Part 2 of the Free Cruise for two plus more, timeshare experience!! The Real Deal!!

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The following is Part 2 of the Free Cruise for two plus more, timeshare experience!! The Real Deal!!

 

This all started with a letter in the mail that looked similar to a Federal Express envelope.  Jim and I called the number together.  They offered a free cruise and a three day/two night hotel stay with air.  We just had to listen to there timeshare sales pitch.  We found out that the hotel and airfare were not combined with the cruise to start.  We still decided to mail back the voucher in to the travel service center for more information.

Approximately one week later, we received our booking procedure packet in the mail.  There were a few surprises!!   The three day/two night hotel and airfare were only for adults over 21 years of age.  This information unfortunately meant that it was not going to be a girls weekend for me and our daughter.  Jim and I decided that we would use it.  After looking closer, if they flew us into town at night, then the first day is gone.  If they flew us back home early the last day, then we would not enjoy much time at our desired location.  Unfortunately, the trip could turn out to be one day of fun with two days of travel.  We decided to decline on this offer.

The cruise was also for adults 21 years of age and older.  The age was not the problem.  They also needed two sailings dates and the sailing dates have to be booked out at least 90 days.  Nancy believed we could make this happen.

Next, we needed to send in $75 for a processing fee to get the list of cruise vacation offerings.  The $75 is a small chunk of change when booking a vacation and if it did give us a large savings the cruise would be worth it.

Approximately 1 week later, we received an email with the cruise listings.  You could call to get prices or email them back to get the price breakdowns.  We decided to call the listed phone number.  We figured this process would be quicker because then they would send us another email with the breakdown of the sailing cost.

We did some research first to see how comparable the cruise price was going to be.  We were very disappointed with the prices!!  The first sailing we were looking at was out of Los Angeles.  The cruise was to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Mazatlan, Mexico, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the Carnival Splendor.  Nancy went on Carnival Cruise lines website and started a booking to get a price quote.   Nancy got the following information: Inside Stateroom Price was $804.00 taxes $106.40 total $910.40 per person.  This is the free cruise price $799.25.  That is a $110.40 savings per person.  I’ve gotten more onboard credit from a travel agent than that savings! This cruise definitely was not going to happen!!!

The next sailing was on the Carnival Horizon with ports in Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba.  Again, Nancy researched the price for the two of us.  The cruise price was $769, taxes and fees $125.40 total $894.40 per person.  The free cruise price was $807.75  the following is a breakdown of the price:  taxes and port fees $278.75, processing fee of $129, premium ship surcharge of $375, and inside stateroom fee of $25.  This is not even a $90 savings per person.  How do they call it a free cruise, LOL!!!

Nancy looked very closely at the cruise list again and noticed that only one cruise did not have a surcharge fee.  Nancy called to get a price on this cruise.  Once again we were disappointed!  The company offered no surcharge on the final sailing that Nancy looked at but the cruise certainly was still not a good deal.  The sailing was going to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, and Dominican Republic.  Nancy priced out the sailing for $474, additional taxes and fort charges of $147.40 for a grand total of $641.40.  The free cruise price was $547.25 which gave us a savings of $94.15 per person.

Overall, we discovered attempting to visit a timeshare for a cruise vacation or a potential getaway vacation was a very disappointing process! We do understand that some people tell white lies sometimes, businesses can promise things that do not happen.  We believe this is wrong!!! Of course, the timeshare company took the mailed letter you received in the mail with these wonderful promises printed on it when you arrive at the timeshare meeting.  We would definitely say the old saying is right,  “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”

In closing, we would strongly recommend that you steer clear of this mail notice and offer if you receive it in the mail.  The offer is definitely a waste of time and more importantly your money!!

We honestly researched, there is no bang for your buck with this offer!  Happy Travels and stay clear from this scam!

Capturing The World Through Photography!

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Have you ever had the desire to capture the world all around you?  I have always enjoyed capturing the world with my Iphone and my canon camera.  I must say there is something special about exploring the world through a camera!  I truly enjoy capturing nature, landscapes, wildlife, sunsets, and so much more!

