Archive for May, 2007

Whew. Here we are in the port of Monte Carlo waiting to disembark and say farewell to our vessel, the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. We’ve covered 1,589 total nautical miles, but this last 142 from Corsica were the most memorable — not for the right reasons.

I’m hearing that the ship plowed right through the middle of a night-long windstorm with sustained 100 kph winds and gusts up to 130 kph driving the swells past the 20-foot mark. No clouds, no rain… just a whole lotta blow generating spectacularly roiling seas and occasionally tilting the boat to starboard to a rather staggering degree.

A fellow passenger behind me just now likened it somewhat blissfully to sleeping in a hammock, but I think it was a bit more like trying to grab bits of shuteye on a hammock that’s on a rollercoaster that’s in the middle of an earthquake with someone pounding on the walls and ceiling.

I never felt in any danger… in fact on several occasions I got up to wobble to the sliding glass window and marvel at being so very close to the ocean’s fury under incredibly and somewhat incongruously clear star-filled skies. It was weird to be right in the teeth of the melee yet to look up and see a thousand points of light shining peacefully down as if being in two places at the same time. Heaven and hell.

The most disconcerting of the night-long ordeal was whenever I’d finally nod off and then awake suddenly as the boat dipped into a trough between swells leaving my stomach hovering in some sort of purgatory a couple feet above me.

But we made it through intact and now we’re off to Monaco for some daytripping before checking into our room for the night at The Hermitage Hotel. Then tomorrow it’s the bullet train to Paris.

In the time since I’ve last logged on, we’ve done Rome in a sixth of a day (or at least as much as one can in four hours: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Tomb on the Unknown Soldier, Colisseum and a lotta walking in between followed by a semi-private tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel), then it was along the Amalfi coast first to Sorrento for shuttles to the ruins of Pompeii then back south to the picturesque village of Positano before coming back up to Sorrento for the tender back to the ship.

Right now we’ve just pulled in to the port of Ajaccio and I’m looking out across the harbor to the magnificently rugged island of Corsica for some more daytripping that we’ll be departing for in about an hour. So until next time, here’s some low-rezzies of the interior ceiling of the Pantheon, a jawdropping hallway within the vast fresco map room of the Vatican Museum, a fountain within the ruins of Pompeii, and a shot looking down upon the coastal town of Positano.

Ciao!

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Well, the whole iPod to laptop to flashdrive to desktop digimage transfer plan ain’t gonna happen. Apparently firewire cables are very 2002 around these here watery parts. But in the meantime I’ve worked some borrowed Belkin magic and uploaded directly from the camera’s memory card the above snap of me lounging this afternoon on our starboard suite’s balcony just prior to entering the strait between Sicily and the Italian mainland.

We’ll be in Rome tomorrow. Livin’ la vida dolce. 

Just a quick hey say from the ship just off the coast of Croatia as the anchor’s being raised at Dubrovnik where we just spent a marvelous day and now and we’re on our way around the heel and toe of Italy’s boot for a full day at sea before coming into Rome.

It’s been a marvelous trip so far. Susan and I had Venice for a couple days and nights in the marvelous Hotel Al Gazzettino just off a small canal in the “downtown” of the San Marco district, pretty much equidistant between the famed Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal.

To finally see Venice was a dream come true for both of us and it seemed very much a dream to stroll through its network of crooked streets over bridges and down tight alleys and discover what a magical place it is. We walked at all hours: 2 a.m., noon, 6 a.m., and  took literally hundreds upon hundreds of photos of as many nooks and crannies and sights as we could cram into the time we were there.

Tuesday at noon we boarded the boat and spent another night in the port of Venice and on Wednesday we joined an excursion that visited the islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano — all three marvelous places, each with their own unique characteristics that take quaint to a whole new level.

I’m sorry I don’t have a random selection of images to show you but wi-fi connection issues with the laptop have forced me to use one of the computers provided by the ship and these desktops don’t have firewire ports so it’ll be a chore involving transfer of hundreds of images from the iPod to the laptop to a flashdrive to these desktops and that’s just a route I’m not in the mood to take at the present. Maybe tomorrow.

