Archive for the Category » Travel «

Pittsburgh – Travel and Sightseeing

I am going to split my Pittsburgh post in 2 because if not it will be a post of travel woes with 2 sentences about the Hanson show and the Hanson show deserves a bit more recognition than that.  If you are trying to remain spoiler free for the Hanson String Theory tour – this post is safe! (The next one will not be.)

My flight to Pittsburgh was taking off just before 6am and I wanted to leave my house at 2:30am to give myself plenty of time to get through security.  Well, I set 3 alarms and slept through all of them and ended up waking up at 3:19am, essentially ran down the stairs and sped the whole way up to the airport, getting to the gate with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding.  I know a lot of people do this as their norm, but I think I’d much rather stick to my “I have an hour or more to kill sitting here” routine.  The other downside was both of my flights (Hartford to Baltimore and Baltimore to Pittsburgh) were less than an hour so getting to sleep was made difficult because by the time I actually fell asleep we were landing.

As I jumped into a Lyft at the airport, Zac posted on Instagram that they were doing a TV appearance and the station was right behind our hotel. I dropped my stuff off and we went to wait outside, but after waiting about an hour or so and no sign of them we decided it was time to get our sightseeing on.


Our first stop was the Andy Warhol museum.  The admission price of $20 seemed a bit steep for what it was, but we had a lot of fun exploring the several floors of artwork (and waiting 8 years for the elevator in between) and checking everything out.  There were some String Theory appropriate artwork, some not appropriate artwork, and my favorite was “Flowers”.  We had hoped to be able to do some screen printing but they didn’t open until 1:30 and we were ready to go and eat about noon.

We stopped at a local brewery for lunch across the street from PNC Park (a bucketlist venue, I was hoping for a Thursday afternoon game so I could check it out, but it was an off day instead) I got 4 cheese mac & cheese with chicken and it was not as tasty as I was hoping!

Next up was Randyland which is a home that was purchased by an artist named Randy who painted and adds all sorts of different objects to the house and yard.  It’s hard to explain but vibrant and colorful and you really can’t help but smile when you visit.  The problem of this trip was that I did not have any small bills so I couldn’t leave a donation for Randy.  He needs to accept some online or have a credit card swiper!


Next up we decided to ride the Duquense Incline.  Because riding it from the bottom has stairs, we started at the top and the observation deck (and 2 penny machines I was not prepared for, but managed to get 1 design from each) and rode it down and then back up.  The reviews where they say the person taking admission is rude are true… not sure why that was needed to add to the “experience” but after some confusion we made our way back up to the top again.  The car was cool and it was a neat experience but really… a little politeness to confused tourists goes a long way. I wish we had rented a flatbed truck ( as it would save a lot of trouble.

–Then we took a break to go see Hanson… see next post for the details there—

Our post show meal was at Primanti Brothers, where they put French fries on their sandwiches. Those of us who opted to go for sandwiches all got the corned beef.  It was good, it was messy.  Then they completely charged our credit cards for the wrong orders and had to get everything resorted lol

Friday we continued our tour and headed to Pamela’s Diner which was difficult to get to due to construction, but worth the effort. There was about 8 people in front of us for tables but it moved quickly and I think we both enjoyed our brunch.

Next up we went to the Center for Learning which looks like Hogwarts inside and explored, attempting to cast spells, and got stuck in an elevator.

We went back to the hotel to relax and then my trouble began.  First, my Lyft couldn’t seem to get to me. They ended up finding someone else who was close by to grab me, and I fell down the curb cutting myself up on the way to the car.  The driver handed me some napkins and all was well… then his glasses fell from the visor on to me mid ride scaring the crap out of me and then cracking me up.  I got to the gate with 1 hour to spare before boarding and was getting ready for my 4 hour layover in Baltimore…

