Travel day!

Advertisements

Somewhere in the southern Caribbean

Many a moon ago aboard Dolphin Cruise Line’s SS Sea Breeze we found ourselves anchored just off the coast of Aruba. Fearsome was in remission at the time as I had developed a bad habit called shaving, but he was there in spirit as he always is. It was an early morning under the searing southern Caribbean sun and not a good morning for the hangover from last evenings heavy drinking dance floor adventures.

We found ourselves amongst  many other bleary eyed hungover gay men searching for that perfect spot on deck of this RSVP cruise from which to observe that days total solar eclipse. We were anchored just off the coast of Aruba for a reason, we were in the path of totality in a spot calculated to have the longest time in actual totality, about 3 minutes 40 seconds to my recollection. That sun was hot and all I wanted was a place to sit down, drink my coffee and nurse this hangover. A friend handed me a Bloody Mary. Life was suddenly better.

A passenger affectionately known as The Chicken Lady passed by pouring creme in anyone’s coffee who needed it. She was carrying her trademark chicken purse and the creme flowed on demand into awaiting coffee cups out of an artificial breast that she wore under her bikini top. The Chicken Lady wasn’t known to be reserved nor inhibited in any way imaginable.

The ship’s crew worked feverishly to make sure all 800 passengers were well taken care of and comfortable. They made sure we all had our beverages of choice as well as our solar eclipse viewers. Morning cocktial music played, we laughed, the scent of sunscreen permeated the air and we waited.

The searing heat of the tropical sun started to diminish. A quick check with the solar eclipse glasses confirms that the moon has begun it’s journey between us and our sun. It seemed as if someone had found both the dimmer and the thermostat as not only was the light becoming more appropriate for a party, but the heat had been turned down a notch. We continued our wait laughing with our friends, checking the moon’s progress through the viewers and ordering more cocktails.

Suddenly it all changed.

I had experienced partial eclipses before. No. Big. Deal.

This was different.

In the distance it appears as if a very dark storm had formed. It was black out there. It was moving. It was moving fast and it was headed toward us. However there were no clouds but just darkness. Not just darker but black. This shadow was moving and there was no escaping it. That shadow of black was coming for us and fast. We adorned the viewers and looked up to find just a tiny pierce of the sun left and then it was gone. Nothing left but a faint corona and then a voice from the crowd, all on their feet at this moment, screamed “It’s safe now, take off your glasses!”

Our photos from Aruba’s total eclipse

Nighttime. Nighttime with all the stars out yet a faint light of dawn 360 degrees around us just at the lip of horizon. The birds, the songs of the birds as if it were daybreak. The lights, all the streetlights and lighted signs on the tiny island of Aruba had lit up. It was nighttime but it wasn’t. The horizon was beautiful. The colors of sunrise 360 degrees around us with all the stars out and this black circle above us. Tiny black, very black circle with a moving light shimmering around it.

Surreal.

Ouch! The light! Someone screams”Glasses on!”

The moon had moved on and the first pierce of intense light had broken through. The sun was back, although just a tiny corner. We looked down to realize that we were no longer in the dark shadow as a faint light of sun had encompassed us. The shadow was moving again. The darkness had left us and it was moving again, moving away from us. Moving away fast. We could see it’s circular edge moving across the sea as the light replaced the darkness in the water. The great storm of darkness moved on and so fast that we couldn’t follow it.

We watched as the wonderment of that total eclipse moved on for others to experience that day.

Then we danced.

Today I sit in awe and gratitude for all the gifts I have been blessed with thus far in my wonderful life. Thus far!

Happy Eclipse!

Travel Beard

Big Apple Beard

We flew into New York Last evening and started at Rockefeller Center.

Time Square

Under the ceiling of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre before seeing Kinky Boots

Back at Rockefeller Center

St. Patrick’s

Today at One World Trade Center

9/11 Memorial

Ceiling of Westfield World Trade Center

Battery Park view of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Stonewall Plaza

Stonewall Inn

The Highline view of Empire State Building

Our 33rd floor room view of Chrysler Building

Capital Treasures 4

After our enjoyable visit at the National Gallery it was time for our appointment at The African American History Museum.

National Museum of African-American History & Culture

Definately an amazing museum and wonderful addition to the Smithsonian, this museum is worth the visit. Still being the new kid on The Mall it was packed and tickets hard to come by. We enjoyed it immensely, but we will make a point to come back at a later date when it isn’t so crowded and can be enjoyed as a Museum of its caliber should be. I know they have a lot of people waiting to get in and that tickets are limited in number, but I think they could do better limiting the number of tickets issued to an even smaller number.

Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain

The Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain was worth the trip itself alone. Overwhelming. Fearsome had some tears to catch as I began to sob. Cleansing.

Jackie Robinson #42

Fearsome had more tears to catch as I choked up over Jackie’s jersey. One can see the faint reflection of Fearsome’s San Diego Padres hat in the glass just above the shoulder to the right of the Jackie’s face.

