The Leonberger puppy #explores #outsidethebox.
Flyboard at Boca Raton Resort and Club in Florida
I awoke abruptly around 1 a.m. on December 24, 2013, not thinking about Christmas Eve, but worried that I hadn’t checked the expiration date on my son’s passport for our impending trip on December 27. I knew that his child’s passport expired after five years of the issue date, not 10 like an adult’s.
I quietly slid out of bed and checked the box where I had stored the passports. When I opened my son’s passport, my heart raced, because it had expired.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I checked the U.S. Passports and International Travel website that indicated that some countries will not accept a passport with an expiration date within 60 days of departure. I also learned that processing time for an expedited passport could take days to weeks.
We needed an appointment, and I exhaled loudly when I thought about the improbability of getting one on short notice the day after Christmas. I learned that we could walk-in without an appointment, but if they were busy, there was no guarantee.
The next morning, my worries were validated. I called the Washington office, and they said that they didn’t have any appointments and suggested that I call the Philadelphia office. I called the Philadelphia office, and thankfully they gave us an appointment at 9:00 a.m. on December 26. The representative said that we needed to fill out an application and bring his expired passport with proof of international travel reservations, and they would issue a replacement passport that day.
After checking the documents needed for the passport, I woke my son on December 26 at 6:30 a.m., and we began our drive to Philadelphia.
“Why do we have to leave so early?” he asked.
“Because if there is an accident, or we have a flat tire, or run into Christmas Eve traffic, and miss our appointment, we miss our trip,” I said.
We arrived at the Philadelphia Passport Agency, and I noticed that several people had luggage, and I assumed that they had been turned away at the airport. As we stood in the first line, I sweated thinking about the consequences, if I had not checked his passport expiration date. Also, I worried that somehow I missed a relevant document needed for the renewal.
The agent confirmed our appointment and sent us to the second line. While we waited about 40 minutes, I shifted my weight like a pendulum. Finally, we approached the desk, and that agent accepted our documents and sent us to have my son’s photo taken, where they told us to return at 2 p.m. to collect the passport. We left to explore Philadelphia.
“How lucky are you to tour Philadelphia with your mother on Christmas Eve?” I asked.
“Funny mom,” he said with a slight smile.
We traversed Philadelphia and ate lunch at the historic City Tavern. I loved this unplanned time with my son. Who needed to pack anyway?
When we returned to the U.S. Custom House to pick up his passport, a lady ladened with luggage stood in front of us in line. I heard her tell the custom’s agent that when she checked in at the airport with her family, she learned that her passport had expired. She said that her family had continued their trip, and she was planning to get her passport and meet them that night if she could get a flight.
I thought, what a terrible way to start a vacation, knowing that could have been us.
Ships full of cow bones wrecked, bones and skulls washed ashore on Anegada, British Virgin Islands hence Cow Wreck Beach. The Cow Killer rum drink is one of their specialties.
We heard that a snow storm was slamming the North, when we arrived at the San Juan airport at 1 p.m. We checked the arrival and departure screen and saw a list of canceled flights, but our 6 p.m. flight heading north was only delayed. We were returning from a family Christmas vacation, and my son, Bob, had waited to complete an assignment that was due the next day.
I was concerned because he was a high school senior, and a poor grade could affect his college acceptances. Bob said that he had it under control and assured me that he would finish his report when he had internet on the plane. Little did he know that his procrastination would lead to an unbelievable coincidence.
We watched passengers pace with phones pressed to their ears because flight cancellations caused plans to change. Many grabbed their luggage and left. By 5:00 p.m., our departure-time status was blank, and we suspected that our flight would be cancelled. To fill time, we went to an airport restaurant for dinner. When we returned, we didn’t see any airline employees behind the desk at our gate or even at any nearby gates. The airport had emptied, and my hopes for leaving that night deflated like a boat sail. The abandoned terminal felt eerie as we watched kiosks close, and restaurant lights darken. Though the restaurants were closed, fried onion odors lingered — like us. The only people left at our airport wing were passengers on our flight, and some had moved to sit at nearby gates.
