Thursday, July 25, 2019

Travel? Me?

Well, yes!  My wife and I just returned from a quick trip to San Diego.  She was born there and really does love the city but the big draw is that Number 1 Son and his SO live just outside the city.  So we like to go down every now and then to torture them.  We spent the weekend doing just that then added on a couple days so we could do some tourist stuff.

Driving down there was absolutely the worst trip we've ever made down there.  First we got stuck in a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere thanks to a traffic accident.  Then we got slowed down for no apparent reason at all.  Granted there are plenty of cars on those roads but usually they just kind of carry on with it.  Anyway we left here at 09:30 and didn't get there until 17:00 which was at least 2 hours later than we should have been.  We had fun with the family finding a couple new places to eat and just generally catching up.  By Monday they had to go back to work so we got out fairly early.  My wife is the travel planner and she had found us a place called the Old Town Inn.  It is within walking distance of Old Town and was quite nice.

The first day on our own we spent shopping then wandering around Old Town.  We escaped buying a small scuplture by the skin of our teeth but we both know we'll be back in town again.  If it is still calling to us we might have figured out a place for it by then.  The second day we went to the zoo.  We love to visit the zoo and it really is quite the place.  This time it was a little warm, well a lot warm, but otherwise pretty great.

There were quite a few babies born this year so we got to see some of the young animals.  Giraffes are pretty tall even when young!

There are even wild animals living at the zoo.  Wild as in not official residents!  I'm pretty sure the bunny doesn't have a keeper.

Of course the flamingos are amazing even when sleeping!  There was another one walking up and down the fence line demanding attention from the visitors.  Nope, no one had anything to feed him.

We had fun checking out the baby monkeys.  These two were having a great time playing hide-and-seek.

As I said, it was warm and everyone (and everything) was liking the shade.

Of course the zoo is really pretty large and we only got to see about half of it.  If this was the only time we could visit we would have stayed but having seen about half of the acreage we decided to  head back to the motel.  We walked over to a restaurant in Old Town and had dinner then back to the room for an early night.  The next morning we were at breakfast at 06:00 when they open it up and were out of town soon after.  This time we only had one slowdown so made it home by noon.  Much better!

Thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Wow, almost a month!

Somehow it's been almost a month since I last blogged.  It's been mostly kind of dull (which I don't mind at all!) and a little excitement.  It's getting something over 100F (38C) most days but that's pretty normal.  We like to get out before 06:00 for our walk and it takes at least 50 minutes.  We aren't power walking so talking about what the neighbors are doing in their yards, etc. takes time.  There is also the big discussion about what's for breakfast!

Last last month we flew to San Francisco for four days to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.  That was fun.  We stayed in a place on Hyde Street where we could go up on the roof and see Alcatraz.

The hotel is part of Wyndham's Shell Vacations Club.  We don't belong but they let a few rooms to civilians I guess.  Anyway, it was a nice little 1 bedroom apartment.  It wasn't cheap but nothing in the city is.  The rooftop area is clearly quite small but there aren't a lot of apartments in the place.  As you can see we had great weather and even managed to get a little sunburn.  Grrr!  Here we leave the desert and get a sunburn in what is supposed to be a nice foggy city. 

This is looking the opposite direction.  It was taken over looking what had been the parade ground.  There were quite a few parts of the island that were off limits.  We were there at a time when the birds have had their young and the park service didn't want us disturbing the birds.  They were everywhere!

We like to just walk around so did a pretty good job of covering the tourist water front from Pier 33 where the Alcatraz boat docks over to the Presidio.  We had two days of over 10,000 steps per my wife's Fitbit.  When we wanted to go farther or come back in comfort we used Uber.  The rides were in the $10-13 dollar range which we thought was pretty reasonable.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is reasonably nice to older tourists:  round trips from the airport to downtown and back were $9 each for seniors.

We like to take a ride around town sometimes and this time we took a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour.  It was 2.5 hours roundtrip but we got to see quite a bit of the city AND it took us across the Golden Gate Bridge where you could catch another bus to Sausalito if you wished:  we didn't.  I must admit going across the bridge was a chilly trip.

