Anniversary Cruise

It had been several years (3) since Sharon and I had been on an anniversary trip. All our vacations and trips can be found on this blog at Vacations. Several cruise companies had been running some specials. Matt and Ashly love to cruise as does my sister. Miss Sharon and I said what the heck, let’s try one. We live 4.5 hours from Galveston, so we decided on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Gand Cayman, and Jamaica. I was afraid I would feel stuck on the ship with 4,300 of my closest friends. So we booked excursions for every port. I was a little torn if I was going to take a DSLR or just go with my trusty iPhone. Ended up taking a DSLR and a tripod only because we booked a trip to Chichen iIza to see one of the 8th wonders of the world.

Sharon does not travel well. She gets car sick so we were worried going in. By day two she was so sick she got to see the ship’s doctor even though she had patches and sea bands.

Needless to say she missed the first port of call. So I went solo to Chichen Itza.

I felt bad that Sharon miss the excursion, so I bought her a local hand made silver necklace and earrings.

Didn’t take the DSRL off the boat the rest of the trip. Sharon was a new person by the time I got back to the boat and was up for the next excursion. A day of shopping in the Caymen’s. We had a wonderful lunch at Jimmy Buffets, after a morning of diamond shopping. Sharon scored a new wedding mount and two new wedding bands. I was worried about them switching out our diamond. They made the mount, and I watched them like a hawk mount our diamond. It has it GIA number lasered onto the griddle, and I was able to verify it was still our stone.

New Mount

A comparison shot of her old mount and her new mount.

All in all we had a great trip but we are not cruisers, and I am guessing this was our first and last cruise. I needed to get this post out so I could get onto the owls I have been shooting.

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Life is good and I am blessed.


Breathless Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

As most of you know us my now, I am Kent and married to Princess Sharon. We travel somewhere warm the last week of January every year for our anniversary. We got married on the beach in St. Lucia 2003, I promised her we would go somewhere warm every year. This was our 12th trip. The rest of the trips can be found over on my vacation page.

We traveled to the Breathless Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 1/25/15 – 2/1/15.

We had been to Punta Cana twice before and has always kind of been our backup safety destination.  I usually start looking for our Anniversary trip shortly after Labor Day about the time I am closing the pool.  Last fall prices were up and wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to find a deal.  Then Apple Vacations ran an adults only six apple special.  Some quick web research and I had it narrowed down to it had to be one of 3 6 apple resorts on Punta Cana.  The Hard Rock, the Iberostar Grand, or the new Breathless.  I was about 95% sure we would get Breathless since both Breathless and Apple Vacations are both owned by the same parent company AM Resorts. I booked it non stop from St. Louis for $3,400.  People on our same flight that stayed at Breathless said they paid $8,300.  Of course we didn’t know where we were staying until check-in at the airport the morning of departure.  I was so confident that I only did web research on Breathless!

Transfer from airport to resort:
The new Breathless was the last resort north of the airport and was only 32 minutes from the time we left the airport to the resort.  Only 7 couples from our plane were going to Breathless and we had a small bus with good AC and plenty of room.

Check In:
Greeted by an attendant with a silver tray of cold facial cloths and fruity cocktails.  We arrived around 12:30PM. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I identified our bags for the bell boys while Sharon got in line to check in.  We were the second couple to check in.  Our room was ready, and the bell boys had our luggage in our room in 10 minutes.  We freshened up, headed downstairs to get a drink and bite to eat, people were still checking in.

The room:
I was able to sweet talk us in a partial ocean view room, even though I only paid for the garden view.  Once again the silver tongued devil, talked us into a free upgrade.  The room had 2 full sized beds instead of the King.  Sharon stated the view off our balcony was more than worth the 2 beds so I didn’t try to get us moved.

The Hotel opened in October of 2013.  The resort has 750 rooms, but the resort never felt crowded.

GREAT water pressure in the shower, and a separate toilette room for the toilette and bidet.

Excellent room safe … digital combo and included no extra charge like some hotels.

Full sized bottles of shower gel (great scent … not exactly sure what it was) and shampoo were provided and the maid automatically provided “additional” when we ran low by mid-week.  Our maids were excellent the day maid was quick and always made sure we had an abundance of towels (never had to ask for more). The night maid turned down the bed and left a schedule and chocolates for the following days planned activities.  She left us daily towel animals after the second day she left us a swan, and then I left her a monkey and a tip.

Was really nice and very walkable. Our favorite beach of all trips.  It is over 30 miles long, flat and great soft walkable sand.  No sunsets on this beach this is sunrises only.


There are eleven gourmet dining venues, where reservations are never required except for the Hibachi grill. Long pants were only required in the French restaurant.  I think we ate in most of them except for the Lebanese.  We ate fish almost every meal.  I would rate the food some of the best yet from any of the all inclusive we have been too.

Travel Tip: 
I always travel with at least 100 USD ones, This time I took extra.  100 in ones and 75 in fives.  Wasn’t sure we were going to stay so I took extra tipping money.  One of our favorite poolside waitresses YoLenny told me she made $180 a month USD.  They work 11 straight 11 hour days to get a three day weekend.  I was tipping on every drink and our glasses were never empty.  After-all I was already at least 5 thousand ahead on this trip.

We took our Tervis Tumblers but never used them.  YoLenny wouldn’t let our drinks get low enough to break out the larger insulated cups.  🙂

I drank 15 year old scotch all week, and Herradura Tequila shots.  All liquor was top shelf.

