I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of no rain and triple digit temperatures. In Central Texas it is like being Sleepless in Seattle, except we are Scorched in San Antonio. School has started in this neck of the woods. It seems pretty quite in the neighborhood. The business has been a little quiet this week, but networking and marketing are still a must. As our travels take us down south I thought we would start this afternoon off with a Tropical Tease. There is nothing wrong with being teased and how can you go wrong being teased in the tropics? This tease starts off like this: Take 2 oz Dark Rum, 1 1/2 oz Midori Melon Liqueur, 1 oz Banana Liqueur. Fill with Pineapple juice and pour directly into a Hurricane glass with ice. Shake, do not stir. Garnish with a lime wheel. Sounds like a winner to me! Cheers! Let's go travel. Our travel is going to take us to the Caribbean. From Alaska to the Caribbean sounds like a great plan. We are headed to Puerto Rico for some fun in the sun. Here is a little history on Puerto Rico before we get started. Located in the northeastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico formed a key part of the Spanish Empire from the early years of the exploration, conquest and colonization of the New World. The island was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European powers for control of the region in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The smallest of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico was a stepping-stone in the passage from Europe to Cuba, Mexico, Central America, and the northern territories of South America. A possession of the United States, it consists of the island of Puerto Rico plus the adjacent islets of Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. Puerto Rico has a mountainous, tropical ecosystem with very little flat land and few mineral resources. We start our journey off in San Juan with a late afternoon arrival. San Juan is Puerto Rico's capital. It is the second oldest European-established city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. We are lucky that on this trip we will be with family members who have lived and grew up in Puerto Rico. This is going to be exciting for Pea & Pod! They have never traveled out of the states before. With most of my family growing up in Texas and the others in Puerto Rico, we decided to call this "The Texarican Bash"! Capt. Charlie and First Mate's Annie and Annie would be our private tour guides over the next 10 days. My brothers wife is Annie and her mom and dad are Charlie and Annie. Now that you have been introduced, let's roll. Everyone has finally packed into the cars with way too much luggage. We are headed to the El Condado beach area for some rum and pina coladas. El Condado is an oceanfront, tree-lined, vibrant pedestrian-oriented community in San Juan. A primarily middle to upper class community, El Condado is located east of the historic colonial district of Old San Juan. One thing about the bartenders in San Juan is the rum flows very freely in whatever the rum drink of your choice is. After several fruity rum drinks, we figured out pretty quick that we needed to get something to eat before heading to the home that we would be staying at during most of our trip. Charlie & Annie live in St Petersburg, FL, but also own a home in Puerto Rico. They were gracious enough to share their home with us. It is located in the town of Manatí. It is about 40 miles from downtown San Juan. Manatí is known as "La Ciudad Metropolitana" (metropolitan city) and "La Atenas de Puerto Rico" (Puerto Rico's athens). Manatí was founded in 1738 by Don Pedro Menéndez Valdéz. It was the ninth town recognized by the Spanish Crown in Puerto Rico. As a result of its cultural eminence, it began to be called the "Athens of Puerto Rico" during the early part of this century. We would arrive in the dark, so it was hard to see how beautiful this place was. That would have to wait until in the morning. The house over looked the ocean from it's hillside location. The view was just incredible from the outdoor patio area. A cup of coffee and the cool tropical breezes was a great start to an awesome vacation. The first couple of day we stayed in the Manatí area. Hanging out at the beach was a must and this area was loaded with many choices. Los Tubos was our choice. The water was a light blue and very clear. This area attracts divers and surfers. The waves were incredible. You could body surf all the way into shore. I would get started, but for some reason I kept sinking before I got there. Must of been the extra beer and rum. The beach festival was going on while we were there. There were local bands playing music day and night. We cooked several meals at the house. We got to try several new things we had not eaten before. We had salt cod fritters. plantains, mofongo and tostones to name just a few. Annie and Annie are both great cooks, so we were treated to some awesome meals and homemade pina coladas. Mofongo is made from fried green plantains or fried yuca which is mashed and seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon