Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update from the Cruise #4

Antigua!!! I have to say I’ve looked forward to today as we booked a catamaran cruise so we’d know if we want to do one with the kiddies next year. I was a little concerned as I’m not a sun person and generally can’t spend more than ten minutes in the sun without getting toasted – and tropical sun is especially brutal. But we were on a large double decker catamaran with plenty of shade. Even though there were easily 60-70 people on the boat it didn’t seem crowded at all. The one we chose was a 6 ½ hour trip where they circumnavigate the whole island, drop you at a private beach to swim for a couple of hours, feed you lunch and then bring you back to the ship. Once they got the catamaran going, it was wonderful!!! The breeze was fabulous and the views stunning. They pointed out the great beaches, celebrity homes (I took a photo of Oprah’s new house) and other points of interest. It was a very fun ride as we hit the Atlantic side and the waves got bigger. Our cruise director was also on this excursion and it’s always a good thing if you see crew members from the ship as they know the best excursions. After a couple of hours, they pulled up to the private beach, lowered the stairs and we walked right out on the sand. They had snorkeling, or you could just soak in the beautiful water – which is what we did. Except Kevin forgot he had his wallet in his pocket so it got soaked. While we swam, the crew fired up the on board grill and grilled chicken and steamed red snapper for lunch. It was very good and was served on real china – no paper plates and plastic ware! And did I mention that it was an open bar? It was all included. They had beer and fruity drinks, then red and white wine was served with lunch. After lunch we got to swim a while longer as they cleaned up and then we were off again. We got back a bit early so they dropped us off at a second beach for a short swim before heading into the dock. All in all it was well worth the $99 each and definitely a “have to do” with the kids next year I think they will love it! We didn’t do any shopping and got back , went to dinner and hit the hay. John and Joella are doing the catamaran tour in Tortola tomorrow but we decided to have our own “Fun Day at Sea”. We’re too old to go go go everyday and I did get a bit sun burned and need a day to rest up so we’re sleeping in…..

Update from the Cruise #3

Today is the fabulous St. Thomas!!! Kevin bought tickets to the Sky Ride which is a tram that takes you up the Mountain…in the Caribbean that’s anything that approaches 800 ft. There was a little shop and bar at the top of course and we sat up there and enjoyed the beautiful views and the breeze. I also got a great little coral and turquoise necklace at the artists booth. There were three Carnival ships in port lined up and the ship we are taking next year with the kids was behind ours. It is the Triumph and sails out of Miami. After our Sky Ride, we decided to go to the other side of the island to Coral Cove. It is a really neat marine park where you can take pictures of sharks, pet the stingrays without getting wet and play in the tanks with the star fish, anemones and sea cucumber. They also have an undersea aquarium that you can walk down to and see out into the bay as if you were scuba diving which is pretty nifty. Everywhere we went there were iguana all over the place – they are kind of like squirrels at home just not as cute. But they were everywhere. We went back to the outdoor mall at the dock and decided to have lunch at a place called Delly’s bar where the specialty drink is the Bushwacker. It is a coffee, amaretto thing like liquid tiramisu. Anyway its very good and you don’t really realize how much liquor it has in it as you suck down the first one. So of course, I ordered another as our fish and chips arrived. The fish was hand battered mahi mahi and was wonderful. So by the time I finished lunch I was very glad we were within crawling distance of the ship….needless to say we took a short nap when we got back on board. We got up in time to see the ships pull out of port. It’s a very tight fit for three big cruise ships and I wondered how they were going to do it, but they backed it up and swung it around no problem missing the next ship by a mere 50 feet or so. I have to think it must be like trying to parallel park a foot ball field on water but they are very good at it. That night I went to the onboard watch sale and picked up a very sparkly fossil watch for next to nothing. We went to bed early as we have booked an all day catamaran excursion on Antigua tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Update from the Cruise #2

Here is the second installment of news from the cruise….

Day 3- Sunday – Today is our first fun day at sea as we steam toward our first destination of Puerto Rico. I spent most of the day actually working. I plugged my little laptop into the bar and wrote, sipping on the fruity drink of the day and watching the waves roll by. I love that I can now work from literally anywhere in the world and enjoy myself tremendously. Oh, and BTW, after a few hours and several fruity drinks it sparks an incredible creative writing session where numerous new ideas burst forth – I didn’t say good ideas just ideas. Tonight is also the first formal night aboard ship and it was great fun. We stayed up for the midnight comedy show as is our usual habit – cruise ships usually have great comics. He was the guy that has cerebral palsy who won Last Comic Standing. He was very funny. We also attended the Broadway type show that was right before but ended up leaving. I have very little tolerance for so called culture. The seas were slightly choppy but quite fun in my opinion. Neither one of us suffers a bit of motion sickness so it works out well.

