Canada Ports Of Call: Halifax & St. John's Bay

Our first two ports of call were both in Canada:  Halifax & St. John’s Bay.

We booked a hop on/hop off bus in Halifax thinking it would be an easy way to tour the city as we didn’t have anything particular we wanted to see.  I had read in our NCL Freestyle Daily that Halifax was known for their breweries.  Sign me up! 

At every port, my first stop was coffee.  I was dying for a good iced coffee the entire trip (and only in a few ports did I spot a Starbucks).  We boarded the pink double decker bus and our tour guide pointed us in the direction of some coffee saying if we didn’t catch that bus, there would be another within 15-minutes behind us.  She would have been a really fun tour guide so I am sad we ended up missing that bus.  She gave me a recommendation of a nearby brewery close to the ship that I planned to hit up before we left.

The double decker busses were the old English style and didn’t have open tops so it you couldn’t see everything but sitting up top was still fun.  We rode the bus until we got to the highest point of Halifax, the Citadel.  Kenyon suggested getting off there because 1) it was all downhill and 2) we wouldn’t have to waste time riding the bus back up if we did want to stop later.  So, we toured the Citadel.  It was basically this old military bunker and they had actors playing out the changing of the guard.  It was really cool.  We also looked around the gift shop and military museum.


We boarded the bus again and rode it most of the way back down the hill before deciding to get out and walk.  We had heard on the bus tour about the big explosion many years ago, which happed at 9:04 am.  There is a church with the clock that always shows 9:04 am.   

We stumbled across some food shacks, one of which, Cows, was rumored to have the best ice cream in all of Canada.  And it was really good!  We also tried a Doner, which is apparently a popular Canada food.  It is basically a gyro but is made with a special sauce known in Canada.  It was tasty.

We made our way back towards the ship and stopped to rest in the hammock along the pier.  Then, we stopped into Garrison Brewing for a beer sampling (for me, Kenyon doesn’t drink).

Our second Canada port of call was St. John’s Bay.  We had decided to book the trolly ‘round St. John’s tour instead of the hop on/hop off bus tour.  This was fun in that the trolley was cute but not so fun as it was really hard to see anything out of the trolley windows. And, the seats were pretty uncomfortable after a while.  This tour was designed to give you a tour of the city and then drop you off in the town square, which was about a 5-10 minute walk back to the shop.
The town is known for a local artist that made these amazing wooden sculptures that were all over town.  The tour guide said he died recently but his family makes sure they are kept up.  They were amazing.


I made sure to stop into Tim Horton, a popular Canada coffee shop, where I had some very yummy iced coffee.  It was nice to get out and stretch our legs but we didn’t stay in town for long. 

Up next, back in the USA…


Feeling Festive

When we left for our vacation, the temperatures in Boise were still 95+.  Upon our return, it is now quite frigid.  It is almost as if we have bypassed Fall and are headed straight towards Winter.

Noooo…..Fall please don’t go so soon!

Thankfully our temps are going to come back up into the 70s next week.  That sounds great to me!  The cooler weather is making me feel festive.  I made a batch of chili earlier in the week and I’ve been drinking hot coffee more than iced coffee these days.  I also felt like I wanted to do some decorating since we didn’t really do much last year.  What little decorations I do have are pretty outdated (and fit our previous house).  While Kenyon was getting his tires rotated, I walked to Hobby Lobby as I heard they have great holiday décor.


I had so much fun decorating the outside area of our front door.  Kenyon talked me into the little hay bale and I am glad he did.  It is so cute.

I also got some wood pumpkins.  I got the pumpkin with the witch hat last year at Fred Meyer.  I think I’ll get a battery powered light for it.

For inside the house, I found some cute pumpkin salt and pepper shakers.

I also got a new Scentsy warmer called Salem, a witches hat.  This goes perfectly with my old school Jack O’ Lantern warmer.

I ended my night of decorating with one of my favorite Fall beers.


I might pop into Hobby Lobby again soon to pick up more stuff for inside the house.  The hard part becomes where you store it at the end of the year.  But, it is just too cute to pass up.

Happy Fall Y’all.


