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Lessons Learned from our very first cruise.

Aug 25, 2023

We went on a cruise last year, and we learned some valuable lessons that I believe must be shared. You're welcome. 


1. Plan in time for Flight Delays.

About 4 hours before we were planning to leave for the airport, we received a notice that our connecting flight had been canceled. Period. No rescheduling, no delays, just canceled.  Which meant we could fly to New York, but then we'd be stuck there. My only option was to call customer service. And wait on hold for two hours. So I did. And the lady I eventually talked to was nice and helpful and tried very hard to find another flight for us, but because we had to be in Miami by 2:00 pm, we had a very narrow window to fit the flight in and the only viable flight was full. Sorry for the inconvenience. Wish we could help. 

Ultimately, we decided to drive up to the airport as planned and hope that someone there could help us. And if not, we could fly to New York and spend the weekend there. Surely there were worst places to spend a weekend. 

But, we found someone smart and capable at the check in counter, and that flight that had been full 4 hours before suddenly had two open seats and she put our names down. We had a flight all the way to Miami. 

Still, it spooked me. All the way up until we actually got on the boat, I was sure something would go wrong. That they would have given our tickets to someone else, or that we'd suddenly test positive for Covid, out of the blue, or that our passports would be invalid. 

We wanted to take a red eye flight so that we wouldn't have to pay for a hotel in Miami the night before our cruise, but we didn't account for the crap fest that is the airline industry right now. Stuff happens. Weather happens. Things go wrong. We should have allowed some extra time to account for it.

It was pouring rain in Miami. Thus the canceled Flight. That isn't a water feature on the wall behind us. That is rain pouring down the glass of the covered walkway leading onto the boat. 

Myth #1: You can buy anything you need on the cruise ship.


FALSE! Yes, there are stores on board the cruise ship. But unless you are in the market for watches or designer hand bags, you probably won't find what you need. For reals. There were two of THE SAME jewelry store, but not one convenience store. Perfume, yes. Expensive sandals, sure. Advil? No, ma'am. Tweezers? Not if your life depended on it.

#5: Bring your own snacks. (I almost wrote snakes there. That might be a good tip too, but you'll have a hard time getting them on board, until you get real creative with your hiding places.)

Say one night you get a sudden craving. M&M's! Any kind will do! Actually, any candy bar at all will work. But this is the same problem as the one above. You can't get snacks anywhere on board. Unless you want Rum Cakes, you are shuck out of luck. I suggest you plan accordingly. Seriously. I just wanted a candy bar. Why does the souvenir shop ONLY sell rum cakes?? Why?  

Myth #3 - The dining room is always open. 

I might be different on other ships, but on Royal Caribbean that was not the case. My dad always says that his main complaint on his cruise was that they fed him too much. So I was just expected food being pushed at me from every side, all day long. But no. There was a buffet upstairs that was open with extended hours around meal times. But the food was really only so so. Standard cheap buffet food. The food in the formal dining room was fantastic, but the servings were rather small like you would expect in a super fancy restaurant and it was open with much more limited hours, and if you didn't make a reservation you might have to wait for a table for a while. 

There were several other restuarants, but half of them were not included with your cruise meal plan, which means you had to pay to eat there, just like you would in any restaurant. It was also rather hard to tell which restaurants were free, and which weren't, so we ususally just stuck to the ones we were sure about. And they were all only open around meal times. You could order room service too, but most of that food also cost extra. Fortunately there was a Ben and Jerrys on board. Yes, their food was not included with the cruise meal package, but the cruise had also kindly given us $100 credit to be spent on whatever we wanted onboard the boat. Richard used a bunch of it on Lobster one night (again, not something that was included in the free meals), but we had to spend the rest on something. Good thing I like Icecream so much.

B) - Take Cash. Or, maybe, don't.

