January 20, 2017
Paul Groves

San Diego–Cool Stuff at the Embarcadero



Day 16 of 111. San Diego, California

Next to the Midway museum is a huge statue that captures an iconic photo that was on the front of Life magazine after the war. Our trolley guide told us that the statue was called “Unconditional Surrender”. The real name was posted under the statue… “Embracing Peace.”

The pier next to the ship had the aircraft carrier Midway. No time for a visit today. There was also a cool set of bronze statues commemorating Bob Hope’s entertainment of the troops. As you visited the memorial, some of Hope’s jokes were played over a speaker.

The day started out cold, wet and rainy, but the sun came out and we had beautiful weather. This was a great stop and it was nice to have internet again. We have five sea days between San Diego and Hilo, Hawaii, but because of a storm in the Pacific Ocean, the captain has warned us that we will experience swells from 6 to 12 feet. We have been warned to place breakable objects on the floor. I think I might have to get out the seasick patches for this part of the journey. We’ll see. 🙂

January 20, 2017
Paul Groves

Trolley Tour in San Diego


Day 16 of 111. San Diego, California
We signed up for the Old Town Trolley Tour in San Diego. I thought it would be kind of dull since I have worked for one week each summer in San Diego for the past four years, but it was really great. We had a special charter trolley and our guide took us to little out-of-the-ordinary spots with great views and fun information. As we passed the beach, we saw sand dunes that were arranged to spell Coronado. The houses along the beach were nice and apparently amazingly expensive.

January 19, 2017
Paul Groves

webr00t

January 18, 2017
Paul Groves

Watercolor Class on Sea Days


Day 14 of 111. En route to San Diego
On Sea Days I have been taking watercolor classes. We are mostly learning techniques right now, such as how to draw swirling water and mix black/gray from blue and orange (ultramarine blue + burnt sienna). We were supposed to see dolphins as we passed the coast of Cabo San Lucas, so we traced and colored in these little dolphins to create a nice picture.

January 17, 2017
Paul Groves

Cooking Class Onboard



Day 13 of 111. Off the coast of Cabo San Lucas
Ron has a mild cold so I went to the Mexican Feast cooking class on my own.
Menu: Zucchini, corn, black-bean and jack-cheese quesadillas; Scallops with Avocado Salad; Meat-Stuffed Poblanos with Cilantro-Lime Sauce and Chocolate Flan. The class held 10 people. We worked in four teams, reported to the others about our dishes (I made the scallops) and then we went to a fancy dining room and had the same meal prepared by the chef. It was great fun. I’ll have to cook for everyone when I get back. 😀

I also included a picture of the dining table group we eat with each night on the ship. All of these ladies know each other well. They all come from Canada. It has been great meeting up with them each evening and finding out how the day has gone. Three of the ladies are debarking here in San Diego. The others will leave the ship in Hong Kong.

January 16, 2017
Paul Groves

Puerto Vallarta


(Day 13 of 111) Since we visited Puerto Vallarta last spring, we did not book any sort of excursion today. We were told that there was a Walmart in walking distance so we did a little shopping and found a nice restaurant with free WiFi. It is free, but not very fast, but still, free. My shopping list now includes some art supplies to practice my drawing and watercolors, some new earphones, sunglasses and other things I forgot to pack.

January 14, 2017
Paul Groves

Mayan Ruins at Tikal





Day 10 of 111. Tikal, Peten, Guatemala.

We left the ship, got on a small airplane and flew to the northern portion of the country to visit the Mayan city. We climbed lots of wooden stairs to get to the top of two of the temples. The weather was great, but it was still a tough climb.

There is the classic view of the temple at Tikal, but we got to see several other ruins. Some are temples and some are astronomical buildings. The entire city was very impressive.

Most of the temples are still underneath mounds of grass and trees. We first visited Temple IV which required climbing many steps left over from studies by U Penn. The trek was worth it to get this view that was used in Star Wars.

I had to climb 126 steps to get to the top of the temple, but it made a great picture.

January 14, 2017
Paul Groves

Guatemala–Some points of interest


(Day 10 of 111) While visiting the Mayan ruins at Tikal, we saw a coatimundi. We also saw spider monkeys in the trees, but they were difficult to photograph. We also saw a wild turkey that I thought was a peacock. It had pretty feathers on its body. The tree is called the tree of life and looks hairy because of all the bromeliads living on the branches. Finally, lunch was a tasty chicken, rice and beans on a tortilla. This is my first Pepsi.

January 12, 2017
Paul Groves

Visiting a Banana Plantation





(Day 9 of 111) Corinto, Nicaragua
Driving up to the Finca Emma banana plantation, we saw one large mass (the bunch of bananas) covered with a blue bag and over that a white bag hanging from each tree. These bags protect the bananas from the sun, insects and other problematic animals such as bats. A tiny colored ribbon hands out of the bottom of each bag to signify the age of the banana plant. The bags are transported from the fields to the packing facility hung from a rail. They look odd floating across the grassy field.


Some of the banana plants are started from small tissue samples that are carefully grown in a nursery. Once established, however, successive generations of the same plant are used. One bunch of bananas comes from each tree. The banana fruit comes from the female flower. The bananas are measured with a tool similar to a caliper to know when it is time to harvest the bunch.


At the packing facility, the bunches are inspected, sorted, soaked in bleach water, sprayed with citric and and a preservative that prevents the ripening process until the plastic bags around the bananas are opened at their final destinations. I thought it was interesting that groups of about 18 bananas are called “hands” and that there are usually five hands in a bunch.


Of course, we stopped at a Hacienda to have a snack and a rest. The snack consisted of fried plantains as well as fried cheese and beans and salsa. It was all delicious.

January 12, 2017
Paul Groves

Costa Rica–A Coffee Plantation

(Day 8 of 111) Costa Rica
Like many people, I am very fond of coffee, especially French Roast coffee. So, it was very interesting to visit a family-owned coffee plantation. This one was about 50 acres. Coffee originated in Africa, but since we are only 10 degrees from the equator in Costa Rica, the beans grow well here. The coffee grows at the higher elevations (that is, the Aribica beans) which produce the best coffee. It is grown on the hills, so it has to be harvested by hand.


I was surprised to find out that the coffee bean is actually a seed from a red berry on the coffee plant. Inside each sweet-tasting berry, you can squeeze out two seeds. The berries are picked and then sorted using density. The berries are dumped in water. The better seeds sink. The lesser seeds float. The beans have to be fermented, dried, and finally roasted. It is the roasting step that actually gives the coffee it’s distinctive coffee flavor.

The difference between a blonde roast and a dark roast is only about two or three minutes of roasting time (15 minutes for blonde, 17 minutes for French Roast, and 19 minutes for dark roast). We also saw some beautiful tropical flowers in the Doka Coffee Plantation’s butterfly garden. A great visit where I learned a lot.