LOS

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DSC_0286By the time you read this, Susie and I will be winging our way to Houston, Texas, with our eventual destination the Port of Galveston, where on Sunday the 17th, we will rondezous with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, have a couple of Texas Ice Teas upon boarding, and then meet up with Our Boys!   Our Boys (ie…youngest child Kenny and his husband Chris) have been on the Liberty since mid-January, and we are looking forward to spending the next 2 weeks with them in the Caribbean!

 

 

Kenny is one of the 6 Lead Entertainers aboard the Liberty, and Chris is a Lead Dancer/Aerialist and the Dance Captain of the company.  The contract the boys are currently on, started with rehearsals at the Royal Caribbean Studio in Miami, Florida back in November of 2018, and they will be on the ship through early November of 2019.  The main shows they do are Saturday Night Fever, the Musical and a Cirque de Sole type show called In The Air.  

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In SNF, Kenny is Father Frank, the Priest brother of the main character Tony.  In addition, both Kenny and Chris play many other small parts, and of course, Chris is prominently featured in all the dance numbers.  Chris is also Kenny’s understudy in the show.  Based on the movie Saturday Night Fever, there are lots of great dance numbers and the very familiar music of the Bee Gees!  This is the third contract the boys have done on the Liberty, and our third cruise with them, so we know what to expect, but we are still excited to see them on stage, and honestly, 2 weeks in the Caribbean is much better than traveling through a blizzard to Janesville, Wisconsin in December to see Kenny perform!

 

 

IMG_2048The other show, In The Air, is comprised of a number of different scenes, all revolving around music, and featuring spectacular dancing and flying sequences.  Kenny is the host of the show and starts it, as well as being featured in several numbers, and the grand finale.  Chris is both a dancer and an aerialist in the show, flying high above the stage on rings, swings, and even just long banners of cloth!  Oh Boy!

Watch Kenny open the show!

 

 

 

 

 

This is a video of one of Chris’ Flying numbers, shot in rehearsal 

Kenny also does a 70’s Set on the Promenade Deck during the big, ship-wide 70’s Party!

 

 

 

 

But the real fun times we’ll have with Our Boys are the times we sit around having a drink, or the places in the ports we relax, and even just hanging out on our balcony!  

 

 

It’s fun to be on the ship, but it’s more fun to be with Our Boys, and to enjoy whatever they have planned for us!  Now, they are working, so that means that sometimes Mom and Dad have to amuse themselves.  Perhaps we’ll take another Martini Making Class!

 

 

 

 

Whatever we do, we know it will be fun and we will have 14 days of great family time!  As we have on past cruises, we have opted not to get Internet service on the ship, so please don’t look for an ongoing commentary here about what we’re doing and where we’re going.  During the course of the cruise, we will make 3 stops in Mexico, one in Honduras, one in the Cayman Islands, and one in Jamaica.  On our return, I would expect that we will be sharing some details of our exploits, but till then, just imagine we’re having 14 glorious days in the Caribbean!

Sue and Frank

Day Thirty Six – Sunday, September 25, 2016

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Here we are, day 4 in Texas, and it already feels like home!  Now, if we can only get resident status for tax purposes, we will be in great shape!

We started the morning in Fort Stockton, at the Best Western and our objective for the night was the Homewood Suites in San Antonio.  The day started cloudy and overcast, as we filled the car up with gas, and continued our eastward journey on Interstate 10.  I have to say one thing before going on, about Texas Interstates.  What the hell do they make the surface out of???  My God, they are the noisiest roads we have ever driven on!  The radio is up a notch or two, we have to practically yell at each other to be heard, and it constantly feels like you are driving on road that is being prepped for repaving!  Okay, moving on….

Wait..one more thing, Bed Heights.  Over the past 35 days, we have slept in dozens of hotels, and sampled lots of King Sized beds.  There seems to be a trend that the bed height is above what we use to consider a standard height bed.  I don’t know if it’s the mattress, the box spring, the frame, or all three, but some of the beds are so tall that you literally could use a step stool to get in.  Last night at the Best Western, the beds were so tall that the only way we could get in was to throw ourselves up and in.  God forbid if you roll out of one of these beds!  Now, we really move on!

