Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Lurking in the Water


Looking South from Loxahatchee River Bridge
Tequesta, FL
January 30, 2023

The South Florida idyllic January weather returned yesterday and Chris and I made the most of the opportunity to get outside and enjoy life. After a series of days with high winds, clouds, and occasional rain the blue skies and calm winds were welcome. 

We biked our base circuit, just over 15 miles, to enjoy the day and the weather. The water on the Loxahatchee River was very still and provided an amazing reflection of the shore and sky as we rode across the bridge in Tequesta about 9 AM. 

Portuguese Man O War
Loxahatchee River
January 30, 2023
It being Monday, later during the day we met friends at our favorite watering hole for a few adult beverages. The beauty of the day continued as we watched the sunset explode over the Jupiter Lighthouse. But my eye was attracted to something sinister floating in the Loxahatchee River. Something that I find all too often on the beach, but rarely in the river. It was a larger than normally seen Portuguese Man O War floating just in the river near where we were sitting.

The Portuguese Man O War is the bane of swimmers and snorkelers as well as beach goers. Their tentacles deliver a nasty sting than can ruin a beautiful beach day. Most of the ones washed up on the beach are small with a sail of up to 3 inches, but this one had a sail of about 10 inches, meaning its tentacles had to be at least that long under the water.

It is sad that the seemingly placid sight of a Portuguese Man O War floating on the river can have nasty consequences.

But such was the day. And the evening was perfect ending with friends at the Square Grouper.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, January 30, 2023

Monday Musings - January 30, 2023


1. It is the last Monday of January, meaning the "new" year is 1/12 complete. My, time flies!

2. The Super Bowl teams are set. The Eagles will face the Chiefs. The best game of the weekend was between the Chiefs and the Bengals with the winning score leaving only 3 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, the Eagles game was a blow-out because the 49ers quarterback got injured. The NFL season ends in two weeks. And then it will be time for baseball!

3. I submit for your consideration another graphic provided by Jason. The graphic provides a comparison of something as basic as salt and how one's latitude can change it use. I like the bottom portion especially.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Flamingo Gardens, Davie, FL
January 28, 2023
4. Reflecting back on the recent visit to Flamingo Gardens, I was able to get many great bird pictures. One that I particularly enjoy is the Black-crowned night heron. There are so many different birds on display, but the Gardens has a large collection of these unique herons.

5. It was cold towards the end of last week. I was dismayed that I had to wear jeans and a long sleeved shirt when going outside on Thursday and Friday. Fortunately, the 80s are returning today.

6Today in HistoryMohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist on January 30, 1948.

Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in 1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year contract in South Africa.

Russia's deputy foreign minister blames the US for no negotiations with Kyiv after NATO allies agreed to send tanks to Ukraine - CNN

Experts explain what Memphis got right in the days since Tyre Nichols' death - CNN

Union members are poised to reject Disney World contract offer - CNN

Exclusive: Pro-Kremlin activists in Germany gave money for Russian army gear - Reuters

Toyota defends title as world's top-selling automaker in 2022 - Reuters

Suicide bombing at mosque in Pakistan kills 32, targeted police - Reuters

Zelensky Urges Faster Weapons Deliveries Amid Russian Push - The Wall Street journal

Blinken Heads to Israel Amid Tensions Over Violence With Palestinians - The Wall Street journal

Along front-line river, this deadly road shows toll of Russia’s war - The Washington Post

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Flamingo Gardens Return

Flamingo Gardens, Davie, FL
January 28, 2023


It being a new year, we journeyed to Flamingo Gardens yesterday to enjoy the animals and plants. Chris and I realized that we had not been to the gardens since last March and it is a place that we very much enjoy. Of course, the over an hour drive does deter us from more frequent visits, but even so, we decided to join the gardens so that we could head there whenever we had the itch to wander around the 60 acre piece of heaven that sits right here in South Florida.

