Travel “kit”

I love to travel but I’m not fond of hotels. Its fine for one night or two but for a vacation I like to have a kitchen. We usually rent through VRBO to find a nice house, cabin, or beach condo depending on where we are going. If we are driving I always bring my “kit”.

You would think most rentals would have the “essentials” but I’m always digging through my kit for a wine bottle opener or sugar packets. If you don’t have a wine or beer bottle opener how can you start your vacation?

I have a list of things I always like to have at home, but depending on where we are going sometimes I add to the box or leave things at home.

My Essentials:

Paper Plates,  cups, plastic utensils, Paper towels, Ziploc bags (large and small). I am on vacation and I don’t want to do dishes all day!thumbnail_IMG_8270

Dishwasher pods, Dish washing liquid, hand soap, Tide pods, and  disinfecting wipes help keep your home away from home clean. If there is a washer and dryer its really nice to go home with clean clothes:)


If I’m going to do dishes, I need a dish scrubber!thumbnail_IMG_8265

Most important items: Wine bottle opener, can opener, lighter, dustpan, measuring cup and multipurpose knife. thumbnail_IMG_8267

Don’t forget favorite spices, cooking spray, chip clips, and aluminum foil!


Morning essentials: Your morning wont be the same with out your favorite coffee, tea, creamer,  and sugar! I add the disposable cups in case I need to take my coffee to go or I  don’t want to do dishes!thumbnail_IMG_8269

In Mexico I always bring my own ice cube trays! I don’t trust the trays in the freezer were filled with filtered water!


Take a trip to Walmart or the Dollar store, make your kit and keep it for vacations to come. I like a clear container so I can see what is missing. I try to keep everything in Ziploc bags or original packaging for easy clean up in case there is a spill.


Happy Travels!

7 Day Cruise

Are you ready for a 7 day cruise? Maybe, if you have sailed before and you thought after 5 or 6 days you could stay a little longer. The hardest part of a long cruise is the days at sea. We recently cruised on Carnival Breeze from Texas to Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island,  and Cozumel. I was excited about the cruise but I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to 3 days at sea. We really liked the Carnival Breeze because it was one of their newest ships.

Most Carnival cruise ships have the Waterworks water slides and play area, a mini putt putt course, and the Dive in Movies. This ship is above and beyond with a 3D-movie theater, Sky Course, Basketball Court and extra food options like Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Tacos. I knew it would keep my kids busy, but what was I going to do?

I’ll tell you what I did, I relaxed!! I relaxed like I didn’t have kids! It was like a honeymoon! I was day drinking by the pool, reading a book (I actually read a whole book! I can’t remember the last time I was able to read a whole book on vacation, with kids!) and I took a nap every afternoon! I was so happy!

Just like any cruise dinners were amazing! We made a rule that the boys could eat breakfast and lunch on their own but they had to join us for dinner in the dining room. They really didn’t complain since they could have steak and french fries every night, and they did!

The first port was Jamaica and we went on the Dunn’s River Falls excursion. It was fun, but really crowded. I don’t think I would do it again.

I think the kids had more fun at the water slide at the beach we went to afterwards.

The next day was Grand Cayman Island. We decided not to book an excursion here because we have been here before. We knew it was safe and easy to walk off the ship and find something to do. Last time we were in Grand Cayman we did the Snuba tour and we loved it! The boys wanted to snorkel this time so we found a snorkel shop and went on our own. The snorkels, flippers, vests and water trampoline were all included! We ALL had a great time and it was so much cheaper!

Then we had lunch at Margaritaville and had fun on the water slide! After a couple of margaritas I went down the water slide!

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Welcome to Cozumel Mexico!

This was our last excursion. We (my husband and I ) wanted to see the Mayan ruins, the boys were not happy about an educational excursion. We went on the 3 hour tour of the Tulum Mayan ruins and I think that was enough. It was very informative and impressive to see how they created villages a thousand years ago. It was raining all day which was a nice change from the hot sun and humidity.




At the end of the day we were tired and ready to go home. Then we had one last day at sea. I have to admit the last day at sea was a little boring but it gave us a chance to get our laundry done, ride the water slides and eat tacos one last time!

