Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Aboard Coral Princess
Sunday, November 29, 2015

On Wednesday 25 November, we got underway about 1730. Our next scheduled stop was San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua.
It is quite a haul from Cabo San Lucas to Nicaragua about 1800 nautical miles and we had three and a half days to get there. Because of this Andrea Poggi, our captain, rang up twenty one knots. Up until now, we had been cruising at about seventeen knots. Over twenty knots, these big cruise ships creak, shimmy and groan a lot.
To digress for a moment, Coral Princess is relatively new, twelve years old, she is 965 feet long and displaces 91,627 tons. As a comparison, Constellation the aircraft carrier I was stationed on in 1963-64 displaced 84,000 tons, was over 1,000 feet long and had a three acre flight deck and she was a big SOB. At 0500 the air group would go to flight quarters  and ring up forty knots and stay there until 2300 and she rode smoother than a cruise ship at half that speed. USS Waddell, the destroyer I was a plank owner on was only 4,500 tons. Because of her relative smallness, she pitched and rolled a lot more but she didn't shake or shudder unless she was taking green water over the signal bridge.
OK, I'm done for now and will climb off of my soapbox.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and we had diner in the Bordeaux dining room. I had the standard turkey with stuffing meal and Jamie had Dover Sole. FYI, after having an absolutely wretched "Captains Feast" in South Dakota I vowed never to have seafood more than 500 miles from the ocean. Also part of the same vow, as God is my witness,   was to never have Mexican food outside of  California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas. The food aboard this Princess ship is very good and we are now in a food rut. Breakfast of coffee, croissants with butter and orange marmalade, yogurt and Special K is brought in every morning by room service. About 1300, we stroll up to the Horizon court buffet for lunch with a most spectacular 270 degree view one deck over the bridge. Dinner is at a different venue every evening.
The weather since we left Cabo San Lucas is sultry. Eighty six degrees F and a bit more humid since California and Mexico.
This morning, Sunday, we anchored at San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua at 0700. One could hear the wind howling outside and when we went out on the balcony you could see whitecaps everywhere. After about an hour, Captain Poggi got on the 1MC and told us that it was just too windy to take people to the beach in the tenders. We got a bunch of photos of Nicaragua and then the anchor was weighed and we set out for Puntarenas Costa Rica. Being we left at 0800 instead of  1800 we are now ten hours ahead of schedule so we are now drifting along at what looks like four knots so we get to Puntarenas at about 0700. Puntarenas has a pier so there is no fear of people getting dumped into the drink when lightering from a tender.
Well that's all the news that's fit to print for now, so I believe I'll take a short nap now. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Aboard Coral Princess
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We landed in Cabo San Lucas this morning. We left San Pedro on Sunday 22 November and have been at sea for the last three days. Life at sea aboard a cruise ship is a tad bit different than a Navy ship. We have a nice stateroom with our own head with shower. We have a queen size bed and a balcony. A steward comes to our door at 0700 with our modest breakfast consisting of coffee, of course, croissants with butter and orange marmalade. Milk for the Special K and Raison Bran and grapefruit. Lunch is mostly informal up at the Horizon Grill on deck fourteen directly above the bridge with a 270 degree view.
In the afternoon, I've been reading Bill Bryson's Walkabout which I borrowed from the ships library. Walkabout is, as the cover declares, "Two classic Bryson bestsellers in one volume. A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. I'm a big Bryson fan having already read his Mother Tongue and Made In America.
After reading for an hour or two, I usually nod off for my obligatory afternoon nap. Dinner has been a bit more rigorous however.  Sunday evening after getting under way, we just dined up at the Horizon Grill. Monday night however was a formal night. I donned dress shirt, nice trousers, tie and jacket and we dined at the Boudreaux dining room. We were back at the Boudreaux again Tuesday only this time sans tie and jacket. Tonight, Wednesday, I want to try The Grill / Smokehouse.
To this old  Cleveland boy who after fifty plus years in California still can't believe how nice the weather is in California, Baja Sur in late November is absolutely mind boggling. It's in the low eighties today. We took the liberty boat into Cabo and strolled around town. It's amazing how much this place has changed in the last thirty years that I've been coming here.
We first went to The Giggling Marlin and had a few Pacifico beers and tacos. At the GM they have a guntackle mounted on the wall with a stylized marlin painted next to it. Usually after a few beers, margaritas and tequilas some unsuspecting tourista will get slung up and photographed looking like they are the marlin's catch of the day. Well folks, this silver tongued devil managed to get someone who, for the time being, shall remain nameless got someone upside down saying quesa in front of my camera.  I have photographic evedance to back up my claim. We bought a few T-shirts as souvenirs of the place and moved on to see what else the town had in store for us.
Onward we wandered to the Squid Roe for more Pacificos, laughs. and T-shirts. I bought a "genuine Cuban cigar". It really was, it said so on the wrapper.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Anchors aweigh