We got home and resumed that quiet life until just yesterday.  For the 4th of July nature threw us a party:  an earthquake!  The quake, 6.4 in magnitude, was centered in Searles Valley in California but we sure felt it here!  By the road it is 160 miles away but it is actually only 84 miles away.  (I use a great site called to give me the distances.)  It was quite a long quake and our house got quite a shake.  All that lead me to checkout earthquakes around here and I found www.  We get a lot more that I ever imagined.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Getting warm!

Well, the unusually temperate weather has pretty much left and now we have been looking at 105F (40C) or so daily.  That means having the air conditioning on 24/7.  The forecast is for that to go back down to 95F (35C) but we'll see!  We are getting out to walk as soon as we wake up since it's already 70F (21C) and the sun is warm.  Our usual walk takes in about 2.5 miles (4km).  It is flat as a pancake and paved but it's better than sitting inside and losing our ability to walk anywhere!  Usually we make a game of counting the rabbits; we have both regular bunnies and jack rabbits.  We will often see a small hawk but that isn't a sure thing.  There are a few neighbors who keep horses and we have to check on them.  The past week or so we've seen balloons.  Please forgive the quality of these photos; they are taken with my phone then enlarged a lot!

Usually we see 1 to 3 balloons.  We are only having very gentle breezes so it makes for a nice flight.  We do have a balloon festival in the early part of the year.  We have quite a few balloons flying then and, of course, there are all the other parts to a festival. 

We do check out the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.  Personally I feel it is mis-named because most of the people there are some sort of craft person.  You can buy art glass, leather work, wood work; all kinds of craft work and I was happily surprised at the high quality of the work.  Fruits and vegetables are in pretty short supply though. 

We are planning another trip or three but they are down the road a bit.  As usual I'll report on them when we are back.  Until then, thanks for stopping by.  Take care!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

More quiet times

We haven't been doing a whole bunch lately.  The weather has been odd to say the least.  It's been quite cool with highs of maybe 70F (21C) but it's been fairly windy as well, like 15 mph (25 kph).  It isn't awful just not what we expect at this time of year.  To add injury, my wife managed to fall down and do something to her right side that makes walking painful.  THEN she did something to her right shoulder that caused her doctor to prescribe physical therapy.  All in all, it's not big problems but enough to keep us from wandering around much. 

We did make it in to Las Vegas a few days ago and bought a small table from IKEA.  We've been fans of the store since we lived in the Netherlands.  You wander around in the maze they call a store and can actually come up with some interesting ideas.  Anyway, the directions for the table were fun I thought.
I mean, 36 different languages to tell you how to clean the table???  It also speaks to how dull things are that I counted them all! 

At least one of our cactus plants is happy.
It usually comes up with one or two blooms but this year it is out-doing itself.  It makes the bees happy as well. 

I'm to the point that I can hardly look at the news any more.  Our President is such a jerk; I keep thinking he can't get any worse then he trump's himself.  And some people still support him.  Driving into town we pass this house that is flying TWO "Trump 2020" flags.  The Democratic party seems to be trying to keep him in office given the huge group of losers they have running for President.  There are 23 of them!  Most of them are unknown except for their own family and the front runners are the same old white men that have been unelectable for years.  These fools are simply helping the President stay in office.  To make it even worse, Biden and Sanders are 76 and 77 respectively.  I mean they are older than me for crying out loud (and Trump for that matter). 

Well, sorry for the rant.  It just bothers me that we have such an unreliable fool for President.  Thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Just checking in...

I don't really have much to report.  It's quiet around here and getting warmer every now and then.  Now we are up to the mid-80's(29-30C) most days and we probably won't be gettting much more rain for a while.

Haven't really gone anywhere or done anything since my last post.  Well, I've been making good use of the bbq and the smoker but otherwise it's been quiet.  This week I did a personal best when I smoked beef jerky one day and smoked salmon the next day.  There's only so much excitement an old guy like myself can take!  High point of today, after waking up of course, is going to the grocery store and seeing this sign.

I'm not sure if $19.99 is good for Titos but considering it is a new product - VOKDA - I imagine it's good.

