Vamos Ramos

Sue & Joe Travel the World


We are in between trips right now so I am going to recall our last visit to Curaçao in late February and early March of 2016. It was our 5th vacation there and the first one without our daughters. Flying out of Detroit we were delayed first because of mechanical problems and then because we returned from the runway back to the gate to leave a passenger off the plane. Very weird start to a vacation but also maddening because we figured we would not make our connecting flight out of Miami. And we were right.  Quite a few of us sprinted to the gate but found the plane was still there but the gate had already closed so we were rebooked on the later flight. That flight was delayed as well so we arrived in Curaçao late in the evening which meant the car rental offices were closed. We took a taxi to the hotel and were pleased to see that the Marriott was as beautiful as we remembered! Tip: Prepare for the unexpected and enjoy the things that work out.

View walking into Marriott lobby

The room we got was a regular room with ocean view. Nothing special until you walk onto the balcony and see palm trees and ocean. It was clean and comfortable. I recommend you book a package that has breakfast included. We thought we had but….didn’t. There is a pastry shop that has great coffee and light breakfast options.

There are suites available that are ocean front but we have always gotten the ocean view room since I love the palm trees. We like the Marriott because it is ocean front with a beautiful sandy beach. The swimming is wonderful. Some days the waves are huge and other days it is relatively calm. You can snorkel by swimming out to the drop off area or you can snorkel closer to shore by the rocks that help protect the beach area. We brought our own gear but you can buy or rent some from the Dive shop or check out a mask and fins at the pool area. The Dive shop also offers excursions. The beach is full of shells and I always return with a beautiful collection.  There is also a wonderful pool area that has shade, lots of lounge chairs and a swim up bar.  They serve lunch as well in the area you see behind Joe in the photo below.

Pool area

The sunsets are spectacular and we made sure to be on the beach every evening to experience the beauty of nature.

There are several restaurants in the Marriott and there are a few within a short drive. The city of Willemstad is a 15 minute drive. You can do some shopping, eat at numerous restaurants, admire the colorful buildings, and walk over the Queen Emma Bridge which is a floating bridge that actually swings out of the way of the ships that need to pass. And, it lights up at night!

We drove around the island and stopped at several beaches. We saw our first water snake at one of the public beaches. Tip: wear swim shoes and bring coins for the restrooms.

We also visited the studio of Nena Sanchez and bought several of her prints of island life. You can check out her work on Pinterest or pull up her website to see her colorful paintings. Her studio is across from a Flamingo Sanctuary!  Be sure to check it out.

Nena Sanchez Studio

This trip we decided to brave a submarine type excursion for the first time. It was exciting to see the ocean floor with all the coral, sponges and many small colorful fish. I was hoping to see a sea turtle, dolphin, or a shark but did not.

We love Curaçao and have done  many other  interesting things on our previous trips that I will add to a future post.

Marquette, Michigan

I have been thinking about my week  in Marquette and how lucky I was to enjoy such warm, sunny  weather in November. Before leaving the weather changed quickly as is often the case and I’m going to illustrate its effect on Lake Superior. I actually got to see something I have seen in Lima, Peru and California but never on Lake Superior…surfers and windsurfers! What a site to see. 

Before I show you that, I want to give another travel tip that I am embarrassed an experienced traveler would make. Thank goodness I wasn’t out of the country! Anyway, here is my tip. When you are flying out of a smaller airport such as Escanaba, Michigan the security people ask you if there is any food in your carry-on bag. I took the granola bar and package of crackers out of my purse and confidently pushed everything through the X-ray machine. I walked through the scanner with no problem and waited quite a long time for my bag. Well, my suitcase was removed from the belt and  before I knew it a security officer was opening it and warning me not to touch anything in it. Out came my neatly rolled clothes AND my 4 pounds of candy from Donckers Candy store in Marquette. Candy is food! Put it on the belt separately. It didn’t help that I had also stuffed a pair of shoes with the 2 bars of homemade soap and 2 beeswax candles that I have gotten at the Farmers Market on Saturday. What was I thinking! I do credit the security people with doing a thorough job. I  had to repack my bag on another bench because 2 more people behind me were getting their bags searched as well. Wonder if they went to Donckers or the Farmers  Market too! 

