My New Book – Karen Says No

Its available in Kindle format right now.  Hardcopy book tomorrow (I’ll post another link at that time).

But twice, read once!

B01L68A1PS.01.L

Karen Says No

 

 

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Panic

It was the last day of our mutual “kids are at camp” vacation. We do this every year.  The two boys are away for a number of weeks at summer camp and we book a week off ourselves to pretend we are in our early twenties, childless and have mysterious money that appears in the bank account.  It was near bedtime and as my wife Karen pondered going back downstairs to watch a little television with me, I lay down across the bed, my head on her shins and my arms over my head.  We chatted and I started to feel dozy, perhaps TV was not the answer, perhaps we should just get some sleep. I lay my arms down to my sides, letting them fall with an exhausted thud.  A sharp pain, a stinging pain then radiated up and down my arm from its source, the back of my upper arm, halfway between shoulder and elbow.  I knew instantly that I had been stung.

Karen sat up as I rolled rapidly to my right, clutching my arm. “What happened?” she asked.

“They can’t kill you. It’s no worse than a bee sting.” I reassured myself as I identified the attacker and its location…

viewthrougharch2

Hours earlier I had been staring at a photo of a desert vista. A view from beneath a stone archway.  It was mesmerizing.  I was supposed to be doing something Very Important on the computer, but instead, I was gazing at the picture before me.  Thoughts and questions filled my head.

“If I was going to take a break from hiking, where would I sit?”

“I know, right there, on the right, just past the arch. My back against the wall.”

“There is a thin crack there. I wonder how many critters live in that crack.”

“Lots. Probably spiders, millipedes, scorpions.”

“I wonder since they come out at night, if I sat there, would they come out into the shade beneath or behind me?”

“If I say there long enough, how many of those things would use me as shade like a rock or a tree stump?”

“I wonder how many scorpions there are in that valley.”

“Probably hundreds of thousands.”

“If you took all the scorpions in that valley and made a ball out of them, how big would that ball be?”

“That would be a very frightening ball.”

I shuddered at the thought and the previously mesmerizing photo of a beautiful desert scene became a horrifying photo where a ball of scorpions the size of a Dodge Ram were hiding everywhere, just waiting for me to sit down and take a break so they could sting me.

That folks is how anxiety works.

Shining_Black_Scorpion_600

I looked at the ceiling as the pain subsided. “Nothing” I responded as I calmed myself.

“What did you think happened?” she queried, calmly.

“I thought I was stung”

“By what?” I could tell she was holding back laughter

“Nothing.”

“Sean, what did you think stung you?”

“A scorpion.”

“And what was it really?”

I took a moment and breathed. Embarrassed slightly, angry at myself for my as usual overreacting.

“A toothpaste tube.”

She paused. “So you panicked for nothing, right?”

“Yes” I responded quietly.

Karen reached across and grasped the tube. It was mostly empty and the back end rolled up, the corner of the end of the hard plastic tube pointed upright like a little bathroom caltrop, waiting for my arm to lay upon it.

In a normal household this is where it would have ended, or perhaps with some speech from her about my lack of judgment and unreasonable panic. Instead she did her best to reconfigure the tube to better resemble a scorpions general shape and proceeded to sting me all over with it as I writhed around trying to escape.

tube

This is how she has been trying of late to “cure” me of anxiety. Making me face things that set me off in a loud and vigorous way. She is “vaccinating” me against panic she claims.  It does not work.

When she finished, my mind wandered back to the desert. Upon reflection, I would not sit with my back to the wall.  I would sit on the rock in the middle.

It afforded a much better view.

Also, I think it would be easier to deal with a large scorpion of the same mass as a ball of scorpions the size of a Dodge Ram Truck.

At least you would see it coming.

Scorpion-character-render-classic-costume-MK-II-Mortal-Kombat-2011-MK-9

Product Review 001 – Water

Product Review #001 – Water

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I cannot remember the first time I became acquainted with water but one would assume it was in the late 1960’s.  As years progressed, I have come to find that water does in fact change in taste, colour, transparency and odour based on one’s source. 