We sat on our padded seats, that seemed to harden like cement, and watched a high school swim team play catch football at the gate across the aisle. Woodward High School was printed on the boy’s shirts, and we recognized the school because Bob’s school, Craxton, competes against them in sports. When Bob saw them, he walked over and shook hands with the team’s coaches. I thought that he knew one of them, but I was wrong. I believe that the following dialogue resembles their conversation.
“Hi, I’m Bob Smith, and I go to Craxton High School.”
“Ohhh, you do? Do you know Father Corbin ? He taught for 19 years at Woodward and transferred to Craxton about 3 years ago.”
” Yes, I’m in his Science class. He’s a great guy. Actually, I have a lab report due for him tomorrow, and I’m worried about finishing it because of the flight delay.”
“Father Corbin is a good friend, and I am going to text him that you are stranded.”
The coach texted Father Corbin and told him that he was delayed in San Juan, and he was with one of his students, Bob Smith. He added that Bob was worried about completing his assignment.
Father Corbin texted back to tell Bob to stop worrying, and they would talk in class.
Bob talked sports with the coaches and team and returned to his seat flashing a wide smile.
He said, “You’re not going to believe who the coach is friends with.”
We boarded the flight around 11 p.m. and landed about 3 a.m. Without much sleep, Bob went to school and spoke to his teacher. They worked out a plan.
Bob had everything under control all right.
*This is a true story, but I changed the names.
The alarmed clanged at 4:30 a.m. and jolted me from a deep peaceful sleep. I pried my eyes open to darkness and questioned why I would want to repeat this trip especially when the weather report called for rain.
I jumped out of bed, threw on a bathing suit, shorts and a t-shirt. My husband and I filled the cooler with beer, water, sodas, subs and fried chicken, and we loaded the car.
We headed for the Ocean City, Md docks to meet the guys at the sportfishing boat the Kingfisher. By 5:30, we loaded our coolers and boarded the boat.
The engines roared and diesel fumes permeated the salt air and we motored out of the Ocean City harbor. As we left the inlet and picked up speed the engines thundered, our hearts raced while white waves churned and frothed in a V formation in our wake. I looked back and watched the Ocean City ferris wheel fade from sight.
We advanced into the sunrise and wind whipped my hair and salt stuck to my damp skin. Fishing lines dragged in the water, and the mate dumped a stream of red chum or bait chunks behind the boat to attract fish.
The water changed from pea green to ink blue as the water deepened to about 100 feet. Wind blew and the boat bounced like a toy ship in a jacuzzi bathtub with the jets on full force, and worried thoughts about boat emergencies flooded my mind.
Unlike our previous voyage when we watched a huge flat sunfish drift in the shimmering sea and the dorsal fin of a thresher shark slide by, this day we white knuckled any vertical surface as the boat slammed into swells and the sky faded into clouds. Some of my friends turned greenish-white, and one retched over the side.
Suddenly a fishing line zeeeiiinnnngggged as a fish took the bait and swam for its life. Adrenaline pumped and queasiness was forgotten.
My friend Frank jumped in the fishing chair and the mate harnessed him in, so that he wouldn’t get pulled overboard during the fight. After about 20 minutes, the fish seemed to tire, and Frank began to reel it in. As we watched him fight the fish, a wave suddenly surged over the back of the boat.
The swell soaked us and gushed into the cockpit. We grabbed buckets and quickly scooped the water out. The rapid rush of water startled us, but it did not dampen our exhilaration over hooking the fish.
Within 45 minutes, Frank brought a tuna up to the side of the boat. The mate reached over the rail and slammed a large hook or gaff under the backbone of the fish and pulled it onboard. Dinner had arrived and it was time to head home.
Last week Kingfisher CaptainTommy Jones, our captain’s son, won the world-renowned White Marlin Open billfish tournament. He caught an 83 pound white marlin and won about $1 million. The day that we fished, I never imagined that the Kingfisher would become famous.