Every cruise has several photographers trying to get your family to pose in front of a piano or a cheesy background. We did the photo shoots the first time we cruised and everyone hated the pictures. I demand one picture as a family, the last night on the ship as we are sailing into the sunset. We can usually find a couple trying to take their own photo and we switch cameras to get the perfect shot! I really owe this young lady we met from Sweden, she did a great job!13413089_10154951164574517_3427201504954378480_n

As always we really enjoyed our cruise!

Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Mexico

If you are close enough to drive to a beautiful Mexico vacation, then you need to do it! We went in October during the kids fall break. We drove 4 1/2 hours from Tucson to Puerto Penasco, Mexico(everyone calls it Rocky Point because it has a rocky pointed shore line.) We crossed the border and immediately stopped for the best carne asada tacos at a roadside food truck. I think its funny that food trucks are so popular in America, they have been around Mexico for years!

When we arrived at our resort the Sonoran Sea, on Sandy Beach we were engulfed by the fresh beach breezes! I rented a one bedroom condo on the bottom floor of the resort. It was a little more than I should have paid but I really wanted the bottom floor. I thought it would be easier to walk back and forth to the beach and the room to get food and drinks. Next time I will save my money and book with 12079256_10207384627076780_2037072110581227459_n (1)

Before we were unpacked the kids were in the pool swimming! It was a long drive and they needed to work off some energy, and I enjoyed a margarita at the pool while they swam. It was very relaxing! We decided to eat at the resort restaurant the first night, I really didn’t want to drag the kids back into the car and drive through town looking for parking. The restaurant was good, but the service was slow, it may have been faster to drive to a restaurant in town!

We spent our days on the beach, in the ocean, in the pool and lounging by the pool. I had a 30 minute massage on the beach that was to die for. The boys went on a banana boat in the ocean and were proud they were able to stay on! My husband rented a wave runner and enjoyed jumping the waves and trying to throw the boys into the ocean, again not successful. The rest of the time the boys played in the water, dug in the sand and played in the pool. It was heaven.

The last night in Rocky Point our group ventured down town to the fish market. We went to a restaurant and asked for a table for 24 people. I was shocked they were able to accommodate us and so quickly! The food and drinks were amazing and the service was fast and friendly! We had a wonderful time at dinner then walked through the town. We found a Thrifty Ice Cream that could fit all of us and it was delicious.

Our trip to Rocky Point was amazing. Everyone had a great time and no one got sick! It was a success! We will be returning soon.

Happy travels!

Sunrise Park Resort, Greer Arizona

Yes, there is snow in Arizona! There are two ski resorts Sunrise Park Resort in Greer and Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff. They are both 2 hours from Phoenix and 4 hours from Tucson.

I did a little research at . I found that Snowbowl has 40 trails and 777 ski-able acres. Sunrise has 65 trails and 800 ski-able acres and its the 80th largest in the United States.  I think they both have about the same number of beginner and intermediate trails. The only exception is Sunrise has advanced trails and Snowbowl doesn’t. Snowbowl has expert trails but Sunrise doesn’t. If your a snowboarder looking to practice your stunts Sunrise has 2 terrain parks and Snowbowl has 3.

I have only skied at Sunrise so I can’t give you a skier comparison. I taught both of my boys to ski at Sunrise and my younger son learned to snowboard there. We enjoy the park as a family and try to enjoy 2 ski trips a year together.

There is a small sledding hill at Sunrise but it is not maintained by the park. Be careful, there is a lake at the bottom and sometimes the snow will melt and the sledders can fall in. That really ruins a sledding afternoon.

We did learn from experience that if you purchase ski lift passes you don’t get your money back if there is a blizzard and they cant plow the slopes enough to ski down them. It sounds funny to say that our ski trip was ruined by a blizzard, in Arizona! We went sledding instead. The next day the sun was out, slopes were plowed and it was a beautiful day for skiing.

There is nothing better than enjoying a drink with a friend after a long day of skiing.