Orchid Bloom
Flamingo Gardens, Davie, FL
January 28, 2023
I also enjoy the Flamingo Gardens because I get a chance to take a lot of images that I will never use again. I also play with some of the features on my camera (iPhone) that I only rarely use. For instance depth of field, which allows me to blur the background while keeping the orchid bloom in full focus. And there are many potential subjects for my photographic interests. 

I have determined that taking images of birds and animals in enclosures is not desirable. The enclosure gets in the way and takes away from the scene. The nice thing about Flamingo Gardens is that many of the birds wander around the grounds or are enclosed in natural settings. 

Ibis on the Rocks
Flamingo Gardens, Davie, FL
January 28, 2023

I enjoy taking images around the pool where the flamingos and other water birds are on display. Its open area provides a natural background as do the rocks and waterfall. The area is next to the food stand and having lunch or a snack while watching the birds, and especially the Flamingos, continues the experience. Of course the numerous peafowl which wander the grounds also provide amusement and photo opportunities, but how many images do I really need of a peacock on full display?

Even though the sun was hidden behind the sky full of clouds, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. I look forward to returning again, soon.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Bike Ride

Yesterday was an exciting day, in terms of bike riding.

When I bought my NordicTrack S22I trainer, I developed a route, a tough route, which went from my Tequesta home north along US 1 to the Hobe Sound Natural Wildlife Preserve and then back home riding along Beach Road on Jupiter Island past the uber-expensive homes. It was a 23 mile trip requiring two drawbridge crossings and riding along a fairly narrow 2-lane road as well as risking life and limb along US-1.

The Ocean
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
January 27, 2023
It was a great ride. I had not done the ride before because I did not want to do it alone. Thursday evening my friend Fran suggested we make the ride, and that is what we did yesterday. I logged just over 23 miles, he rode from his house which is a bit longer and I believe he logged over 25 miles.

The day was cold! Yes, for South Florida it was cold and windy. The temperature was about 63 degrees when we set off under overcast skies and facing, at times, a headwind of 15-20 mph. The ride north was tough. Along US-1 the wind was in our faces and this particular stretch of US-1 undulates continuously. Once we got off US-1, the wind was broken by vegetation and buildings. The ride south along Beach Road, heading home, saw us post an 5-mile average speed of 15.8 mph, which is definitely high due to the wind assist at our backs. The total elapsed time of the trip was just over 2 hours, including stopping at Hobe Sound to view the ocean.

Surprisingly, we were not the only crazy bikers out riding. We passed more than a few others enjoying the day and the relatively light traffic of Beach Road. I enjoyed looking at the multi-million dollar, (some into the $30Ms) houses along the road and biking past the high-end golf course.

So now that I have finally ridden in real life the ride that I had ridden so many times on my exercise cycle using Google maps, I am anxious to do it again with Chris, as soon as we get her up to riding in the 20 mile range. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Friday, January 27, 2023

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary


Chris and I did something a bit different yesterday. We visited the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, which is very close to us in Jupiter. 

Eastern Screech Owl
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Jupiter, FL
January 26, 2023

We had an enjoyable couple of hours walking through the exhibits and talking to the volunteers. The Sanctuary is planning to move to a new larger 20 acre location later this year. They currently occupy 9.2 acres. One of the volunteers indicated that they rescue about 6,000 animals per year. The ones on display are the permanent residents which cannot be returned to the wild due to either injury or domestication. The animals being rehabilitated are kept away from the visitors so that stye do not become accustomed to human interaction.

Barn Owl
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Jupiter, FL
January 26, 2023

We last visited the sanctuary about 10 years ago on a hot summer's day which also was filled with a multitude of mosquitoes. Yesterday was almost idyllic. Temperatures were in the mid-70s and there were no flying annoyances to worry about. 

With the impending move to Jupiter Farms, which was planned for March of this year but reportedly has been delayed until September, I felt that some of the enclosures are not being maintained as would be normal. The site looks a bit rundown, frankly, but the animals seem well cared for. Chris did remind me that it is the middle of winter. There is a good variety of animals to view and we saw a Florida Panther, a bobcat, two Black Bears, turkeys, deer, fox, an alligator in addition to numerous species of birds and a few reptiles. The otters were not in view! All-in-all we cruised through the sanctuary in about an hour and a half. 

