Where in the World are Guy & Tracy???

Hi there, everyone!  Just wanted to let you know that Guy & I are alive and well and thriving in Boquete, Panama.  A trip to the States in March (alas, never made it to CA this trip!) and dealing with a bad cold on our return has left me waaaaaaaay behind on blogging.

In an effort to catch up, I want to let you guys see a few things that we’ve visited since the beginning of the year.

Boquete has an annual event called La Feria de Las Flores y del Café (The Fair of Flowers and Coffee).  They work on getting the fairgrounds ready for several months.  My camera was off being repaired from a fall onto the sidewalk (oh yeah, not a happy moment!)  So I only got a couple pics with my cell phone.

La Feria was started in 1950 and held intermittently until the 1970s.  Following a devastating flood, it was decided to make the fair an annual event to celebrate the strength of the people during this difficult time.  Since then it has been held every year in January as a 10 day fair.

We, though, were not overly impressed with the fair.  For being a flower festival, the gardens were planted almost exclusively with marigolds.  The flowers that grow here wild as well as in gardens are so beautiful and exotic.  To have only marigolds on display was really disappointing.  There were a couple of coffee stands.  At one, Guy tried a coffee liqueur that was produced by one of the coffee fincas (farms).  Dozens of food stands were scattered throughout the fair.  But oddly enough, they all sold the exact same food.  BBQ chicken, 2 types of Panamanian chorizo grilled on sticks and fried plantains.

The biggest and most modern structures were the discoteques.  There were 2 very large ones.  Even though we lived a couple miles and up a mountain from the fairgrounds, we could hear the music like it was next door.  Till 4.  In the morning.  Every night.  Crazy.

The Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival is during February.  It is a charitable, non-profit annual event begun by the local expats to support and promote musical education in the local schools.  One of the songs was sung by a young boy who had voice lessons because of the Festival.

The venue was in Valle Escondido, a beautiful golf community in Boquete.  It was an open air facility with grass and concrete seating.  They provided small seat cushions as well.  Food and drink were available for purchase.

The Festival is a week-long event, with a parade, mini concerts throughout the town, an art exhibit and a lot more.  We were only able to attend one day.  And it did not disappoint.

We heard 4 different groups and each had a very different and unique sound.  There were 3 Panamanian groups: Sin Ensemble Jazz, Idania Dowman & The Emotions and Rigoberto Coba Big Band.  One American, Chris Thomas King, performed.

It was a beautiful day with gorgeous weather, good food and wonderful music!  If we are still here next year, we’ll definitely be going again.

We went to Coronado, Panamá, to see my friend, Maudy.  She’s a great photographer.  Check out her Facebook page.  For the trip we rented a car from Cowboy Dave again.  Coronado is about 6 hours away so we decided to make it a mini-trip.  Maudy suggested a bed and breakfast, Morgan’s Paradise.  It’s a large home that’s been converted to a B&B.  What a beautiful place!  The room was very comfortable with an ensuite bath.  There was also an air conditioner in the room, which is absolutely necessary.  Coronado is on the coast at sea level and is very hot and humid.  We were going to do some sightseeing.  But we were so tired and the backyard was such a paradise, we ended up just relaxing with our fellow B&Bers and new Canadian friends, Moe & Brenda.

In March we took a trip that was instigated by a wedding.  Our niece and brand new nephew, Alicia and Chris, got married in Las Vegas.  It was, as these things go, a mini family reunion.  And Vegas is always good times and good food :).

Since the greatest cost for us is flying back into the States, we extended the trip to include visits in 2 other states to visit more family.  After Vegas we headed to Bedford, PA, to see Grandma Lorie, Aunt Cindy & Uncle Dick, Uncle Don & Aunt Eileen and Aunt Dee.  We had a great time, even though it was still snowing and freezing.  The trees, though leafless and brown, created beautiful landscapes against the hills, homes and sky.

