Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tinkertoy's Travels, Part 3

TINKERTOY TRAVELS ON WITH SARAPHEN

TINKERTOY the pseudonym was officially inaugurated in January 2000 when, at my daughter’s suggestion, I registered on some internet dating sites. I became TINKERTOY2000 on MATCH.COM, SENIORFRIENDFINDER.COM, BLACKPLANET.COM and several other sites. Since that time various people whom I have met on line have shortened my pseudonym to Tinkertoy, Tinker, Tink, PapaTink, and a few other variations.

In February, 2000, a few days before Valentine’s day I met Sarah, i.e.,. SARAPHEN, on MATCH.COM.

Sarah's Match.Com registration. See she said she wanted to travel
I guess she’s my permanent Valentine’s present. In both her profile on the web site and in our emails, chats, and personal conversations she said she liked to and wanted to travel. So I have been trying to keep her satisfied with travels everywhere. Take a close look at her Match.com post and you'll clearly see that she wants someone who likes to travel.

In June 2001 I drove to Las Vegas and tried to get Saraphen to ride with me but she said no. But she did fly there to meet me; her first ever trip to Las Vegas. She even won some money on her first trip. While in Las Vegas we visited HOOVER DAM

Hoover Dam
and also drove to the GRAND CANYON,
Grand Canyon National Park
stayed overnight and then drove back.

In July, 2001 Sarah and I went on our first cruise together on the NCL’s ship, the NORWAY, to the Western Caribbean.

boarding the SS Norway; our first cruise together
The port stops were COSTA MAYA, MEXICO, GRAND CAYMAN, and COZUMEL, MEXICO. Then on September 11, 2001 we were on our way to Cape Cod
Cap Cod National Sea Shores
when we heard about the disasters in NY and other places. We continued on to Cape Cod but the trip was kinda subdued and we kept a eye on all of the news reports.

In April 2002 we were married and went for our honeymoon on cruise to ALASKA on the STAR PRINCESS (Princess Cruise Line).

Honeymoon Cruise to Alaska on the Star Princess
at one of the Glacier in Alaska
Our package included a land tour also and we took a bus to Anchorage and spent a night, then went by train
on the train headed to Denali and Fairbanks
to DENALI NATIONAL PARK and spent a night and finally went by train on to Fairbanks for our return home.

In May 2003 we flew to Aruba for a 5 day stay.

enjoying a drink in Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Then in June 2003 Sarah and I made our first driving trip across country. Sarah had never really seen the US, having only driven to Colorado Springs to visit family. So this trip would be all new and exciting sights for her. We drove south and made our first touring stop in Alabama at THE TUSKEEGEE AIRMEN’S HISTORIC SITE.
Tuskeegee Airmen's Museum
 Then we drove on to Montgomery, Alabama to visit MARTIN LUTHER KINGS’ CHURCH
Dr King's church in Montgomery, Alabama
and also saw the NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MEMORIAL there. The next stop was THE ALAMO,
the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
in San Antonio, TX. From there we drove to Pecos, TX for the night. Ask Sarah sometime how she liked Pecos; its a famous western town. The next day we drove to CARLSBAD CAVERNS,
Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico
and WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sarah on a sand dune in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
in New Mexico with a stop also in ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO to visit the UFO MUSEUM.
the UFO Museum in Roswell, New MExico
The next day we continued driving west and had stops at the CASA GRANDE RUINS and SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK in Arizona. After a stop overnight in Phoenix, Az. we continued on to California. During a couple days in LA we had a tour of BEVERLY HILLS and visited the HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME, and UNIVERSAL STUDIOS.
Universal Studios in Los Angeles
at *Universal Studios Sarah meet her namesake, Chuckie
In California we also visited JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK,
Sequoia National Park
KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARKS,
Yosemite National Park
the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE,
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
MUIR WOODS site near San Francisco, and the NAPA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY. We visited several wineries and Sarah got a little high from all of the samples.