The theme of the early part of our trip today on Interstate 10 was ENERGY.  We passed fields with hundreds of electrical generating windmills, oil wells pumping away on the side of the road, and high tension wires, I guess carrying that wind generated electrical energy to the cities.  An interesting mix.

The theme for the rest of the day was rain.  It started as a drizzle, went to a slow steady rain, and then the sky opened and it poured!  The combination of the rough pavement, the trucks (of which there were many), the wind, and the teaming rain just made for a wonderful drive!  In fact, at one point when I was driving, Susie had me get off at an exit in the middle of nowhere, just so we could wait it out a bit.  Our wait was long as the rain didn’t let up, but became heavier before abating a bit. We tried to check the radar, but we were of course in a 1X service area!   It was a lot of fun changing drivers in the downpour.  Shower taken for the day!

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Eventually the rain did let up for a bit, and it even almost stopped for a while, but just before we got to San Antonio, up it started again.  This time, it was joined with lightning and thunder!  Oh joy!  When we got to the hotel, and drove into the garage, the young attendant told me that they only did valet, and that it would be $27 a day.  I told him I’d gladly pay twice that, not to have to drive anymore in the rain!!

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As I said before, we are in the Homewood Suites on the Riverwalk, and it’s a very nice hotel.  It’s obviously not a new building, and after checking in, I found out that the hotel was built by converting the Historic San Antonio Drug Company Building.  The building is on the National Directory of Historic Places and the conversion was done with great care to preserve the original design of the building, including keeping the original windows.  This is the first time we are staying in a Homewood Suites, and we are very impressed by our king bed suite, and the whole hotel.  We look out on the river, and all the amenities seem to be top shelf!

Speaking of top shelf, after having a stiff drink, we started looking for a place for dinner, and found that the Esquire Tavern was just a block or so away.  The Esquire is billed as the oldest bar on the Riverwalk, having opened in 1933.  The walk only took a couple of minutes, so we made it there getting only slightly wet.  We started our dinner with two Moscow Mules, a drink we were introduced to by our friend Dennis, the bartender at the St. James Restaurant in Mineola.  These came in the traditional copper mug, and were a great way to start off dinner.  Fried pickles, a couple of great burgers, and a couple of more mules, and we were in shape to take on the night!

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Tomorrow is forecast to be cloudy with occasional rain.  Let’s hope they’re wrong, as we’d like it to be dry, if not sunny, as we explore San Antonio.  We will be here for 3 nights, so we have 2 full days to explore, and there is lots we want to see!

As they say, Remember the Alamo!

PS…Let’s Go Mets!!!!

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Day Thirty Three – Thursday, September 22, 2016

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If you have been following along faithfully, back on Wednesday, when I posted Day Thirty Two, I mentioned at the end of the blog, that we were staying with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, Texas for the next two nights, and there might be limited internet access. Well, there was, but not like we had limited internet in Yellowstone…this time we were just having too much fun to worry about a blog. More on that later!

We woke on day 33 in Roswell, New Mexico, having not been abducted or in any way harmed by aliens. I guess it must be a lot of BS, because the only aliens we saw were pictured on the advertising signs of various businesses on the main street! We were staying in a brand new, and beautiful Comfort Suites, and although the room was lovely, the breakfast room left a lot to be desired. The chairs looked like they had been through years of service, and were covered with butter, cream cheese, and other stains we didn’t want to think about. We couldn’t help but wonder why such a beautiful, new, and generally well appointed hotel, had chairs that looked like they’d been through the mill! Oh well, perhaps they ran out of money!

The day started after leaving the hotel with a stop for at a self-service car wash, for a quick cleaning of the outside of the car (you’ll see how useless that was), and then to fill the Sonata up with gas. After those two brief stops, we were out of town, and on our way to White Sands National Monument.

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The drive was more up and down, and at one point Susie was driving and exclaimed, “Are we ever going to stop climbing?” The next thing we passed was a sign stating Elevation 8300 feet! We continued on our way, on a rather unremarkable road towards White Sands. One interesting thing was a sign we passed on Route 70. White Sands National Monument is a small part of the White Sands Missile Range, and when they do tests at the range, they close the road so no one is close to where perhaps there could be debris, should something go wrong. It is a test, after all!