All morning the flight time was jumping around from 5:55 to 6:20 to 6:10 to 6:05.  Shortly after I arrived it got bumped to 10:55 which meant I would miss my layover. I was put on an 8am flight back to Hartford but I started looking for cars since I didn’t have much faith that the flight would EVER take off.  Most did not have any one way rentals available.  Finally I found one and was heading down to the rental counter.  I checked my phone and it said that the flight would now be taking off at 6:30 PM.  It was 6:15 PM.  I raced back to security, managed to be one of the only ones at pre-check, hustled to the gate, asked if I missed the flight only to be told it was now leaving at 8:30pm.  Well, now I WOULD make my layover… got in line again and was told there were no longer any seats left on that flight and I’d have to try and fly standby. I tried to cancel the car rental, assuming we would be leaving at 8:30… grabbed a snack from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels only to hear a collective “UGH ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and the flight had once again gotten bumped to leaving at 11pm.  I confirmed with my friend I could crash at her house for the night in PA and made my way to pick up my rental car.  I left the airport at 8pm (when I probably could have left at 6pm if they’d stop… stringing me along…) and pulled into my friend’s driveway at 11:04pm.  The flight ended up taking off. At 11:04pm.    So I had to drive 8 hours home but was able to spend the night with a friend and in a bed instead of in the airport on the floor or in a chair getting home about 10am versus having to head straight to the casino for Jason Mraz… but I think taking my fate into my own hands was the right decision since the weather and Baltimore couldn’t seem to make up their mind…

I’d love to go back to Pittsburgh because I really want to see a game at PNC Park but I am not sure it will be this baseball season… and maybe next season will be out as well until I forget about this nightmare of a trip home! (Or maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and drive the whole way instead)

Category: Travel  Comments off

Hanson Day Tulsa 2018

2018 Hanson Day was my 10th trip to Tulsa, OK to see Hanson.  When I first started planning my trip back in 2009 I am pretty sure I billed it as a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to experience their home town.  In 2009 they recorded the Stand Up, Stand Up EP and there really weren’t any other events.  10 years later (and not really ‘consecutive hanson day’ events either – since 2010 was a Halloween event!) and it is fascinating to see not only how the Hanson event and activities have grown, but how Tulsa has continued to grow and flourish.

My trip started with some excitement. I had only 40 minutes to get off my plane from Hartford and onto my flight to Tulsa in Dallas.  When my shoes set off the metal detector upon arrival in Hartford, my gate was the furthest away and every flight around me was getting delayed due to weather, I was hoping I’d still make it and all the drama was working itself out early.  When the pilot came on and said we would be delayed 10 minutes because of weather and he hoped to make up the time during the flight but before landing told us we would be 5-8 minutes late, I started mentally preparing myself to drive from Dallas to Tulsa.  And when the jet bridge wouldn’t move to connect to the plane, I thought that any chance I had of making it was over. When we landed I was at the mercy of the wheelchair pusher. I informed him my flight was taking off VERY soon and let’s see if we could make it.  He was being thoroughly pessimistic about the whole thing – and then informed me that gate A8 was THE. LAST. GATE. In A.  Yet somehow, despite hearing “Flight 299 to Tulsa, you need to be on the plane NOW” we made it – and I wasn’t even the last one to board the plane.  Thanks American Airlines for holding that flight because if not it would have been Strike 3 for you.  (When I booked the flight it was an hour or so layover and they changed it on me)

Thursday morning our day kicked off waiting outside Ida Red to pick up an Albertane Tour 20th anniversary pint glass and try the special drink they had come up with.  After that we got our wristbands and hopped in line for the store.  I spent a new record amount of money, but in my defense I was picking up merch for 3 others in addition to myself.  Once you take out their totals,  I was pretty much on pace for my usual amount, despite being a bit underwhelmed with the merch this year. (But I’ll confess, that $100 blanket is beautiful and I can’t wait to put it on my bed.) Then there was some eating, some volunteering, some more eating and then it was time for some karaoke – where facebook and snapchat filters set me into a fit of hysterics.  Maybe I needed some sleep…

Friday we got I line for the gallery pretty early, and while there were some original paintings left by the time I entered, I opted to get a couple of prints instead. We also participated in the String Theory ball of yarn.  After the gallery it was time for group photos, so we headed down to Cain’s Ballroom for that.  We stopped at Prairie Brewpub for my first visit before getting ready for the Storytellers concert.  I was pretty nervous that they were going to play With You In Your Dreams and my fears came true when Taylor started mentioning that they wanted us to sing in a chorus.  The setlist was Albertane Tour throwback (and Money was a song I had never heard them perform live before) and I liked that they “themed” it to a 20th anniversary – but… I can really do without WYIYD for the foreseeable future.  Then it was time for the ST Leaders dinner where my cane almost took someone out… and I realized that IPA Cheddar Burger meant that the cheese had the beer in it… and was gross.  I ended up falling asleep instead of going to Taylor’s Dance Party that night. Oops.

