Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Safari at Safari Wilderness Ranch

Safari Wilderness Ranch entrance

On Sunday, Ron and I spent the afternoon at Safari Wilderness, a 260-acre ranch located in Florida’s Green Swamp near Lakeland. The ranch is home to over 50 species of exotic animals from Africa and Asia, including antelope, deer, water buffalo, Watusi cattle, zebras, llamas, and even a wart hog. In 2012, the ranch opened to the public for tours, but it is not a zoo or a theme park. The animals roam and graze freely around the natural Florida landscape.

Most people visiting the ranch take the Vehicle Safari tour, which is offered twice daily for $75 a person and lasts about two hours. But this month the ranch is celebrating its annual Pumpkin Safari with shorter tours leaving every hour from 1 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays for $39. The Pumpkin Safari also includes a free pumpkin to carve or give to the animals for enrichment.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Our All-Inclusive Weekend on Norwegian Sky

Norwegian Sky


We booked this cruise just two weeks before the trip. We were stuck at home during Tropical Storm Hermine, bored and dreaming of sunny skies, so Ron started searching around on the internet and found a good deal on a 3-day cruise on Norwegian Sky. We sailed on Sky a few years ago, but since then it had become an Open Bar ship, meaning that alcoholic beverages were included in the price. No need to sign for drinks, no 3-page statement at the end of cruise. Sounded great!

Since Ron didn’t want to deal with driving, we flew to Miami on Friday morning. It was a quick cab ride to the port using the new Port Miami Tunnel and we were onboard by noon. Our first stop was to drop off our carry-on bags at Captain Cook’s Lounge. This is a great feature on Sky – you can bring your bags onboard with you and check them in the lounge until the cabins are available. I loved not having to leave our luggage with a porter, wondering how many hours it would be before it showed up outside our cabin. It also meant that there weren’t 2000 people dragging their suitcases around the buffet. :-)  I wish every ship had this option.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Maui 2016 Part 4

Thursday – Waihe'e Ridge Trail

The plan for our last full day on Maui was to hike the Waihe'e Ridge Trail with Jenny. Jenny had been trying to get me to go hiking for a while, and I was looking forward to doing something together even though I was a little nervous about keeping up with her. I hadn’t been exercising much lately and was definitely not in my best shape.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail was on the northwest side of the island, off of a winding road just past Mendes Ranch where we had taken the horseback riding tour in 1999. It was a two-and-a-half mile trail, beginning at 1000 feet and ascending to Lanilili Peak at 2563 feet. We got to the trailhead around 9 o’clock and started up. It didn’t take long for me to realize that being out of shape was not my problem. My problem was that I’m a klutz and have an intense fear of falling, particularly falling off cliffs. :-)

The hike started simple enough, a somewhat steep walk up a concrete path. But once we got into the woods, it was all slippery mud and tree roots. Jenny warned us, “There will be falling. Just accept it.” Sure enough, I quickly slipped and fell on my side with my foot stuck under a tree root, covering myself with mud. Well, at least I’d gotten that out of the way! Fortunately, Ron saved the day and broke off several large branches for us to use as walking sticks, which made the going much more manageable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Maui 2016 Part 3

Wednesday – Haleakala

The first thing we did when we got up Wednesday morning was check the top of Haleakala. No clouds! It looked like a perfect day for a drive up the mountain. We left Wailea at 7 o’clock and made it to the summit at around 9, passing through several different climate zones as we climbed from sea level to the peak at 10,000 feet. First there were the gentle slopes of Haleakala’s upcountry, with jacaranda trees and flower farms. Then we drove through groves of tall trees. And finally we reached the zig zagging switchbacks through scrublands with the clouds below us. The crazy curves were even starting to make Ron feel disoriented. We rounded one turn and there was a nene (the endangered Hawaiian goose) standing in the middle of road! Thank goodness, the car behind us wasn’t following too closely so Ron was able to stop and wait for it to move out of the way. I was very glad we hadn’t had to make the choice of hitting the nene or driving off the cliff. I think the nene might have lost that one.

upcountry Maui