Happy Halloween

Someone must be at the door. I look so cute. they probably want to see my Halloween costume.
I guess not. I’ll just rest until someone comes over.
Being the Joker is no laughing matter!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

 

 

Horseback in Hawaii

Like Lesley Carter, I have my bucket list.  I also hold, sometimes unrealistic, admiration for people and because of that I want to try to do the things they do.

If Carmen can do it, I want to try it!  Copied without her permission.

Enter Carmen again. She’s taking horseback riding lessons, and she’s going to ride with the stars.  When will I ever learn, Marsha Lee, you are not Carmen?  Carmen can do things you can’t, and it’s ok.  But I tried.

Trying to “hang loose”.

Start with the end and work backwards.  I made it up the mountain.  You can all see that.  I made it back down or I wouldn’t be writing.  My husband asked, didn’t you love the views?

Oh yeah! The view was great!

I knew I was in trouble as soon as the guide adjusted my stirrups.  He tried to pull my leg back to put it in the stirrup, and it wasn’t going that direction.  He managed to get it in the stirrup, but I was already in pain.

The view as I saw it!

You notice that the picture is a little fuzzy.  I wanted you to see what I was seeing.  Remember I was bouncing with every excruciating step.  The view wasn’t in focus any more for me that it is for you!  Not only that I had my camera around my neck and hanging at my side.  The guide wisely reminded me that lenses and saddles didn’t mix, and if the lens accidentally came in contact with the saddle…  This is my third lens already.

Ah, relief, we stopped for a second. Snap. Ops, we’re off again!

So you can see that it really was beautiful  This was VERY early on.  I could still look out when the guide stopped to give us a break.  We are going through a housing development developed to continue agriculture.  Each plot was something like 10 acres, and they had to grow something.  I admit I wasn’t concentrating on his words right then.

Our guide explaining some history. Better listen.

This aqueduct was built in blah, blah, blah.  Amazing work of engineering.  I will appreciate it when I get home.  Meanwhile, my camera is still safe, but at what cost?  I have the reins in my right hand holding tight because my horse likes to veer to the side whenever he/she sees something green.  Down goes her (I’m thinking broad, gentle, must be an older woman horse) head.  MMMMMM.  “Don’t let the horses eat,” warned the guide in the beginning.  I yank with all my might and she grabs her bites to go.  My left hand is twisted behind my back holding onto the camera lens to protect it from the saddle.

The one guest who knew how to ride.

She looked comfortable in the saddle.  I definitely was NOT.  I got the BROADEST  mare.  When I was 10, I never could do the splits sideways, no matter how much I stretched.  I could do them front to back, but that position was not needed for this task.  At 60 sitting atop Bessie I was stretched wider than my widest 10 year old splits.  I had my heels down which stretched my nerves and muscles ways they couldn’t go either.  My toes were pointed up, and my knees were pressed in.  I don’t know what my ankles were doing, but they hurt too.

Look at that great form. Toes still up in ready position.

We finally got to dismount for a bit.  That was not easy, but my legs were still functioning at this point.  I blessed my husband over and over for choosing the morning ride that only lasted 2 hours instead of the lunch ride I had wanted that lasted 2.5 hours.

Still able to stand by myself. Halfway there. Snacks on the picnic table.

You can’t see how fat my horse is, but Francis’ horse is obviously looking for grass.  He didn’t get ANY on the way up!  I think horses must eat anything – tree leaves, grass, rocks…

We were told several times along the way to pat our horse and tell them what a good job they were doing.   I obeyed.

I was trying not to cry in front of everyone, but at least I was safe for a bit.  She had not fallen off the rocky path – came close a few times, I thought.  So I gave her sweaty body a brief pat.  She won’t look at me.  The horses in our neighborhood love me, and look at me, but they don’t have to carry me up a steep mountain side.

Smiling, smiling, smiling

We’re ready to go back down.  I’m smiling on the outside.  Francis isn’t under the same obligation.  This is it until we get back down.  No more pictures.  Bessie was really hungry on the way down.  She would pull off to the side of the road, bend her head down.  I used both hands to keep her on the path, not going over the cliff to higher grass.  Then she jogged to catch up to the rest.  I begged her to slow down.  I pulled back on her reigns.  I cried.  I pleaded.  She kept jogging until she caught up.

I was able to get off the horse, but a nice young man had to almost lift me off.  I couldn’t get my right leg over the saddle.  I slid onto the ground with him holding on to me.  I clung to Bessie until I could stand.  I didn’t care that she was sweaty and dusty. I couldn’t see anything for a few minutes.  Slowly I came back to life, and walked away from the horse.

Everybody told the guide what a wonderful trip it was.  I was crying.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  I told him I was out of shape.  The ride was great.

End with the beginning. Check that OFF the bucket list!!!

I was just grateful that I didn’t kick the bucket on that trip.  The next day I was fine.  We probably walked 6 miles along the beach to Whalers’ Village and back.  No stiffness, sore muscles, nothing.  Go figure!