Over the years, I have taken thousands of pictures and I have truly enjoyed every capture.  Nancy and I are Massachusetts seasonal campers so this gives me a great opportunity to capture humanities, nature, wildlife, and so much more.  I enjoy going out on my kayak with my camera and capturing the moments during the months of May through October.  We will be sharing all of our photography!

Upon capturing these moments, I have always followed these Basic 10 Rules of Photography:  

  1. Using Lines- When setting up a photograph, you can use line to guide the viewer’s eye to a specific point in the framed picture.
  2. Shooting from a different Angle or Viewpoint- Photographing from different angles can provide some interesting and beautiful photos.
  3. Check your Horizon- Upon taking a photograph, it is very important to make sure your horizon is straight in the photograph.
  4. Using Natural Frames- An interesting and beautiful way to capture this picture is to use natural features to frame the picture.
  5. Get Close/Fill your Viewfinder- Do not be afraid to fill up your viewfinder with the subject.  This will give the viewer to get up close and personal with the subject. 
  6. Check your Background- This is very important! The trick is to make sure there is nothing in the background that will take away from your subject.                 
  7. Symmetry, Patterns, and Reflections- Symmetry and Patterns can be used to make an interesting photograph.  Water Reflections are also a beautiful way to enhance your photography.   
  8. Depth- Changing your depth of field is another important fact to consider.  You can take a photograph of the subject with a blur in the background or use a combination of both.   
  9. Contrast- When taking your photographs it is very important to look for color, lights and shadows.  Capturing this can really make your photograph stand out beautifully.   
  10. Avoiding the Center- This is another photograph technique which can be used to place the picture not directly in the center of the viewfinder.      

In closing, I hope these Basic 10 Rules of Photography will helpful with your photography.  Remember, we all start at the same point and as you get more comfortable with your camera and with the above 10 Basic Rules, you should see improvement with your photography.  Happy Capturing!

Wineries and Beach Break!

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We took some time this past weekend to enjoy two wine tastings and the beach.  Last Saturday was such a beautiful day!  We took a ride to the Mill River Winery, located in Rowley, MA.  What a great little winery!!

 

Mill River Winery is in the old Dodge Cider Mill and Ice Cream stand.  The renovations look amazing with lots of reclaimed wood.  The winery has such a warm, cozy, and homey feel.  When we entered the building, there were a lot of items for sale.  Items that coordinate with wine, like snacks and shirts.  They also sell olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   

 

We were immediately greeted by the bar staff and since the bar was full we sat at a small table.  Sarah came to serve us promptly and explain the tasting flights.   We both decided on tasting the winter sweets.  Which included 5 tastings for $7.  I have to tell you their wine is extremely well balanced.  We started out with the Reisling, Nancy Cannon, Plum Island White, Plum Island Red, Plum Island Red Dory, and an extra taste of the Red Zinfandel.  They were all so very good.  

Owners and wine makers Donna Martin and Rick Rousseau met when Rick was painting her house.  He was a contractor and enjoyed making wine in his basement.  He had even won awards for his wines.  Donna Martin a Ph.D. Chemist tried Rick’s wines and really enjoyed them.  She started to think with her chemistry hat on.  Donna started to use her chemistry degree with his wine and they made something great.  They have been open since late 2011 and for more information, visit their internet Facebook page.

Our next stop was the beach.  We went to our favorite spot, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.  When visiting, we always drive down to sandy point, which is the beach area access at the end of the road.  There are limited spots to park on the refuge, Massachusetts residents park at this location at no charge, so you need to arrive early! The scenery is absolutely beautiful!!  It is a great spot for families to get away from the commercialism of the beach.  You will find no stores at the shore selling things, even no food so pack a lunch.  There are bathroom facilities at 2 different locations.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941.  It is located on the North East corner of Massachusetts and  provide a resting, feeding and nesting habitat for migratory birds.  The refuge is over 4700 acres and 3000 of it are salt marsh.  This makes Parker River a perfect ecosystem for more than 300 species of animals.  The most popular bird is the Piping Plover.  These birds were on the federal endangered species list.  When it is nesting time, these birds like to nest on the beach and dunes.  As a result, they close down portions of the beach so the birds can utilize this prime ecosystem and minimize human disturbance of their breeding cycle.