Bedford sits on Highway 30. Highway 30 is part of the Lincoln Highway, which is the first transcontinental highway and is in the National Register of Historic Places.  It extends from New York to San Francisco.  Interested in more info?  Check it out here.  All along the highway are various historical markers and places.  We drove along for only a few miles right around Bedford.

While in Pennsylvania we got to see the United Flight 93 Memorial.  It was sooooo cold that I basically ran around snapping photos as fast as I could before my fingers got frostbite.  Although construction isn’t finished, it was a nice though rather sobering place.  The beautiful farm countryside around it made for a very stark contrast to what happened there.

If you are ever in Pittsburgh, you’ve got to try Primanti Bros.  It’s a sports bar with awesome sandwiches.  We ate at the one near the airport, but I believe they have one downtown as well.

From PA we flew into Houston to visit our old stomping grounds in Conroe, TX.  We stayed  at our old “home” with Ray and NeeCee.  While there we visited the Prison Museum in Huntsville near The Walls Prison Facility.  The museum though not large was well laid out and had some really interesting displays.  There we met Jim Willett, former warden at The Walls unit.  Great guy who had also written a book about his 30+ years of experience within the Texas Prison department.  Ray got the book for Guy and Jim was kind enough to sign it for him.

Finally we flew back into Panama.  We stayed a few nights in the City to enjoy some rest and relaxation in the tropical warmth.  I finally thawed out after our Stateside visit.  This time we stayed at the Hotel Riu.  The Riu is a beautiful hotel with a great pool area.  The food was decent, though I think I liked the variety of the restaurants at the Hard Rock Hotel better.

When we made it home to Boquete, we both came down with a nasty cold.  My symptoms and fatigue lasted about 3 weeks.  In the middle of that we moved.  In my next post I’ll show you some pictures and describe where we live and our cost of living in our new place.

And I will try not to make it months until my next post :)!

 

We’re OFF!!!

We have arrived!  In Panama, at least :).  The rainy season is in full swing, although I guess October will have the heaviest rains.  It’s been cooler in Panama City, mid-80s or so.  We haven’t been out much yet so I think I will catch up on the last couple of weeks.  I haven’t had a chance to even open my laptop much less write anything.  We hope to start house hunting on Monday.  I will be definitely letting you know what we find out there.

SAN ANTONIO

Thanks to all who responded to the blog and on Facebook.  Our time in San Antonio was rather short, but we had a great time.

Susan, we LOVED Guenther’s and strongly suggest to anyone visiting, stop in and have a cinnamon roll.  Oh my goodness!  We thought we had the best in Morgan Hill at Donuts & Things.  But I have never had a cinnamon roll anywhere that was this good.  It was late morning so we split the roll and a club sandwich.  Amazingly delicious!

Guy, the history nerd, really wanted to see the Alamo.  I enjoy sights, museums and all but rarely know a ton about them.  I was pleasantly surprised by the set up at the Alamo. A ton of information and names but the layout helped me to understand the sequence of events that surrounded the ill-fated and historic battle that occurred there.

We purchased the audio tour ($7 each) and had a pleasant walk around the premises while hearing brief recordings.  Well worth the money, especially since I never really read up on these things ahead of time.  For example, I never knew that Texas was a nation, albeit for a short time.  Guy was a little unhappy that the actual buildings were mostly gone and that the south wall was now an imaginary line in the middle of the street.  But overall it’s worth the time to check out.

The next day we went to check out the River Walk.  Everyone’s told us that we have to go and see it.  I just figured it was a cool outdoor-type mall.  Well, it’s definitely outdoors and it’s definitely cool, but nothing I thought it would be.  We took the 40 minute boat tour ($8 each) and got a short history and points of interest tour from the comfort of the boat.  I think if we just walked all the way around it would’ve taken us all day.  Especially if we stopped for a beer or margarita at all the bars :)!

