The Mighty Mississippi

July, 2020

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river in North America. It is also the second-largest drainage system on the continent. The Hudson Bay drainage system lays claim to first place in both categories. The Mississippi drains parts of 32 states as well two Canadian provinces, over 1.2 million square miles. By the time it reaches New Orleans, it is discharging an average of 593,000 cubic feet of water per second into the Gulf of Mexico.

Living on the Mississippi gives us a unique opportunity to view nature close at hand. Bald eagles are frequent visitors, as are orioles, cardinals, robins, goldfinches, pileated woodpeckers, muskrats, beaver, otters, raccoons, deer, blue herons, bats, Canadian geese, butterflies, turtles, frogs, turkeys, and dragonflies. Seasonally, we see sand-hill cranes, loons, pelicans, and swans on their travels north or south. We’ve watched dragonflies emerge from the nymph stage, looking like creatures from an aliens movie.

We live among maple, oak, birch, white pine, jack pine, mountain ash, cottonwood, elm, butternut, walnut, hickory, apple and cherry trees. Our fall colors are among the best in the nation.

Our river changes daily, with the water level rising and falling throughout the year, depending on rain and management of the dams to the north and south of us. After a

particularly strong storm, we may see entire trees float past our home. Islands grow and shrink. Those islands with sand bars provide enough shallow water to attract boaters who anchor near shore to play with their children and party with their friends. When the river freezes over in the winter, it gives snowmobilers another place to play, and it carves changes to the shoreline during the spring thaw.

We live on the west shore of the Mississippi River, on land that once belonged to France. Had Thomas Jefferson not made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, I might be writing this post in French instead of English. As President, Jefferson wanted to secure access to the river for the United States. The land had changed hands a few times since being taken from the indigenous populations living there. France had controlled the territory of Louisiana since 1699, lost it to Spain in 1762 following the French and Indian War, then regained it when Spain transferred it back in 1802. Fortunately for Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte’s quest for empire left the country of France cash poor, and he was willing to sell the territory. A deal was struck for $15 million (3 cents per acre), and our young nation was suddenly almost twice as large as before. What a bargain! Adjusted for inflation, the cost today would be about $340 million (64 cents per acre). The purchase included most of the land that now comprises the states of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, plus parts of Minnesota, Louisiana, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas

We will soon be embarking on our own Mississippi River expedition, taking a riverboat cruise south from St. Paul to New Orleans. Before boarding the ship, though, we are taking a few short road trips, beginning with Lake Itasca, where we will begin following the Great River Road to St Paul, Minnesota where the boat actually sets sail.

To prepare for this trip, I read “The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation”9780792269137 by Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas G. Brinkley. The book was written in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The authors talk about the general history of sections of the river, and also introduce the reader to many of the interesting people who have lived or made history along the Mississippi River. In addition to good reading, it makes a beautiful coffee table book with many photographs by National Geography photographer Sam Abell. Ambrose, Brinkley and Abell traveled south to north, from New Orleans to Itasca State Park, the reverse of our upcoming trip.


In addition, we are bringing “Road Trip USA: Great River Road,” by Jamie Jensen, a small paperback travel guide. Jensen gives short histories of small and large towns along the river, plus tips for sightseeing and restaurants. I expect we’ll be referring to it quite often.




Posted in Minnesota, Mississippi River, Road Trip, USA Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I Scream You Scream for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!

I’m reposting this in honor of National Ice Cream Day, June 19, 2020.

Saturday morning, September 7, 2019

Today, we paid a visit to Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury. Any ice cream aficionado will tell you that this is the number one reason to visit Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in 1978, and they opened their first “scoop shop” in Burlington, Vermont. In 1978, they began franchising the shops, and they now have locations all over the world. It continues to thrive as part of the Unilever family of brands. In 2018, there were 54 flavors available, including my favorite (Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!) and my husband’s (Cherry Garcia.)


In 1985, Cohen and Greenfield created the Ben & Jerrys Foundation, donating 7.5% of the company’s pretax profits to philanthropy. When we chose our tour, The Flavor Fanatic Experience, we were given the option of devoting a portion of the fee to one of three charities:

  •  The Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire a love of reading and writing among children up to age 12 throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. We opted for this one which aligns so closely with our own desire to promote education.
  • Salvation Farm‘s mission is to build increased resilience in Vermont’s food system through agricultural surplus management. They also grow some of the fruits used by Ben’s and Jerry’s.
  • Migrant Justice‘s mission is to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights.

