Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “vacation”

41

After careful examination, I have arrived at the conclusion that my preferred way to travel is not by water. Particularly not by deep sea fishing boat. Or by cruise liner. I find that having the floor roll out from under me while staggering around in a cocktail dress and heels is surreal at best, and retch-inducing at worst.

I have been on three cruises in my life. The first was uneventful, and awesome. My husband and I went to the Caribbean. The boat behaved, the people behaved, the water behaved. My husband’s hemorrhoids did NOT behave, but that is another story for another time.

The second cruise I went on was for a medical conference. We went to Mexico. I remember one cruise night, the water was so choppy, I threw my heels in the corner and crawled into my bunk for the night. Supine was the only way I could tolerate that motion. And that was WITH a scopolamine patch on.

I cannot use scopolamine any more. It works great for motion sickness, but puts me in a suggestible state where any purchase recommended by any ship member will induce me to instantly purchase the product in question. Even if I have no need for such product. Even if such product looks like crap on me. I rang up quite a bill. And brought home a lot of stuff I have never used or worn, which is pretty severe, even for me. They don’t call it the zombie drug for nothing.

Also on that cruise, I met a woman who was a bit nervous. She told me that the previous two cruises she had taken, they had had to make port at unscheduled and undesirable places, because on each cruise someone on board had died and had to have their body dropped off at the nearest place possible. I sincerely wondered why she was trying for round 3.

I went on my third cruise this week. I just returned last night. We took our daughter for her first cruise and her first trip out of the country. We were on the Carnival Ecstasy. We were scheduled to make port in Key West and Cozumel. My husband had been specially practicing his Spanish.

The first day, we docked in Key West. I have never been to Key West, so I was excited to go. It was freezing. It was windy. It was raining. The enormous cold front that zapped most of the south and the east of the US got here too. After looking at the weather radar, we never got off the boat. I remarked bitterly to my husband that I still couldn’t say I’d been in Key West. “Go down the gangplank,” he suggested helpfully. “Put your foot on the concrete. Come back. And don’t forget your umbrella.” I told him if that counted as being in Key West, being on a ship docked there should be just fine as well.

The next day was a sea day. We were on our way to Cozumel, where we would make port by afternoon the next day. The weather on deck was too chilly to enjoy, and the sun too seldom came out of the clouds. We were at dinner when a pretty Hispanic woman sat down with her two boys. She mentioned that we were rescuing a craft full of people. We had heard nothing of the sort. We speculated what kind of craft it might be. I suggested it might be Cubanos, making their way from Cuba to Key West. The pretty woman said her husband got to the US the same way.

When we left dinner, half the cruise passengers were glued to the windows on the starboard side. They were taking pictures with phones and cameras. We looked out the window and saw what looked like a small raft or canoe, with dark heads visible and the upper part of their ship nearly even with the water – looked like there was a large amount of water in there.

My husband, who is former Navy, said our ship should give them food and water as needed and send them on their way. He felt the craft appeared to be seaworthy. He said there is no maritime law requiring passengers to be pulled out as long as the craft is salvageable. I didn’t think it look very salvageable, but what do I know about boats? Except that if the water is bouncy, I get dizzy.

When we were seated in a theater watching “family friendly” stand-up comedy, an announcement came over the intercom from the captain. The passengers had indeed been brought onto our cruise liner. The back of their makeship vessel was disintegrating and it was taking on water.

There were 41 men, women and children on that tiny craft.

They were indeed Cubanos, and they were lucky as hell, because they were lost and they were all about to drown.

My husband felt more positive about the rescue after the news that the boat was about to sink. He said mariners never leave seamen to drown.

They came on the intercom again. Authorities had been contacted, and we had to return to Key West, to turn over the fugitives. They were to be returned to Cuba once they received medical treatment. “I knew that was going to happen,” said my husband. “Now we won’t make it to our ports for the cruise.” That possiblility had not occurred to me. I felt a little perturbed.

Later, another announcement. We had received clearance to make port in Nassau, the Bahamas, instead of Cozumel. We would not make it to Cozumel, but we were at least going to make it to a beach. This was fine with me. I have been to both places, and liked them both. It was a shame my husband wouldn’t be able to use the Spanish he had practiced.

Some passengers were furious that we would not make it to Cozumel. They had made special plans there, or had relatives to see.

As if in some cosmic anti-karmic reward for rescuing doomed souls, the water was horribly choppy to and from Key West, thanks to that lovely front. Since I had no scopolamine, I took 2 benadryl and took to my rack.

We made port at Nassau, and my daughter and I went and got fried at the beach, where she was nearly drowned by a wave, and my husband blew over a hundred bucks in the casino. And then we returned to the ship.

