2018-11-27 Trip to Nashville, TN. Stayed at Opryland Hotel 2 nights

From Atlanta to Opryland is about 250 miles and 3 hours and 45 minutes drive. Of course, with a full bus, we have frequent breaks.

I traveled with a motorcoach bus group called Seniors On the Go Travel. The owner is Cathy Stokes and the website is named “Seniors On the Go Tours”. NOTE: I “always” have a great time with this group! (AND, I somehow manage to EAT-TOO-MUCH.)

It was really cold in Atlanta (about 25 Farenheit) when we left. This trip was not as ‘flawless’ as others that I have been on. (See the last paragraph at the end.) A short description of the tour was :

Tuesday lunch = Bell Buckle Cafe in Bell Buckle, TN; dinner = Opryland Hotel Showroom, Trace Adkins Christmas show (and it was VERY GOOD)!;

Wednesday = hotel buffet breakfast, Gen Jackson Showboat lunch and show, ICE Exhibit at Opryland (indoor temperature is 9 degrees F), night = Ryman Auditorium Christmas show with Amy Grant and Vince Gill;

Thursday = hotel buffet breakfast, guided-bus-tour of the city (stop at Parthenon), and return to Atlanta. We learned a lot about the city and I was impressed with all of the new buildings and the growth. Also, the replica-sized Parthenon was interesting.

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The shows were WONDERFUL! 2-Christmas-shows with 3 well-known stars! Our visit was the week after Thanksgiving and the Opryland Hotel schedules a lot of tour-groups for this period. The hotel was comfortable and had designated the “Magnolia” area for tour-groups. The room where Trace Adkins had a show at night was transformed to a buffet breakfast area for the tour-groups each morning. Breakfast was well-organized, well-attended and the food was good.
The hotel has 4000 rooms and it is easy to get ‘lost’ frequently.  Fortunately, there are many signs and maps.   I was fortunate to attend a convention there about 20 years ago and was aware of the ‘old’ area before the new construction and the water-park. The conservatory is impressive and the water-fountain light-show is shown several times a night. We had an included ticket for the water-barge ride in the conservatory and enjoyed the Christmas decorations. Extra-impressive was the outdoor lighting and nativity scene. I walked around many of the paths and saw many of the shops and restaurants, but there were sections that I did not cover. (There was not enough time on the trip, we could see the water-park as we drove past the outside, but – I never walked to it.)

On the return trip to Atlanta, the bus-driver stopped at an exit in the mountains because an engine ‘red-check-light’ came on. He called his company mechanical advisors and performed many tests to try and resolve the issue. The light persisted and, after a while, the bus-company headquarters decided to dispatch another bus for our return. Before the relief-bus arrived, the driver was advised to continue with the trip and plan to intercept the dispatched-bus. I wasn’t told the problem and solution, but – I believe that the red-check-light was due to something in the gas-line and with high-engine-revolutions, the clog in the gas-line dissipated. The phone-mechanic cleared the bus to travel – but it took about 3 hours to have the issue resolved enough to continue the trip. I returned home about midnight.

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). <Note: I sold the car in September.> The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Because the pictures take a long time to load, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-10-31 Trip to Biloxi to Beau Rivage Casino – (Ending date 11-02)

Using Google-Maps, the trip from Atlanta, GA to Biloxi,MS is 387 miles.

I travelled with a motorcoach bus group called Seniors On the Go Travel. The owner is Cathy Stokes and the company website is named “Seniors On the Go Tours”.

Note: About a year ago, I went to Biloxi with this group and posted pictures of the trip on this website.

This is called a “Gambling Trip” since it was to a casino. BUT – I really don’t gamble. I just enjoy trips and the food is always awesome. My roommate is a gambler and I received some ‘house credit’ from Golden Nugget that I used in about 45 minutes at a machine. By the way, I really don’t consider myself a gambler (even though I ‘thought’ that I won some money at Keeneland Racetrack – see previous webpost). In a college “Probability and Statistics” math class, my professor told us that “SOMEONE had to pay for the machines, salaries, electricity, building, etc.” and cautioned the class that there is a large probability that you will lose. So, I decided that I would not tempt the probability odds. However, I REALLY LIKE the atmosphere and enjoy casinos. I had hoped to use my ‘house-credit’ at a video-poker machine. I couldn’t get one to work and asked for assistance. The employee told me that the ‘house credit’ would not work with video-poker. <Bummer!> I have a real affinity for wanting to learn more about winning video-poker. Years ago, the tv-show “60 Minutes” interviewed a video-poker expert. Her name was Jean Scott and I have the paperback book that she wrote. (It is called “The Frugal Gambler”.) She has strategies for winning and has gambled all over the world. She bought a condo in Las Vegas so that she could be nearer the action. She was a math teacher from the New England area and has good advice for winning. Specifically, I remember some high-level tips from the tv-show and her interview and book. (I plan to re-read the book soon.) The two top ones are (in my humble opinion):

(1) Watch someone at a machine and if they don’t win while playing after a while, then the machine has a higher probability of being near a payout. Play that machine.

(2) Always be alert when playing and don’t drink alcohol. The odds are slim for winning and alcohol will induce mistakes, which can be costly.