Back to the wonders of nature. This was so fun to witness.

Breakwall with calm waters one day and breaking waves the next.

Again calm waters one day and surfing waves the next!

I have mentioned in past posts to talk to fellow travelers. I took my own advice one afternoon as I took my daily lakeshore walk. I noticed this couple snapping tons of photos and asked them if they wanted me to take a photo of the two of them in front of the lake. Of course they said yes and thanked me. It turns out that they were visiting from England. I said how much we enjoyed visiting Stonehenge and Bath several years ago. They admitted  they had never been to either place. I laughed and said we had just returned from our trip out West where we had seen many important American sites for our first time and they had been packed with foreign travelers! 

Happy travels and remember candy is food!

Marquette, Michigan

I was able to visit some of my favorite Marquette gems yesterday. The weather was unbelievable for November 5th! It was in the 60’s and sunny so my sister, her granddaughter and I headed to the Saturday Farmers Market at the Commons Area on Third Street by downtown. It was an abbreviated size because it is November but we found almost everything on our list: carrots, cabbage, lettuce, acorn squash, pumpkin cookies, beeswax candles, and handmade soap. Paige even had a fruit smoothie made in a blender powered by bicycle.

There is a bike repair station along the bike path by the market. It was in use when we drove up.

After lunch we headed to Donckers Candy store for some candy and then took a drive to Presque Isle Park. You can drive around the beautiful lakeside park or you can walk or bike. You may see a deer if you are lucky. We stopped at the Breakwall first. People walk on it if the waves are not breaking. You can see the NMU’s Superior Dome from here and the North Ore Dock. I missed the freighter that was docked but you can see the railroad cars on top!

Shortly after you enter the loop around the park you see this monument to Chief Kawbagam. Someone had placed feathers in front of it to honor him.

You continue along a canopy covered forest area. We pulled off at Black Rocks where brave souls jump into Lake Superior. It is higher than it looks in the photo.  If you have ever seen the Michigan based show, Under the Radar, the host jumped when they came to Marquette. Someone was in the water when I took these photos but I missed him or her.

Further along you see Sunset Point which is aptly named and a calmer water area where Joe and many others like to kayak. There is a pavilion and an ice cream store to top things off”

We also drove into Tourist Park where there is a camping site, ball field, swimming area and picnic areas. The Hiawatha Music Festival takes place here each summer. We rented a section for our family reunion a couple of years ago.

There is a lot to see and do in the Marquette area. This just scratches the surface. 

Marquette, Michigan

Can you really ever go home again? Well, yes and no. Marquette has been changing quite a bit since I moved away many years ago. I saw this first hand on a recent drive around town on a rainy afternoon. Here is a just a taste of Marquette’s evolution.

The Orphanage is being renovated into apartments.

 A new hospital is being built.

The Public Works building is being moved from the new hospital site to this site in North Marquette.

A new hotel is on the old Bunny Bread site.

A new park is on Lake Shore Blvd.

A Bed and Breakfast was built along Lake Shore Blvd.

Condos are being built along Lake Shore Blvd. as was a Hampton Inn and ground has recently been broken for a multi-use facility.

This power plant will be closing.

Condos border Mattson Park.

Northern Michigan University has a new Wildcat logo and many new buildings.

There are numerous other changes… makes my head spin!  Think I will visit some old haunts tomorrow!

Marquette, Michigan

Lonely Planet recently named the U.P. Of Michigan one of their top 10 best-in-value destinations for 2017. Here I am in Marquette this week so I decided to share some of its current attractions and some probably historically inaccurate memories of growing up here. In other words, how I remember it used to be but I have a sketchy memory! 

First though, I have a little travel tip. I flew from Detroit Metro airport into Escanaba rather than Marquette this trip with 10 other passengers.  It cost just under $200 round-trip. Flying into Marquette cost just under $400 round-trip. You can rent a car there if you want to explore the U.P or if you are lucky like me you know people!  My brother makes the hour and a half drive to pick me up and drive me back. Thank you, Jim! We get to visit and the scenery is pretty awesome. 