and tostones are a side dish made from sliced green (unripe) plantains which are cut either length-wise or width-wise and are twice fried. Pea and Pod even liked trying these new dishes. Pea's favorite was the salt cod fritters. Annie made these from scratch and is quite the process. It requires a ton of soaking in fresh water to remove all of the salt and it is well worth the wait. After a few days at the beach it was time to head to San Juan to explore this city. There is so much history here. Today we were going to explore Fort San Felipe del Morro. Fort San Felipe del Morro, officially known as Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to San Juan Bay. It is the result of the efforts of many different Spanish engineers over a period of more than 200 years and is one of the largest forts built by the Spaniards in the Caribbean. Although the foundations were laid in 1539, the six-level fort was not considered completed until 1787. During World War II, the U.S. government added an annex of its own design on top of the fort. This massive structure suffered countless attacks from the likes of Sir Francis Drake in 1595 and the Dutch fleet in 1625. In 1898 American ships fired on it during the Spanish-American War, destroying its lighthouse, which was later restored. This place was so cool to walk around. There is so much history here. To see all of the hidden passages and cannons is just mind blowing. Walking on the lawns where the soldiers once marched was very overwhelming. When we were getting ready to leave the rains came down. The rain made it very slippery trying to get down these massive steps. We had climbed up and now it was time to come down. We had defiantly worked up an appetite. As some of you know I am a food junkie. Anytime I can check out a place that some of my favorite Food Network chefs have been, you must go check it out. The place is called La Bombonera in Old San Juan. It has been around for over 100 years, and today it’s still one of the most popular places with locals and visitors to grab a quick snack or a hearty meal. Famous for its Mallorcas; a buttery bread that is grilled and sprinkled with powdered sugar and filled with your choice of ham, egg, and cheese, or even plain. I have to tell you a funny on Capt. Charlie. We learned on this trip that Mallorcas really has two meanings. Not only is it grilled buttered bread that is sprinkled with powdered sugar, it is also a process of using baby powder on the lower extremities. Capt. Charlie, I hope you don't get mad at me, but I had to share. This is too funny! Baby powder and powdered sugar! Let the sprinkling begin. The food and coffee was really good and I highly recommend you add this to your things to do in Puerto Rico. Now we are off to explore more of Old San Juan. We got to go in the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is a Roman Catholic cathedral. The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; construction began in 1521. The cathedral contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer and settlement founder Juan Ponce de León. It was very impressive just to be inside of this cathedral. A lot of the streets are made of cobblestones. The cobblestone streets are very narrow. They are quite spectacular to look at. We checked out many of the shops along with the many old buildings. The architecture here in Old San Juan is just beautiful. We made our way to the end of one of the streets. Upon our arrival we see all of these pigeons. These birds are everywhere. People have feed in their hands and these pigeons are eating from their hands. It was very cool to watch until Pod pulled off an amazing stunt, so we thought. The photo opportunity would be perfect as he threw a penny in the air and scared the crap out of the thousands of pigeons. They took off everywhere as I was trying to photograph the Carnival Triumph coming into port. The picture was taken at just the right moment. What we found out shortly after was not good news Janet was the victim of many pigeon droppings. I mean many! It just so happens that she was aware that Pod was the culprit of this crappy stunt. After many laughs, and tears we had Janet all cleaned up again. It was pretty funny! I think I will get a long distance slap when she reads this. We continue to explore Old San Juan. It has been a great day in this historic city. Back to Manatí we go. I am sure some rum and wine will be in our future tonight as we chill on the outdoor patio and get ready for our next adventure. We have many more places to explore on this beautiful island over the next few days. Some of the places on our list are the El Yunque rainforest, the Bacardi Rum plant and a catamaran snorkeling trip. Then we are off to the Island of Vieques for a few days. I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me in Puerto Rico so far. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Leave me a comment sometime so I know who is reading. I would be honored if you share this with a friend. You are going to be surprised were our journey takes us next. Hang on for the next ride. Until we unite again remember to always love your travel agent. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!