Saturday we had a later day, starting off with the Listening Party of Zac’s special music project “The Machine”, it was definitely interesting… then we headed off to Pinot’s Pallette where we painted our own version of Zac’s pansy painting from the gallery.  I went roque – from the moment the instructor said “paint your canvas light blue” and mine was light orange.   I did a mixture of oranges, yellows and reds for my pansy.  It probably could have used more yellow, but overall it came out pretty good.  That night was the full Members Only Concert and I was really digging the 100% members only song setlist – until it got to the solos and then it kind of lost me… and then they played Where’s the Love which I love but am a bit sick of. (Honestly though I know I complain about the setlists but I’d rather be at a Hanson show with a (imo) lame setlist than pretty much anywhere else in the world. So.) After the concert we rushed off to Firkin Feast – and after the gross burger the night before I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, but I actually enjoyed 2 of the 4 beers that they offered after thinking I would never find a beer I would actually like, so that was a plus, and despite the menu not being at ALL what I would ever choose to eat, I ate each of my courses in its entirety and enjoyed it!

Sunday was The Hop Jam Beer & Music Festival.  Hanson wasn’t performing, which made things a bit less hectic and crowded.  I volunteered handing out fliers at the entrance with a great group of security guys (way better than the group I was with last year) and still had a chance to check out Paul McDonald’s set from my hotel room and some of Manchester Orchestra’s as well.  I was also pretty close to Guthrie Green which had the local bands playing and was pretty impressed with what I heard from there as well.

Monday it was time to go and my flight home was pretty uneventful except for the fact that the best flight I could get home for points on Southwest was to take a detour to Denver with a 4 hour layover.  I can’t complain, it was only $6 and I got to have a delicious Einstein Mac & Cheese bagel!

Category: Concert, Hanson, Travel  Comments off

Happy Flight Plane Travel Passport Protector

Coming up in just a few months I will be taking a crazy trip half way across the world to see Hanson in Australia and New Zealand! Since I have already started mentally packing you will see some of the travel items I will be taking with me coming up as blog posts.  Of course in order to take a trip to a new country (or two!) you need to have your passport.  I chose to use the USPS passport location closest to me to get my passport renewed. I have always had good exepeiences with them. One thing I have not yet done is travel with a passport cover, but for this trip I figured, why not?

Heads Outlet USA on Amazon has several options available – I opted to go with the blue option, although it looked a bit more on the teal side on their website and is a bit darker now that it has arrived. (And it was also addressed to a name that was not me so I am not sure what happened there with Amazon fulfillment)  There is a happy plane on the front cover along with the text of several cities that you might want to take a trip to – I was happy to see that Sydney, one of the stops on my trip, was included! I guess now I just have to work on hitting up all the others that are listed as well in future trips!

The passport cover is very stylish and durable. It is available in several vibrant covers to keep your passport protected and looking great. It even includes an extra pocket for your boarding pass.  On the inside there is a slip-in compartment and on the right two full length slots giving you room for your passport and extra notes or documents you want to have handy.  The bright colors will make it easy to spot in your bag or to avoid leaving it behind.

I thought that the material it is made out of might have made it slippery, but I was able to keep a good grip of it in my hand when I was trying it out. It is also water resistant and you can wipe it off easily if you happen to spill something on it when traveling – or in my case someone else happens to spill something on you when you are traveling!

I received this product at a discount in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.



Category: Travel  Comments off

So You Want To Go To BTTI?


With 2017’s Back To The Island announced, I figured I should put something together like I did for MOE.

Back To The Island is a 5 day, 4 night event in Runaway Bay, Jamaica and Jewel Paradise Cove.  2017 will be the second year the event is held at this resort.  In order to go, you must be a member.  If you are not yet, join now!  (Your membership needs to be valid through the trip dates so if you join now you’ll be set.)

When Should I Come?

Definitely as early as you can on the 4th if you can’t add extra days.  If you can add an extra day before the event you’ll be golden, but it is not required.  The first day the only activity is checking in to get your group assignment and merch and then the Hanson concert that night (assume a 9 or 10pm start time)

How Long Does It Take To Get To The Resort?

I’d budget at least 3 hours from the time you land to get through customs, immigration and get your shuttle to the resort.  I personally like to land around noon – 1pm if I can.