The River Walk was really an amazing place.  I thought it was a fairly recent addition, but it’s been around for some time.  It was really cool to be just feet from the main roads, but never really heard traffic.  We felt like we were in a different time & place.  We only got to visit for a couple of hours so I think we’ll be back to wander around more.

DENVER

We got a quick visit in to Denver to see Guy’s sister, Kim, and her family.  We stayed with Kim & David and even got in part of the Broncos vs Raiders game.  It was so nice to see the nephews & nieces:  Christopher, Kelli, Michelle & Aubrey and Chris, Alicia, Alexis and Ryder.  Got to celebrate with Ryder for his #2 birthday.  The trip, though short, was great!

SAYING GOODBYE TO TEXAS AND THE USA!

Leaving Texas was so very exciting yet a bit sad.  We really loved staying with Ray & Denniece and meeting and hanging with Krystopher, Chevella, Ashley & Cami and DeJuan, Krystal & Carter and John & Gail.  Such wonderful people that have become like family.  Their open hearts were so warm and welcoming.  We will miss them so much!

Here are a few things that we saw in Texas.  I do realize that they are probably in other parts of the US but I first saw them in Texas.  I missed a few pics that I had wanted to show (like Shipley’s Donuts and the Second Baptist Church) but then again, I didn’t see all of Texas either ;).

Suggestions Anyone?

Hi y’all!

Guy & I are going on an impromptu trip to San Antonio for a couple of days.  We’ll be staying in Gruene (New Braunfels area).

Anyone have ideas on what to see and where to eat?

What We’ve Been Up To…

Becoming a resident of the great state of Texas was not difficult but we had a couple days of running around.  However, we got our car registered, the insurance updated, a mail box set up and, as of yesterday, we got our DLs in the mail.  We are officially fer real Texans!  So happy 🙂

Recently we drove 3+ hours into Louisiana to hang with our California friends, Liz and Khailyn, while they were visiting their family, Kim and ONeal.  Kim made us AWESOME home cooked Korean food.  It was fried pork ribs.  Total yum!!!  Then breakfast in the morning.  I felt so pampered. 🙂

Kim & ONeal live in Leesville, LA.  If you’re ever there, you’ve got to try Frozen Spirits, a hangout of Liz and hubby, Jerry, when they were younger. Think: Spiked Slurpee.  Your choice of about 25 different flavors.  And you can try a couple flavors before making your decision.  Service could’ve been better, but we just smiled and ordered.  Connected to the shop is a small restaurant and pool table hall.  We didn’t get any food there, but Guy, Liz & I did play pool.

The amazing thing is that if you didn’t finish your cup and wanted to leave, you just had to get a new lid.  If you had a lid with a straw in it, it would be considered an open container.  Crazy!

We also went onto Fort Polk.  We saw a small but cool park with military vehicles and a couple memorials and went to the PX.

If you look at the sidebar, there is a little countdown I have posted for upcoming plans Guy & I may have.  Currently we are heading to the Caribbean on a cruise.  Yay!  In preparation, Guy & I are taking SCUBA lessons.  Guy’s always wanted to and I’ve always thought it seemed like a cool idea.

Wow!!! What an amazing and weird experience, to be underwater and breathing.  Guy is taking to it like the fish that he is.  I, on the other hand, am a bit more stressed out.  It’s overwhelming with all the things to learn and consider.  Especially since it’s UNDER the WATER.  But I think it’s a lot like when I learned to drive a motorcycle.  Tons more to consider than driving a car, but practice made me a lot more comfortable.

We will be diving in Roatan and possibly Cozumel as well.  I think that once I get under water and see all the sea life, I will be super glad that I did it.  Right now, I’m just kinda glad but nervous.  We have class and pool time Monday and Tuesday and an outdoor dive on Wednesday, I think.  It’s definitely challenging my boundaries.  I shall update in a few days to let y’all (that’s Texan, you know ;)) know that we accomplished our goal and received our certifications.

