Photography, TRAVEL

Digital Camera Nirvana

White River Falls Oregon
Oregon’s Beautiful White River Falls

So, after losing all the digital pictures we took on our cruise to the Yucatan, I was pretty disgusted with digital photography.  However, 35mm film was becoming harder to find and more expensive when we found it.  We stayed in photography limbo for awhile, but then we found the inspiration to embrace DSLR.

Coming Over to the Digital Side

In 2012 we planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest and we knew one thing: we were going to need a new camera.  I had two requirements.  The new digital camera had to have a traditional viewfinder and I wanted it to be fast.  If you’re wondering why we didn’t just use our phones, then you’ve forgotten that in 2012 most of the world was still using flip-phones.  While the flip phones took pictures, they didn’t take good pictures.

We bit the bullet and spent more money than we’d ever spent on a camera, but oh what a camera we found.  Before Bill bought the DSLR, he insisted that I attend photography classes with him on how to properly use the new camera.  Since the new one had a viewfinder and I could click one photo after another, without having to wait, a few photography classes seemed like a small sacrifice.

Suddenly, we were in digital photography heaven.  Even before the trip, Bill and I would go on photo safaris around town.  Photography was no longer a touchy subject where Bill resented the cost of film and I refused to use a digital camera.  Our time in Oregon was a photographer’s dream.  Bill took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  The resulting scrapbook album was inches and inches wide.

The Photographic Bliss Continues…for awhile

After the Oregon trip we became photography fanatics.  It seemed as if every trip we got better at it.  We took cruises in the Caribbean and on the Danube.  We visited glorious gardens in California.  During this photographic period we also went to Egypt for a family wedding.  Oh what amazing, beautiful images we captured on these trips.

While we were wallowing in this photographic bliss, something else was going on.  Suddenly, phones had great cameras in them and the world was taking pictures of things they’d never noticed before.  Remember how odd it was the first time you saw someone take a picture of their food in a restaurant.  I remember looking at them like they were crazy.  Now I do it, too.  We all do it.

I will confess that it was with great reluctance that I gave up my flip phone.   We’d found me an industrial strength flip phone that didn’t mind falling and the new phones had huge screens that seemed to crack when you looked at them.  As with many technical innovations, I ran into some difficulties.  The first problem was not my fault.  Bill proudly presented me an LG smartphone that wasn’t all that smart.  It didn’t ring.  We still don’t know why and the problem wasn’t on any of the customer service scripts.  Their computers told them it was ringing, but it wasn’t.  He’d ordered it online, but we had to go to a big box store to prove to them that it was, in fact, not ringing – regardless of what the computer said.  I moved on to Samsung.

If it had rung, the LG would have been great, but it didn’t and in spite of what other marvelous features it had, one thing a phone needs to do is ring.  So, how did I do in photography with my new Samsung.  Well, come back next week and I’ll tell you about it.

ART, DFW Metroplex, Photography, TRAVEL

Let the Scrapbooking Begin

TRAVEL HERE:  FROM ADHESIVE PHOTO ALBUMS TO COMPULSIVE SCRAPBOOKING

In many cultures throughout history, women entered into the contract of marriage with a dowry.  Bill wasn’t quite that lucky.  All he got when we married was a stack of photo albums, clothes to clutter his closet and a bunch of other things which didn’t exactly improve his net worth.  He convinced me to get rid of some of my property in a garage sale.  It didn’t do much for his bottom line, but he did regain a little of his space.  One thing he couldn’t convince me to get rid of was my photo albums.

Can You Say Tacky?

I’ll admit it.  My collection of mismatched photo albums was down right ugly.  Some had their spiral rings showing.  Others had hideous covers.  And yes, most of the photos were mediocre at best, but they held my memories, so they weren’t going anywhere.

Then a couple of things sort of happened at once.  I met a girl at work who was a Creative Memories Consultant and I signed up for a scrapbooking class at church.  I found out that while I’d been smart to collect memorabilia and include it with photos in my albums, I learned I’d been doing pretty much everything else wrong.  I don’t recall who sold me my first album and stickers, but that day, a scrapbooking legend was born – and she was me!

After My First Album

What had inspired me to sign up for the scrapbooking class was a cruise I was about to take.  With one CM Consultant teaching me to scrapbook at church and another one giving me delicious catalogs at work, my days of sticking photos into adhesive albums were over.  I completed the first album in no time flat and then the girl at work invited me to bag up all my loose photos and let her help me sort them.