- Severna Park Man May Have Hooked A Million Dollar Fish (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- Outdoors column: Stream Weaver takes S.C. series win in Charleston (myrtlebeachonline.com)
- Angler jumps overboard to make rare catch off Hong Kong (grindtv.com)
- How big was that fish? (jacquisenn.com)
When I was in my 30’s, I won a company sales contest. The grand prize was a trip to England or Hawaii. I chose Hawaii.
As part of my prize, my company planned guided tours on Oahu, Hawaii. I felt obligated to attend the first tour, and I disliked it and it became my first and last bus tour.
Following are some reasons why this tour influenced me to never take a bus tour again:
1. I had nothing in common with my bus mates who left the bus to take pictures of pineapples in fields and then took close-up photos of them. I wondered if they took pictures of pineapples in grocery stores.
2. My tour mates reinforced that I had nothing in common with them when they stepped off the bus again to photograph field and close-up pictures of sugarcane. At this point, I wanted to return to my hotel because I thought that I was in hell.
3. The bus driver repeated incessantly that there were no snakes on the Island. He said it so many times that I started to suspect that there were some. In addition, I had a nightmare about snakes and the bus driver.
4. I was stuck on the bus all day when I wanted to lie on the beach, enjoy a casual lunch, and read my book.
5. Everyone on the bus carried bags and cameras and resembled Terry and Tommy tourist. I hoped no one recognized me with this motley group — even though I probably fit in more than I will admit.
6. I didn’t like to get shuttled to a tourist-trap restaurant where the bus driver seemed chummy with the owner. The food was terrible and I couldn’t get a cold beer to escape my misery.
7. Everyone on the bus was old — like I am now. But even though I am old, I still won’t get trapped on a bus.
8. I prefer to eat with the locals and determine when my tour begins and ends.
This bus tour affected me for life and left me with humorous memories. However, no matter how old I am, you won’t catch me lined up to board a bus with old people like me, unless I am forced.
- Beijing tourists threatened for not buying enough on tour (wantchinatimes.com)
- Chinese Tourist Tour Bus Burns Down in Flames (pattayadailynews.com)
- Experience space travel – or something like it – on the Star Fighter Day Bus Tour! (en.rocketnews24.com)
- Hawaii Tours Now Accepts Bitcoin (prweb.com)
- TheBus employees approve new 5-year labor agreement – Hawaii News Now (prgnewshawaii.com)
The most frightening trip I have ever experienced was driving through Hatillo, Puerto Rico on December 28, 2008.
Our family flew to San Juan and rented an SUV for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Rincon. The trip took us 4 1/2 hours, and one of those hours was the most frightening in my life.
We began our trip cruising west along the north shore, as we caught glimpses of the lapis Atlantic Ocean through the windows of our green Ford Explorer, our excitement increased.
When we approached the seaside town Hatillo, we hit traffic congestion and a confusion of color, and cacophony pierced our eyes and ears. Sirens screamed, horns blared, and men garbed in garish, fluorescent clothing and bizarre, grotesque masks guzzled liquor and beer while riding in the back of colorfully painted trucks and parade floats.
As we entered Hatillo we were in gridlock and the town was bedlam, with groups of men staggering in the streets swilling alcohol. We closed our windows, locked our doors, and peered at the insanity. Unfortunately, we became their target.
We feared for our safety
Men swarmed our SUV, shook it, and shot it with Silly String. I hoped that they wouldn’t overturn it. Metal boomed, as they pounded their fists on the hood, roof and windows, and I wondered if the glass would shatter. Police, who were outnumbered probably 100 to 1, ignored the pandemonium, and we knew if the crowd became violent, we were in trouble. I was mostly worried about the children in the back seat, who ranged from 9 to 15 years old.
Our jeep creeped at about 2 mph for about an hour, and we cringed and gaped as some of the men became falling-down drunk.
Eventually, we spotted a cross street about four blocks ahead. Without coaxing, my husband drove over the curb, and on the sidewalk, and we passed the gridlocked cars. When we turned on the open street and accelerated, we high-fived and laughed from relief.