The entrance fee is by donation and the staff was very welcoming.

I recommend a visit to gain an understanding about Florida's native and non-native animals and plants as well as to support the sanctuary's animal rescue work.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Internet Saves iPhone 14 proMax


My one-month old, in two days, iPhone 14 proMax, died overnight.

I was in shock since it is new. It was dead. Very very dead. I could not start it in the usual manner and it was not taking a charge. I had what some refer to as the Black Screen of Death.

As most of you are aware, I use my phone a lot. It has and does everything for me. 

I tried placing the phone in different chargers to ensure it was getting juice, to no avail. I tried to reboot it, to no avail.

I was planning to get an appointment at the Apple Store to save the phone when I wondered if this problem had occurred to other users who may have documented a solution on the internet. I found a couple videos on YouTube which provided some clues and a solution that worked. 

The video that saved my day is below.

I was ecstatic when the solution worked. It was a unique key combination, that I wasn't aware of, to force a reboot. Even though the video was for an iPhone 14 pro, it worked for my iPhone 14 proMax.

My day was recovered. 

As was my phone.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Winter Weather Driving


Winter weather driving can be dangerous. 

White-outs, blizzards, freezing rain, ice and irresponsible drivers can make the daily commute or the trip to the store a dangerous undertaking. 

I received a graphic from a friend, who is trapped in the north, which provided some timely and important Winter weather driving rules, titled Tips for Driving in the Snow, and I am sharing it today. 

From personal experience, I can attest to the validity of the tips provided. I might add a fifth: avoid getting sand in your beverage.

Thanks to Jason for sending me the snow driving tips.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dodging the Rain Clouds


Looking South from Loxahatchee River Bridge
Tequesta, FL
January 23, 2023

It was an uncharacteristically cloudy day complete with passing showers yesterday. When I first went out for my morning ride, I decided to wait a bit. Chris and I were able to get Finn's walk in, barely, between the showers.

About 10 AM, I was able to get out onto the streets and risk life and limb for a 15 mile ride. I had planned on a longer ride, but the weather kept changing around me and I decided to keep it to me normal ride and to add any additional side trips. I felt as if I was dodging the rain throughout the ride. And I was! 

I even accomplished a few projects around the house and managed to change auto insurance companies for the first time in my adult life. One big downside to living in Florida is the continuing insurance hassle. Auto insurance is out of sight and property insurance is worse. I was informed that my condo policy was not going to be renewed because the company is terminating operations in Florida. So, I have more insurance fun ahead. 

All in all, it was another great South Florida day!

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, January 23, 2023

Monday Musings - January 23, 2023


1. Happy Monday again. It is the 4th of 5 January Monday's. The year is off to a rapid start. In case you were keeping count, there are 48 Mondays remaining in the year. 

2. Family NFL Results. No family teams remain in the NFL Playoff hunt. Dallas lost a defensive struggle to San Francisco (12-19) which removed all of the family teams from the playoffs. We all must try again next year. 

Gopher Tortoises along the Trail
Hobe Sound, FL
January 22, 2023

3. Chris and I enjoyed another bike ride through Seabranch Preserve State Park yesterday. We spied a number of tortoises along our path. Since we were riding with a friend who has not biked much, we kept the trek to a short 9.5 miles.

4. It was scary to watch the stock market crumble last week as the newly installed Republican-controlled House of Representatives toyed with the idea of having the United States default on its debt. Seems they forget that the previous president, who was a republican, added $8.2 trillion to the national debt in four years and they overwhelmingly voted for the debt increases. The current president has, thus far, added $3 trillion to the debt. 


US Debt by President: By Dollar and Percentage

Sign in Mulligan's Bar
Jensen Beach, FL
January 17, 2023
5. Does anyone else find this sign to be offensive and out of touch with society's standards? There is an inherent bias here that must be corrected. It may have been funny a couple decades ago, but I don't believe it to be appropriate today. And no, I'm not upset that women can get free drinks!