OK, I sort of get into organizing.  I’m not crazy about cleaning, but I will organize a messy desk drawer at the drop of a hat.  I actually stand in stores and neaten their displays.  I will be in the line at Fry’s and suddenly I’m sorting out their candy display and putting things back into a semblance of order.  Clothing is a particular favorite of mine – sleeve length, color, neckline, solid or pattern.  One minute I’m shopping for a blouse and in a few moments I organizing the rounder.   Drives my poor husband crazy.

The minute organizing was tied to scrapbooking the hook was set.  Not only were Creative Memory albums more attractive than the other albums, they preserved the pictures and memorabilia put into them and, most important for me, they were a great way to organize my pictures.  If I was scrapbooking along and discovered a cache of pictures that belonged in an album I had already finished, no problem, I could add pages into the completed album wherever I wanted to.  I could also keep on adding pictures to an album long after one of those adhesive albums would have been filled.  My first album is about an inch and a half wide.  The last one I finished was more like five and a half.

I made my first CM scrapbook in 1998.  Twenty years later, I’m still scrapping.  From my office chair I can count over 40 albums in my bookshelf  That doesn’t include all those I have done and given to other people or those in a closet I will not name.  Those 40 some odd are just my favorites!

But it’s time to go for today, so let’s pick up here next week!

ART, Photography, Real Estate Photographry, TRAVEL

Hello to Real Photography

Bill and his camera at Stone Mountain. I took it with my disposable!

TRAVEL HERE: MARRYING INTO BETTER PHOTOS

I rarely run short of reasons to be glad I married Bill.  I may, at the same time, be so mad at him I can barely breathe, but the mad times come less frequently as we near our 25th wedding anniversary and when they do, they are short-lived.  He really is a wonderful man and he’s so darned handsome.  He’s also an amazing photographer, just ask any Spot On Images customer.

The 35mm vs The Disposable

By the time I met Bill, the Instamatic’s days were over and done with.  The digital camera was breaking into the market, but they were pretty expensive, so this working girl couldn’t afford one.  Most people were using some form of a 35mm, but not me.  I had a hard time finding film for my Instamatic, but I had discovered the disposable camera and that worked well enough for me.

Enter Bill with his fancy Canon Rebel.  By then he was already pretty darned good at photography.  He’d had some lessons and was fairly serious about the medium.  My disposable cameras probably made him a little crazy, but he was trying to romance me, so he left me to my point and shoot bliss.

Well he almost left me alone.  He gently began to introduce me to 35mm.  Not only did he think disposable cameras were a waste of money, he rightly pointed out the poor quality of the results and coerced me into giving his camera a try.  I guess here’s as good a place as any to admit he not only introduced me to 35mm photography, he also made me learn how to use a mouse and had me sign up for my first personal email address.  In other words, he brought me into the 20th Century, which was already on it’s way out.

Where’s the Auto Button?

His first attempts at turning me into a real photographer were not so good.  He was all about F-stops and exposure.  All he could get me to do was use the Auto Button.  Twenty-five years later, I’m still all about the Auto Button, but I do appreciate what he is able to do with a camera.

About this time he also decided to get a camcorder.   Video cameras were this huge thing you had to carry around on your shoulder and there was no sound.  Over time the cameras shrank and they figured out how to include sound.  Bill entered the market when Hi8 was all the rage.  If he had thought it was tough getting me to use a 35mm still camera, he quickly realized that was nothing compared to getting me to hold the camcorder.

That sneaky guy bought the camcorder into time capture his proposal – quite a treasure.  His plan was to get me up to speed on the 35mm, so he could be the videographer.  What happened was he ended up being the primary cameraman, regardless of the media, and I filled in when he forced me to.  Thanks to him we have a marvelous record of our early years together – yeah Mr. Bill!

There’s more to tell you about our photographic history together, so come on back next week!

Photography, TRAVEL

Developing Memories

assorted color photo lot
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

TRAVEL HERE: THE OTHER PART OF ANALOG

While digital photography is here to stay, there are reasons I remember analog fondly.  Last week, though I moaned about the quality of analog snapshots, I found a number of reasons for enjoying photography the old fashioned way.  Whether you think taking pictures in analog was a blessing or a curse, let’s move on to the next part of the equation, getting the pictures developed.

