Freemont Street Experience

One thing you might not think of when thinking about Las Vegas is free shows. Sure there are pricey cirque d' soleil shows, fancy showgirls shows, and once-in-a-lifetime Bette Midler shows, but there is lots of free entertainment too, if you know where to look: the water show at the Bellagio, the pirate show at Treasure Island, the circus shows at Circus Circus, the animatronic Zeus show at Cesaer's Palace, etc. While each of them have their charm, my vote for best free show in Vegas is the Freemont Street Experience.

Freemont Street in downtown* Vegas is a pedistrian mall with older (yet not unfancy) casinos lining it. Covering about 3 blocks of the mall is a giant dome* which, in the evenings, turns into a giant screen displaying what I can only describe as a crazy music video collage. We saw Don McClean's American Pie and one with the music of Queen. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, I suggest checking it out. It'll make you feel better about all that money you lost at the roulette wheel.
Friday January 2 2009File under: travel

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New Years Eve in Las Vegas

New Year's Eve in Las Vegas: People everywhere. Streets blocked off. More booze than usual. More lights than usual. Motorcycle stunts. Police keeping tabs on everything. Families gathered to revel together. Fireworks from everywhich direction. All in all, energy abounding: electric, chemical, and human.

Or so I heard. I was in bed by 9:30 and hardly stirred when the fireworks went off right outside my hotel. Jet lag coupled with cruisers lag* left me one tired cookie. (Sleeping through the big moment also means I'm up to 11 years on my no kiss at midnight streak. Yes, ladies, that is a challenge.)

Anyway, to each of you I send you my hopes for the best possible 2009 ever.
Thursday January 1 2009File under: travel

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Juggling n Travelling

A good traveler knows how to pack light. I think I am pretty good about it*. But one thing I've included in my international travel bag of late is four dube airflite juggling clubs. (For those who don't know, juggling clubs aren't small.) But for the joy they bring me and the opportunities they provide, they are totally worth it.

First, juggling is a great way to past time on the beach, or a park, or a train station, or anywhere you've got time to kill. But beach juggling is the best. Also, it is a great way to meet locals. They'll see you carrying your clubs around and ask for an impromptu show and then share a smile*. Or sometimes it is a little different connection. Juggling builds bridges. Finally, you never know when a little entertainment will be called for. At the Boxing Day Jam Session, I took along my clubs and gave the gathered cruisers a bit of a show. Good times.

Yep, I break a few packing rules by dragging my juggling equipment along, but it is totally worth it.

(P.S. This whole post is just an elaborate excuse to post this picture of Joya trying to imitate me by balancing a club on her head. So cute!)
Monday December 29 2008File under: travel, juggling

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Grenada Hash House Harriers

For the 3 of you out there that know what a hash run/race is*, please bear with me as I explain it to everyone else. Essentially, it is a hike/run/walk guided by temporary markers where misdirected paths are par for the course. In the case of the Grenada hash, the path(s) was through the jungle, along[/through] a stream, under cocoa, banana, nutmeg, and grapefruit trees, and down muddy slopes that sometimes didn't resemble a path at all. I'm so sorry I didn't bring my camera*.

When I signed on, I didn't know what I was getting into. I thought it was just a hike through the woods. I figured it would be nice to get to the extreme other side of the country (luckily it is a small country) and have a nice leisurely hike. When I figured out this whole misdirection thing, I planned to lag at the back of the pack and let the hardcores figure out the true path and I'd just tag along. Somehow, however, I got sucked into the competitive spirit of it all and ended up leading for a good chunk of the way, running along tiny paths through the jungle, not really knowing where I was going, shouting to unseen competitors/collaborators about what I've found. I was pointed down a steep hill by a local fellow who I thought was helping me out, but it turns out he was just having a laugh. Climbing back up the hill not only took all my energy*, but left me out of the leading pack. I finished completely exhausted by so pleased with the experience.

I'd say about 50 people participated. There were maybe 6 or 8 true locals, double that of ex-pat locals, and the rest being students, cruisers, or otherwise temporary dwellers. The division between first time hashers and veterans was split about 50/50.

Unfortunately, the experience ended in such a way that my memory of the event won't reflect the wonderful time I had out on the trails with my fellow hashers. After everyone was through, a hazing ritual was performed on the first timers. Getting the scoop ahead of time what said ritual was, I chose to opt out by making myself scarce. Degradation and disrespect aren't my idea of fun. My choice of opting out wasn't respected and said hazing was directed at me. I reacted instinctively out of anger in a way I'm not proud. It was kind of a fiasco, and left a bad taste in my mouth*.