Our journey up north has ended. Alaska & Seattle, I promise I will be back. I know your beauty will always be there. It is now time to head south. Before we get to far south I am going to make a pit stop along the way. For those of you who have been following my blog I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would be honored if you shared or even became a follower of this blog. As I stated in the beginning when I started "Travelin' with John" this would be writings about my past travel adventures, new travel adventures, travel news, travel events and lots of fun stuff along the way. This is one of those times where we are going to have some fun. Janet and I have been blessed with two amazing kids. I guess I will call them Pea & Pod! Tyler (Pea) & Matt (Pod). For brothers who are 3 years apart, they have an amazing relationship. We are very thankful for that. Both Pea & Pod were great athletes growing up and they still are. Pea played a little baseball and then ventured into soccer. I say a little of baseball because I wish he would of stayed with it. He was really very good and with a father who played for the NY Yankees, he had some good stuff in his genes. No, not me! My dad was the big man on campus! While I have several things from my father's Yankee days, the thing that stands out the most with me was the $5.00 contract he signed with Topps! I know $5.00 was a lot of money in the early sixties, but come on $5.00 for a baseball card contract. I am very proud of my father and what he has given me to pass on to Pea & Pod. Anyway, Mom & Dad pushed Pea to play soccer at the same time that Pod was. I guess we did this so we could be at the same sports facility without traveling all over the city. I hope that now Pea is over 21 that he won't get upset, but the first year he played soccer I thought he was going to be a ballet dancer. Sorry Pea, I had to say it. Those spinning dance moves were quite stunning. Now let’s talk a little about Pod. The first year he played soccer at the ripe age of four I remember that he played on a coed team. I recall that the focus was hanging with the girls instead of getting the ball into the goal. Where did he learn that from? As the years continued, both Pea & Pod had tremendous soccer careers. Pea played on several premier club teams (Classic Elite) along with playing 2 years on the varsity soccer team at Clemens High School. I remember on his sixteenth birthday he broke his ankle during the game while attempting a steal. It was so sad to see, but at the birthday dinner after the game at Hooters, he sure was a hit with the Hooter's girls. You rock Pea! Hooters girls serve some awesome naked wings! You know, low carb wings without batter. Naked is a cool word when used with food! Dad, calm down! Pod also played on several premier club soccer teams (Texans & Hammers) and started as a freshman on the varsity soccer team at Steele High School. When you go to a brand new high school, possibilities are all around you. Playing sweeper on the soccer team you take many hits on the defensive end and you get a ton of chances to take all of the free kicks. Back to this being a new high school, possibilities presented themselves when the head football coach (Coach Mike Jinks) asked Pod to come out and tryout as the kicker for the football team. What? When I first found out about it I was excited, but said Oh No! These kids are twice the size of Pod. As a family we agreed to let Pod play after the coaches said you are on the team. Since this was a new school they did not have a varsity team during Pods first year. They started out with a JV team and would start their varsity games in the second year of the school’s existence. Pod played soccer one more year and then decided to leave the only game he knew and pursue the new game that he now loved after his sophomore year. His soccer coach was none too pleased, but eventually gave in. When I say gave in, it took him a full year to get over it. Pod attended several training camps during the off season. He started working with Chris Boniol the Ex Dallas Cowboy kicker at the end of his sophomore year. This sure was a blessing in disguise. Chris and Pod would soon develop a relationship that would push him to a different level. Chris has been a great inspiration to Pod and we are very thankful that Chris has taken Pod under his wings. Janet and I were not sure what was going to become of Pod kicking the football, but at the beginning of his junior year we knew that we might have something special going on here. I guess we were lucky to be part of a team that had a head Coach that believed in the importance of special teams. He preached that this is how you win ball games. You have to have the offense and defense, but if your special teams are not spot on, you will not win in the end! Character and the will to win will move you to the other side. Pod was blessed to have one of his best friends be his holder for every one of his kicks in his entire high school football career. Not