Film Processing

Analog film came in different lengths.  A roll or cartridge of film could have anywhere from 12 to 36 shots on it.  When traveling, I always bought the 36 shot length, but when I was around home I switched to 12, so I could finish up the roll faster.  During some periods of my life, I was so boring it could take years to finish up 12 pictures.  One thing is for sure, you’d never just go ahead and develop an unfinished roll of film.  That would have been some kind of sacrilege.

So, whether I was finally through with a boring roll of film or had handfuls of rolls from a trip, when it was time to take them for processing, I first had to decide where to take them.  This is not unlike having photos developed today.  Sure you can share them indefinitely without printing them, but if you are a scrapbooker like me, you gotta print them.  (Yes, I know you can make online scrapbooks, but that’s not the same thing.)

Some people mailed off their rolls of film.  They’d boast of saving money or assure me that was the way to get the best quality processing, but that just didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to keep up with where to send them or store a stack of their envelopes or pay the postage, especially when I could drop them off around the corner and then go back by and pick them up later.

Used to be “later” was later than it is now.  One-hour photo processing has been the norm for so long, that most of us don’t remember a time when it wasn’t, but yes, you used to have to wait days to get back the photos you dropped off.  They were probably sending my photos to the same place they would have gone to had I been able to wrap my mind around mailing them, but whatever the case,  an hour or a week, the anticipation was part of the fun.

The Reveal

When you casually check out your phone to see the picture you just took, you can’t begin to imagine how much fun it was to wait.  I’ve already said not being able to immediately see the photos took some of the anxiety out of it.  Instead of anxiety, you had anticipation and lots of it.  You had to get home from vacation and unpack your bags.  Then you had to find time to drop off the film and time to go pick it up.  Then you got the envelope with your photos.

There was a time when I couldn’t even wait to get out to my car to look. I’d rip open the envelopes the second I got them and started looking at the pictures.  I’d go through the pictures two or three times before I could stand to put them away and go on with my business.  Many places would give you a refund for any picture you didn’t like, but it was only a few cents per picture and I thought even my worst picture was worth an ounce of gold.

Having to wait to see your pictures might seem like an inconvenience to many, but it was really just part of the fun.  Come back next week and we’ll share another stroll down the photographic memory lane.

 

Photography, TRAVEL

Living the Instamatic Lifestyle

TRAVEL HERE: ACCUSTOMED TO MEDIOCRITY

My parents gave me my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, for my 16th birthday.  Until then, I’d never been on the business end of a camera and I have the pictures to prove it.  None of them were selfies though, because if you’d have taken a picture at arm’s length, all you have gotten was your nose.

Flash!  You’re in the Picture

The Kodak Instamatic had a real innovation, the flash cube.  Up until then most amateurs made do with an old fashioned flash attachment, which used a single-use flash bulb.  So a flashcube which attached directly to the camera and was good for four photos was a great innovation.  Eventually, you could buy a flash bar with even more bulbs, but that was later.

The flash, cube, bar or bulb was quite irritating.  It made a loud pop and then a bright white light would blind everyone in your picture, leaving them with spots hampering their vision.  That’s the reason why so many people in old pictures have their eyes closed.  As soon as the flash went off the shutter opened, but not before most of us closed our eyes.

You might think with all that noise and brightness, the flashes would light up the pictures, but you’d be wrong.  In the finished photo, the items closest to the camera were too bright and behind that it was all darkness.   The results were pretty pitiful – usually a bunch of over-exposed faces with their eyes closed.  Combined with the expense of the film, it really didn’t make a lot of sense to take pictures when a flash was required, so most of us didn’t.

Accustomed to Mediocrity 

I’ll just say it.  My Instamatic photos weren’t all that great, but then again, neither were anyone else’s.  Oh, there were serious photographers using 35mm cameras, but they weren’t the norm.  A lot of folks were so dissatisfied with the whole snapshot thing they had their photos developed into slides.  Perhaps you have a grandfather or great-grandfather who turned off the lights and bored you to death with their slides.  The processing quality was better, but there were also a lot of bad slides, because your average guy was a pretty bad photographer.

My Instamatic was my only camera for years, but I really only pulled it out when I traveled alone and that was usually for church trips.  The rest of the time my dad was in charge of family photography.  For years he used a Brownie Hawkeye, which was actually a pretty good camera.  Then he moved into Polaroid, which was definitely a step in the wrong direction.