What Airport Do I Fly To?

Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) is the only airport that has the provided shuttles to the resort. The shuttle ride is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Can I Come Early And Stay At A Different Resort?

Yes, but you will have to figure out how to get from that resort to Jewel Paradise Cove for the event, as Island Gigs will only take care of shuttles upon arrival at MBJ. (If anyone who did this in 2016 can comment with how you worked it out, it would be appreciated)

When Should I Leave?

Keep in mind the last night that Taylor’s after party will probably go until 2am, give or take.  Shuttles to the airport leave roughly 4 hours before your flight (I had a 1:10pm flight and was on an 8:50am shuttle – shuttles seem to leave every hour).  If you can’t add an extra day on at the end, try to book your flight as late as you can if you don’t want an early wake up call.  Or book an early flight and leave right after the after party!

What Are The Add On Activities and How Much Are They?

Island Gigs generally schedules 2 excursions for each trip, but does not announce them until much closer to the trip dates (December).  This year it was a tour of Nine Mile – Bob Marley’s birth and resting place as well as a trip to Dunn’s River Falls to climb water falls.  The past couple of years we were only able to choose 1 of the excursions due to scheduling conflicts if not.  The excursions were $50-$60.  The hotel also offered booking for excursions as well which you might want to look into if you add extra days. [Edit: it looks like these can be booked when booking your trip for 2017]

What Are the Concerts Like?

There will be 3 Hanson concerts, on the first night, the second night and the last night.  These are full sets and voting for themes will be happening in March.  Each Hanson will also do a solo set of about 45 minutes.  The second to last night will be the special guests concert.

How Do Group Assignments Work?

Red or Green passes are handed out when you check in with Island Gigs and pick up your merch package.  Typically all of one color is given out first then the second color.  In instances when excursions interfere with group activities you will be placed in a group that will not cause interference. If you want to be in the same group as your friends, try to check in at the same time.  Island Gigs typically does not allow you to change colors, however if you can organize it on your own amongst other fans you can switch.

What Does the Schedule Typically Look Like?

For an idea, this was the 2016 schedule:

January 5th
10pm Hanson Concert

January 6th
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Green) / Tie Dye With Taylor (Red)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Red)
5:30pm – Zac Solo Concert
10pm – Hanson concert

January 7
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Red) / Tie Dye with Taylor (Green)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Green)
5:30pm – Taylor Solo Concert
10pm – Special Guests concert

January 8
8:30am – leave for excursions
1:30pm – Photos with Hanson
5:30pm – Isaac solo concert
10pm – Hanson concert
12:00am – After party with Taylor

How Is The Weather?

Typically in the mid-80s.  It did get a lot cooler during the thunderstorm this year, obviously.  But for the most part, hot and humid.

Is There Anything Special I should Bring?

Sunscreen. Bug spray.  If you don’t want to tie dye your event t-shirt, something 100% cotton to tie dye.  Money for souvenirs and tipping (not required, but if you have an awesome staff member, and you will, it might be nice)  There is a small gift shop at the resort with clothing, postcards, trinkets, etc. Be sure to let your credit or debit card bank know you will be in Jamaica along with the dates so that your card is not declined.

I also recommend that you bring a pair of shorts in your carry on if you want to change when you land at the airport.  The shuttles this year did have A/C though.  If checking a bag, you might want to toss a couple days worth of clothes in your carry on as well in case luggage gets lost.

Make sure to have your passport and a blue or black ink pen handy on the plane to fill out your customs forms.

How Do Island Gigs Payments Work?

When booking there is an $800 down payment.  If you have a roommate it will be a $400/$400 split.  If you do not have a roommate at the time of booking you will be responsible for the $800 down payment.  Once you add a roommate you can have the $800 credited to your portion of the room.  (If you do not yet have the name of a roommate choose the single booking and Island Gigs can change it to a double once you have a roomies name)
There are 2 payment plans – one is $400 at booking / $500 in July and the balance by October 1-per person.
I do the monthly, it begins April 1 and runs until October 1 and divides into even monthly payments of the balance due after the deposit is made.
You can log into your account and pay more money down on the booking outside of the payments if you want.

What Are The Rooms Like?

Most of the rooms have 1 king bed.  Some rooms do have 2 twins and they will try to accommodate as many requests as they can.  The closets are pretty big. All rooms have a hair dryer.  The outlets are just like the US outlets. Some rooms have showers and some rooms have tubs.  If you go to Trip Advisor you can read from people who have visited before as well as look through their galleries as well.