only was his holder a great person, a great team leader, he was a great quarterback. This is where chemistry must become united and they were sure united. Mr. Holder/QB, I wish you the best of luck with your Engineering Career at Texas A&M. I hope your speed gets you a spot on the track team. With the help of Chris Boniol and the confidence of his head coach, Pod had one heck of a junior year. Decisions had to be made. If Pod could move on to the next level what would we do? How do we do this? After many hours of research we decided to partner with NCSA. They work with potential athletes and guide them through the recruiting process at the college level. Let me preface that there are no guarantees that any high school athlete can even play at the next level. NCSA (Matt Webb) becomes Pods mentor and works with him on a weekly basis. They work with you on how to communicate with college coaches and what to do every step of the way during the college recruiting process. We had no idea if Pod would play at the next level. We had people tell us it could happen, but the reality was probably not real. There are only so many spots available. One of the biggest undertakings that Pod and I did was to produce 100's of game videos, along with personal hand written letters from Matt to send to the special team coaches. It did not matter whether it was D1, D1AA, D2, D3, or NAIA, we sent them out. This was all part of the process. To get exposure you must expose yourself. It was not long and during the spring of Pods junior year he had many letters and phone calls from coaches. I remember the first coach that contacted Pod was from Georgetown University in Washington DC. This was really cool. I am not going to lie, I was very proud! One of the things that potential college football players have to do is to attend as many summer camps that they can. Most college football programs put on a football camp during the summer for all ages. You pay a small fee and this is a legal way for coaches to get to evaluate you before you start your senior year in high school. Some of the schools that Pod attended their camps or visited their campus were at University of Houston, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Kansas State and LSU. Pod preformed very well at all of these camps. While he liked University of Houston, the one school that he fell in love with was Louisiana Tech. Even before he stepped on the field in June 2008, the small town sensation that Pod felt in Ruston was just right. The Pizza at Johnny's Pizza and the chicken at Raising Canes was all part of the magnet that pulled so hard! Janet and I sat on the side lines and watched all of these kids kick hundreds of balls. We had a warm fuzzy feeling when Coach Dooley comes up to introduce himself to Janet and I during the afternoon session of the camp. Pod was really kicking his rear end off. Coach said he was very impressed with his ability and his character. What other camps is he going to attend this summer? We answered, but were not sure if that was the right thing to do. There were about 50 plus kids at this camp. They were not all juniors or seniors. There is some training that goes on here, so there are kids from 7th grade up to seniors. After the camp was over the special teams Coach Russell comes up and states that Head Coach Dooley would like to visit with us in his office in a few minutes. Ok, this is good, but not good. What in the heck do you do now? What do you say? Once in Coach Dooley's office I guess my breathing picked up to levels that were noticeable by others, especially Pod. Coach Dooley talked to us about the school and the vision that he had with the football program. He was very impressed with Pod and knew that he was going to some other camps over the summer. He would stay in touch and was very interested in Pod and knows he has the potential to fit within the teams program. If my breathing was not heavy before, it was heavier now. A coach of a D1 program is interested in Pod. Are you kidding me? Pod would make it to several more D1 schools over the summer before his next visit to Louisiana Tech on July 19th, 2009. Janet, her parents and Pod would make their way back for another visit to the campus. Coach Russell and Coach Dooley met with them that morning and offered Pod a scholarship to play football at Louisiana Tech. One thing the Coach Dooley told Pod the first time they met in his office was to make sure he was committed and go see what else is out there. This is what Pod did and when he verbally committed to Coach Dooley he knew in his heart that this was where he wanted to be. Pod would go on and have an awesome senior year. His team made it in to the third round of the playoffs where they would lose to the eventual state champion in 4A. Not bad for a 3rd year program. We became very close to Coach Russell who made several visits to our home during the football season. Pod and Coach Russell hit it off from the beginning. As Pod's senior year moved forward, he took an official visit to the school with Mom and Dad at his side along with a game day visit to attend one of the football