First we toured the factory – no photos allowed. Our tour guide explained the process and talked about some of the local vendors that they get products from, including Salvation Farm, and Cabot Creamery, a farm co-op based in Vermont. Dairy waste is returned to local farm suppliers to use for producing energy. Ben & Jerrys also source many Fairtrade certified ingredients. At the end of the tour we sampled some ice cream, which we could enjoy guilt free – almost! The flavor today was Sweet Like Sugar Cookie Dough – it was very sweet, with a crunchy texture just like a sugar cookie.

After the factory tour, we did the Flavor Fanatic Experience, which allowed us to go into the Flavor Lab and whip up a batch of ice cream ourselves – Vanilla Caramel Brownie. We mixed vanilla into the heavy cream, sampled it (of course), then poured it into the mixer/chiller (a very expensive machine). All throughout the process, we learned more about what’s involved in making quality ice cream – the correct blend of cream and milk, the best ingredients, the balance of flavors – everything that makes a delicious batch of creamy, cold goodness.


Once the ice cream was of soft-serve texture, we took it out, spooned it into a couple of containers, then added brownies (sampling again) and stirred to mix thoroughly.

Next, we layered the caramel – lots of gooey caramel – and gave it a final mix before spooning it into a box and putting it in the freezer.

Did I mention that we sampled it? This carton will be tested by Quality Control, and if it’s not contaminated by our activities, will be served for sampling at a future factory tour. All of this was followed up with an ice cream cone! We were so sugared up that we forgot to visit the Flavor Graveyard – darn! We’ll just have to come back.

This was all before noon. What a delightful experience, and we even get to keep these snazzy smocks.



Posted in USA Travel, Vermont | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

From The Galápagos to the Amazon

Saturday, January 19, 2019

We left our ship, taking a zodiac to shore, in a downpour. During the 30 minute rain, we managed to get quite wet, in spite of our rain jackets.

We flew first from Baltra Island to Guayaquil on the mainland, then caught a flight to Lima, Peru, where we met up with friends for the next part of our adventure in the Upper Amazon. Our hotel is across the street from the airport, so very convenient since we’ll be in the air again early in the morning.

Sunday, January 20

We flew to Iquitos from Lima this morning, then got on a bus for a bumpy ride to the town of Nauta, where we boarded the IMG_3566Lindblad/National Geographic Delfin II. Nauta is a busy waterfront town, with lots of 3-wheeled taxis moving people around.

In Nauta, we stopped for lunch at Al Frio Y Al Fuego, a restaurant on the Rio Itaya.

Then, back on the bus to go to our ship. We were greeted by some local children as we boarded the Delfin II. We had a brief orientation, including the schedule for the next day, then dinner and off to bed.

The Delfin II has 12 cabins, and we quickly became acquainted with the other passengers. Also, this ship can access more of the rivers and streams in the Amazon Basin over a seven day period than can some larger ships.


Posted in Amazon, Lindblad, National Geographic, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bartolomé Island, Galapagos

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet just off the coast of Santiago Island. It sits in the rain shadow of Santiago and Santa Cruz. Bartolomé’s volcanic landscape, with its spatter cones, tuff cones and lava flows, has been featured in many movies, Master and Commander being one. Very little grows here, it seems to be a wet desert. Scientists cannot figure out why so little grows here. There are a few lava cacti, tiquilia, and even spurge. We did see some crabs near shore, a Central Galapagos Racer snake and a few lizards.

While these volcanic islands look very solid, the basalt is simply a layer over the volcanic dust/sand. Once the basalt slips back into the sea, the rest of the island will erode very quickly.

We woke up at 5:45am for an early morning walk to the top of Bartolomé. There was a light rain as we traveled by zodiac to the island. The waves were high enough to make it an adventure. The ascent consists of 376 steps, with a few landings along the way for us to catch our breath. The rain simply got stronger, so that were drenched by the time we reached the top. The only thing missing from this natural shower was the soap!

We were told that, from the top, you can see almost all of the Galápagos Islands. That may be true on a sunny day, but not today. Even so, the views were stunning, including that of Pinnacle Point.

