Middle Of Nowhere

The captain just announced that we are halfway to Europe. At first pass, I applied that concept to this part of my vacation—I'm halfway through the all-you-can-eat buffets, free shows, and relaxing time by the pool. But when I really thought about it, it struck me in a different way, you might even say a more profound way. We are 1300 nautical miles from Puerto Rico with another 1300 to go to the Canary Islands. A brief glance at the various charts and maps around tells me that there's not much land out here. In fact, I think it's safe to say there is no land for 500 miles in any given direction. When you look at it that way, it's kind of errie.

It's not like the feeling of isolation is all that present, though. There are over 2000* people on board this massive ship, so finding peace and quiet, let alone isolation, is a challenge.

But from an esoteric stance, it's kind of neat. I remember a similar feeling when sailing to Tahiti, studying the GPS to find out where the nearest land was and realizing it was a long freaking way away. Both then and now, I realize we are father away from anything resembling civilization* than 99.9% of the worlds population. It really reminds me how small I am, how big the world is, and how great it is to get out here!

Someday I might find myself in an even more remote place, father from, say, an airport or grocery store, or whatever "civilization" means. Until then, I'm going to keep gazing out at the huge expansive ocean and marvel at it all.
Wednesday April 24 2013File under: travel, cruise

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Cruise First Impressions

In the three months since booking this cruise, my feelings towards it have ranged from intense excitement to cautious trepidation. The reasons for excitement were clear and what I touted when telling people about the trip: all-you-can-eat food, good shows, out of the way ports-of-call, etc. My trepidation, however was a little harder to explain. Basically I was concerned I just wasn't the cruise ship type. Dress up dinners, contrived scavenger hunts, lay by the pool, dissimilar demographics*. With both sides of the spectrum represented, I was curious to see how it all played out.

After less than 24 hours aboard Brilliance of the Seas, any thoughts about trepidations are long gone, replaced with excitement, curiosity, amazement, and down right giddiness. I was almost wishing I had one of those reality TV style camera crews following me for that first half hour as I explored with a ridiculous grin on my face. Everything is so nice, and not just in that way that cheap things try to look nice but aren't. It all feels so real deal.

And the food. So many all-you-can-eat places have food you stuff yourself with not because it looks amazing, but because you want to get your money's worth. The buffet here, not so much, and definitely not the table service meals. My pork chop was great!

Another thing I was concerned about was being nickle and dimed to death. I've been in situations where a cheap deal becomes much less so with all the fees*. While some of the services aboard do charge an add-on fee, it is always clearly advertised and on things that are totally non-essential. I foresee us easily making it 10 days without pulling out our wallets once.

Yep, it's safe to say I'm stoked (probably to an annoying degree to my dear Della). And with more of the ship to explore, tons of events planned daily, and 9 more days to enjoy it all, I'm thinking I will only get stokeder. Whatever the case, I'll keep you posted. Stay tuned.
Tuesday April 23 2013File under: travel, cruise

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San Juan Puerto Rico Instagrammed




Thursday April 11 2013File under: travel, puerto rico

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Road Face

One of the neat things about traveling is that in another place, you are anonymous. No one knows you and chances are you won't see many of these people again. That introduces a kind of simple freedom, to try out new things or to take a break from habits and expectations people have of you at home. I could wear long pants from the moment I leave the house to the moment I return and no one would say "Whoa, Wren is wearing pants!" Or get drunk every night. But I won't be doing either of these things.

I'm not saying that this lack of anonymity on the home front is a bad thing. I love it that people know me so well that many of my quirks can go unexplained. But it can also be nice to take a break.

Introduce a mustache. I've tried one out here at home once or twice, but never really owned it. Since I was due for a shave before I hit the road, I thought, why not give it a try? The worst that can happen is to have 6 weeks worth of photos with me looking funny. No biggie.

So that's the plan, to see what the world at large thinks of me with a mustache. I'll bring back a full report. In the meantime, I'll be posting from the road. Stay tuned (but try to keep the "crazy mustache" comments to yourself ;-) ).
Wednesday April 10 2013File under: beard, travel

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The Chair Dance Book

"Look at that sexy book! What's that? Not only is the book sexy but it will teach me the sexiest dance of all time? What a deal! I've gotta have one!"

Yep, that's right folks, Della (with some writing help from yours truly and some awesome illustrations from Stef) has put out a book to accompany her world famous chair dance act, and I gotta say that it is pretty awesome. With both helpful hints and hilarious hijinx, this book is part tutorial and part knock-you-outta-your-seat comedy. Originally conceived as a merch offering for shows, it turned out so great that we're hoping sales go far beyond that. With it being as awesome as it is, there's no doubt it will be a world phenomenon in no time.

If you want your own copy, you're in luck! Shoot me an e-mail and we'll make it happen, all for the low low price of $10 (+shipping and handling). Or you can come to one of her shows (like, for example, Moisture Fest this Saturday at 7:30 or 10:30).

Anyway, we're pretty dang proud of this little masterpiece. We're sure that if you check it out, you'll understand why.
Friday April 5 2013File under: circus, books

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Portland Octathalon 2013

Andrew* and I have somewhat of a competitive relationship. In fact, not a single Portland visit goes by without at least a little money changing hands on one bet or another. This trip to Portland, however, we decided to get organized.