I guess I’m telling you all of this as a form of apology for all the bad pictures I took, but they didn’t bother me, because everyone else’s pictures were almost as bad as mine.  The mediocrity of the pictures actually added to the fun of photography.  Few of us really bothered with setting up a shot properly.  You just whipped your camera up to your face and snapped.  Sometimes you would get lucky.  Sometimes you wouldn’t.

Lucky or not, at the time the picture was taken, you took it and forgot it, because you wouldn’t see it until you developed the film.  There was no stopping the action to oooh and aaah or moan and groan.  You didn’t have to share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.  You didn’t have to text it to anyone.

What you did have to do was carry film with you and a few flashes, just in case.  This was perhaps the worst part of analog photography.  You could almost guarantee that should a really unique photo opportunity arise, you would usually miss it, because you just ran out of film.  Now all you have to do is be sure your phone is charged.

Well, I have run out of words for today, so we’ll move on to the introduction of 35mm to my life. Come back next week and we’ll chat some more about the good old days before digital photography.

 

ART, Libraries, TRAVEL

From Pressed Flowers to Photo Albums

TRAVEL HERE: PRESERVING MEMORIES, NOW AND THEN

open book on book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve just finished up a season of scrapbooking.  I was way behind and am almost all caught up.  As my scrapbooking shelves fill up with my latest creations, I couldn’t help but think about the way things used to be.

Photo Albums Grow Up

Before there were photo albums, there were scrapbooks.  The earliest scrapbooks were actually just books that did second duty for memorabilia.  Someone would press a flower into a book or lodge a letter in between the pages and often that book was the Bible.  Or people would keep journals and insert various drawings or keepsakes among the pages.  The earliest official scrapbooks seem to date back to the late 1700’s and the hobby is still popular today.

antique camera classic lens
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Photography had a huge effect on scrapbooking.  When cameras first became available to the general public, photographs had great value.  Many people with a camera would do their own photo processing, turning a spot in their home into a photo lab.  Cameras were expensive, film was expensive and processing was expensive, so the results had gravitas.  People understood the fragile nature of photographs and they liked to share their work with others.  Those were the days of leather photo albums with black pages and little black photo corners that had to be stuck down with rubber cement.  If your family had any of those, hold on to them.  Great effort was made to use the proper materials for preserving the photographs.

Improvements were made to photography, which was both a good thing and a bad one.  Cameras, film and processing all got more affordable.  With more snapshots being made and shared, the photos didn’t seem quite so valuable.  People would just toss them in a drawer or a shoe box.  I recall wonderful times with my family, because of these drawers and shoe boxes.  The conversation would come around to some long dead relative and then someone would say, “I think I have a picture of them.”  I can’t tell you how happy that would make me.  Black and white photos would be spilled out on a table or the floor.  The next few minutes or hours are among my favorite childhood memories.

collection of gray scale photos
Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

When I started high school, my mom invested in a large scrapbook for me and I dutifully documented the high points of my year.  The book was filled primarily with memorabilia.  Photography was in the Polaroid stage and photos, quite frankly, were awful.  It was great fun to take the pictures and show them around, but like the snapshots from your Instamatic camera they didn’t seem as valuable as those early photographs processed in someone’s dark room.

Then came the adhesive photo album.  Oh my!  How many dozens of those did you buy?  The adhesive albums were cheap, they were easy and they were a lot better than tossing the photos in a drawer.  At least, that’s the way it seemed in the beginning.  Most people used the sticky-paged albums exclusively for photos, but I was always a scrapbooker – even when I didn’t know exactly what that was.  I’d intermingle my memorabilia among my photos and often write out narratives to be included in the pages.

Scrapbooking Becomes a Thing

A company called Creative Memories set out to change the face of scrapbooking.  Plenty of people were still throwing photos in a drawer, but there were also people like me who had stacks of adhesive photo albums which were slowly ruining my photographs and memorabilia.  When I was introduced to Creative Memories I felt as if someone had come up with these wonderful products for me personally.  My next thought was that everyone in the world should be getting their valuable images and memorabilia into a photo-safe album.  It is no wonder that I became a consultant for Creative Memories.

That’s not the end of the story though, so come back next week and we’ll continue to talk about the evolution of photography and scrapbooking.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Our Last Day of Cruising

TRAVEL HERE: A DAY AT SEA

For me, travel is usually about going somewhere.  I’m interested in seeing wonderful things and doing things I’ve never done before.  But this cruise was a little different.  It was supposed to be about relaxing and indulgence.  Maybe that’s why I resented the poor food quality.  Our last day really was a day devoted to relaxation and we had a good time.  Join us as we enjoy the ship.

