So Many Places And So Little Time

Veronica and I were discussing places that we might want to go to and see in 2013. As usual, our thoughts and conversation turned to the possiblity of another cruise.
I started doing a little research to see where various cruise lines would be going to that year...their itineraries and port of calls.
I ended up spending most of my time on the NCL, Norwegian Cruise Lines' web site.
As of this date all of the cruises that we have been on have been through NCL.
Eventually we will need to try other cruise lines in order to see other places in this world. But for right now, NCL has the trips that meet our wish list needs/wants.
Previously we had booked a 14 day Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Iceland cruise. This cruise departs in 260 days from now...on 9/16/2012. Here is the intinerary for that cruise:

14-Day Norway, Iceland, & Faroe Islands from Copenhagen

14-Day Norway, Iceland, & Faroe Islands from Copenhagen

Dates       Port

Day 1   Copenhagen, Denmark
Day 2  At Sea
Day 3   Bergen, Norway
Day 4  Alesund,Norway

Day 5  Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland 
Day 6  Thorshavn, Faroe Islands

Day 7 At Sea
Day 8 Reykjavik, Iceland

Day 9 At Sea
Day 10 At Sea 
Day 11  Glasgow(Greenock), Scotland

Day 12 Dublin, Ireland

Day 13 At Sea
Day 14 At Sea
Day 15 Copenhagen, Denmark

After much research and discussion, Veronica and I decided on doing "back to back" 1 week cruises on the NCL Jade. We chose to do an inside cabin to help keep the costs down.
By doing this we can go on more cruises and/or spend some of the money saved on things to do and goodies to bring home.
We found that the prices for these cruises were very reasonably priced, which also made our decision rather easy.
We will be departing in this 14 day cruise on Saturday10/12/13.
This cruise will leave out of Venice
and go to several of the Greek islands.
Here is the itinerary for the first 7 days of the journey:

7-Day Eastern Mediterranean, Greek Isles from Venice

7-Day Eastern Mediterranean, Greek Isles from Venice

Day 1     Venice, Italy

Day 2 At Sea
Day 3 Corfu, Greece

Day 4 Santorini, Greece
Day 5 Mykonos, Greece
Day 6 Olympia (Katakolon), Greece
Day 7 At Sea
Day 8 Venice, Italy

At the end of this week, the Jade will then return to Venice.
Because we are doing "back to back" cruises, Veronica and I will be staying in the same cabin for both legs of the journey. We can leave our clothes and luggage in our cabin at the end of the 1st leg but we must get off of the ship once it docks in Venice. This is the "turnover" port where the passengers from the first cruise will get off of the ship with their baggage, the ship is cleaned and prepared for the next voyage.
The ship pulls into Venice at 8AM.
We should be able to get off of the ship by 9AM.
Veronica and I will get off of the ship as soon as possible and utilize this day to visit Venice and see as many sites as we can.
We will have to return and be back on the Jade by approximately 4 PM before it leaves port. 
The Jade will then leave Venice at approximately 6PM and will cruise to several different countries and ports of call.

Here is the intinerary for the 2nd 7 days of our cruise:

7-Day Classic Mediterranean, Venice to Rome (Civitavecchia)

7-Day Classic Mediterranean, Venice to Rome (Civitavecchia)

Day      Port

Sat Venice, Italy

Sun Koper, Slovenia

Mon Split, Croatia

Tue Dubrovnik, Croatia

Wed At Sea

Thu Messina, Italy

Fri Naples, Italy

Sat Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy           

The NCL Jade is a pretty nice ship. It is very similar to the NCL Pearl, which we have been on twice....both times being cruises to Alaska.
For more information on the NCL Jade, please click here...   NCL Jade

 Nautical Cities - Cruise Ship Tickers

And The Winner Is...

