Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Morning Trick or Treat 10/31/09

Are you kidding me? The last two weeks have been a little more productive in the travel business. Hoo Ya! I am hoping that I finish the year with a bang! Remember to always love your travel agent. "College Football Dad" has been at home watching college football while Pod has been on the road for a few weeks. It's pretty hard to watch on the tube or ESPN 360. I am not a good TV watcher when Pod is on the field. I do a lot of pacing. Our weather has been hot, cool, hot and cool again. I wish Mother Nature would make up her mind. Royal Caribbean has her big new ship The Oasis of the Seas getting ready to hit the water's in November. You have got to check this floating city out! When you have time make sure you check out my website and biz page. We have a ton of year end specials and early booking specials for travel next year. You will also find great tips on travel. How is your Cruisitude? Mine is doing just fine! I know, enough of the business stuff. I thought I would save this part of our trip for Halloween. Before our journey to the dark side begins, let's do a little Trick or Treat! It is Halloween, so why not. Are you ready for the Trick? Start with 1 oz. Amaretto, 1 1/2 oz. Vodka, Vanilla, 1/2 oz. Triple Sec, 1 dash Grenadine and fill with Orange Juice. Pour vodka, triple sec, amaretto, grenadine into a tall glass filled with your favorite ice. Top with orange juice and stir. Take four or five small Halloween candies, and stick them on a skewer. Place skewer on top of glass. I told you it would be a Treat. There you have it, a Trick or Treat! Our night is going to start with one of the stupidest things I have ever done. I have been convinced by our traveling party that we need to do a night kayak excursion in the pitch dark. How stupid do you think I am? Well I guess pretty stupid! They keep telling me that it is going to be so awesome looking at the water glow as you paddle. I guess that could be cool, but in the dark? Vieques is known for one of the best Bioluminescence Bays in the world. What the heck did you just say? Bioluminescence who, what? Bioluminescence is the phenomenon where light or glow is created by a living creature by internal chemical reaction. Approximately 80% of all marine life creates bioluminescence to some degree. This is done to achieve different survival strategies which include mating, predator avoidance and feeding. When a particular species of plankton concentrates in very high numbers in rare areas around the world, the results are stunning. The Bioluminescent Bay is located in the Mosquito Bay area in Vieques and is, perhaps, the brightest in the world! With over 750,000 tiny dinoflagellates per gallon of water that light up when they are touched! Imagine a lake full of Tinker Bells fairy dust! Pure magic, the experience is actually indescribable. So here is the deal! We all meet at Blue Caribe Kayaks for the details of our journey. The sun was just starting to go down and I was getting a little nervous not knowing what to expect. Can I take a cooler? We are given a life jacket and a whistle. Why in the heck do I need a whistle? Ok, now it s beginning to make sense. I am getting in a kayak in the dark and in case I get lost I blow a whistle. This is not starting out good. If I am lost in the ocean who is going to hear me? I just got my first glimpse of the kayaks that we will be using. It has a preformed area for your butt and feet. Whose butt did they use to make that mold? I am supposed to fit which part of my butt in this thing? Why do you sit up in the air instead of down in it some? It looks pretty wobbly to me. My two sons are with me so I better suck this up and get in the van. It took about 20 minutes of driving through the jungle before we reached our departure point. I know why they call this Mosquito Bay. I was getting bit left and right. I guess when they told us not to use Mosquito spray with DEET in it because it could damage the critters in the water that we would have a mosquito problem. As I am standing there with the rest of the group including my wife, two sons, mother, brother, sister-in-law and her mom and dad I realize that I do not see any water. We are in this jungle area with who knows what type of animals and they tell us that we are going to shove off through this small opening of mangroves. I am really thinking snakes and spiders now. Pea and Pod get their kayak and the tour helpers shove them out into the darkness. I kid you not, you cannot see anything. Ok, that looks pretty easy. The only problem is that I weigh a little more than they do and I take up more room in my kayak and I have a water proof camera around my neck with this stupid whistle. It comes to my turn to walk out in the mangroves for my shot out in the dark. I take my position and there I go. Through the jungle in to the wide open ocean I head. Why did I get pushed so hard? No more than 10 feet and I had already fallen out of my kayak. This is not good! I could still stand up, but barely. Every time I tried to get in the kayak it kept moving. I finally was able to get in by sliding on it with my stomach. There is no telling how many bruises I am going to have. This is going to be the longest two hours of my life. All of the sudden Janet comes shooting by and I about fall out again. Something has to be wrong with my kayak. I have finally got some balance and the moon is out and I can see a few people and the tour guides said to follow them out. It was really cool to see your paddle and the other kayaks with this light glowing with every move you made. We were going out in to the bay for about one mile and they would let us get in the water for about 15 minutes before we headed back. Do they know we are in a bay that goes into the ocean that has sharks in it? This has to be a bad dream. I started to paddle and was doing ok I thought. It seemed like I was always going to the right and the harder I paddled the worse it was. Pea and Pod would circle back every so often to check on me. I was in last place