<Of course, NEVER gamble more than you can afford to loose.> 
We stayed 2 nights at the Beau Rivage, visited an aquarium on Thursday morning and the Golden Nugget Casino on Thursday afternoon. (As part of our trip, we received 2 breakfast vouchers at Beau Rivage and 1 buffet one. Also, we received $15 house-credit at the Golden Nugget. On “gambling trips” we had several bingo games on the bus and the winners receive lottery tickets. )

Hope that you enjoy the pictures: (A long time ago, I was told to not take pictures inside a casino. I didn’t take any pictures of the machines or people sitting at them.) 

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We had some bad-weather while on the trip. During the night of our arrival, a storm hit the area. The storm was predicted and our group had been scheduled to go on a boat ride. However, the boat captain called our tour-director and cancelled it. She had a “Plan B” activity for us. We visited the Ocean Adventures Aquarium in Gulfport. The website for it is: https://www.gulfcoast.org/listings/ocean-adventures-park-%26-center/4020/
It turned out that four school groups were scheduled for the day that we visited, however, the storm caused the groups to cancel and we had the place to ourselves (with a few other visitors). We enjoyed the dolphin show, petting the sting-rays, the trained seal and the parrot.

I have to add one last comment about my personality trait: “I HATE LOSING!” (especially hard-earned MONEY).  A member of our group won $1600 on the “Butterfly” machine next to the buffet restaurant. My roommate, liked and played the “Mustang” machine on the right of it for a while the night before the win. 

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). <Note: I sold the car in September.> The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Because the pictures take a long time to load, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-10-16 Trip to Lexington,KY to see Keeneland Race Track – (Ending date 10-19)

Using Google-Maps, the trip from Atlanta to Lexington is 387 miles.

I travelled with a motorcoach bus group called Seniors On the Go Travel. The owner is Cathy Stokes and the website is named “Seniors On the Go Tours”.  —- Be sure to read to the bottom! —- 

I have to be honest and say that my roommate wanted to sign up for this trip. I enjoy **ALL** of the bus trips and — I signed-up for this trip because my roommate on many past trips said that she wanted to go. I had never been to a horse-race before and I had never heard of Keeneland before this trip. I HAVE heard of the major horse races in the news, but I had -NO IDEA- of how involved the racing of horses can be. On this trip, we toured the Racetrack before race-day, went to a ‘stud-farm’ (Darby Dan’s) and learned how thoroughbred horses are kept pure-in-their-breed, and saw the beauty of the area. We also visited a large ‘training’ camp and saw where over 1000 horses have nearby stables in many barns. We were told about the jockeys who train them and heard about the jockeys who race them. We learned about how horse-manure is managed and sold to mushroom growing farmers. We visited a retirement-farm and saw beautiful horses and the love shown to them by the organizers. –AND– most-of-all, we went to the race and experienced the wonderful buffet in the clubhouse! The whole trip was very interesting and educational! (And, of course, we had many wonderful meals. I’m trying to include less food in these posts, but – if you, the reader, would like more about the food that we eat, please let me know.) I stayed in the Phoenix Room during the races as it was chilly outside and I was very comfortable inside. We were encouraged to go outside to the track area, but I had toured the track viewing area on the previous day and I was comfortable watching the races in the room. In particular, I was interested in the statistics and other information on the screen/monitors. I was especially interested in the ‘pro-picks’ shown minutes before a new race began. I took a picture of the group, but wanted to ‘blur’ faces because I didn’t want anyone in the group to be upset with me for showing their faces in the blog. This is my first experience with editing photos and I don’t often show faces of people, if possible.

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By the way, I ‘think’ that I won some money. The group ate the buffet in the Phoenix Room before the race. We studied the program and talked with a ‘betting-coach’ (called a ‘betologist’ in the brochure). Just before the first race started, I went to the betting-window and told the man-with-the-computer that I was ‘new’. He nodded and I told him that I wanted to bet $5 for win/place/show on a horse. (Cost of the bet was $15 since I was placing $5 on each choice = “win”=1st place or “place”=2nd or “show”=3rd.) After the race, I saw the monitor of the winners and was surprised that I was ‘in-the-money’. There are 30 minutes between races. I studied the program and when the betting-window was clear of other people, I returned for a bet on the second race. I chose another horse and placed a $5 bet for win/place/show and gave him the ticket from race number one. He processed the ticket from race-number-one and said that I owed $1.50. I gave him the money and returned to the table to watch the monitors for the race. Luckily, again, the horse that I picked was ‘in-the-money’. And, again, I studied the program and returned to bet when the window was clear. Again, he processed the ticket from race-number-two and said that I owed $3.50 for my bet. This time, I chose a ticket for ‘win’ only. Mistake! My horse did NOT win and my ticket was WORTHLESS! Well, the rest happened fast and the other races were quick to complete. I’m writing this web-post a couple of weeks after the trip and my memory has faded. Our bus was scheduled to leave before the last race so that we wouldn’t have the maximum traffic to negiotiate. On the last race that the group attended, I had picked another horse for win/place/show and saw in the results, where the horse was in the top three. I went to the window and collected $12.50 for the final race. I’m normally not much of a gambler, but – I think that I ended up positive in the cash-flow for the day. As I indicated previously, the middle races happened quickly, and my memory has faded, so – I DO remember putting money in my pocketbook in the end. I’m at the stage-of-life where I need to write everything down or I don’t remember the details. That is one of the reasons why I continue to create blog posts. “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It” = the title of a Jimmy Buffet song. (Note: For each race, I bet on only one horse. Others in the group were betting on several horses per race. If I couldn’t keep-up with my one bet, I wondered how they kept up with many?) By the way, the buffet was absolutely wonderful. I only gained five pounds on this trip.