What is commonly known as “tap” water (as it is sourced from a “tap”) usually comes from a municipal water treatment facility, originally drawn from either a large body of water or a series of large wells. 

If one visits a more rural location or a third world country (much the same however the latter has more swarthy persons than the former), the usually source of drinking water tends to be a personal well (dug or drilled), often untreated or filtered and can contain high levels of insect particulates and mouse.  Quote from a local well owner “that’s free proh-teen! (Hyuck..)”. 

A third more modern form of drinking water is what is colloquially referred to as “bottled” water.  It is sold commercially and is delivered to the  consumer in (ironically enough) plastic or occasionally glass vessels known as bottles.  Most always it is sourced from the same municipally owned and operated large well systems as “tap water” (non-rural) and repackaged in 500 ml to 1000 ml sizes.

To facilitate this review I have obtained a single, room temperature 250ml glass (real glass, clean and dry) of each.  I am rating each brand of drinking water on the following parameters:

Colour

Transparency

Odour

Taste

Price

Tap water:

The colour is clear, transparent almost.  It seems to refract light in a pleasing way. Taste, oddly, like nothing at first but as one swishes and spits, it brings out a slight chlorine (pool) taste with hints of algae. Odour: none. Price $0.00 (for me as I simply drew it from a tap I do not own).

 
Rural “well” water:

Colour, clear again, again with the light refraction.  A few bits of what appears to be fibrous material, likely mouse hair or something from another mammal. Taste, an interesting blend of nothing and pennies.  Odour, a not unpleasent mild hydrogen sulphide, like a slightly off biere or an ouef that has been left too long in the pantry.  Price, $0.00 (again, I went to someone’s home, walked in (they don’t lock their doors in the “country”) and drew it from a kitchen tap).

 

Bottled water:

Colour, clear, somewhat shimmery in the sunlight that has now graced us with it’s presence. Taste, mild, bland, slightly plastic-ish, not unlike air but wet. Odour, none. Price, $2.69 for a full litre of the nectar of the clouds.

 

Overall:

Water is boring, bland, even the variety of sources and means of obtaining it do not produce any substantial differences that bring it above milk or lemonade or gin.

Rating: Two glasses half full out of five.

Recommendation: Gin as an alternative to water at all times though water can be used to reduce alcohol content in gin for small children when you are starting their drinking of alcohol early in life.

Juicy

As mentioned in previous (and increasingly infrequent) posts about our recent Royal Caribbean cruise experience, the ship was packed full of old(er) fat(ter) Americans, primarily from NYC and Jersey.  For the most part, ignoring the fact that it seems to be a cultural “thing” from that part of the world to be a tad less than polite to people serving them and a bit on the loud and brash side, these people were at least nice to me.  My wife? Well, she was a bit jaded by the last cruise and had a hard time not focusing on the past experiences with New Yorkjersians.  She still thought of them as rude but I think she warmed to them at some point as she stopped complaining.
 
One day, roundabout day three of the cruise, we were sitting on the deck in the shade and I saw a tanned woman of possible Italian heritage walk our way in a relatively (for the company) small bathing suit.  She wore it well.  Tanned, light olive complexion, dark shoulder length hair, shiny perfect teeth all ruined with the ridiculous bug-eye huge sunglasses and “Juicy” sweatpants, the elastic cuffs pulled up to the knees like it was 1995.  If anything, I was pleased to see a few younger people on the ship who were not the grandchildren of the locals (the retiree cruisers, readily identified by their leathery completion and disdainful glances toward we pale Canadians and our children).
 
