It seems like on each trip I manage to do at least one unbelievably
stupid thing. 2012 was the perfect example.
We went on
- I did something dumb
1. On the 2012 Panama
Cruise, I left my expensive Kindle on the airplane. Bye Bye
2. One day on the 2012 Dominica
cruise, I forgot to put on sun tan lotion. Ouch.
3. On the 2012 Titanic
Cruise, I left my brand new jacket in the Disco. Bye
4. On the
2012 Russia cruise I lost my passport. This
mistake led to an ordeal of the highest magnitude. If
you have ever wondered what happens when you lose your
passport, then you should read this story. (Passport
Miseries) Bye Bye $550
5. On the 2012 Magic Cruise, I
brought a giant 40 by 30 inch wooden jigsaw puzzle
box with me
that was too big to go through the scanner. I
wanted to do puzzles on the trip. If I figured if
I brought this large container along, I wouldn't have to finish
the puzzle in one try. I could work a puzzle 30
minutes here and 20 minutes there. It was a nice idea, but I never
anticipated a giant piece of wood would be seen as a
terrorist threat. Since it wouldn't fit through
the scanner, they confiscated it as a
"security risk" and I never saw it again.
I have no doubt it is being used as a
litter box somewhere.
Bye Bye $60
How I Nearly Blinded Myself
I continued my streak of stupid moves on the 2013 Mariner trip.
One day I was in a hurry to
meet Tracy and Ed for lunch after dance class,
but first I had to take my contacts lens
out. For this story to make any sense, it helps to
understand I am blind in my left eye. Therefore I only
wear one lens.
I wanted to put my glasses back on for comfort.
tried sliding my
contact lens off my right eye, it disappeared into
the side. This had happened once before at
home when I first got this new type of lens. I had a
miserable time getting it off my eye. The lens just stayed
glued on. It took 10 minutes to get it out. I
groaned. I had avoided wearing this lens since and now
I remembered why. The lens was stuck in there again.
definitely did not feel like it had come off.
I was sure I felt it in my eye, but I couldn't see it
anywhere. However it wasn't in
the sink or on the floor either, so it had to be in my eye. I
was so aggravated. Why
couldn't I see it?? I spent so much time digging around in my
eye that I made my poor eye completely bloodshot. But
I never found the darn thing! I looked in
the sink and on the floor
again. Nope. Not there.
point, my eye began to throb. My eye ached from the swelling caused by all my
poking around, so I had to
Now I began to panic.
Had I hurt myself? And how was I ever going to get
this damn thing out of my eye?
Wherever the lens was, it wasn't on my pupil, so I put my
glasses on and went to lunch. My eye felt very
uncomfortable, but I tried to ignore the throbbing during
After lunch I
tried again... and made the eye even worse with more
I cut my other eye out in
a childhood knife accident when I was five. So I
couldn't believe I was doing all this digging
around in the only eye I have! I felt sick with
This turned into
an all-day ordeal. The aggravating thing is that the lens was invisible.
At one point
late that night,
I had three different women - Marsha, Debra, Marla - staring into my
eye trying to figure out where it was.
Trust me, having three women
gaze into my eye wasn't nearly as romantic as it sounds. I wanted to
get the thing out so bad. But
all that rubbing was making things worse.
starting to really hurt when I touched the sclera (the white part).
Finally gave up.
Time to surrender.
No more poking around.
That night I
decided to see if I could sleep despite all that throbbing.
I would see how it felt in the morning.
Mercifully I was
able to sleep. Oddly enough, when I woke up the next
morning, the swelling had gone down. My eye
was still completely bloodshot, but it didn't hurt like it
had last night.
I noticed I didn't feel anything in there.
I was totally mystified. Did
dissolve or something? Very unlikely.
Upset that I had
no idea if the lens was in or out, nevertheless I wasn't
going to hurt myself any more.
decided I could live with the discomfort. I was just
going to leave the contact in there till we got home
and consult my eye doctor.
Obviously that was the right move.
I never did find the lens. Maybe I
washed it out when I stuck my eye underwater in the sink in
an attempt to let the water dislodge it.
I still don't know where it got to.
What upsets is all the
self-inflicted damage I caused. I still
cringe every time I think about the incident.