Some tricks to skiing with kids, please make them wear helmets! If you  start them early with a helmet they wont fight you later. Both of my boys carry a Camelback with water and snacks in the pockets. They can drink and eat on the lift and you don’t have to worry about them falling off to grab a water bottle. I bring a cooler full of food for lunch, that way we all eat what we want and don’t spend a fortune at the snack bar. My husband has always carried a backpack and I love having everything I need with me. The conditions on the slopes can change and its nice to take off your beanie and stuff it in your backpack and put on a hat with a visor. Most important things in my backpack are my phone, sunscreen, hat, extra gloves, chap stick, water, snacks, and walking boots. I hate walking in my ski boots.

Here is a GoPro Video from our last family ski trip to Sunrise Ski Resort!

Go Ski Arizona!

Los Cabo, Mexico

Every year my husband and I run away from home for a weekend. My mother in-law stays with our boys and we enjoy our time as a married couple, not mom and dad. My husband is gone a lot as an airline pilot and its important that we work on our marriage. This time we went to Los Cabo, Mexico and stayed 4 nights and five days at Barcelo Grand Faro Resort We bought our hotel on it was $299 for 4 nights all inclusive. I thought it was too good to be true.

We arrived in Cabo and rented a car. As we were getting into our car we were approached by a gentleman offering to pay for our rental car and a dinner cruise if we would visit his time share. His company would pick us up and take us to the time share and he said it would only be 4 hours. I asked him to add a snorkeling trip and we would consider it. He gave us a pass for rental car, dinner cruise and snorkeling trip. We agreed to meet him the next day.

When we arrived at our hotel they offered to give us the same deal, but we wouldn’t have to leave the grounds. Supposedly the other time share has a reputation of holding you longer than 4 hours. We accepted their offer. We knew we wouldn’t buy the time share but we would be interested in hearing about their resort.


At breakfast the next morning we met with our tour guide and he asked us questions about our lives. Where we worked, what we like to do when we are not working and where we like to vacation. Then he showed us the beautiful rooms, the resort facilities, and how accommodating they are for families. He  sat us down and started talking numbers, we said “No thank you”  a million times. He left to get our tickets and the boss came and sat down with us. Then he tried to sell us the time share. I agree it is a fabulous deal, $3000 for 5 years of one week vacations anywhere we want to go. I would sign up in a minute! My husband is better at fiances than I am and he knows that the $500 a year maintenance fee will go up and we will be stuck. He said “No thank you” 4 million times and we finally left with our tickets in hand.

Only 4 hours later we were eating tacos, drinking a beer and sitting in the beautiful pool overlooking the ocean.


That evening we enjoyed our dinner cruise.The dinner was delicious but the view at sunset was breathtaking!

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The next day we went snorkeling and had a great time. Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera so I  don’t have any photos. Just close your eyes and pretend you are looking at fish underwater.

We enjoyed several meals at the hotel, and the views were spectacular.

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The last day my husband wanted to try zip lining. I’m afraid of heights but I decided to face my fears and do something that I would never forget.  He sold me on the zip line and tequila tasting. I thought I would try some tequila and zip line…..once. NO, it was 7 zip lines and 1 repel, and then a tiny little sip of tequila! We couldn’t even buy the whole bottle! I was very disappointed! I am glad that I did it and that I lived!

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He looks like he is having way too much fun! You could hear me screaming in the US!

We really enjoyed our stay at the Barcelo Grand Faro Resort in Los Cabo! Now we are thinking about visiting Cancun. I will stay at another time share again, it was a great deal and a very minimal amount of pain. Just be sure you and your spouse are on the same page before you enter.

Happy Travels!


We flew to the  Denver Airport and went to Payless car rental, which was a huge mistake because we had horrible service! My husband has used several times to book and pay for a rental car. He usually looks a day or two before our trip and enters the size of the car we want and makes a bid.You can accept their price or you can name your own price. He starts his price at 60% and slowly adds to his bid until it gets accepted. He gets really excited when he can get a rental car for $19 a day.This time he paid for a mid size car, but when we arrived they gave us a Kia Soul! We couldn’t fit 2 suitcases in the trunk! I refused to drive in the car, I’m not a car snob it was a safety concern! He eventually agreed with me and went back to get a larger car. We were all much happier and safer in a Chevy Cruise.