Sombrero Chino, another islet off of Santiago, was named for its resemblance to a Chinese hat. It is an islet with lava tubes and caves that provide nesting ground for Galápagos penguins. We boated here in the afternoon, and were rewarded with sightings of penguins as well as several other birds. These Galápagos Penguins are the only species of penguin that lives north of the equator. They are related to the Humboldt penguins of southern Peru and Chile.

Posted in Galapagos, Galápagos, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Protect Your Assets When On the Road

April, 2020

We will travel again! Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many people have cancelled trips, or had them cancelled by cruise lines, airlines, etc. We have plans for August. and feel confident that we’ll be approaching something like normal by then. I’m looking forward to leaving home again as soon as it’s healthy to do so. When you do hit the road again, are you confident that your home and assets are safe while you are gone? I’m not talking burglar alarms, because most of you have already taken care of that. I’m talking about the other things that can go wrong.

If you’re lucky, you have friends or family nearby that can check on things when you’re traveling. But, what if there isn’t anyone available? What can you do to make sure things are good on the home front?

Who’s at the Door, or in the Yard? We use Ring, trusting that they have corrected the issues that allowed the recent hack. We actually have this installed at each of our doors. With a smartphone, you can access any of the cameras. If you want more viewing PACKAGESflexibility, you can connect a different camera, then load a camera viewer on your smartphone. With that, you can zoom, tilt or pan with the camera. If you see that a package has been delivered, you can call a neighbor or friend to bring it indoors until you get back home.NEST & EGGS 5

We did have to adjust the sensitivity, after being woken up by raccoons and cats walking by the front door at night. We’ve also been delighted by a mother turkey and her chicks, and have been able to watch a nest of robins outside my office window.

Password Management – It’s tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts PASSWORD PROTECTEDbecause who wants to remember a couple dozen different ones, if we were even capable of doing that! However, that practice puts us at risk of hacking. Use a password locker. There are several options out there. I use 1Password, which receives high ratings for security. I only need to remember the password for my locker account. You can save the website address, login and password for each account in 1Password, and access your accounts directly from the locker if you wish. 1Password can suggest strong passwords if you want. That’s certainly better than using your anniversary date!

There are a couple of ways to add your account information to 1Password. You can log into an account, access 1Password, and save from there, or you can add them directly into your password locker. It’s easy to edit and delete accounts if you need to. You can share your password locker with other people (family member, trusted friend), so they can access your accounts if you are not able to for any reason. You can also put the app on your phone or pad for easy access when traveling.

Internet Security – Is anything on the internet truly safe? It seems that the security systems are only a step ahead of (and often behind) the hackers. Still, that’s noROBOT - SECURITY PROBE reason to forgo reasonable precautions. Hopefully, your home WIFI and internet access are well protected, but what about when you are traveling? A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that allows you to connect securely to another network over the internet. It connects your smartphone, tablet, laptop to another network (hotel or restaurant WIFI for instance) while protecting your privacy. There are several services out there, so look for one that best meets your needs.


Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh no! I forgot to…

April, 2020

Speaking about forgetting, I actually started this in January, intending to finish it after returning from a cruise. Three months later…

On a recent cruise, I overheard a conversation where people were discussing the fact thaDINING WITH FRIEND 3t they had forgotten to pay some bills or forgot to pay their estimated taxes, etc. (I wasn’t eavesdropping, BTW.) They didn’t have their bank routing info and were stressing about what to do. So…here are some tips, and you don’t need to be a techno geek to do any of this.

Mobile Banking – Yes, it’s scary, but I’ve been doing this for at least 10 years with no problems. Just make sure you have a strong password, and don’t write it down and carry it with you. More about COMPUTER BANKINGpassword management to follow. With mobile banking, I can pay my bills from anywhere in the world, as long as I have internet access. Another benefit: I can deposit checks from home using my phone, saving me time and hassle. I can also transfer money between my checking and money market accounts as needed. As a precaution, do check your account regularly to make sure there is no suspicious activity.

Autopay – There are a couple of ways to do this. One is through your bank account. I have all credit card payments automatically withdrawn from my checking account, and have set up an automated payment schedule for real estate tax payments and other recurring charges.

For recurring charges that may change slightly from month to month (like utility payments), I have them charged directly to a credit card. Tip: Set aside one credit card for all recurring charges, and leave it at home. That way, you won’t have to scurry around to update the information with every vendor if a card is lost.