Jackie Robinson is truly an inspirational man of honor. Integrating baseball was not an easy task. Jackies strength was in his own personal restraint and self discipline. Fearsome highly recommends the movie about Jackie’s life. The movie is simply “42”. Jackie is one of Fearsome’s heroes.

Hot Tickets

We’ve got ’em.

Saturday August 12.

And On that same trip there is this: …click on the headline for more info if you are so inclined…

It will be a quick summer trip. It’s gonna be great!

‘Tis Spring!

Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza

Do you see the serpent?

In the many travels I’ve been blessed with in this lifetime, I’ve visited Chichen Itza twice. The first time was back in the days when one could climb the pyramid, which I did. The second trip into that dense jungle was on a spring equinox during which I observed the brief appearance of the serpent. The serpent only appears twice a year to mark each equinox which signals either planting or harvest. Like most civilizations, both are celebrations for the Maya.

The pyramid, officially known as the Temple of Kukulcan, is a wonder of  construction, precision and magnificence. One can precisely tell the time and day of the year simply by the position of the sun and the shadows upon it.

I love Mexico.

Happy spring!

Mom updates

Mom is doing much better. Big relief. Physical therapy has worked well for her. She is much more herself.

Her birthday party was a success and she absolutely loves her new Apple Watch. She is calling everyone from her wrist. Seriously!

Fearsome Mom

Fearsome Mom

Yes, I made the cake. Kentucky Butter Cake! (You can find the recipe HERE)

After a wonderful time with mom, Fearsome and I boarded our flight to start our journey home. Due to the tumultuous weekend of policy changes by decree we figured we may see a bit of discourse along the way. San Diego International did not disappoint.

img_9241

img_9237

Outside baggage claim thousands of peaceful protestors as far as the eye could see, even on the upper level drop off area. We added our cheers of support as we made our way through the crowd having to walk to the smaller domestic flight only terminal for pick up. It was an uplifting walk after a weekend of disconcerting news.

Yesterday we took another step in our support of compassionate human values. If you are so inclined you can add your support as well simply by clicking HERE.

We are glad to be home safely with our family. We pray for everyone that are separated from families/loved ones and for all those that are displaced from their home/homelands that are simply seeking safe refuge in order to live.

 

Fearsome’s travel updates

We arrived safely in Ft Lauderdale only 20 hours later than the originally scheduled arrival time. Thanks to a helpful club concierge we were rescheduled on the easiest most comfortable route to our final destination. Fearsome has taught me that a smile, patience plus a few kind words go a long way with those who work in customer service. His wisdom worked to our favor.

After waiting out our delay in snowy Washington DC due to the line for de icing we were finally airborne. Shortly into the flight or Captian let us know that due to storms aloft we were re-routing but would make it to Ft. Lauderdale. He warned us if a bumpy flight ahead and that services may be delayed as from time to time the flight attendants would have to sit down and strap themselves in. Yeah! A thrill ride!

Actually the experience aloft turned out to be fairly smooth and the re-route took us out to sea. When landing in Ft Lauderdale on most often arrives over the Everglades but due to storms we descended to our destination via a route over the Bahamas. As the Captian put it we were going to just “slip in between storm fronts” so we could land safely.

Our sneaky route between storms allowed some incredible vistas from my window seat the United Club concierge snagged for me:

One of the Bahamas below.

One of the Bahamas below.

Storms in the distance.

Storms in the distance.

Stunning azul of the shallow Bahamas waters.

Stunning azul of the shallow Bahamas waters.

Storms head over Ft Lauderdale Beach during approach.

Storms head over Ft Lauderdale Beach during approach.

What we found when we got off the flight in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International was a freakin’ mess. Due to all flights being cancelled the day before and the one whole terminal being closed as it was a crime scene, left our arrival terminal looking like something out of Night of The Living Dead. As we deplaned we entered a terminal packed to the point there wasn’t even a place for people to sit on the floor and the stranded passengers looked at us almost as if they were hungry enough to eat us. They wanted on to our aircraft and NOW!

The there was baggage claim. Oh shit!

Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International United Baggage Claim 1/7/2017

Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International United Baggage Claim 1/7/2017

Apparently in the evacuation of the airport during the previous days shootings everyone was told to leave their bags and run. These were just the yet to be claimed bags from arriving passengers. Departing passenger bags were available for claim and re-checking to destinations on one’s newly scheduled flight upstairs. The nightmare the day after a nightmare.

My bag? After a reschedule and a night left outside on the tarmac at Dulles International it arrived! Still frozen, but here with me! Whew.

I made my way to Dollar Rent A Car and was greeted with no line in which to wait but a friendly face who discounted my rental and upgraded me to a full size car “due to the travel interruptions” I had endured. I was off to my hotel and welcomed not only by a familiar and friendly face at the front desk but also by my comfortable and familiar room.