I did visit our local marijuana dispensary the other day.  Since it is legal in Nevada, I want to try it again.  I went into the store on Friday early afternoon and they did seem to be doing a fair business.  The other customers were clearly repeat visitors.  I sure felt like the newbie.  We tried some 2 years ago when they first opened and it just didn't do a lot for either of us.  I keep reading about what a huge market it might become and figure this is something I can test personally.  Besides, I was pretty bummed about how dull the stuff was 3 years ago.  I was impressed though that the guy behind the counter could see my previous purchase in their records!

We keep talking about going places but so far something seems to come up to keep us here.  The house was built in 2005 and we've lived here for 10 years.  Things are needing work; nothing big but lots of little stuff.  Well, it's better than not being able to take care of it.  Gotta go.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Enjoying Spring!

This time of year is often pretty good around here.  It has been windy this year but reasonably warm.  When we haven't been out spraying weeds in our yard we've gotten out and about a bit.

Week before last we visited Death Valley National Park.  The park is absolutely huge and we'd never seen the other side; specifically over by Panamint Springs.  We decided to just drive over and check out the roads.  With the over-62 senior pass it is free to visit so why not?  I was surprised by the number of visitors though I guess I shouldn't have been.  Even in early April the high was going to be 97F (36C) so waiting until later would make it a bit warm.  We ended up taking no photos worth sharing but we did discover that the roads are excellent and wouldn't be a problem at all if we were towing our trailer.  I'm not a huge fan of high and windy roads but this was just fine even if there were places that we were happy they had installed a guard rail.

Then last week we took a bus tour on the Nevada National Security Site.  This is where the majority of our nuclear weapons testing was done back in the day.  Today the site is used for a variety of things where security, space and even nuclear debris is useful.  (They train police and fire fighters on dealing with accidents that include a nuclear component; like the stuff your dentist uses to xray your teeth.)  Public tours are available but they are few and far between, like once a month.  If you are interested in visiting you should sign up around a year in advance!  Really, all remaining tours being offered in 2019 are full.  They are pretty rigorous about security and two of the things you can't bring are cameras and cellphones.  You also need to pass a paperwork security check but after all that you get a 250 mile bus ride.

Anyway, I managed to get onto a board that is supposed to advice the site management on how local people think they are doing.  I've been on the board for several years and we usually get a special tour about once a year.  This year we went to a part of the site I've never visited before where some of the larger underground tests were conducted.  One of the concerns with underground testing is that the ground water can be contaminated with nuclear debris.  The Dept. of Energy has drilled many wells around the test areas to test the ground water.  There are also wells on other federal land outside the site.  Happily the ground water doesn't move a lot out here and testing has shown that the water has traveled off the site but won't reach private lands for several hundred years by which time the radiation danger will be well past.  (The primary traveling nuclide is Trinium which has a half-life of 12+ years; it isn't something that has a half-life of 500 years or anything.)

Finally I drove into Las Vegas the other day to buy a couple things.  On the way there and back I go past Red Rock Canyon which is really quite a beautifully impressive place.  There were zillions of tourists!  There is a sign where people like to stop and take selfies with the sign.  This time a tour bus had stopped there!  Anyway, the rock is really very beautiful and a real attraction for rock climbers.  This photo is from 2010.

On the way home I stopped to get a couple photos of the cactus.  They are having their moment and have lovely blooms.

So we haven't been just sitting around home but have gotten a few miles on the car if nothing else.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

We are just hanging around home.

We were all tired out when we came home from our Panama Canal cruise so have planned for this year to be fairly quiet.  Lately, as I've been whining, we've had a full-time job spraying weeds but that is over for a moment or two.  This is a pretty good time of year in Southern Nevada and our daytime temps are squeezing into the 70's (22C) so wandering around is fun.  There are a few things we need to do around the house and this is the time to start in on them.  I'll whine about them when they get underway.

My wife and I are of an age when aches and pains are a regular part of life; therefore ibuprofen.  Unfortunately there are things the miracle drug cannot cure and one of those things has taken a woman whom I only met once but via her husband's blog felt I knew her.  Croft is a guy who liked to write about their travels and his wife Norma was always there keeping him 'in line'.  Lots of us guys need a woman like that and Croft was lucky enough to have found his.  I wish him the best adjusting to the loss of his friend, lover, wife and so much more.