We are about to embark on a bucket list undertaking. We're going to transit the Panama Canal.
On 22 November, Jamie and I will board Coral Princess in San Pedro. 
We will be at sea for three days and arrive in Cabo San Lucas for liberty call.
Three more days at sea and San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua will be our next port of call.
The next day, we'll call at Puntaarenas Costa Rico. Another day at sea and then we get to the canal.
We're scheduled to go through from 0600 to 1630, 4:30 PM.
The next day we call on Cartagena Columbia. I'll buy everyone who responds a pound of cocaine.  Note to NSA, just kidding.
Next day is Aruba and then three more days at sea.
On Pearl Harbor Day, 7 December, we end up in Ft. Lauderdale at 0700.
How we get home to Long Beach, we don't have a clue. We are kicking around Amtrak, renting a car or hitch hiking. I'm not fond of flying in this day and age.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Travels with Lady. We're back.

I have learned that there is a correlation between how busy I am and how much I write and based on my recent production,  I have been a very busy boy.
In April, I had to put my sweet Golden Retriever down. She developed cancer on her scull that was inoperable. She lived about five months between the time I discovered the lump and the end. This thoroughly spoiled dog experienced a new, higher  level of spoiling. 
To ease my pain and help to pull me out of my funk, Jamie booked us an ocean voyage, what else, on a cruise ship. So on 30 April we were off.
It was a short, three day jaunt to  Ensenada and back. Jamie had asked me if I had ever been on a cruise and I replied that after eight years in the Navy that I had been on many. Did I enjoy them, she asked. Yes, I replied, even the ones where they were shooting at us. She suggested that we try a fun cruise to see if I liked it. Fun? Would I like to have some fun? I'm glad you asked.
Of course I enjoyed it and want to cruise some more.
In May we rented a car and drove to Denver to inspect and load a three station rotary vacuumformer.
In August, we, me Muncie Mouse and Lady the dog, were on a  five week roadtrip from 30 August to 12 October. It was a multipurpose trip. We ended up renting the very same Nisson that we drove to Denver. The trip was part vacation, fiftieth high school reunion and work.
We drove from Long Beach to Muncie Indiana and did a small job. Off to Michigan and up to the UP, upper peninsula of Mich. 
From the UP to Ohio and my high school reunion. 
Ohio to Biddiford Maine for another job and then back to Muncie for another job.
I am now just getting over my blank page fright, I'll quit when i'm ahead and give details soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TRavels with Sadie Part Zwei

After Pioneer TN, we made it clear to Cumming GA where Scott and Debra Douglas reside. Scott is an old sailing/racing buddy of mine when they lived in Long Beach. But alas, their careers took them away from us twenty plus years ago, so we don't see near enough of each other. They live in a very nice community northwest of  Atlanta and the Chattahoochee River runs beside their property. Scott can, and usually does, hunt or fish there every day of his life. Debra has just retired after tearing up the banking world. Her mother Irene, who just passed away, was a top notch cook and would prepare wonderful wonderful Italian feasts when I showed up. Deb has a big binder of her mother's recipes and, I am glad to report, is almost as good as mama. In time, I'm sure she'll surpass her.
So while we were there, we ate, drank, told stories and laughed and then hit the repeat button. If I hadn't been delivering my brother-in-law's car to Florida, we'd still be there. Why would anyone want to leave?
But duty called and south we drove to Gainesville FL.
Next day we finished the southerly leg and drove to Fort Myers and delivered BIL's car. We went back to Cape Coral and stayed with my friend Bud. Bud is a retired TWA 767 captain who used to live in Long Beach. He is the one who got me into flying. While still a student pilot, I used to fly Bud's Trimotor airplane around So. Cal. In case you don't know, Buffy crashed at Fullerton airport about five years back and Bud moved to Florida. He has a 38 foot catamaran in the canal behind his house, got a captain's license from the Coast Guard and takes folks out on charters. We went sailing on the Gulf of Mexico in the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway, and crewed on a few charters.
Next, eating our way out of Florida through NOLA to So. Cal.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Travels with Sadie Part Ein