We walked the beach looking for treasures.  By treasures, I mean critters and shells.  We did find a few sand dollars, lobster traps, and a pretty sunset.  Jim decided to climb the observation tower and snap a few sunset pictures as well.   

We have enjoyed the beach over the years and even dropped our kayaks in the marsh estuary and kayaked down the river.  Just make sure to check the tide chart so you don’t get beached or stranded.  

Our last stop over the weekend was at Kalon Farm in Ashburnham MA.  They are only open on Saturdays and Sundays, for more information visit their website @ www.kalonfarm.com.  They have a small building that they do business out of and a farm with sheep, a goat named “billy”, and chickens.  

As we drove up to the building we passed some grape vines and around back were the animals eager to greet us.  As we made our way into the building we were warmly greeted by Chrissy.  We were interested in the wine tasting.  We had never heard of Kalon Farms or there wine.  They go by the name Hillside Cellars and they have 5 varieties of wine, for more information visit their website @ www.hillsidecellars.com.  

 

We were the first to go in and ask for a wine tasting, which was free of charge.  The wine tasting was delicious! Kalon Farms is known for their grass fed beef and lamb, pasture raised pork and poultry, as well as free range eggs and vegetables.  They also have canned goods, sauces, maple syrup, honey, cheese and other delicious local artisan products.  Their main store is located in Lancaster, MA, store hours are 10-6 daily.

In closing, we were pleasantly surprised with the Mill River Winery and the Kalon Farm.  We would recommend both places for a delicious wine tasting and a shopping experience.  Lastly, we would highly recommend a trip to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge!! We know once you experience the beautiful refuge, you will return again and again.  

A Hawaiian Vacation Anyone??

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Have you ever wanted to go to Hawaii??  Nancy and I decided years before, Hawaii would be on our bucket list and with some planning we made our dream come true!!  Hawaii is the best trip we have taken to this point in our life!!

Did you know?? Hawaii’s nickname is the “Aloha State.” The word aloha is derived from the Proto-Polynesian, alofa, and its meanings include “love,” “compassion,” and “mercy.” Aloha is used both as “hello” and “goodbye.” Hawaii has two official languages, Hawaiian and English, though Pidgin, Samoan, and Tongan are also spoken.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)

In April 2005, Nancy and I flew out of Logan Airport to Chicago O’Hare Airport.  We then boarded another plane and continued our flight to Hawaii.  The airline did offer movies during the approximately thirteen hour flight.  Nancy enjoyed the movies while I slept most of the flight.
Needless to say, we were happy to land in Honolulu, Oahu.  Upon landing, we were overly excited to arrive!! We picked up our luggage, received our lays and we were transported to the port where we boarded the Pride Of Aloha, Norwegian Cruise Line.  The Pride of Aloha Cruise Ship is now the Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship, which we would recommend for your next vacation!

Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.

– Paul Theroux

Did you know, the eight horizontal stripes on Hawaii’s flag represent each of the state’s main islands? In the upper-left corner of the flag is a small version of Britain’s flag which honors British captain George Vancouver, who gave Hawaii its first flag in 1794.   When written with the English alphabet, Hawaiian uses only 12 letters and a symbol (‘).  Oahu draws more visitors than any other island of Hawaii.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)