Life here is going on with the usual panache.  The headline on our newspaper this a.m. was that we now have a Starbuck's store!  We had a Starbuck's counter in one of the local grocery stores but I guess that wasn't enough.  I'd put up a link but they haven't updated the website with that burning news.  In other local news, our county, Nye, has been involved in a reality tv show:  Live PD. The sad news is that our local sheriff's officers will not be followed by their film crews from now on.  I'm not sure why we are getting the boot but I expect it is because we don't have a lot of 'action'.  Let's face it, there aren't that many people living here (and most of them are old) so we can only have so many drug busts. There goes our moment of fame.

I manage our investments and I've been fascinated by the marijuana industry that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  Part of the reason I find it interesting is that it is legal to possess small amounts in Nevada.  We have a local dispensary for legal recreational and medicinal weed.  We also have a couple other places offering CBD, a non-psychoactive form, that is supposed to have considerable medical uses.  Of course every sleezy salesperson (sorry, financial advisor) is pushing one company or another.  Believe me, I have no special insight and haven't bought anything yet!  There is a lot of interest in Canadian companies since they have legalized marijuana nationally.  There are also the brands that are associated with alcohol distributors but that is also primarily a Canadian connection.  I'll probably buy into some of the Canadian interests only because President Nutbag (I mean Trump) and his idiot Cabinet could turn on marijuana in an instant and amp up the pressure on the states to resind legalization. 

Well, that's what is wandering around in my head today.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


That's my curse word of the day:  weeds!  But I guess that's what happens when you take a moment and turn away. 

Actually we took more than a moment, we took two weeks.  We had a birthday celebration in Washington state so decided to make a trip of it.  We went over to the California coast by driving up highway 95 to Tonopah then on to Reno.  Then we hopped onto I-80 for a few miles and got off right after the Donner Pass onto California 20 and took it all the way to the coast.  That puts you in a little town called Fort Bragg.  Our timing was pretty good:  perfect weather going over the Pass then the next day chains were required!  Then we drove up highway 1 for a few miles until it ended on 101.  Let me tell you, that section of highway 1 is twisty and then some.  From the ocean to 101 was 22 miles and it took over 40 minutes to drive.  Then we just headed north.  It was a very pretty drive and we even managed to check out a few redwood groves.  There was a fair amount of rain and even a little sleet but nothing very serious.

The town we were headed for is Sequim, WA which is out on the Olympic Penninsula.  Of course, being Western Washington, it rained a bit but we lived in the area for something more than 15 years so there was no danger of us melting.  We got to see everyone, sing Happy Birthday and go out to eat a few times then it was time to head back home.  This time we were on familiar roads; south on I-5 then cutting across California back to Reno and down home.  Again the weather was just fine.  In places in California there were two or three feet of snow on the sides of the road but the roads themselves were clean and dry.

My wife is the navigator on our travels.  She uses Garmin software on her pc then enters waypoints in either the car's GPS or the Garmin we use for our truck.  Or sometimes, she uses both.
It's not every guy that has a woman and two machines telling him where to go!  Lucky me!  (Actually we took the Garmin because it has addresses for everyone in it's memory and the car doesn't.)  That photo was taken in the parking lot of our hotel in Sparks, NV.  They have a nice little lake there and we managed to wander around most of it after a day in the car.  I also got to see something I've never seen before in the park area by the lake.
I have absolutely no idea what was intended by whomever placed that sign there.  There wasn't anything really going on there; just a sign on a light post.  I guess it's an especially free area.  

So now I'm home and spraying weed killer like a madman.  We had rain when we were gone so the weeds are growing like crazy.  It will take a few days but I'll get them; every one of them.  On that note, I'll buzz off.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Spring, well, maybe

We are just hanging around enjoying not moving too much.  It is spring time in Pahrump so we get all kinds of weather with the exception of really hot or really cold.  Highs will be 70F (21C)  one day and 51F (10C) the next and down around freezing most nights.  We actually do get rain; got a third of an inch the other day (say 1 cm).  It varies a great deal from place to place so we'll get rain and someone a couple streets away doesn't.  We do all get a fair amount of wind mostly from the northwest but not always.

