Tuesday, December 24, 2019


January 28-29 Sea Days & Long Beach. Notice of Google+ Shutdown 

January 30. Long Beach, CA.

Interesting to learn that the Long Beach / Los Angeles port system is the largest one in the USA and ninth largest in the world, behind 6 Chinese, one Korean and Singapore ports with 156 post Panamá cranes servicing the complex.

Merrilynne and I walked a few miles around the harbour. with its extensive cycling paths and numerous dining spots. Looks like a great place to hang out.

Picture below shows the large volume of liquor, berries and food being loaded for the 5 day trip to Hawaii,

Twice in previous years, Gary and Candy Gaudreau organized a three day cycling event, where 6 couples met Merrilynne and I at Newport Beach on our return journey to Arizona. This beach lis located about 15 miles South of Long Beach. Amazing beaches and recreation facilities stretching for miles in Southern California. Visiting here brought back great memories!

Pictured below are Sanjay Goel and Criz Punsalin of Cruise Connections, who flew in from Vancouver to meet with their 28 Around the World cruise customers. Interesting discussing their business over lunch.

We toured the Battleship Iowa which is moored next to the cruise terminal. Note the 12 inch thick cast 

iron vaults for the helm and the 9 massive 16” guns. Living conditions were reasonable on the ship.  

There were four ships of this class completed around 1943. They were refurbished two times with the last upgrade being completed at Reagan’s request. Retired in 1990. You will recall that a sister ship, the Missouri, was the venue for the surrender ceremony between MacArthur and the Japanese.

Pictured below is the Queen Mary, which my Dad sailed on to England, in 1947!

DARN, I just received a notification from Google that they are shutting down their blog system by April 2.

Iowa Museum

Criz and Sanjay, President and VP, Cruise Connections

January 27. Cabo San Lucas

Located at Land’s End on the Baja Peninsula, this area is very similar to California, with strip malls and marinas populated by luxury yachts. We walked 8 miles along bustling streets, massive resort hotels and numerous restaurants today.

Surprisingly, the El Arco arch at Lands End collapsed during a hurricane in 2015, so that iconic landmark is gone forever! Check out the photo below.

A local sea lion has developed a reputation as a beggar. He meets returning fishing boats, scurries onto the rear walking deck while pleading for a fish, then he goes to the next boat. I wonder who taught whom this pandering trick….seal or man?

Looking back in time, it is unfortunate that the surveyors laying out the Southern border between USA and Mexico may have been a little too familiar with fire water. Why you ask? Well, looking at the line, if the surveyors haven’t deviated North and just missed the Sea of Cortex, the Baja would be part of California and snow birds would have houses along the lower Baja, under fantastic weather!

Lovena Fox, ( Canadian entertainer from Vancouver ) put on a terrific show last night, culminating in Houston's " I Will Always Love You". Luckily for us, we spent time with her later and leaned that she is a wise investor, due to her multiple real estate holding is Las Vegas. She is pictured with Merrilynne, below.

El Arco Arch after collapse

January 26. Puerto Vallarta

This is our favorite Mexican destination. We plan to spend time here each January in future years. A modern clean city, friendly people with great climate. No one panhandling anywhere.

Five - 500 ml Pacifico or Corona for $7.00, rums, whiskeys and tequilas are $6 to $7.00 per bottle but of course, we like gin, at triple the pesos. Mexicans say - Senior, no drink that stuff, no good!! We did buy some specialty flavoured tequilas and gin to take on board. Waaahooo!

Interesting acrobats on the pole, busking along the Malacon, which is the beach, dining and shopping area in “Old Town”

January 25. Manzanillo, Mexico

Famous for marlin fishing, Manzanillo is the largest port on the Mexican West coast. Tourism plays a minor role in the economics of this modern, bustling metropolis, as the residents appear intent on leading a sophisticated life as in any normal North American centre. NO one pestered us to buy junk, taxi rides not tours!

Huge, 120’ sea-going tugs are stationed here to service national and international navigation. Oil is exported by numerous tankers and dozens of ship loading container cranes dominate the extensive dock system.