 

This was another ‘FABULOUS’ trip planned by Cathy. On the bus-ride, we played games and had a wonderful trip! Note: I refrained from showing pictures both of the Univ of Kentucky bus-tour and the food that we ate. If you, the reader, would like to see pictures of our driving-tour and/or food, please let me know in the comments.

2018-10-16_KYLexingtonKeeneland_OurFearlessLeader-and herFascinator
2018-10-16_KYLexingtonKeeneland_OurFearlessLeader-and herFascinator

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). <Note: I sold the car in September.> The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Because the pictures take a long time to load, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-09-28 Trip to New England – on a motorcoach bus. (Ending date 10-07)

Using Google-Maps, the trip from Atlanta to Bar Harbor is 1340 miles.

I travelled with the motorcoach bus tour-group called Seniors On the Go Travel. The owner of the company is Cathy Stokes, tour-director.  The website is “SeniorsOnTheGoTours”. 

A -VERY- short description of our tour was to see Block Island, RI; Nubble Lighthouse and shop in Kennebunkport,ME; tour Acadia National Park (Cadillac Mountain) <weather was too bad to see Thunder Hole> & Lobster meal; shop in Bar Harbor <weather was too bad for a planned nature cruise>; Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough,NH; Quechee Gorge and Woodstock, VT; Green Mountain Sugar Maple Syrup tour, Apple House and Battle Monument in Bennington,VT and Vermont Country Store in Weston. The route was to travel North on I-85 (most of the way) and to return South on I-81.

<Click on a picture to enlarge it. Navigate forward and backward through the picture gallery using the left and right arrows in the middle of the picture. To end the gallery view and to return to the web-page, hit the “X” button on the top right of the picture, or the “Esc” (Escape) key on the top right of the keyboard. >

I took over 600 pictures, but – due to the nature of posting pictures on this website, I’ve reduced the number of pictures for this post to thirty-one! (A very difficult decision).  Also, I took -WAY- too many pictures of the mansion at Castle in the Clouds.  I’ve NOT posted many of the wonderful meals that we ate.  I admit to experiencing web problems and intend to make the information on my posts shorter.  The group had several travel-guides and there is too much that we enjoyed for me to put here.

This trip involved a lot of travel and sightseeing out of the bus window. I think that everyone had a wonderful time and liked seeing the changing colors of the trees. Hope that you enjoy the pictures!

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). <Note: I sold the car in September.> The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Because the pictures take a long time to load, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-09-22 GA, Atlanta – Delta Flight Museum

A -new- ‘thing’ for Americans has occurred. It’s called “Smithsonian Museum” day!  YEAH!
I received an email that on the fourth Saturday in September, the Smithsonian Museum and its members, have ‘FREE’ entrance in museums. The email that I received had information on registering and printing your ‘ticket’ for the event. (I suppose that the registration and ticket allows for the ‘first-to-accept’ the offer to get-into-the-museum and there is crowd-control in that not too many free tickets are not allowed.)

My GPS address was not the correct address for the museum, but it was the address for Delta Headquarters, which was close to the museum. A guard at the gate gave me the diretions to the next road which contained the museum entrance. (Parking is free.) On the day that I attended, there were two airplanes for the museum, but the largest was ‘open’ and available to be toured.  There was a long line and I had to wait about 30 minutes before entering.  The Boeing 747 which has stairs and an elevator for entrance was the tour of the day. Participants enter the door and view the airplane that has had seats removed. Each person who enters is able to see what they want and to go upstairs to see the cockpit. (I.E. ‘no’ tourguide.) The pictures tell-the-story. Hope that you enjoy them.

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2017-09-17 to Cleveland, TN from Atl,GA on “Mystery Trip” (~120 miles, 2 hours drive)

2018-09-17_TNCleveland,MuseumCntr5Points-outside
2018-09-17_TNCleveland,MuseumCntr5Points-outside

2017-09-17 to Cleveland, TN from Atl,GA on “Mystery Trip” (~120 miles, 2 hours drive)
I signed up with Seniors-On-The-Go-Tours (tour-guide=Cathy Stokes) to go ‘somewhere’ on a “Mystery Trip”. A trip where you don’t know where you’re going until you get there == Why sign-up and not know where you’re going?  Well, the short-answer is: You always have a good time, no matter where you go!  This is my third mystery-trip. And again, I really enjoyed it. A great trip and a great time.
My first picture is the group at the parking lot when I arrived. I got there about 7:15, the bus gets the luggage packed about 7:30 and we leave at 8AM. Well, the line is because the first ones in line, get their pick of the seat that they want for the trip. There is no switching seats on a trip. S-o-o-o, I ended up sitting in the rear of the bus, just one seat from the very back. That means, when you get to an unloading spot, you are almost the last to get off the bus. It takes a while for everyone to get up and get down the stairs and out of the bus. So-o-o-o the tour-director, i.e. Cathy, lets the front of the bus start unloading first one-day, and the next day switches unloading first to the back-of-the-bus. YEAH! (The final day, the unloading schedule is half-day front, and half-day back unloading first.) It doesn’t matter to me where I sit on the bus. My roommate said the same thing – It is what it is. I allow an hour of time to drive from my house and I get there when I can. The bus was ‘full’ and Cathy has said that mystery-trips usually sell-out quickly.

