The Aluminum Asylum

The Aluminum Asylum
Our home on wheels

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thursday January 12,2006
Day 4. Costa Maya

OK, I think I have died and gone to heaven. This place is positively the most beautiful place I have seen thus far on our travels.

Cozumel was so devastated by Hurricane Wilma, for miles all one can see is uprooted trees, dead foliage and skeletons of what used to be beautiful villas and ocean front resorts. I was last in Cozumel over 20 years ago when I was working in sales, and we had a trip here for top salespeople. It was truly a tropical oasis in a country that was and still remains desperately poor. The shops have reopened but the aftereffects of the savagery Wilma wrought is still very evident and very sad.

I was up at, if you can believe this, 6 am. I dressed and went down to the buffet deck. I was sitting there sipping my coffee and as we were coming in to dock at Costa Maya, there appeared the most beautiful rainbow. I got up with my camera and walked over to the ships rail. As I looked in towards the shore another ship was making its way towards the dock. The rainbow appeared to end right at this cruise ship. I took a few pictures and a gentleman who had also been viewing this beautiful site offered to take my picture. I have it posted in my yahoo picture album. I will post this addy so everyone can view my pictures there rather than wait an eternity to have them loaded into the blog. I don’t look my best, but I warned you I was UP at 6 am and this was not too long after that.

We decided not to do the beach excursion due to our dismal trip the day before. When the ship finally docked, we were at the farthest port available. I decided that I would go down to Customer Relations and request a wheelchair. I just knew that I would not be able to walk the entire length of the pier. So, Paul, Grandpa and I went into the little market area at the end of the dock. There were a couple of natives dressed like Incas posing with the tourists. I snapped a quick picture of Grandpa with this young man in a very brief little costume. Paul and I got suckered into posing with the kid and a photographer snapped a photo. We ultimately forgot to even look at them when we left. That’s ok…the guy was such a shrimp I would have looked like a huge mountain woman next to him.

We looked at several shops. We were looking for a t-shirt for Zack. There are no Mexicans who are as big as Zack(they are all about 5’ tall and have barrel bellies…maybe too much Tequila, LOL?!?). We finally found a 3X at one shop. It looks HUGE. I think it will be too big but then again if it is washed and dried a few times it will fit Pepe.

I was looking for a beach cover up and a straw hat. We went back and forth with several venders before I found what I wanted. This guy wanted $35 US for a pink straw hat…I wound up paying ten bucks. The cover up started at $65 and we got it for $15. I also bought a liter of vanilla that started out at $28 and got it for $13. The venders are all so funny. They practically dragged me, in the wheelchair into some shops. Paul was pulling me one way, the Mexican guy pulling anther. We stopped for a drink…Granpa had a margarita and I had a Pina colada, Paul had Mexican coke. Wuss…

As we were sitting there we noticed that the beach in Costa Maya was free! It had two saltwater pools, lots of sandy beach, tiki huts with hammocks. Hmmmm, and we paid over 60 bucks for a couple of hours in Cozumel and it sucked? Aaarrrgh. It was truly beautiful there. I guess I could spend a couple of weeks lolling in a hammock there.

We got back to the ship and had some lunch. I was pooped and took a nap while Paul and Grandpa roamed around the ship.

We went to dinner and our dining companions did show up. They are such a cute couple. We ate lobster and it was wonderful. The dining staff was introduced and a wonderful display of lit baked Alaskas was paraded around the entire dining room. The Celebrity show band was playing and it was quite entertaining. I can’t eat ice cream so our darling waiter Lobo brought me a piece of wonderful chocolate cake .After dinner we went back to the Rendezvous and listened to the music and had after dinner drinks. The show for the evening was a comedian whose first name was Noodles. I have to say, I was wondering what kind of comedy he would have, but he was really quite funny. He was born in New York and had lots of funny jokes about that, and lots of really good stuff about the ship. We all enjoyed his show very much. Back in the state-room, we all hit the sack and slept very well. We had left Costa Maya at 7 pm. Friday, the last full day of the cruise would be at sea all day, steaming back to Miami. The activities staff has lots of stuff planned. I think I will borrow a book for the day.