I meant to take cash, I really did. But what with the flight kerfuffle, we never stopped at the bank to get any. Which left us in Nassau Bahamas without any cash. It was the weekend, so there were no open banks, and I didn't even have a debit card to pull cash out of an ATM. Which meant no souvenirs, which was kind of sad, but also gave me an excellent excuse not to buy anything from any of the vendors that were pushing their wares at us. 

After hanging out on the beach for a while I would have liked to rent some four wheelers to explore the island, but it started pouring rain, which might have made four wheeling somewhat less exciting.

We just ran around on foot and explored the town and got soaked, and found a woman in a shop who gave us some Bahaman coins, just for fun.

And it was awesome! And we didn't spend an arm and a leg! So who's laughing now?

Well, there you have it. Every single lesson we learned while cruising, that I can think of at the moment. 

We tried escargot, which was, you know, snails.

And didn't really mind being in an interior room, because no windows meant it was DARK, and morning sort of lost meaning. It was very restful.

All in all, we had a great time! I may have seen more half-naked women than anyone ever needs to see, but it just makes me all the more excited for our next cruise. To Alaska! Someday!

This is the end.

Cover Reveal

Jul 11, 2023

 The Splinter Press team agonized and debated for a very long time, but the cover for The Dissection and Reassembly of Cohen Hoard has finally been chosen! 

And there was much rejoicing.

I Am An Author

Jun 10, 2023

 Folks, it is official. My debut novel, The Dissection & Reassembly of Cohen Hoard, will be released on September 15th, 2023. 

If you like specuative fiction about nerdy guys going on adventures involving dissembodied limbs, this is the book for you!

Lindy likes to help by sitting on my keyboard while I type. She likes to pretend that SHE wrote this book. But it was me. Promise.

Phone Blogging

Aug 31, 2022

Phone blogging (sometimes called phlogging (by me, just now)) has never really been a thing because it's too hard to do. But it would be so much better for me. I spend too much time sitting in front of my computer already. Blogging would be the perfect thing to do when I have down time and nothing but a phone. So it's time for me to figure out how to make it work.

Scary Things I found at the Antique Store - Christmas Edition

Dec 24, 2021

 Welcome to the Christmas edition of "Scary Things I found at the Antique Store"!

Christmas is almost here, so let's dive right in!

My kids are always asking me to get an Elf on the Shelf. That is never gonna happen, but I did tell them I'd buy them this:

That's the kind of elf that crawls in through your ear and pours tar in your soul. Maybe with that sly little face watching them everywhere they go they will finally be inspired to stop fighting with each other.

The best way of spreading Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. So why does this choir look so terrified?

What's that? You say it's the nutcrackers? Ugh, you guys are such babies. 

Wait . . . what in the name of sunflowers is this?

Gah! Is it a CLOWN? I guess there is a reason that people are more of afraid of clowns than they are of terrorist. THAT is how you strike terror into people's hearts, right there.

Hey, look! It's a Jack-In-the Box!

Or . . . Package Girl?? Um, I don't . . .

How about some Santas? 

How would you like to run into him and the weird mound of hair he is carrying in a dark alley upon a Christmas Eve?

Or perhaps this guy:

"Me and my Taffy Eyebrows see you when you're sleeping."

Oh, this one's kind of cute:

Though apparently those trees are growing right out of his belly.

No wonder he looks so uncomfortable.

And this one's just mad. "Those dang reindeer keep eating all my cookies!"

I guess we'll just wrap things up with a family friendly vintage Christmas Card. 

I bet he said,  "Good Girls have noses." 

Let's open it up and see:

Wow, real classy Santa. As usual.

On that note, we bid you adieu? I don't know why I put a question mark there, but I'm leaving it. Merry Christmas!!

Geometric Black Wall Treatment in the Master Bedroom

Nov 15, 2021

 Here! See some pictures of my room! Quick before the clutter explodes all over the place again!

In case you can't tell, what you see in the above picture is a geometric black wall treatment in the Master Bedroom. We designed the room with this little recess for the bed to sit in specifically so we could have a cool wall treatment. 

Here is the wall before: 

Ah, Special.

