Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ending week 3 of unemployment

Starting week 4 tomorrow. I haven’t worked since April 30. I have to admit, I’ve kind of enjoyed not working, since I haven’t had to reach for the panic button. But it’s time to get serious. I’ve updated my resume on Monster and had some hits and calls.

Last week, it was a 300 plus mile week, and it was great. Good rides, legs held up, perfect weather. It was my fun week.

This past week, the weather was not so great, and I spent a good deal of my time remodeling the guest bathroom, which was crying for help. My first remodeling effort, and it turned out well, even if I do say so.

I do need to get back on the road this week for some serious training. Got a busy month coming up:

June 7, Grand Prix of Groveport

June 13, Ohio State Road Race Championships

June 21, Ohio State Time Trial Championships

June 28, Tour De Grandview

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cruise Recap- NCL Pride of America May 2-9

As promised, here is a recap of our recent cruise.

I left the office on April 30 thinking I had a 50/50 chance of losing my job. I didn’t give it much thought while on the cruise. As it turns out, the cuts weren’t as drastic as expected, but I was affected.

I went into the cruise with not so high expectations. I had some really bad reviews of the cruise, but, on the hand, I had read some very positives. In the end, the quality of the service, the food and the pleasure we had on the trip far exceeded my highest expectations.

The down side to the trip was that we did not plan our excursions ahead, meaning there were so many things we did not get a chance to see or do. But that’s the downside to the cruise. Your time is limited at each port (with the exception of an overnight stay on Maui and Kauai). What the cruise allowed us is a feel for each of the islands.

Day 1

We drove to Charleston, WV from Columbus, via Dayton (to drop of the dogs) and arrived there at about 10PM on Friday night.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30 AM on May 1. That meant very little sleep. Personally I was so excited, that I got no sleep. In fact, I slept very little on the trip to Hawaii.


We connected in Houston to Continental Flight 1, arriving in HNL at 12:30 PM HST (six hours behind EDT). The flight was smooth, and wasn't near as long as I had expected.


We claimed out baggage was was greeted by NCL and were bused to the ship.


Embarkation went really smooth, and we were on the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the pier. Just as we boarded, they announced that cabins on Deck 9 were ready. Perfect!


The cabin was great. It was a bit small, but then again, the cabin’s only a place to sleep. (The king size bed was super comfortable. If I could have only have found a way to get it home).

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We went to the muster drill at 4PM. By the time we got back to our cabin, our bags had arrived. We unpacked and set out to have dinner (Aloha Buffet) and to explore the ship. We also booked our excursion for the next day (Mauna Kea)

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We were two hours late leaving HNL as we were waiting for some more passengers whose flights were delayed. They were lucky, since we had to wait for them as they booked their entire package thru NCL. Some were not so lucky and had to find a way to join the cruise in Hilo the next day. 

The bed was calling my name by 9PM. It had finally caught up with me. I slept like a baby, and having the cabin door open as we sailed made it even more relaxing.

Day 2- Hilo

I was up early, as I was everyday of the cruise. I really enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Pacific, while enjoying my Kona coffee.


We went up and had breakfast at the Aloha, and then went down to prepare for debarkation at Hilo. That was a bit of a mess, complicated by the fact that we were late docking. We located our tour and we were. At the time, it was sunny and beautiful in Hilo. As it turns out, during the day, a volcanic haze settled in, and it was something we actually had to deal with on every island with the exception of Oahu.

The view from Mauna Kea was incredible.

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We were back at the ship by 5PM. We had dinner on the deck of the Aloha. With the clouds and haze it want such a beautiful afternoon in Hilo, but it had still be a great day.

Overnight sail from Hilo to Kahuilu (Maui).

Day 3- Kahuilu

Another beautiful sunrise as we were getting ready to dock in Kahuilu.


We arrived on time, and debarkation went really smooth today.

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My appointment: a ride of Haleakala. I opted to rent a bike and do it on my own. The excursions did not appeal to me. Don’t bus me up, and let me ride down on cruisers. Or should I say coast down on cruisers.

Ever since I took up cycling a couple of years ago, I’ve been wanting to ride up Haleakala for the challenge of the ride.

We got our rental car, picked up the bike, and headed for Paia. After a brief stop at Hookipa Beach.

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Time to start the climb. (The others were going to drive the Road to Hana, and drove part way up the climb). They drove back down and we made arrangements to meet in Paia. The weather started cloudy muggy.


The most frustrating part of the whole trip… I forgot my camera in the car in my rush to get started. But I will always have the experience. The ride up did get cooler, and the clouds did break a bit. I went up to 9000 ft (approx) and decided I should ride back down as to not miss the meetup with my group.