games. These were all awesome and we got to meet some great people and the families of the 2009 recruiting class. February 4th, 2009 was approaching very rapidly. This was National Signing day for potential college athletes. That morning Pod was assigned his time slot to fax his paperwork to the university. With most family members present Pod signed at 7:00AM and the fax was on the way. Coach Russell called shortly after and welcomed Pod to the football program. It was official! Pod was going to play football at Louisiana Tech. I am emotionally spent! The high school was having a grand celebration as 5 other have received football offers in various divisions as well. The TV stations were there and it was a little over whelming to see my youngest in this awesome situation. We celebrated with a party that afternoon at our house with Gumbo, Muffalatas and King Cake. All of these are Louisiana favorites. Pod had several teammates and friends over to join the celebration. Later that evening, he had to do an interview with the ESPN radio station out of Ruston. It was live and it was very impressive to hear your son as poised as he was on the radio. Is this real? Will you pinch me? As I have stated before, Pod developed a special friendship with Coach Russell that will go further in life than just being a Coach who recruited him. Pod received a call one afternoon from Coach Russell after the recruiting process was over and he let Pod know that he would be leaving Louisiana Tech and was heading to Texas Tech to take on the special teams duties. Pod was devastated! Coach Russell told him that he will do well at Louisiana Tech and keep his head high. This was a stepping stone for him and his family, as he wants to coach in the pro ranks one day. Coach Russell is very special with our family. He does call Pod every so often just to see how he is doing. How are you doing Hayden? Pod pressed forward as he would now be working with a new special teams Coach. It is important for Pod that Coach Dooley is very passionate about special teams and attends all special teams meetings. Coach Dooley says it is a very vital portion to the team’s success. Pod has now graduated high school. He will spend his entire June working out and kicking. You probably wonder how I came up with Monday Morning Muscle Milk. This is the drink of choice for Pod and Louisiana Tech. I am sorry if you were expecting a new drink recipe. There will be more of those as our travels take us way down south. This is a pre-made product for athletes who want to add additional vitamins and nutrients to their bodies after all of their workouts. For those of you who know Pod, he needs some help on the weight, this will help. Pod drinks Muscle Milk daily. Pod checked in to Louisiana Tech in July. He took a couple of classes (Sociology & Dance Appreciation) in the summer session part two. He worked out with some of the team under the direction of the strength and conditioning coaches. They run in the morning and agility's in the evening. You tell me if you can do this! On Fridays you have to run 21 (110's) in under 17 seconds per 110 with 30 seconds in between. If you puke, it must be done standing up and no hands on the knees. If you do puke and touch the knees, you start over! Each position has different times, but no matter what, this is pure hell in my book. Two a days in full pads have started and the first scrimmage this weekend is on the books. Penciled in as the starter as a freshman we are so very proud of Pod's accomplishments. His never give up and his never let anyone tell him he cannot do something, has been a true inspiration to me. I started a new travel business last year and I use this as my motivation to keep going forward. I am so excited to make our first road trip to Auburn University to see Pod either make his first college football kickoff and or his first college football field goal in front of 92k. To be really honest with you I am scared to death and will have 3 pair of underwear on. If you are in front of a TV on September 5th, make sure and tune to ESPNU at 6:00PM central time to watch Pod. Pea has been so supportive of Pod. It makes me so proud as a dad! Our next journey will move us into the south. We might even move into the Deep South! I thank you for reading my story and promise to bring you more drink recipes and travel adventures. Some of them could include a few football road trips along the way. Jeremy my friend, I look forward to sharing a few beers with you in Auburn. Thanks so much for everyone’s support. If I can ever be of assistance with your travel needs please let me know. I promise it will be the best experience you have ever had! Until our paths cross again, make sure you always Travel Your Way!
PS: Pea & Pod, thanks for being my guiding light in life! I love you! Dad