AM Less Than Routine

I started the day in the gym and then returned to the room, so Bill could join me for our sit-down breakfast in the dining room.  That was an event!

The focus of the day was on chocolate, so I ordered the chocolate pancakes, but was delivered plain old buttermilk pancakes.  I’m usually the last person in the world to send something back, but I didn’t want to waste calories on just any pancake.  If I’m being bad, then I wanted to be exactly the bad I have chosen, not the bad someone else chooses for me.  However, that was merely a blip on the screen of the morning event.

As part of the chocolate extravaganza they were calling breakfast, a waitress came by with a tray of chocolate shakes.  That’s not usually a part of my breakfast, but I thought I’d try one.  Before I could take my first sip, there was a huge clatter.  The tray and most of the glasses were on the floor and many of the glasses shattered.  Infinitely worse was that most of the shakes ended up all over the man at the head of the table.

I would like to give big kudos to this guy.  I would have jumped up and screamed.  This man didn’t make a peep.  He merely stood up, wiped away as much as he could and then walked away to change.  WOW!  When he came back, he took his seat and finished his breakfast – also without a peep. More WOW!

His wife was a little more chatty.  While he was away we learned this was the first “real” vacation they had ever taken.  Always before they’d used their vacation to do good works.  She didn’t indicate whether their trips had been humanitarian and/or faith-based, but it doesn’t matter.  How amazing for them to give of themselves in that way!  What’s sad was that this cruise had not allowed them to enjoy themselves the way it should have.  She didn’t complain about the food or the mediocre quality of the entertainment.  She only said they’d had a lot of trouble and only that morning they’d finally been moved to another cabin.  (She didn’t say why and when asked she didn’t want to discuss it, but I’m thinking bedbugs or mold.  What do you think?)

The Balance of the Day

So, after our exciting breakfast, Bill wanted to give the rock-climbing wall a shot.  He’d loved rappelling when we were on Norwegian, but this boat only had the climbing wall.  Still, Bill suited up and gave it a try.  He made it pretty high up the wall, higher than anyone else did while we were there, but didn’t get to the top.  I pointed out that he’d chosen the toughest part of the wall to climb – it actually leaned outwards, but he couldn’t be convinced to give it another try.

Next up was some pool time, but we didn’t want to fight the constant noise and party next to the main pool.  Instead, we found our way to the Solarium pool and did a little relaxing.  I’m not a big swimmer, but I did enjoy some time in the hot tub.  Then I did a little poolside lounging.

At lunch we had the pleasant opportunity to reconnect with the nice lady we’d enjoyed at the first breakfast and this time she was with her husband.  We enjoyed their company so much that we were the very last people left in the dining room.

Then it was time to get our bags repacked.  We’d have to put the big bag out before bedtime.  When that was done, I washed my hair and spent some time relaxing, while Bill battled the stock market.

The final show may have been the worst entertainment of all.  This was a tribute to Broadway, but I’m not sure how much honor it showed to that wonderful institution.  They did the opening prologue to Cabaret, but opened the curtain on songs from Chicago.  I found that disconcerting, but not as bad as using the lyrics from famous Broadway songs with mediocre melodies.  They weren’t even bad arrangements of Broadway tunes, just a totally different song with the famous and familiar words.  It was also the production with the worst prop-dropping and zigzaggedy, uneven lines.  What a disappointment.

I don’t have to tell you that dinner was mediocre or breakfast downright bad.  The disembarkation went pretty smoothly, but we did seem to be in the line with all the troubled documentation.  (Why hadn’t that been caught embarking, rather than at the end of the cruise?)  Soon we were on our way home and were we ever glad to be heading back.  Usually there’s a little regret, but not this time.  We just wanted off that boat and back into our home!

As I write this final blog about this cruise it’s early March.  The previous week I had finished up with the posts about Egypt and they will take you into August, but right this minute I can’t guess what I’ll be writing about for my Monday blogs.  We’ll just have to see what kind of adventures I will get into.

 

 

ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

We Won the Love & Marriage Game Show

TRAVEL THERE: ONE OF LIFE’S MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS

On Tuesday night when we saw the Perfect Couple Game Show, they mentioned they would be having a Newlywed-type Q&A game on the following evening. Bill suggested we should try out for it and I thought he was crazy, especially after I had seen what they put the Perfect Couples through.  They mentioned the game again at the Elton John Tribute show and Bill was even more adamant about participating.  I thought there was no way they’d choose a couple of oldsters like us, so I didn’t worry too much.