for most of the time and I still had my whistle. It was a close competition with Janet and Carol at times. I did catch up to Janet and Carol for a little bit. They kept laughing at me and the next thing I know Carol (mom) has fallen out. I made my way over to help, but what the heck was I going to do? When you are in water over your head and your kayak will not stay still, it is a task that I cannot complete. If I fall out again I am sure that a shark or something will eventually get me. Remember it is dark and there is salt in the water. Thank goodness one of the tour guides was close by and helped her get back in. It seemed like forever but I finally caught the rest of the group as they were all swimming in the middle of the bay making water angels. They had tied all of the kayaks together. I had made it this far, so I better get in and experience this Bioluminescence thing first hand. I knew I could get out of the kayak. I had no clue how I was going to get back in. Every movement you made with your arms or legs would light up with this blue glow. It was really cool to see, but I was still nervous about my re-entry into my kayak.. Well it is that time and I am not feeling good about my chances. I tried several times and could not do it. It would be nice if they had some steps to help you get back in. HaHa! With two tour guides and a few desperate attempts I was able to get all of me back in. We had paddled out in a bit of a head wind so the return trip would surely go faster. Wrong! I was having paddling issues and it did not matter how I paddled I kept going in circles. How do I get out of this paddle spin? Really, how do you paddle in circles? Pea and Pod came back to check on me and I said more cuss words than I even knew were in my dictionary. They tried to be encouraging, but I was not in the mood for it. Why is everyone laughing at me? I finally got my alignment corrected and started to make some head way. Every now and then I would still just go in circles. I could not figure this thing out. My brother (Donnie) came back to check on me and he could not stop laughing at me either. It served him right for laughing because a few minutes later he fell out of his kayak. He was able to get back into his pretty easy though. I think I got a lemon kayak. Can I return mine for a new one? I told everyone to leave me alone. Every time they came to check on me something happens. Sure as shoot I fell out again. I guess I am going to just hang on and swim with this darn kayak. I saw one on the tour guides off in the distance so I blew my whistle and they helped me get back in. This was it. I have had enough of this. I have got to get past this mental thing I have going on with my kayak. It seemed like several more hours, but the next thing I knew I had made it back to our pick up point. Thank goodness the wind kept me on the right course. I thought for sure I would end up out at sea. As soon as I got close enough I jumped out and got to shore as fast as I could. I think I have died and gone to heaven. I have my feet on the ground. My family finally got to see me in an environment where I am not very good at and they have never laughed so hard in their entire lives. We piled back in to the vans and everyone talked about their experience. I did not say a word. I was still in a kayak coma! I needed a beer in the worst way. 20 minutes later after our return we found this burger dive and I chugged more beers than I could count so I could get my nerves back in check. I was glad that I did this, but I will never do this again. Everyone else said it was one of the highlights of their trip. I really would highly recommend this trip, but make sure you get a kayak that is formed to your butt shape! If you ever want to take a trip to the dark side call me and I can give you all of the details and help you book your trip. I am going to end our trip here. What a blast we have had. I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me in Puerto Rico/Vieques. I am not sure where our journeys will take us next, but where ever they are it will be a fun ride. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Please leave me a comment sometime so I know who is reading. I would be honored if you share this with a friend. Hang on for our next wild ride. Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Afternoon Toasted Fisherman 10/08/09

Wow! What a week this has been. Well actually two weeks. This College Football Dad going to a football game in the middle of the week last week has me a little screwed up. I am catching up though. Our weather is so bizarre right now. We had about six inches last weekend and most of my mulch has left my yard. I wonder if insurance covers that. I wish the cool weather would just set in and let fall be fall. The biz has picked up some. This coming week is the big grand daddy of all week in the cruise biz. Every cruise line has year end specials that will blow you away. You will probably see a ton of commercials from the cruise lines starting this weekend and continuing through the following week. Check my website out next week and I bet you will be surprised. I will also be hosting a Virtual Cruise Night on the 14th. Come learn about cruising! Cruise Planners will be giving away 3 FREE cruises. Make sure and check out the Six Degrees of Cruisitude during the week of October 12th - 19th and register for the cruise give away! If you are into social media networking check out my biz page when you have time. Ok, enough business! Let’s have a drink and some fun. With the upcoming week being the World’s Largest Cruise Event, I thought we would make a “Toasted Fisherman”. I have been a toasted fisherman before, but how in the heck do you drink one? Here is the scoop. Take 1 shot Crown Royal, 1 shot Amaretto, 1 shot Sweet and Sour. Then splash a little 7-Up. Mix all of the ingredients over the ice of your choice, stir and serve with a cherry! I can do without the cherry, but now you have a “Toasted Fisherman”. Our day is going to start in Fajardo (fah-HAHR-do). This is where our high speed people carrier will