What information of my roommates do I need in order to book?

Their legal first and last names. Their email address (that matches their Island Gigs account, if they have one) their name (You cannot get past the page without entering this, so it is important that you know it!)  Their address and phone number (which should populate if they have an Island Gigs account and you entered their email address – but make sure you have it just in case).  It also asks for their birthday, but there is a box to check if you don’t know it.  It will prompt you to enter their credit card information as well, but it seems if they log in the same day to pay their down payment it should not be a problem.  If you’d rather the peace of mind by booking for both of you at the same time you need their credit card number, expiration date and the 3 digit code from the back of the card.


If there are any other questions – leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

Traveling Liquid Free

With another trip that requires flying coming up, it brings up the topic of – how do you travel with only a carry on when it comes to liquids? I managed to do a weekend trip to Colorado completely liquid free. I don’t wear any make up or have any sort of skin care routine that requires liquids, which made it easier.  But using some of these products that are solid will clear up a lot of space in your quart sized baggy if you do need to bring make up or other items that don’t have solid options.

(If you’re looking for tips on how to pack your carry on – Holly over at Traveling Fan has a great post on Packing Cubes – which I have started using since reading some of her posts about them.)

For my trip to Back to the Island I will be using the Flight 001 X-Ray Quart Bag from ebags. I have not used it yet but it is supposed to be TSA approved and the way it is shaped is supposed to allow for more items in it than the typical quart sized bag. While I am not 100% sure what I will be packing yet, I did toss in some bug spray,  shampoo, shower gel, 2 containers of sun screen, aloe, tooth paste, deodorant and a toothbrush and it all seemed to zip in just fine. There have been mixed reports on whether or not TSA will let it through so I may have to bring a back up baggie just in case.

I have several solid shampoo bars from LUSH.  The tin that they sell to put the round ones is great, but it closes so tight I often have trouble opening it again. But one bar can last several trips or you can even use it at home regularly. If you let it dry out correctly it is supposed to last up to 90 washes.
My Review of Lush Shampoo Bars

LUSH also offers a variety of solid tooth paste tabs.  There are several different “flavors” and I found these left my teeth feeling clean, but without the minty-fresh feeling you are used to with most “liquid” toothpaste. That took some getting used to, but these are a great alternative!
My Review of LUSH Toothy Tabs

Soap / Shaving Cream
Skip the shower gel and grab a bar soap. Tada! You can also use bar soap in place of shaving cream in a pinch. I’ve yet to find a “travel sized” shaving cream container that does not take up way too much space in my quart sized bag.

Travel Containers
If you need to condense larger containers into travel size, I really like the Dot&Dot Travel containers I used earlier this year.  They come in a pouch of 4 and even have suction cups to attach them to the shower wall.
Dot&Dot Travel Containers

Sun Screen
For my Colorado trip I used 2 different solid sun screens.   These are both small and you can throw it in your bag and not have to worry about it leaking.  There are also a couple of brands who have 1.8 oz spray sunscreen available.  A liquid, but tiny enough to throw a couple in your bag without taking up too much room.  I suck at applying lotion sun screen so the spray helps me get a more even covering.
SPF 70 Sunscreen Stick Banana Boat SPF 50 Sport

Usually I am not sure if this counts as a “liquid” or a gel or whatever so I throw it in the bag anyway, better to be safe than sorry. But a deodorant that is 100% solid is the Crystal Body Deodorant Travel Stick.  Just wet it, apply it to your under arms and you’re good to go. I don’t think I ever did a proper review on this but while you’ll be wanting to smell your armpits constantly, even on a really sweaty day I never noticed any sort of smell and can’t recommend this enough even though it’s sort of a hard idea to wrap your head around.

Bug Repellent
There are a lot of bracelets out there to help prevent mosquitos from feasting on you. I will be bringing these All Natural bracelets that I reviewed earlier this year.

Alternately a liquid option is “pen sized mosquito repellent”.  It takes up a lot less room in your quart sized baggie and works quite well. I got one that smelled like eucalyptus instead of the usual chemical smell for Jamaica year 2 and had no mosquito problems.

