Category Archives: Travel

Traveling with a puppy.

Shortly after also adopted our adorable puppy Jax, we decided to  visit my brother in Denver.  I wasn’t ready to leave Jax for almost a week.  I’m a little smitten with our puppy.  Now for me, someone who doesn’t like to draw attention to herself, traveling with a puppy can rev up the anxiety.  Luckily with a little research it ended up being fairly painless.

There were a couple of options, Cargo (no way) or under the seat in front of you.  That’s what we opted for.  On Delta it cost us $125 each way for Jax.  We had to call ahead and make a reservation for him.  They only allow so many pets in the main cabin.  The airline will ask for the dimensions of the carrier to make sure it will fit under the seat for type of plane you’ll be on.  Setting it up was easy peasy.

For the pet carrier, we ended up getting Jax a Sherpa – medium through Amazon.com.  These carriers advertise themselves as being made for air travel.  Flygob.com helped us figure out which carrier would be best for Jax. (http://www.flygob.com/airlines/delta)

Since he is so young I was worried about Jax being anxious and that he would be uncomfortable when the air pressure changed .  My vet confirmed that dog ears have to regulate like human ears do.  So we made sure he had a treat stuffed Kong to chew on and also gave him a sedative to try and keep him calm.  When Jax gets upset he has a distress yelp that can break glass!  Happily this combo seemed to work like a charm.

Going through security my husband and I both have the Fast Pass.  We just had to take Jax out of his carrier and hold him while going through security.  The smiles that people get when they see a puppy got us thinking that everyone should get a puppy or kitten to keep them in a good mood going through airport security.

Once in the airport, we determined where our gate was, the headed to the designated pet relief area.  Both Detroit Metro airport and the Denver airport had a spot you could let the dog out of the carrier to relive themselves.  In Detroit it’s an adorable AstroTurf type surface with little fire hydrants.  To clean the area you hit a button and sprinklers come up to give it a good rinse.

We were told not to let him out of the carrier while in the terminal so we just covered his carrier up and he mostly slept.  A decent experience for our first flight with a pup.  Jax made it to Denver and was able to do a lot of playing with his cousin Zoey.

Jax      IMG_20170927_070127

https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/pets.html

http://www.metroairport.com/TravelerInfo/Departing/SpecialAssistance/TravelingwithPets.aspx

Universal Studios and Halloween Horror Nights!

For our 7th wedding anniversary my husband and I headed to Orlando, FL.  We spend 2 days at Universal Studios and both of those nights at Halloween Horror Nights.  Our feet ached at the end but OMG was it worth it!

The hotel:  We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Major Ave.  The room were fine, the continental breakfast was fine (stick to the dry good and juice/coffee.  The eggs and meat were not so good).  The downside was that through Universal’s Travel bookers we were told there was a shuttle from this hotel, which turned out to not be the case.  There was a shuttle from a nearby hotel and you had to get passes from the near by hotel at the butt crack of dawn each day.  One day we took a cab ($10 for <1 mile after tip), another day we shuttled to the park.  We walked back each night because the shuttle does not run late for Halloween Horror nights.

First of all some basic tips:

  • Some of the Rides require you to put your things in a locker which they will say is free but most of them will charge you after after a certain amount of time.  In longer lines this can be an issue and you may end up paying $3 for only a few minutes.  The only one that we had to use that was actually free was the one for the Harry Potter adventure.  
  • Go on off peak days if at all possible.  We did not need express passes for any of the rides and the longest wait was 30 minutes.  We were given some passes when a ride we were on broke down and we ended up giving some away.  
  • Unless you are going to drink ALOT of soda, the special cups that give you .99 refills are NOT worth it (unless you just want the cup.  I got a butterbeer one just because).
  • If you are staying near the park, you CAN cross the main road just before the entrance.  We were actually told we couldn’t by the Universal Travel people, but there was a light up cross walk and we walked home both night with no issues at all!  
  • Dining near the park is just as expensive as dining in the park, although the food might be better outside of the park, depending on where you go.  
  • We were given “complimentary” City Walk passes for fun and dining! You don’t actually need a pass for City Walk, it’s before the parks and open to anyone.
  • You can apparently take in water bottles, we saw several people go in through the gates with them as long as they were sealed.
  • Take water protection for Islands of Adventure – the rides are worth it!
  • Cabs to the park from nearby hotels START at $8.00 one way and parking all day is $16.00

Now onto the fun!

Day 1 we started out and Islands of Adventure and headed straight for Hogs Mead/Harry Potter’s adventure.  It is a brilliant place and I loved it.  The entire area is made up to look like Hogs Mead village in winter complete with shops and butter beer for sale. We had lunch and three broomsticks and browsed in Ollivanders wand shop.

HP Butterbeer HP_town

 

Hogwart’s castle is awe inspiring even before you go inside! I felt like a kid I was almost skipping as we go closer to the gate!  Oh and if you can handle the sugar rush you MUST get some Butterbeer!

HP hogwart good pic

I’ll try not to give too much away about this but it was worth the wait in line.  We even went back a second time after completing the rest of the park.  This time though the ride broke down and we were stuck staring at a dementor for over an hour!  They eventually had to evacuate us all from the ride which involved straitening all the carts right side up then sliding them to a platform.  Then one by one they unloaded us from the carts and escorted us out.  Management met us with water bottles, express passes and apologies which was nice.