After leaving Oahu, our first island stop was Kauai. Kauai was a beautiful island which provided a beautiful landscape and waterfalls.  Nancy and I decided to explore the island by taking the Heaven and Earth Quest helicopter tour.  The approximately forty-five minute helicopter tour was absolutely breathtaking and we would recommend this excursion to all of our readers!! During our flight, we were able to enjoy the a birds eye view of the Na Pali Coastline, majestic waterfalls, and the absolutely breathtaking Kauai landscape.  Amazing!!! After leaving the helicopter tour, we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach.
The next day we felt the need for more excitement!  We decided to take a zip line excursion. First, we were given the do’s and don’t of zip lining instructions and fitted with all of our gear.  We were transported by an open air jeep to the top of the mountain and we were off zip lining down the mountain.  The zip line excursion consisted of seven different zip lines that started at the top of the mountain, working our way down the mountain.  We both enjoyed the excitement and beautiful views, while zip lining down the mountain.  This tour was very thrilling and included all age groups.  We had newlyweds in there early twenties to a couple in there sixties.  This was our first experience with zip lining but it will not be our last!! The guides/instructors were very helpful and were able to put any fears at ease.
Our next island stop was the beautiful island of Hilo.  While in Hilo, we decided to take the Kilauea Lava Field expedition.  Did you know?? Because of its continuous volcanic eruptions, Hawaii is the only state in the nation to have an increasing land area.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)
During this expedition, Nancy and I were able to explore the lava tubes, which was a fun experience.  We then took the walking (jogging)tour to the lava field.  This tour is for the young at heart.  This tour covered up to nine miles of walking in four hours.
Once we arrived to the lava field, we were able to take our time viewing the lava, which was a memorable experience.  We knew it would be hot but wow.  Liquid fire is HOT!  This tour was very strenuous, we sat in the hot tub, back on the ship, for about one hour to relax our tired leg muscles.
Our next island stop was Kona.  During our time in Kona, we were able to get some ocean time.  We decided to take the Body Glove Snorkeling Tour.  The catamaran which we boarded had a water slide, which both Nancy and I really enjoyed!! We also enjoyed live music and of course the snorkeling wasn’t bad either!
 Our last island stop was Maui.  Did you know, the island of Maui was named after the demigod who taught Hawaiians to make fire, invented spears, and created a giant fishhook from his dead grandmother’s jawbone? According to the legend, when he fished with the hook, he brought the Hawaiian Islands up from the sea.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)
While at Maui, we rented a red convertible and we had a lot to see.  Our first stop was the Haleakala volcano.  The Haleakala volcano from sea level to the top is 10,000 feet.  The volcano offered beautiful views as we traveled toward the peak.  As we got closer to the peak, we drove through the clouds and then were above the clouds.  What a magnificent view!  The top of the volcano offers a vast crater seven and a half miles long by two and a half miles wide, and 3,000 feet deep.
Our next adventure was our drive on the Road to Hana, which was spectacular, with many hair pin turns and one lane bridges! At one point during our drive, Nancy and I were able to get out of the vehicle and sit next to a waterfall.  A beautiful moment for the both of us!!  Near the end of our drive, we came upon a man cutting pineapples.  We purchased one from him and he cut it up for us to take for our drive back to the ship.  A wonderful treat!
After our magnificent land tour, we dropped off our rental car and made our way back to the ship.  We had one last excursion planned for Maui and it was a traditional Hawaiian luau. As we got closer to the ship, we noticed that people were already lining up for the tour.  We had exactly twenty minutes to get on the ship, shower, change, get off the ship, and make it to the tour line before the buses left.  I don’t think we have ever gotten ready that fast.  We did make it though and we sure were glad we did!
The luau was wonderful!! The luau was held at a hotel on a beach.  Nancy and I walked down to the beach and were lucky enough to see a beautiful sunset.  The luau was definitely a highlight of our vacation!  We enjoyed several free blue Hawaiian and fruit punch rum drinks before the luau.  There were fire dancers as well as a beautifully cooked pig, which we watched as the pig emerged from the fire pit.   We would definitely recommend a traditional Hawaiian luau to everyone!!
In closing, we would recommend everyone to visit the beautiful islands of Hawaii!!  If we ever return, we will be sure to spend more than one week!! Happy Travels!!
Here are some more interesting facts about Hawaii:
-Everyone is a minority in Hawaii—there are no racial majorities Haoles or Caucasians, constitute about 33% of the population, Japanese about 33%, Filipino-Americans about 16%, and Chinese-Americans about 5%. Most of the population has mixed ethnicities.    (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)
-The average projected lifespan of those born in Hawaii in the year 2000 is 79.8 years (77.1 years if male; 82.5 if female), longer than the residents of any other state.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)
-Hawaii is the only U.S. state that has tropical rain forests.  Hawaii has its own time zone and does not observe Daylight Saving Time.  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)
-The popular T.V. series Lost is shot in Hawaii. At the end of the credits is a note thanking the “people of Hawaii and their Aloha Spirit.”  (50 Interesting Facts about Hawaii, Karin Lehnardt)