Our meeting time was perfect. I arrived about five minutes before our predetermined meet time. Got loaded up, and then back to the ship and what became a difficult time in trying to locate a parking space for the rental car. It was then time for a long shower and a huge dinner. It was prime rib night at the Aloha. Then we went to shore to have a few drinks at a local bar (those 4.75 beers on the ship were getting expensive).

We were in bed by 9:30 PM. Had to rest up for another day.

Day 3- Kahuilu

Another early start. We had to make the most of the time we had available since 4:30 was the all aboard.

Started out by going to… Wal-Mart. Yikes. I can do that at home.


Picked up a few souvenirs, then off the Iao Valley State Park.

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We dropped off the rental car about 3PM. We were back to the ship with plenty of time left. So I decided to get into my swimsuit, get some sun, and see us sail away to our next stop- Kona

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cruise Recap- NCL Pride of America May 2-9 (part 2)

Day 5- Kona

Today was a shopping day. I didn’t have high hopes for Kona, to be honest. But it ended up being a very enjoyable day.

This was our tender day. Another beautiful sunrise




Pics from the Farmers Market

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Pics of the ship


More pics of Kona

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All aboard was 4:30PM. Overnight sail to Kauai!


Day 6- Kauai ( Nawilliwili)

This was the island I have been waiting for.

I did get a decent picture of the full moon, something like 4AM.


We got up early and had breakfast at the Aloha. Our planned excursion was a trip to Waimea Canyon. It was a beautiful morning to have breakfast on the deck.

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We disembarked, boarded the bus and we were off.  We were fortunate to have the perfect tour guide, Vinny, who grew up and still lives in the area we visted.

First, there was a stop at the Spouting Horn


We then got a chance to preview the scenery that was waiting for us:


We had the perfect day to view the Canyon. Some clouds, which provided interesting shadows and contrasts of the spectacular canyon. There was also less volcanic haze on Kauai .




Some other pics from the day.

Kauai’s red dirt, which makes for some awesome t-shirts.


Got this shot of a chicken (the national bird of Kauai) as he was headed to McD’s to become the next batch of nuggets.


We got back to the ship around 2PM. I decided today would be a beach day, so we changed and we were off to enjoy the sun and the surf.



After dinner, we decided it was time to get away from the overpriced beers on the ship, and stop for six pack of  Fire Rock to enjoy on the beach. It was a great evening!


Day 7- Kauai

This was kind of a sad day as there was the realization that the cruise was almost over. It was a great week. Time literally drug by. I had not picked up a newspaper all week. No Fox or CNN. It was only my Crackberry for phone and email.

All aboard was at 1:30. We were sailing at 2Pm which was going to include a sail by of the Napali coastline.

For me, it was some last minute shopping, then I came back on board to get some pictures of the ship.





I changed into my swimsuit and went top deck for the sailaway. This was our first time to cruise during the day. And it was awesome. Clear skies, cool breezes. And I got cooked!

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The Napali sail by was scheduled for 5PM, so I went down and showered, anxious for this sailby. We were fortunate to have a port side balcony room as we had a perfect view and didnt have to fight for spots on the deck. This was the highlight of the trip. The ship made a turaround which made having a port balcony room even better. We were closer to the shore and slowed down in speed. Once the turnaround was done, we stayed a further distance from the shore and sped up)

So many pictures to go thru, here a few:

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A great day, and great trip was coming to an end. I was hoping to get some great pics of the sunset

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Enjoyed dinner, then went down to get our bags packed since we had to have them out by midnight. I was cooked, literally. And for the first time, I was experiencing a bit of nausea. I did not sleep well that night. The fact that this dream vacation was soon going to be over did not help.


Day 7- Honolulu

Sunrise over Oahu.  It’s coming to an end :-(

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We docked in Honolulu at 8PM. After an early breakfast, we went down to disembark. It went very smooth and quickly.

Our excursion for the day was the tour of the Arizona and Missouri.

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After the Missouri, the driver took us up into the mountains north and east of HNL. There was saw the only rain on the entire trip.

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We drove back down thru the Punchbowl and got to see more of HNL.

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We arrived at the airport around 4PM, for our 9:30PM flight back to Houston. It had been a busy week, and while I was not that tired during the week, it was beginning to catch up with me.  We had some dinner, did some more shopping, and then it really did catch up with me. I also knew that it was going to be a long flight home and a long day the following day.

We boarded and left on time. I dont think I remember anything until I saw the sunrise coming thru when we were over Arizona.

We landed in Houston at 9:30 CDT. Our flight to Charleston left at 12:30 CDT, and we arrived at 4:3o EST. From that point, we loaded the car for the four hour trip to Dayton to pick up the dogs, and then the hour drive to Columbus.

We got  home around 2AM.

I was up by 7AM. Reality is enjoying your Kona coffee in Ohio, then getting a call to let you know that your job has been eliminated.