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We drove a little more on 70, and came to the White Sands National Monument. We went into the Visitor’s Center, looked at the exhibits, and watched a movie. I have to say, that it was’t the best Visitor Center we’ve seen, and the bathrooms were way below the usual, US Park Services usual condition and cleanliness standards, but they did serve their purpose. Then we headed towards the 17 mile Loop Drive.

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My first disappointment, when we pulled up to the entrance station was that IT WASN’T MANNED! Damn..no one to show my Senior Pass to! The second disappointment, was the first 2 or 3 miles of the Loop. We were driving at 45 MPH through low vegetation, and although you could see that the “ground” under the vegetation was white, I thought, “Is this all there is?” Well, it turned out that it wasn’t! Very soon, we came to a sign that said Pavement Ends..drive with caution! The text thing we knew, were were driving on the sand, and it was truly a magical world we had entered!

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For folks like us from the North East, for all practical purposes, it looked like snow! So white and pristine, it looked like that first drive you take after the snow stops, and before the the beautiful white snow turns dirty and gray! Not only did it look like snow, but it was very obvious that they plow the “road” to keep it open! The thing that really didn’t track with what you were seeing, was the folks out and about were in shorts and t-shirts! Well, it may have looked like snow, but it was 94 degrees at the time, so even dressed as they were, I’m sure they were hot! Of course, you’re driving on sand, so that car wash I did in Roswell was $2.75 ill spent! Of well, who knew exactly what we were going to see?

After that it was time to head south, out of New Mexico and into the great state of Texas. We drove into it late in the afternoon of Thursday, September 22nd, and the Sonata will live in Texas till at least October 17th (I say the Sonata, because for two weeks from October 2nd till the 16th, Susie and I will be in the Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas, but the Sonata will still be in Texas waiting for us). We exited New Mexico, after 5 nights, at Las Cruces on Interstate 25, heading to El Paso, and our friend’s Nancy and Mike’s house!

The Mike I’m talking about is Mike McKay, who was one of the last DJs on Musicradio 77, WABC in the early 80s. Mike and I worked together a lot, both doing music shows, doing field interviews (our notorious Kenny Rogers interview at the Meadowlands), and baby sitting the NY Yankees games on WABC. When the station went talk, Mike stayed on to do Staff Announcer work (commercials, promos, etc), but he had gotten in radio to be the guy on the air, and he left to pursue that. In the years since WABC, Mike, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Erin have lived the “itinerant DJ life” (Mike’s words), Working in places like Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Detroit, as Mike plied his craft as a DJ, and 19 years ago, they landed in El Paso. He first worked at KSET-FM, and later KOFX-FM, and in 2004, Mike became a part owner and Morning Show Host on 101 Gold, just up the road in Las Cruces. That’s what he did, till he retired earlier this year.

We followed the GPS as it took us off the interstate, through commercial areas of El Paso, into their neighborhood, and I will admit that Susie and I had a little trepidation. We hadn’t seen Mike and Nancy for over 30 years, and although they had graciously insisted that we cancel our hotel reservation, and stay with them for 2 nights, we wondered how comfortable the 4 of us would be together (they probably wondered the same thing). We pulled into they driveway, got out of the car, and as we headed towards their front door, the first member of the family we met was Sammy, their adorable little dog, who had hopped out of his doggy door, and came to greet us!

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We rang the doorbell and Nancy and Mike came and greeted us. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged (Mike and I hugged, while Nancy and Susie shook hands), and they invited us inside. The first thing that happened was we got a tour of their lovely house, found out that they were giving us their bedroom for the two nights, and then Mike started the blender and whipped up frozen margaritas. This relationship showed great promise. Drinks in hand, we adjourned to their lovely backyard, which has a pool and ultimate privacy. In minutes, it was like the last 30+ plus years had not happened, and we were all much younger, having fun in their old house in Malvern, Long Island! At one point, Nancy and Mike went in separate directions to make dinner preparations, and Susie looked at me and said, “this is good…very good.”, and it was.

We had our first home cooked meal in close to 5 weeks (Filet Mignon, Twice Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, and Bernaise sauce for the steaks), and it was a wonderful night of food, conversation, and great friendship (and semi frozen Margaritas). We sat around the dining room table talking till almost midnight, when the 4 of us realized we’d better get to bed. As our heads hit the pillows, and we drifted off to sleep, we had visions of a wonderful day with Nancy and Mike. Stay tuned for Day Thirty Four, and more of our adventure in El Paso!