One tip is not to bring the larger (though still within the limitations of ounces for 3-1-1 rules) OFF spray can.  Year 1 of Back to the Island it made it TO Jamaica but didn’t make it home. I switched to the pen sized for year 2 but my friend ended up buying the one I had the previous year and once again Jamaica airport security would not let her take it. Fortunately it was on our way home it was taken so we did get to use it, but we hardly used any of it so it ended up being a waste to have to surrender it.

There is also a website called AllTravelSizes which offers travel sized products. (Keep an eye out though, some did seem to be larger than the limit when I was browsing)  They offer free shipping for orders of $40 or more, but my order coming in just under $20 they wanted $11.35 to ship so I decided not to bother.  If you need $40 worth of travel items you’re probably going on a longer trip and might as well just check a bag since you’ll probably need more clothes too.  I may decide to order with friends in the future to try and hit the $40 limit – I did like that it had single use toothpaste and shampoo available so I have a little bit more room on the way home!  I may try to see if the local drug stores offer larger packages of these for future trips!

Just FYI none of these are affiliate links, I just figured it is easiest to link to what I used so you could see for yourself, I won’t be getting any kick-backs if you decide to purchase through these links.

Category: Travel  2 Comments

Back To The Island Cancun: Travel Day 1


Over the next several Wednesdays I will be sharing all the details of my trip to Cancun for Hanson’s Back to the Island event. (Yes, we’re all aware that Cancun is not an Island.)  For those of you unfamiliar with the event – the past 2 years have been in Jamaica but this year they moved to a resort in Cancun.  The event was from January 7-11 with a concert every night (except the last day when everyone is leaving) which includes 3 Hanson shows as well as a set from special guests Nick Santino and David Ryan Harris. Also included are events with Isaac (mixology), Taylor (after party) and Zac (pottery painting) – but more on all that is still to come.

I’ll start this post with traveling – I had to get up to leave the house at about 2:30 AM as my first flight was taking off at 5:45am.  I was greeted in the morning by my car covered in ice – and then I realized that some of it was even INSIDE when I thought I had cleared off the windshield and there were still spots. I had to rub them with my mittens so I could see through the window and off to the airport I went.  It was 17 degrees.

I got to the valet area, left my car, got to the airport and had to wait for the Southwest counter to open at 4am.  They had to verify my passport before I could even get on my first flight.  Once that was done security went with no problems and then it was time to wait. I was the only one at the gate for a long time.  I was excited because I didn’t wake up 24 hours early (it was more like 23) and still got A 37 as a boarding number.  Well, it turns out there were only 36 people on the flight! (A1 – 15 are reserved)  They said we could spread out but everyone decided to sit in the first 5 rows because they “wanted to get off the plane quick”  (I’m not sure the extra 4 steps from a couple rows further back would have made all that much difference)  Had I known they were going to do that, I’d have gone to the back myself after pre-boarding.

I ended up with a mother/daughter next to me.  The daughter seemed like she really wanted to sleep, but well, I think Mom was a little bit nervous to fly so for 3 hours (when I was hoping to catch up on some sleep) all I heard was “I love you! Thank you so much for flying with me! I love you!” and then she was trying to teach the kid to play sudoku.  “Can I sleep?” the girl asked – but Mom talked for almost the entire 3 hour flight.  She talked so much she was hoarse by the time the flight landed.

I missed snack service from trying to sleep… and then started having a dizzy spell (which I haven’t had one in a REALLY long time so I was not expecting it) and ended up getting my head as close to my knees as I could and it seemed to pass in a few minutes. Upon landing I grabbed a vitamin water and a snack at a kiosk to make sure that I’d be good to go for the next flight.

Somehow my flight at Atlanta landed at C2 and I only had to go to C5! Usually I am as far apart as humanly possible in these airports so I was excited. They ended up loading up another flight just before ours was supposed to take off because the flight was still in the hanger getting looked at.  Then we found out we had to get a new aircraft and had to go to C12 instead. The new aircraft came from stealing it from a flight heading to DC which ended up getting canceled.  We weren’t delayed all that much despite the new aircraft and the extra checks it needed for going to a different country.

We landed in Mexico and headed to immigration and then customs.  After going through customs they have you hit a red button. If you’re green, you’re good, if you’re red, you are getting randomly selected for a bag check.  I was with 2 other Hanson fans I met up with in Atlanta and 1 of us got a red light and the other 2 green.  Then I found out my roommate for the trip got a red one too.