I drew up several designs, and this was our favorite.

You can tell, because I drew a heart in the corner. 

Then I painted the wall black. I'm pretty sure this was black paint I bought to paint the shelves in our library, but ended up not liking it. I still wish this was more of a matte finish, but we all have our crosses to bear.

With the wall painted and a stack of 1.5" mdf trim, I was ready to go. Theoretically I should have been able to take measurements and cut the angle perfectly, but I have never had that happen in real life. Pretty much every angle I adjusted it with a hundred tiny cuts until I got it perfect, and then cut the straight edge to length. I got tired of running up and down the stairs after a while and just brought the miter saw into my bedroom. I figured all the dust would be worth it. I have no regrets.  

And then there are shelves full of books and Legos. All the things a married couple needs.

The art on the wall below came from HERE. Its a paint by number Mandy from Vintage Revivals had designed to paint on her daughters wall. I just painted it on a big ol' canvas instead. I kind of wish I had done the whole wall, but maybe there is enough going on in here with the black wall treatment behind the bed. 

So, there you have it. A black wall treatment in the master bedroom. Are you edified? Enlightened? Enriched? Enraged? I can't take responsibility for all your emotions, so get a handle on yourself.

The Last Smoothie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Oct 7, 2021

 This is it! The last Smoothie Recipe you will ever need! Well, unless you want a chocolate smoothie, or an Orange Julius, yum, or maybe a PB&J smoothie, which is one of my favorites. So let me alter my title a little to say "The Last Smoothie Recipe You Will Ever Need From Me". probably.

Here's a picture!

I always start with a frozen banana, a frozen plum (because we have a plum tree, so this is just what I have on hand) and a handful of baby spinach. Then I add two more fruits.  In the picture above I used a pear and a handful of mixed berries. Anything is good. Peaches, strawberries, raspberries (which have more fiber per cup than any other fruit), mango, pineapple, whatever. You don't need me to think of fruits for you. I tried Kiwi, and that was good too, but I always wonder, does Kiwi hurt everyone when they eat it, or am I mildly allergic?

Apples are good too, but I recommend only using half an apple, unless you really enjoy chewing your smoothies. I also find that it tastes best if at least one of the fruits is fresh. I often make it with everything frozen except the spinach because that's all I've got, but then I have to add more water to make it thin enough to drink, and the flavor just isn't as rich. Obviously.

I also add Chia Seeds and Flaxseed Meal because their packaging says that they are really good for you. And I sweeten it using Monk Fruit. If you know that Monk Fruit is going to kill me, will you let me know, cuz honestly, I don't even know what it is. Oh, and a scoop of protein powder. But don't add it until the very, very end, because if you blend it too long, it poofs everything up in a way that ceases to be delicious. And that's it. It varies depending on the fruit you use, of course, but it general, they are about 500 calories. Good for you, and stuffed with enough food to tide you over till dinner.  

5 servings of fruits/veggies a day = Check!

Bowels ready to empty themselves at a moments notice = Double Check!


  • 1 handful Baby Spinach
  • 1 frozen Banana
  • 1 froze Plum
  • 2 other fruits of your choice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Tbsp Monk Fruit
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder (don't add it until the end!)
Blend it, drink it, love it. Or don't. I'm not the boss of you. Bye.

A Trip to the Uintah Basin

Oct 4, 2021


Our plan was to leave Thursday right after school, but because of surprise optomitrist appointments, and forgotten about Parent Teach Conferences, it was 6:00 pm before we left home. We'd hoped to eat in Vernal when we got there, but as it was we stopped at Carl's Jr. on our way out of town. Just like campers of old. At 9:00 pm we were almost to Vernal, but we were ready to stop for the night. Richard reached out with his inner camper's sense and turned off at some random road and found a place to pull over. We put the jacks under the camper and just like that we were ready to hit the hay.

Course the kids weren't ready to fall asleep just yet, so I read out loud to them a bit from "Dune" and they were out in minutes. 