6. Today in History. On January 23, 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs—now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in 1871. Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer” that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates. After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the “Pluto Platter”–an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects(UFOs).

What we know about the 72-year-old suspect in the Monterey Park massacre - CNN

South Korea's lunar probe captures stunning Earth images - CNN

Poland signals intent to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine - Reuters

Russian warship armed with hypersonic missiles to join drills with China, South Africa - Reuters

Early rift over immigration exposes House GOP’s tough path to consensus - The Washington Post

Fear the deer: Crash data illuminates America’s deadliest animal - The Washington Post

Market Recovery Hinges on Rapid Drop in Inflation - The Wall Street Journal

Russia Presses Attack in Ukraine’s South - The Wall Street Journal

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Confused Cactus

Confused Cactus in our Backyard
Tequesta, FL
January 22, 2023


Our Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter cactus is having an identity crisis.

It did not bloom for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it is not in full bloom and enjoying life in South Florida. 

Close-up of Confused Cactus
Tequesta, FL
January 22, 2023

It is stunning, sitting off the patio where it apparently gets just enough sunlight. 

It is enjoyable to watch this plant, which we brought with us from Maryland, grow and thrive in its new environment. Chris and I still cannot figure out why it is blooming out of season, however. But, we are enjoying it. And it is nice that it can be outside during January!

This, BTW, is the plant for which we were searching for bug spray and found the Iguana-Rid that I wrote of yesterday.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Weird Item on the Store Shelf


Went into the Jupiter Home Depot the other day looking for some bug spray for a houseplant we want to bring inside. It was hard to find. 

There are all kinds of sprays and concoctions for various types of pests, but houseplants did not seem to be a big consideration. 

One thing that Chris and I did discover made us laugh. I have seen a lot of "get rid of" potions before, but this is uniquely a South Florida problem. 

Fortunately, Chris and I do not have a problem with iguanas, but we know that nearer the river some places do have iguanas. It was funny the other day when the temperatures dipped below 50 degrees that the public service announcement was about watching for falling iguanas. They tend to stop moving as temperatures fall below 50 and can fall out of the trees. 

Iguanas are not just a nuisance, they can be dangerous when falling from trees.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Friday, January 20, 2023

Spectacular Ending to the Day


From the Beach Looking into the Sunset
Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
January 19, 2023

Friday-eve ended in a spectacular manner as Chris and I along with Fran and Mary enjoyed happy hour on the beach.

It was one of the most stunning sunsets that we have witnessed, casting its red glow across the sky.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
January 19, 2023

We enjoyed a great happy hour watching the waves crash onto the beach, talking, and marveling at how we could be so lucky to be in South Florida on a beach in January. I even stuck my toes in the water. 

The shorebirds were active and provided some comical moments and there was a lone seagull, I'll call it Jonathan Livingston Seagull, who kept watch over all the activity occurring around us.

And then, the sunset began. We watched the colors start on the reverse sunset in the east over the ocean. And as the time passed and the colors became brighter we turned to see the fire in the sky sunset over the land with the palm trees silhouetted. 

And that is how the day ended. One for the record books.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Port Salerno


Port Salerno, FL
January 18, 2023

Getting back in the saddle, of our bikes, Chris and I took a ride through a local state park and out into Port Salerno yesterday. It was a short ride, only 12 miles, but we had a good time and saw numerous, as in more than five, gopher tortoises along the way. We are careful to not double count the tortoises we see as we pass by them in both directions. 

We enjoyed the ride and continued on from the end of our usual stopping point into Port Salerno and along the streets. We had fun and saw shops to which we may soon return for further inspection. It was, as the image suggests, a beautiful day and there were more than a few other bikers out enjoying the weather.