We like to walk in the afternoon if it is fairly nice.  We have two walks; one that is about 1.5 miles(2.4km) and the other about 2.5 miles (4 km).  Usually we go for the longer one but if it's cool or windy we might settle for the shorter.  We keep track of all the neighbor's animals - mostly horses these days but there have been others.  We also roust dogs at a couple places.  Why are the little dogs the noisiest?  At least around here there is usually a person there who will come yell at their dog.  Yeah, I still want one but it isn't quite time for that.

Our big excitement in town was in April of last year when the CEO of our local electric coop quit abruptly and disappeared.  There were rumors but nothing exceptional.  A woman who had been chief of day to day operations took over and in a month or so was named CEO.  So last week the coop announced that they were going to have to raise rates; they have been the same for 5 or 6 years I think.  Now the rumors said that the old CEO had 'borrowed' money from the coop to pay off some female employees who he's been a little too friendly towards.  Then a couple days later the sheriff and a handful of deputies went to the coop headquarters with a warrant to examine the company's books.  The next day our new CEO was arrested for embezzelment!  She is accused of having work done at her home by the company and not paying for it.  All the fun that's fit to print!

Other than that, it's pretty quiet around here.  Today was one of the nice days so life is good.  Tomorrow, well, we'll just have to see.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Live in the fast lane....

Well, anyway, this is Pahrump's Balloon Fest weekend when we have some brave balloon lovers come and show us their stuff.  Yesterday, Friday, was pretty windy so not good but today was excellent!  Check this out!
We've got balloons flying over the valley!  Of course in two hours they were all on the ground but what the heck.  Balloons are cool. 

When we lived in Florida we weren't very fond of them.  They would go over and the 'woof'of the propane burners would alert the dogs in the neighborhood then as the balloon crossed over the neighborhood you could tell it's position from the dog barking!  Well, if you knew the neighborhood dogs pretty well!  LOL

We are still talking about more travels and also about having a dog and how to merge those desires.  In short, it seems like international travel will take a backseat but we don't want to give it up entirely.  Perhaps it hinges on finding a quality place for our pet to stay while we are off fooling around.  We can't be the only people facing this dilemma. 

Have a good one.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Stopped moving for a while

Well, it's two months since we got back from our cruise and we are thinking about traveling again but not for a bit!  We ran into a neighbor the other day who we don't see often.  He said he and his wife just got back from a 60 day cruise!  OMG!  That's three times the length of our cruise and we thought that was too long.  I can't imagine two entire months.

Christmas was just the usual low-key stuff and New Year's was even quieter.  We don't even celebrate the Super Bowl!  Un-American, yeah, I know.  We do watch the Super Bowl commercials but this year even they were kind of dull.  (I have heard from others that the game was, likewise, dull.)

I keep looking at the news and all I see is that idiot President making a fool of himself time and again.  Jeez!  The 'good' news is that he is still alive and Pence isn't President.  Where we live is definitely Republican-ville.  My wife and I even joined the party just so we can have a vote on who is going to represent us locally.  Often there isn't anyone running except a couple Republicans so then whoever wins the primary is automatically elected.  This way we at least get to vote in the primary for the lesser evil.

I'm on a board that is supposed to give 'the community's view' of what is happening out at the old nuclear test facility.  We meet six times a year and make recommendations about how various cleanup tasks should be handled.  It's awfully stupid but I get a laugh out of it from time to time.  One of the 'problems' was concerning a bunker that had some stains on the concrete floor that contained PCBs which are toxic chemicals.  These stains had been there for a LONG while and the discussion was whether to demolish the bunker and dispose of the pieces OR to simply lock the door and leave it in place.  Now keep in mind that this bunker is on federal land where people are not allowed.  They have armed guards at all the entrances and when you visit you travel in a bus with a guide.  There is no way anyone would visit this bunker accidentally.  So, the big decision is whether to spend thousands breaking up this thing and trucking the pieces around or $10 for a padlock.  Really?  And some of the idiots on the board seemed to seriously consider breaking the thing up!

It's been chilly around here lately.  At least it means the mountain gets snow. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Almost home

The news today is just beyond belief.  376 people crawl under a fence (yeah, we already have a sort-of wall) and turn themselves in to Border Patrol officers.  Wow!  What a world, huh?