But negative ending experience aside, the hash run is something I look forward to participating in again in the future. But probably not in Grenada. I don't think they would like it if I came back.
Sunday December 28 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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Friday Non-Comic - Here Vs. There

Anacortes Winter Wonderland (where I'm not):


Grenada Winter Wonderland (where I am):


Normally I run a comic on Friday, as part of my ongoing Friday Comic Series (you can check out past comics here) but since I find this just as funny (if not funnier), I thought I would go ahead and post it instead.
Thursday December 25 2008File under: grenada

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the bay
All the cruisers were snoozin' for it'd been a long day
Up with the sun for coffee and the Net
Gossip, news, and weather more fun you'll not get
Breakfast in the cockpit is fruit and fresh bread
We chat and we laugh til the sun's overhead
Next we load up the dinghy and head to the dock
To get Maggie to her flight, we keep an eye on the clock
She makes her flight and soars o'er the sea
And now just like that, our four becomes three
But no time to dawdle there's more work and more play
Then over the radio hails a boat 'cross the way
"Can we borrow some milk to make up our pie?"
So I swim it over, hey what a guy
Along with the milk, we send a bone for their dog
As I paddle I chuckle, This'll go great on the blog.
Next on the list of our social to-dos
A picnic and dinghy drift, bring whatever food you choose.
The dinghies all convene and tie off together
Luckily for us it remains such fine weather
Now back to the Starshine to settle in for the night
Sure it's only 6:30, but we're losing light
Sea cruising people are quite social it's true
But its safe to say they'll be in bed before you.
So now all is quiet, we do our own things
Steve's on the computer checking on the Vikings
Hope reads her book, the third one since noon
Luckily there'll be a book exchange soon
Me, I just sit here and soak it all in
Reflecting on what a great day it's been
And I think of my friends wherever they be
Wishing them the same happiness and wonder as me
So now this is posted I'll sign off just right
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Wednesday December 24 2008File under: poetry, holidays

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My Kind of Beach

Of all the qualities they choose from to rate a beach (sand quality, surf, proximity to tiki bars, etc.) the biggest one for me is isolation. Yeah it can be nice to have someone bring your alcohol-free, parisoled mai-tai right to your beach chair, and having bronzed bodies to watch as they strut their stuff is good times, but I guess I just prefer space and peace and quiet.

In my travels, I've found a few great isolated beaches (Thailand, Palmyra, Cambodia, etc.). Now I can add Grenada to that list. Getting out to Bathway Beach took a little doing; a halting bus ride and a long walk in the warm sun, but I guess that what keeps it isolated. In the 3 hours we spent there reading, beach combing, and processing coconuts sans machete*, we only saw 2 other souls. So despite the fact that the water wasn't really swimable and I had to go without ice cream for the afternoon, I'm still rating Bathway Beach among the top beach of Grenada.
Tuesday December 23 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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A 3-Hour Tour...

My usual travel style may well be described as directed wandering. I usually know more or less were I'm headed and more or less how. Yesterday, however, there was no "more or less" about it.

The guided personal tour is an experience I've tended to shy away from. I didn't know what I was missing. Yesterday, a local by the name of Keith took us on a half-day tour of the interior of the island. It was 3 hours of non-stop information; plant names and uses, local critters, historical tidbits (the 1983 US shenanagins, 2004 hurricaine desctruction, etc.), demographics info, import/exports, and the answer to any question we could ask. Besides all the info, we got to see spots a public bus couldn't take us*. Yes, a guided personal tour has its place every now and again. And if you ever take one in Grenada, ask for Keith!
Sunday December 21 2008File under: travel, grenada

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FC 56 - Freedom Is Just Another Word

This week, I'm going to have to bypass the usual banter and disclaimers warning of an unfunny comic, etc. etc. In just a short while, I'm headed into shore to hook up with a local taxi driver (that comes highly recommended) to take a tour of Grednada and then be dropped off on the north side of the island to spend some time up there. And I haven't even started packing yet. What I will say, though, is that this is the comic I have been sitting on for a few weeks while that multi-panel comic plot was playing itself out that I talked about being so excited about. So for disclaimers, etc. you can go back and check that out.

(Oh, and because of the nature of the aspect ratio of this one, I will include the text from the 3rd panel here, in case it is unreadable on your computer. "Johnny would have never guessed that the inspiration that served to change his life would come from curbside furniture.")
Friday December 19 2008File under: comic

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Boat Life

Boat life, from the brief experiences I've had with it in the South Pacific, on Lake Union, and now here in the Caribbean, suits me. And it seems the more I learn, the more I like it.

My accomodations here in Grenada are aboard SV Starshine, a 37-foot cutter anchored in Prickley Bay. Notice I said anchored, not docked. That means:
a) No shore power. All power aboard is from the solar panels, wind generator, or, when the need arises, a small generator*.
b) No shore water. Water comes from rain water catchment, or a water maker when needed*. A daily swim off the bow does away with the need for showers, at least for me.
c) Dingy in dingy out. No popping down to the corner store for an after dinner ice cream.

Aside from the ins and outs of being anchored, other new boat stuff presents itself everyday. From the morning dispatch via VHF radio ("the Net") to the close knit community among the cruisers, I dig it all.

(The warm weather and wonderful company doesn't hurt either.)
Thursday December 18 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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