Friday January 13, 2006

Day Five…at sea heading to Miami

Again, I got up early, around 7. Grandpa was sawing logs and Paul said he would stay with him. I got on my suit and new Costa Maya cover up and headed to the buffet. I had some oatmeal with raisins, some delish fresh fruit mixed with fresh mint, and some coffee. I do not care for the pastries onboard. They are quite bland and I am used to a sweeter type of dough. They look beautiful, but are quite blah. I grabbed another cup of coffee and went out to the pool. I knew that everyone would be heading for this area as we were at sea all day. I found three lounge chairs and put towels on them to save them for Grandpa and Paul. They didn’t show until about 10:20. They had breakfast and came back to where I was reading. At 10:45 Paul and I went to the disembarkation info session. We had also been invited to a honeymooners/anniversary cocktail party. We have no clue as to why we were invited…we are not celebrating anything this trip. We went anyways and had mimosas and posed for a picture at a very pretty cake and flower display. I looked like I was hit by a truck. We listened to a set performed by a reggae type band. We left and went back to our lounge chairs. Of course, Grandpa was nowhere to be seen. Wandering off seems to be a habit with him. I read for a while, Grandpa wandered back, and our dining companion Carol joined us. She and I got trays for lunch. She can really put the food away let me tell ya. And she’s a toothpick. Life sometimes is just not fair. To ME anyways. The afternoon activities begin. The same band we saw earlier was playing, only this time on super loud. Then there were “pool” games played by scantily clad bikini babes. They tried to knock each other off a pole with balloons. Grandpa and Paulie were mesmerized. I was getting a headache. I went up to the room and finished my book. Grandpa and Paulie came back around five and we all got ready for dinner.

Once again, our newly wed dinner companions didn’t show for dinner. We had the drink of the day…Paul and Grandpa had mai-tais and I had a Bacardi cocktail. We ordered prime rib for dinner, shrimp cocktails and I had strawberry soup while the guys had salad. The chilled soup was like a melted strawberry daiquiri without the booze. The prime rib is only prepared well done due to problems with undercooked beef so it was dry and not very tender. We also had a very dry slice of chocolate mouse cake and a “pastry cigar” with raspberries. Oh well, most of the food in the dining room was good, as was the food on the buffet. Overall I would not rate the food as good as the Diamond Princess. The staff was wonderful and attentive so the food issue was not all that important. Besides, we are pretty picky eaters overall so you can’t really bank on our say-so!

After dinner, I went bargain hunting in the ships little shops. I purchased a few Celebrity Zenith trinkets. $26 worth. Oh my. We met up in our favorite Rendezvous lounge. The Russian duet was playing. Grandpa asked the singer to dance while her husband played a polka. He was winded after it was over, but he really enjoyed it.
We went to the show lounge for the last show. It was another good performance by the singers and dancers. This time it was songs of travel from around the world. I had a double chocolate cream martini. What the heck. After the show we went back to the stateroom to get ready for bed. Our bags had been packed and were ready to be placed out side the door for pickup. We were designated purple so our disembarkation was at 9 a.m.
Till tomorrow.


Saturday, January 14, 2006
Disembarkation: Miami

We arrived in Miami about 6 am. We were up and moving by 6:30 a.m. We finished packing the carry off bags. Geesh, we need bigger suitcases as we have a lot of stuff that didn’t fit in the bags. We also lugged along the video camera which never came out of the case. Oh well.

We ate a buffet breakfast, and then went back to our room. Customs delayed disembarkation due to some foreigners not showing up at the immigration officer’s post. So, no one got off until after nine. I had asked for a wheelchair (evil minded, leave it to me…lets us get off sooner.). It worked, we got off with the red taggers who were first to get off the ship. We had tied several of Pauline’s handkerchiefs on the bags so we could spot them in the holding area. We quickly went through customs, and found our bags with the help of this really gigantic baggage guy. The two girls who took me off the ship were tipped as was our bag guy. Paul went to the parking garage and within ten minutes we had loaded up and were on our way to North Miami to pick up the furkids.

We called the vet, and the gal said the kids would be ready at 11 am. We took I95 back up to the vets place. The doc wanted to tell us that Oscar had some tummy problems. Ugh.

We tooled back to the campground and settled back in. The fridge that Paulie had supposedly put on manual LP had gone off. I had a fridge full of spoiled stuff. Well, it didn’t bother him, he didn’t have to clean it up. If I had done this however, I would never hear the end of it. Ok, ‘nuff said.

We decided to try and go to Key Largo. Our attempts to find a campground or RV park are fruitless. I am telling Grandpa and Paul that these places fill up quickly each winter and one must have reservations sometimes a year in advance. We go to bed and wake up fairly early. We decide to head west to go through the Everglades and take our chances getting a spot for the rig there.

Will post more later.