Once back onboard from our island hopping yesterday we disembarked at about 3 p.m. saying a fond farewell to Venice for the open Adriatic and this morning we dropped anchor outside Dubrovnik for a tour of the walled city before boarding a replica 18th-century sailing ship for a one-hour cruise to the Croatian island of Lopud where we enjoyed a fisherman’s lunch and then a hike across the small island. Some did it for the secluded beach at the other end in which to take a dip, I did it for the exercise and photo opportunities.

Back on the sailing ship we were brought back to Dubrovnik and Susan and I filled a couple hours walking through that enchanting place, eventually making our way up onto the tall walls that surround the city for the breathtaking vistas to be found there.

And now we’re back on the ship and the sun has set and further adventures and a whole mess of calories await us both onboard and off. Being off the grid and away from news sources until yesterday I didn’t hear of the Griffith Park fire or the high temps baking Los Angeles in their own ways. Check-ins from our pet sitter indicate that all is well with the animals at home and I hope the same for any who’ve dropped into this dormant place.

 When I’m not up on the deck poolside tomorrow, I’ll find time to get a sampling of pix up here or on Flickr tomorrow.

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Back from the RIDE-Arc ride all around the massively massive Port of Long Beach safe and sound. I may not have broken the 1,000-mile biking barrier before the trip, but rolling down to the ride, my trusty truck did sail across the 100,000 mile milestone. It had been my hope to somehow keep that from happening until its 10th birthday in July, but if it had to happen early it couldn’t have been better than to have it happen with four bikes strapped down in the bed and four cyclists in the cab (with me was Sean Bonner, Steve Roullier and his wife Alice) on our way to such an awesome excursion.

Anyway, the picture above was snapped during the ride tonight when some of us got inside a humungo warehouse piled high with mountains of coke (the entire Flickr set is here). The scale of everything made me feel like an ant.

I’m gonna try hard to stay up straight through to 4 a.m. when it’ll be time to get ready for the cab that’ll get us to the airport. But I’ve got my cell phone alarm set just in case I nod off here in this comfy chair at my des…

So, in addition to thoroughly cleaning my desk and the bathroom off the library (leftovers from yesterday’s scrubathon), charging up every battery and packing the camera bag, I also managed to complete a rich and textured list of errands in this order:

  • Orange 20 Bike Shop – To pick up the rebuilt wheel from The Phoenix that’s been done for like two weeks.
  • Library – To drop off Gore Vidal’s “Burr” due back today.
  • Collar & Leash – For a pair of big chew bones for them dawgies while we’re away.
  • Baller Hardware – New toilet seat to replace the broken one on throne in the bathroom off the library.
  • Bank – For some money (and I did a good deed by turning in an ATM card that was left in the slot of the machine I used).
  • Ralphs – For dry dog and cat food and some squashesses for the tortoise nd Diet Peach Tea Snapples for my baby and Diet Pepsi Limes for me.
  • Sav-On (I’m not ready to call them CVS yet) –  For a couple DV tape cassettes
  • Tony’s Barbershop – For a little off the sides and top and tapered in the back
  • Drycleaners – To pick up my tux shirt they pressed
  • Mailbox – To drop my Verizon payment

N0w I’ve got about 2.5 hours to pack before I load up the truck with bicycles and cyclists and we motor on down to Long Beach for what I have no doubt will be a mind-blowing bike ride through the port of Long Beach.

So yesterday I’m out sweeping up the front yard (see, I’m one of those obsesso compulsoids that absolutely positively HAS to clean up the house inside and out right before I leave the place for two weeks) and on one of the irises I found this healthy specimen of grasshopper.

So today, Part II of my cleaning chronicles, I’m taking the trash out and dang if not on the same exact flower practically 24 hours ago to the minute after finding “Dennis,” now I find that he’s totally been shrunkerized and that it’s all my fault because obviously some presto-chango electro pulse magneto beam flux anomaly happened with my digital camera getting too close to his antennae and some back to the future thing happend and vwipzam: Dennis ain’t nothing but a peewee version of his former magnificent self.

What, you think I’m nuts!? Well… that’s a given. But you don’t believe me? Then take a looksee you doubting doubter you (click to enlarge):

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Either that or Dennis is actually Denise and what I had the awe to behold and the pleasure to present is one of her baby grasshoppers, something I’ve never previously seen before. Perhaps you neither? Well now you have.

Anyway, back to work. There’s dustbunnies need annihilating and a bike ride I need to get to.