Well, I was going to write about hitting San Diego and LA on our cruise.  Of course our son and daughter-in-law live in the San Diego area but they were working and it's not like we never see them so we made no attempt to get together.  We came into port early so got to see the Star of India all lit up.

 We were right across from the Naval Yard on Coronado Island of course.

 We walked around the downtown area that we seldom visit.  It was pretty cool actually.  We got to visit the railway station that my wife remembers from her childhood.

And the YMCA where she learned to swim.  We aren't sure if there was a YWCA then or not or maybe they just didn't have a pool.  It was quite a while ago (she's not as old as I but......).
Yeah, the Y is pretty Armed Forces oriented since the Navy is such a big part of San Diego. 

Anyway, we had fun walking around seeing places she remembers but hasn't visited since she was a kid.  The bus system was excellent back in the day and she could visit anywhere for a dime.  She spent a lot of time at the zoo, Balboa Park and the museums all around town. 

In the evening the ship headed off for LA.  Cruise ships have to turn around quickly when the cruise ends so passengers were to be off the ship by 08:30 in the morning.  So we don't have lots of photos from LA.  Like none that are worth sharing!  We had a VERY LONG wait to get on a bus that promptly got stuck in traffic going to the airport.  And at the airport we had to stop at every terminal on the chance that someone needed to get off the bus so in was about noon before we got to our terminal:  7th out of 8!  We did find a bar and have some great chicken tenders and a couple of drinks.  Finally got our 45 minute flight to Vegas and made it home about 15:00.  What a wonderful day. 

There were a couple interesting things on the cruise that I haven't talked about.  One was a visit to the galley.  There were something like 2,500 people wanting to eat three meals a day on the ship.  The galley was pretty good sized but they didn't waste much room on the walkways.
One of the things we did on days at sea was attend a photography class.  The teacher was a former professional photographer from England.  He tried to give us ideas about improving our pictures.  It was a pretty simplistic sort of class but I'm thinking most of the folks learned something.  In this example he was posing with a woman from the class in a manner he suggested you might use for children.
You can judge for yourself the quality of the class!

Anyway, that was the cruise.  I'll probably come up with a few more thoughts but since we've been home for a month I suppose I should get on to 'real life'.  Thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pacific cruising

So leaving Panama City on the 11th day of our cruise we headed north up the coast.  Of course we were quite a ways offshore most of the time but at times you could glimpse mountains.  We had a day at sea then pulled into Puntarenas, Costa Rico.  Puntarenas is a quite small town with this one really long, thin dock that sticks out into the bay. 

The town of Puntarenas apparently didn't have a lot going on.  This is right after you get off the pier.

Puntarenas was soon left behind and we were bused inland to Esparza, another little town, slightly larger, to check out their festivities.  In Esparza there is a church (Catholic, of course) that was supposed to be something special.  The only unusual thing I noticed was that the ceiling was made of wood.

Outside in the square there was a performance set up for us.  Some of the local children had been trained in a little dance recital or something.  I hate things like this!  Not because I don't like children, I just find it demeaning.

There was one kid who was enjoying himself after he got into costume.
After the presentation we had time to look at local vendors of whatever they think tourists will buy.  This time we actually did buy something:  an apron in bright green.  Like most of the stops, dollars were accepted in payment.  The exception being Cuba where they have a separate currency for foreigners. 

We arrived back at the ship to discover that a dance group had arrived.  The music was basically drums with five or six young ladies dancing around.  This is the view from our balcony.  They were too loud to stand around in front of them and get pictures!
There is a lot of talk lately about living as an ex-pat in Costa Rica.  It turns out that both coasts of Costa Rica are rather hot and humid and that the middle of the country, up in the mountains, is where the ex-pats go to live.  It is kind of too bad because the coast could sure use the money.

In the evening the ship took off headed for Corinto, Nicaragua.  Again, Corinto is a small coastal village and we were bused inland to the city of Leon.  However, before we left a large group of people showed up on the dock to play and dance in welcome.
You can see that even before we got tied up they were hard at it.  The port is primarily for cargo however so the dancers had a nice background of containers! 
There were even some 'civilians' who joined in from time to time.  The town does seem rather poor.

