Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cruising part 8- wrap it up

Oh No! It can't be over already?

Finally it was all over. The last day and night of cruising Golden Princess style. Lyle was sedated in Robb & Lewis' stateroom so we invited Wade (an entertainer on ship) to fill his vacant seat. Wade thought that we were being nice, but we made him sing for his supper - literally.

The final night was a bit like the end of summer camp. All the staff is telling you that you've been the best group they've ever had. E-mail addresses are exchanged and oaths of keeping in touch are promised.

At dinner Auntie Di was remarkable quiet. I asked her what was up and through her tears she explained that is was all over and tomorrow we'd all go our separate ways. I knew that's what she was going through because of course I was thinking the same thing. It was tough saying goodbye to summer camp. But drinking really helped.

Our waiter Renzo was a dream. The next morning he was also working the breakfast shift. Lyle and I had been seated before the rest of our crew came down and when they came in he told them that their friends (he made a big goofy open smile and placed his hands in the air - thus indicating me) and the one who wasn't there last night were waiting for them at a table across the room. Renzo really gets me.

The final dinner dessert was baked Alaska. Not my personal favorite.
So somehow I got the last quarter of the entire platter.

Auntie Di gets in some last minute Renzo lovin'.

Diane, Mickey and Wade get one last drunken elevator photo in...

Then it was time to show off the disco.
from the front...

to the back...

If you want someone else to lug your luggage off the ship you need to have it packed and outside your room the night before you dock. This presents a problem for those of us who view the entire trip as one long Vogue Fashions Shoot. This means that I have to keep out and/or pack in my carry on my outfit for dinner, my disco after dinner outfit and my departing from ship outfit. I managed, but just barely as I also had to make all sorts of choices for Lyle while he was passed out.

It was hard going at the beginning, but ultimately I had a blast. And I owe it all to my travel companions who helped me see the light... at the disco.

This is a bonus picture for anyone who was on the cruise.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Elizabeth Taylor."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cruising part 7 - house party tonight!

I'm starting to feel like a hostage to these cruise posts. I'm sort of sick of talking about it. So this one and one more. Then I'm done. And instead of waiting for one a day, I'm just going for it with another one right now.

Champagne is always a welcome addition to any party...

Something we had planned before we embarked on our cruise was that over the course of 7 days we would have three in-room cocktail parties. It was decided they would be before dinner. And it was also decided that Mickey and Diane would host first.

Damn those ladies! They went to the casino and got all sorts of gambling paraphernalia and playing cards and decorated like fiends. They also went to the buffet and got a terrific spread of food as well as ordering from room service. We learned the first night out that pre-dining was the wrong way to go when you plan on stuffing yourself in the next hour.
A winner's cup from the casino, a plate of all you can eat shrimp and the evening's so bright you gotta wear your Prada sunglasses... yep, its Vegas night at Diane and Mickey's!

Almost as good as butter, I love desserts!
(oh, and this is before dinner)

Balloons, poker hands on the wall and all the booze you can drink make for a heck of a party. And check out those sexy Vegas dames in the background!

Robb & Lewis hosted the second cocktail party and by then we had adopted Jared and Quinn.
It was breezy on the balcony, but Lewis manages to open a bottle or two of champagne.

Surprise! It's my belated birthday party! Complete with pinata filled with mini-bar booze bottles. Now here's a tip, don't have me swing at it with another glass bottle without telling me. The blindfold is actually Robb's father's old "peace sign" tie. One of favorite things that used to be his father's. Robb's dad passed away a year ago last August and I was absolutely caught off guard by the peace tie being there and I started to cry. It was extremely nice to have Robb's dad with us for the party that night.

Auntie Di graciously offers me my birthday spanking.

Informal setting before formal night. Our first house party with Jared and Quinn as special bonus guests.

The final party was in our cabin. Mickey, Diane, Robb & Lewis had set the bar way too high. I had no way to compete. I'd been working before we left on the cruise and hadn't planned anything. I did some panic shopping while in Mazatlan but found only crappy paper crowns.