It was one hell of a nice trip. We rented a Toyota Yaris from Hertz and headed east. The first night was spent in Flagstaff, AZ. We were traveling with Miss Sadie Marie our attack Golden Retriever, so we stayed mostly at Motel Sixes. In case you don't know, Motel 6 is dog friendly chain wide. You simply tell the desk clerk that there is two adults and a dog. They don't ask if the dog is house trained or mean. They just hand you the key(s).
We drove on to Amarillo, TX and stopped at The Big Texan Steakhouse for dinner. Once again, in case you don't know, The Big Texan has a 72 ounce steak dinner and if you can eat the whole thing in less than one hour it is free. If you can't it's over $100. I didn't have a 72 Oz. steak but none-the-less ate heartily. Next door to the restaurant Big Tex has a motel, so we dropped anchor there. It was sixties funky. Not run down, but funky. I really liked it.
On day three, we drove clear to Tennessee. On the way, we got off of the interstate at Fayetteville Rd. in Van Buren Arkansas. We we weren't expecting much in rural Arkansas, but boy were we wrong.  We found Frank's Italian Restaurant and Grill. It appeared to be a nicely refurbished Fazoli's and the food was great. The only downside was Van Buren is in a dry county, yes Virginia we're in the South, so no wine was harmed in the devouring of our repast. But the food was big city, Little Italy caliber. 
We stopped by Graceland after hours and thought that we'd stay nearby and tour Elvis' home the next day. The neighborhood proved to be to rough, so we forged on to Jackson TN. We learned that on long distanced trips, it's best to avoid staying in urban areas and drive the extra hour, or so, and head for the boondocks.
On our way north, we stopped at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky. To me, this is on a par with the  Sistine Chapel as far as holy places go. It is part shrine to Zora Arcus-Duntov and part to the Corvette itself.
We continued our drive up to Nashville, Indiana. My friend John lives in a one hundred year old barn out in the middle of nowhere. John lives an idyllic life in this bucolic paradise  and I always try to visit him when I'm in his neck of the woods. There is a huge pond across the lane from the barn that Sadie loves to play in, but it was much too cold for her as far as I was concerned. We went into town, Bloomington, and ate at Max's pizza. We had a Breakfast of Champions pizza. It was very good. 
The next day was Thanksgiving and we drove clear to the magic city of Cleveland, the place of my birth. As my son Dave said to me, this just might be the last time that I go there so it was a bit bittersweet.
Saturday morning, we set off to Florida. After many years of pleading, my sister and her husband finally decided to move to a warmer climate, IE Fort Myers, FL.
Due to health reasons, we stopped in Pioneer, TN at a Comfort Inn. It cost us three times as much as a Motel 6, but it was worth it. 
The next day while driving through Tennessee, we stopped at a Captain D's Seafood joint. Captain D's is best described as an upscale Long John Silvers. Of course compared to LJS, anything is upscale.
Next leg, Cumming, GA follows. The real fun begins.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Uno mas

I sat in my cell waiting for the executioner this morning. The worst was already over. What is the worst that they could do to me now? I had already drank my 4 liters Colyite and taken my Dulcolax tablets. The only thing hanging over my head was the magic moment when the director hollers "Lights, camera, action". 
The nurse asked almost as an aside when was the last time that I had something to eat. When I told her about 4:30 yesterday afternoon I could see by the look on her face that something was amiss. "What was it?" She asked. I guess she was no fan of Italian food because when I answered “Linguini with Clam Souse”  she didn't ask Red or White.
Why didn't I follow the written instructions, she wanted to know. I told her I didn’t get any instructions but this wasn’t my first Colonoscopy and I kind of  knew the drill.
Long story short. We go back to Square One. I fast all day today and then I scarf down more Dulolax  and wash them down with another four liters of  Colyte.
Am I a lucky guy, or what?