Sunset over the Jupiter Lighthouse
Square Grouper, Jupiter, FL
January 18, 2023
After the ride we did some projects around the house, but decided to join a friend and head off to the Square Grouper for Happy Hour. It was another delightful afternoon along the banks of the Loxahatchee River and we were able to enjoy sunset as it enveloped the Jupiter Lighthouse.

It was the perfect ending to another enjoyable South Florida January Day.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Back to the Day-to-Day


Well, it happened yesterday. Chris and I returned to our day-to-day routine. Not that the routine is bad, but it is a routine. There was the obligatory morning dog walk followed by a 15+ mile bike ride. Then shopping in the afternoon and later we met friends in Jensen Beach for  happy hour and dinner. 

Lightning in the Storm
Wonder of the Seas, North Atlantic
January 9, 2023

It is a good routine, don't get me wrong. 

Especially the part about meeting friends in Jensen Beach. That was actually somewhat outside of routine. 

But, as Chris pointed out on a couple of occasions during the day, it is not the exciting life we lived on the cruise ship.

At least we did not have to return to work after the cruise. I remember that returning to work after a week of cruise ship life was a lot harder than being able to relax and enjoy the memories while sipping my coffee in the morning while writing my blog. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Reflections of the Cruise

 Cruises are a significant event. 

It is hard to let them go even after they have been completed. The memories, the activity, the entertainment, and the fun linger.

I am going to highlight some of the images and a video that I took during the cruise. 

Me in the Flamingos on the Ship
Wonder of the Seas
January 7, 2023

One of the themes on the ship was flamingos. Flamingos were featured in sculpture, like this, and in many paintings and images. I enjoyed finding them in various places around the ship.

Our Traveling Group in the Pub on the Ship
Wonder of the Seas
January 7, 2023

A British-style pub became one of the group's hang-outs. We sent time enjoying each other's company and adult beverages while also playing games and relaxing. This image was taken just after the announcement of the impending nuptials. That Patrick and Jen were to be married on Coco Cay, day 3 of the cruise, was a total surprise! It made the cruise all that much more exciting and meaningful.

Chris and I next to the Mustang
Wonder of the Seas
January 9, 2023

One of the features of the ship was this classic Mustang right on the Promenade Deck. It was fun to look at the vehicle and imagine how it came to be on the ship. I believe it to be a 1966 Mustang Convertible, but I am no expert.

Moon over the North Atlantic
Wonder of the Seas
January 10, 2023

Sunsets, sunrises, and moon over the ocean. I love those subjects for images and cannot get enough of them. This moonrise was particularly interesting with the clouds. I took it from our balcony, or is it a verandah?

My Favorite Towel Animal
Wonder of the Seas
January 14, 2023

Who does not love the towel animals that the room stewards provide. I especially like it when they use items from the room to make them even more personal. This was the final towel animal of the trip. I saved this one for the last day and set it on the dresser in the room holding the tip envelope.

And finally, the video I took from the midnight party held on the very first night of the trip. The music was great and the party was fun.

The sad story of this party is that Chris and I did not attend together. I dozed off in the room about 9:30 PM and she went to the party with the rest of our group leaving me to sleep. That was a nice thought, but when I awoke about 11:15 PM, I went to the Promenade Deck in search of her, but did not find her. So I was alone for the opening big celebration of the cruise. In fact it turns out she was less than about 100 feet from me at a table in the pub. I had walked through the pub but did not see them. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, January 16, 2023

Monday Musings - January 16, 2023


1. It is the third of five Mondays in January. And it is a holiday weekend.

2. It is Martin Luther King's birthday holiday today. 

Brown Booby
Wonder of the Seas, North Atlantic
January 10, 2023
3. I enjoyed my cruise. One of the things I like to do is image birds. On this cruise we were blessed with Brown Boobys which flew along the ship and gave me ample opportunities to try and get a good image. I also like images of sunsets and sunrises. I got this unique shot of the sun behind a cloud as the ship was departing Haiti.