Islands of adventure also had all the water rides which we didn’t go prepared for but went on anyway!  It was hot out so it was fun. I do recommend wearing a suit or bringing a poncho (or buying one in the gift shops).  We did notice later that vendors were selling towels near by *L*

The second day we did Universal Studios which was a blast!   Although my husband does NOT recommend having a Krusty Burger in Simpsons land.  We ate in Moe’s tavern and shot at Aliens with Men In Black and took part in making a Disaster Movie!  I do think if we go again I will take my motion sick pills.  The rides didn’t used to bother me but something in Florida was kicking my allergies into over drive.

We LOVED the transformers ride too! One thing we noticed over and over was the attention to detail in the parts leading up to the actual ride.   Just taking all of that in was half the fun.  Even in the spider man ride there were office cubicles inside the news rooms with half eaten sandwiches and phones ringing!

IMG_1669

At night Universal Studios kicked turned into Haunted House haven with Halloween Horror Nights!  http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/.  FABULOUS!  The main theme this year was the Walking Dead.  There were 8 haunted houses and we did 6 of them.  We could have done more but the last 2 we didn’t know much about and we were “dead” on our feet! <–bad pun intended!

Univ_zombie

The ones we did that were just ok: Walking Dead, La Llorona and Resident Evil.  I think we expected a little more.  I think we were expecting a little more, you kinda know what you get with zombies.  The second night were the best!  We started with American Werewolf in London and for the first time my husband jumped!  Very scary werewolf action AND for Doctor Who fans, there was a TARDIS near the end of the haunt!

Next we ran to Cabin in the Woods which was very fun except I wish the merman wasn’t bad animatronic :-/.  It contained some of the other scary creatures and you weren’t always sure what was going to jump out and what was safely behind glass.

Evil dead was good and gory but not as scary as I thought it might be, but there was some good jump out at you scares!

Kayaking on the AuSable River

As a teenager my brother and his friends would take a week every year and kayak over a long weekend on the AuSable camping along the way.  Even after we went into the Army he would come home for those trips with his two closets friends.  Now he lives in Colorado and camps all over the place out there :)

I thought of him and his friends many times over the 4 hour journey my husband and I braved on the AuSable.  Braved might not be the right word….drifted is probably better.  The AuSable is beautiful.  Deep enough to dive or jump from a tree in some parts and shallow enough to beach your kayak in other parts.  We went on a Saturday in early August and the weather was perfect.  We rented from http://www.oscodacanoe.com/ just inside Oscoda, MI.  We arrived about 20 minutes early and checked in.  The driver was ready right on time to take us and another small group up the river.  They had kayaks already there and got those in the river for us.

My beautiful picture<—– that’s my handsome hubby.

The first half of the trip was quiet and serene.  The second half is where they drop the tube floaters off.  It was like running into floating parties all along that part of the river.  And yes they actually rent floating coolers to attach to your tubes or boats as you float along.

My beautiful picture

At one point we found a quiet place to put up our kayaks and play in the water.  We took some fun picture of the little fish that kept swimming up to us.  If you stayed still for a few seconds they would surround your ankles!

My beautiful pictureMy beautiful pictureMy beautiful picture

 

The trip was wonderful!  An inexpensive and relaxing way to spend an afternoon.  We probably spend more than 4 hours on the river since the last half we had the wind whipping into us.  More than once when we would stop paddling were pretty sure we were going backwards.

My beautiful pictureMy beautiful picture

We were not nearly as sore the next day as we figured we would be.  I attribute part of that to playing in the cold waters of Lake Huron the next morning.

For more information about the AuSable River http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_52259_31442-95630–,00.html

 

 

 

 

Sleeping Bear National Park

Ran away from home last weekend! We took off Friday and headed over to Honor where I found a cute little motel, aptly called the Honor Motel, http://www.honormotel.com/ .  This was a good spot to be.  Not far from the National park, has a mini-fridge and microwave.  To save $ I took hard boiled eggs and pre-cooked sausage patties with us.  It has the decorated in the 80’s charm that most older motels do.  It was comfy, in a good local and not too expensive.  Perfect for our last minute plans.
On Saturday we headed to Glen Arbor to see about renting some kayaks.  We found Crystal River Outfitters http://www.crystalriveroutfitters.com/ where you can rent kayaks, canoes and bicycles. Having only a day to play we opted for the 2-3 hour kayak trip on Crystal River.  It was beautiful although you have to be careful because it can get very shallow in spots.  My husband and I got stuck more than once on a sand bar.
There are three points where you need to walk the kayak over the road.  One is optional as the drainage tubes are large though to slide through.  They call this shooting the tube!
We had lunch at a deli next to Crystal River Outiftters and then hit the beach at Good Harbor Bay on Lake Michigan.  We blew up a new toy and lounged on chilly but refreshing Lake Michigan for a couple hours.  We also learned a valuable lesson, tie your toy off or anchor it.  Trying to drag the new toy back towards the beach after drifting pretty far out was quite the chore.  Or so my husband tells me.  Honestly I kept offering to help! 😉
Lastly, because we are nuts we did the dune trail at Sleeping Bear  http://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm. If you don’t know it, it’s up and down sand dunes for something like 2.5 miles and then you have to turn around when you reach the lake and do it again. *ow*  I am not ashamed to admit I was ready to quit 3/4 of the way to the lake *L*.  My best recommendation, is do what the guide notices say, take a snack (or two) and plenty of water.  Next time I will keep my bathing suit on to cool off before we head back from the lake.  The background image of sand and water on my site is the view from the top of dune #1.
Then it was time for cold beer and doing nothing.
**We saw a few people on the dunes in bare feet.  This seemed like a good idea to my sand weighted tennis shoes, but each person we spoke with said their feet were burning on the sand and it got to be like stepping on sand paper after that long hike.  Except for one little girl whom my husband over heard saying she hoped the sand exfoliated her feet!