Killing Time 

We mentioned Bill’s desire to be in the game show at dinner time and our table mates promised to cheer us on if we did indeed end up as contestants.  We had some time to kill before the show once dinner was over, so we took the opportunity to visit some of the places on board that we hadn’t yet seen. 

One of the biggest disappointments was the Viking Crown Bar.  The Bar was the highest venue on the ship and was reported to have the best views.  The specialty sushi restaurant was up there and  I also saw they had late night disco action up there.  It was a beautiful bar and the view was amazing, but there was virtually no one up there enjoying it.  We can’t say whether the disco party heated the place up or not, because by then we were always in bed.

Reporting for Duty

After a little more strolling, it was time to get to the Masquerade Theater so we’d be considered as one of the contestant couples.  Some of the couples who were interested in this game show had been contestants in the Perfect Couple Game the night before.

The Love & Marriage Game had a twist.  One couple was a pair of newlyweds honeymooning on the boat.  Another couple was chosen because they had been married longer than anyone else in the theater.  There was stiff competition to fill that middle spot.

Bill and I stood in a line up of prospective couples and they had all the couples give one other a big kiss to demonstrate how much in love we still were.  Bill wrapped his arms around me and laid one on me.  To make it more fun I wrapped a leg around him.  The crowd went wild and we were chosen to be the middle couple.

The actual game was exactly like the Newlywed Show.  First they took the guys backstage and asked the women the questions.  When they brought the guys back out, Bill and I got every question right. Then they sent the women backstage and asked the guys the questions, but whereas the ladies’ questions had been pretty tame, they heated it up for the guys questions.  We missed one that time – something about what feature the guys had been attracted to when they first saw us.  I answered, “My butt,” because that’s what Bill has told me for years.  He’d been a little bashful about answering so specifically and had said it was my whole body.

Then they asked a question which was not something I really wanted to talk about on a stage, in a theater full of people, so I’m certainly not going to discuss it in print, but we got it right.  They made a big hoopla about us winning, but when they brought out our gifts, the other couples got the same thing, so there hadn’t been a real prize for revealing our deep dark secrets.  However, we were certainly celebrities on the ship for the rest of the cruise.

Then as we were about to leave the stage, they wanted our room number so they could deliver a DVD of the event to our cabin.  Oh, no!  I realized they had recorded the game and there was no end to the people who might watch it.  Then they said they’d be showing it on the on board information channel.  They did, because I watched- and no I won’t be posting the video!

One day left!  Come back next week and see how we spent our last day at sea.

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Yucatan Adventure

TRAVEL HERE: DISCOVER THE YUCATAN & THE MAYAN WORLD

No time for working out or a sit-down breakfasts today.  Our shore excursion met on the pier at 9:15, so we grabbed breakfast in the Windjammer Buffet and disembarked.

Progresso, Mexico

I love cruising and one of my favorite moments is stepping off the boat at a port of call.  Progresso was not new to us.  We’d been there several years ago on a Carnival cruise, but that was before I started blogging.  On that trip we visited the Dzibilchaltun ruins, which I highly recommend.  This time we were taking a tour called “Discover the Yucatan & the Mayan World”.  It was a sort of compromise somewhere in between going all the way to Chichen Itza and spending the day on the beach.

The city of Progresso is developing their port and I’m pretty sure the cute little market at the end of the pier was not there last time.  We didn’t see anything that tempted us to pull out our wallets, but it was a nice commercial enterprise and it gave us something to do while we waited for our tour to be called.

How do you spell relief?

On the Bus

Once everyone on the tour had been accounted for, our guide led us to our bus for the day.  For the most part it was in good condition, but I could tell it had been in service for awhile.  Our guide had a shtick about his name.  He complained that all of us tourists didn’t know how to properly roll the “R” in Carlos, so he’d prefer it if we called him The Big Chihuahua or Uncle Chewy.

Our first stop was Xcampo.  (Well, actually the roadside restroom before you got to Xcampo.)  Xcampo was a temple complex, like Chichen Itza or Dzibilxhaltun, but on a much smaller scale.  The visit was not very long, but long enough to wander around and climb on the pyramids.