Normally I just do one stupid thing per
trip, but I was especially stupid on this trip. On
Departure Day, I left a piece of
luggage in the luggage pickup area. My mistake was
caused by my haste to get home Sunday morning. The nice
thing about a trip out of Galveston is that a person doesn't have to
decide what to bring and what to leave home. Since
I am going to
give the porter $5 anyway, what's the difference between two bags
and four bags? So I took four bags and made a mental note of the
The problem began the night before when I packed
my bags. I
wasn't paying attention. I had brought an empty green tote bag along to put
my dirty clothes in. Now for the trip home I had FIVE bags, not
four. However in my hurry to get home the next morning, I made sure
to pick up FOUR bags down in the luggage area.
I left one of the black suitcases behind.
wasn't till we got to the car that I realized my mistake.
I rushed back. However they wouldn't let me back
in the luggage area. 9-11 rules.
they called inside for someone to go find the bag. 30
minutes later the bag finally appeared at the desk. I assumed we were
There was a lady specially assigned to handle these
sorts of problems. This was the only thing she had to do.
stared in stunned disbelief, this woman opened my suitcase and
proceeded to take EVERY SINGLE ITEM OUT OF THE BAG and spread it
over the counter. You've got to be kidding! Nope, that's what she
did. I swear this woman inspected my toothpaste, my jigsaw puzzles,
my snorkel gear, and my dance shoes as if they were possible weapons
of mass destruction.
Her actions made
no sense to me. Why would I smuggle something out this
way? If I wanted to do something illegal, I would
never had left my bag behind in the first place.
The problem was this
was her only job. In a desperate attempt to look busy and
seem important, this
obviously bored woman
spent 10 minutes looking for anything to extend the ritual.
I just stared in muted, helpless disbelief. I shook
my head in disgust.
Travel is hard enough as it is
without people like her.
Notorious Catamaran Adventure
For our day in
organized a catamaran trip for the group.
This was my first visit to Honduras. Until we reached port
in Roatan, I was not aware that Roatan is an
island. I had always thought it was the name of a city on the
mainland. Roatan reminded me
a lot of Cozumel, another one of our stops. Cozumel is an island
just off the coast of Mexico.
Both islands are about 30 miles long and both islands have a lush
tropical forest. Cozumel is 7 miles from mainland Mexico while Roatan
is located some 40 miles off the coast of Honduras.
And, like Cozumel, the waters at Roatan are so deep the ship
can dock right next to the shore.
The nice thing about being on an
island is safety. With the ocean acting as a giant moat to
discourage the bad guys, Cozumel is spared the violence that plagues
the Mexican mainland. Look at it this way -
if a major crime is committed, you are stuck on an island.
Where are you going to hide? So you try to escape on a
motorboat... a helicopter spots you easily in the 25 minute
ride to the mainland.
Same thing for
Although Honduras itself is
said to have a high crime rate, Roatan
seemed very peaceful.
I attribute that to Roatan's island
So what brings people to Roatan?
Just as Cozumel features some wonderful snorkel locations, the
Roatan Reef is the second largest reef in the world.
have become favorite dive destinations.
with Royal Caribbean for all of us to be together on the
There were about 40 of us in all which meant 80% of our
group participated. The trip included a snorkel
adventure, lunch, and a vague promise of a party on board
This is a Waldo-style
Picture. I think there is a guy in there somewhere,
but it might take a while to spot him. See if you can find
As they say, a
picture is worth a thousand words. For much of this
story, the pictures will do a better job explaining the day
than all my prose. I could write endless paragraphs
about how happy we were on this balmy sunny day, but
a few pictures will get the point across just fine.
The boat came to a stop about a mile off shore. At this
point 30 people dived off the ship for a snorkel adventure.
Apparently the fish were plentiful. Ed Akin said that he and Tracy
found a huge school of fish and followed them for quite a while.
I don't have
much else to say about the snorkeling because I stayed
behind on the boat. Since I had
scratched my eye the day before, I decided not to complicate
There were about
ten of us that stayed on the boat. I can only speak for
myself, but I think the "Left Behinds" didn't mind staying
on board one bit. While the others swam, we stayed high and
dry. I noticed that we were all
Speaking for myself, I had a great time
on board. There was an ocean breeze
that was absolutely blissful. And the view of the lush green island
was perfect. Plus I liked the covered area where
moon worshippers like
me could sit and chill.
