Where We’ve Been Lately

We were recently reminded that we hadn’t posted anything to our travel blog in awhile.  It’s not that we haven’t been busy (and traveling); it’s just that we’ve been busy!  In an attempt to catch up and document a few of the highlights of the past few months, this post will be a mishmash of fun stuff.

The Holidays

After our time in Greece, we hung around Prescott for the holidays. It was nice to spend time with family, do the traditional holiday things, and play in the New Years Eve snow.


Dad and Will at Thanksgiving


Will loves Dad and grandpa Rod


Lauren joined us for a weekend of holiday fun!




Judy’s Christmas Present


Nica loves Grandpa Larry









The heaviest snow so far this year didn’t stop us from hosting a neighborhood NYE party.  Steve dug a path from each neighbor’s door to our door so there were no excuses!


Steve shoveling on New Year’s Eve


Our patio on NYE


Brenda White and I share the same resolution!


Rick and Steve do too!


Sheri and Peggy celebrating


Sheri and I are the NYE queens!

Our hike back into the forest on virgin white snow on New Year’s Day was also unforgettable.


Steve the hiker


Gorgeous fresh powder


Our beautiful neighborhood

Hiking the Prescott Circle Trail

When the weather has cooperated, we’ve been hitting our local trails, either by foot or on bike. One challenge we’ve set for this year is to hike/run the 55-mile Prescott Circle Trail.  So far we’ve covered several segments, and we look forward to exploring more as the year progresses.  We’ve even had some friends join us along the way. Below is a photo of our neighbor Peggy joining us for a segment. Steve plans to do a one-day run of the entire loop later this spring, so our hikes have been his reconnaissance.

January Jam

In January we made the pilgrimage to Rocky Point, Mexico to celebrate January Jam with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and some of our best friends.  Our neighbor Sheri joined us for her first RCPM experience, so we tried to show her the very best of our home away from home. We ate, drank, sang, shopped, walked the beach, did yoga, visited new places (check out the photos from the hole-in-the-wall bakery we found), and had an overall great time.


Michelle, Sheri and I at KM13 – Give a little, Get a little


Sunset on the patio with Sheri, Nancy, and Nica


Jill, Nancy, Sandy, me, Steve, and Mike at Sonoran Grill for burgers


Concert #1 with Michelle, Owen, and Sheri


Roger Clyne in action, concert #2 at Banditos


Michelle, Owen, Steve and I at concert #3, Wrecked at the Reef


Cool, hidden away bakery in Peñasco

We Lost Our Baby

Shortly after returning home from Mexico, our little dog Nica got really sick.  Within 36 hours she went from normal to gone. The vet says she got some kind of bug of unknown origin, got dehydrated from vomiting and diarrhea, and just couldn’t recover.  At less than six pounds, she didn’t have much to fight with.  IMG_3239They don’t think it was anything from our travels south, but we really don’t know what took her from us. Nica gave us seven awesome years of fun.  Her energy, personality, and sometimes annoying habits (anyone missing a sock?) are sadly missed.  Sister Mia is helping us through the loss, and she’s loving the extra attention.IMG_3236

The Year of Marathons

Steve has set a goal of running a marathon a month in 2019.  So, the year ahead will be filled with blog posts related to running events. His first marathon of the year was successfully completed in Charleston, South Carolina on January 12.


Steve crossing the finish line


Touring Charleston

I also ran the Shrimp and Grits 5K, which was held simultaneous to the marathon. Since we traveled so far, we enjoyed a few extra days in the city, which allowed us to learn about a part of the country we’d never visited.

New Orleans was the site of the February race and on the 10th, Steve completed his second marathon of the year, and I completed the 10K.


Crossing the February Finish Line

But the races were just a small part of this trip, which also included time on Bourbon Street, a Mardi Gras parade, and a visit to the National World War II museum, which is not to be missed.


Mardi Gras Fun


Okay, Bourbon Street was a little fun!


Krewe of Chewbacca Mardi Gras Parade


Pacific Theater at the WWII Museum


Dad was in Leyte Gulf during WWII

We’ve got quite a few more adventures planned in the coming months.  We’ll also be in Prescott in between, spending time with Dad and enjoying our beautiful hometown. Stay tuned for more fun!


And Then It Was Over

Our 19 day Panama Canal cruise finished with two final Mexican stops.  But that’s not how it was supposed to be.  As we were leaving the port in Costa Rica, the Captain announced that we would be forgoing our planned stop in Nicaragua due to civil unrest in the country.  Protests over government changes to social security had spread across the country in the days prior to our planned visit.  With an abundance of caution, Princess Cruises decided it was not safe to stop there.

We were pretty bummed about this last minute change since we had planned to take surf lessons in San Juan del Sur. We spent time there a few years ago and really loved the area.  This time, however, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we had two more days at sea, where we continued with our typical sea day activities.  Steve has been training for marathon, scheduled for the week after our cruise.  So, he’s been running and running and running. He became known around the ship as “the runner.”