UNCLE SAM & TAXESEstimated Tax Payments – You can pay these by credit card if you don’t have your bank routing information. For larger payments, however, check out EFTPS on the IRS website. You can save your banking information and schedule payments up to a year in advance. Check your state’s revenue department website to see what options are available there as well.

Credit Cards – You probably know to notify your credit card company if you’re traveling out of the country. You can also request notifications from them for any charges that are over a specified dollar amount, or for any charge CREDIT CARDS 1made without a card present. This means that when you or your spouse buys something on line in the other room, you’ll get a notice a couple of minutes later, so don’t charge that surprise birthday gift! Remember to go online and check your accounts regularly to verify that all charges are legitimate.

HEAVY MAIL LOADMail Delivery – It’s easy to have your mail held while you’re traveling, you can do this online if you wish. You can also sign up for Informed Delivery with the Post Office, and receive an email each day with photocopies of the letters and packages (most of them, anyway) in your mail that day. If you see something that looks like it needs attention, you can call the sender. Even when we’re home, I can decide whether or not it’s worth the 200 foot trek to the mailbox, especially when the temps are hovering near zero. TIP: Have invoices emailed rather than snail-mailed to reduce the volume of mail you receive.

What’s Happening at Home?  Ever had a leak while you’re traveling? You’d be surprised how much damage can occur in an hour, as we know from experience. How about a furnace going out? Or pipes freezing (especially for us Minnesotans)? Expensive!! There are are several home automation programs you can use to monitor these things. Control4 has been our program of choice for many years. With a smartphone app, we can check, or change, the temperature in our house (or in our greenhouse), turn the lights on and off, turn the water on and off, schedule sprinklers, turn on the driveway heat (for snowy Minnesota).   Tip: Turn off the water when you leave home for extended periods of time.

Posted in Mobile Banking, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Sea Day on Serenity

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

It’s the last full day of our Crystal Serenity cruise. We’ve thawed out our Minnesota bones over the past two weeks, our blood now runs a bit thinner, and we dread the thought of returning to about a foot of snow. Will we drive through a snowstorm to get from the airport to our home? Will we get stuck in the driveway again? Will we even be able to drive home right away! I’m shivering already!

As if to prepare us for our return home, the day is markedly cooler and cloudy. Most daysDE4C6E35-AB67-4FB0-8829-5A4C1723DE5D have been sunny and warm up to now.

Every time we travel to warmer climes, we consider the possibility of buying a retirement home there. Wouldn’t it be nice to have hibiscus blooms year round? What about fresh mango and papaya? Mai tais, margaritas, pina coladas, the list goes on.

My husband dreams of year-round gardens. At home, he starts annuals in the greenhouse around March, with the hope that we can transplant them in early May. Trees may start budding in late March. Perennials begin to emerge in April, and we have riots of color all summer and into the fall, but by October, we need to prepare for winter.

Truly, Minnesota is beautiful in the summer. Minnesotans come out of hibernation and start wearing shorts as soon as the temperature rises above 60°. The lakes and rivers encourage days of laziness on the patio or on a boat. That’s after the ice goes out of course, which can happen on the Mississippi River in mid-March, but many lakes will still have ice for a few more weeks.

Packing is always awful, but at least it goes quicker when you’re returning home. You don’t have to decide what to pack, you just have to find it! Whenever I think I’m Ii she’d, I find something else that has to be squeezed in. Or, worse yet, I need to dig something out from the bottom of the fullest bag.

We Listened to San Francisco based DJ Bob Ray talk about, and broadcast an interview C18D5AF4-0330-40F2-BB16-8BDE916C284Dwith, Tommy James and the Shondells, who came on the music scene in 1966 with their first big hit, Hanky Panky. Bob Ray does tell a good story.

The group was signed by Roulette Records which had ties to the Genovesa crime family. Although they had a couple dozen gold records, they never received any royalties, being cheated out of $40 million. For more about their story, you can read Tommy James’ book, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells, or you can wait for the movie to come out.

We enjoyed listening to Dick Morgan one last time, as he spoke about the US invasion of Panama in 1989, “Operation Just Cause”. The two week war removed Manuel Noriega from power, something for which the Panamanians were very grateful.