Room 219, Fearsome's favorite room.

Room 219, Fearsome’s favorite room.

 

Travelous interrupterous

So I land in Dulles for a short layover on way to Ft. Lauderdale. When I turn my phone on it explodes with texts asking if I am ok. It seems that this happened…

5 dead and 8 injured at Delta baggage claim in Ft. Lauderdale airport.

5 dead and 8 injured at Delta baggage claim in Ft. Lauderdale airport.

I should have already boarded my plane to fly there. However the plane that I fly there on is sitting on the tarmac there, full of passengers coming here, waiting to take off. The FTL airport is still closed so who knows when it will take off and when I will get to board it to head there.

While I am having the minor inconvenience of travelous interrupertous (my how spell check hates me when I make up my own words) there are families and friends grieving the loss of the five Delta passengers who died at the hands of a crazy man and eight others injured in the hospital. I pray for them. Yes I do pray.

It seems that the gunman had just flown in on a Delta flight, picked up his bag from the luggage carousel, retrieved the gun from his checked bag and opened fire. Seriously. Crazy lives amoung us. Sorry folks but that is horrible. Innocent travelers possibly on their way to a vacation of their dreams, coming home, visiting friends & family, working on a business trip, returning from a deployment overseas or maybe even going on a honeymoon …dead at the luggage carousel because some crazy asshole fucker had a gun in his checked bag.

A fucking gun in a fucking checked bag on a fucking airplane.

Soapbox. Yep I stepped on it.

Now I’ll get back off of it.

So several hours late or maybe tomorrow morning I will finally arrive at my destination of Ft. Lauderdale Florida, my second home. I will stand at a luggage carousel waiting for my bag. I will shed tears. I will remember poor souls I never met. I’ll pray for the loved ones in mourning. I’ll feel gratitude that I was not there at that moment. I will be grateful I was spared and had the minor inconvenience of having to wait here at the United Club outside of Washington DC at the Dulles airport.

Tell your loved ones you love them. Tell them now, and tell them often. Stop smell the roses, take time, value the important things and never ever forget the blessing that is this very moment.

Change is in the air

I returned to San Diego safe and sound about 3 hours late on Friday. Unlike the week before, this time I luckily missed the incoming Chicago snowstorm only to be prevented from landing in San Diego due to heavy rains and wind. After circling above in a holding pattern and one aborted landing attempt we were taken to Ontario just east of Los Angeles to sit on a tarmac while we got more fuel and waited out the storm. Our SoCal winter weather was finally here.

Upon arriving home I noticed that our deciduous trees had finallly started to change. While many trees here are evergreen, we have some deciduous trees that drop their leaves in the fall. Some even have bright color shows indicating the change of seasons. Like many areas these trees always shed their foliage in October, sometimes November.

We have six such trees in our yard. The coral tree is finally half barren with no color changes just dropped leaves. The crepe myrtle is abalze in bright red/orange/yellow hues which it typically shows off in early November, this year it has saved the show for Christmastime. The euphorbia cotinifolias are all four still content with their fully foliage selves not yet dropping a leaf, yet by now should be completely barren as I usually decorate them for Christmas by wrapping lights on their branches.

It’s strikingly odd. It’s also a bit disturbing.

We have not only had the hottest summers ever in my living here for more than a quarter century, but also the longest. We turned the furnace on for the first time this weekend having run air conditioning almost continuously since May. We used to only ever use AC for about 3 weeks around Labor Day.

So why a subject so shallow as the weather on this typically deep, enlightening and life changing discussion blog?

Change.

This post isn’t about delayed travel or the obvious changes in our climate. It isn’t about the obvious effects of everything that happens on the earth, such as over consumption of fossil fuels, each action sending its wave of effect accumulating into great modifications of the environment from which we evolved and depend.

This post is about reactions to change.  It is about contemplating reactions, acceptance, choices and actions to interruptions or modifications of the expected.

Do I get upset that my travel plans are changed, delayed, interrupted and become enraged and stressed? Or do I accept, go with the flow and take the opportunity to simply be in the moment making the best out of the unexpected?

Do I react in fear about greater changes in climate possibly modifying life as we know it by bitching about it yet sitting idly by making no changes in my personal habits? Or do I accept it is happening and make better choices for my consumption such as purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle, voting appropriately, buying the carbon offset credits with my airline ticket, changing my thermostat, installing solar and even saying no to beef choosing a vegetarian meal instead?

Home awaits

At this very moment I sit here:

View from my seat in the United Club at Dulles.

View from my seat in the United Club at Dulles.

….and I am on my way here:

Patsy, Virgil &  Mitzi waiting for me on the couch. (Photo just taken and text to me by The Better Half)

Patsy, Virgil & Mitzi waiting for me on the couch. (Photo just taken and text to me by The Better Half)

I love the journey that is life!