Marquette is located on the southern shore of Lake Superior.

Today I went for a walk on the paved pathway along Shoreline Drive. This used to be where a railroad ran. As a child, when I took this walk it was on railroad tracks not the paved path that I walked today. Mattson Park was an industrial site, not a beautiful park. We collected iron ore pellets for who knows what reason instead of breathtaking photos. As you will see, today it is a lovely lakeshore park that has views to die for, a playscape for children, areas to sit and reflect, a bike and walking path, an ice cream/snack shop, access for fishing and boating, and room for dogs to run. In the summer there are all kinds of festivals, an art show, and our favorite Fourth of July Fireworks Display. What’s not to love!

What is left of an ore dock that ran over Front Street.

The Marina is empty now because the water will freeze over during the winter months.

I walked for about 2 and a half miles in a loop around Mattson Park and along Lake Superior to the Coast Guard Station. We used to walk on the Breakwall that juts into the lake from here. I’m not sure if people still have access to walking on the Breakwall since the Coast Guard built their current facility, but it is certainly worth a try! More about Marquette is in the works so stay tuned.

Blake’s Cider Mill

Cider Mill in the fall means one place for us–Blake’s!  We have been going to Blake’s Cider Mill at 17985 Armada Center Road, Armada, Michigan for the past 30 years and have a ton of wonderful memories. Riding the little train to the orchard to pick berries and apples was a favorite. Eating grilled corn on the cob by the earful was a favorite. Getting lost in the corn maze was a favorite. Eating freshly made donuts, caramel apples, and drinking cider was a favorite. Ok, you get the picture. We love Blake’s.

 Over the years it has steadily gotten bigger and busier. Last year we went on a Sunday along with hundreds of other folks. It was still fun but the lines were long and the parking at a premium. This year we decided to try to beat the crowds and go on a spectacular Monday morning a couple weeks ago. Although we spotted several school busses in the parking lot as we pulled up, the parts we visited were actually much quieter than we expected. Since we arrived at lunch time we started out with a hot dog, chips, and cider. We ate outdoors at the picnic tables and had a few wasps join us but nothing terrible. Then we walked around the grounds and saw the new shop and restaurant in an adjacent building. We had already eaten so didn’t even check out the menu. Sorry. 

We walked over to the area that all the school children were enjoying. The Halloween decorations were great and the children were having fun in the play area. We saw a couple goats but didn’t venture too far into the kid’s area. 

We returned to the first building to buy the apples, a small pumpkin and the ugly squash we always buy here. Then we got a half gallon of the most delicious cider and a half dozen plain donuts to go.

Blake’s is always a fun outing and the drive there is quite spectacular when the leaves are changing colors. Expect to drop a few bucks because it is hard to pass up the treats. Check out their  website before you go. There are actually a couple of Blake’s locations with different venues so although the one at the address I gave is our favorite you may like the other.

Guardian Building, Detroit, Michigan

The Guardian Building is located in the Financial District of Detroit, Michigan. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. I read on Facebook that tours were scheduled for today by Pure Detroit. Joe said he had never been in that building but would love to see it so off we went. Traffic into the city was light since it was Saturday morning. We found parking in a structure right across the street. I had read that there was an 11:00 and 12:00 tour but I read it wrong. The tour was from 11:00 until 12:00. We were late for the tour but joined in for half of it.  We probably missed most of the historical significance of the building but you can google that. We were there to see the Art Deco architecture and the Aztec designs throughout the building. We were not disappointed. We also got to see Detroit from the 32nd floor and today the view was picture perfect.

Exterior on a very sunny day. Couldn’t get rid of the shadows!

We joined the tour group just in time to take an elevator to the 32nd floor. This room was beautiful. I think the tour guide said it was a cafeteria at one time.  The views were incredible.

These photos are of the ground floor which was a bank and still is. The ceiling was designed to keep banking conversations private. The blue windows are not original but were added later to temper sun exposure. 