We spent some time in Sacramento visiting my uncle

visiting with my uncle and his wife in Sacramento, Ca
and then drove on to RENO, NEVADA for the night, taking the scenic route through the mountains and around LAKE TAHOE. Then we drove on east on I-80 across the Utah’s salt flats with a stop at the GREAT SALT LAKE and then stopped for the night in SALT LAKE CITY. The next day we headed north to The GRAND TETONS AND YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARKS in Wyoming
entering Yellowstone National PArk
The falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
the Monmouth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
After Yellowstone we spent the night in Billings, Montana and the next morning stopped at CUSTER BATTLEFIELD MEMORIAL in Montana
the battlefield at the Custer-Native American Memorial site
We had the luck of visiting on a day when the Native Americans were dedicating a new monument at the park. Then we went on to THE DEVILS TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT,
Devil's Tower
the BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, WALL DRUG, and MOUNT RUSHMORE in South Dakota
Mount Rushmore
. Our trip back home from there took us down to COLORADO SPRINGS to visit Sarah’s brother for a couple days and then we drove back home via I-70. That driving trip covered about 8500 miles.

In October 2003 we flew to Hawaii and stayed in Waikiki for 5 days and then stayed in Maui for 5 days. While in Honolulu we went to the ARIZONA MEMORIAL AT PEARL HARBOR, THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER, and drove around the island of Oahu. We also took a side trip to the big island including a visit to VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK. While on Maui we did the 35 mile downhill bike ride on Haleakala and drove the ROAD TO HANA, along with a few more interesting sightseeing tours.

Every year we have continued to go to Las Vegas at least a couple times a year. I will not describe all of those except to say that we have had some great free rooms there, including 2 free nights at Caesars Palace and 2 free nights in a high roller suite at the Rio hotel and casino.

In November 2003 we took a cruise on the ISLAND PRINCESS to Grand Cayman, Limon, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica
The highlight of the trip was a train ride in Panama from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back and also going through the Panama Canal locks. In May 2004, we took a cruise to Bermuda out of NY city on the Royal Caribbean’s EMPRESS OF THE SEAS.
on the Rotyal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas in Bermuda
In October 2004 we cruised out of LA to the Mexican Rivera, Cabo St Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco on the NCL’s NORWEGIAN STAR. In April 2005 went on the NCL’s SPIRIT to the Southern Caribbean to Barbados, Antigua, Grenada, St Lucia, and Tortola.

Then in June 2005 we did another cross country driving trip. This time we drove first to Colorado Springs to visit Sarah’s brother. We went to the Gambling casinos in the mountain town of Cripple Creek. From Colorado Springs we drove to the Royal Gorge in Canon City Colorado

Royal Gorge in Canon City Colorado
and then on to Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National park
and Four Corners. We stayed the night in Durango, Colorado and the next day drove to Page, Arizona near Lake Powell Dam and Recreation area. The next day we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park and then back to Zion National Park before heading on to Las Vegas for a couple of nights stay. After Las Vegas we drove back up I-15 to I-70 and headed east to Moab, Utah. We visited Arches National Park, stayed the night in Moab and then visited Canyonland National Park
Canyonland National Park
. From there we headed back east, stopped for the night in Denver and in St Louis and then drove home. That driving trip was about 7500 miles. In July 2005 we decided to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio and on the way back we visited the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame

In October, 2005 we went fled to Madrid, Spain and after touring Madrid went by train to Barcelona to get a cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. The port stops were Nice, France; Florence, Italy

in Pisa, Italy
; Naples, Italy; Santorini, Greece; Athens, Greece; Ephesus, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; and Rome Italy.

In 2006 we did three cruises. The first was aboard the Celebrity cruise line’s Constellation to the Baltic countries leaving from Dover, England. But first we flew to London and took the train through the Chunnel to Paris.

in Paris, France
We visited the Louvre and some other places and then after two nights’ stay took the train back to London. We did a tour of London and also met one of our online friends for lunch. Then we took the train to Dover to board the ship. The port stops included Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Germany, and St Petersburg, Russia.