We found our shuttle to the resort and off we went! It was nice to have a 20 minute ride instead of a 90 minute one.  While we were waiting to check in, my roommate showed up (she got in about the same time as us but was in a different terminal – we were hoping it all spit out to one general transportation area, but it didn’t!)

We checked in to the resort, checked in with Island Gigs for our Hanson credentials, checked out the room and headed to the seafood / pasta restaurant for dinner. I had 2 drinks but neither really were all that strong (and I’m a lightweight – I didn’t feel any of the drinks until the last night!) and then it was time to settle in for Hanson show #1 later that night.

But more on THAT next week 🙂

Category: Back To The Island, Concert, Hanson, Travel  Comments off

Disney Trip: Why you gotta be so rude?


As you probably have seen – we had on Hanson/Disney shirts for the 2 days we were at Disney for the Hanson shows.  On the second day of shoes we had TWO incidents with morons.

The first guy asked us what our shirts said. “Hanson” we replied (it was the symbol.) So then he said “2 questions.  Where is the N and On purpose?”  So I showed him where the N was.  The other question didn’t deserve an answer.  (No, I lost a bet so I made this shirt and am wearing it!) He was with a girl who said that he would be going to the show later.  “On purpose?” I asked him.

The second guy was mocking us because we were annoyed when they announced that the first show was going to be canceled due to the weather. When my friend said to him “and who is YOUR favorite band so we can make fun of them?” he just stood there staring at us.  (Hey, it may have taken 17 years but did we FINALLY find a comeback to get morons to shut up?)  He came back to us later and told us “Good news! The other 2 shows are still on!”  Then he was going on and on (not to us) about his SAT scores and how he has a degree in Engineering.  Oh wow, should I be impressed? I’ve got one of those too!

Now – I get that if I was wearing a sports shirt I might have gotten shit from fans of rival teams and I feel like that goes with the territory.  But I don’t understand why you would go up to strangers, who are minding their own business, and start picking on them because of the music that they listen to. (I can only assume that the alcohol consumption of the Food & Wine festival had something to do with it.)

After 17 years of being mocked because you like a band – it’s gotten old.  I just don’t understand it. I’ve seen plenty of people wearing shirts of bands that I don’t like – but I don’t say anything to them. I don’t see the point.

There was also a 3rd moron who started singing MMMBop at the top of his lungs when we were leaving… We’re kind of impressed that the song seems to STILL have an effect on people – when it was released 17 years ago.

and just so that this post is not completely negative – a very wonderful thing that we witnessed –

At the Magic Kingdom 2 strollers wheels got stuck together or something and the Dad pushing one of them ended up falling backwards.  A guy came out of nowhere, put his hand under the Dad’s head so it wouldn’t smack onto the pavement.  Then he disappeared.  He did his good deed and just moved on.  It was one of those things that you see happening in slow motion but there is nothing you can do about it – but I am glad that this good Samaritan saw what he could have done and jumped into action because things could have been very, very bad had he not swooped in!

(And really, these morons just gave us a good laugh – we’re not totally offended over it or anything – after 17 years of this crap you develop a skin for it)

Category: Travel  Comments off

Disney Trip: Memory Maker

Memory Maker is offered at Disney World as a way to get professional photos throughout the park.  No matter how long your trip is, it costs $150.  I wasn’t able to justify the cost of that for just 3 days – so I looked into a Memory Maker Share which is when you go in with several other groups/families and share the cost of the $150.  It was a $30 buy-in and we all had to link our accounts together to the account which had the Memory Maker paid on it.

If you don’t get Memory Maker you can still get your photos taken, but they cost about $15 to buy – so basically as long as we had at least 2 we wanted to buy (and let’s be real, as a scrapbooker I bought them all) we would come out ahead.

We basically made it our mission to seek out every photographer we could (easier said than done since we had so much rain on our trip!) and ended up with about 150 pictures.

Once you get back, you can log in to the account and add borders and stickers to the photos, which can double or triple the number of photos that you have depending on how you edit them)

The only downside to the share is that you need to wait for everyone to come home from their trip and edit before you can download all your photos as a group.  Then once you do download there are several zip files (our group had 55) and you have to sort through them to find your photos.  This actually went pretty quickly once all the files had downloaded, but the wait was the hardest part!