Well another Christmas day has come and gone. Each tree bulb has been carefully packed away, the garland carefully enclosed in a Hefty Cinch sack, ornaments wrapped and put away and of course our new tree has been returned to its original box and has found a new home in our computer room.
And of course the multitude of Santa 'dolls" that lined several of the steps on our stairways, have been wrapped up better than yesterdays garbage in large plastic garbage bags and placed inside a couple of wardrobe boxes for safe keeping until next year.
And least we not forget the ever present signs of sparkling glitter that seems to adorn each and every Holiday item that one can imagine. I mean really...what is Christmas without glitter.
If you haven't gathered yet...I am NOT a fan of glitter.
This stuff keeps on giving throughout the entire year. 6 months from now I will still see the delightful sparkle of glitter on our floors or on our bed even after using our vacuum dozens of times.
I consider glitter the cockroach of the adornment world. They will always be around.
As far as giving gifts go....each year that I give Veronica gifts, there seems to be at least one gift that has that "WOW" know the one or ones that I am speaking about...the look of quizzical anticipation when initially tearing the wrapping paper off aka the "what the heck could it be moment", the one(s) that cause the eyes to get big , the jaw to drop and the mouth to open but no words come out and then the OMG followed by the tears.
The gift when opened by the givee brings that "YESSSSS!!!!" moment to the giver. The giver instantly knows that indeed we have a winner and that he/she has done good.
This years "YESSSSS!!!!" moment was better than in past years.
This years winning gift was a 6 point, queen sized cream/pink Hudson Bay wool blanket that I gave to Veronica. It brought about every action that was described above.
Besides the gift of love, what better gift could a person give another...the gifts of warmth and of bringing back loving memories of times gone by long ago.
With this gift I got it right. But it sure will put the pressure on me to get it right next year.
Oh year. When all that was carefully wrapped, packaged and stored away will once again be brought out to see the light of day.
Oh year. When the next round of glitter invades our home and permeates every nook and cranny within these walls.

Cute Talking Animals Singing A Christmas Carol

Our friend John Jakobs from up in Vermilion Bay, Ontario Canada forwarded this cute Talking Animals Singing A Christmas Carol video onto us. Thanks for sharing this with us John.
Have a safe and Happy Holiday everyone.


A Secret Santa Surprise For Veronica

Today I decided to surprise Veronica while she was at work.
Originally I was planning on buying her some flowers on line and having them delivered to her store but after seeing what they offered, I decided that it would be a more personal gift if I delivered them to her myself.
I got a tall glass cylinder that she had in the kitchen cabinet.  This cylinder was actually a measuring device but I thought it would make a great vase.
I then got wrapping paper and various bows and proceeded to decorate the vase.
I drove to the grocery store to buy some flowers. I got 3 arrangements that were of various colors. I had also brought along with me a bottle of water and a scissors.
So here I am in the parking lot of our local Harris Teeters trimming the bottoms of of the flower stems and getting my arrangement all set up in the vase along with some water and a small packet of flower fertilizer.
I had the vehicle that Veronica usually drives to work and had previously seen a Santa costume in the back.
I drove to Veronica's store and parked around the back side of it where very few people might see me.
I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to get this Santa suit on me where everything looked good and in its proper place. I had even brought my pillow with me to stuff in the suit and use as my big Santa belly.
Once I got myself looking like a half decent Santa, I placed to telephone calls to the store. On each of the calls, when someone answered the telephone, I would say something like OMG secret Santa is on his way to your store...mystery Santa Alert!!!!
After making those 2 calls, I waited for a couple of minutes and then proceeded to make my appearance in the store.
With bellowing Ho Ho Hos, Merry Christmas and carrying  this decorated vase, I walked around the store for a few minutes interacting with some of the customers.
After walking around for a few minutes and not seeing Veronica on the sales floor, I made my way back to her office and surprised her with the flowers.
Veronica then walked with me on the sales floor to great customers and hand out some small boxed candy canes that she had in her office.
After greeting customers for a little bit, I went back to Veronica's office and got out of the Santa suit.
I had a good time doing what I did but couldn't wait to get out of that suit.
I give a lot of credit to all of those Santas out there that do this on a yearly basis. After being in that suit for about an hour, I have a new appreciation of their efforts.

A Christmas Flash Mob

Veronica found this You Tube video of a Christmas flash mob. She decided to share it with me. After watching it and in the spirit of the Holiday Season, I would like to share it with you. I hope that you enjoy it. Here is some information about this Christmas flash mob:

Journey of Faith performed a Christmas "Flash Mob" at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach on December 18, 2011 much to the delight of local shoppers. Thanks to all who participated. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Unique Interaction With Gorillas

I found this story on AOL via the Huffington Post. This story is about a tourist that is in Uganda to take photographs/video while on a Gorilla watching tour near Bwindi National Park. This tourist got much more than he paid for in this rare interaction with a family of Gorillas.
To read the full story, click on this link... Tourist Interaction With A Gorilla Family
Below is the video of this really cool human contact with a family of wild gorillas in Uganda:

A Sign Of The Times And These Times Are A Changing

Veronica returned home from work and quickly whisked me into her vehicle to take a look at a "surprise".
As it turned out the surprise were  brand new signs that had been strategically posted in and around our neighborhood.