Warning to newlyweds – don’t try horseback riding on a mountain trail on your honeymoon unless you are REALLY used to doing it!

Abstract Art

My former daughter-in-law is quite an artist.  She can barely see, yet she turns out, what I think are absolutely beautiful paintings.  I was talking to my new blogging friend Mike at Sum This Sum That about his wife’s work.  She has a painting that looks like my Scardy Kitty posed for it.  I told him about my DiL’s paintings, and he wanted to see them, so Mike these are for you – and all the rest of you, too!!!

Cosmos

Cosmos is my favorite painting , and is the only one with a name I remember, but it may be upside down.  I rotated it around some.  I also didn’t take it straight on, but I’ll do another picture later.  I’m finding that it takes me hours to even do a simple post like this because I have to do things to the pictures.  (not to mention writing and editing the little bit of script I add)

I had this one and Cosmos up in my office at work.  They are not up yet in my house.  I just love her bright colors, and odd designs.

This next one may look the same size as the other two, but actually it is about half of the 2nd one and 1/3 of the first one.  I had three this same size that I hung over my desk at work, and they made a nice collection.

This is the next one in the trilogy.   Actually I’m sure it doesn’t matter which direction they are turned, but I had them rotated 90 degrees in my office, but I can’t remember which direction.

This was the third one of the trilogy.  Once when we went to a restaurant together, the restaurant served crayons for the paper tablecloth.  She coached the four of us to create abstract masterpieces on the tablecloth while we were waiting for our dessert.  They came out pretty well considering.

This is another favorite of mine, but my step-son won’t part with it.

This is another one he won’t part with.  Many, if not most of these she painted when they moved in with us when the came from France.  One time I came home from work expecting company for dinner and the entire dining room table was covered with one of her canvasses.  She was not happy about having to move her studio.

Most of these paintings are 2 dimensional, but often she added texture such as sand to add interest to the painting.

This is the last one of Bounheuang’s paintings that I photographed.   She is amazingly accomplished.  She has a master’s degree in English from a French university.  She was a very prolific as well as talented painter while she was married to my step-son.  She is also a professional dancer, a licensed massage therapist, and is now going to school to become an acupuncturist.    She made my life more interesting to say the least!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One Single Flower

I saw this challenge on Simply Captured and I liked her floral pictures so well, I thought I would submit a few pictures as well.  You might want to also.

Create a Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos and post, title your blog post “Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge” tag.
  3. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.
Spring 2012 rose

I’ve always loved red roses.  Here in Central California spring is perfect for roses, but by June the temperatures soar, and the roses dry up.  By fall they start to come back, but they are small and dry fast.

Beautiful in Berkeley

I’m fudging on this next “single” flower some, but I’m hoping you won’t mind.  It was so beautiful.  I fell in love with the color and the curly cues.

Avila Beach, Ocean Canyon, s single rose

This final rose came from Ocean Canyon KOA Campground in Avila Beach, CA.

I love the colors of these three flowers, and I love the way they look together.  Which one do you like best?  Do you have a favorite flower?

FAQs About Time Share Traveling

You all know that I retired two months ago, and we are still in the process of deciding how to organize our lives.  V likes the comfort of being at home.  I like home, too, but I love to travel.  Last week we traveled.  This was our third visit back to Ka’anapali Beach Club, and it feels like home.  Curtis still works in the beach office.  We know our way around KBC, and Maui.  It is ALMOST as comfortable and familiar as HOME.

Ka”anapali, Maui, HI

We tiptoed around our timeshare the first year back to Hawaii because we felt so badly about canceling our contract with the sweet saleslady.  But we still went back because it was lovely, and we DID buy a timeshare at KBC (Ka’anapali Beach Club).  You can read about that adventure here.

Ohana Bar and Grill

Buying a timeshare is an investment in future travel.  Even if you find a bargain like I did, it is more expensive up front than hopping in your car, forgetting to book a hotel, and getting on the road.  Click here to review that hotel find.   Needless to say, we didn’t go for any of the timeshare owners updates, but enjoyed staying there for two years.

Family fun

This year we went ahead and scheduled the update.  Their computers hadn’t forgotten that we had cancelled our Diamond Resorts Membership.  They didn’t really care at that point, they had another deal for us.   We could reserve the right to buy Resort Points for 18 months, and be on our way.

“What do you want to do today?” Who cares? It’s wonderful just being here!!!”

So V wanted to sign the option, and get moving.  Unfortunately, the computer won’t let you sign anything if there is an unexercised option still under your name.  And umpteen years ago, we had an option to buy more points under our cancelled policy.  As a real estate salesperson, V was impressed with their well-oiled sales pitch.  It made no sense to me that we had to sign a waiver releasing them from honoring an option that we had already cancelled.  So I was curious – V said to me, “This is too convenient.  Was this  planned?”  The old option made the new one look sick, and indeed, the new sales rep acted like he would like to purchase our old option.

A walking path led to the golf course between the beach and the rows of resorts.