2018-09-17_GASnell2424WebbHouseGinRd_CannonMethChurch-busLine
2018-09-17_GASnell2424WebbHouseGinRd_CannonMethChurch-busLine

We left Atlanta and talked about where we were going – we follow the signs along the road and have wi-fi connected to maps to know our location. Cathy told us that we were NOT going to a beach area, and we guess where we are going with each turn. The choice of location for this trip caught everyone by surprise – we had a couple of people guess Chattanooga which is close to Cleveland – a 30-minute drive. We first stopped at the Museum and had a step-on guide tell us about the area as we drove around. We had a ‘big picture’ view of downtown and Lee University and the nearby residental area. We unloaded the bus across from the county courthouse and were given maps of restaurants downtown and told what time to return to the bus. Several of us ate at the Stack-bistro and I’ve included the pictures that I took. Had a very nice lunch – hamburger steak with mushrooms, fried fresh-okra sticks, and tater tots. We had a great time talking and a great lunch. We returned to the museum and looked at the displays – I took a picture explaining what ‘shape-notes’ are. Then, we went into an attached room that was a general-purpose meeting room that had a piano and chairs. We were introduced to Jack Clark, and he told us about shape-notes and how to write songs. He travels around the country teaching classes on songwriting. In the end, Cathy ‘created’ a song to the tune of “I’ll Fly Away” and we had a large flip-top sheet where she wrote her ‘idea’. Jack played the song and there were attempts to sing the new ‘creation’. Her song was “I’m on a bus today, I’m on a bus. Don’t know where I’m going to stay – but, I’m on a bus”. We went to a Staybridge Suite in the Cleveland side-of-Chattanooga for a short rest and returned to the bus. We had dinner at Jenkins Restaurant and Deli, a well-known eating establishment in the community. Back to our ‘suite’ for the night, my roommate and I had our own bedrooms with bathrooms. The suite had a tv in each bedroom and one in the sitting-area between the bedrooms. We watched the last of the HBO movie “Wonder Woman”.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel – there were many options for food. Then, back on the bus with the step-on guide to Red Clay State Park. In the park, we saw exhibits of Cherokee Indian culture and saw a short-video about how the Indians were forced from their land. We walked to the perpetual-flame memorial and the ranger of the park told us about how the Indian government met and decided the best customs for their tribes. It was all very interesting and a beautiful day to learn about the Cherokee being forced to leave and resettle in Oklahoma. Back-on-the bus, we went to Adele’s Granfalloon for crepe’s and lunch. The crepe’s had different fillings, ham, etc. for lunch and strawberries, etc. for dessert and they were delicious! After eating, there was a local entertainer who told us his ‘bear’ story and a singer-guitarist who played original songs. Both were great. We had a rain-cloud pass over the restaurant when we were inside, but the weather had cleared by the time we left – so all is good. Afterward, we went to Adventist Univ and saw the archeological museum. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but – I was amazed to see artifacts from Israel from pre-Biblical times. We returned to the hotel for a break and wondered what exciting things were scheduled for the rest-of-the-day. We had an outstanding dinner at Aubrey’s – where we had pre-ordered our choice of food. My roommate chose, “Thunderburger” and someone at the front of the bus had researched on the internet for “Thunderburger” and discovered that Aubrey’s Restaurant in Cleveland had that item on the menu. Thus, the ‘surprise’ for dinner had been uncovered and the restaurant choice was not a mystery to some of the people on the bus – which was a disappointment to Cathy because she tries really hard to keep all of our events a true ‘mystery’. Anyway, it was a great meal. I had grilled salmon, sweet-potato fries and cooked apples. Dessert was exceptional = peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. As usual, I ate too much and had to plan on eating less when I returned home. Afterward, we went to Lee University Chapel and sang ‘shape-note’ hymns with some of the locals. The hymn-leader told us that for 8 years, he lived in Lawrenceville and knew the area where we were from. He told us that his two daughters were born while he lived there. Our pianist for the hymns was Jack Clark, our previous song-writing teacher. As we left, I heard a lady tell someone that her grandson loves singing and she enjoys bringing her to the hymn-night. The hymn leader came onto the bus and told us how much he enjoyed us coming. We felt very welcome.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and had packed our bags to return home. We knew that our day would contain some riding, lunch and rest-stops before we returned, but – we didn’t know WHERE! We first stopped for the rest-area only a few minutes after leaving the hotel. We were told that we could expect a lot of riding before the next stop and to prepare for a ride. The bus took us on many backroads, I looked out of the window at the houses and how they were scattered along the roads. We went through Ellijay without stopping and continued on to a dirt road. We had NO IDEA where we were – somewhere in North Georgia near a pasture with black cows. Finally, we stopped at a house and large parking lot for a wine tasting room. We went inside tasted the wine from Chateau Meichtry. (The winery was started a few years ago by a family who told the story of their ancestors having a winery in Italy and bringing the ‘vine-stock’ with them to the USA. They told how family members help with all of the business elements associated with the winery.) Then, we went to the deck containing round tables with umbrellas for shade. It was cool inside and with-the-sunshine, got hot on the deck. But, we had a cool breeze every once in a while and it was just beautiful – looking out to the hills around us and the grapevines planted in the driveway. We had a wonderful catered lunch on the deck. I knew that it would take a while for everyone to get on the bus and I enjoyed being on the deck in the breeze, so I was the last to leave. 

