Sunday, January 31, 2010

Warming up Reality with Vacation Memories

Honest, I try to keep the weather whining to a minimum. I mean, I know you all know about our 30 below, worse windchills, and the 36" of snow on the ground blah blah blah 'cause the frickin' stuff won't melt till April! Ooops. Was I shouting? Sorry. . .

So that's why I drag out these warm(er) weather photos and memories of our trip earlier this month to the Western Caribbean. This was day 4, in Mexico. Originally, we were going to go snorkeling. . . . but the weather didn't cooperate. Except, this was actually the warmest day of the trip, with temperatures reaching 75 degrees! Above zero! Heaven. . . . . .

We actually got a bit sunburnt, and had to use lots of sunscreen. . . .

We scheduled an excursion to Tulum, a Mayan ruin, and feasted our eyes on this beach. . . .

And here we are looking like tourists. . . .

Look! Short sleeves and no parka! We're practically naked!

We dutifully followed the directions to put the little sticker that said "6" on our shirts, so we could get back on the bus and return to the ship.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your Pick: Jan 12th or Jan 25th?

Where would you rather be? On a chilly, (one of the coldest ever) cruises in the Carribean. . . .

Tuesday. January 12th.

or in North Dakota with -50 degree windchills? (oh. . . and a flat tire.)

Monday. Jan. 25th.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 3: Disney Cruise at Sea

Like any cruise, the Disney Cruise has some days at sea, and some days in port. Monday, our 3rd day, and first day at sea, did not promise to be a warm, sunshine-filled day. Check out these clouds, the cool theatre screen behind the pool, and those hardy, brave children in swim suits.

I preferred being inside.

But I especially preferred the wine tasting! Doug and I signed up for this. You get a sampling of 6 wines, and some instruction on swirling the wine in the glass, looking at its color, sniffing it for real or imagined smells, sloshing it around in your mouth, and then drinking it (all in fancier, more colorful, wine-speak.) Don't worry; it wasn't 6 FULL glasses (oh god, oh god!), and no sippy cup (Sharon!), but still much more wine than I'm use to drinking. Fortunately, I wasn't driving.

We finished the evening at Palos, the upscale restaurant on the ship. I kept reading that many thought eating here was the high point of the whole cruise. They're right!
It's an Italian restaurant, and this is a photo of the only chocolate dessert I have been unable to finish in my known adult life! It's a chocolate mousse with caramel cream sauce.

I'm so glad there's lots of ways to walk on a ship, or by the end of the cruise, I would have needed a crane to lift me off the ship to disembark!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Beatiful Ms. Bonnie and Under the Dome

The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie is a little overwhelmed just now.

First, she thinks it's a lot to ask of her, in her dotage, to adapt to new technology. Just because I got an e-reader for Christmas (the Barnes & Noble Nook) doesn't mean that she was planning on learning how to use an e-reader.

Secondly, she found the book she just finished reading, Stephen King's "Under the Dome", to be fairly intense for her. She says:

"If you want to be creeped out by human interactions and dynamics, read this! It's like "The Stand," with your basic unraveling of "life as we know it", and then the ensuing weirdness that humans can engage in. There's the pitting of "good" against "evil", and tension building more and more as everything just becomes unbearably bleak. I could barely contain myself! I wanted to pace around the house, and munch on things at various points in the book! (Wait! I always want to munch on things!)

And an especially nice feature to this book is the wonderful appearance of a canine character. Not that Cujo monstrosity (what was SK thinking?!) But a sweet, dear, brilliant, fine upstanding citizen-of-the-world type dog. (A little like me, perhaps?)

Definitely, read SK's "Under the Dome", and I'm predicting this one's going to be made into a movie! "

(The astute reader with good eye-sight might notice that The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie is actually reading at the moment "The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo." Let's let her keep her dignity, the old sweetie!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Butterfly Conservatory: Key West

Such a perfect thing to do, on a very cold day in Key West: Visit the Butterfly Conservatory. I really liked all of the informative/educational material this exhibit included.

In that way, it was a much better exhibit than the one in Como Park, MN.

But the Como Park butterfly exhibit had a much broader range of butterflies and species! This really surprises me; I guess it's that old phenomenon of thinking that things far away have to be superior.