Mascaras de Hatillo or Hatillo Mask Festival
We learned that the locals were celebrating the Hatillo Mask Festival or Mascaras de Hatillo. It appeared to me, that for some, it was an excuse to get drunk and terrorize anyone caught in the gridlock, though the festival is legitimate.
It commemorates when King Herod ordered soldiers to kill little children after Jesus was born to prevent Jesus from becoming king. The gaudily clad men represented these soldiers.
When I visited Paris with my high school French class we were mistaken for prostitutes and booked in a brothel by the travel agent. Do you see a common theme?
My roommates in Paris were my friend, Deb, and her mother, June, who chaperoned. June was — still is — very beautiful. She was fun but refined, and she dressed with elegance.
One evening, June wore a chic yellow jacket trimmed in white. She paired the jacket with white slacks and white boots. The three of us took a walk and explored the city. We found a quaint cafe and dropped in for dinner.
As we dined, sleazily dressed women in heavy makeup glared at us. We glanced at them, and we spoke in hushed voices because we felt threatened. I thought they were jealous because June looked stunning.
When we returned from dinner, we told our French teacher about the “ladies” with their angry stares. We learned that we had chosen a restaurant in a part of town known for prostitution. Leave it to us to venture into the wrong neighborhood.
Also, boots were a sign of prostitution in Paris. I suspect that the women in the restaurant thought that we were invading their territory and wanted us out.
During my high school French trip, not only were we mistaken for prostitutes, but the travel agent had booked us into a brothel.
Was someone trying to tell us something?
Upon entry, the hotel’s atmosphere transports visitors to a tranquil resort. Oranges are displayed in clear glass globes on wooden tables in the courtyard and along the walkways to remind visitors that they are in South Florida and not just in an Asian retreat.
As we entered The Setai, the front desk agent greeted us and gave us cold lemongrass iced tea and warm moist hand towels to freshen us while we waited to check in. The dimly lit hotel and lobby made me feel like I had entered a spa.
As we exited the elevator and walked toward our room instrumental music drifted through the hall. We entered our softly lit suite and heard music that had previously been turned on.Dark cherry colored wood floors, cream-colored walls and sleek brown rectangular tables and lamps create a peaceful art deco design in our room. A comfortable king size bed is set against the far wall beyond a brown square table with two chairs. The hotel management is serious about relaxation, and it was the first hotel room that I have visited that didn’t have an obvious clock.
Room amenities include a large bathroom with double-above -the-counter sinks and a large shower. The overhead rain shower and the wall system stream water from two directions.
Guests may brew tea, espresso, regular and decaf coffee with the shiny black and stainless Illy coffee maker in the room. The coffee maker includes a steam wand for milk frothing. The Setai also offers a beach bag and umbrella for guests to use while visiting.
The hotel has three large pools set at different temperatures. Large comfortable lounge chairs are near the pools and on the beach. Between the pools and the beach is an outdoor bar and restaurant. The food is excellent.
I have never visited a hotel comparable to The Setai. The Setai’s soothing atmosphere, muted decor and superb customer service offer the traveler a unique experience.
The trip began when I vacationed with my friends in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and we drove to Palm Beach to spend the day. We arrived in the morning and strolled down Worth Avenue. Worth Avenue is often compared to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
Exclusive fashion boutiques, jewelry stores, antique shops, fine furniture stores, restaurants, gift shops and spas composed — and still compose — Worth Avenue. Ferraris, Bentleys, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce automobiles were parked on the palm-tree-lined street. Brightly colored flowers cascaded over arches and poured out of tubs and baskets outside the shops and in the courtyards.We window shopped, and watched diamond-adorned shoppers saunter in and out of Gucci, Van Cleef and Arpels, Hermes, Neiman Marcus and Cartier stores. Many shoppers wore hats and sported designer clothes, shoes and bags.
By mid afternoon, we were hungry and we looked for a restaurant for lunch. I suggested that we drop into Ta-boo for a quick bite. I did not realize that it was famous, and President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, Jimmy Buffett, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Rod Stewart and many other celebrities had dined there.