The lobby area was built to impress from ceiling to floor. I wouldn’t mind going back for the full tour of the Guardian building. From here we walked to Greektown for a late breakfast at Plako Restaurant. Next stop was right across the street, Greektown Casino. After each of us gambled $5.00 and only one of us came out ahead we took the People Mover back to the parking structure. We made one last stop at a bookstore so Joe could buy some books with a gift certificate. Didn’t he find books about artwork we experienced in Sante Fe! Another successful close-to-home trip.

Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan

Today’s adventure was a 45 minute trip to Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. Actually, before our trip West I read about the National Parks 3D movie at the IMAX Theatre in the Henry Ford Museum and wanted to see it. We did today and it made us want to go West again soon to see some of the National Parks we did not stop to visit. 

Greenfield Village   We have a yearly membership to Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village and have had one for many years. That way we can go anytime for short visits. Tip: We like to leave before 3:00 p.m. to avoid rush hour traffic. So today we got to the Village around 10:30 a.m. and went to the Firestone Farm area. 

I love the farm in the fall and of course my eye was captured by the many animals roaming and working at the farm. 

The aroma of a working farm is enough to make anyone want coffee and croissants so we headed over to the clock tower for a snack but it was closed. A sign directed us to the Taste of History Restaurant so off we went. We were successful too!

After this we headed back to the museum to catch the 12:20 showing of the National Parks movie.  This movie happened to be free for members! The movie was only 45 minutes long but it inspired us to go to more National Parks and I hope others are inspired as well. Pictured Rocks National Park in the U. P. was featured during the winter which I never would have guessed was a cold weather destination.  After sharing  a Railroad Sandwich (Hobo bread, turkey, cheese, onion, and sweet mustard) for lunch we walked around some other areas of Greenfield Village and we had our 10,000 steps in before we left at 2:30.

If you are looking for something fun to do, check out the website for Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  There are quite a few special events that you may find interesting as well. We have never left disappointed but always inspired.

Road Trip Tips 2

These tips will keep dollars in you pocket and your back from breaking.

Hotels   We did not pre plan our hotels since we weren’t exactly sure where or when we would stop each evening. This was so unlike our other trips that when I read on Pinterest that this kind of travel makes the trip seem to last longer I felt better. Anyway, the saving money tip is this. Always ask if there is a discount for being a AAA member, AARP member, particular hotel points card holder, or for the biggest discount, a military or former military member. Before he remembered he had a credit card size copy of his discharge papers Joe used his dog tags as proof of service. The smallest discount we got was $10 off at a small non-chain place. The most we got off was $40 a night and a free upgrade to a suite at a chain hotel because Joe is a veteran and had a points card. We stayed there two nights. If you don’t have any of the above affiliations ask what discounts they offer.

Ice for Cooler. We have a medium sized hard plastic cooler that is quite heavy when filled with water, pop, and ice. Each morning we would dump the water from melted ice and then add more ice. I bought this small cloth cooler for $5 on clearance at Jo Ann Fabrics. Instead of hauling our big cooler to the ice machine, Joe would fill this smaller one up with ice and refill the bigger cooler at the car. 

Suitcases and Backpacks   We took both. This was a 3 week trip where we would wake up to temps of 35 degrees in the mountains and experience 90 degree days in the desert so needless to say we could choose to overpack or do laundry. We chose doing laundry and most hotels had a laundry room for guests. Tip: try not to get the room adjoining the laundry room. It’s a little noisy until 10pm when it closes. So we each packed a 21 inch suitcase but didn’t haul that into the hotel each night because we also each brought a backpack. With planning you can fit 3 days worth of clothes in the backpack and only need  your suitcase when you have to restock your backpack. When you are exhausted from climbing mountains it is awesome to grab the backpack and toiletry bag instead of that heavy suitcase, especially in no elevator hotels.

Momentos  I love buying a little something from sites we visit. We have a designated wall with small paintings or tiles from each trip. We also have a refrigerator covered in magnets that some people may think tacky but lets me fondly remember past trips each time I’m in the kitchen. We have bought expensive items in the past and then wondered what we were thinking.

Hope at least one of these tips helps make your travels better.  I’m not sure if I will come up with anymore ideas but I may so stay tuned.

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