This butterfly was quite challenging to photograph. I stalked it all over the exhibit, trying to capture it's much more brilliant, colorful, purple wings (on the inside.) But you can only see them when the butterfly is in flight. Once it lands, it shows only it's gray/woodsy brown wings, and it's "eye." The "eye" marking is part of it's attempt to temporarily throw off a predator, giving it seconds to possibly make an escape. The butterflies in Minnesota would do well to have this; maybe it would help them escape that Mall of America mouse infestation!

One other thing about the Minnesota exhibit; it was warmer than our Key West visit!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Disney Cruise Day 2: Key West

From this photo, what's your first clue that it's a little chilly in Key West, Florida? With not even an iota of guilt, we abandoned our new-found, furry, children on ship, and went out to play.

Strangely, there really were no crowds thronging the streets, which suited me just fine. No one got between my camera and what I wanted to shoot.

I think this is suppose to be Christmas decor. I have no clue what the demonic-looking, horned critter to the left of pooh bear is suppose to be.

This man is an artist from south Africa, in Key West, doing sand painting. It was really interesting talking to him about the various colored sands he has to create his paintings.

This dog is apparently a model in the window. At first I thought he was one of those little, creepy, robo-dog toys. But he was truly alive, modelling a sweater, I think. Other people clustered around the window, saying things like "Awwww, cute" or "That's sick!"

Key West is like a town that "time forgot." It reminds me of a middle-aged throwback to the 70s.

OK, just what I need to add to my Christmas list for my favorite serial killer next year--a knife holder that looks like it's been murdered.

I bet this guy would have made us take our gloves off to read our palms. . . no crowds standing in line for his services, either!

We did like walking in Key West! Next up is the butterfly exhibit; this was the perfect stop on a cold day. . . lots of warmth and humidity to keep the little critters alive, although I'm not sure that it was the best thing for my camera . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Traded in the Kids for New Models

On Sunday morning on our cruise, before disembarking the ship for Key West, Doug and I had breakfast.

After some intense negotiations and fast-talk by the silver-tongued Douglas, we managed to trade off our 3 children for newer, furrier, models.

I'm liking the promises of rooms kept clean, but think I'll miss the phone calls from Scott, Brian, and Dianna. I like their use of words, more than I like the heavy breathing of these Disney creatures.

If you think you can give us a better offer for Scott, Brian, or Dianna, I'm all ears:

Once we disembarked in Key West, we discovered we weren't in Kansas anymore.

(Not that we ever were in Kansas, but North Dakota is kind of like Kansas, only with even more long underwear and parkas.)

Tomorrow, more from Key West. . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meet our Table Mates

For dinners on the Disney Cruise, we were seated with two of the most delightful people you can imagine, Rosie and Jamie.

I don't know how Disney did it, but they picked two kindred souls for us to rotate through the dining rooms with. Poor Louis and Jonathon; they could't get rid of us. Each night, we'd look around, and realize that pretty much everyone else had left, and we were still engrossed in conversation with Jamie and Rosie.

But that's OK; Louis had a unique form of revenge. He turned Rosie into Minnie Mouse:

Doug got, oh. . . I don't know. . . a duck hat?

. . . as did Jamie. Louis looks like he's having way too much fun!

Louis left me alone to snap away with my camera. . . .

And then, for no apparent reason, he decided to sing happy birthday to Rosie, present her with a cake. . . and it really wasn't her birthday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Disney Magic Cruise: Western Carribean

On Saturday morning, first I had to haunt Doug for a while from another dimension just beyond the mirror before we left Saratoga Springs resort and headed to the Port Canaveral terminal.

Note the festive beach garb worn by our fellow cruisers, as we climbed aboard the Disney Cruise Express:

The tropical sun was relentless as we embarked on our Magical journey. Good thing we packed all that sunscreen!

Disney has a dinner rotation system between 3 dining halls. The dining room servers rotate with you. Jonathon is from the Phillipines and has a little 3 year old and 5 year old son that he'll get to see again in 5 weeks and two days. Louis is from India and was quite talented in his ability to harass and entertain us. I learned to listen closely to him as he recited the menu for the evening, because he often "went rogue" and slipped a few outrageous remarks (with a perfectly straight face) in amongst the 'broiled this' and 'sauted that,' never breaking character.

We had hoped to go snorkeling during this trip, but our North Dakota hardiness does not extend to plunging ourselves into icy waters. We did the only logical thing under the circumstances: we ate everything in sight, with one exception. . . .

. . . . the Disney personnel did not take kindly to our trying to devour Mickey, even if we thought he'd make a mighty fine bedtime snack.