Then I tapped my dear friend on the ship, Ryan, and he hooked me up with a few streamers and some balloons. And when I say a few, what I mean is that when any one opened the door to my cabin there was an audible gasp as they exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!"

I was mostly freaked out because I don't throw parties by myself and by the time the guests were arriving Lyle was well drugged and laid out to rest in Robb & Lewis' cabin due to his motion sickness.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

Robb stepped in and helped me out. He bartended and as you may be able to see here, was able to open a bottle of lovely champagne. Hmmm, that does seem to be a bit of a theme doesn't it?
With no Lyle, I substituted Kyle.

It started to look like a Marx Brothers movie with so many people in one little cabin and so many decorations.

Jean, Jared, Quinn, Lewis and in the back Wade.

Jared knows how to handle large round objects...

From the cocktail party everyone headed to dinner. Even though our cabin steward (on of the "oh my god!" gaspers) kept telling me to not worry about cleaning up the room, I couldn't help myself. I mean, I did make the mess, shouldn't I be just a little bit responsible for cleaning it up? I stayed behind for about 5 minutes and popped all the balloons, pulled all the streamers down (the cabin steward is much shorter then I am) and then sort of raked it all to one corner. When I came back from dinner, the cabin was spotless. Thank you cabin steward! You were a miracle.

Cruising part 6 - Final formal night

So many problems can arise when you are cruising the high seas. Most of them come at dinner. For instance, when your mind tells you that its thirsty you look in front of you and must decide, what will it be? Red wine, champagne or water. Water? Who the hell ordered water!
Then comes your three entrees. Steak, lobster or the lobster stuffed ravioli in a butter sauce? These decisions get easier as your trip goes on. The answer is obvious: YES! All of the above!

After we met Quinn and Jared, we quickly adopted them to our tribe. We added them to our dining table and tortured them whenever we could find them on ship. Even once they had gone to bed there was no escape. (I'd apologize Quinn, but I think you had enjoyed it too much.)

Our final formal night came after the long hard day on the bay in Cabo San Lucas. Thankfully I had worked up my heartiest appetite for Lobster night. Every time they came by to ask if we wanted more I said "YES." They finally took my plate away when I was off visiting another table of guests (imagine your Cruise Director, Julie McCoy without all those pesky regulations about appropriate behaviour... that'd be me). If they hadn't taken my plate then, I'd still be sitting there shouting "YES!"
After dinner we kept up the party by going to the atrium lounge for the champagne fountain pouring. We all swore an oath to not drink the free champagne. As my dad would tell you, "If they're giving it away its crap." But we managed to ingest a few more bottles of the good stuff. And dad, if you're reading, yes, we paid too much but we had a really good time.

Our new best staff friend Ryan predicted that the final formal night would bring everyone out at last. I had my money on finally having a good time in that stinking disco. But first we changed into happy shiny disco outfits.
Some additional drunken elevator photos
(no time for dolphins tonight)

And then its off to the disco!

I'm told that Rick doesn't go out much on ship. But we dangled Lewis as a carrot and managed to get him out and happy for the evening.

Quinn and Lyle were definitely talking trash about everyone else.
How do I know? Look at Lyle, he's so happy!

Jimmy from Texas, Wade from New York and Jim from Los Angeles.
I am feeling no pain.
I am feeling Jelly Doughnut Shots.

Clinton from South Africa, me, Jimmy and Wade.

Can I share something odd about all these pictures? When I was prepping them for posting I had to fix a lot of red-eye. My camera seems to love giving it away for free. Despite the red-eye reduction setting. Here's the odd part. Never me. I never had the dreaded red-eye. Everyone else in the photo would have it and still not me. I think I ought to be more famous. Clearly my eyes are well suited to the paparazzi's constant glare. Now if I could just stop picking my underwear out of my ass or swimming in the ocean in it...