This has been a very interesting week for sure. We thought we had our house sold and then we don't. Life is too short to dwell on the past. Do the right things, continue to move forward in a positive direction and good things will happen. I am a firm believer. I will jump to my sales side for a moment. I promise I will get back to the story very soon. We really do have some great specials going on right now at Fantasy Cruise & Travel along with some great travel tools to make things super simple. If you know someone else who is also looking for a great travel agent to personally take care of everything for them, please pass them my information. There will always be a gift from me for a referral. For those of you who are Facebook fans, I would love for you to become a Fan of Fantasy Cruise & Travel. There is lots of information at your fingertips. If you tweet on Twitter you can also find some great information. Just look for cruisetravelguy. When you make it over to Facebook, make sure to search for Fantasy Cruise & Travel. If for no other reason, you get to see these funny pictures of a Pink Flamingo. You heard me! It's me stylin' like a Pink Flamingo. I officially became a member of The Pink Flamingo Club this week. You have to look at the picture for an explanation. I also need to throw out a special thanks to Heather at Travel Impressions. As always, I need to check your Cruisitude. How is yours going this week? Mine is strutting! Just a quick thank you for everyone’s support! I am in a better place because of you. OK, now back to the good stuff! With this being Saturday morning I thought I would start it off with Satin Sheets. Pillow talk? Don't leave me! It's going to get good now. Even though I do not own a pair/set of satin sheets, I can sure enough make one. Got you thinking for a minute, didn't I? You thought I was going off on a different direction. Well I am! Are you ready for Satin Sheets? Here is the silkiness of it. Take the following: 1 oz Kahlua, 1 oz Bailey's Irish cream, 1 oz Chocolate liqueur (Godiva) Ice & Milk! Combine Kahlua, Bailey's, and the Godiva chocolate liqueur over ice. Add milk to fill the glass and stir or shake. Now that is a way to start off this Saturday morning. You gotta love Satin Sheets! Especially in the summer. Even though the Alaskan portion of our trip is over, our Seattle portion is just starting. The disembarkation from the Princess Coral was very easy. As soon as we got off the ship we boarded our bus for our 3 hour journey into Seattle. We have never been to Seattle before and were looking forward to seeing this grand city. Our bus takes us to the Seattle airport. This is where we will get our rental car. We are going to be exploring the Seattle area for the next 3 days. Our home base for this trip will be in Woodinville. This town is north of Seattle by about 20 to 30 minutes. Our hotel of choice was the Willow Lodge. This is a Washington wine and culinary resort. This lodge is ranked #80 in the world and #12 in the US & Canada by Travel Leisure Magazine. They also had Fireside Cellars where you could sample some of Washington States wines or eat at the Barking Frog. The Barking Frog is a casual bistro featuring country fresh Northwest cuisine. Right next door is The Herbfarm Restaurant, rated in the top 50 restaurants in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine. According to Gourmet magazine, “you’ll be glad you booked a room at the luxurious Willows Lodge next door after one of The Herbfarm’s fabulous 9-course dinners”. Enjoy! Even though the Herbfarm was not open during the week we were there I hope to come back and experience this amazing place. This place was awesome. It was just far enough away, but so close to everything we wanted to do in Seattle. We were stuck right between three wineries and one brewery. Go figure, me next to wineries and breweries. You bet! The wineries were Columbia Winery, Silver Lake Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle. The most incredible architecture and landscape I have seen. I have been to Napa several times and I would put Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery right up there. Please do not get Columbia Winery confused with Columbia Crest. Oh, and the wine tastings were awesome. We spent a couple of hours at each winery. Washington State really has some good wines. You should check them out. We were also right next to Redhook Brewery! It is one of the nation's most highly-regarded micro brews. They actually have a restaurant at Redhook Brewery. We ate there for lunch one day. It was called Forecasters Public House. We had some appetizers and burgers (awesome) while I sampled a few of the brews. Janet stuck with the wine. I had the sampler tray which consisted of six different beers. Very nice beers! The other cool thing was we got to go on a tour of the brewery. All for $1.00, woo hoo! We walked around the different stations and sampled some more of the beers as we toured. Janet does not drink beer, so for some reason I got two each time. Do I hear a nap? Can you believe this though? All of this within 20 minutes of Seattle! Our morning started off with a trip into Seattle to visit the World Famous Pike Place Market. I am in heaven. We wanted to see all of it and needed some food for our bellies. You have to have energy to walk around this place. We had heard about Lowell's and it did not disappoint us. We ate on the second floor