The campsite Richard parked us in turned out to be kind of perfect. The boys explored the nearby hills while I cleaned up and Richard made pancakes.

I LOVE camping in a trailer. 5 minute take down is all it took to get us back on the road and headed for Vernal. First we stopped at the local Field Office to get tips on nearby BLM camping, and any other sites or activities we needed to see. The woman loaded my hands with maps, and our brains with tips and sent us on our way. We still weren't really clear where were going to camp, but Vernal is surrounded by BLM land, so we knew we'd be able to find a spot somewhere. 

This map shows what area is BLM land and what isn't. It would be awesome if it was an overlay you could get on Google Maps, but we were mostly able to figure out where we were. We headed for the yellow section of the map, and found a fantastic spot right along the Green River. It was clearly used for partiers and was kind of a mess, but we took a chance and set up camp anyway, figuring that if the entire population of high schoolers showed up that night we could always move somewhere else. I also gave my boys a few garbage bags and had them fill them up and it was looking much nicer in no time. 

And then the fun could begin!

About 45 minutes outside of Vernal, nestled in a field of oil derricks, is a little place called 

Fantasy Canyon. 

Words will not do it justice. Places like these are what pictures are for.

Amazing right? Have any movies been filmed here? I looked it up online, but there weren't any as far as I can tell. It is such a small and fragile place, it might not be possible, but it really looks like an alien landscape just crawled up out of the ground from another world. 

This helpful sign was on the outhouse door:

We did NOT see any pigmy rattlesnakes, but you better believe I never let my guard down.

Later that day we went to see the Indian Petroglyph's at McConckie Ranch. We learned about this place at the local field office so we decided to check it out.

We also decided to see what happens when you wink while frowning.

We hiked around and saw lots of cool stuff, but we were getting hungry and tired so we headed back to camp. However, when I was looking up McConckie Ranch online, I found TONS of really cool petroglyphs that we didn't see. So we're going to have to go back! That was pretty much the theme of the whole trip. There is too much to see and do in the Uintah Basin. 

We're going to have to go back. 

Richard made Patty Melts for dinner and we built a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows and then put out the fire and looked at the stars. We never saw another living soul, so maybe the locals only party there during the summer months.

I read some more Dune to the kids to help them wind down, and they were snoring in minutes. I'm going to have to remember that. Dune is like a sleeping draft of magicalness.


We started the morning (after eggs benedict, for reals, cuz my husband is truly wonderful) at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. (I suspect that when they were sitting in the Naming of the Museum Committee meeting they just couldn't come to any kind of consensus, so they named it everything they could think of.) 

We learned a lot and took a lot of awkward photos! (Some more awkward than others)

Look at his bravery. He doesn't even care that the Utah Raptor is about to eat him!

Then it was time to head out to Dinosaur National Monument, in Jensen UT!

Another really cool place that will require a lot more exploring. But it was so hot, and dogs are not allowed on a lot of the hiking trails, so this is another place we'll have to come back to.

After lunch we headed for Red Fleet State Park. During the summer you can rent kayaks and paddle boards, which you can use to explore the lake and nearby Dinosaur Trackway. We had no such luck however, so we had to drive around the lake, and hike to the trackway. 

Or maybe dance.

Dinosaur Tracks! Right under our feet! They were everywhere! When we'd seen all of the dinosaur tracks we could bear to see, it was time to head back. 1.5 miles each way isn't that big of a deal, right? We just had to climb back up this insanely steep hill. 

I hadn't realized we'd gone downhill so much on our way in, but by the time we climbed the mile and a half back up to our car, my legs were on fire. We were hot and tired and thirsty and slurpees were in order. Fortunately, Vernal has five 7-Elevens. For a population  of 10,500. And I think we stopped at every single one. 

I suppose that is the message I want to leave with you today. Vernal is the heart of Dinosaur Country and the 7-Eleven Capital of the World! So what are you waiting for? Visit the Uintah Basin today!