A few evenings in, we skipped the main restaurant and opted for the buffet.  We had already noshed at the trough so to speak but we wanted a break from dressing up every night.  I was pleased to see Ms. Juicy New York 2014 sit down at the table nearby as frankly, I was going to have some scenery to cast glances upon that was at least visually appealing and not the usual, a large person with a plate of doughnuts.  Her girlfriend sat down (equally nice) then her girlfriend’s boyfriend (sketchy wanna-be B-boy) followed by her husband.  Now this guy was a caricature of every doorknob you see on a sitcom who represents blue-collar, semi-educated New York.  I half expected him to start punching meat in the ships kitchen locker after I heard the barely formed words that fell out of his slack mouth (yes, I know, Philadelphia, not New York).  Thoughts swirled about in my head.  Why would she choose this guy as a mate?  What would compel an attractive young woman to spend time let alone marry a guy who dresses like that AND has the vocabulary or a sea sponge? I always have these contemplations when I see a cute woman with a dumpy, stupid man.  I sipped my tea and pushed away my place (I am sure some human seagulls made note that I hadn’t eaten half of my food) and within minutes, she answered the question for me.  She began to eat.
 
Now, I had not noticed her mild overbite before.  I’m okay with overbites.  A woman can have one and still be attractive.  It makes kissing a bit odd, but it’s not a game changer.   An under bite, well, it can certainly be something that makes you think twice before proceeding with full on spit swapping let alone a date, an over bite?  Not such a big deal.  This however wasn’t her problem. 
 
She eats with her mouth wide open.
 
Not just a word of two spoken with a mouth full of food (hopefully shaded by a hand from view). This was a full-on, fully open, chewing-the-food-bit-by-bit, teeth rising and closing on said food SO ALL COULD SEE THE MASTICATION PROCESS.
 
I was disgusted.  I was aghast.  I was caught staring by her big lunkhead boyfriend and had to pretend I was watching something happening in line. I told my wife after the fact as I was afraid she would loudly go on a tirade about the New Yorkers.
 
Juicy had a whole new meaning after this experience.

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Cruise day 4 (San Juan Puerto Rrrrrrico)…

When we booked our cruise, one of the drawing points was the promise of visiting four countries. I had already been to the Dominican Republic back in the early 90s however this visit would be to an entirely different coast (the east) and I had never been to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico or Haiti (where Royal Caribbean have their private island that is not an island…). The first stop was San Juan and I was excited to see such an interesting place where Ricky Martin and scores of baseball players come from (okay, I cannot think of any more exports). Sadly we learned after booking the trip that it was a bit of a ruse. We would not arrive till 430pm. Sun goes down around 530 in late November and anyone who has travelled to the Caribbean can tell you, night time arrives fast.

We disembarked from the ship and wandered off the pier with no plans. I wanted to get a shirt. A fairly reasonable tour person offered us a cheapish ride in an air conditioned bus to see nearby sights including the big castle/fort structure we passed hours earlier on our way into port.

Note, the entering of the port was uneventful apart from a few minor events. First, the side motors stirred up the filth that silts up the harbour of San Juan. Second, some cruise ship had recently smacked into the pier and crushed a metal guard rail. Third, the US coast guard guys did doughnuts and figure eights to the cheers of the single women on balconies along the port side of the ship.  I found this terribly amusing as I watched the city loom into view.

We toured, did the photography thing, saw a series of bronze statues of US presidents who “bothered” to visit San Juan, watched huge scary waves crash on a beach near some pricey hotels and witnessed a Japanese traveled give a fellow Japanese ex-pat homeless person about $50. We were also shown the condominium where Ricky Martin lives in the penthouse and told we could stop if anyone knew him. When it was all over, darkness having settled early enough to keep us from seeing the castle/fort, we paid the guide and shopped. Weird niknacks purchased, my wife and kids, frustrated at our inability to get a seat at the only decent traditional food place in the area, went back to the ship while I went on a quest for a shirt.

My Excellent Adventure:

Spouse and boys directed to ship, I turned around and marched off to visit a few shops on a sidestreet that headed east if the main town square. The smell of cigar smoke wafted about as merchants sampled their wares at the end of the say along with rum, black and amber, poured into coffee cups. A woman stood as I passed and tried to convince me to coke over, calling me “honey” in Spanish along with something else I couldn’t quite make out that resulted in the men under her awning to laugh aloud. I smiled, said “no gracias” and waved as I walked on.