And speaking of climbing the pyramids, we learned that the steps of the pyramid were so steep to be sure that no one could turn their back on the god and walk down.  They’d have to crawl down to do honor to the god.  In addition, That’s the reason the door to their huts were so low – to remind people to bow and do honor to the home’s inhabitants.

On to Dzemul

Dzemul was a small town primarily occupied by descendants of the Mayans.  Our first stop in the town was an architecturally correct replica of a Mayan home.  When the bus arrived our hostess was nowhere in sight.  We sat there a few moments as the guide tried to decide what to do about her absense.  Just about the time he decided we’d go to the next stop, up comes this darling little lady on the orange human-powered vehicle you see in the picture gallery.  These were the most popular vehicles in town and came in a wide variety of colors and themes.

As Uncle Chewy explained the details of Mayan home-building, our hostess went out back, stoked up a fire and made us some tortillas.  They were good!

The next stop was the local Catholic church with a long history.  There we were greeted by this beautiful woman in her traditional hand-made dress.  Just so you don’t miss it, that’s cross-stitch and it covers the dress.  Can you imagine how long it took to make it?

We were enchanted by this lady.  She exuded pride and self-confidence.  She and some associates performed some folk dances for us and one performed with a tray of water-filled glasses.  The the tray of dancer in the picture got a little off balance and dribbled water on her as she danced.  She was such a pro that it didn’t even cause her to blink.  She completed the dance without ever touching the tray and behaved as if the water dripping on her was just part of the act.  The dancers on the ship could take lessons from her.

Inside the church we were treated to a little history. Bill was amazed to learn that they used to make church doors so large in order for people on horseback to ride in, without having to get of their horse, in times of emergency.

Cultural orientation completed it was time to go to the beach.  Come back next week and join us there.  In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Dzemul.

ART, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Formal Night on Vision of the Seas

TRAVEL THERE: PUTTING ON THE RITZ

I love dressing for dinner.  It’s not required on most cruises anymore.  They discourage you from wearing flip flops and tank tops, but pretty much anything else goes.  Even on formal night dressing up is optional, but I dress up every evening and on formal night I pull out the stops.   

Free Champagne!

The Captain’s Greeting

I can only imagine how much the captain hates formal night.  He has to get all dressed up, spend an hour or so shaking hands and taking pictures with skads of people he has no interest in and then he has to get up and make a big welcoming speech.  It was probably fun the first hundred or so time, but he does this week after week after week!  He probably realizes that most of the people are just there to get the free champagne.

Then after he makes his speech he has to introduce his management staff and let them make their own speeches.  How would you like to take the top management out of your organization to entertain a crowd that just wants free champagne?  Yeah, who’s running the boat – right?  It was almost impossible to hear what they said, but as long as the trays of champagne wandered around the room, they had an audience.

Happy Birthday, Anniversary and Everything Else

Since this cruise was to celebrate Bill’s birthday, our travel agent asked which evening we’d like commemorate the occasion.  I chose Formal Night.  Bill’s birthday wasn’t the only celebration at the table.  The Youth Pastor and his wife also got feted for their anniversary.

Our table mates were a blast, so we were grateful for the delightful company.  The food continued in it’s mediocrity.  This was the night of the lousy lobster bisque and I followed it up with a steak.  Nothing to write home about.  One more meal down.

Another Show, Another Disappointment

For formal night the entertainment was Boogie Woogie Wonderland, which was supposed to highlight the music of the seventies.  They were a little loose about hitting their target.  The seventies were my boogie woogie wonderland, but I have no idea what inspired some of the costumes they wore.

The songs they chose to highlight were among some of my favorites, but the voices just weren’t up to the challenge of the music.  Overall, it was an entertaining show, but it just came up short in the quality department.

Awkward!

To top off our night, after the show we headed to the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge for The Perfect Couple Game Show.  We were expecting a “Newlyweds Game” knock-off, but instead got the Embarrassment Olympics.

When we arrived Adult Karaoke was still going on.  There was a group of drunken bridesmaids dominating the room whether they were on stage or not.  I was glad when the spectacle was over.

Instead of a Q&A of martial habits, The Perfect Couple was a series of party games designed to embarrass people who were unwitting enough to volunteer to be contestants.  Why pay entertainers when you can get passengers to entertain everyone with karaoke and awkward feats of skill.  We made it through a few rounds, but when they started with tennis balls in men’s jeans, we decided it was time for bed.

Come back next week for sure, because we arrive in the Yucatan and enjoy a marvelous shore excursion.o