Friday, April 6, 2018

3.28.18 Universal Studios and Spring Break with the Dircks family

We love visitors!! The Dircks family decided to spend their Spring Break with us. We spent two days at Universal Studios and then 4 days at our house. 

Tuesday night, we drove over after work. We stayed at the Residence Inn near Universal Studios. It was brand new - only opened the week before. We googled restaurants nearby and found a well-reviewed Indian restaurant (Tabla Restaurant) in a Clarion Suites lobby. It was fantastic!! The manager came over to explain a dish we ordered, but weren't sure what to eat. We'll definitely be back. 



Wednesday morning, we met at Portofino bright and early and hit the Parks. It was a fun day. We had lunch at Toothsome - my favorite Super Foods salad. Then we headed back to the Parks. Leo, Amy and Rob headed back to the resort to rest. Julia, Glenn and I stayed for our alien adventures. We went on Men in Black, the alien saucers and had ice cream. Then,  we headed back to Portofino for swimming and dinner. We had terrible service at the front desk, trying to get drinks, and trying to get water and order at dinner. It became comical. Like we were in some sort of weird game show. We ended up having fun playing cards by the pool while Julia swam and performed shows in the pool.

Thursday, we took a later start - about 10 am. We had a great day riding the rides. We had a great spot for the Mardi Gras parade. Glenn and I drove home.  Friday, the Dircks enjoyed Volcano Bay and a little more time at Islands of Adventure. It gave us time to clean. 










Saturday, the kids loved the pool. We escaped from an Escape Room. Amy and Rob had a date while us and the kids went grocery shopping and went swimming. Sunday, we had a great egg hunt. Then, we made an epic pancake bar. Blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream, sprinkles, cherries, and syrup. Plus bacon and eggs. We all enjoyed pool time. We also spent a lot of time playing Rock Band. Leo was great on the drums. Julia sang and played guitar. 








Friday, March 23, 2018

3.18.18 Goo Goo Dolls

Glenn and I put our Busch Gardens Fun Card and annual pass to work and attended the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Fest. Glenn also got us VIP seats for the Goo Goo Dolls concert because it's one of my favorite bands. I have to say - they are looking a bit rough. Maybe we were too close. We had a great day enjoying all the food. Our favorite dish was pork belly with kimchi slaw. 




3.3.19 - 3.11.18 Crown Princess

Glenn and I met our friends Tom and Margaret on the Crown Princess or an 8 night cruise. The weather was perfect. The ship was a bit rocky. We had terrific service and great food except for the night at Sabatin's, the Italian restaurant. That was terrible. We had a great nightly routine of the wine bar, the Platinum lounge, and then off to dinner. We saw a terrific show about magic.

In St Kitts, we spent the day at Reggae Beach. In Grand Turk, we went snorkeling. In St Thomas, we decided to stay on the ship since I worked most of the morning. In Antigua, we toured Sandals Grande Antigua.

We loved the large balcony. I think it's the most time I've spent on a balcony. The trip was so relaxing.

I loved all the activities on the ship. We took part in an escape room. They had fun deck parties with an amazing band. The Love Boat themed deck party was awesome. The ballooon drop in the atrium was so much fun. They recreate the Voice competition complete with swiveling chairs. We never won trivia, but we tried a lot. I loved watching the movies on deck. They bring out these chair pads with pillows and offer popcorn and blankets. I saw Battle of the Sexes and The Greatest Showman. 




Reggae beach 


St Thomas 

Our nightly stop in the Platinum happy hour 





2.8.18 - 2.13.18 Universal Studios Mardi Gras

Glenn and I love staying at Universal Studios. We hadn't been to the Mardi Gras celebration together so we carved out five nights to go visit. As passholders, we got the chance to ride on a parade float and throw beads to the crowd. So much fun! 

Friday night ,we attended the Wine Riffs dinner at Hard Rock. We were really impressed with the event. The food was very good and paired well with the wine. Each course had its own play list. This really livened up the event. They even had dancers come out at one point. Glenn won a bottle of wine at trivia. We ended up giving it to a family entering the hotel when we couldn't get it through security. We had great meals at Cowfish and Toothsome - the kale salad is the best! The Beach Boys featuring John Stamos had a great 90 minute concert. We went to the Captain America dinner and met all the characters. We absolutely loved this trip. 








1.31.18 Hyatt Zilara

We headed to Hyatt Zilara with a fun group of friends to celebrate Marisa's and my birthday. It was so much fun. Hyatt Zilara was the perfect resort: big enough that everyone could find their own space, but small enough to easily find each other. The food and service were great. We loved having the swim up bar connect to an infinity pool. 

Highlights: 
  • Tamarind daiquiris with chili salt rim 
  • Two random people crashed our private Hibachi dinner 
  • Amazing braised octopus dish at the Mexican restaurant 
  • Great tasting menu at the Catina complete with flaming Mexican coffee and a Mariachi band singing Happy Birthday
  • Lots of laughs under the bridge with half of us in the cold pool and half of us in the warm pool  









Thursday, March 22, 2018

1.11.18 - 1.15.18 Scottsdale, Grand Canyon Railway and Sedona


We went to Arizona to explore the Grand Canyon. We spent the first night at Andaz Scottsdale. It's a beautiful hotel with a good restaurant. I was surprised that it is primarily a business hotel. The next morning, we drove up to Williams, Arizona. We had a great lunch at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company. The included buffet in the Grand Canyon Railway package is pretty good. I loved the pasta station and the enthusiasm the chef had in making the pasta.

The next morning, we went to the Wild West show and then boarded the train. We booked the luxury dome car. It was fantastic! The staff was great.  A guitar player came through. We arrived at the Grand Canyon. We took the bus tour including lunch. Then we checked in the Maswik Lodge. It's a simple, clean hotel close to Grand Canyon village. We went to El Tovar for dinner. The setting was gorgeous. The food was average. The next morning we got up and hiked a bit of the Bright Angel trail. The elevation is no joke. We were careful not to get dehydrated. We took the train back to Williams and then drove to Scottsdale. I do not recommend take the local roads as it's quite windy. We checked into the Best Western Inn of Sedona. The shuttle driver took us to a local bar for dinner. 

The next morning, we were amazed at the view right outside our window. We took the Pink Jeep tour to explore the landscape. It was a lot of fun and very bumpy. All in all - a great trip!