I received a
very pleasant surprise. While we waited for the snorkelers to return, Bosely,
one of the crew members, took a liking to us.
Maybe it was because we had
several pretty girls who smiled at him and made polite inquiries.
All I know is
that as I
was sitting there minding my own business, Bosely asked
me if I wanted a beer. A big smile crossed my face.
Oh my. What did I do to deserve this?
The next thing I knew, Bosely was plying
me with a steady supply of
the local beer. I didn't even have to ask. The moment I appeared to
finish a can, another one magically appeared. I didn't have to move,
I didn't have to say anything, poof, there it was!
Naturally the quality of my conversation improved dramatically.
As the beer took me to a very pleasant place, I
began a series of wonderful long conversations.
First I spoke with Roberta (in blue)
about the antics of the proverbial 'What
the Hell Gang'.
I had a
delightful chat with Velma.
Velma is my second wife,
a small joke we share.
As you can see in the picture, Velma enjoys having me as her
Velma and I talked about our
adventures on the Russian Cruise
last summer. There is something about traveling to the far
ends of the earth together that builds a deep
friendship. Velma was going through a tough stretch at the time and
with Marla's permission of course - I asked Velma to be my second
wife for the trip. I assume you all
understand that I have a boy scout side to me. I enjoy
the role. Nor is it a hindrance. Quite the
contrary... Velma is a very interesting lady.
Velma and I love to talk about
history. Last August, she and I spent much of our
Russia Cruise discussing Catherine the Great, one of Velma's
favorite historic figures.
Today Velma and I began to talk about Winston Churchill.
Hey, why not? After all, what else do people talk about in the middle of
discovered that Velma is
currently reading a series of books about Churchill,
I was full of questions. Churchill is
one of my heroes.
Churchill is the man widely credited with saving England
from Nazi destruction. Apparently I am not alone
in my admiration. In a 2002 poll, the citizens of the United
Kingdom named Churchill as the greatest Briton of all time.
Churchill is the President of my
"What have you done for us lately?" club. After saving
Britain from Nazi tyranny, naturally you would think Churchill would
be allowed to continue to serve in office as the
Prime Minister. Wrong.
the conclusion of World War II, Churchill was voted out of office.
That completely blows my mind. So every time I see Velma, I
pump her for more information to see if she can explain how on earth
that could ever happen.
So now you know what people talk
about on Catamaran adventures. By
the way, I imagine you guys think having
two wives is the cat's meow.
should think again.
During the Russian trip, to my dismay, now that she was my wife, Velma
immediately started fussing at me too. Good grief, now I am being
told what to do in stereo! When I complained, Velma said that
God gave men two ears so they could listen to more than one woman at
a time. I quietly wondered to myself if having two wives was better
than one, but we can leave that debate for another time.
While Velma and I exchanged memories of
our wonderful trip, Bosely
made sure to keep the beer coming. I
was becoming delightfully calm. Little did I know that Bosely's
kind offerings were just a hint of things to come.
The man in
orange is Ed Rumsey.
Ed is completely blind. He lost
his sight to glaucoma when he was in his twenties.
I admire Ed a lot. Ed
is a person who refuses to give into his
Obviously there are many things Ed
cannot do, but with a little help there are a lot of things
he can do. Thanks to the immense kindness of people in our
group - in particular Frances, Bill, and Joan - Ed was able to do
all sorts of things on this trip including dance.
It turned out Ed
was not immune to the Rum Punch. As I watched him join the Freestyle
dancing just like everyone else, I cannot begin to say how much I
admired him for his courage for coming on this trip.
I might add that Ed seemed to enjoy
dancing in the Conga Line as well.
Since I only have one eye myself, naturally I was curious about his
predicament. From the start of the trip, I noticed all the things
that we take for granted that were a huge challenge for Ed. Watching
him struggle reminded me why I have always been very protective of
my one good eye.