Sun from Behind a Cloud
Wonder of the Seas, Haiti
January 13, 2023
4. It was a rough weekend in the NFL with both the Dolphins and Ravens coming close, but losing with back-up quarterbacks at the helm. Tonight, the Cowboys take the field and attempt to win a playoff game and defeat Tom Brady who is 7-0 against them.

5. When it is time to stop just reporting about Russian missile strikes targeting non-military targets in Ukraine  and killing civilians and do something meaningful either with sanctions or direct military action?

6. Today in History. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” is ratified by the requisite number of states on January 16, 1919.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

Europe's warm winter robs Putin of trump card - CNN

It's so cold in Florida, iguanas have started falling from trees - CNN

Missile strike in Dnipro kills 36 people, officials say - CNN

Household wealth optimism collapses, global survey shows - Reuters

Italy arrests top mafia boss Messina Denaro at Sicilian hospital - Reuters

Indonesia policemen on trial for negligence over deadly soccer stampede - Reuters

China’s bid to leave covid behind could determine global economy’s fate - The Washington Post

New details link George Santos to cousin of sanctioned Russian oligarch - The Washington Post

Russian Draftees Died in a Ukrainian Strike. Putin’s War Machine Rolled On. - The Wall Street Journal

Iran Plans Penalties for Women Breaking Hijab Rule - The Wall Street Journal

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Wonder of the Seas - Days 8 and 9, And So it Ends


Kitchen Nightmares
Wonder of the Seas
January 14, 2023

And it is over!

I am back home reviewing the trip and the past two days. It was 39 degrees at the port when we disembarked this morning! I thought this was supposed to be Florida!

Yesterday was a sea day as we cruised back to Port Canaveral from Haiti. The Captain warned us ahead of time that the upper deck would be closed due to high winds. And the winds across the deck averaged 50 mph or more for most of the day. I estimated the sea swells to be between 10-15 feet. Fortunately, the Wonder of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship afloat and we hardly noticed the wind and waves until the nighttime when I believe they became worse. 

What to do on a ship where the outside activities are not happening? Go to shows and shop. We did both. 

We went to a show called Kitchen Nightmares, loosely done like a TV cooking show with a lot of twists. The two teams, selected from the audience, were tasked with cooking a three course meal in 25 minutes with help from two the ship's chefs. The meals were evaluated, but the host of the event kept throwing obstacles into the paths of the cooks, like at one point making them swap cooking tables and at others giving them a one minute time out. It was a lot of fun.

365 Seasons on Ice
Wonder of the Seas
January 14, 2023

Later in the evening we attended 365 Seasons on Ice--an ice dancing show which was superbly executed. It was very enjoyable and the technology to make the show happen was amazing. It even snowed during the performance!

In between and after the shows there was time for food and enjoying some time with Patrick, Jen, Alex, and Becka. 

Snow during the Performance
Wonder of the Seas
January 14, 2023

This morning's the exit from the ship was smooth. We moved our own luggage and were off the ship by 7:30, at our car by 8 AM and home by 10 AM after a slightly less than 2-hour drive. Wow!

I will do a full review of the cruise and the ship in the future, but all-in-all, it was a great cruise. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Wonder of the Seas - Day 7, Labadee, Haiti

Labadee, Haiti
January 13, 2023
We made our return to Labadee yesterday. Chris and I had been on another Royal Caribbean cruise which visited Labadee in the days before Coco Cay was completed. Labadee has a very different vibe from Coco Cay. I find it more relaxed with the primary focus being on the ocean and beach time. The water park portion of the site is not nearly as diverse as is Coco Cay.

That written, we had a very enjoyable day lounging in the shade of a large tree just off the beach. We found a strategically located spot near a drink station and a rest room. The day started with beautiful blue skies and calm water. Idyllic. The Royal Caribbean area seems very separated from the rest of Haiti. The area does sport a Straw Market with locals selling their wares, they are very aggressive, but Royal Caribbean security keeps them in check. 

