Sunday, July 25, 2010

Let's Plan Alaska.....

So....I've been home for about a week now.  I'm caught up with laundry and the house is relatively clean.  I finished my Hawaii photobook.  I am going to tackle a major task starting tomorrow - painting our master to do in the meantime? 

Well, I miss Hawaii and I need to stop dwelling on that, so on to something different.  Let's start planning our trip for next summer! I've got to figure out money now anyway, because I need to plan our budget to determine how much to put away each month to have it all ready come next August. goes:

We are going on a Disney Cruise for 7 nights, so I started there. Looked at the itinerary and figured out how much our extra onboard expenses will be.

  • All meals are included - but you are expected to tip heavily at the end of the cruise - so I researched and found the recommended tip amounts for restaurant servers and also housekeeping service- DONE!
  • Room service is also free - but expected to tip a small amount for each order - calculated that - DONE!
  • The cruise line does a great job of taking pics wherever you are and suckering you in - well, you know how much I love pictures......the last two cruises we did with Disney, we bought A LOT of their pics.  So....researched how much the pics could cost for certain packages on a 7 night - DONE!
We will be sailing out of Vancouver, British Columbia and hope to arrive a few days early and a hotel and a rental car!

Well, I called Disney Cruise Line because they always have certain hotels that they use for pre and post cruise options and usually the rates are cheapter then booking yourself.  They told me the 3 hotels that they will be using next summer and the rates. to pick one and add it to our cruise reservation. - ALMOST DONE! :)

Rental car - we want a car for the pre-cruise adventure in Vancouver.  Called the Vancouver sites for Budget and got the info about pick-up and drop-off , as well as rates.  We want to pick up at the airport and drop off at the cruise port the day before we cruise out.  Found out it is doable and fairly inexpensive. Not reserved yet, probably won't do that until Feb. or March, but I've got the rates and info. - DONE!

One of the fun things about going on a Disney Cruise is decorating your cruise door.  The doors are metal and if you print out your graphics on magnet paper, it works great.  We did it for our 4 night cruise 2 years ago and everyone loved it! For the 3 and 4 night cruises, not many people do it.  But for the longer cruises, most doors are decorated and it adds to the Disney Fun.  So....... laugh if you want, but I started designing some of our door magnets.  I won't print them till next spring or summer, right before our cruise, but why not start playing now and save them. :)

Here they are, so far:
If you are impressed, don't be! I am not creative enough to do this by myself.  There is a place where Disney fanatics (like myself) chat and post helpful hints and ideas.  There is one whole section devoted to cruise door designs.  You can "borrow" them and then make them your own.  All I did was add the names and change the date on the top picture.  So fun!!!

Still have to budget for the excursions at each port we stop at in Alaska, but those prices won't be released by Disney till probably around December.  Exact airfare isn't out yet either, but I priced a dummy trip for next June, so I have a pretty good idea of what it will cost.

So....this is what I do.....I start a year out and "dream" about the next BIG vacation.  It makes me happy and we usually end up having a pretty good time because of the info that I can find out by starting this early.

I am not recommending this strategy for anyone, but if you share a passion for traveling and planning as I do and like to dream and learn about places far away, then ask and I'll share more secrets! :) 

So, the planning has started and the budget is almost complete.  Only 379 days till we cruise! 

I'm off to think about painting our bedroom!  That is, until I need my travel/planning fix.......

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Annual Emerald Isle Photo Shoot....enter if you dare!

Every year (for the past 7) we have gone to Emerald Isle, North Carolina as an extended family.  The attendees have always been the 4 Rahns (Don, Laura, Carleigh and Katie) and Rocky and Rina (Laura's parents).  For most of the 7 years Patty and Ev (Laura's sister and brother-in-law) have joined us for at least part of the week.  This year, for the first time, all 8 of us were in attendance for the whole week!! Lots of fun!!

An annual event is the "taking of the photos" on our last evening at the beach.  We have gone from the matching white and khaki outfits to tie dying matching (or sort of matching) t-shirts before we leave.  We also have extended the photo shoot to include matching girls shirts and also matching Laura, Patty and Mom shirts.  You never know who will show up with what, and then we are all expected to wear them for pictures - whether we want to or not! :)

We become a spectacle on the beach, and anyone still wandering on the beach may become our target as we hunt for someone to take the "full family" photo.  There is always lots of laughter and goofing around - and continious camera footage to document the hour or so of silliness!

So...if you wish...enter if you are this year's selected photos from the Last Night Picture Event:

First the nice, and the "pretty":

Now for the "other" ones:

So there you have it....."Seldom A Dull Moment" holds true for Laura's side of the family also - The Wests, Bernardos and Rahns.

Some things to think about when viewing the above pictures:

Purple tank tops: did you notice Ev hanging from the flag pole in the background?  He and Don plotted that and us girls had NO idea he was doing it.  Don was laughing hysterically while taking the pictures, and we thought he was laughing at my mother....poor Rina!

Animal black t-shirts: Patty's contribution this year and I'm not sure why, but we had fun scaring my mother.  Her face was real!

Yellow Life is Good t-shirts: Mom's contribution and an annual shirt of some sort, to celebrate everything that has happened over the past few years and we are now on the other side! :)

Rocky and Rina shirts were Christmas presents a couple of years ago.

The beach trip is over and the unpacking and cleaning up the house has begun......but also the planning has begun for our many other adventures coming up during the next year.

Stay tuned for:
  • White House tour and overnight
  • Busch Gardens? 
  • September wedding in New York
  • November getaway?
  • Spring Break?
  • June?
  • August Alaska cruise

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What do you do after a two week vacation in Hawaii?

Take a vacation from your vacation!

And while on vacation, you...........

build a sand castle that looks like.....

a volcano!
You also...

hang out in the water with your grandparents...and...

get to spend quality time with your sister.....and.....

read a good book, and....

boogie board .......

and  you've got to go out in the deep water and just float around past the "breakers,"......

and of course you wouldn't be the Rahns if you didn't pose for pictures:

It's a great week and very relaxing!  Stay tuned for part two!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Call me crazy! But I bet most of you already have......

I think I can....I think I can....

This post will chronicle the day before our next vacation and share the past 24 hours...

We arrived home from our Hawaii trip at about 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and we are leaving for our week in Emerald Isle, NC on Saturday at 6:00 a.m.  Basically, I have Thursday and Friday to get ready for another week long vacation. 

Crazy? Yes, definitely!!!  Espcially with 6 hours of jet lag to deal with. :)

I remember the discussion about this time with Don about a year ago, and we talked about if we would be able to come home jet lagged/and repack to leave again with only 2 days in between.  Two Teachers with no outside pressures?  Sure, we could do this!! We'll see........................................follow our two days and I'll post the final results Friday night before we go to sleep.  Hopefully we'll still be speaking to each other at that time.  Just how organized am on to find out, because I have no idea how this will turn out. :)

Wednesday night:
  • landed at Dulles at about 4:00 p.m. after a 5 hour flight from San Fransisco 
  • stopped at Bloom (grocery store) to get some real food for dinner - Steak, Fries and Salad. 
  • prepared dinner and ate at 8:00, tried to get everyone showered and in bed at a decent hour.....not so much....about 11:00 the girls settled down and fell asleep
  • woke to alarm at 8:30 a.m. - had to get Jack to a 9:00 appointment to get his shots updated before he goes to "Doggy Summer Camp" for a week while we are at the beach 
  • started laundry - need to clean the beach/summer clothes to repack them for another beach/summer trip
  • 7 loads of laundry later, almost all is clean and sitting in piles in the staging room to be repacked tomorrow
  •   schedule playdate for the girls for Friday to get them some friend time before they have to spend another 8 days with each other
  • unpacked the souvenirs/presents for family members, to repack them to take to the beach and present to mom/dad/sister Patty and her husband Ev.
  • did grocery trip to buy food for the beach - packed the non perishable food