Then thanks to my bizarre contact lens struggle the
night before the catamaran adventure, I got very much in touch with
the fear of being completely blind. That helped me appreciate Ed's
daily courage even more.
Let's Get the Party Started!!
Once the snorkel group returned, it was
time to serve lunch. It was
about this time the crew broke out the Rum Punch.
In the past I have been on
several adventures like this. Typically they water things
down considerably. Not this time. That Rum
Punch was lethal. From what I
heard and from what I saw with my
own eyes, that Punch threw people for a
loop. Judging from the
increase in noise and
all goofy wide smiles, I have to
believe that Punch was seriously
As for me,
I stuck to the beer. That's
probably the only thing that saved me.
I am not saying I was sober, but I
was definitely one of the calmer ones aboard.
The moment they began serving lunch, our
hosts also began to play non-stop dance music.
Playing party music
with this bunch is like throwing a match on dry wood.
punch hit home, it was bacchanalia time. Soon everyone was dancing up a
storm. I might add that included the crew.
From what I saw, they consumed their own rum mixture quite
Pretty soon we
had people like Cindy, aka Circe the Wild
One, dancing Freestyle like she
was a kid again. And the crew
members joined right in. They danced as hard as the group
One of the
things the crew did to get the energy going was initiate a
Here's a picture
of Joan doing the Limbo.
Then we cleared
the deck so we could watch Tim and Eileen dancing the Hustle.
much attention and much applause for their impressive efforts.
the Limbo, and the Hustle were just the warm-up acts.
Once the Rum
Punch took full effect, things began to break loose.
Pretty soon we had a
Conga line snaking throughout the boat.
In my relaxed bliss state, I
didn't feel like joining. I was happy just
sitting there feeling no pain.
So instead I decided it
would be fun to take pictures as those lovely undulating
banana-curved bodies paraded past.
bananas, here we have Frana Banana accompanied by the
Creature From the Spudstock Zone as they passed by.
They were just two of many spirited Conga Snakers.
Life is good.
pictures of some of the other participants. I won't
name them, but if they don't like their pictures, they can
always pay me blackmail money to remove the photo.
These pictures help tell the story, but they don't
really capture the complete craziness of the moment. As the Conga Line
got wilder, some of those girls started to really move their
The group was definitely "feeling it".
However, during the frenzy, I noticed
two parents who looked very uncomfortable. I learned that they were Mormons.
Not only did they avoid the beer, they looked at our wild
dancing with abject horror. I think they were unhappy
because their two teenage daughters clearly wanted to join
I searched the
background of every single picture I took, but out of 60
pictures, this is the only snapshot I could find.
Unfortunately there was no place to hide
their sensitive, virtuous daughters from our debauchery.
Meanwhile those two girls had the saddest
daughters wanted to join the Conga line in the worst way, but their
parents would simply not allow it.
Try to imagine the stress our dancing heathens caused
that poor beleaguered family.
It was "Footloose" on the Catamaran.
Meanwhile everyone was making one BFF after another. I met a couple
from Saint Louis. The man turned out to be another Rick.
I discovered Rick
from Saint Louis was a
big Cardinals fan. So we talked about Albert Pujols, the slugger who
got away to Anaheim via free agency. The St. Louis people really miss him.
Pujols used to
destroy the Astros. We
talked about how the time Pujols
shattered the confidence of Houston Astros relief pitcher Brad Lidge when he
hit a monster homerun to win an important playoff game.
Then I noticed Rick wore a marathon tee-shirt.
So I introduced Rick
to Andy Bach from our group. Andy is a fellow marathoner.
and Andy struck up an animated conversation, Andy's friend Mary came
up and began to ooh and aah about Andy's
well-muscled calves and thighs.
Mary bent down to stroke them.
I saw Mary begin rub Andy's legs
and coo with delight, I had to turn my back.
The smile on her face was more than
I could take.
while Andy and
Rick talked Marathon and Mary gave
Andy the rubdown,
I went over to talk to Rick's wife Michelle.
I was curious about
Michelle because she had come on board in a wheel chair. Michelle
has suffered from multiple sclerosis for over 30 years.
Rick had told me of all the brave things Michelle did to defy her
illness. For example, today Michelle
had gone in the water to snorkel. The
woman could barely walk without crutches, but with help she was able
to snorkel. Amazing!