Drones in the Effectors 2 Show
Wonder of the Sea
January 13, 2023
For the late afternoon and evening we retired to the ship. One of the highlights of the trip was the evening show in the Royal Theater, The Effectors 2: Crash and Burn. Like the aqua show we attended earlier in the trip it was top quality, exciting, and supremely interesting. In this show I was amazed at the use of multiple drones and lasers. I wonder if they have ever had a drone fail during the performance?

I didn't realize that it was Friday the 13th until the day was mostly over.

Angry North Atlantic
Wonder of the Seas
January 14, 2023

And finally, the trip back to Port Canaveral is a rough and windy one. The ship is very large and we hardly feel the rough North Atlantic. 

We expect to have a good day on the ocean, but the Captain advised us yesterday that the open upper deck would be closed or access would be severely restricted due to the high winds. I looked at the weather map and it seems we may be sailing into a 30 mph headwind at about 25 mph. Does that equal 55 mph over the deck? I don't know.  

Should be a fun day.

-- Bob Doan, Wonder of the Seas, North Atlantic

Friday, January 13, 2023

Wonder of the Seas - Day 6, Puerto Plata

Sailing into Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Wonder of the Seas
January 12, 2023

 The day began rainy and overcast. It was the first rain we had experienced on the trip. We did not tie-up until 11 AM and could not get off the ship until about 11:30 AM. Chris and I did leave the ship to visit a place we had not before visited. 

There is not much in Puerto Plata, yet. We explored the cruise terminal area and there are a number of shops and it is clear that the locals are trying to turn the cruise port into a shopping Mecca. There is a lot of construction in the terminal area and based upon the portion that has been completed, the end result is going to be very nice. 

Now for conditions outside the terminal area. We were confronted with a Cozumel-like commotion. Lots of taxis trying to drag Chris and me off to unknown locations. We walked along the street to the edge of the town, there was not much to see and we decided to return to the ship, running the gauntlet in the opposite direction. 

Back on the Wonder of the Seas we were treated to a relaxing afternoon in the Solarium hot tubs enjoying multiple conversations with other travelers. The ship provided an afternoon parade which was more of a show. It was one of the finest parades I have experienced and it surpassed Disney in creativity. 

Dinner was at a specialty restaurant called the Mason Jar. It is a southern style restaurant and the country band was playing live music to accompany our meal in the adjoining bar. It was a great meal and a fun time.

Exhausted, we collapsed into our bed at the end of another full day. 

Today we are in Labadee, Haiti! And the cruise is rapidly coming to a conclusion.

-- Bob Doan, Wonder of the Seas, Labadee, Haiti 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Wonder of the Seas - Day 5: Return to the USA

Castillo San Felipe del Morro
from Wonder of the Seas
Sailing into San Juan Harbor
January 11, 2023

Well, we returned to the USA yesterday although not where we began the voyage. We set foot in Puerto Rico and enjoyed a full afternoon in San Juan. 

Chris and I headed off on our own and visited the two forts and spent time walking through Old Town San Juan as we returned to our trusty ship. It was another busy port day as well. The Wonder of the Seas was the 4th ship that entered the Port of San Juan as we arrived, but a 5th ship arrived while we were exploring the town. I do not enjoy having so many ship in port simultaneously. The lines represented were Oceania, Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and the late arrival was Norwegian.

Exploring the forts was a lot of fun and reminded me of the Spanish history of the region. We had been to San Juan before and enjoyed the forts, but we took our time yesterday and really immersed ourselves in the historical period to better understand the difficulty that faced the Spanish soldiers assigned to San Juan. 

Upon returning to the ship we enjoyed some time with Patrick and Jen sharing dinner and evening Adult Comedy entertainment. We closed out the day listening to a country music band. Yes, there was a country music band performing live outside of a southern-style specialty restaurant called the Mason Jar. 

Today Chris and I are making our first visit to the Dominican Republic when we land at Puerto Plata. Sadly, I am told it is much like the Mexican port of Costa Maya. Having been to Costa Maya, I understand the possible comparison. 

Tomorrow we head to Haiti! Isn't there unrest there?

-- Bob Doan, Wonder of the Seas nearing Dominican Republic 

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