Day 4 – Monday – I again worked on my laptop at the bar most of the day. I did venture into the spa to get my teeth whitened. They offer it for $199 on the ship and its $500 at home. It really worked well and took that grey look off the enamel caused by an overindulgence in red wine. We didn’t get into Puerto Rico until 5 pm and we only had about 5 hours there. We didn’t stay that long. There are some wonderful historic sites that I wish we’d toured, but the sun went down so fast I don’t know that we would have seen much. Since we’re scoping all these ports for the cruise with the kids next year we want to know what to do and what not to do so we’re trying some new stuff. One of the things we tried was a local dish called Mofongo. It is basically a bowl of what I thought was potatoes, stuffed with meat and gravy. Turns out the bowl is mashed plantains – which are not sweet and act very much like potatoes. It was good, but not something you’d want to eat every night. Then, instead of a dinner mint, they brink you an after dinner drink called coquito – OMG it’s the best stuff every like cinnamon eggnog on crack!!! It comes in a tiny little glass of less than an ounce and is a wonderful blend of coconut cream, cinnamon, Puerto Rican rum, sugar, cream, and egg yolk – and it tastes as rich as it sounds. WE left Puerto Rico at midnight right about the time we were again in the midnight comedy club. This time we were listening to Happy Cole who was even better that they guy last night. I bought his CD to listen to when I get home.

Update From the Cruise #1

So we’re steaming along through the big blue ocean and here I am updating my blog…isn’t technology great?? So far its been pretty wonderful – as expected. So here’s the update.

Day 1 - Friday– We flew into Ft Lauderdale to spend the night. Probably unnecessary, but I always have that dream where we’re standing on the dock and the boat has left without me – so we always come in early to avoid the stress caused by flight delays and thunderstorms. Anyway we got a cheap room at a hotel which shall remain nameless and went down to the bar shortly after arrival to get our first drink of the trip (okay not first, but first out of an airport). The bar was a very small operation tended by a woman who apparently has a deep love for cats judging by the way she kept letting them into the back room and feeding them in between preparing drinks. We decided that we’d rather no eat there (go figure) and asked the cat woman for a recommendation to someplace “nice”. She said that the Rustic Inn was famous for its ambiance and was right on the water. Have I mentioned that it’s HOT in Florida?? I mean like HOT HOT HOT!!! Anyway we hop a cab to this well known local place where the specialty includes all types of crab….and the ambiance includes mallets that are used to crack said crab and splatter everyone including the diner with bits of seafood. The mallets also double as congratulatory instruments for when a birthday, anniversary, etc is announced - you are to pound them on the table mercilessly in celebration. This is proof that everyone has a different definition of “nice” and the word ambiance is used rather loosely these days.

Day 2 – Saturday - We, and many of our fellow cruise goers, piled onto a bus the next morning and were spirited off to our wonderful ship – the Liberty. Our room is very near where ours was last year with a balcony toward the back of the boat and its weird that many of the same crew on this boat were on the Conquest last year so it’s like old home week at the bar…go figure. The first evening we got to meet our dinner mates for the week who turned out to be a fabulously normal couple from Missouri named John and Joella. They have been a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

5 days til the CRUISE!!

As I made my obligatory flip flop run today for the cruise, it occurred to me that I hadn't updated in a while...actually almost a MONTH! So here's what's up since I last shared with my fans (all two of you). We leave on 9/14 to fly to Florida to hop a boat to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

I can't tell you how bad I need to get away for a while. Our group has produced so many books in the last two months that it boggles the mind - but we did it and so I think we have reached a whole nuther level of production capabilities. We've also had some contact with several people that have offered to help our little endeavor in one way or another which underscores the amazing generosity of people.

The covers are done for our first two fiction releases and our nonfiction release for fall is a short six weeks away. We'll be producing a video trailer for our books thanks to more help from amazing friends who happen to have offspring in the video production biz. I'll be doing some editing on the cruise, but I don't mind...its kind of funny that when you love what you do, you also consider it recreation.

Classes are well underway at AC again and we're teaching a critique class and the ghostwriting class. The novel class didn't make, but quite honestly I was so swamped I wouldn't have been at my best anyway - maybe it will make for spring.

The garden is winding down and somehow I still feel like I missed the whole summer. It's this whole working around the clock thing I guess. I have talked to several outstanding people in the last couple of weeks while doing some research so I'll be sending out more magazine queries before I leave on the cruise and we'll see what happens. Right now I'm looking very forward to fruity drinks and no phone for 8 days!