So now you know the routine.  It’s like buying a car.  V was not buying it.  He didn’t care that much, we already had a week.  We couldn’t trade it anywhere.  We couldn’t comfortably take anyone with us.  We couldn’t get a better view, but we were able to go to Maui, and we liked being there.  Life was good.

Sunrise from the Scenic View of KBC

Now here is the thing I don’t understand about time shares.  We bought a deeded piece of property at KBC.  When we bought it, we lost the right to the week that was fixed with the original deed,  and we then had a floating week.  This meant we could schedule a week any time we wanted, that they had rooms available, and we were satisfied with that option.  But the well-oiled sales pitch was,  “What if they didn’t have a room?”  Their answer – They would book us at the hotel next door.  So in essence we lost our guarantee of a place at KBC.  BUT we could still come to Maui.

KBC through the coffee trees.

No, we wouldn’t have had to be that far away.  This coffee plantation is another story for another day, if you’re still interested.  To make our long story – and it did take a VERY long time – a little shorter.  Diamond Resorts agreed to taking our deed in for points thus guaranteeing our right to stay at KBC at no charge.  They also agreed to honor our option to buy additional points at the rate of several years ago.  They also agreed to double the points with no fees for two years, which was also part of the old option, thus moving us to the highest “level” of point ownership possible.

Just walk away from the deal, Marsha.

You know I would be impressed, and since I love to travel, I just looked at the purchase as buying options on 10-15 years of comfortable travel anywhere in the world.  When you reach the Gold or Platinum Levels of ownership, the way it is supposed to work is that you book your resort at the lowest point level and exercise your option to trade up at no extra cost.  We didn’t have this option with deeded property.  This meant that with the purchase of this option we could trade to a two-bedroom with an ocean view at the cost of the one bedroom opposite the ocean.  We could trade for airline travel.  After all the benefits were explained, V was not moved, so he said, “No”, and apologized, but said he would sign the new option to purchase so that the sales rep would get something for his effort.  The sales man, Terry Osborne, told him that he knew V would not sign up for the new option ever if he was turning down the old option.  So he asked what it would take to get V to sign and activate the old option.

Thinking about it…

V thought about it and said if they lowered the price enough to offset some of the yearly fees, it would be more appealing.  It’s hard for a salesman to be hard on another salesman.  At this point I just kept quiet.  If V really didn’t want to travel, there was no point in me pushing to buy travel time.  I still had my week in Hawaii, all paid for, no matter where we stayed.

Beach walk on the way to the Golf Course

No one was more surprised than I was when V agreed to buying the additional points after the salesman lowered the price another $8,000.  We ended up paying less per point for this option than any resale value on the market today, and even less per point that what we paid originally through the resale timeshare company.  I love a bargain, and if this helps you to bargain to buy the things you want to buy, I’m happy for you.  Nothing is a bargain if you really won’t use it.  I get at least 1-2 calls every month from someone wanting to buy my timeshare, so I know people are looking for them and selling them on a regular basis.  Timeshares are real estate – even if you buy points.

So to summarize, if you ARE interested in buying a timeshare:

  1. It will cost more than a regular hotel at first.  But you always get more amenities than at a hotel.
  2. Don’t agree to the first deal that is offered to you.  (or maybe the second)
  3. Check the internet for other options.
  4. Exercise your right to cancel if you find something you like better.  You are the one that has to be happy.  But remember that salespeople are people so don’t abuse them.  If you are REALLY not interested, don’t sign.  It hurts their numbers.
  5. Remember the resale timeshare ALWAYS looses some part of the amenities.
  6. You will always have a maintenance fee every year.  The price of that is negotiable.
  7. The interest rates are high if you finance – 10.99%
  8. The cost of borrowing your own money, if you have a retirement account is low. 2% – an additional 6% goes back in as an investment for you.
  9. The cost of travel will probably increase over the years, so you lock in the best price today.
  10. Points give you flexibility to travel other places that deeds don’t give you.
  11. Gold and platinum memberships give you the ability to book low rates and trade up at no cost, but you pay a higher maintenance fee because it is figured on points.
  12. Sometimes timeshares give you FREE ponts with no maintenance fee for a year or two as a bonus.
  13. It takes a HUGE amount of time to negotiate a good deal.  They will buy your lunch!

I’m not trying to sell KBC, but if by chance you ARE interested email me, we do get a referral fee that I would be glad to share with you.  I really did like our representative, Terry Osborne.  We also got the owner, Steve Cloobeck’s, business card.  Have you ever tried to get ahold of top management when you really had a problem with a hotel? They are the most private people in the world!

I am excited about our investment in our future.  We can travel to see friends, new and old, all across the country and even throughout the world using Diamond Resort Points.  That kind of travel is on my bucket list.  That we can extend our good fortune to include others at no additional charge to us, makes it even more fun.  That V can stay in a familiar place… well he is now excited about traveling and finding NEW places.

I did cross off one thing off my bucket list permanently while I was in Hawaii – horseback riding.  That’s another story!

I’m TRYING to Hang Loose!

I hope this was helpful.