In this picture,
you can see Michelle as she attempts to dance. Notice
the crew member had to hold her up. So what? Give the woman some
credit... she's trying!!
Many people -
Michelle and Ed are perfect examples - do everything they can to cope
with physical ailments. They definitely have my
support. I can't say enough about their
friend Mary Mary Quite Contrary was completely out of control.
Andy's legs, this girl
definitely needed to jump back in the water.
Here we have
Mary pinning poor Mike Dorman's arms back so the girls could
all come over and smooch him.
like Mike is
struggling too hard.
After Mary was
done attacking Mike, next
she started in on Christina.
bragging about all the weight she had lost getting ready for
The next thing
Christina knew, Mary had her showing off.
more than happy to strut her stuff.
Christina realized her candid conversation was being
observed. Christina didn't mind a bit. She
turned her head, gave me a big smile and sucked in her tummy
a little more.
thrilled to discover she had gotten Christina in trouble.
Mary began laughing her head off.
As for me, I was
taken aback. The Christina I used to know would have
died with embarrassment. But not this Christina.
I suspect the
Rum Punch helped bolster her confidence.
brazenly came over and stuck out her tongue at me. She
said she didn't care that I had taken such a silly picture
of her. So there, Rick,
what do you think about that??
was unable to resist getting in on the act.
Mary got up and came
over too. Acting as Christina's best friend, Mary gave
Christina modeling instructions. Mary suggested how to
smile and pose for the camera.
Mary used her hands to suggest certain angles for Christina
to get the best shots.
responded well to the encouragement.
You can judge
the results for yourself.
After a review of
the pictures, I am sure the reader agrees everything was
getting completely out of hand.
You know, I
completely believe that people should be allowed to let
loose once in a while without cameras around. What
happens on the catamaran should stay on the catamaran.
But that's not
the world we live in. Today there are certain
consequences to having outrageous fun. Post-rum punch
headaches and embarrassing photographs are the price people have pay to enjoy themselves.
That said, it's
time for our contest for the day's goofiest grins!!
Some of these
smiles are pretty nice. And others, well, hmm, just
keep in mind that any photo can be removed for a price.
As should be obvious by
now, most of us got pretty drunk. A few
people even reached the level know as "extremely drunk".
Here's a good anecdote.
Two days after the Catamaran trip,
when we were in Cozumel I ran into a guy
named James at Cozumel's Margaritaville drinking hole. He recognized
me because he and his wife had been on the boat with us. James said
he met Nina from our group. James added that Nina
was kind of tipsy. James said a couple times when the boat rocked,
Nina had slumped up against him for support and whispered, "Please
hold on to me, I think I am going to fall overboard!"
Our party was the stuff of legend.
James, the same guy at Margaritaville
who said he singlehandedly saved Nina's life,
told me another story. James said he had a buddy
complaining what a lame trip he had
taken that morning.
When James realized his buddy had taken
the identical trip on the same boat, James countered
with his story about the greatest trip he had ever been on
in his life.
The buddy didn't
believe a word he said. He assumed that James was pulling his leg
with a tall tale about what a
great time we had. James laughed and swore he was
telling the truth. But his buddy still refused to believe
him even after his wife promised him James was telling the truth.
One of the
reasons we all got so smashed is that the party lasted a lot
longer than it was supposed to. Only a few people
realized that our boat was having trouble getting started.
As for me, I had
no idea there was a problem. It wasn't till Marla told me later that night
that I remembered it sure seemed like the trip was lasting
longer than usual. Since
I didn't have a watch, I had no concept just how bad it was.
But now that Marla brought it up, I
remembered that Tim had pointed out that we were
running very late.
When they finally got the boat moving
again, it had little power. The boat was barely
able to limp back to the beach
putt putt putt. I think any boat with oars could have beaten us back
to shore. Fortunately because we were on a ship-sponsored tour, the ship was
obligated to wait for us. Therefore I could not have cared less.
we're late, big deal.
The upshot, however, was while two guys worked furiously to get the
engine started again, the other crewmen covered for him by
pumping us with more booze. And that did the trick. Our party went
from a campfire to a bonfire. They had created the biggest party at
sea I have ever seen in all my years.