Steve, the runner



We also spent plenty of time in the gym. I was pleased to be able to continue my cycling training on the nice spin bikes in the aerobics studio.


We finally made it to our next planned stop, Manzanillo, Mexico, after what seemed like a long time at sea.  We’d never been to Manzanillo, so this was another new adventure.  Instead of an excursion, we just explored the beautiful waterfront, and wandered a bit, enjoying the feeling of being on solid ground.

First stop was the local market, where we were in awe of the local fresh water blue crabs.  Fresh seafood was definitely the specialty here.


Next we hopped on the local bus, and after a 45 minute ride through the city, we ended up on one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen.  Playa Miramar was lined with palapas backed by little restaurants that served the coldest beer and the tastiest guacamole.  We wiled away a few hours just taking in the views.

Back on the ship, we were at sea for another two days before our final stop, Ensenada, Mexico.  Ensenada was the port that substituted for San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and most passengers were not too excited about this stop.  Even though we’ve cruised a lot over the years, we had never been to Ensenada, so we were okay with this change.  Once we got there we understood why most of our fellow passengers were not too excited. There’s just not much there!

We walked through the tourist area where we saw similar handicrafts that we can get in Puerto Peñasco.  After about two hours of wandering, we headed back to the ship and prepared to return home the next day.

While we had a great cruise and enjoyed the warm sunshine of the tropics, we were happy to return home to family and friends.  From Los Angeles, we drove to Phoenix to see our dear friends the Heaths and to pick up our buddy Sam.


The three musketeers – Steve, Russ, and Sam

Within two days of arriving home, I came down with bronchitis and spent most of the next week on the couch.  Meanwhile Steve ran and finished the Whiskey Row Marathon, whose motto is “Are You Tough Enough?”  Steve sure is. He finished the grueling 26.2 mile course in just over four hours.  The rest of the week Sam and Steve kept busy with golfing, attending the Whiskey Off-Road bike race here in Prescott, and hanging out.


Sam and Steve at the Whiskey Off Road

Our time with Sam finished up with a quick trip to San Diego. I was asked to sign books at the big ATD conference, so it was a good excuse to visit the beach.  While there we fit in some nice meals, beach time, and a great bike ride in Coronado.

We’re now “nesting” back in Prescott and preparing for our next adventure, which kicks off in about three weeks.  If the Internet gods are on our side, we’ll have more updates for then. Thanks for reading!

Canyoning the Zimatan River and a Haircut in Chiapas

After three relaxing days at sea, we arrived into the port of Huatulco, Mexico. We’d been here one other time on another cruise through the Panama Canal and knew we’d enjoy the day.

A side note: our preference is always to find excursions on our own, rather than booking through the ship. We’ve found that the ship’s excursions are often overpriced and don’t offer the kind of flexibility we like. We’d much rather be in a car instead of a tour bus, with the option to stop when we want if something cool catches our eye. As such, we researched and booked quite a few active adventures prior to setting sail, and our first one was today in Huatulco.

Upon leaving the ship we met Cristian from Oaxaca Expediciones, who led us on our canyoning adventure. Cristian had great reviews on Trip Advisor, so we were comfortable jumping into his car and heading into the outskirts of Huatulco and down a dirt back road.

After about a 40 minute drive we came to a stop overlooking the Zimatan river. After being outfitted with helmets and life jackets, the three of us began our hike up the river. Crossing the river and the scrambling over large boulders, we travelled about a mile and half up the river canyon. It was pretty warm–about 90 degrees. That made getting into the fast moving river all the more refreshing.Once we reached Cristian’s designated spot, we slid into the water to cool off and enjoy the natural hydro massage pools. The massage was provided by the fast moving water, which eventually took us downstream. At some points the water was too shallow to float, so we’d get up and walk.

Eventually we reached a place where the canyon narrowed and the granite walls towered around us. The only way through was by rappelling down the rock face into the water below. Cristian is an accomplished river guide, and he expertly set us up to safely lower ourselves down the 30 foot rock wall on a rope.After the fun rappel, we finished floating back to where we began.

We are probably some of the youngest of the 2000+ passengers on the Island Princess and those who asked about our day seemed amazed when we described our excursion. Since it wasn’t like the ship-sponsored excursions, most seemed to think we were a little crazy. But for us, today was the perfect way to experience Huatulco.

The following day we docked in Puerto Chiapas, our first visit to Mexico’s most southern state. Instead of an excursion here, we opted for a shuttle to the closest city of Tapachula.

Once on every trip Steve likes to get a local haircut and Tapachula seemed like a good place for that. Miguel the barber gave Steve a great cut for less than $3.00. After taking care of business, we wandered the local market, making friends with some of the most friendly people we’ve met in a long time. While selling everything from chicken and meat to vegetables and housewares, everyone had a warm smile for us. Next we move south to Guatemala’s Puerto Quetzal where another adventure awaits.