Our last stop of the trip was at an apple barn – somewhere outside Dahlonega. It is not on a wide highway, but it was large and known to a lot of people in the area. It was only about 5 miles from the winery. We were treated to cold cups of apple cider and it was really sweet and good. Before getting off the bus, I had decided to buy some apple cider – but after realizing that I would have to store it and carry it home, I changed my mind because I just didn’t want to ‘deal with it’. However, it was great seeing all of the items-for-sale in the apple house and would like to return sometime. The bus returned to our parking lot with rush-hour traffic ending a great “Mystery Trip”.
 
<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-08-26 (Monday) AK, Denali – McKinley Chalet Resort – about 1AM Northern Lights (Page 3 of 3)

2018-08-26 (Monday) AK, Denali – McKinley Chalet Resort – about 1AM (Page 3 of 3) <only 4 pictures below>

– In Page 1, I described the trip to Alaska with pictures from Anchorage and Denali (minus the two untouched pictures of the Northern Lights that I will share here, and two software ‘enhanced’ pictures that I added).
— In Page 2, I described the trip to Alaska with pictures from the Cruise of the inside passage.
— Now, Page 3, will show the pictures that I took of the Northern Lights.

Living in Atlanta, I have never seen the northern lights. To many people who live in the northern sections of the United States, this is not a ‘Big Deal‘. However, somewhere in my mind, I decided that it was a “Big Deal” to me and I’ve always wanted to see them. I’ve seen many pictures of them and knew what to expect when they are available – I just really want to see them myself.
The McKinley Chalet Resort has a guest service that they will call your room when the northern lights are showing, if you want them to. I asked to be put on a list at the guest services desk and I received a call about 1AM. I had read that the northern lights are more often seen around the fall and spring depending on the solar wind and, of course – the weather (no cloud cover).
I’ve investigated websites that explain when there is higher probability of northern light activity and I had decided that it was ‘not worth it’ for me to make a separate trip to see them. However, I was in Alaska and the possibility of seeing them was available, so – I joined about 20 other people in the resort parking area looking up to the sky in the early morning. The room area of the resort had street lighting and someone in the group suggested that we move to the side of the rooms to get away from the street lights. I moved with the group and continued to look into the dark sky and have to admit that I didn’t see anything. Someone pointed to the horizon and I looked, but saw nothing. I carry my camera almost everywhere and had heard from someone that you can often see on a picture the light that is hard for your eyes to detect. So-o-o, I took a picture of the horizon. I slowly returned to my room and continued to look at the sky. I thought that I saw a sliver of green light above the horizon similar to what I had seen in pictures. It only appeared a few seconds. I had my camera in my hand and decided to take another picture. I returned to the room and looked at the pictures that I had taken and saw nothing but black exposure. I had wanted the experience of seeing the northern lights and now I had had the experience. I guess that I was somewhat satisfied at my glimpse of the light that I had seen.

When I returned home, I downloaded all of my Alaska pictures to my desktop computer in preparation for updating the ‘travel-blog’ that you are reading.  Much to my amazement, when I looked at the black pictures using the desktop, in the first picture, a green haze appeared on top of the visible mountains. I was really surprised.
Next, I looked at the second picture and realized that I was able to see the green sliver-of-light in the sky from the opposite horizon of the first picture. I was amazed again. I had seen only a few seconds of the light while viewing, but I had captured 2 pictures of what my eye didn’t clearly view.
Hope that you enjoy the pictures .. Look closely at the horizon for the dim-green aura – (I only took two pictures of the horizon, but am really happy that I was able to see something from them. Also, I am glad that I didn’t delete the pictures before viewing them on a desktop. There are two computer-enhanced pictures below the two ones that I added here. )

2018-08-25_AKDenali,McKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView1
2018-08-25_AKDenali,McKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView1
2018-08-25_AKDenali,McKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView
2018-08-25_AKDenali,McKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView

I use irfanview software with many of my pictures. (And Windows 10 software for the others.) Here is what the images look like after they have been ‘color enhanced’ using irfanview.  I would like to know which picture you like the best – i.e.  original or color-enhanced. (I used an Apple iPhone 6 for the original pictures.) 

2018-08-25_AKDenaliMcKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView-adjusted
2018-08-25_AKDenaliMcKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView-adjusted
2018-08-25_AKDenaliMcKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView1-adjusted
2018-08-25_AKDenaliMcKinleyLodge_NorthernLights-PhotoShowsBetterThanMyView1-adjusted

 

  I really like pictures and I bought some postcards from a giftshop, so I decided to add them here —> Postcards that I bought (Picture Front)

Travel-Blog Webpost Conclusion:  I want to thank everyone for their part in making this trip wonderful for us. (1) The tour-guide and group that I traveled with, and the associated travel company who arranged our tickets and helped us check-in at the airport. (2) Holland America and their employees for a wonderful time on the dome-train, chalet lodge, drivers and cruise. Especially, thanks to our dining room servers Dadang and Mark; and our cruise room staff, Hengki and Agung. (3) To all of the excursion guides from all of the tourists along this trail, you have shared a wealth-of-information about your life and customs and we thank you. (4) Our group attended many talks, demonstrations, and shows  that we visited and we had too many people to remember their names, but we’ll always remember the great information that you shared with us and the great time that we had.  (5) Also, we thank many of the people who worked behind-the-scenes who helped make this trip memorable.  