Mr. Morgan’s experience was very personal, as he was #3 on a 32 person “hit list” complied by Noriega to protect his regime in case of attack by the US. The plan was to kidnap the people on the hit list, imprison them, and kill them as leverage against the United States attacking. Shortly after the invasion began, an eight person US military team showed up at Morgan’s home to let him know that one of Noriega’s hit squads was coming for him. Soon afterward, the hit squad, also eight people, arrived and were engaged by the “good guys,” who took them all out. Noriega’s team was outfitted with stolen US uniforms and equipment.

During the afternoon, Mark saw a helicopter flying fairly close to our ship. Normally, we don’t expect to see choppers over open seas since their range isn’t great, but we soon learned that it was coming from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, which was sailing about two miles off the starboard side. We could also hear jets screaming by, but by the time you hear them, they are already out of sight! Crystal knows how to put on a show.


This afternoon, we got a personal tour of the stage sound and lighting engineering areas. Thank you, Cruise Director Rick Spath for arranging this. My electronics geek husband was delighted! I was too. Sound Engineer Sebastian Ostornol showed us the sound mixer, computers and screens he works with to create the best sound for the speakers and performers.

Lighting Engineer John Eigner took us into the lighting booth and spoke about how he can direct curtains, lights, screens and colors right down to the minutest detail. He can even direct a spot at an individual seat in the audience. The engineers start prepping 15-20 minutes before a show to make sure everything is in order.

The walls on either side of the stage are equipped with fiber optics used to create those “starry” nights. There are LED matrix screens in the back of the stage and on the sides that show videos and background.

Tonight’s sunset was beautiful again, and…we saw the GREEN FLASH! Mark has claimed to have seen it in the past, but I was skeptical until tonight. It really does happen! Unfortunately, I don’t have proof, my camera is pretty good, but the photographer is only so so.




Posted in Crystal Cruises, International Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Laziness Wins the Day

Monday, January 20, 2020

I try to get to the gym each morning, so I can work off the many calories consumed each day. This morning, though, I gave in to laziness after about five minutes. I don’t want to do anything more strenuous that turn the pages of a good book. I brought five along, and have donated four to the library already. I do have a few on my IPad as well, so I don’t run out.

We did take time to listen to Ian MacLachlan talk this morning about “Putting the Panama Canal in Context: Geography and Politics.” Canals have been around for ages. The precursor for the Suez Canal was the Canal of the Pharaohs, constructed in ancient times, and following a different route.  It linked the Nile to the Red Sea. It’s not known exactly when it was completed, but work did start under the pharaohs, perhaps in the 1800’s BCE. The problem of salt water leaking into the Nile wasn’t solved until around 274 BCE when engineers under Ptolemy II invented the water lock. It seems to have been in use until the mid 700s AD.

The next speaker, Jim Brochu, actor and playwright spoke about Lucille Ball, whom he had befriended in her later years. It was an opportunity to learn more about this multi-talented actress and her career.

On the first formal night, we noticed people going into the Stardust Club at dinner. One other passenger mentioned to us that it only happens on formal nights and that we really should do it – it is wonderful. We weren’t even aware of this, as it wasn’t an option on our last cruise two years ago. Yesterday, we received an invitation to the Stardust Supper Club. It looks to me like the ‘supper club” can accommodate about 200 people. The Crystal Show Band played throughout the evening, accompanying a lovely singer with a beautiful voice (I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t know her name). The Crystal Dance Ensemble also performed. It was a lovely evening, reminiscent of the days when supper clubs were the venue of choice for an elegant evening. Several couples took advantage of the opportunity to dance, including us. It was a very romantic evening.


Posted in Crystal Cruises, International Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Todos Santos, Baja California

Saturday, January 18, 2020

We sailed most of today, anchoring at Cabo San Lucas (Saint Luke Cape) around 4:00 this afternoon. In the morning, we listened to Roberto D’Alimonte speak on political challenges around the world. The primary challenges he addressed were technology, globalism, and changing demographics. He did apologize both in advance and at the end for causing us to become depressed.

The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, or Land’s End is the point where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. After the ship laid anchor, we tendered into town to check it out. It’s a very busy port town that relies heavily on tourism. The focus appears to be on partying, hence the noise.

Sunday, January 19

BD795BF5-5073-49A6-8B32-B566E4AAD78CToday’s weather back home: high temperature of 1° F at our house, with wind chill projected at 24 below. Yesterday, we had about six inches of snow. SO HAPPY TO BE HERE!!!