Norwegian Gem

The Manhattan Cruise terminal was quite the busy hub on the late morning/early afternoon we boarded our cruise. It looked like we would sail right through (pun intended) but once you got past the small security line, the check-in line was long. The Canadian form you have to fill out confuses me every time. We had some mixed nuts all individually packaged that we were eating on when we needed snacks. We also had a large bag of pepperoni sticks we had gotten from Costco before we left home. Well, you must declare items like nuts, fruit, and meat, before entering Canada. Since we didn't know what to do, we decided to just declare it and then throw it away if it was a huge problem. Oh man! What a huge problem. It turns out we should have been less honest and just boarded the boat without declaring them. But, the gals at the check-in desk were great and allowed us to get rid of the items and fill out a new form saying we didn't have any of those items with us. They decided to keep the small packs of nuts since they were all still sealed. By the time the woman turned around, they were gone. The workers had taken the nuts for themselves. We are considering that our gift to NCL.

Our cruise ship was the Norwegian Gem. Once on board, the rooms weren't quite ready so we headed for the buffet to wait. I was so excited for a salad bar and fresh fruit, which was at my disposal for an entire week. I had missed healthy foods over our few days in NYC. It didn't take long though to indulge in all the extra yummy foods and boy did I enjoy it!

The rooms were ready around 1pm and we got ourselves settled in and our clothes put away. We really liked the upgrade to the mini-suite and feel there was much more room. Our room number was 11500 and was right outside the bridge area of the front of the ship. It turned out to be a great room. I did a lot of walking between the front and back of the ships and also walked up/down a lot of stairs since our room was on the 11th floor. Each day we both easily walked 10,000+ steps.

Our cruise had two at-sea days. On at the start of the cruise and one at the end. On our first at-sea day, I was looking forward to relaxing a bit since we had done a lot of walking in NYC. Our room steward Sergio was awesome and took good care of us. We also met so many wonderful people aboard the Norwegian Gem. The ship had quite a few people from the New Jersey/New York area but we also met some ladies from Ohio and shared a table at dinner with a couple from Canada. Each night at turn down service you get the fun towel animals. Sergio did a wonderful job.

We are members of the NCL Latitudes reward program and as a silver status member, we received a free bottle of sparking wine in our room and we were invited to a cocktail party at-sea...at 12:15pm. So, I enjoyed some day drinking. I drank quite a bit on NCL's dime on this cruise between the wine and the cocktail hour. About Day 5 of our cruise, we returned to our room to find the maitre' d, Sandra Lobo, had left us another bottle of sparking wine and some chocolate covered strawberries. I'm not sure why we got the complimentary gift but it was very nice of her. I ended up smuggling some orange juice into my room from breakfast so I could mix it with the sparkling wine.

Our second at-sea day was also pretty laid back as we were exhausted from the abundance of walking at the four ports we had stopped at in the days prior. I attended the Deal or No Deal game, which I lost, but met a really nice couple from New Jersey. I also did a little gambling at the casino and won a little money. I attended the last session of Bingo, and also lost. It would have been nice to have come home paying for the vacation in my gambling winnings but I didn't get so lucky.

The entertainment aboard the Norwegian Gem was just okay. We were tired most nights and waking up early so we were often ready for bed by 9pm. I took in a show from the production cast that was rather cheesy so I didn't go to any other of their shows. We skipped the Second City comedy group but I heard they were funny. I did go see the hypnotist and laughed a ton. She was great. Kenyon doesn't often like to go to shows but I dragged him along one night to see this duo that did some Cirque-type moves. It was awesome.

We got a little tired of the food by the time our crusie came to an end. I also really missed iced coffee and the coffee on board wasn't that great tasting. I did order some iced coffees from the coffee stand on board but it wasn't Starbucks quality. Each time we went into a port, I immediately searched for coffee and Coke Zero. It is funny the things you miss when they aren't available.

We love cursing Norwegian Cruise Lines and this was our fourth cruise with them. We do have plans to return to NCL in the future.

Up next, ports of call...


Weekly WI: Working Off Vacation Weight

I had meant to check in yesterday after my WW meeting. It ended up being a busy day.

I had met with my WW leader Donna on Monday for coffee. I knew she had taken a leave of absense the last few months and was curious on her decision to continue with her meetings. Sadly, next Tuesday is her last meeting. I am so sad to see her go but also very happy for her. I will make sure we stay in tough and get together often. She has been so important to me and my WW journey. I was talking in the meeting with other members and one said Donna is the only leader she has had. I remember the impact losing my first leader had on me. The new leader is a brand new leader with WW so we are anxious to meet her. Thankfully I am able to attend Donna's last meeting next week.