Sunday January 15, 2006
Naples/San Marco Island Florida

We had a great trip through the Everglades on State Highway 41. We stopped at a Federal Preserve and viewed a short film on the efforts to maintain the natural ecosystem of the Everglades. We then went through the small display area and I took a couple of photos. We walked around the alligator area and there were quite a few of the creatures there. A number of them were swimming in the murky water of the channel and many more sunning themselves on the edges of the water. We could see fish jumping up in the air. The Ranger told us that these were tropical fish that people put into the channel, and since it was a bit chilly today, they were jumping out of the water because they were not used to the cooler temperatures. They were oscar fish. Figures. Our Oscar is nuts too.

We arrived in the Naples/San Marco area and parked the rig in the Big K lot. Grandpa didn’t want to go along to find a RV park, so we purchased some burgers at Burger King and dropped him off at the rig. Paul and I tooled around looking for all the campgrounds listed in the Woodall’s Guide and didn’t find ONE! We did find Silver Springs RV Resort and pulled in. Paul was tired and just wanted to park the rig and relax for a while. We rented one of the private lots here that was available for a week. It cost $485 for the week, which is really comparable to the KOA’s and is much much more beautiful. We have a lot on one of the lakes. This lot is really well kept and one of the more attractively landscaped ones. We started to watch the Bears game but since it was getting really late, Paul and I took a run up to the local Publix. The prices compared to Springfield were outrageous. No way will I pay $5 for a package of hotdogs, even if they are Boar’s Head!
We bought some TV dinners, some pretzels and left. Grandpa ate and then decided to turn in. Paul and I watched our Sunday night fav’s, Desperate Housewifes and Greys Anatomy. We turned in on the sofabed and Oscar decided he wanted to sleep with us. Paul had to get up and pull him off. We had a great laugh over this…he is really heavy and didn’t want to move from such a comfortable bed!

More tomorrow.


Monday, January 16, 2006
Day two in Naples.

We had a nice breakfast. Grandpa is not feeling well so Paul and I are going to do two weeks worth of laundry. I need to find a hot spot so I can post all my blog pages. There will be lots to read today!

Take care, and I will post the addy for the pictures soon I promise!


Day two continued.

The wash-a-teria here at the RV resort was jammed. They only have a couple of washers and dryers and they were in use. Paul and I tried to find a wifi hot spot to no avail. According to the SBC Freedom Link, there is one Barnes and Noble, one McDonalds, and four UPS stores that have access in Naples. There is a marina in the location finder on Marco Island. Maybe we can find that one too. Ya think we could FIND one of them? The street address for the MickyD’s was 4535 Tamiami…we found 12345 Tamiami and then the numbers went to 32 something. I called the UPS store and he told me that they are in the Stein Mart strip mall. We couldn’t find that one either. *Sigh*. We did find the Super Walmart. We will return later to shop for groceries. We went back to the resort to check on Grandpa. We discovered that he was out for a walk. He said he had found a lot for sale. Hahaha…such a joker. These sites in 2004 were going for $100,000. Yeah right, a concrete pad and some palm trees for that price…not in MY lifetime. We sat outside in the warm sunlight overlooking the man-made lake we are parked in front of. It truly is a beautiful resort. I guess there must be hundreds like this up and down both coasts in Florida and along the Gulf all the way to Texas and Mexico. I still want to check these places out before we make a decision about where we want to retire. I want to travel in the RV for a couple of years and so does Paul. We can’t afford to have a house and travel…not enough monthly income to do that. I am looking forward to seeing other places. Florida was never on my short list anyways. It is too crowded and there is traffic everywhere. Half of the time, you can’t see the drivers head above the steering wheel…little old farts and fartteeses. If I wanted to sit in traffic, this wouldn’t be the place.

Day two continued…

We went to Walmart. It looked as if it had suffered some sort of catastrophic calamity. The shelves were in various stages of disarray, empty shelves were all over the place. We bought replacements for what was spoiled when power was lost in the rig, and enough stuff to eat for most of the week. I can’t get over how much higher prices are down here. Walmart was comparable to prices at home though…the shelves were just empty.

We got back to the resort and put everything away and started dinner. I am pooped. I just want to sleep in tomorrow but we know that isn’t gonna happen. We have our very own alarm clock….Oscar.

I hope I can find a hotspot tomorrow. I am going to stop in at the resort office and see if they can give me some specific directions. I am also going to get my nails done. Paulie and Grandpa will most likely stay here and do some fishing. The tackle box was left at home, but the rods made it into the cargo bays. Paulie went and bought more stuff.

I’ll post more tomorrow, fingers crossed I find the wifi spot.


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