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com 
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-08-27 AK, Seward (Page 2 of 3)

2018-08-31_AKKetchikan_-2
2018-08-31_AKKetchikan_-2

2018-08-27 AK, Seward (Page 2 of 3)
We arrived at the cruise ship about 5PM on 2018-08-26=Sunday night. At the processing center, we were checked for identification (passport) and security (metal detection). We were given a ‘ship-creditcard’ and our picture was taken so that we could be identified when we entered the ship. My roommate and I had to explore the ship a little when we first boarded. We eventually found our room and began to discover how to find what we wanted on the ship. Our first order-of-business was to find the dining room because we had a 5:30 seating. We met our fellow table diners and saw many of the others of the group nearby. All the meals on the ship was EXCELLENT and the servers worked hard to ensure that everyone was well-fed. We really enjoyed one another and, of course, I managed to gain considerable weight during the cruise.

Our first night on the ship proved to be interesting. The ship started the voyage about 9PM and by 1AM, both my roommate and I, admitted that “we didn’t feel very well”. I had bought some dramamine, in case that I had motion-sickness problems, but – at 1AM, I didn’t really want to get out-of-bed and look for medicine. My roommate admitted that she felt really-bad and we discussed options. We didn’t do anything that night, but decided to go to the medical area of the ship in the morning and ask if they recommended medication. Once I got to sleep, I rested alright. The next morning, my roommate and I went to medical area and told them about the motion-sickness. They said that we could go to the customer-service area and they would give us some pills. They didn’t say the name of the medication, but the package was from Medique (medi-medicine) and was medizine hydrocholoride 25mg. The purpose is “Antiemetic”. I’m not medically educated, but I took 2 pills at night and slept much better.

<Click on a picture to enlarge it. Navigate forward and backward through the picture gallery using the left and right arrows in the middle of the picture. To end the gallery view and to return to the web-page, hit the “X” button on the top right of the picture, or the “Esc” (Escape) key on the top right of the keyboard. >

Our first ‘day-at-sea’ was travel from Seward to near Glacier Bay. My roommate and I attended presentations on the area and had information about the area wildlife. Deck 10 – forward area was a glassed-in lounge with bar and books. For breakfast and lunch, we enjoyed the Lido deck – as most others did. Sometimes, it was a challenge finding a table that was available. Nevertheless, I had a good day and my roommate still was not well from motion-sickness. We gathered at early-dinner with others and she left after ordering her food. She said that she didn’t feel well and returned to the cabin to ‘settle-down’. She took some of the medication and we were better the second night.

The second morning, we were in Glacier Bay and enjoyed seeing the scenery. It was truly OUTSTANDING! The glacier that we saw, had the left-end small sheet of ice break away and fall into the bay. We looked for wildlife and enjoyed talking with others. We learned that the park-service only allows 2 ships-per-day in the bay. We had park-rangers come onboard and they showed how they came in a boat that traveled same speed of the ship and that they climbed a ladder to come onboard – while the ship continued to move! They talked about the park and their involvement. At night, we went to the Mainstage show and returned to the cabin afterward.

By the next day, we paid more attention to the elevator rugs – each day they were changed to tell everyone what day it was. Time seems to ‘float-by’ with the cruise. Our first ‘stop’ was at Haines. Several in our group had scheduled an excursion known as the Yukon Railway – from Skagway through White Pass to Carcross, YT (Yukon Territory, Canada). Well, the ferry that was supposed to take us from Haines to Skagway broke down and our excursion was cancelled. By the time that we found out, I decided that I wasn’t feeling well – maybe a little of motion-sickness of something caused me to ‘slow-down’. I decided to return to the cruise ship and explored whatever was available onboard. Others from the tour shopped and saw other things around the area and we had a lot to discuss at dinner – which was always delicious.

We cruised overnight to Juneau. We had previously scheduled the excursion = “dog mushing”. We met a bus driver who told us that we had a twenty-minute ride to the rainforest area nearby that hosted us. We had more light-rain and light-jacket weather. We rode in a 4-person cart, pulled by a team of dogs around a hilly area for a few miles. The cart could go fast and the musher at the back controlled the speed by a hand-brake and the direction by a hand-steering-rod. It was a fun ride and afterward, we learned more about the mushers and their dogs. They had about 100 dogs in the compound and the dogs are trained specifically to run in the Iditarod Race. After returning to the town, we shopped and enjoyed our time to look-around. Of course, we were onboard by dinner and went to a show at night. I hope that you enjoy the pictures that I shared…

Next stop was Ketchikan. Again, we had scheduled an excursion = “Saxman Native Village Tour”. Again, we met a bus driver who told us that we had a short ride. We first visited a building where there was a short-film about the Native Alaskans and their culture. Then, we walked about 300 yards through the rain-forest to their clan meeting-house. Their clans are known as either beavers or ravens and they are known for the totem poles that they carve. In the meeting-house, they danced in their regalia and told us more about the ways that they live. Outside, we were told more about the stories of the totem poles and that how some of their culture has been lost because the older generation is passing-away and the younger generation did not have the information preserved. Their language is verbal, and they are now writing it and teaching their children the language. They have obtained government sanction to preserve their culture. We were also allowed in a totem-pole workshop where a guide told us how they are made and painted. Hopefully, the pictures that I took will show more of the tour than I am able to describe in writing. (Again, we returned to town to shop a little, then made-it to the ship for dinner and the show.)

Our final day was spent ‘at-sea’. We cruised the inside passage and enjoyed both the view and the visible wildlife. (Note: the inside passage water is relatively calm.) I was on Deck 10-forward, i.e., the window-wall, and someone with binoculars spotted a whale spout. The whole area followed the spouts for as long as we could. We enjoyed the scenery, the other passengers and the food. It was a wonderful day. My roommate and I had reserved dinner in the ‘elegant’ restaurant known as the “Pinnacle”. We had filet minion with vegetables, a great chocolate dessert and wonderful service. We had a late-dining reservation and were too late for the mainstage show. Afterward, we returned to our room to pack and have our luggage ready for the morning pick-up. Our time on the ship was winding-down, but we had a great time and knew that it couldn’t last forever.

The morning brought disembarkment and waiting for our-turn. My roommate and I had somehow been separated by ‘color codes’ from our group, but the tour-director said that we would all end-up at the same place and that I shouldn’t worry. I had dreaded the process of gathering luggage and passing-through customs. We also had to go through border-control to enter the USA before we got onto a bus for the airport. However, there was a ship-full of people going through the same process, and the agents do it every week – so, they are very familiar with the drill. I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it was. I was VERY HAPPY when it was over, we arrived at the Vancouver airport and joined with our group without any problems. We had a Delta flight to Salt Lake City, a short wait and the flight to Atlanta. The layover was good because it gave us a chance to get a snack and walk-around. In Atlanta, we gathered our luggage and our motorcoach driver loaded it onto the bus for us. We returned to the parking area and unloaded. The group disbanded quickly and I made it home about 2AM. I slept well at home in my familiar bed after a great trip to Alaska. Hope that you enjoy the pictures!
<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com Note: When I go camping, I am often without internet service. I try to use my cellphone data plan sparingly as charges may be increased with usage. Therefore, I often let emails collect in my box and try to catch-up reading them when I return home.
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-08-23 from Atlanta, GA to Anchorage and Denali, Alaska (google maps shows 4,289 miles)

2018-08-25_AKDenali,GroupPicture_StokesCathy-SeniorsOnTheGoTours)
2018-08-25_AKDenali,GroupPicture_StokesCathy-SeniorsOnTheGoTours)

2018-08-23 AK,Denali (Page 1 of 3)
Because this trip was a ‘fur-distance’, I’m breaking up the web-reporting into 3 Pages.
Page 1 – To Denali National Park and to Seward (Alaska) – 4 days
Page 2 – Holland America Cruise (Inside Passage) – 6 days
Page 3 – Northern Lights and miscellaneous

I traveled with a group of 32 people known as “Seniors On the Go Tours”.  There is a website under that name. (Note: the tour-director, Cathy Stokes, worked with another company called A&I tours.) We met at a convenient parking space in Snellville, GA and were driven on a motorcoach bus to the Atlanta Airport. (By the way, the official name of the airport is a hyphenated-conjugation of 2 previous Atlanta politicians that is too long for a name, in my opinion – so, I just shorten it. The abbreviation is “ATL”.) We boarded the bus about 11AM and the flight to Anchorage on Delta left around 3PM and we had ‘plenty-of-time’ before the flight for both check-in and security. We were warned that food during the flight consisted of a snack and drink and to bring a wrapped food item if we wanted more. (Also, the food purchased from the airport is expensive.) The flight was a LONG one, the airplane was large and it was totally necessary to get-up and walk-around (as well as find the restroom). Time really becomes distorted when you change several time-zones — and was even more distorted by Alaska having a long daylight. At the Anchorage airport, we collected our baggage (one checked bag, one carry-on item and a handbag, or in-my-case,a backpack.) Since nearly everyone packed warm clothes, there were plenty of bags in the overhead storage and my bag was put-in the front by a stewardess since the back area where I was seated was full. In Anchorage, the bus took us to a Holland America hotel in downtown called Westmark.  Our dinner was not included and my roommate and I went across the street from the hotel to the Glacier BrewHouse. It was crowded and we were able to secure a table near the bar area and enjoy our first salmon. It was delicious. There was a light, drizzle rain and we had hopes that it would clear for our trip. We returned to the hotel for the night and were excited about being there.

<Click on a picture to enlarge it. Navigate forward and backward through the picture gallery using the left and right arrows in the middle of the picture. To end the gallery view and to return to the web-page, hit the “X” button on the top right of the picture, or the “Esc” (Escape) key on the top right of the keyboard. >

The next morning, we were up early and had a buffet breakfast at the hotel. There were many other tour groups there and we learned that they were all with the Holland America company because the company owns the hotel. Buses for our transport to the dome-glasstop train to Denali were efficient. Each person was asked to divert their checked-luggage, i.e. big-suitcase to the cruise ship and take two-nights clothes with them to Denali in the smaller carry-on bag. The train does not have luggage, so Holland America asks travelers to tag their bags for the cruise ship differently from the Denali part of the trip. Trucks of luggage are loaded and driven to the two destinations.
We had a WONDERFUL train trip to Denali. Each train car has an upper-deck for viewing and a lower-part for the restroom and lunch-table area.  A host/guide tells each guest about the local information on the top deck of the car.  Lunch was included in the trip and the lunch-host would ask several people if they would like to eat lunch now? If so, they would go downstairs to a table and order what they wanted. I estimated that the top-dome held about 50 people and that the bottom had 6 eating-booths that would seat 4 to a table. It took a while for everyone to have lunch – but it was a DELICIOUS one! It was rainy the whole trip, but by the time that we reached Denali, the rain was very light and the temperature was light-jacket comfortable.