Link

HOOVER DAM  

Caroline, we did Pink Jeep Tours!  Very cool tour in a very PINK Jeep 🙂  They picked us up where we were staying.  The tour included one of the Dam tours and a pontoon ride on the south side of the dam.

We paid $129 for the tour (including pick up at our timeshare, which was big for us) with an additional $89 to go onto the pontoon boat. Apparently only 1% of tourists go on the boats.  It was a really cool perspective to see the dam and bridge from the water.  We felt it was worth the extra.

This was a great day.  The Hoover Dam is an incredible feat of engineering and manpower.  Loved it!

BIOSPHERE2

Biosphere2 is an ongoing research facility in the Oro Valley area of Tucson. Back in the ’90s, groups of scientists stayed sealed in the Biosphere2 for periods of up to 2 years.  While inside, they raised goats for milk and grew all their food.

Inside are 7 different areas called biomes, from rain forest to desert to ocean. Each area had its own climate.  Two large domes called lungs provided all the air circulation for the entire structure.  There was less than 2% air leakage when the facility was sealed.

After we had been at Biosphere2 for a couple of hours, we watched a storm move in.  There were thunderstorms all during this week.

Biosphere2 was a very interesting place out in the middle of nowhere.  Worth a stop if you’re in the area.

TOMBSTONE

Guy is a history fanatic.  He’s always wanted to see Tombstone and walked the streets that Wyatt Earp & Doc Holliday walked.  So we were off to Tombstone…

Tombstone is a pretty cool place.  It seems like most of the residents are involved in some aspect of the tourist trade to keep the town going.  A lot of people are in period dress which makes for a fun atmosphere.  We went to the Courthouse, Birdcage Theater and ate at Big Nose Kate’s.  We split a Reuben Sandwich and fries.  The food was fabulous!

The Courthouse and Birdcage Theater are museums that had self-guided tours.  Lots of history for such a small town.  Definitely worth taking the time and minimal cost (I believe around $7-10 per person).  The docent at the Theater was quite a character and had his spiel down pat.

To help get an overview of the town, we took the Stagecoach Tour.  It was informative and also enabled us to see stuff around the town that we wouldn’t have had time to get to had we walked.

The OK Corral had a Disney-ish presentation (remember Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow?) prior to the gunfight.  It gave a lot of Tombstone’s history and was, for being old, kinda cool.

The gunfight itself was just so-so.  The people are all volunteers and not professional actors.  It was a bit drawn out and very anticlimactic.  Plus I got about 100 bites by no-see-ums (I think).  Very painful little buggers.  So if you go to the show in the summer time, wear some bug repellant!

As we were leaving Tombstone, we stopped to get gelato since it was so hot.  Grandma Fudpucker’s had just okay gelato, but the peanut butter fudge was so awesome!  Just like Grandma Lorie used to make.  Seriously 🙂 Plus we got these rice krispy treats with chocolate chips and other good stuff in it.  Amazing sweet stuff!

On the outskirts of the town is Boothill.  For a suggested donation of $3 you get a pamphlet that has list of all the residents of Boothill.  It was pretty cool walking around the graves and seeing the names and dates and how they related to what we had seen and heard of in town.

All in all, a great day in Tombstone and worth the visit.

FOOD!

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A great stop for lunch in Oro Valley is Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches.  Guy & I split a Prime Baggin’s and got 2 sides, potato salad and Chinese Sesame Salad.  Total YUM!  Btw the opened sandwich and the wrapped sandwich are the 2 halves 🙂

Bubb’s Grubb is a BBQ joint in Catalina, just a short way from our timeshare.  If you like BBQ, this is the place.  We split a 3 meat combo of pulled pork, beef brisket and pork ribs.  The sidekicks (dishes) we opted for were mac and cheese and potato salad.  Everything was delish! Bubb’s Grubb is a must if you are in Tucson.  Just don’t plan on Mondays or holidays as they will be closed.