I was first to enter the restaurant , and I stopped like I had hit a wall. I spotted shiny silverware and crisp starched white tablecloths, and I knew that it wasn’t in the average price range for us 20 somethings.
I considered bolting out the door and sprinting down Worth Avenue in search of McDonalds‘ golden arches. Instead I casually glanced back at my friends with an uh-oh look and smiled. We quickly decided to stay.
My friends liked new experiences and were unlikely to get upset over a lunch. Also, it would have been awkward if we darted past the maitre d and out the door clutching our wallets. I bet that would have raised some eyebrows.
Though Ta-boo was upscale, we enjoyed our lunch and had a great time. My friends teased me that they would not allow me to suggest dropping into a restaurant for a quick bite ever again.
I fondly remember our lunch at Ta-boo. Who knows, I may even have sat in President John F. Kennedy’s chair that day.
- Quintessential Worth avenue, is it really worth it? (stacymilesdesigner.wordpress.com)
- Richters of Palm Beach: Worth Avenue (raymondleejewelers.net)
- Lilly Pulitzer Dies at Age 81 (helloladies.com)
- Palm Beach County – Buy & Sell Property (palmbeachcountyhome.wordpress.com)
- Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida: $10,995,000 (internationalestates.wordpress.com)
- The Perfect Day in Palm Beach (oceandrive.com)
- 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible – Driven (automobilemag.com)
A recent Ft. Lauderdale visit sparked my memory about the mean, old condominium managers that sabotaged our dinner years ago.
In my younger days, several of my friends and acquaintances moved to Ft. Lauderdale for a month or more during the winter — I will explain in a later post. One year, my friend Gene rented an upscale condo on North Ocean Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale, and two of our friends from Ocean City, Md. stayed with him.
When Doug and I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Gene invited us to see his condo.When we entered his building, we met the old, ornery men who oversaw the condominium. We were polite, and they guardedly granted us permission to go up to Gene’s unit.
I suspect that the managers resented Gene, because he lived in this lovely condo in Ft. Lauderdale for several weeks and — to their knowledge — did not need to work. I guess that they were not delighted that several friends visited during his stay.
We loved seeing our friends and we spent the next few days and nights with them. We made a point of conversing with the condo cops when we entered or left the building.
Occasionally, our group enjoyed Gene’s rooftop deck and pool that offered a spectacular view of theAtlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. The best part was, that it was rarely used by anyone except us. However, the condo managers came up to the rooftop often to spy on us.
One day — or maybe two — or maybe three, we probably made cocktails at the rooftop pool. (As you can tell from the featured photo I was not involved!) It was not against the rules but I suspect that the managers did not like younger adults having fun.
Though we were well behaved, I believe that the condo spies slithered up to the rooftop looking for ammunition for their next maneuver. I presume that they wanted us gone.
After the cocktail caper, we made dinner reservations for our group. Gene suggested that we stop by for a drink before dinner.
Doug and I arrived that evening at Gene’s building dressed for dinner. I wore a sundress and Doug sported a white button down shirt and khaki pants. We politely asked the condo dictators if we could go up to Gene’s unit because we had dinner reservations.
They said, “no.”
We asked them if just one of us could go up — briefly.
They said, “no.”
We asked them if they would call his condo and tell him that we were in the lobby.
They said, “no.”
We asked them if we might use their phone and we would call his unit.
They said, “no.”
We asked them if they would go up and ask our friends to come down.
They said, “no.”
We finally left the building. Cell phones were not common, and we had no way to contact our friends without a pay phone.
When we finally called our friends, it was too late for our dinner reservation. Though overdressed, Doug and I dined at McDonalds. That was the last time Gene rented that condo, but it gave us funny memories.
I relish my Super Bowl experience like I savor an end-cut-of-prime rib with an aged cabernet sauvignon. I relive it through photos, videos, writing and music. I listen to the songs “Dynamite” and the “Seven Nation Army” because they rocked our tailgate, and I reminisce about the fun we had.
