Home > Category: Travel

Viewing the 'Travel' Category

Booked My Next Trip

June 26th, 2021 at 11:33 pm

This morning, I booked 2 round-trip flights for Mom and me to fly to southern Illinois.  Afterwards, I booked an airbnb.   Why southern Illinois?  My daughter and son-in-law moved there about 1.5 years ago.  Last month, my son and daughter-in-law did the same.  They are all four living in the same small town.  The place I booked is a vacation home on a lake, complete with a hot tub.  We should have a really fun week, just hanging out and being together.  And playing cards, of course. Wink

It's going to be a fun trip.  I am looking forward to seeing my son of course, but I am REALLY looking forward to seeing my daughter.  I haven't seen her since we parted in Florida in March 2020.  (Whereas I have seen my son several times since then).

I have been setting money aside for this trip and have it covered, even though my current cash balance is a bit lean.  This month, I had to pay my 6 month insurance premium ($947.26), put a new starter and brakes in my car ($701.30), bought myself some new clothes ($177.72), plus spent money for birthday gifts and a motel room (see below).  So even though I have been saving diligently, I am ending the month with less cash than I started with.

I have a grand-niece and a grand-nephew who are first cousins and were born on the same day.  SB and I went to Willits for their birthday parties a few weekends ago; they both turned 9.  I paid for the motel room and birthday gifts, as it is my family.  It was a very fun weekend.  I got to spend some one on one time with two nieces, my brother, my sister-in-law, the birthday girl grand-niece, and my newest grand-niece who was born this past February. 

Money Going Out

April 2nd, 2021 at 01:52 am

So nine days ago, our little Bella got hit by a car on our property.  Not run over, but hit. (She ignored SB's commands and ran to the car, SB ran after her yelling for the car to stop).  The car did stop, but still she collided with it.  She had a trip to the 24 hour emergency vet and surgery where they sedated her to give her an xray and scan.  She had no internal injuries or broken bones, thank goodness.  They dressed her wounds, gave her pain pills, and discharged her.   She was very sore the first few days, but has been walking, jumping, etc. as normal for several days now.  So that set me back $761.27.

My medical bills for my hospital stay are all in I think, and my share is just a few dollars under 1k.  I have been having more tests though, so expect more bills to pay.

My phone has been acting up for a few months.  It freezes, it shuts down, in short it has become unreliable.  So I am in the market for a new phone sooner rather than later.  I am also planning to switch from Ting back to Verizon prepaid.  Even though I am on Ting's Verizon service, my calls drop more than they don't.  It will be more expensive, but it is not acceptable to be unable to rely on cell service even in town.  (I don't even count from home.  No matter what, cell service at home will remain unreliable.)

And the most fun money going out, we booked our next cruise.  We sail in May 2022.  We chose an Alaskan cruisetour, which includes staying in the Princess Lodge in Denali.

SB and I both received our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today. So far, we both feel fine.

Road Trip to Manhattan, Nevada

July 5th, 2020 at 06:08 pm

I took a vacation day on Thursday, and Mom and I went on a short road trip to Manhattan, NV. My family lived there briefly in the winter of 1969-1970 and Mom has been wanting to reminisce.

I left home early Thursday morning (with Bella), headed to Mom's, then we were on to Tonopah, NV. We stayed at a wonderful old hotel called the Mizpah Hotel. I highly recommend it, should you ever find yourself in the area. Our junior suite was spacious, luxurious, full of beautiful antiques, and cost $129 per night. We could not go into the restaurant because I had Bella, but they have a wonderful lounge in the lobby where pets are welcome, and you can order and be served from the menu. The menu was small but the food was excellent; Mom said they serve the best fish & chips she has ever had. I ordered a burger and garlic fries, and they were both delicious.

Friday morning we were on to Manhattan. The population was 22 (including the 4 of us) when we lived there, but has since ballooned to 124. The retired postmistress still lived in town, and my mom was able to visit with her for awhile. She wasn't much younger than my mom and remembered people Mom had known. That was fun for her. Next, we headed to Fallon where the daughter of a long-time friend (now deceased) of my mother lives. Mom hadn't seen this daughter in about 30 years. We stayed in her home for about 3 hours and had a nice, fun visit. Next, we headed to Fernley, NV. We had learned a few days before that coincidentally, my brother and his wife were planning to be there for a few days! We met for dinner and had a nice time.