Jimmy was travelling with Corky from Palm Springs. Corky is a riot. He wasn't necessarily keeping up with us, but he certainly wasn't lagging behind. Yes, this is after he'd had his Jelly Doughnut shot.
Finally the big gay group of us (there were more who didn't get into the photo) took over the disco... except for the world's most awful DJ. We had it all: looks, brains, booze... but not control of the music. I kept offering to go get my ipod, all to no avail...

This is the last photo of Lyle. Tomorrow will be difficult for him. Though he did not have a dozen Jelly Doughnut shots, he did have a couple of Lemon Drops. That sort of sunk his morning. By noon I had him up for an hour to put some food in him. Then the waves started. It would be all downhill from there...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We interupt this cruise for a very impotnat announcment...

Whew, there I got that out of my system.

On Saturday we put up the outside lights. On Sunday the lighted greenery went up inside. The ornaments, chatckes and all other sundry are on their way. And if you are thinking, "Gee, a whole day to do each activity and they still didn't get it all done..." then you haven't' been to the magical world of Christmas at our house.
Ive given myself until December 1st to get it all finished. I'll need the extra time. Not one room gets missed by the pixie fairy sprinkling Christmas dust on the house. Not even the laundry nook.
These select few pics are from last year. Last year we had a 10 foot flocked tree in the front window lit so bright you could read a magazine on the couch from the light. And we didn't need the furnace turned on because it gave off so much heat.

I can also say with all honesty that our Christmas decor (in this predominately orthodox Jewish neighborhood) was so brilliant it literally stopped traffic. We had someone pull their car over haphazardly to run up to the window of the house and shout how much they loved the lights, then run back to their car and move on so other cars could get through.
Suddenly I feel a lot of pressure...

Cruising part 5- Cabo San Lucas

This is a photo of me wearing the ship the "Golden Princess" on my head. If I haven't ruined the lines of the ship, you may be able to observe what some refer to as the "shopping trolley" shape of our vessel. At the back is the disco which some call the handle of the cart. Forward where everything else takes place would be the basket of the shopping cart (in some people's minds).

On Thursday we were in Cabo San Lucas. Now normally I do a lot of research on where we travel. Freakishly. I have stacks of papers, clipped articles, local contacts who've told me who's hot and who's not. But this trip I did none of that. I just went with the flow. I let everyone else plan whatever they wanted and said, "that sounds nice to me." It was working.

After being in the water on Wednesday in Mazatlan, Lyle and Robb both commented on how much fun it would be to rent jet skis in Cabo. "That sounds nice to me," I said.

So having been out until about 4 am the night before (more on that in moment) I got up at 7 am to have breakfast with an unhappy Lyle (see 4 am mention earlier), had breakfast and was on shore via the tender embarkation (ship not tied to dock, life boat taken in to shore) by 8 am.

We scoped out the possibilities of from whom to rent, settled on a company and a price then wandered through town looking for anything interesting (ANYTHING) to shop for while we waited for Robb to get up, get dressed, have breakfast and get ashore. Since he was also out till about 4 am we expected him on Friday. We were pleasantly surprised to see him around 10!
We took a water taxi across the harbor to our jet ski rentals. Three gorgeous crotch rockets awaited our eager limbs. We had promised Robb's mum we would all wear life jackets even though they'd give us bad tan lines. Very glad we did.

Our parameters of where we could ride were from the domed hotel on one side of the harbor to the edge of the rocks on the other side of the harbor. An imaginary line across all the harbor from those two points, not within 200 feet of the shore and not within 600 feet of the Golden Princess. Uh, okay...
Then we were shoved out to sea. An hour seemed like such a short time until we'd been out in the water for about half an hour. Then it seemed like that last half hour would NEVER COME. We started doing slight daredevil stunts like turning sharply, spraying each other with water by turning too close and of course the ever popular speed, speed, speed! We circled the ship. We raced the tenders as they ferried people back to the ship from shore. We did not take a camera.

Finally an hour was up and we surrendered our lust for the spray of the ocean for passing out on the beach.
That night we exchanged battle stories of who jumped a wake fast enough to be completely out of the water (me!). Who thought their ass was going to be pulled apart and split from stem to stern (me!). Who fell off and got sprayed the most by the other two (Lyle). Who had some severe "chaffing" from his swimsuit in a most "uncomfortable" area (Robb). Who had the most fun (Uh, tie - Robb & Lyle). and who thought it would never end (Me).