Because of the problems that I have had with the well known dog, Barney and Barneys' owners, this surprise was really nice to see.
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that while on my walks and bike rides, Barney has been unleashed during his walks that his owners take him on, has charged at me and nipped at my arm, charged me and actually bit me and broke through the skin and on the last incident, Barney has charged at me again at which time Barneys owners and I had a not so friendly exchange of ideas about Barneys behavior and their own behavior.
Now if Barneys' owners decide they want to let Barney run amok through our neighborhood and if Barney decides to charge me again, when I call Animal Control or the police, this sign adds some "bite' to my formal complaint...pun intended.

Our Annual Visit To The Poulos Christmas House Lights Show

This last Thursday evening Veronica and I took our 2nd annual visit to the Poulos residence to view the awesome holiday light show that they put on every year.
Last year was our first year on the Outer Banks and our first opportunity to visit the Poulos residence.
In case you never viewed last years blog entry about this annual event, the Poulos residence home won the 2005 "Best Christmas Display" in the nation contest on NBC's Today Show and had the privilege of being visited by Al Roker himself.
In 2006 this residence gained even more attention when it was on HGTV's "Over the Top Holiday" program.
Veronica and I went early enough that we did not have to battle the crowds that usually show up for this beautiful holiday spirited light and decoration show.
This also gave me the opportunity to take my time and get some good photos/videos.
We noticed that they were several decorations that had been added to this years presentation. You can click on any photo to make it bigger.
Click on this link if you would like to view the photos/videos taken during last years 2010 Poulos family Christmas House presentation

Below is my love posing with an antique Ford pickup truck.

What's a holiday light and decoration presentation without a holiday porker

Here is Veronica posing with none other than the "Main Man" himself...Santa

Below are a couple of photos that I took while experimenting with different camera settings

Here is Veronica hanging out at the Reindeer Parking area. She had heard that Rudolph and the clan were supposed to be arriving soon, to attend the Poulos festivities. Unfortunately they were running behind schedule due to some really strong head winds. We ended up missing out on seeing them this year but there is always next year.

I believe that this was a new addition to the massive number of decorations at the Poulos residence

Below are a few videos taken while we were at the Poulos Christmas house 

Below is a really neat Mickey Mouse Christmas tree topper that Veronica noticed.

Doctors Visit Update

I went to a local Orthopedic doctor yesterday to get my knees checked out.
The X-Rays showed minimal arthritis and some calcification in the joints of my knees.
After much pulling, twisting and shaking the doctor told me that the ligaments in my knee were fine but because I had torn my meniscus years ago, there was a chance that I could have torn it again.
The only way to find out for sure was to have an MRI done.
I told the doctor that I had met my financial deductible for the year through my insurance company and that there was no rush to get the MRI done because I originally thought that the deductible had been met up until August of next year. As it turns out my deductible has been met until the 1st of next year, which is only 3 weeks away. At that point in time I will need to start over paying out again until my deductible has been met for next.
So this morning I called the doctors office to let them know about my mistake....which could cost us several hundred dollars of out of pocket expenses in order to reach next years deductible.
They will see how booked up the MRI schedule is and see if it is possible to get it done by the 1st of the year.
Until I know for sure, I will be giving my knees a break and I won't be riding my bike nor going for any long walks.
I will also be icing it down every night.
At least nothing glaring came to light during the knee exam and x-rays. Hopefully the MRI will come back clean and then it will be a little time to rehab the knee back into shape and then back to my normal routine.
At least that is my game plan at this moment.