I wandered into three shops before I found an acceptable t-shirt for under twenty dollars and decided I wanted some food. Now this is where my plan went a bit astray. I checked out a number of menus, listened to a few girls explain the booze specials and continued on my merry way exactly where we were told to not go. West, into the unlit portion of the city.

Now up until this time, there were cops at every intersection, in flak jackets, armed, big, scary in a Spanish Speaking Foreign Country way. Now, no cops. A few stray touristas, a lot of drunk locals, a number of women that I would peg as being prostitutes. I even once turned around mid street when I spied an open shop down a side road and had a cop look at me and go “uh uh. ” as he thought I was heading toward a small gaggle of hookery looking girls. I laughed and pointed at my wedding ring saying “no, no, no, no. Ha ha!”. He laughed too and pointed me in another direction.

Now, no cops, and no prostitutes, just slow driving cars full of young Puerto Ricans looking warily at me. A few blocks into the darkness, I saw sanctuary. A bar called the Red Monkey. It resembled at best, a movie set. Clean though made to look rough. Xmas lights hanging from the ceiling, strange masks and paintings in the walls interspersed with Spanish and English neon beer signs. Oddly, it was almost empty. I walked in.

At the bar sat one of the aforementioned police. He was eating black beans and rice with chicken from a square Tupperware container ans watching TV as a shaggy bartender chatted with him. I sat, ordered “uno biere por favor” and after paying the paltry one dollar I calmly began to watch tv too. It was, oddly relaxing and I felt safe. The bartender leapt for the remote after seeing it was sieze o’clock. He turned it to channel 25 and turned to the cop and I. “Jumanji!” He half yelled. We nodded in approval and the three of us proceeded to watch twenty minutes of Robin Williams dubbed in Spanish. My second beer finished, I issued a “mucho gracias, buenas noches..” and wandered out into the night.

I quickly made my way to the main street, was again unsuccessful finding a quick but safe looking take out, wandered around a Senor Frogs in disgust, watched a parrot show then got in line to reboard the ship.

The lights of the city glowed as I stood on the balcony of our suite and I took more than a few pictures as drumming, whistles and cheers erupted from Senor Frogs back on shore. I wandered off with my wife to get some long awaited food as the boys played PlayStation. St Thomas USVI was the next day, early, and I needed to prepare for more fun.

I think I like San Juan.

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Much Belated Day 3-4 on Cruise, Nov 2013

Well, aren’t I a terrible traveloguer. The last time I went on a cruise I bored you all to death with 7 days of shipboard adventure over a period of five or so days and what did I do this time? I went and finished a book and filled up your feed with ridiculous haikus and poetry. My apologies.

I shall therefore continue

Day three, second full day on ship (from memory):

It got warmer. It got warmer and the bad weather for the most part vanished from (snicker) the horizon. Okay, not completely true, but it got warmer as we passed through Cape Hatteras area and into the warmer gulf air. The day previous, I lashed myself to the upper deck (where I wasn’t allowed) and rode out an amazingly fun storm as the family huddled in the cabin playing Assasins Creed three on the complimentary PlayStation that those of us who overpaid for a Rich Bastard Cabin received. The storm was by far the largest I had ever been in on a ship and although the lightning and thunder was sparse, the waves were spectacular and the wind was strong. I found an area where people had been banned and stood at the very peak, eleven decks up, overlooking the bow of the ship. Wrapped my wrists with rope used to tie down deck chairs and watched the storm roll in. When it finally hit, rain was near horizontal and stung my wind and sun burnt face. I lasted almost half an hour until soaked and happy, I went downstairs too ready for dinner.