Chairs and palapa were never a problem.  I set our towels out by 9, but no need to get up at 6 AM to get chairs.  There were plenty of big blue rafts and you could always get one as needed.

Internet was included and free as well as free international calls.  Not as fast at home but good enough. Pretty much had connectivity the entire time, the entire resort had coverage.

The Spa:
This was the first time EVER Sharon didn’t use the Spa.  The Spa and Gym both looked nice.

We walked next door to the little set of shops that are located between Breathless and the Dreams Punta Cana located half mile away.

The USD dollars were preferred and usually could get things about 60% of their first price. Only a couple times did I get them down to half price.  The best deal I got was a Michael Kors purse.  I am pretty sure it was fake, they started at $350.  I got them down to $70 and walked away.  The next day, he chased me down and told me he would take $40 and 2 cheeseburgers and pops from the resort.  I loaded up 2 cheeseburgers, fries and 2 bottles of soda from our room fridge and smuggled them out of the resort in our beach bag.  I don’t think they made any money on the purse, but then again they got to eat. and Sharon was happy with her Anniversary present.

This was the nicest property we have stayed at.  It is large with 750 rooms, but with all the restaurants and pools it never felt crowded. I feel this was the best value I have had yet. Not sure how I would rate this hotel if I paid full price.

Great value and our favorite beaches and even found some hummingbirds to photograph!

Hope this helps!

Gallery Of Photos:

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Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP)

After my trip to the Masters, I stopped Great Smoky Mountain National Park for 3 days on my way back to boring Illinois.  I stayed on the quiet side of the mountain in Townsend Tennessee.  Several of the photographers I follow recommend and stay at Dock’s Motel.  I read the reviews on trip advisor and was a little nervous since the April and May rate is $35 a night for a sleeping room.  Everything was great, the room was clean, hot shower, soft bed and internet for $35 a night.  It would have cost me $17 a night to camp in Cades Cove with no power, bed or hot shower.

My sister loves her mountains, in fact they are called her mountains, but she has agreed to rename Cades Cove to Kent’s Cove.

I spend 3 full days in Kent’s Cove looking for wildlife.  I was a week to 10 days too early, but here is some of the photos I was able to capture.

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Couldn’t find any wildlife but I thought this stump looked like a howling wolf.PBKJ1552-FrameShopPBKJ1761-FrameShop

Love my Mind Shift Gear Rotation 180 Pro.  Notice the Bear Horn sticking out.MindShiftGear IMG_1680-FrameShop

Was able to find a few wildflowers that were starting to bloom at the lower elevation.PBKJ1451-FrameShop

Virginia Blue BellsPBKJ1455-FrameShop PBKJ1458-FrameShop PBKJ1775-FrameShop

Trout LillyPBKJ1776-FrameShop PBKJ1781-FrameShop

Great White TrilliumPBKJ1784-FrameShop

Yellow TrilliumPBKJ1783-FrameShop

Pink TrilliumPBKJ1786-FrameShop

Wild TurkeyPBKJ1474-FrameShop PBKJ1515-FrameShop PBKJ1531-FrameShop

Short Eared OwlPBKJ1488-FrameShop PBKJ1493-FrameShop PBKJ1497-FrameShop

Yuck, one of the riding horse in Cades Cove Riding StablePBKJ1472-FrameShop

Eastern Screech OwlIMG_1689-FrameShop


On the last night with less than 15 minutes of shootable light I found my only black bear.  He didn’t want to get close and just kept sticking his head behind brush every time I tried to move into a clearer position.  Oh well, at least I found one after more than 15 hours of hiking all over the mountains.PBKJ1803-FrameShop

Hopefully I will get to go back towards the end of September for the Elk rut.

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The Masters 2014

Was lucky enough to score practice round tickets again this year.  I had a blast and was able to get my Canon 1DX into the venue.

#12 and the Hogan Bridge

I went to the Masters in 2012 and Bubba Watson won, he won again this year.  I think he will have to start flying me out and giving me tickets if he wants to win again 🙂

Bubba WatsonIMG_1337-FrameShop IMG_1352-FrameShop PBKJ0184-FrameShop PBKJ0205-FrameShop PBKJ0238-FrameShop PBKJ0243-FrameShop PBKJ0249-FrameShop PBKJ0266-FrameShopNo Cellphones allowed.PBKJ0325-FrameShop PBKJ0328-FrameShopBrad and Greg from across the #7 green.PBKJ0404-FrameShop PBKJ0473-FrameShop PBKJ0652-FrameShop PBKJ0893-FrameShop PBKJ0930-FrameShop PBKJ0980-FrameShop PBKJ1290-FrameShop

I got over a thousand photos if you are looking for a particular player or famous hole.

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The Masters 2014 Golf Trip Day1

We left Bloomington 5:30 AM and after a non eventful 12:45 hour drive we arrived in Augusta Ga.  We got up Sunday and headed out for breakfast.  Of course on a golf trip in the South, you have to have breakfast at a Waffle House!

We played Bartram Trail Golf Course.  Now I can say I have played golf in Augusta.

Only 3 of us made the trip, Greg, Brad and me.


61 degrees when we teed off and then dropped to 54 degrees and spit rain a few time. No denim at the course, and I didn’t bring dress pants.  I did have my rain pants, but too stupid to put them on.

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#17, 167 yard par 3 signature hole.


Hope the rain holds off tomorrow, but better tomorrow that Tuesday when I go to the Masters.  I am going to try and post a few photos every night.

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