Saturday morning we were on the road early. I had planned to take Mom home from there before heading home myself. However, Bella seemed to be tiring of the trip so I changed my route and took her home first (leaving her with SB), making a round trip to Mom's to take her home. I got home about 6pm, tired from all of that driving.

Today I am just kind of taking it easy. I may or may not get my June budget report and 5th wheel payment #14 posted today.

Home From Cruise

March 27th, 2020 at 01:43 am

Well, that was an eventful vacation. As you know, we were booked on the Caribbean Princess. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday, 3/10/20. My daughter drove from Illinois and met us at our motel. We were having dinner in the attached restaurant about 9pm when I received emails from Princess that our cruise had been cancelled. The email also said we would receive a 100% refund plus a 100% credit towards a future Princess voyage. (I have already received credits to my credit card). Following a short discussion, I called VacationsToGo and was able to book a 7 day cruise on the Holland America Veendam leaving Fort Lauderdale the next day. It had a different itinerary of course. The ship is a much smaller ship than we are used to, but it was perfectly nice. Because of all of the cancellations (I assume), the fare was surprisingly low.
Before boarding the Veendam, every passenger had their temperature taken and anyone out of the normal range was not allowed to board.
We visited Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Ocho Rios in Jamaica, and Cozumel in Mexico. We were scheduled to visit Grand Cayman but were not allowed to stop there. We returned to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday 3/18/20. Since we had originally booked a 10 day cruise, we had a few extra days to play with.
We decided to return to the same motel (it was affordable, surprisingly nice, with a great shuttle service). On Thursday, we visited the Everglades and took a fan boat into the swamp to view wildlife. For me, that was the highlight of the trip. I called to see if we could change our flights from Saturday 3/21/20 to Friday 3/20/20, and if so what it would cost. Well, they switched our flights with no fee whatsoever plus a $52 voucher per person.
As always, it was no fun to say good-bye to my daughter after having enjoyed her company non-stop for 10 days. We had a wonderful time together, though.
As it happened, we landed in Saramento a few hours before the shelter-in-place order in our state went into effect.
So what is going on with my job? It turns out that my department has been deemed essential so we are working. Some people are choosing to work from home which isn't really a good option for me as our internet is unreliable (to put it mildly). I have chosen to self-isolate and am taking sick time. (My supervisor is fully aware that I am not actually sick, nor is anyone in my family). We are having a lot of rain, hail, and snow, so I am not even going outside much.

Going With a Partial; Almost Time for Cruise

March 7th, 2020 at 05:16 pm

On Thursday my new dentist confirmed that a partial would work for me. So, that is the route I am going. I realize it will be an adjustment to get used to wearing it, but lots of people do it and I can do it too. The cost for a partial is about $1600 before insurance pays their portion. Currently, there is a balance of $2232.79 in my dental sinking fund. I will wait until all is done and paid for, then throw the remaining balance at debt.

Yesterday was payday and I was able to send $248.29 off to the 5th wheel loan, bringing the balance down to $34,351.95. It feels great to make a little progress.

We fly to Florida Tuesday morning and sail on Wednesday. We are not canceling our trip due to the current panic, which I personally feel is blown way out of proportion.

The cruise line sent an email stating that we can cancel for a 100% credit towards another sailing if we wish. We don't. Also, they are crediting us $200 per cabin as a thank you for not canceling.

Our ship is the Caribbean Princess. So I guess if you hear that the Caribbean Princess has been detained someplace, you'll know what is going on with me.

Budget Report May 2018

June 10th, 2018 at 04:40 pm

I did (mostly) receive the past due rent. The money orders for March were dated March 1 and totalled $1215. So apparently, the tenant purchased the money orders, put them someplace, then thought he had mailed them. All of the info regarding what MoneyGram had told him was obviously fabricated. When I received them, I texted him to let him know I had received them then asked where he had found them. No response. No explanation as to why they were $35 short.

Yesterday I received June rent in full, but no additional $35.

Regarding paying for the cruise, I did lower my 457 plan contribution from 15% to 3%. I also changed my withholding from single 0 to single 1. The net result to my paycheck is an additional $214.02 per. All of this will go towards the cruise.

At the end of May, I had $630.80 saved. I have already purchased my daughter and son-in-law's airfare, and I have already paid $800 towards the cruise. So I still need to pay $4,370, which means I need to save $3,739.20 more.

My Mom and nephew came up here the Friday before Mother's Day and stayed (at the bed and breakfast in town) until Sunday afternoon. We had such a good time.