The following day, though warmer as noted, was less exciting as the next involved arrival at the island of Puerto Rico. We ate, lazed about, watched some shows, had a few drinks, swam in the pool and generally waited. The ship, the Explorer of the Seas, is older and shows it in places, however it is if anything well decorated. Every corner where the mid deck areas meet the exterior ring of halls, has two display cases containing materials gathered from different areas of the world. Artwork decorates the walls at every stairway landing and along the halls between cabin doorways. If anything, even in a storm, you have a few hours of exploration on the ship without paying a dime. Note, it will cost more than a dime for pretty much anything that you wish to purchase apart from the free food (“free”) available all day long at a few locations in the midship downtown type street. Bottle of allergy medicine? $17 US. Decent beer? $9. Etcetera. We attended a small “street patrty” celebrating the 70s. I can note that a good portion of the persons at said party were definitely in their adult years during the 70s. I also note that based on their actions, they were in comas, living in an ultra religious commune where music was outlawed or incarcerated. We did things with the kids, filled in as much time as possible and went to bed, excited to awake the next day in Peurto Rico. Sadly, we were not arriving there till approximately 4:00 pm.

The next day, we wandered, ate etc. Note, almost everybody on the ship was a gargantuan Hutt of a human who ate HUGE plates of food all day. My children must have looked to these folks like we had retrieved them from their schooling in the Beijing Opera School because they were thin, pale and fit. We didn’t socialize much and didn’t partake in the only other thing these people partook in, excessive day long boozing. It was obvious that these folks were more concerned with quantity of food and booze versus quality. We were not unhappy nor impressed with the food and as we are not ones to eat three plates full every meal, we were in our seats and out again before most had started their multiple desserts.

We decided to temp fate on the afternoon before we arrived and skated on the ice rink in the bowels of the ship. Chatted a bit with the staff (all young kids from the UK and eastern Europe) and being Canadian, skated round and round, faster and faster, as Americans held the boards and stumbled about. Okay, that’s a lie. Neither of my boys skate well and my wife hasn’t done so since before I ever met her 17 years ago. I skated around and around, backwards, forwards, trying to show my youngest what to do (he caught on) and trying to not openly tease my middle boy or my wife, who eventually fall flat on her ass. After an hour, we went back to the room and got ready to disembark in Puerto Rico.

Next up:

Sean’s Awesome Wonderful Adventure in San Juan!
(Beer! Beaches! Babes! Bars! Cops! Prostitutes! Ricky Martin! Robin Williams!)

The Western Caribbean Cruise of 2013 Becomes Wavy

Part 2:

Cruise of 2013 – First Full Day at Sea – November 15
 
I awoke early.  Stepping out on the balcony, ten decks high, I could view the sea, still a tad choppy and could feel the movement of the ship under my feet.  It had rocked me to a wondrously deep sleep the night before and I had it in my mind that I needed to go for a run.  (I don’t try to understand the way my brain works..) We had ordered breakfast the eve before to be delivered to the room (a perk of a suite cabin) and it would not arrive till after 8:00 am, so I decided to brave the elements and run outside. Two floors up, I exited the interior of the ship and promptly ran five kilometers around the deck, dodging the chubby (Americans) who waddled along the interior of the track in the “WALK” zone.  I say dodging as the ship was still plunging up and down and the wind was near gale-force, driving the ill-looking others into my lane.  When finished, I drank my water, found the actual gym and an aged but well maintained Concept 2 rowing machine, rowed 3.5km then stumbled back to my room.
 
Upon arrival, sweaty though nowhere near as odiferous as some of the more surprising gym visitors that morning, I found no food had arrived.  A quick call told me it was on its way and after a quicker warmish shower, was noshing on kippers and toast.  We all noted that though the room was not small, it was not well suited to meals. The only table was a sub-knee height (shin height as I would learn later on) coffee tableau.  We finished, dressed and wandered out to explore the ship.
 
My youngest boy did not wish to take part in the “kid” activities in the ship’s day camp areas so I was fairly quickly roped into the following:
·         Inline Skating
·         Swimming in cold pool water
·         Rock Wall Climbing
 
Swimming.  Cold but no colder than a public pool in the summer.  Cruise folks wrapped in towels and sweaters commented that we were braver than they.
 