When I arrived home from vacation, I debated getting on the scale. On one hand I knew I needed to get back on track ASAP and seeing the scale number can help my mindset. On the other hand, I didn't know if I wanted to see the number. I ended up gaining 7.3 pounds on vacation. They say you gain an average of one pound a day on a cruise. I guess that was true for me. I knew it was mostly temporary and perhaps only actually gained 2 pounds. I got my tracker out on Sunday and re-focused. When I did my home WI on Tuesday before me meeting, 5.3 pounds had already dropped off. Donna gave me a 5 pound star in my meeting when I was talking about my temporary weight. I always feel is is temporary but only if you get yourself back on track right away.

I had a noon hair appointment with a new gal I'm trying out (cheaper than my last hair dresser and a more friendly environment) and then met my mom and Emma for a movie. We saw the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Home Again. It was cute. Emma did good despite being bored and having no interest in the movie. She was home from school with an eye infection but didn't want to miss out on any fun. We met Dad after for ice cream at DQ and then I ran errands at Costco, Fred Meyer, and Walmart. It is nice to have groceries in the house again.

My eating yestereday was crazy but that is always the good thing about a new day. I get to start fresh. I have a training for work this afternoon and then I am back to work starting tomorrow. This is my last week of a mix of swing shift/graveyard shift and then my aunt, mom, sister Jenny, and I all head to Missouri to see our family in both Kansas City and Lebanon. When I return from MO on October 6th, I'll officialy be back on day shift. You don't know how happy this makes me feel. Just the extra pep in my step I get being up when the sun is speaks volumes. Of course Fall means early sun set but that is okay. I am just happy to be back on a normal shift. Sadly, not weekends off but that is okay. I am not a stagnant person and being on graves for the last nine months has been rough. I am hoping next year I can bid two day shift rotations and two graveyard rotations. That will also work best with Kenyon.

Now, after rotating to a day shift for vacation, I gotta rotate back to a grave shift for my last week. I'm not having much luck staying awake really late these days.


New York City

We are back from vacation. I still have a couple of days until I return to work. I'll be sharing my recaps here and there as I have a lot to share.

Our first few hours in New York City was slightly intimidating and a bit overwhelming. It is a culture shock for sure. We booked a car service to take us from the airport to the hotel. We followed the instructions and were told to look for a black Toyota Avalon. Every single car was black so I started to panic a bit if I could actually make it in this big city. Thankfully we made it to the hotel in once piece, NYC drivers are crazy scary. We set out on foot to a nearby pizza place called Little Italy Pizza, which was just three minutes away. Somehow, we got lost! But, we eventually found it and since we were starved, it tasted extra yummy.

Our hotel is close to the Empire State Building so I suggested waking by there on our way home so I could take a photo in the evening lighting. After going a few blocks we stumbled across our hotel and decided we had better count that as a win and go back inside. The 14th floor rooftop bar has a great view of the Empire State Building. Sadly, it was raining so we only popped out to take a quick look.

We stayed at LaQuinta in Manhattan. It was a bit underwhelming for the premium price. For a 14-story building, our room was on the 2nd floor AND our view was of the fire escape and apartment building next door. The elevator takes forever to get you anywhere so I took the stairs. It was three floors down for coffee/tea/water and two floors up for ice. I managed to get some extra activity in that way.
Our first full day in NYC went better than the day before. We both didn't sleep well so we got a late start. The breakfast at the hotel wasn't that stellar so we ventured out for a bite to eat at this place called Speedy's.

Everything in NYC is so fast paced so I was again feeling really out of place and doubtful. I had spent some time looking at the maps when I was awake throughout the early morning hours (switching from graves to days is hard on the sleep cycle) so I felt a little better prepared. We decided to book a two-day pass on the hop on/hop off bus service called Big Bus Tours. It was also recommended to ride the whole route first and then decide from there where to get off the bus. We easily found the bus stop, the Red Line: Uptown Route and boarded for the 150 minute tour. Kenyon had to sit on the bottom deck of the bus because there was only one seat left on top. After about five stops, he was able to join me upstairs. It was great and I enjoyed being able to see NYC without having to kill my feet walking or feel anxious about navigating public transit. We ended up getting off the bus at the stop for Rockefeller Center because I knew I wanted to take closer photos. I also was in dyer need of a bathroom and Starbucks stop! We found a restaurant that looked good so we stopped in for a bite of lunch at Bill's Bar & Burger.
We walked around a little more snapping some photos (and searching for another bathroom...the downside to large cities) before walking to Time Square so we could catch the Blue Line: Downtown Route. We needed to catch the Purple Line: Midtown Route to get back to our hotel and thankfully we were able to catch the last bus tour, which left from Time Square.