Leon was a fair bus ride away and again we ended up in a square with a church. 
At least there were people in the square that were neither tourists or beggars; just locals enjoying the day.
There were stands where one could buy souvenirs but we managed to avoid those.  There was also a dance troupe but they too seemed as much for the locals as for us.  On the way to and from Leon we did get to see a couple of volcanoes.
I talk about getting carted around in a bus.  Well, they need quite a few!
In the evening we left Nicaragua and in the morning tied up at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.  Quite frankly my wife and I were tired of riding on a bus for an hour or more only to be visiting a church and seeing some trinkets.  So we made the big decision not to leave the ship!  It was a container port however and you have to wonder what could be in all those containers.
Now it was time to find a port in Mexico and the line chose Cabo San Lucas.  Hmmm.  It took us three days at sea to get to Cabo.  My wife and I enjoy the days at sea so we were happy enough.  We have visited Cabo however so we made the same decision we made in Guatemala and stayed on board. 

That's most of our trip.  There are just stops in San Diego and Los Angeles.  I'll leave those for another day.  Have a good one!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

On to the Canal

Last time I talked about leaving Miami and visiting Cuba.  It was really quite a surprise leaving the modern, metropolitan city and ending up in the very rural and quite poor area in Cuba.  That's ok, it is a legitimate choice but I wish I knew the thought behind it.  Perhaps they just thought Havana to be atypical.  At any rate we followed our days in Cuba with two 'at sea' days prior to visiting Cartagena, Colombia.

Cartagena's skyline brought us back to the modern city.
The tour we took started off by giving us a view of the modern part of the city which was all highrises and beachs.  The modern city could easily have been Miami with the signs all translated into Spanish.  They did show us some of the old town but it really did seem to be as clean and well ordered as Miami.  Of course they have the huge fortress in the middle but that was the 'local color'.  What was facinating my wife and myself was that we were docked in a real working port!  Across from us was a container ship being loaded and watching that was fantastic.
Imagine, we may well have seen a few thousand pounds of cocaine being loaded for shipment to New York; mixed in with a larger quantity of legitimate goods, of course.
Of course by the time we got back from our tour of the city there was another ship spoiling our view.  This photo was taken from the tour on the modern side of the city looking across the bay.  Our ship is on the right facing out.  The newcomer was the AIDAdiva - I'd never heard of the line
We left Cartagena and the next morning about 06:30 we started entering the Panama Canal.  We were both really looking forward to seeing the Canal and were thrilled that the cruise line was smart enough to do this during the day.  The fact that this cruise transited the entire canal was the reason we chose it!  BTW, this is the 9th day of the cruise.  We started the day following the Norwegian Jade into the first lock.
We'll see the Jade later but first how about another view of how much some of these ships fill the locks.

There is a train engine tug or two on each side of every ship helping it through.  These are the famous Gatun Locks.
Leading, of course to the lake by the same name.  The lake is formed by a river that is dammed on this (eastern) side.  We weren't quite out of the last lock when this photo was taken.
Oh, and there is our friend the Norwegian Jade.  It has entered the canal and gone through one series of the locks and now is waiting in line to head back out to the Caribbean.  How disappointing that would be if you were thinking of transiting the entire canal!
So I could post a bunch more photos of the canal, the ships and the people on them but I imagine you have the idea.  Between my wife and myself we took about 250 photos so it might get a little dull for folks not so facinated by the canal and the sea in general.  So we were on to our next port of call:  Panama City, Panama.

Panama City is another modern city with some ancient bits.  We were anchored out again and had more runs on those lifeboats.  I know how much I'd appreciate a lifeboat if I needed one but as tenders they leave quite a bit to be desired!  However, being anchored out we did get a great view of the city.
Again our tour was of the city.  We drove through the modern bits then paused in the old quarter to drop off some money with the local tee shirt vendors (or whatever your addiction might be).  It was December 1st so the square had a reasonable number of local artists trying to sell things and the Christmas decorations were starting to appear.
There was a church of course!  We did not go through it but I found the old center with the new towers unusual.  Someone had an idea there but we know not what.
Of course there was a little side street where the shops were located.
So that was our first port on the Pacific side of the canal.  Very nice.  I must say there was a larger police presence in Panama City than anywhere we've been so far.  Next time we'll be cruising the Pacific up the coast.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!