 

 

Weekend NH Winery Hopping

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Anyone looking to for something to do during your long Winter days?? How about visiting some  New Hampshire wineries? Nancy and I love visiting wineries and taste testing what each winery has to offer! This past weekend, Nancy and I decided to check out three New Hampshire wineries and we sure are glad we did!!!

The first winery we visited was the Sweet Baby Vineyard.  The Sweet Baby Vineyard is owned by winemaker Lewis Eaton.  The winery is located at 260 Stage Road, Hampstead, NH 03841 and for further information they can contacted at 603-347-1738 and contacted at info@sweetbabyvineyard.com.  They offer award winning fruit and grape wines at wholesale and retail prices.

The Sweet Baby Vineyard was easily located with plenty of parking.  They currently have a building on their property, which is used as their tasting room.  Upon entering the tasting room, we were immediately greeted by two wine servers, Charlene and Stephanie.  The room was beautifully set up with several types of wines being displayed with award winning medals and wooden tables with chair set up around the serving area for customers to relax while enjoying their wine.  

Nancy and I decided to purchase the wine tasting.  The servers also offered us a cheese and cracker plate for around seven dollars.  We decided not to purchase the plate, however, we did see another customer enjoying their plate.  The plate consisted of several crackers with a very generous large block of cheese.  Nancy and I are sweet wine drinkers and we were served six different tastings.  After getting our second wine tasting, we were directed to another section of the building where we could enjoy our wine tasting in total comfort.  We walked down a short adjoining hallway and down a small set of stairs to a more cozy sitting area.  The room offered cushioned furniture, tables with chairs, and an approximately seventy inch large screen television for viewing.  We really enjoyed the comfort level of this sitting room.  While enjoying our wine, we observed three other couples enjoying their time together in the room as well.

After a short period of time, we decided to go back to the serving area to finish our tastings.  During our tastings, we talked about other local wineries in the area.  The servers were excellent and they provided us with some good information about the winery and other local wineries in the area.  We were informed that Saturday February 24th and 25th there will be a local event called the Barrel Event Weekend, which consists of tastings straight from the barrel.  The event consists of picking up your glass at any of the participating wineries for ten dollars and use the glass at all five wineries; Sweet Baby Vineyard, Zorvino Vineyards (Sandown, NH), Flag Hill Distillery and Winery (Lee, NH), Appolo Vineyards (Derry, NH), and Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry, NH).  We and a group of our friends will be attending this upcoming event!!

Upon walking out of the tasting building, we met the wife of the owner, Stacey Eaton.  We politely asked if we could take some photographs of the grape vineyard and she gave us her approval.  After taking a couple photographs, Stacie brought us for a tour of their future special event area.  We proceeded to walk into a refurbished barn area.  Stacey explained they are currently petitioning with the town to get a business license to open the barn.  The barn interior was absolutely beautiful with newly refurbished wooden floors.  Stacey then escorted us to the wine making area, which is currently in a three car garage.  

