors — I went to sew with my friend June at the Assisted Living facility again on Friday.  I took my bin of 5″ squares and a stack of 5″ batting squares and the 2 ladies got busy!  They each made 3 coasters, and I did lots of turning, pressing, needle threading etc. We used a simple pattern with 6 squares total for each coaster.  If you are looking for directions, check out my favorite quilt instructor video – Gourmet Quilter tutorial

They had fun with this simple project, and with the use of a few pins and a bit wider seam allowance (1/2″) we had great success.

Sewing with Seniors

I set June up to sew with my featherweight, because I knew it would power through the layers.  Both ladies had fun and want to make more next week!  They also saw my bags for the Safelight project and are interested in making that style bag during another sewing session.  I think the fun was in the choosing of the fabrics from my box of 5″ squares!  We also have plans for making some of those tissue holders.  I love these scrap friendly projects.

That’s it for now! Happy Easter everyone!