Climbing was not as easy as I had surmised.  I made it within five feet of the upper bell and promptly slipped, misjudging a finger hold’s size.  They would have swung me back to complete the climb but I refused.  It was just not right to do so and I was not about to do it again from the bottom just yet.  Failure.  My son in the mean time climbed the same twice.  Gymnasts… Ugh
 
The skating was actually not that bad even though I hadn’t strapped on inline skates in almost 16 years. I whipped around the figure eight at the back of the ship, lapping my struggling boy, stopping to help him on occasion and smiling at the cruisers who seems surprised that an adult knew how to skate. Then I promptly tripped over my son, landed on my knee and hand and spent the next few hours in pain.  My only concern? My scraped knee would attract sharks in two days.
 
We went to one of the little café’-like shops in the middle of the ship’s open-ish air promenade to have coffee and treats.  A very attractive brunette woman and her boyfriend sat at table beside us. Ice blue eyes, well dressed, well toned, ate with her mouth WIDE OPEN.  I was aghast.  I tried not to look.  She might as well have had a hairy back and a tail.  Her BF did not seem to notice, though he being a bit of a stereotypical guido-ish New Yorker, perhaps this is not an unappealing thing? Held myself back from taking a picture of her as evidence. Didn’t finish my cookie.
 
A few items from the day that I jotted down:
·         Caribbean woman and man at entrance to buffet restaurant prompting everyone to use hand sanitizer with little rhymes and songs about “washie washie then yummy yummy” wore thin quite quickly.
·         Sea mist dries into salt and makes nice white marks on dark clothing
·         Being a suite guest results in constant calls and visits from concierge and guest services to make sure all is well.  Perhaps we weren’t as needy as they expected?
·         Waiter at restaurant told me that the unofficial drinking age in Jamaica is 5
·         Flying fish look like dragonflies from 10 floors up
·         Cruise people are CHATTY and for the most part drunk
·         Large people do not plan ahead when buying suits as they all seem to be a bit too small
·         Pools twelve decks above sea level SLOSH more than you can imagine
·         I cannot manage four drinks in three hours
·         The Jamaican reggae house band doesn’t seem to realize that Sweet Home Alabama is a song that sounds odd/ironic/wrong when sung by black men
 
That evening we received an invitation to attend a Suite Guests Only thank you dinner.  We left the kids after feeding them with a few playstation games and instructions to NOT LEAVE THE CABIN, dressed and headed to the meal.  Champagne, lobster and steak.  Nom nom. Old people.  Nice but REALLY REALLY chatty.  Opinionated too.  The HR officer for the ship sat at our table, a nice ex-military guy from Connecticut.  After a while he became increasingly bombarded with issues from our table guests.  My wife joined in.  I sipped my champagne and enjoyed lobster.
 
We headed back to room and ended our day well fed and relaxed.  The storm picked up outside as were gently rocked to sleep yet again.
 
Quote from my youngest to end the day: “Most of the people on deck ten like us are really old.  That’s probably because they want to use up all their money before they die..:
 

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The Spectacular Western Caribbean Cruise of 2013 BEGINS!

It began, as a dream. 
 
Okay, no, not a “dream”. It began as an idea hatched in my devious little mind. We had travelled on the Disney Cruise Lines ship Disney Magic in June/July 2012 and I enjoyed it so much that I successfully bombarded my wife with enough propaganda that she finally agreed to another cruise.  One problem.  She wanted to try another cruise line.  The whole IN YOU FACE WITH SMILES 24/7 thing that Disney puts on was a tad much for her so we shopped around and asked our agent and finally agreed upon a nine night Royal Caribbean vacation.  Nine nights, four ports of call, a suite upgrade (two levels!) versus our previous ocean view stateroom with balcony and whammo, we were off.  Not right away of course.  She didn’t want to cruise less than a year after previous trip, and summer is not conducive to hot-country travel, so it was decided that November was the time to go.
 