The most positive thing I can say is that my husband let me buy a Michael Kors tortoise watch that I had been coveting for over a year. I had to promise to start working out if I bought it though. Always a catch.

It was really awesome that we saved 41 souls from perishing in that cold water. The experience was tainted though, by the complaining of our fellow passengers, and most of all the fact that those 41 souls, men, women and children, were being returned to Cuba, where their lives would now undoubtedly be more hellish than ever now that they had tried to escape.

I think now that I will travel by air or by land. There are too many vagaries of water travel, not the least of which is, it makes me queasy. And bodies have to be dropped off and fugitives rescued. And plans changed. I recognize that nothing is certain, except for the near-certainty that water travel is not for me.

But we did save 41 people.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2590067/Carnival-Cruise-ship-rescues-Cuban-migrants-stricken-boat-Florida-coast.html

And the above article is wrong. We were unable to transfer the fugitives to a Coast Guard ship because the water was too rough. That was why we had to go back to Key West. Just sayin’.

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Happy Birthday To Me!

Well, I am 45 years old today.  Thanks to my recent regimen of weight loss and self improvement, I feel much younger than I have in years!  I bought myself a pair of size 6 jeans last night, and I was sooo excited!  I have been enjoying doing a lot of jewelry making and bead weaving recently as well.

I was woken up this morning by my phone blowing up – I just updated Facebook yesterday and it apparently reset my notifications so my phone alarms for every incoming facebook post to me.  Wow! I am very gratified to have so many well wishers, but that phone exploded this morning.  Then my husband texted and my mom phoned and I knocked over my Coke over trying to get to the phone.  Sigh.  My husband also forgot to wish me happy birthday this morning.  Maybe I can work that for an extra good birthday present!

This is the first time in 7 years I have not had to be on call on Memorial Day weekend.  The last 7 years, I have gone to a jewelry show called Bead and Button, which takes place in Milwaukee every year, around the first of June.  Ergo, I was always on call the week before.  This holiday weekend, I have nothing to do but lounge around and enjoy myself!  Loving it!  I do admit, I am a bit lonely as I am far away from home and without my family, but the work break is definitely welcome.  But I still get to go to my show next week!  I am terribly excited.

I am about to shower and dress up a bit and do a little shopping.  I have some shoes to return and a shirt they forgot to take the security tag out of.  How is it those things never set the alarm off when I walk out with my purchases?  It sure would have been handy for the girl to take it off while I was still in the store.  Then I’m going to look for a new belt – I sure could use one, what with my pants being all loose and everything.

Unfortunately, it looks and smells as if a thunderstorm may be brewing up.  I don’t think I want to go out shopping in one of those.  Hopefully it will be over soon and I can get to the mall – it’s small but it’s just across the street, which is handy.

So for my birthday, I am enjoying beadwork, an SVU marathon, and some possible shopping.  Pretty nice.  I’m waiting for a show I’ve already seen to take my shower, so I don’t miss anything.

So there you have it.  That’s my birthday.  I’m expecially excited to be off until Tuesday!  It sure is nice to have a big break and some well-earned downtime.  So happy birthday to me!  Middle aged me!  I’m good with that though.  My daughter is only 7, which keeps me feeling young.  A good day to you all!

Costa Rica 2013

My husband and I were fortunate to go on a trip to Costa Rica last week.  Neither of us have been there before so it was a special treat.  He was actually giving two lectures on Saturday, so he was able to write off his portion of the trip for his business.  We stayed in San Jose where his conference was being held.  The hotel was nice but I must say that San Jose is not my favorite city.  There is not much for historic buildings, the traffic is crazy, and the majority of the city is comprised of tin roofed shacks with very expensive satellite dishes on top of them.  There are a lot of pickpockets.

We arrived on Thursday and just kind of took it easy.  We had a nice dinner on the top floor of our hotel, which yielded a beautiful view of the lights of the city.  It is supposed to be the highest elevated restaurant in San Jose.  I had smoked salmon with avocado and hearts of palm, which was quite delicious.  Then we returned to our room and collapsed.

Friday DH had scheduled a tour of San Jose.  In the morning we took ourselves to the Jade Museum, which was pretty interesting and had lots of fascinating pre-Columbian artifacts.  Our official tour was in the afternoon.  We went to the Gold Museum, the Teatro Nacional, the city’s main park and went past the local universities, which are free to Costa Rican citizens.  The guide told us that Costa Rica has no standing army – that they have put that money into education for all their citizens, and they have the highest literacy rate of any country in Central America.