My birth mother is coming for a visit towards the end of July. She has a camper van so will stay right on the property with us. I will take some time off while she is here. I'm really looking forward to that.

My former father-in-law died about a month ago. I went down to the viewing (not the service) and did get to speak a bit with my former mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. The financial situation former m-i-l finds herself now in is not good. Various family members and friends helped contribute towards the modest yet tasteful final expenses. (F-i-l and m-i-l did have some money set aside for this, but it was not enough) I helped a little, as he was my children's grandfather. Despite the circumstances, it was nice to see all of them.

Last Match; Cruise is Booked

April 23rd, 2018 at 08:23 pm

Last week, my final employee match was made to my Simple IRA, in the amount of $1070.00. I plan to roll it into my Roth IRA and pay the tax. It will be nice to have a bit of new money in there.

I booked our cruise on Saturday and paid an $800 deposit. Princess was having a special promotion, which is still going on I think, no gratuities. I hope that doesn't mean the crew forego their share of the gratuity, but rather that Princess pays it. That saves me $675, my mom $270 and SB $135.

The balance is due Oct 24, my late brother's birthday.

Paying For The Cruise

April 15th, 2018 at 07:33 pm

So I've been thinking about how exactly I am going to pay for that planned family cruise. I loathe the debt I am already carrying and am uninterested in carrying more.

After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to cut my 457 plan contributions from 15% to 3%. I will bank the extra take home pay and should have enough by January to pay in full. I need 7k to cover 5 fares, port taxes, gratuities, and air fare for 2. I have $1,356.25 in my travel/vacation fund right now, with 9 more $150 deposits budgeted for this year. That's $2700, I need another $4,300. I calculate I will take home an additional $2,808 this year from reducing 457 contributions. That still leaves $1500. I do have those 2 extra paycheck months. I think I can do it.

I think my retirement plans can withstand the hit. I am on track to surpass my minimum nest egg goal. This trip is very important to me. I will fill out the paperwork tomorrow and expect to see the extra take home pay beginning in May.

In Colorado Springs

June 30th, 2017 at 04:56 pm

We are in Colorado Springs!

Mom, nephew, SB and I hit the road Saturday morning. We hit Las Vegas in the early evening and checked into our clean-but-no-frills motel a few miles from The Strip. At $120 per room, it was the most reasonable deal we could find in Vegas on a Saturday night. We had dinner at a Claim Jumper restaurant and took in some sights on The Strip.

Sunday we visited Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, and then stopped for the night in a little place called Carmel Junction just outside of Zion. The motel was much nicer and thus was a bit pricey at $189 per room. (I know it is all relative, but that is more than I usually like to pay). They had a little restaurant which was a bit overpriced but the food was quite good, including their own fresh baked bread. Also, they had a beautiful pool and hot tub area, with beautiful views.

Monday morning we visited the north rim of the Grand Canyon, which is less visited than the south rim, and we did see why. It is beautiful, but definitely less grand. Here's a pic:

Afterwards, we set off for Mesa Verde National Park. Monday evening, we stopped for the night in Towaoc, Colorado at an Ute Indian casino. It is very new and cushy, and we stayed for $89 per room! We had a nice relaxing evening enjoying the amenities. I gambled for maybe 15 minutes. I started with a $20 (all I am willing to spend on gambling), chose a machine, and fed in my $20. I played it for 10 minutes or so, cashing out $19.75. I chose another machine, played it 3 times, and cashed out $76.55. I was done at that point. SB stayed in the casino, but I went back to the room and changed for the pool and hot tub. Later, SB came back to our room $48 richer. So the casino paid for our room for the night. Thanks, casino!

Tuesday morning we got up and drove to Mesa Verde. We visited the park, saw the cliff dwellings, and then hit the road. We made it to Alamosa and decided that was far enough. We got rooms in a Fairfield Inn paying about $150 each. There was not much to see and we were all tired so we grabbed dinner at a Wendy's and called it a night.

Wednesday morning we had breakfast at the hotel then hit the road for another 3 hours and finally arrived in Colorado Springs. And here we are! We will be here for a week, hanging out with Mr and Mrs M180 and taking in the local sights.

We ended up renting a house on VRBO for $1500 for the week. Since we need 2 rooms per night, this works out so much better. We have a whole house to enjoy, complete with laundry room. We visited a supermarket and have fixings for meals here. It is a lovely house very tastefully appointed, and we can see Garden of the Gods from our living room window!