Day 1
 
Arose on clear, cold November 13 and packed remaining gear and kidlings into car.  Headed off to border.  Weather forecast for drive down was good and even return trip in 11 days appeared to be only rainy, though long term forcasts are not always accurate.  Fear out of me, panic and wory packed in trunk with spare tire, we drove across border and south toward Pennsylvania.  Sadly, my chosen route meant we would have to venture again through Pennsylvania but it would be fine. It was a good day.  Until on the I-81 I saw three GIANT CROWS in a field.  I panicked.  I yelled “What the hell?!” and pointed.  My dear understanding wife Karen then laughed uproariously at me. She doesn’t get phobias.  I do, I get them in droves.  I have a mild bird-o-phobia or ornithophobia or whatever it is called. Usually it results in me ducking a lot in the woods or a park but nothing more.  I am not usually in  position where my life is at risk of being crushed by giant three-taloned feet and torn into meaty strips by a giant corvus.  I think my mild panic was justified however she just continued laughing till her chest hurt.  I tried to explain that “this is how phobias work DEAR..” and she only retorted that “….you should KNOW that there are not 20 foot tall crows standing in farm fields beside major highways!!!!” or something like that.
 
The drove continued in silence for a while.  Then snickering. Then more silence.
 
Upper New York State: Nice. Apart from giant crow statues.
 
Pennsylvania: Dirty.  People with crappy people and customer service skills. 
 
New Jersey. Confusing roads.
 
Had to turn on phone to get GPS.  Forgot to arrange for US roaming charge package thingy from Bell Canada so in the end we made it to hotel however I have an insane bill coming.
 
Hotel: Clean, nice-ish, friendly staff.
 
We ordered “real New Jersey Pizza” which the kids and I were unimpressed with.  We swam in pool.  We went to bed. I didn’t sleep more than three hours thanks to coughing, child #3 grinding his teeth, snoring and aircraft landing and taking off every 10 minutes.
 
Day 2
 
Woke up.  Boy #3 and I went down  to kitchen area and made waffles (yes, you can make you own at the Country Inn Hotels!).  Watched news abouty Rob Ford on CNN and laughed as they had some analyst talk about addiction and enablers. Made comment to random New Jersey business guy that we were deporting him to the US.  He didn’t laugh. Went back to room, dragged others awake and packed.
 
We took shuttle to ship and promptly ran to the “excursions” desk to book a cabana for day 4 of the port visits at the private “island” resort called “Labadee”.  No success.  Apparently a second cruise ship will be there as well and they did not share the bookable cabanas for suite guests between ships.  Karen is mad.  We grabbed a lunch and finally got in our rooms at 1:30 pm.
 
Windy and cold, we went o top deck nonetheless and watched sun go down as we exited New Jersey harbor at Cape Liberty.  Photographed the new WTC and skyline as well as Lady Liberty.  People on ship seem happy.  They gave upon the NYC lights popping out in the twilight and their eyes glaze over. I refrain from making light of the situation.  I honestly think they will be talking about 9/11 till 3011.  I left them with their smiles and then noted all the drinks.  Aha.  They were all drunk.  Apparently we were not joining in with their embarkation routines.  Day one, we aren’t fitting in.  Damn.
 
Travelled around ship, looked at amenities, marveled at shiny railings and lights on shoreline and climbing wall etc. Went back into room to find cold family griping about the wind.  Eventually we headed for dinner, in travelling clothes as our luggage had not yet arrived. Wandered the ship some more and noted a lot of shall we say, large or as they say in French “les ass du lard” and drunk folks about.  And old, don’t forget old.  Not a lot of kids to be seem.  Did we make a mistake?  Time would tell.
 
Luggage arrived after dinner was had, we unpacked, dressed for bed and slept a blissful night away rocked to sleep by the motion of a honking huge ship in gale force winds and 5 meter waves. 

Bliss..
Yaar!!!
 

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