The Village of Todos Santos (All Saints) was designated a Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) by the Mexican government in 2006. This designation has been given to only about 100 small towns known for natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance. One historical tidbit: the last battle of the Mexican American War was fought near here in 1848.

We had views of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains and the Pacific Ocean on our drive to Todos Santos, and even saw whale blows along the way. Gray whales migrate here every year from the Arctic Ocean to birth and nurse their young. We also saw cacti that look much like saguaro, and are related, but are actually cardon cacti. They grow many more arms than the saguaro, and the woody interior is used by many artists in their craft. By the way, this is the southern end of the Sonoran Desert, a 100,000 square mile desert, extending into California and Arizona.

Established as Misión Santa Rosa de las Palmas in 1723, this village was also known as Todos Santos Mission. This area became a major sugar cane producer in the1800s lasting until about 1950, when the town’s freshwater spring dried up. Now, it is a Mecca for artists, who flock here for several months each year to work on their crafts.

The coastal village of Todos Santos is about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas, and has a normal population of about 10,000 people.

We were welcomed for lunch at the Hotel California. It was a lovely place. No, this is not the Hotel California of The Eagles fame. In fact, The Eagles sued the hotel in 2017, after the hotel applied for a US Trademark, for falsely leading customers to believe there is a connection. The suit was settled in 2018 when the hotel withdrew its trademark application.

In fact, the hotel was established in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant, a Mr. Wong. It was purchased by a Canadian couple in 2001, and is enjoying a lively business. The hotel’s website includes a disclaimer about the song: ‘The song ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles was not in any way inspired by the Hotel California in Todos Santos. The hotel wishes to inform its guests that there is no past or present connection between the hotel and the Eagles, any of its members, or their song. Any rumors or innuendo suggesting that the song is associated with or inspired by the hotel are untrue.”

In any case, the lunch was delicious.

Dinner was as well. We dined at the Italian restaurant, Prego, then enjoyed a performance by ventriloquist, Mark Merchant. He had us rolling in the aisles!


Posted in Crystal Cruises, International Travel, Mexico | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Coma!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sometimes it pays to get up early. I woke up around 4:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep, so went to the gym. Afterwards, I stopped at the Bistro for a cup of coffee. While there, I had the good fortune to run into Roberto D’Alimonte, our political affairs speaker. I thanked him for his presentations, which I found to be very informative. Learning more about Brexit gave me new insights into the political environment in the US. We had a nice conversation about some global issues. One of the benefits of cruising with Crystal is the quality of speakers we are exposed to.

We attended Ian MacLachlan’s lecture about the Mexican Riviera & Los Cabos. The US sends more tourists to Mexico than other country, distantly followed by Canada, over 8 million from the US, and about 1.7 million from Canada. Some areas of Mexico have suffered loss of tourism due to the drug cartel and gang warfare. In fact, we have been hesitant to travel here ourselves. However, there are many safe areas, we needn’t paint the entire country with the same brush.

The Baja California Peninsula is almost 800 miles long, from Mexicali in the north to Cabo San Lucas in the south. The Peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The area is popular with ecotourists who enjoy its natural environment. We will be docking at Cabo San Lucas tomorrow evening.

Another highlight of the day, indeed of every Crystal cruise, was the Grand Gala Buffet over the noon hour. It’s a good opportunity to sample many new foods. My favorite display was of the “egg” penguins. Top a hard boiled egg with a grape, insert almond sliver for the beak, wrap with thin carrot slice for a vest, add clove buttons down the front, place coffee beans for feet, and set atop a thick slice of zucchini. Voila! An adorable penguin.

All of the food was good. We had to return to our cabins for a nap after this extravaganza. Thank goodness I worked out this morning! The food coma lasted so long that we skipped dinner tonight.

We did, however, attend a couple of shows. The first was Lou Gazzara, who covered several artists, then channeled Elvis Presley for a while,  and ended with several Frankie Valli songs. I can remember first hearing “Sherry” when I was in the womb, and immediately became a fan of the Four Seasons. I have seen “Jersey Boys” on Broadway, in Minneapolis, and have watched the movie several times.

After the show, we enjoyed the style and energy of the Crystal Dancers as they performed their “Latin Explosion” in the Stardust Club.



Posted in Crystal Cruises, International Travel, Mexico, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment