Category: Stories

Stories about events that happened on our trips.

Nov 21

An Oasis of Family Fun at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort

Cape Canaveral is a hub of cruise ship activity, the location of the Kennedy Space Center and just down the street from one of the most famous beaches in Florida; Cocoa Beach. And right in the middle of all of this activity is a hidden oasis of family fun at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations…Read More »

Source: An Oasis of Family Fun at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort

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Sep 10

Excursion Trip

How blessed are we who get to travel in our course of life? Recently, I wrote about extending your trip to include a separate stop at no cost to you if you are using travelling from most of the major point programs.

Flying over the Rocky's

Flying over the Rockies on my way to LAX

I was travelling on AeroPlan for that trip and instead of just heading to Vancouver, I booked a multi-leg trip to include a weekend stopover, flying into LAX with no other cost other than the hotel for two nights and incidental costs that most people incur while travelling.

Hotel in LA

Hotel in LA

Since this was my first trip to this end of the country, I was not sure where to stay. The choices are many and so I headed over to TripAdvisor to make my choice. I was looking for something different. I wanted to be fairly close to the Airport district as I thought many of my readers would be selecting this area for a short stop over and yet close enough to several attractions so I can see the area while I was there.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier — The end of Highway 66

I have to say, I had an awesome time. Between the charter local bus service for the hotels in the area, the local bus service was second to none. I was shocked that for a very low fee, compared to my local city, I was on a bus that whisked me straight over to Santa Monica Pier. It was a doubly great since I was travelling on the Memorial Day Weekend.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Now I know some may be saying that it would be too busy and if you were to travel by car, I would agree with you 100% as parking looked to be a little tight, but arriving by local transit was no problem and the areas to explore were all fine. On the pier itself, you had families sharing food, laughter on the rides and fishing from the pier. It was really nice to see.

Fishing at Santa Monica Pier

Fishing at Santa Monica Pier

Down on the beach, we had the celebrations to honour the fallen which was touching to see. A large display of crosses were arranged on the beach with several to represent other religions of the soldiers that gave their lives for the freedom, not only in the USA but for everyone that enjoys the democracy we have and the freedom to travel around the world.

Memorial Day at Santa Monica Pier

Memorial Day at Santa Monica Pier

One nice touch was the shop out at the end of the pier that marks the end of highway Route 66. Such a famous iconic place to say “we were there” On your next trip I can only urge you to take that extra step and explore the many choices you have for stop over or multi-leg trips. I am sure you will find it a pure pleasure.

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Mar 08

The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta

The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta

Posted by Laura Snow on March 7, 2015 1


Nestled in the Puerto Vallarta Marina beach strip, the Casa Magna Marriott is a beautiful beachfront resort, with a full conference center, five restaurants, three pools and a fantastic fitness centre. The tropical grounds of the resort are covered in cacti, palm trees, flowering vines and lush gardens. The moment we walked through the front entrance, I immediately felt like I was in a tropical paradise. When you walk up the front steps you can see straight through the other side of the building to the pool and beach!

The hotel is very close to the airport, which is amazing when you just want to get to your hotel and put on cooler clothes on your arrival. It’s set outside of the downtown area, but still only a 10-15 minute bus or taxi ride to the city center or hotel zone. We had no trouble getting around Puerto Vallarta during our stay, and greatly enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of the area. The Casa Magna is not an all-inclusive hotel so has fewer people who just came to drink and party.  Even though we left our kids at home we appreciated the family atmosphere. There are three golf courses near-by, the hotel has a five star spa and you can do many water activities right from the beach in front of the hotel.

The marina is only a five-minute walk from the hotel, and has many shops, services, restaurants, boat charters and dive shops. We spent a lot of time there since we took a scuba diving trip from PV Scuba in the marina. The marina has a totally different feel at night with many open air restaurants and boats all lit up.

The grounds, pool areas, and guest areas at the hotel were kept very clean. Our bed was extremely comfortable and the room had everything we needed. You have to pay for internet in the room but wifi is free and very fast in the lobby and pool area.

All of the staff at the hotel were very friendly, and helpful especially the bellhops at the front door of the hotel. They helped us get taxis, let us know where we could walk to and remembered us when we came back.

There are many locals selling their hats, jewellery, blankets and souvenirs on the beach in front of the hotel every day. They are very nice people. Talk to them. If you don’t want to buy anything just tell them no a few times and then start a conversation. They love to talk and often have questions about where you’re from!

We ate at three of the restaurants on site and I would highly recommend any of the Mexican dishes from any of them. The buffet was excellent with many, made to order, items including a local specialty: Chicadiles. This breakfast plate is made with taco chips, eggs, shredded chicken, ranchero sauce and cheese. My husband highly recommends it! There were also made to order omelettes and breakfast fajitas! My favourite drink at the Casa Magna was a fresh juice made from cactus, celery, orange juice and some other veggies/fruits I can’t remember. It was delicious and I had it almost every day. I would not recommend getting the american style food at the resort – the “american” cheese isn’t what we’re used to. It’s a much better idea to order the local food, and try new things!

The hotel has a fantastic view of the ocean, and city, especially at night. I was also lucky enough to see a humpback whale, in the ocean, from the hotel on my last day. The rooms all seem to have a wonderful view, but we really liked ours, with the sun setting over the ocean, directly in front of the balcony.

The beach was a little rough, at times, to swim in, but clean and warm. My husband did not hesitate to play in the waves, more than once! I stuck to the pool, which was warm and had a pool bar!

While we were at the Casa Magna, Marriott Hotels had a program going on with Go Pro where you could test drive a Go Pro Hero 4 camera. This was such a fun opportunity! We took the Go Pro with us on our scuba dive to Los Arcos and are so happy we have a video to remember it by!

via The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta.

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Nov 15

Coming of Age — Florida Style

That Old Town Florida: Part 1

Old Town Clock

Old Town Clock

Traveling to Florida several times a year can mean that you start to see redundancy in some of the things people like to do and like me to write about. We have to remember that Florida is so much more than what my wife likes to call the “Plastic City” area. You know what I mean. That part of Florida where the rocks all play music and the fire in the torches never runs out.

Now, you know from past posts that I do like the parks. I love the roller coasters. I was never happier than the first time my wife agreed to go on one. I remember that I was working hard to get this decision but she had strong reservations about this particular form of entrainment. We were having a great day in the Magic Kingdom and ended up in Tomorrow Land. I really was not expecting anything but as we stopped for a bite to eat, I noticed that she was looking at the people coming from the Space Mountain ride.

Disney's Space Mountain

Disney’s Space Mountain

We were having the usual type of casual conversation when she paused and looking over at a woman in her sixty’s and a boy not more than nine walk off of the roller coaster ride, she said, “You know, if a Grand Mother and a little boy can get on Space Mountain, well then, so can I”.  I was shocked.

I think that might have been one of the few times in my life that my jaw literally dropped.  Just a bit. Never one to let an opportunity pass by, I agreed and suggested that we try, just this one. I don’t know if you have ever been on this particular ride, most likely you have, but for those that have not, this is a bit of a unique layout in that the design of the ride has one person sitting in front of the other.  Because I am tall, I sat behind her so that she would get the full visual effect of the planets and stars zooming past us as we spiral down to that explosive finish to the ride.

What this meant is that with all the sound effects and noise from an indoor ride I really could not tell what was happening. Was she going to  enjoy this or was I heading for divorce for not stopping her from making this insane decision? I heard a few oh’s with another word or two afterwards, but I still could not tell if she fell in love or hated this one time experience.

I am happy to report that we are still together and very much in love. The experience brought us closer together and now I think there is only two coasters in the greater Orlando area that we have yet to experience.  This was a happening that lead to years of fun travel together in the parks of Florida.

But, this story is not about “Plastic City” but rather the area around it. The area of Kissimmee that many visitors never get to experience, or really enjoy.  I will talk more about Old Town and the surrounding area in my next post or two.

Talk soon.

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May 18

The Best Days of Your Life Are the New Normal in Ecuador

The Best Days of Your Life Are the New Normal in Ecuador By Donald Murray The place was packed; festive and noisy with a funky, thumping rhythm adding to the party atmosphere. It was a mixed crowd-some retired gringos along with a younger North American…

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