We devised a list of 8 events, spanning various disciplines, to comprise a winner-take-all Octathalon. While some events were old stand-bys (such as darts or Dr. Mario), a few new ones were thrown into the mix. The competition was 4 day of fun filled intensity with lots of good humored swearing and racket throwing.

AndrewWren
Tennis X*
Simpsons TriviaX* 
Frisbee golfX*
DartsX* 
Child-sized foosballX*
Dr. MarioX*
Words With FriendsResults pending completion
HORSE (on mini-sized hoop)Currently tied at HORS to HORS, Andrew's shot*


While officially the final results are still up in the air, Andrew has graciously conceded knowing that as WWF game stands, he hasn't a prayer. But that just makes way for fresh start next visit.

Yet again, Portland proves to be great fun!
Sunday March 31 2013File under: Portland, games

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Trivia Trifecta Achieved!

My long sought after trivia goal was achieved this week with the help of some wonderful teammates. We completed the Western Skagit Pub Trivia Trifecta*, coming in first place in 3 consecutive nights of pub trivia (the three establishments in question are the ones I reviewed here.)

The competition was tight (esp. at the Longhorn, where it was more crowded than ever), but the categories were with us (former geographic names and Simpsons, to name a few). There was a helpful little overlap on the various pictures rounds* (answers in comments below), though.

And for this triumph, there was no prize in addition to those of the various establishments. But those do add up: 2 pitchers of beer, 2 mixed drinks, 4 t-shirts, and $95 in gift certificates. If I drank or wore beer swag t-shirts, that would be a pretty good haul. But a burger, desert, and good times is enough of a reward for me.

Next week I head to Portland to get a little trivia in down there. Hopefully the streak will continue! Did I mention that I really like trivia?
Friday March 22 2013File under: Anacortes, games

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Appreciating Photographers - Maui Hat Draw Edition

Much of this blog is about chronicling events of my life, both to share with you, dear readers, and to have for myself when I am old and grey. And while it occasionally turns out okay to have a words only post, everyone knows that posts with pictures are way better. But if I'm busy doing, I don't have much time to take pictures of those doings. I do okay when I'm diligent about it, but it's fair to say that many posts lack in the photo department.

Enter other photographers, people who know what they are doing, have great equipment, like doing it, and do it prolifically. I'm so appreciative when someone like that is 1) around and 2) willing to share their photos with everyone. And it makes creating a decent blog post that much easier.

Case in point: Kurt at the Maui Hat Draw Frisbee Tournament. Without the awesome photos he took, I'd have 2 or 3 photos Della captured on my not-a-phone to share*. Instead, I've got a whole gallery to choose from to create a post that conveys the experience in a much more efficient way.

And since pictures say much more than words, here they are:
The Action:


The Off-Action Fun:

Big hanks to Kurt and all the other photographers out there that share their art!
Wednesday March 20 2013File under: travel, hawaii

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Happy Pi Day 2013!

Even though I've been looking forward to and semi-planning for this year's Pi Day for over a week now, I somehow find myself celebrating it exactly the same as last year. Well, maybe not exactly because my quiche has spinach and mushrooms in it, but pretty dang close*.

Yep, pecan pie and a quiche, just like last year. But why not celebrate it the same way? It's the awesome way.

Speaking of celebrating Pi Day, did you know that I wrote a Pi Day Crossword? You should print yourself up the crossword, go find a nice slice of pie, relax, and celebrate!

(oh, and if you're really in the mood for all things Pi Day, you can check out my previous posts on this oh so special day here, here, here, and here.)
Thursday March 14 2013File under: holidays

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Maui Transit Review

Never does everything go right on a trip. Every traveler knows that. But with some preparation, the number of hiccups tends to go down. This recent trip to Hawaii seemed to have more than its fair share of hiccups, at least from the get go, starting with a 6 hour plan delay that put us into Maui in the middle of the night, long after our hotel's shuttle stopped working forcing up to sleep in a homeless camp on the beach. But those things happen.

The big hiccup that altered our trip severly was one I never saw coming. We were quite rudely refused service on Maui Public Transit due to the size of our luggage(which I would have been happy to carry on my lap). So all the planning of figuring out the schedules/routes to get us to the frisbee tourney, to campsites, and back out to the airport was lost. I was stunned at the this rule and the rudeness with which it was enforced.

An inquiry to the transit agency after our trip was rather unhelpful as to ascertaining the reasoning behind such a limiting regulation. "The rules regarding luggage size are from City and County of Honolulu." I, personally, suspect that there is a more underhanded motivation behind the rule, to discourage tourists from using the service, instead pushing them to car rental to help boost the island's economy. Call me a cynic, I guess.

So where did that leave us, all transportation plans shot? At the whim of strangers, that's where. But luckily, we found quite a few friendly ones, specifically ones associated with the Maui Hat Draw frisbee tourney* who toted us out to tournament site and helped us find a nice campsite afterward. It also pushed us to the time-honored tradition of hitchhiking, something neither of us has done much but took too rather easily.

While in the end the trip turned out awesome despite the epic fail of the local transit agency, I can't help but have my faith in public transportation slightly shaken by the experience. If I can't believe in the bus, what can I believe in? Am I going to have to become a car-renting, gasoline-burning tourist like the rest of them? We'll see, I guess, as I've got another adventure just around the corner.
Thursday March 7 2013File under: hawaii, transportation

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