Monday, January 20, 2020


Well...Happy St Martin's Day, Folks.  Hope you are enjoying a much needed day off. As of the time of writing, I have no idea what my activities will be, but am positive that Mrs. J has plans.

Had a bit of fun this past week.  Got to meet Brother Aaron, a frequent commenter here, as well as Carla and Aaron Jr.  They were visiting San Antonio for a conference and stopped by the Burg for an afternoon.  Unfortunately, the Guy Upstairs was busy replenishing the Burg's rainwater supply at the time, so the transit time from the Parking Lot to the Nimitz Museum was futilely speedy.  For some reason, that didn't seem to bother them very much.  Perhaps, because they'd just received the weather report from Mrs Aaron.  She reported the temperature back home in South Dakota was -15o.

As always
on this visit, I learned something I hadn't known before .  One of the exhibits, is a restored TBM.

As I was walking around it, there was the expected discussion of the rescue of President George H.W. Bush off the coast of Iwo Jima after having been shot down while flying one.  However, I hadn't realized that Paul Newman had served as a gunner on one and been wounded.  Butch Cassidy indeed!

Changing subjects, "The Lair" project passed a significant obstacle in the road to construction.  Which was...of course...the Road.  Gravel Base has been laid all the way to the entrance of what will be the garage.

For those of you curious about the give and take of weather vs construction, the road was in place before aforementioned rain started.  The two low water crossings did a pretty good job of getting water from the high side of the road to the low side without much washout.  Once the house is completed and the heavy machinery returned to base, the crossings will be finished with cement.

One hopes (prays) that will minimize transiting problems. Next step, getting the engineer out to do soil sampling to plan the foundation.

While all that was going on, the Juvat Clan had to take a little working vacation.  As most readers are aware, I've mentioned that Mrs J is a travel agent and we have taken frequent vacations with our wine maker friends

Ad Nauseam, juvat!

So, putting two and two together (=3.14159...), she and they decided to put together a Wine Cruise.  The cruise left Galveston on Jan 5th and returned on the 12th.  Cruised down to Roatan, up to Costa Maya and had the mandatory stop at Cozumel before returning to Galveston.  We had 40 people sign up for the cruise, along with Mrs J, Winemaker Lead, Winemaker Wing (I'll leave it to them to argue who's who there), and, little old wine pourer, me.

We had wine tastings every evening.

We also had two seminars on the Sea Days.  Yes, tasting was again involved.

 I even perfected my gyro-stabilized wine pouring arm to correctly direct liquid through the air into a glass while the glass was moving in all three dimensions.

That, alone, should be worth 6 figures in any future job interviews I may have.

Pulled in to Roatan (an island off the coast of Honduras) and found our self-arranged tour guide.  Mrs J and Mrs Winemaker decided we needed to culturally enrich ourselves by studying local wildlife.  Frankly, I think she'd been calling me a sloth for so long, she just wanted to see what one looked like.

Apparently, the only difference between he and I is...he has more hair.

This wasn't our first visit to the island and tourism, in general, has been good to it.  The facilities and infrastructure have improved greatly in the 7 years or so since the last visit.  The presence of heavily armed Policia around indicated their understanding of tourism's importance.

One of the drawbacks to a privately arranged tour is that the ship doesn't wait.  We made it back on board with plenty of time to spare.

Next stop was a first for us.  We'd never visited Costa Maya, Mexico before.

As you may have noticed, it's a fairly small port.

Big and Bigger
This was our first real indication on how big our cruise ship was.  Of course, mobbed elevators were another indication.  The closer ship is a Zuiderdam by Holland America.  Liberty of the Seas is significantly bigger, longer, wider and taller.

Our activity for the day was a Guacamole and Salsa culinary adventure.  The brochure Mrs J indicated we would be taught how to make authentic Guacamole, Salsa Fresca and Salsa Borracho.  It also indicated that Margaritas would be involved.  However, it did not mention that we would also learn to in "Dance the...".

My friends,  while in a former life, I was renowned for being able to maneuver a 25 ton fighter with grace and agility arriving in weapons parameters precisely as planned.  However, NONE of that translates onto the dance floor.