We drove to Breckenridge and we wanted to ride bikes along the bike paths, but it was cold and raining. So we settled for lunch, shopping and a ride the gondola.

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I love Breckenridge! My snowboarder and skier felt right at home.

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I didn’t enjoy the gondola! I have a fear of heights and when it came to an abrupt halt and started swinging, I lost it! I was laying on the bench sucking my thumb, in the fetal position, and crying. My family was not sure what to do. When we got to the half way point we all jumped out. We could walk back in the rain but we didn’t know how far the walk was, it could be 1 mile it could be 5 miles. Or we could get back on the gondola and ride it down. Since it was raining and my husband wouldn’t let me walk back by myself I didn’t want to put my family through a long walk. I pulled up my big girl pants and got back on the gondola. My poor husband held my hand and I was so happy when it was over.

North Fork Ranch-
Located in Shawnee, Colorado (1 hour from Denver) North Fork is a working dude ranch! With so many fun activities, they have something for everyone. Horseback riding, guided fishing, hiking, archery, cowboy sing alongs, line dancing and even massages! We loved the family meals, games and line dancing!
It is a little expensive, but worth the experience!

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Browns Canyon Adventure Park-

My boys enjoyed 2 1/2 hours of ropes, zip lines, and a 35 foot swing set! I chose to keep my feet on the ground and take pictures.

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Performance Tours Whitewater Rafting-

I found Performance tours on  and it was a  great deal. We rented the wet suit, jacket and booties  all for $5! Most places it’s $20 rental per item! We had a very experienced guide and everyone had a blast. When you book your tour make sure the water level is high enough. My husband and I went last year in September and the water level was dangerously low. The raft in front of us tipped over! I didn’t want that to happen to us, so I asked specifically about the level of the water and the minimum age for children. We had a very successful trip and it was a lot easier this time.

I did purchase some of the pictures, I’m not that talented. I don’t usually purchase the overprice pictures but I really wanted to have great memories.

I love Colorado and I’m sure we will be back again soon!

Happy Trails!

Washington DC Monuments

I highly recommend Private Tours of Washington. We emailed a list of sights that we wanted to see and they gave us an itinerary that we agreed on. We met Larry our tour guide and our driver, hopped in the Black Suburban and we were treated like celebrities the rest of the day. Larry was extremely knowledgeable about Washington DC history, sights, and presidents. I think he could be a History professor. When we arrived at STOP locations Larry joined us while the driver circled and kept the AC running. Larry accompanied us to the sights and took pictures of our family, it was like having a professional photographer on vacation with us.

Bill Thomas

Private Tours of Washington

(202) 505-1035

TIME:  10 AM-4PM

LENGTH:  6 hours

GUIDE:  Larry Clark

10:00 AM         Meet outside the Hay-Adams Hotel

DRIVE BY — Embassy Row and National Cathedral

STOP— Georgetown (historic homes and Georgetown University)

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STOP- Arlington cemetery and the changing of the guard

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STOP  – U.S. Air Force Memorial

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DRIVE BY– Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial

STOP – Lunch (Pentagon City Mall)

DRIVE BY – The Washington Monument and the National Mall

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DRIVE BY – The Holocaust Museum and Bureau of Engraving and Printing where U.S. currency is manufactured

DRIVE BY – Jefferson Memorial

STOP – Martin Luther King Memorial

STOP – U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial

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STOP – Lincoln Memorial

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STOP – Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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STOP – Korean War Memorial

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STOP – East Front of the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court and Library of Congress

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STOP  – West Front of the Capitol Building, site of presidential inaugurations

STOP – The White House and Lafayette

photo 2 (7)We were exhausted by the end of the day! It was 95 degrees outside and 98% humidity! There is no way we could have seen all of these sights on our own! We all learned so much from Larry. It was a history lesson and a tour all in one.

I gave the boys each an old digital camera and told them it was a contest to see who could take the best pictures. It took me almost an hour to delete ears, noses, and bad selfies but they actually got some great shots! I was very impressed! This was the best day of sight seeing we have ever had!

Happy Touring!