  • Don did trip to Target (with girls)  to buy more sunscreen/shampoo/etc. that we used up during the last 2 weeks
  • tried to answer emails and pay bills that are almost overdue before we leave again
  • made another real dinner - no more eating out (for at least another 24 hours)
  • dropped car off at shop to get oil change and trip check before driving 7 hours to the beach 
  • early bed....well around 9:30 for all
  • woke up at 8:00 a.m. with a HORRIBLE backache - too much laundry lugging and luggage unpacking yesterday?  It's my own and motrin will hopefully help
  • started stressing about all that needs to get done today and then realized this is my fault and decided to blog instead
  •  still blogging and avoiding....(is Don rubbing off on me:)
  • got a call from the car place - new front brakes/rear brakes serviced/tire rotation/oil change.....$1100.00.....all done by 5:00 p.m. tonight?  He says he can do it.....stressed? No.....are we still leaving tomorrow?  Stay tuned.......
  • got the car back.....the planets must have been aligned because we got the call that the car was done at the same time that Don was getting ready to take Jack to "Summer Camp."
  • stuck the girls in the car and drove over to pick it up
  • car home, piles being made...When Don gets home we pack the car and then watch

The girls are very excited about this and I think Don is just as much!  We are big Phineas and Ferb fans...and saw this advertised while we were in Hawaii, so tonight we watch! 

  • Jack dropped off and 3 females are packed!  Piles are by the front door, dinner is planned and after dinner we will pack the car!  
  • We might actually make it out the door tomorrow morning.
You might be assuming that of course we would be on the road tomorrow morning, but I seriously had my doubts.  It looks like we are going to make it!!

See you in North Carolina.....

Can you see all of San Fransisco in 8 hours? You Betcha!!

Our time in San Fransisco is quite a blur - thank god for cameras.  We arrived at 9:00 pm, got our luggage and found the airport shuttle to our hotel.  Once checked in we ordered a big, room service dinner and tried to go to sleep.  No was only 7:00 pm in Hawaii and no one was tired.  The girls got to watch Letterman for the first time. :)  By midnight, everyone was starting to wind down.  

Good thing, because we were being picked up at 10:00 am by Holger of Silver Lion Tours for our day in San Fransisco.  What a great adventure that was.

Everyone woke around 8:00 and had breakfast and got ready for our day.

Here are the girls with Holger -our guide for the day. 

We were staying outside of San Fransisco and when he picked us up, we headed into the city...first real stop would be Muir Woods - Don wanted to see the Redwoods.

On the way we made a few small stops:

If you watched Amazing Race this season, you recognize the above pictures.  We stopped at the Letterman Digital Arts Center - which is the headquarters of Lucasfilm.  George Lucas does all of his creating and designing in this compound of buildings.  Very Cool!! And of course Don was happy to get a glimpse into the top secret world of the Star Wars creator.

Then on to Golden Gate Bridge with a stop at one of the only two windmills in the city - used to work!  Very neat.
Alcatraz iln the distance, we didn't get there.  Saw it, but didn't make the trip over.

We finally got to Muir Woods - very peaceful and pretty place.  The Redwoods are amazing.

We ate lunch in Sausalito and then headed to Pier 39 to find the Sea Lions.

After driving down Lombard Street - we've got the video of that, our trip wouldn't be complete without seeing the Painted Ladies and some of the sights used in the tv show Full House.  The girls were so excited, as they have become big Full House fans!

It was a busy day, but we basically saw the whole city without having to drive around on our own.  A fun time!!  Home to the hotel and ordered pizza to get ready for our early flight back to Virginia.

2 weeks went fast, but also slow.  Lots of great memoroies!