As promised, a little bit of story from the night before.

Robb & I finally started meeting people near the disco. First we had met Ryan who works on ship. He hosted a gay and lesbian meeting on ship the first afternoon. Then on Wednesday night we met Jared and Quinn who were oddly enough from Vancouver. More strangely they each live within about 4 blocks of Robb & Lewis. Drink, drank, drunk... and we have a new posse of people to complain about the disco with!

Favorite new drink (shot):
Jelly Doughnut
Take one ample shot glass. Rim it with sugar (hehe, I said "rim").
Pour in one shot of Chambord. Top with heavy cream. (try not to mix)
Drink in one shot as you like as much sugar as you can from the glass.
I swear, it tastes just like a jelly doughnut! DO NOT HAVE A DOZEN.

Jared and Quinn mock informal portrait night.
Ladies, they are not a couple!
Oh, ladies, they aren't really so much into ladies...

Jim & Ryan have a "gay face" off. Who won?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cruising part 4- Mazatlan

We arrived in Mazatlan and had booked a walking tour of "old town Mazatlan" which went way too slow for Lyle and I. It was great to get off the ship and get in to town. It was great to be lead around some of the sights. But ultimately it was great to just go off on our own and explore like we would any other city.

We started the tour along the water. Mickey bought a straw hat to keep the heat off her and we were instantly marked as tourists who would buy (I'm no fool, I was in a walking tour group with a sticker on my shirt, I knew I was marked as tourist already. But tourist who would buy... ah, that's a whole other story!)

At one point along the waterfront we were treated to a "cliff diving" exhibition. Not really a cliff, more of a rock outcropping, not really an exhibition as the divers had numerous "friends" holding out signs and donations buckets. But fascinating nonetheless.
That's me on the right, spoiling everyone else's photo so I could get the movie below.

The "old town" is ripe for tourists. They've taken all the electrical wires and hidden them from the street view. It hasn't happened yet, but I think this is the prefect location for a fabulous W Hotel. You heard it here first.

The view inside the Cathedral.

After the tour, our own group of five got in a cab and went to lunch at Chili Peppers in the "Gold Zone". The food was amazing! All this lobster and shrimp in front of Mickey was $24. That was the seafood for two! Funny thing, Mickey wasn't having this dish, she was having a nice sensible grilled fish.

After a couple of these GIGANTIC Chi-Chi's I was finally in vacation mode.

If you are in Mazatlan, go into the Gold Zone, just past the El Cid resort is Chilis Pepper. I can highly recommend it.

While we ate we shopped the local vendors who walked along the beach hawking whatever they can carry. Seeing the designer knockoff sunglasses man, we waved him over. After much haggling and trying on, everyone at the table bought a pair for $10 each. We overpaid as we later bought another pair in town for Auntie Di and it was $6 no haggling.

After lunch and few cocktails, as I may have said before, we went swimming unprepared. Well, Robb was prepared. He'd brought his swimsuit. Lyle was prepared, he said he'd just go in his cargo shorts. Mickey got prepared, she bought a towel and a new swimsuit across the street. Lewis came prepared to sit at the table and drink more. But me... I didn't want to spend money on some ugly swim trunks that I would never wear again. I didn't want to go swimming in my white cargo shorts. So I opted to strip down to my super cute undies. I thought since they looked like this:
They could pass for a swimsuit.

Once I was in the water, I was informed that no, they did not pass for swim gear as they went practically transparent. Funny thing, I know of a few swimsuits that do that as well. But I had prepared on the spot as well. I had also bought a towel on the beach.
I'm smiling because I'm not wearing any underwear anymore.

All the taxis in Mazatlan seem to be open air with no safety features like airbags of seatbelts.

Another lovely sunset...

And then after dinner back to the lame ass disco. At least there was no one in the way of all our fabulous photo taking...