called "The View Lounge" We had a great view of the water. This place was buzzing! We had the most incredible breakfast. Now we were fueled for our adventure. I could not wait any longer. There were so many options. Janet choose the pancakes and I had there special breakfast sandwich. It was so worth the wait to get a table. You have to try this place. I had to go see them throw the fish! We headed off to The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market. The seafood was so fresh! Once you pick out your fish the fish monger on the front side takes your fish and throws it to the guys behind the counter. This was really cool. We continued to watch for a while as the fish kept flying. Pike Place Market is awesome. There were so many things to buy and look at. They had more fresh seafood than you could ever imagine. Italian markets were they had so many fresh varieties of pastas, tons of fresh vegetables, and so many different flowers to choose from. Can I live next door? What a special place. I wish every city had something like this. Did I mention the original Starbucks is across the street? Well it is. Number 1! This is where I first became a lover of the Pike Place Roast. The best stuff ever! Take a real good look at the original Starbucks logo. You will not see it anywhere else and something is exposed. I am not kidding, take a look for yourself. There are so many different places and shops. I am still in heaven. After several hours of walking around we had worked up an appetite for my wife’s favorite comfort food. Clam Chowder! We did not have to look far until we found the cream of the crop. The Chowder House! It is located at the Alley of Pike Place Market. This clam chowder has won first-place awards everywhere in the country and is the only chowder to have accomplished this fete on both coasts. We are still in heaven! We spend a few more hours walking around Pike Place. Now it is time to head back towards Woodinville. We are not only food, travel, and wine junkies, we are sports junkies. On our return to the Willows Lodge we stop at the University of Washington. I wanted to go look in Husky Stadium. Did not know how I was going to do that, but upon arrival it looked like there was a soccer camp going on. We just acted like parents and we were going to pick up our child. We walked around on the field. It is a beautiful stadium. Tonight was going to be a movie night, so we picked up a bottle of wine and some local sausage and cheeses and headed back to our room. What a day it had been. The next day we headed back down to Pike Place Market to do it all over again. It is still just as awesome as it was yesterday. We still had two stadiums to go look at, so we took off on our 2 mile walk towards the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners stadiums (Safeco Field). We lucked out again on the Seahawks stadium (Quest Field). They were having a youth football camp. We walked right through the gate and walked around for a bit. An outdoor football stadium is the only way to watch a game. Even though we could not look in the Mariners stadium it was still an awesome site. Now it is time for our walk back. This time we caught one of the local transit buses and got part of the way back. Now it was time to sample another favorite food of ours. Oysters! We choose The Brooklyn Oyster & Seafood House. We sat at the bar where the oysters were located at. That is what they call an oyster bar! They had a special of six different oysters times 2. This made it perfect for us to get to try some different oysters from the Northwest region. After a couple of dozen oysters and a couple of beers and Janet's glass of wine we were set to see more of Seattle. This was going to be our last night in Seattle and we wanted to make it special. We selected Palisade's on the opposite side of Elliott Bay Marina. This place was incredible. We got there a little before dark so we could see the sunset and you do need reservations for this restaurant. We had a great table overlooking the bay with the city of Seattle in the background. You cannot believe the view. We were going to take our time and enjoy the last night of our trip. The food was outstanding. The wine was good. The crab cakes were to die for. Oh my goodness! I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone. It's a keeper for me. As our trip slowly comes to an end we reflect on the awesome memories that we have made. I would highly recommend that you don't wait until your 25th wedding anniversary to experience Alaska and the Northwest. We are headed back to San Antonio and we know our family and dogs will be glad to see us. What a bucket list trip of a lifetime. Now that is a tongue twister! I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me to Alaska & Seattle. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Leave me a comment and share this with a friend. I would love for you to become a follower. You will be surprised were our journey takes us next. Hang on for the weekly ride. Until we unite again remember to love a travel agent. Keep your Cruisitude in check and always Travel Your Way!