We boarded a motorcoach bus to the Holland America property, McKinley Chalet and Lodge. (Note: In the last several months, the mountain that was known as McKinley name was changed to Denali – the same name of the national park. I wonder if Holland America will also change the name of the lodge?) The train-ride was about 8 hours long and some of my pictures will help describe how quickly the time passed.

I ate a light supper at the resort restaurant and we had a very restful first night. We also had a 5:10AM school-bus, i.e. Blue Bird, for the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park the next morning. On the bus, the driver gave each of us a ‘snack’ and the previous night, we requested from the lodge the type of box-lunch to pick-up from the door before boarding the bus. I was surprised, we were told to eat on the bus. About 20+ years ago, I had taken the same tour and we rode to the Eilson Visitors Center where we had 45 minutes at picnic tables for lunch. However, the food and tourists attracted bears and the park-service changed the tour to about 2 miles short of the visitors center .  In the morning, when the tour started, early-morning is still twilight. We anticipated needing cool-weather jackets and the rain had stopped. The bus-driver said that the park-service has outsourced the tundra tour to a corporation. (When I saw the park a long time ago, the park-service used their employees.) The bus-driver is able to spot the wildlife in the park because they are know where the animals live and where to look. They now have a long-lens camera that they can zoom to see the wildlife and are able to show an impressive picture on small televisions on pull-down slots below the overhead storage. Hopefully, a picture that I took of the televisions will show what I’m trying to describe.
The HIGHLIGHT-OF-THE-DAY was that the full-face of Denali was available when we reached the turn-around area. It was quite impressive. The mountain was beautiful in all its majesty! No wonder it is known as “the tall one” – the tallest on the North American continent. The bus ride to-and-from the lodge was about 8 hours. When we returned, I took a long nap to try and recover some of the sleep that I lost.
My roommate and I joined others from the group with a dinner-show at the resort. We enjoyed hanging around the door before the show and meeting some of the other tourists. After the show, we walked a short-distance up a hill to the lodge.

After our second night at the lodge, the next morning, we had breakfast at the resort restaurant, loaded a motorcoach bus and had a day of travel to Seward to the cruise ship. It was another long travel day, but we had a couple of stops for using the restroom (Alaska state pit-stops) and a buffet-lunch sandwich with delicious home-made cookies in Willow. I have to include that the view of the mountains was outstanding and our-driver told us interesting stories about the towns.  
(Note: The lodge/resort closes on September 15 for the season, as well as other businesses. It begins to get cold there and the tourists want to go to somewhere that is WARM!)

<There is a “little-more” to this story that I will tell on page 3 – the Northern Lights. Stay tuned … >

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com Note: When I go camping, I am often without internet service. I try to use my cellphone data plan sparingly as charges may be increased with usage. Therefore, I often let emails collect in my box and try to catch-up reading them when I return home.
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>

2018-07-26 from Atl,GA to Crossville,TN and Knoxville,TN (motorcoach bus tour group)

2018-07-27_TNKnoxville(SeniorsOnThGoTours)-VolunteerPrincess (27)
2018-07-27_TNKnoxville(SeniorsOnThGoTours)-VolunteerPrincess (27)

2018-07-26 Thu. I rode on a motorcoach-bus with the tour-group “Seniors On the Go Tours” to Crossville, Tennessee. The bus was full and our tour-director, Cathy, had planned our trip. Google maps indicates that it is 195 miles and 3 hours and 12 minute drive. We normally leave at 8AM and stop near the Georgia-Tennessee border at a rest-stop. We had a lunch-stop at a food-court in a mall that was ‘on-our-own’ (i.e., not a paid part of the tour). I ate a slice of cheese pizza. Many of the others from the bus stopped at the Chick-Fil-A booth and all of us sat in the food-court table-area. Our first-stop of the tour was at the Stonehouse Winery. We tasted many of the wines that they sold and shopped in the gift-shop. We went to the Comfort Suites and returned to the bus for dinner at the Cumberland Mountain State Park and the Cumberland County Playhouse for the play “Smoke On the Mountain”. The play was truly very funny and it has sold-out all of the performances. With the time-change from Eastern timezone to Central timezone, we lost an hour. We returned to the hotel tired and ready-to-rest for another day of fun on the following day.
We ate breakfast at the hotel and left about 8AM. We went to Knoxville and rode on a private charter boat, Volunteer Princess, for a two-hour cruise on the Tennessee River. It was a very smooth ride on a wonderful day – with appetizers, a plated luncheon and dessert. After returning to the marina and the bus, we rode to the Mast General Store which is an old general store in the downtown area. The hot day on the river had some of us who wanted to wait-on-the-bus while about half of the group shopped. We returned to Atlanta and had many memories of a great trip!

The pictures below are in a ‘gallery’ of 10 pictures to a viewing. Click on a picture to enlarge it. (To return to the gallery view, mouse-click the ‘x’ on the top right -or- press the ‘Esc’ <escape> key on the top left of the keyboard. ) Notice that there are left-and-right arrows in the middle of the picture for navigation. )

<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com

Note: When I go camping, I am often without internet service. I try to use my cellphone data plan sparingly as charges may be increased with usage. Therefore, I often let emails collect in my box and try to catch-up reading them when I return home.
Additional note: Since my posts have many pictures, it may take some time to load. Because of the pictures, it is best to view these webpages using a desktop (in my opinion. Because the size of the pictures will be larger.) >>