January 22, 23 & 24, 2019 Nicaragua and Sea Days

Another nondescript Central American country with limited economic resources, but the people are friendly, well dressed and apparently happy. Their lifestyle is very simple with rudimentary accommodations and infrastructure. I am sure life is different in larger centres.

Weather was excellent with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 80s.

Our day on shore included walking 4 miles while fending off dozens of locals promoting their wares or bugging us to hire them for a bicycle propelled ride around town. Pictures below paint the story.

Greeting by local people at the ship!

January 20, 21,     Sea day and Puntarena, Costa Rica

Homes are fortified with iron gates and security screens.  Poor, unappealing town in an idyllic setting.



January 19, Panama Canal

The French originally attempted to build a sea level canal, commencing in 1882, but they ran into many problems. After about 10 years, 30,000 deaths, $400,000,000.00 lost and little progress, the French abandoned the project. Malaria and yellow fever were are the culprits but nobody understood these diseases at that time. The assumption was that the employees were drinking too much.

About 1902 President Roosevelt decided he wanted to have access to both oceans by a short route for his Navy, so the canal idea was resurrected. At that time, this area was controlled by Columbia and the Colombians refused to give America access to the peninsula. Interestingly, an uprising occurred and Panama became an independent territory. I will let your imagination and Mrs. Google solve that mystery. A long-term agreement was negotiated with the new Panamanian authorities and the project was on.

By the way, Roosevelt had considered building a canal through Nicaragua, but due to volcanic risk, the project was not pursued. This alternate route was still used as a bargaining chip to soften up the Colombians in their negotiations.

Roosevelt hired two civilian engineers to manage the project but first they had to solve the disease problem. (Dr. Carlos Finley, from Cuba, identified the problem of yellow fever and malaria being communicated via mosquitoes.) After two years, these engineers resigned and Roosevelt was furious. To solve the problem, he decided to assign the project to the core of army engineers so they couldn’t quit on him. The canal was built belie budget and on time as it opened in 1914.

The Caribbean side of the canal starts in the town of Colon, where John McCain was born, and utilizes three locks to elevate ships 85 feet above sea level. Each lock is 110 feet wide by 1000 feet long. Water is supplied from the surrounding rain forest which receives about 200 inches of rain per year. And artificial 160 mi.² lake was formed by the set of locks on either end of the canal. Reversing the process on the Pacific side gets ships back to sea level. Transit through the canal system takes about eight hours, due to the large volume of traffic, and the queuing required to secure a place in line.

A third Panama Canal channel was completed in 2016, which contains 180’ x 1400’ locks capable of handling the largest ships afloat. Three large bridges currently cross the Panama Canal, with the first one, chronologically, being the Pan-American bridge on the Pacific coast, then the Centennial bridge in the middle and the almost completed Eastern bridge near Colon on the Caribbean side.
Note the spectacular vista of Panama City off to the South of the canal.

Entering the Panama Canal from the Caribbean Sea, at Colon.

Note the extensive use of anchor bolts to stabilize this fractured mountain.

Panama City looms over the exit of the Panama into the Pacific.

January 18, 2019   Cartagena, Columbia

One of the oldest cities in America where the Spanish launched their domination of much of central and Southern America.  Columbia has a poor reputation spawned by the Escabar but crime rates are down as much as 90% in some cities.

Cartagena is a modern city with a dramatic skyline. Architecture is as Spanish as that of Spain.  Modern bustling society.

January 15. Cuba

Interesting day in Cuba!
Cuban people were well groomed, not overweight, seem very happy and there were no panhandlers, beggars nor people trying to sell junk. School kids were exuberant!

About half the cars are modern with models from numerous countries except the USA. Lots of vintage 50s cars were evident too, with many sporting fresh paint jobs. Some new real estate development was evident as we toured the city of Havana on a Hop on Hop off bus.

Trump’s 2017 executive order has hampered US citizen movement and association with Cubans, but this has no impact on Canadians. We were told by ship communications that the Cubans only accept Cuban money but once on shore we found this to be totally untrue. US $ and Euros were accepted everywhere. Hopefully the attached pictures convey these impressions. Note the contrasting eras with the modern cruise ship passing the fort at the entrance to Havana’s harbour, which dates to 1520.