Our second full day in NYC was just as eventful. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a nearby Wendy's and then boarded the Purple Line: Midtown Route again so we could catch a ride to the pier for our included water tour with a company called Circle Line Boat Tours. The boat/harbor tour wasn't until 4:30pm so we started our day at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum. It was New York Fashion week so a section of the museum wasn't going to be available. It took me a moment to realize why we saw so many people in such elaborate outfits. Then, I remembered fashion week. It made for some fun people watching. The museum houses the Intrepid Space Shuttle, which never went into orbit as it was a ground test flight. If you ever get a chance to see a space shuttle in a museum you must go.

We walked all around the large naval ship and also down into the growler submarine, which once carried a cruise missile. It is very tiny quarters and always amazing me how the men/women live like that daily.

There wasn't much for food choices in the area of the pier so we had to make do with the food court at Intrepid. It was not that great (cold hot dogs) and over priced. We still had a bit of time to kill before our Circle Line tour and almost got another hot dog from the vender stand but decided to wait until we boarded the boat tour to see what their options had. It ended up their nachos were a great deal as you got a lot for $8.75. We really enjoyed the harbor tour and met/chatted with a couple from Oklahoma and New Zealand. We knew this tour would give us the best chance at seeing Lady Liberty as we were pretty sure the side of the ship we were going to be on would not see the Statute of Liberty on our trek out of NYC, at least from our balcony (and that was indeed the case). It was so neat to see this iconic landmark.

We rode the Purple Line back to our hotel and set out on foot to see the 911 Monument. Kenyon navigated us through the subway system and we were there in about eight stops (our hotel was located in Herald Square). It was already getting dark so we were able to see the names on the monument glowing. It was really pretty. Since the 16th anniversary was approaching (I didn't realize that when I booked our cruise dates) we noticed there was a lot of police presence around the city. There was flags and white roses tucked along the names. We had heard the towers might be lit due to the upcoming anniversary, but sadly they were not. That would have been amazing to see.

We safely navigated the subway back to our hotel and had one last bite of New York pizza once again at Little Italy Pizza. It was so good.

Since we had done all we wanted to do and saw all we wanted to see, I slept in and made it a lazy morning before we boarded the cruise. I ended up realizing I was running low on eyeliner so we ventured out to Saphoria at a nearby mall. I also had some beloved Starbucks. We hailed a cab and headed to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. We realized on this trip we used planes, trains, and automobiles (plus boats and buses). We got a good rundown of the public transportation system in NYC and all are equally terrifying. I have no idea how people drive in that. Yikes!

More to come...


On Vacation

A new adventure is about to begin and I couldn't be more excited. 

Travel indeed feeds my soul.


On The Cusp Of Vacation

I got on the scale at home today and saw a small gain which is really manageable.  I wasn’t sure if I’d get on the scale and if I attend my meeting, I may pass at the scale.  I am feeling line I am in a good headspace right now but just ready for a mental break.

Here are my trackers for the week:

I was pretty lax in actually tracking/figuring up the points, which happens when I have a lot of high point/calorie foods.  I exercised on the treadmill at work six out of seven days last week and I met my activity goals all seven days.  Yippie.

I don’t usually track when I am on vacation and often try to use the Simply Filling approach.  I really feel right now that I need a clean break from counting points so I won’t be taking my tracker.  When I was summing up my week, I wrote taking a mental break doesn’t mean a free-for-all.  The main thing I am looking forward to on this vacation is relaxation and uninterrupted time with Kenyon, which doesn’t mean I need to be careless with my calories.  I have come too far with my weight loss progress this last year to tank it all over vacation.  But, I do plan to enjoy some yummy foods i.e. New York pizza!

I’m not sure when I’ll check in but I’ll be documenting as we go so I can share with you all upon our return.


Fun Blog Survey

I found this little survey on Facebook and though I’d play along on my blog.

Four things I love to watch on TV:
1. Grey’s Anatomy
2. Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor In Paradise

3. Project Runway
4. Breaking Bad

Four places I've been:

1. Alaska

2. Hawaii

3. Bahamas

4. Canada

Four things I love to eat:
1. Pizza

2. A good salad bar
3. Fruit
4. String cheese

Four favorite drinks:

1. Coffee(!!!)

2. Wine

3. Beer

4. Water