take us to the island of Vieques. We are going to spend a few days on this very little virgin island. Isla de Vieques is 55 square miles and has less than 10,000 inhabitants and not many visitors until now. The beaches are just gorgeous and the water is crystal clear. The Island is about 21 miles long by 4 miles at its widest point and it is located between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, just 6 miles from the south-east coast of Puerto Rico. The reason you probably never heard of Isla de Vieques was because this magical island on the Caribbean was not a popular vacation spot since this small island was primarily under the control of the United States Navy. After years of protests the Navy finally discontinued their military practices of bombing and weapons’ testing and left the island on 2003. We had rented a van and a house on the island. We would have to make several trips to the rental house as everyone in our group with luggage could not go at the same time. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. We had stuff hanging out everywhere! The house we had rented was beautiful. It was two stories and sat on this magnificent cliff that overlooked the Caribbean. It also had this huge outdoor kitchen and this amazing infinity pool. We over looked the W Hotel which was located at the bottom of the cliff. This hotel is one of the very few on the island. One of the perks of the house that we rented was that we could use the facilities at the W Hotel anytime we wanted. We would spend a couple of afternoons in their pool drinking pina coladas and playing a little water vollyball! After we all got settled in it was time to get a cold one and hit the pool. All I can say is wow! After several hours in the sun, we decided to head into town and find a grocery store. The grocery store was an all in one food and liquor sort of place. We were able to get just about anything we needed to be able to keep the pickiest of eaters and drinkers satisfied. With our outdoor kitchen came this amazing outdoor bar area. As the sun was going down the first evening we got this awesome cloud display. I swear it looked like the Michelin Man. Really it did! The next morning we are going to go explore some of the hidden beaches. These beaches are so hidden I guess you could hang out naked if you wanted. I didn’t, but you could have. Some of the beaches on our list to try and find were Green Beach, Blue Beach, Red Beach, Esperanza Beach, Black Sand Beach and Playa Grande Beach. As I stated earlier we would have to find some of these beaches. You have to drive through jungle down dirt roads and hope that the map you have is giving you the right information. Once you find one and you make your way to the water you will be treated to the most amazing water and scenery. Every beach we found we were the only ones there. It was pretty weird. It was like we were stranded somewhere and no one knew where we were. We had our snorkel gear and got to see some wild looking fish in the very colorful coral. My youngest son Pod and a friend of my brothers (Kendal) decided to go out pretty far and around the corner of the rocks to where no one could see them anymore. It was pretty rough where they were and even though Pod was a lifeguard it still scared the crap out of me. Did they not remember that these beaches were used for weapon and bomb testing by our Navy up until just a few years ago? Who knows if all of those things exploded? After what seemed like a lifetime they reappeared and finally made it back to shore. We did not bring enough beer for that emotional rollercoaster. Our evening would take a major twist. We were going to do something that will scare the living sh*t out of you! Excuse my language, but it is true. It is so bizarre that I will write about it all by its lonesome next week. The next day will be our last full day before we head back to Puerto Rico. Since some of us are foodies we decided to make a very special meal with some local cuisine. A couple of us headed down to town were the fishermen were coming back in with their catches. We were on a journey to get some fresh hand caught Caribbean lobsters. Wow, did we hit pay dirt. This one guy had just caught 12 lobsters and we bought them all along with some snapper. It was going to be a grill off. These were the funniest looking lobsters. They do not have any claws, but they have this long antenna looking things. Since I was the griller tonight I was in charge of getting the lobsters ready. I would need an adult beverage before I could start this process that I really had no clue what I was doing. I had to de-head 12 live lobsters while they made very strange high pitched noises. As I struggled a bit in the beginning I started getting the hang of it. Kendal was in charge of taking each head one by one and throwing them off of the cliff. We could not stop laughing as he would use a towel and cover them while these antenna things kept moving. It was one of those funniest home video moments. The lobsters and fish are cleaned and are put up for safe keeping. The ladies made all sorts of appetizers’ to help us with our white wine. The fish and lobsters hit the grill at sunset. We also had an awesome shrimp alfredo pasta with salad and bread. What a way to end our last night in Vieques. After my belly is full I sit at the edge of the pool with a glass of wine in hand. I reflect on our trip so far and how lucky I am to be able to travel with family and friends! This island will stay on my list as one of my favorite destinations. I hope to come back and visit soon. I will end our journey here. Make sure and check back next week as my journey will take you into the darkness of no return. I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me in Puerto Rico/Vieques so far. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Please leave me a comment sometime so I know who is reading. I would be honored if you share this with a friend. You really are going to be surprised what happens next. Hang on for the wild ride. Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!