In September 2006 we took a cruise leaving from Boston to New England and Canada. We flew to Boston a couple days early and toured there, walking the Freedom Trail, visiting Bunker Hill, and visiting Faneuil Hall and Marketplace. The cruise went to Martha’s Vineyard; Portland and Bar Harbor, Main; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St John, New Brunswick Canada. With this trip I fulfilled a goal to visit all 50 US states when we stopped in Portland, Me (my 50th) and also a goal to visit ARCADIA NATIONAL PARK when we stopped in Bar Harbor, Me. On this trip we also visited Vermont when we took a tour that included a cog railroad train ride to the top of Mount Washington, VT. In November 2006 we took another Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, again visiting the western Caribbean.

Boarding Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

In April 2007 we took a train ride. First we flew to Toronto, Canada and the next day boarded the VIA Rail’s Canadian

the parlor car on the VIA Rail's Canadian
headed to the west coast city of Vancouver, Canada. However we made a stop in Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
at a frozen Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies
and spent a night before we drove down to Banff and Lake Louise.
a beautiful snow covered Canadian mountain
After night there we drove back to Jasper and stayed a night before continuing our train trip on to Vancouver. We toured Vancouver and spent the night before taking a bus to Seattle, Washington. We toured Seattle and the next morning took Amtrak’s Coast Starlight headed to Los Angeles. We stayed a night in Los Angeles the next day met a couple of our on line friends, Terrence (Naquam) and Lamar (Tdubs) for lunch
Sarah, Terrence, and Lamar on the way to lunch in LA
and later that day boarded Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Headed to Chicago. In route to Chicago we had opportunity in Kansas City to meet another on line friend, Khandi, in the train station
Meeting Khandi on the train station platform in Kansas City
(actually on the platform next to our train car). Then when we got to Chicago that afternoon we were met by on line friend, Jana, and we went to dinner with several more on line friends who live in the Chicago area;
Our Chicago meet & greet
Hoss, Pam, Sexy-Re, Cherished, Nyla and a couple other people.

In May 2007 we took another Royal Caribbean cruise on the Adventure of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean (Aruba and Curacao).

In August 2007 we flew to Ghana, Africa to visit Sarah’s brother for two weeks.

a Ghanaian Greeting
at the Market in Ghana
Our tours there included visiting W.E.B Dubois’ memorial, the Nkrumah Memorial, and the slave castle in Cape Coast, Ghana. In late October 2007 we took another cruise on the Norwegian ship, the Gem, to the western Mediterranean. This cruise went to Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Gibralter. In December 2007 we took another cruise to the western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.

In March 2008 we took a 15 day cruise to South America on Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas, beginning in Valparaiso, Chile, cruising the Chilean Fjords, rounding Cape Horn, stopping in Buenos Aries Argentina and ending with a stop in Rio D Janeiro before we flew back from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In September 2008 we took a 15 day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas from San Diego to Hawaii and back. In December 2008 we took another cruise to the Caribbean on Holland America’s Eurodam.

In February 2009 we flew to Australia and after visiting Cairns, Australia and the Great Barrier Reef we flew to Sydney, toured the Opera House and city and then boarded the Celebrity cruise ship Millennium for a 15 day cruise of Australia and New Zealand. The cruise ended in Aukland, New Zealand and we toured that city before flying back to the US. In November 2009 I took a solo cruise (due to Sarah’s illness) on the Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas to the Mediterranean. This cruise included port stops in Malta, Cypress, Rhodes Greece, and Egypt. The highlights of this trip were visits to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and to the ancient city of Corinth in Greece. In November 2009 we took another Caribbean cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

In April 2010 we cruised again to the Caribbean on Celebrity’s Solstice. Then in June 2010 we cruised out of Norfolk, Va to the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas. Next up in November 2010 is Royal Caribbean’s mega-ship the Oasis of the Seas to the western Caribbean.

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