I'm Still Around

I haven't posted much on this blog lately. I have been busy doing other things plus I kind of hit a period of "writers block".
So what have I been up to? Well I have been keeping myself busy with my workouts and nursing some injuries. I have had to totally quit going on my walks along with riding my recumbent bicycle. Seems that both of my knees have decided to go on strike at the same time.
Within a matter of a couple of days, my right knee started going out on me during my walks. It feels very "loose" and extremely unstable. I have had it go out and give way in a couple of places...sometimes it is in the front of the knee about an inch below my knee cap. This is about the same general area where I broke my leg several years ago. I have also experienced my knee go out in the back in what i will call the "knee pit" area. And last but not least..I have had issues with both sides of this knee.
Unfortunately this knee has had some trauma to it in the past. I had arthroscopic surgery due to a torn meniscus back in the 80s and I was also shot in this knee as a teenager back in the early 70s.
So after enduring some problems on my walks with the right knee, I decided to back off and start riding my recumbent bike in the garage. The 1st day on the bike was uneventful and I did 15 miles and felt a little better knowing that at least I could do something like that type of exercise without further damaging my knee. Unfortunately I was wrong on that thought. The next day I got on my recumbent bike and was on it for only about 2 minutes before I started getting some sharp knife like pains in my left knee this time. I immediately got off the bike after 2 sharp pains and haven't been on it since.
Since that point in time, I have had my right knee wrapped to add a little more stability to the knee. My knee still goes out when it wants to and makes a loud crunching and crackling sound when I walk on it....kinda sounds like if you would step on a bag of potato chips.
This time I did not do what I usually do when injured....wait and see if it goes away on its own while still going about doing my normal exercise routine.
Actually...this time I almost immediately called and made an appointment with an Orthopedic & Joint Doctor.
I go in this Tuesday at 1:45 for my first appointment.
Even though my knees are acting up, I am still able to do my weightlifting and am progressing nicely with my routine. Of course I don't do anything that involves any added weight or pressure on my knees. Everything is upper body and arms..
Besides dealing with my knees, I also have done some Holiday baking. After a request from several of Veronica's Associates at work, I baked 12 dozen of my coconut macaroons...some with Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate morsels and either butterscotch or peanut butter chips/nibs. I also added chopped pecans in all recipes made. Veronica told me that the Associates at the store call my macaroons..."Ricks crack" because they are so yummy and addictive.
I also will be putting some meals together for families that utilize the mobile food pantries in the area.
There is also the possibility that I will be serving meals for those that are in need on Christmas Eve and maybe Christmas Day at a local church.
Not much else has been happening around here except....only 279 days left until our 14 day cruise out of Copenhagen on the NCL Sun....something both Veronica and I are greatly looking forward to.

A New Look For My Blog

Over the last few days I have noticed that the fish themed background on my blog had shrunk and really looked bad. I tried everything I could to fix it on my own. Little did I know the creator of these blog backgrounds was already aware of the html code issues that were causing the shrunken backgrounds and had a fix available.
By the time I found out about the fix, I had already gone through her blog where she has all of her backgrounds listed and found a new one.
I had that fish background for several years so I guess it was a good time to change things up.
I think that with Veronica's help, we found a really cool background that kind of fits me and thanks to her, I am up and running again.
I hope you enjoy the new look and feel to my blog.
If you are looking for a new background for your blog, click on this link... Cute And Cool Blog Stuff by Itkupilli
She is a Finnish artist and designer that lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Return Of Our Young Deer

Below are a few videos our 2 young deer. These 2 deer frequently show up at feeding time and belly up to the corn buffet that is stocked each night behind our place. We usually sit at our computers with our curtains open so that we can watch the deer eat. They are only about 2 feet away from us and hopefully they will get used to seeing us over a period of time.

Our New Christmas Tree

For the last several years Veronica and I have enjoyed our 3 foot Christmas tree that was lit up using fiber optics. This year we decided it was time to get a new tree. We decided to get a bigger tree...7 foot from bottom of base to the top of the tree and once again we chose to get a fiber optic tree.
We found that these fiber optic trees were getting a little harder to find and that there weren't a lot of styles to choose from.
After the tree arrived at our home, we decided that it was time to get some new decorative tree bulbs along with a tree skirt and topper. Luckily all of these items were on sale at our local KMart so we ended up saving some money on the items.
Below are a few photos of our new tree, which we put up in our bedroom.
I also took a movie of the fiber optic lights in motion but this photo does not do the lights justice.
We are both very pleased with the way the tree turned out and we expect this tree to last for many years to come.

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