Artifacts at the Jade museum:

Teatro Nacional:

Friday night was Kevin’s speaker dinner, which was held for all the speakers in Saturday’s conference.  They took us up frightenly steep, winding, and potholed hills to an amazing restaurant which was on a mountain high atop San Jose, and the view of the lights of the city below was absolutely stunning.  They had a buffet of local cuisine, which was delicious, and native Costa Rican dancers who demonstrated traditional Costa Rican dance from almost 100 years ago.

Photos from our fabulous dinner:

The next day DH had his conference, so I was on my own.  I arranged a tour that went to a coffee plantation, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls.  We went to the coffee plantation first and learned about the process of making coffee.  I bought delicious coffee for my parents and my hubby, and chocolate covered coffee beans.

We then went to Poas Volcano, and to a lake at a higher elevation than the volcano.  We had a fabulous time but it was quite a hike.  We were only allowed to stay at the volcano for about 30 minutes, because it is active and there are poisonous gases.  I got my exercise for the day, and a chance for some beautiful pictures:

Next we went to La Paz, home of a wildlife reclamation center and two beautiful waterfalls.  Costa Rica frowns on captivity of local wildlife (or exotic wildlife) by private citizens.  If found, they are confiscated.  They cannot be released to the wild, because they have been domesticated, so they are kept at this center on display to visitors.  The waterfalls were amazing.  The second one, called Magico Blanco, was an optical illusion that was bizarre.  If you stare at the heart of the waterfall and count to ten, when you look to the right of the falls, the mountain appears to be crawling upwards.  The effect lasts for a while, and I felt like I had been fed some funny mushrooms.

Pictures from La Paz:

The following day was Sunday, and my DH and I spent the entire day on a guided birding tour.  There are so many pics from that trip that I will save it for an new post tomorrow.  I would just like to point out that I am at last allowing myself to appear in photos, because since embarking on my new life as a travel doctor, I have lost 25 pounds!  25 more and I’ll be back to my old fighting weight!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

This is my fourth attempt at creating a response to the weekly photo challenge.  Despite my attempts to create a charming photo collage, the computer has been adding the pictures in all in a row.  I have followed the instructions for settings: media: checkbox for photo collage to create the collage, so I am a bit irked that it isn’t working (read, NOT happy).  I will add the pictures one at a time with commentary.

This first picture is one of my daughter learning to play putt putt golf.   All of these pictures were taken last week on our family beach trip, so of course they all make me extremely happy.   Notice how hard she is concentrating – she has the Michael Jordan tongue thing working for her when she makes her shot.

Michael Jordan

“It works better if you stick your tongue out”

This next picture is of a single yellow flower growing alongside a rather ugly “swampy” swamp.  It made a beautiful contrast with its surroundings.  The yellow color is brilliant.  That made me happy.

Yellow Flower

A single yellow flower growing alongside the water of a swamp

The next photo is of some pretty white flowers; a type I have never seen before.  They were also growing alongside a swamp and provided very beautiful contrast.  I was happy to capture a photo of a flower that I have never seen before.  I like the way the stems curve over the photo, drawing the eye in and out.

White Flowers

White Flowers

The next picture is of the bright arcade where we went to play putt putt and go golf carting – bright lights always make me happy!  They make me think of Christmas.

Arcade

Beach Arcade

I also found some beautiful pink flowers growing along the putt putt path:

Pink Flowers

Pink flowers

I happened to find a blue dragonfly perched on a flower – I love beautiful insects.  Insects are sort of an obsession of mine; I have dozens of photos pinned on Pinterest.

Blue Dragonfly

Blue dragonfly

My last photo is of a gulf fritillary, another beautiful insect.  My friend was kind enough to identify it for me.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

This entire vacation and all of these photos make me very happy and I thought I would make an attempt to submit them for the Photo Challenge.  I found it challenging to select the pictures out of a single day’s worth of photos.  Photography itself makes me happy – I am a bit of an amateur photographer and always love the opportunity to take some good shots.  I will have to participate in more photography challenges!

Orange Beach

Our family made a vacation trip to Orange Beach, Alabama this weekend because my best friend was getting remarried and I wanted to attend the wedding.  This gave us a lovely excuse to spend three days at the beach and play.  Orange Beach did not even really exist when I was a kid – we went to Gulf Shores then and Orange Beach was just a stretch of empty beach, some trailers and a water tower.  Somehow, over the years, Orange Beach has become one of  THE Southeastern beach destinations and it is now all built up with condos and hotels.  For those of you who have not been to a beach in the Southeast of the country, the beaches there are lovely.  The sand is soft and white, without any rocks.  The water in the Gulf of Mexico is fairly smooth, with only small waves unless a storm is coming.  These beaches are locally known as the “Redneck Riviera”.