Upon entering the garage, we were warmly met by the owner, Lewis Eaton.  Lewis was busy filtering their apple wine.  While we were engaged in conversation with Lewis about his business, he generously gave us a tasting of his delicious apple wine after filtering.  The business opened in 2008 starting as a hobby and then wine making their passion! The wine was truly delicious!!!  Stacey was very forthcoming with some tips on the processes they used when they were just starting out.  Since Nancy makes wine on a hobby scale this was very helpful!  We graciously thanked the owners for their time and we were off to our next winery.

Our second winery was the Zorvino Vineyards.  The Zorvino Vineyards is located at 226 Main Street Sandown, NH and they can be contacted at 603-887-8463.  For more website information they can be located at www.zorvino.com and events@zorvino.com.  The Zorvino Vineyards is truly a picturesque winery on eighty beautiful acres in the middle of a New England hardwood forest.  They are committed to producing quality wines from local New England grapes carefully tended on their own property, as well as interesting varietals from grapes grown in premier wine-making regions of the world, including Tuscany, Chile, and Northern California.  They also produce award winning fruit wines made with locally grown fruit.

The Zorvino Vineyards Tasting Room and Gift Shop is open for tastings every day from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for some holidays.  Tasting are five dollars per person.  If you are interested in visiting them with a group of eight or more, reservations are requested.  All wines available are also sold in their tasting room.  The gift shop offers a variety of locally made snacks, gifts, wine related items, and clothing.  They also a function room for weddings and other special functions.

Upon arriving at the Zorvino Vineyards, Nancy and I were immediately impressed by the landscaping along the road into the winery.  We observed decorated grape vines along the road as we initially pulled in.  After a short distance we observed signage for the function room area  and for the Wine Tasting area.  We proceeded to park our vehicle in a spacious parking area.  

After parking our car, we decided to walk around the beautifully landscaped property.  We observed sitting areas, two bocce courts, and a small pond on the property.  We also took some photographs of the beautiful gazebo overseeing the vineyard and grounds.  

Upon entering the winery, we were greeted by a friendly female server.  We again decided to have a tasting of sweet wines.  During our tastings, we gathered some informative information about the wine and winery itself.  The wine was delicious!  After enjoying our tasting, we explored through the Gift Shop and then decided to move on to our last winery.

Our last winery of the day was the Flag Hill Winery and Vineyard, LLC.  Flag Hill is located at 297 North River Road, Lee, NH 03861.  The Winery can be contacted at 603-659-2949 and at wine-info@flaghill.com.  The Flag Hill Winery and Vineyard, LLC also hosts weddings and other private events.  The business is open seven days a week between the hours 11:00 AM-5:00 PM, closed during some holidays and special events.  

The business also teams up with the Coppal House Farm for an old fashioned horse-drawn sleigh ride this winter.  The Coppal House Farm is located at 118 North River Road, Route 155, Lee, NH 03861.  They can be contacted at 603-659-3572 and at their website:  nhcornmaze. com.  Enjoy a scenic ride through their 78-acres of fields and woods as you relax to the sound of sleigh bells.  Private Winter Sleigh and Carriage Rides are also available by reservation.  They can accommodate from two to twenty plus persons, reservations are requested.  No snow in the winter? Choose a Winter Carriage Ride instead, be sure to bring your camera!  Larger groups and company events are also welcome, call for rates.  

Upon arriving at the Flag Hill Winery and Vineyard, we were able to park in a spacious parking area.  We walked into the winery and were greeted by a female server.  Flag Hill offers wine tastings along with Spirit and Liqueur tastings.  We decided to have a sweet wine tasting and liqueur tasting.  

During our tasting, we had good friendly conversation with our server about the winery and the sleigh rides at the Coppal House Farm.  We also enjoyed their delicious cranberry-apple wine and we decided to purchase a bottle.  The overall tasting experience was excellent as well.

In closing, we hope you enjoyed this NH Winery blog.  We truly had excellent experiences at each winery and would highly recommend these wineries to all wine lovers.  We will continue to keep you updated on all of our future winery experiences.  We love visiting wineries and maybe after visiting one of these wineries you will too!!!