Interestingly, the owners of the house have said they are "just a few minutes away" in their cabin, and we can call if we need anything. I think what they are doing is offering both places for rent on VRBO and moving back and forth to accomodate their renters. Maybe they are using the income for living expenses, or to pay off their mortgage, or to pad their nest egg. How creative! Colorado Springs is home to a University of Colorado campus, an Air Force Academy, an Air Force base, an Army base, and a National Guard base. Plus, it has a great deal of natural beauty. I'll bet there are a lot of people wanting to come and visit for a week or so.

I am so happy to be here for a week with my daughter and other loved ones. Life is so good. Smile

Home From Fun Overnight Trip; Upcoming Plans

April 3rd, 2017 at 12:46 am

I had a fun overnight trip yesterday with some long-time girlfriends. One of whom was visiting from Tulsa, OK and flew back home today.

There were 5 of us, and we drove up to Grass Valley to stay at an old hotel. It's sort of infamous, having housed several US Presidents and other notable guests such as Mark Twain. And it is supposedly haunted, which adds to the ambiance. We had a great, giggly time. We made a run to the Sacramento airport late this morning and I returned home about 2 hours ago. Here are a few pics from our hotel room. I wish I had thought to snap a shot of the elevator, which was the old fashioned scrolly ironwork kind.

That last shot was from the balcony, which we enjoyed. We had two rooms, the other was similarly appointed.

Next weekend, SB and I are going to Bodega Bay with another couple. We have rented a house for the weekend.

The following weekend, J and his girlfriend are getting married in her grandparents' back yard.

The weekend after that, I am flying to Spokane, WA with my mother for a 4 day visit with my first cousin and his wife. My mother and father raised him for a good chunk of his childhood.

A road trip has been planned for the last week of June and first week of July. SB, my mother, my nephew, and myself will hit the road in a rented mini-van (which I was able to rent through for just under $350 per week including taxes). All of the plans are not finalized, but we will be in Colorado Springs for almost 1 week spending time with MrsM180 and hubby.

And there you have it.

A Second Roofer Has Returned My Call!!

November 4th, 2016 at 11:38 pm

At this point, I have put calls in to several more roofers. One just called back! I spoke with him at length, and he has promised to come by Monday, then email me a bid.

I am leaving Sunday for a week in Tahoe. I plan to read, color in my new adult coloring book with my new colored pencils and fine-tipped markers, cross-stitch, and just generally chilaxe. My kids are staying home; couldn't talk any of them into it.

Home From Cruise

October 13th, 2016 at 12:00 am

Well, I got home Sunday from the cruise. SB and I had a great time, and we caught some new Pokemon. Stick Out Tongue It was nice to have time to re-connect as a couple with no other distractions.

The service for my cousin was very nice. He taught math at both a high school and community college in San Diego. The service was on his college campus and was attended by hundreds of colleagues and students. His mother especially was comforted that he had been so well liked, loved, and respected by those who knew him. Still, it is sad to say goodbye to someone so young. My cousin was not married but left behind a partner of 10 years. I had never met the partner before; he is a very nice man and is just devastated.

Seeing family I had not seen in many years was nice. Of course, this sort of thing makes you contemplate your own mortality. It is sobering to realize how many years it has been since you have seen cousin so-and-so; how quickly your life goes by.

This trip was a bit pricey. A group of my family were staying in a Marriott Suites hotel, so I stayed there too. I usually opt for more economical lodging, but I wanted to be where my family was. SB paid for the cruise, but the additional 3 nights of lodging is all on me. That is only right since it was my family and my desire to attend the service.

So my little CurveBall Fund at WF will be taking a hit. Otherwise, I would have to carry credit card debt and that does not appeal. I am not certain I will have 5k earmarked for a new roof this spring. I could maybe put it off another year, but I don't really want to do that. I am still not even certain 5k will do it. I used an online estimator tool which said my roof should cost 4k - 6k. More than a month ago, a local roofing company said they would be coming by to measure and then email me an estimate. I am still waiting for that. I emailed them again today.

I have applied for a HELOC at Wells Fargo. We will see what they say. I'm not certain I will need to borrow, but it doesn't cost anything to have the HELOC open and ready to go.

Well, I am off to my second job. This is my third night, and I may or may not need one more to finish up. The week I work at my second job in the evenings is always a long week.