When we arrived at the beach Friday afternoon in our plane, we went straight out to eat as we knew the local restaurants would be packed.  Despite our arriving at 5:30, the wait for a table was already 50 minutes.  We got our little buzzer thingie, and fortunately the shops around the area on the boardwalk had reception for the buzzer thingie, so we could shop while we waited.  We went into a little fudge shop and bought some truffles and fudge for later.  When The Oyster House finally seated us, the service was fairly quick.  I got Alaskan King Crab legs, which I enjoyed taking apart with the crab crackers.  Amanda enjoyed helping me eat the meat.  We checked into our hotel after that and went for a night walk on the beach with a flashlight.  When I was a kid, there used to be little crabs running all over the beach at night that scooted into little burrows when we walked past, but now the crabs are all gone.  I don’t know if they are now endangered or extinct, but I haven’t seen one at the beach in years.  We used to catch them and put them in buckets and watch them run around.  You couldn’t put two crabs together in a bucket or they would fight.  At any rate, no crabs and no good shells.  It was Amanda’s first night beach walk though.

Saturday we woke up and went down to the beach in the morning.  Amanda hadn’t been to the beach since she was three (she’s seven now), and she delightedly ran into the water and started bobbing up and down with the waves.  A couple of times one knocked her over completely and she came out of the water spluttering and spitting out salt water, which she described as “bluchy.”  I laid out on a towel in the sand and watched her, and unbeknownst to me wound up getting a bit of a sunburn that showed up later.  My husband came down and got in the water with her a bit.  I took a picture of Amanda in her bikini against the waves and posted it on Facebook.

After returning to the room and cleaning up, Kevin wanted to take Amanda to an amusement park.  We found an arcade with go carts and putt putt golf, which Amanda has never played.  I brought my camera along and took lots of pictures.  First we golfed and Kevin was insistent that Amanda learn the correct stance for putting just as if we were playing real golf.  She was a bit impatient with this.  She would up doing pretty well though, except for a couple of wild holes.  After golf, it was time for the go carts.  We let Amanda warm up with a miniature cart that she drove herself.  Then she and Kevin got into a big go cart and took off around the course.  I got some great pictures of them flying around the curve coming towards me.  Then it was time for a nap and an early dinner.  Kevin wanted to make sure and eat before we went to the wedding because we weren’t sure what kind of food they would serve.

After that, wedding time!  We had a little trouble finding the place, because as usual, the GPS was not the brightest, but find it we did, and just in time.  This was Amanda’s second wedding (her first she was a flower girl) and she was not so excited about it.  She was mostly excited about playing with my friend’s boys, whom she really loves.  This was a second wedding for my friend also (I was maid of honor in her first one) so it was a more low key deal.  It was right on the bay, with a lovely sunset right in front of us.  The weather was perfect and everyone had on sundresses and enjoyed the balmy breeze.  After the ceremony, we adjourned for the reception inside, and I must say, we needn’t have worried about there being enough food!  They had barbecue and delicious yeast rolls, and potato salad and of course, CAKE.  The cake was delicious with caramel frosting.  The color motif for the wedding was turquoise, and the bows on all the tables and chairs were turquoise, as was the frosting on the cake.  My friend made herself a turquoise necklace to go with her wedding dress.  She had on turquoise flip flops under her dress.  The groom wore a white shirt and khaki pants, and the wedding party all wore turquoise shirts with khaki, and her boys wore flip flops too.  It was a sure enough beach wedding!  We enjoyed the reception and dancing, until it got late enough that we decided to go and ride the ferris wheel at the Wharf.

The ferris wheel at the Wharf is a permanent installment and I believe is considered one of the largest ferris wheels in the Southeast.  The last time we were there, Amanda was three and she was too scared to ride on it.  Kevin was determined that this time we would go for a ride.  So we stood in line and got tickets, and we sure enough rode that ferris wheel.  The view from up there was great.  Afterwards we walked around the shops a little bit and enjoyed the evening breeze.  When we got back to the hotel it was time for Amanda to hit the bed!

Sunday morning we woke to cooler weather.  Kevin took Amanda back down to the beach, but I elected to stay behind in the room and nap.  Amanda enjoyed the water even though the air was cooler, and when they came back she had found some shells she wanted to keep.  After that, it was time to return home.  We hit the airport at about noon, and got home about two o’clock.  Having that little plane sure is handy – otherwise we would have had a six hour drive!  We got home and our lovely trip was over.  Hopefully we will get back to the beach before another four years elapse.

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