Believe me, we had way more fun than we paid for. I might add we
rewarded the five guides well at the end of the day. The tips came
fast and furious for those guys. Their generosity and friendship
were much appreciated.
The energy continued on our bus trip back to the
ship thanks to Cindy
Hudson, aka Circe the Wild One. Cindy
absolutely loves karaoke. So she led
our bus in a spirited singalong on the way
back to the boat.
Cindy got the singing started
with "The Eyes of Texas". Her follow-up song was "Deep in the Heart of Texas".
Cindy's call to Texas Patriotism
worked like a charm. We all sang with gusto.
I have no doubt that our singing was obnoxious to the non-Texans,
but we were far too boisterous to control.
As for me, I hate to
sing. I cannot sing a lick. I can't even stand listening to my own
voice. Nor can I remember the words to many songs. But the
enthusiasm was infectious. Pretty soon, there I was belting out the
"Eyes of Texas" for the entire world to hear.
you should dance like no one is watching. Well, there I was singing
like no one could hear me. With all the howling, this was one
situation where no one could tell whether I could actually sing or
not. Now that my voice was drowned out, I sang to my heart's
On the way back,
I even contributed a song.
Forty years ago, in the summer of 1971 I
was a camp counselor out in Durango, Colorado.
One day I taught my boys the words to the
"Last Kiss" to use as our campfire song. This song is supposed to be
a tear jerker about a guy who loses his girl friend in a fatal car
crash. However, the song is so ridiculous it is actually very funny
in a sick sort of way.
So how did I learn the words? Those were the days
before the Internet. But the camp had a
turntable and the record too. I must have played that song 20 times on the
turntable trying to figure out the lyrics. I guess the words stuck. To my utter shock, when I offered to sing the song on
the bus, those words were still sitting there in the back of my
"O where O where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me!!
She's gone to heaven
So I got to be good
So I can see my baby
When I leave this ole world"
Pretty soon the whole bus was laughing riotously to what was
supposed to be a sad song about a terrible tragedy. That should tell you
something right there.
Now Joan kicked in with "Love Potion #9".
Joan was laughing her butt off as
she belted out the words.
"I told her that I was a flop with chicks
I've been this way since 1956
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign
She said "What you need is Love Potion
The Joan I knew before the trip has always been a highly poised,
graceful lady who is never out of control. Never. Today on the bus I
was stunned to see Joan chomping at the bit to get in the next song.
Wow! Joanie is letting her hair down! I smiled. Gosh was she
grinning. I liked this new side of Joan.
other people began contributing songs accompanied by
hysterical laughter. Cindy's singalong left me
grinning from ear to ear. This singing was way much more fun
than I could have ever imagined.
I have other fond memories from that day.
For example, I remember teasing Ed
that all the girls were taking their tops
I started to do a play by play of
"Girls Gone Wild" on the catamaran. Of course I was drunk,
but I was having fun.
To my dismay, Ed didn't
believe a word of it. He said, "I may be
blind and drunk, Rick, but I'm not stupid."
To my complete
embarrassment, at that exact moment Marla showed up to take
my picture. Ed asked if Marla had taken her top off
too. OMG, if Marla heard the things I was saying, I
was a dead man. I hurriedly begged Ed to shut up or I would never
hear the end of it from Marla... and probably from Velma
The only regret I have
from the day is failing to get a picture when we got back
to the ship 30 minutes late.
As we arrived, there were about 300 people
high on the
ship's deck way above.
They began cheering wildly as we returned
to the ship. They were waving their
arms and calling out to us.
Apparently we were minor celebrities for
holding up the entire ship. Or maybe they were jeering at us. In my
condition, who knows? However, if they didn't like us, I couldn't
tell. It looked like they didn't care that we
were late. They were having fun.
All I knew is that this giant crowd was definitely waving and
laughing from the top of the ship. Gee, I wish I had taken the
picture. Maybe someone else in the group got a shot and will share
Our catamaran adventure was a good trip.
it was better than that. It was a great
trip, probably the best group adventure we have
ever had in all
the many years of our cruise trips.
felt good to see
people having so much fun.