Photographers are around the park and also with most of the characters at their meets. They will take a photo with your camera if you ask, but their cameras are professional and they’ll take several shots with it.  Here are a few of the shots that we got – including some MAGIC shots! (The big reason why I wanted to get Memory Maker!)  Oh and you get ride photos too! (And in the case of 7 Dwarfs Mine Train – a video! And we got video of holding Lumiere as well!)

Category: Photos, Travel  Comments off

Product Review: Packing Cubes

I travel 2-3 times a year by plane and am always trying to figure out how to fit all my clothes in just a carry on so I don’t have to bother with a checked bag.  Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about packing cubes and was excited when Dot&Dot gave me the chance to try out their large packing cubes in my favorite color, orange.

Here are just a few benefits of using packing cubes:
See through mesh panels allow you to easily find what you need.
Maintain your privacy while going through security in the airport.
Save time ironing your clothes! The packing cube will help minimize wrinkles.
Maximize your luggage space so you can squeeze in more of your stuff.
Traveling with the entire family? Make packing and unpacking easy by assigning a cube per person or purpose.
Save time packing and unpacking by allowing you to unpack only what you need.
Cubes fit in luggage, duffels, suitcase, backpack, slim bags and can be used on their own.

These cubes fit perfectly in my carry on and while I only tried out one cube – it easily fit an outfit for the day and certainly had room for more if I wanted.  I really like that it can help keep things organized – if I pack each days outfits into its own cube, I just have to worry about pulling the appropriate days out and bringing it in the bathroom with me each morning. No time wasted digging around for the shirt I wanted to wear with those shorts, etc.  It will certainly make my traveling life a lot more organized (something that I definitely need!)

These cubes don’t quite fit in my backpack, but my backpack is a bit on the small size. If you have one a bit larger for travel, I think it will fit and then you can keep your clothes separate from anything else you may be traveling with (electronics, etc.) I know if I am going away for a short trip and want to get my Nook out I always have to pull out my PJs, underwear, etc to get to it at times – so this will make digging through a lot easier (and less embarrassing!)

I am looking forward to taking these cubs on my next trip in January! (I’ll try to remember to snap some more pics then!)

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

If you are looking for backpacks for your travel needs, Backpacks Global would be the best site for you to visit.

Category: Product Review, Travel  Comments off

Disney Trip: EPCOT Day 2 Part 2

After hiding out in China to miss out on the rain, we made it to a covered area near the America Pavilion to wait things out again. We decided not to wait in line and once again for the first show see what would happen.  Well, the sky kept getting darker and darker and then an announcement came that the first show was going to be canceled because there was lightning in the area.

The second and third shows were scheduled to go on – and they did.

For the second show it started raining – but fortunately the handicapped area and rows in front of it are under an overhang, so we were OK.  By the end of the show – the middle of the overhang was majorly leaking though!

Show 1, err 2, errr I don’t know… had a setlist of

Where’s the Love
Waiting for This
This Time Around
Watch Over Me
Get The Girl Back
If Only

We had the Chase wristbands for the last show of the night and figured we’d end up with the prime handicapped spot right up front. Unfortunately, when I scooted my way up there, I was told that they can only accommodate wheelchairs up there and not ECVs! (Except I was in the same spot on the other side the night before and no one said anything to me?)  So I backed up and still ended up in one of the 4 prime spots – but it would have been nice to actually be able to use the wristband to be a little bit closer!

The setlist for the final show – in the pouring rain – was

You Can’t Stop Us
Tragic Symphony
Thinking Bout Somethin
Been There Before
Minute Without You
Get The Girl Back
Already Home
Long Way To The Top

We had to pick up our bottle of MMMHops at the front of the park (you can’t carry alcohol around in the park with you so it has to be shipped to the front of the park for pick up when you leave) and so did 98 other Hanson fans and EVERY other park goer who had bought alcohol…. Meanwhile everyone leaving EPCOT decided to just cut through the line instead of go around which caused all sorts of drama (Tired, wet, cranky people are not a good mix)

So once again we skipped out on Illuminations and headed back to the hotel as we had a pretty early time to pick up the bus to take us back to the airport 🙁


Overall we had a great time but it would have been nice if there was no RAIN.  (We figured there would be a quick shower every day – as “that’s Florida” but this constant rain all night was not what we were expecting and even my friends who live in FL say that it was very abnormal to be happening!)


Category: Concert, Hanson, Photos, Travel  Comments off