TR: Exposition on Ontario Exploration – Blue Mountains, Niagara, Toronto Suburbs (11/15-11/16/14)

Trips happen for a reason. Sometimes there’s a specific ride. Sometimes there’s a large idea framing the trip planning process. This was a solo trip to Canada birthed around an event- a “world title” boxing bout in Mississauga, Ontario with low-priced tickets that interested me. So why not go? And since I’m crossing the border, I suppose I should do some other stuff. How about a coaster? How about some random amusements and a world-famous natural landmark? I guess I’d have to drive a lot, but I’m grown. I can do it. Continue reading

TR: Cedar Point Closing Weekend & Toledo Zoo stop (11/1-11/2/2014)

The weekend after Halloween this year represented the end of most seasonal theme park operation in the United States and Canada. While I recognize the “season end,” I’m also keenly aware that I’ll probably be visiting amusement rides via automobile in two of the subsequent 4 weekends after most theme parks close. But then, after that, things will change. Whether or not I’m properly prepared for it mentally, soon the option of visiting Cedar Point simply won’t exist, which makes going when you still can on a weekend such as this one all the more important for those obsessed to the entertainment derived from these sorts of places. Meredith and I, we’re the lucky ones with options and alternatives gifted to us by economic status. For a lot of people, the winter is cold and long. Continue reading

TR: Jewel of the Seas 2014 Caribbean Cruise Pt. 7 – San Juan Post-Cruise (10/18 & 19/2014)

“These damn Dominicans, always stealing my cab rides! They just come here and take advantage of us.”

My mother, bless her heart, is not a huge fan of Puerto Rican culture or people. She’s approaching 60 now, an immigrant from Poland who’s lived in or around Hartford, CT for the majority of her life. To her. Puerto Ricans move to the greater Hartford Metro area and take advantage of her generosity, or something like that. To aging WASPs, my Catholic mom’s entry to America was a violation of the founder’s desires. To Dominicans, that sorts of criticism is levied towards Haitians. All over arbitrary social constructs. What gives? In this real life example, our cabbie was gonna get someone going further than La Concha from the San Juan cruise port and got heated. Life is tough. I was able to get her in a different and more cheerful place mentally by the time we arrived at the hotel, but still. Continue reading

TR: Jewel of the Seas 2014 Caribbean Cruise Pt. 6 – Barbados & Sea Day (10/16 & 17/2014)

By the time our 5th day on the boat had arrived, we had fallen into certain patterns of activity. The coffee drinks in the Starbucks were one that we’d enjoy. Another was the TV programming produced on board the ship. Not the morning show or even so much the game shows replayed from nights prior. For some reason, the shopping consultant talks replayed over and over with Lee, the boat’s shopping consultant, were mesmerizing. Our favorite was on one program where he informed us that an overwhelming percentage of people notice watches on people and judge them on their watch, then mentioned that we almost assuredly had noticed he had two on. We laughed about how no one in our peer group we know aside from myself wears a watch and that, indeed, we hadn’t been that interested as to notice that he had two on. Apparently one of the regulated the nervous system by magic microchip. I don’t know about you, but I’m not rushing to acquire untested-by-the-FDA cyborg control chips from commercial retailers. Continue reading

TR: Jewel of the Seas 2014 Caribbean Cruise Pt. 5 – St. Lucia (10/15/2014)

Our journey’s next stop would be the 32nd country I’ve stepped foot in – St. Lucia. The sailing down the night before from Antigua was pretty calm and unmemorable. Entering St. Lucia isn’t something I can say the same about. For whatever reason, we backed into port, giving us the best view possible of the island on approach. Like Antigua the day before, the island nation’s major city is packed in a natural harbor in which ships must maneuver tight lanes to find their way to a dock. Castries is a different animal from St. John’s though – a series of high rise towers faces the water front, and the runway for the island’s main airport forces approaching planes to fly directly over the entrance to the harbor. St. Lucia is more lush and mountainous than our previous port, more comparable as a result to Dominica.

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TR: Jewel of the Seas 2014 Caribbean Cruise Pt. 4 – Impromptu Sea Day & Antigua (10/13 & 14/2014)

For all the planning we do, nature can throw unhittable curveballs. The discovery that we’d be skipping St. Maarten and cruising instead was generally inoffensive to my wife and I, but it meant that we’d need to reconsider our entire set of activities for day 3 of our cruise. In this instance, we chose to do very, very little. Part of that was unintentional, as we had no Compass to go off of for events and activities until early in the day. Most of it, frankly, was intentional. Drinking the day prior did my body no favors, and we spent much of the day wandering and grazing around the ship or in the cabin enjoying the balcony and bed.

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TR: Jewel of the Seas 2014 Caribbean Cruise Pt. 3 – Embarkation & St. Croix (10/11 & 12/2014)

With boarding complete, the process of waiting to leave seemed to drag on forever. Our bags arrived after a short time and we had to force ourselves into putting things away. The sailaway show promised comedy. Feeling confident in my own personal ability to make jokes about how powerful the toilet flushes and how many times lights flicker in the bathroom, we chose to skip this and do, well, something else. Mostly, this “something else” was to go tour the ship and see things. Both lunch and dinner were found in the buffet, with us siting both inside and outdoors in a comparative rarity – outdoor aft space for balcony dining. Nice to have it.

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