Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Vacation of 2012 - Booked

Did I mention how much I loved my visit to Washington DC?  So much that when I returned, I talked Kim into taking a trip with me to DC in the spring, timed to be there for the blossom festival.  Not that it was a hard sell, Kim and I are both CNN junkies and we're obsessed with US politics.  (Which, let's face it, are vastly more interesting than Canadian politics, right?)

So, watch for more updates on this trip.  We are leaving the morning of Monday April 2, and returning Thursday evening, April 5.  The hotel is booked, it's just a block or two from the White House.  !!!!  (I still can't believe I talked Kim into staying at the Sofitel.  :)   )

Next up, booking the flights this week.  After that, we need to plan our itinerary.  We both want to see the Newseum, and a tour of the Capitol building.  I want to spend some time at the Smithsonian, and Kim wants to get to the International Spy Museum.  And we're planning a trip to Georgetown so Kim can get to DC Cupcakes

Christmas Preparation - Step 1: Get a Tree

Kim and I decided to get our trees early this year, so we went to our favourite place, Fiesta Farms last Saturday.   We each bought a Fraser Fir - mine is about 6 feet, Kim's is about 7 feet.

Here's the before - the photo's not that great, not sure why.  Did I forget the flash?  Hmmm...

And then, after I did the lights twice (had to go and get more lights) and about 4 hours of pulling pretty decorations from boxes, here it is - again with the not so great photo:

You can still see the boxes in the background.  I really need to organize the ornaments this year.  Anyway, there are 900 mini white lights on the tree, and a gazillion glass ornaments.

After a few weeks there will be less than a gazillion ornaments, as the cats have their way with the bottom of the tree.  They always manage to smash a few, or Daisy does with her tail.

Still, it's mighty pretty, and worth the effort I think.

On now to step 2: get the presents organized!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meeting Bill Clinton!!

Could it be any more exciting!  I just shook Bill Clinton's hand and got the legendary hand on the shoulder from him too.

Of course before this amazing event, I had to buy a wristband and then wait outside in the freezing cold in a huge lineup for two hours this afternoon.  Had I done a bit more planning, I would have brought a coat.  There were lots of women primping in the line, and at least a few expat Americans.

All of this in support of Clinton's new book, which of course was the whole point of the event.  As part of the purchase, I received a copy of the book and Bill signed it!  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to ask for a personalized inscription, which I guess would have been tough for him given that there were about 1,000 people in line and he shook hands with each person and then signed each book.

Security was pretty tight, there was private security, Toronto police, and secret service people all over the place.

Here's a photo of the inside of my book!

And the invite from Indigo:

Tula My Love

Don't tell anyone, but Tula really is my favourite.  She's such a pretty kitty, and has become cuddly over the years, though she didn't start out that way.  I adopted her from a lane downtown, where she was living outside, about 10 years ago.  She's a cutie - here are a couple of pictures of her sticking out her tongue at me.

Sleep Study

How exciting, a blog post about my sleep study at St. Michael's.  I have had this booked for months, and it was time to go in for the test, just a couple of nights after returning from vacation.

It was not as bad as I thought it would be - there were lots of cords and wires, but the room was clean and quiet, and the lab technicians were super nice.

Caribbean Cruise - Not So Hot

Well I don't have a lot to show for this trip.  Honestly, this part of my vacation was disappointing.

We left Baltimore and travelled two days to Puerto Rico, then on to St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  Yes, I did say Haiti, the cruise line has a private island just off Haiti.

The ship was kinda shabby, tired, and a little worn and dirty in places.  I'm all for old people, after all, mom and my Uncle Dave are pretty old, but the ship was full of 70-year-olds with scooters, walkers, and oxygen tanks.  It was a bit much, I was truly concerned about how I would get to the lifeboats in an emergency without jumping over all of the apparatus in use everywhere.

The food and service were great.  But, it was constant upselling on drinks and more, and of course every place we went to visit we were definitely targets of locals who must wait for cruise lines to dock.  I just didn't enjoy it.

I had been looking forward to seeing St. Thomas and doing some shopping, but again with the hard sell from the locals and I just found it unpleasant.  The prices were not that great so I didn't end up buying anything at all.

These pictures are of St. Thomas - but what you can't see are the parrots in dirty cages just below the line of the image - it was too depressing to take the photo.  I guess the only wildlife remaining in St. Thomas are in cages.

It's probably clear that I wouldn't recommend this trip to anyone.

Washington DC!

What a thrill it was to visit Washington DC.  It was by far the highlight of my vacation.

I started out in Baltimore, staying at Henderson's Wharf Inn.  It was a nice little boutique hotel, and I had a cozy pretty room.  As soon as I checked into the hotel, I booked a train to Washington.  Nice train!  It was called Acela and I guess it's the high speed train that travels along the corridor between Boston and Washington DC.   I'm definitely taking this train again - fantastic way to travel.  I travelled from Baltimore to Union Station in Washington in just over 30 minutes - nice.

In Washington I had pre-booked a trolley bus tour and I picked it up from Union Station.  The tour went all over the place and here were some highlights.

The Capitol Building:

The Washington Monument:


The Jefferson Memorial:

A nice hotel near the White House:

Washington was beautiful, there was so much to see.  Kim and I are talking about a trip to DC for a few days to see the Blossom Festival, and visit the Smithsonian, Newseum, and so many other places.