I traveled with my husband, our nephew, his lovely wife, my beautiful niece and my endlessly entertaining 17 and 23 year-old children. My Super Bowl highlights evolve around our family. Following is a list of my favorite Super Bowl memories ending with the best:
— We tried bananas-foster pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning, and we dined on shrimp, gumbo, étouffée, raw oysters, steak and more during the weekend.
— It snowed when we left Baltimore, but the weather in New Orleans was in the 60’s and we wore shorts.
— We danced the limbo before a drum-pounding-jazz band. We used one of our purple boas as a limbo stick. The girls started the limbo and others joined in.
— Our girls tossed brightly colored purple, pink, gold, red and green-beaded necklaces from the second floor of a local establishment on Saturday night into the hands of colorfully-attired partiers on Bourbon Street.
— We attended an amazing Super Bowl tailgate hosted by very generous friends. We ate cheeseburgers and hot dogs and socialized with several Baltimore friends including our regular Ravens’ tailgaters.
— The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. What could be better than that?
— Our family shared a residence and that was one of the best parts. We laughed often because our motley group delivered a constant comedy show.
— I watched my star-struck son’s facial expressions as he encountered celebrity-football stars. His enthusiasm invaded us all.
— We traveled with the perfect group creating life-time memories. It is not where you are ( we were in a special place) but who you are with!
On Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans, we scouted for celebrity-football players. While walking to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, we slowly strolled through the Hilton Hotel where the Ravens stayed. We spotted Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, Cris Carter, Ted Bruschi, Keyshawn Johnson, Kurt Warner and Brendon Ayanbadejo.
I am a Ravens fan, but I did not recognize many of these football stars. Most of the retired players that we saw are currently NFL sports analysts. Following is a list of some of their career highlights:
Wide receiver Jerry Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. According to his biography he “is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver in the history of the National Football League (NFL).”
Wide receiver Cris Carter was inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins.
Linebacker Ted Bruschi played for the New England Patriots and was a three-time-Super-Bowl champion.
Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Panthers. His Buccaneers team won Super Bowl XXXVII.
Quarterback Kurt Warner played for the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and St. Louis Rams. He was the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP.
Baltimore Ravens head coach from 1999 – 2007, Brian Billick, was at Radio Row at River Walk. He led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2000, and he is currently a sports analyst.
We also spotted the infamous New Orleans Saints’ fan “Da Pope,” or Lionel Alphonso Sr. who held a beer in his hand as he posed with fans. He was inducted in 1999 into the Canton Ohio Hall of Fame “Visa Hall of Fans” as the fan of the year. Garbed in his flowing robe and mitre, he was a sight!
Encountering these sports celebrities greatly enhanced the Super Bowl experience for us!
- Super Bowl XLVII Photos (dorothyadele.wordpress.com)
We recently attended a party on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and spent the night in Cambridge, Maryland at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort Marina and Spa.
When we entered the hotel, the receptionist welcomed us with a glass of cranberry juice and champagne. (This is one of my favorite holiday drinks– sometimes called a poinsettia.) She was personable, knowledgeable and efficient as she answered our questions and directed us to our room.
After checking in, we sipped a drink in Michener’s Library (named after James Michener who wrote Chesapeake). Two stone fireplaces flank the spacious lounge giving it a warm, cozy feeling. Large windows offer a spectacular view of the Choptank River.
Our spacious king room included a desk, and the bathroom was large enough to accommodate a table. We could step out on our tiny balcony (if it was warmer), instead we viewed the Choptank River through the sliding-glass doors from our room (see photo).
Luxury sheets concealed a pillow-topped mattress on the king bed. A white down comforter dressed the bed. The bed was comfortable and we slept well.
In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast in our room. I had an egg-white-vegetable omelet filled with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. (I switched from mozzarella to cheddar.) My meal was delicious, healthy and filling.
Unfortunately, we only stayed at the Hyatt for about 15 hours, because we had another commitment. However, I plan to return for a longer visit.
I would consider the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay for a meeting, reception or wedding because it offers good service and a great venue.