No...more Margaritas didn't help.

I think Mrs J is still complaining about her stomach hurting from laughing.

Proud to serve.

After this exercise, other members of the group went for a swim.  I, however, realize that one of the benefits of a large lunch is the siesta that follows.

So, I did.

It's off to Cozumel we go.  We've been there many times (many, many, many).  Our first was on our honeymoon.  We haven't been there since before Hurricane Wilma hit it in 2005.  We were happy to see that it has been pretty nicely rebuilt.

We wake up to what looks to be a cloudy day, step outside on the balcony to check the weather only to realize that the sun is being blocked by a steel overcast.

Biggest and Bigger

If Liberty of the Seas dwarfed Zuiderdam, Harmony of the Seas did the same to her.  7000+ passengers, 16 decks and probably at least a football field longer.  Way more people than I can deal with.

But, as our President might say...It's  YUUUUGGE!

Our excursion today, again arranged by Mrs J, involves Mexican Cuisine.  Burned once, I inquire as to exactly what that entails.

Well...Margaritas, of course.  Then we will divide into teams of two, and cook a three course Mexican lunch.  No salsa, or other dancing, involved.

First course (to prep) will be dessert.  In this case, caramelized plantains in chocolate and cream sauce.

The chef demonstrates what the final product (less plaintains) should look like.

The Ace tries his best.  However, despite my lack of artistic ability, the dessert would turn out quite nice.

The main course was next, a seared Fish Fillet with Tamarind sauce.  This involved quickly searing the fish fillet in olive oil, shaking the pan to keep it from sticking.  Mrs J had a helper. 

I was closer than she was. It was hot

The filet then was wrapped in foil and taken off to the oven.

Final course to cook was the Hors d'oeuvre, Shrimp Sope in chipotle cream tomato sauce.  Fairly simple, although the dough was made for us and might have been challenging.  Get the shrimp started cooking add some tomato sauce, chipotle paste to taste, heavy cream to desired consistency.  Very tasty.

Time to eat, along with a Margarita, ¡Por supuesto!

Back to the boat, but in Cozumel, there is one mandatory stop.

Para una margarita, por supuesto! ... o dos.

 Or maybe a jello shot.

Time to leave, and as we got back on board and headed out on the balcony, we could hear the sounds of  bacchanalian revelry coming from the Carnival ship docked about a half mile away.

We start to head back home, with a sea day to help recover from the festivities.  Mrs J went  to a Cake Decorating Class.

She's very artistic.

I'm not, so I sought out a quite place to ponder things.
I'm the King of the World!
OK, Maybe Not!

A good time was had by all and we've already had people sign up for the next Wine Cruise. Royal Caribbean is a nice Family oriented line and sailing out of Galveston is convenient, so we'll sail them again. However, I thought the ships were a bit too big for my taste. When it's Mrs J and I we'll be sailing on smaller, more subdued, lines. Just sayin'.


  1. Good post juvat, excellent selection of photos. Two points...... those ships!!?!! The size, thousands of passengers.... nope....nope. And uh, er... those dark socks.... gray/white ankle socks....jes saying..... :) Oh and prayers for those in Virginia today.

    1. Nylon,
      Style takes a second seat to comfort especially on the last day of the cruise. Yeah, I'm not great with crowds, but it worked for the purpose of this cruise. Large enough to have a conference room for our seminars and also enough attractions to have something entertaining for everyone.

  2. Thanks for the vicarious vacation. Growing up where I did, taking a vacation with 7000 of my closest friends isn't too appealing. I didn't appreciate neighbors closer than a mile away...

    More than a couple people around me and they start breathing my air.... Doomed to ride fence my whole life I guess!

    1. I'm with you STxAR. I spent quite a bit of time on our cabin's balcony reading. Even that got a bit "crowded" when the neighbors came home and started partying on theirs.

  3. You and Mrs J are way more sociable than Yours Truly! While crowds don't really bother me, as long as I'm on the perimeter, those ships are way too big for my tastes. Heck, they've got more people than an aircraft carrier!

    But sea and sky, Mexican food, margaritas, nice way to start a Monday. (I'm working, we don't get MLK Day off until December, long story, I might have told it before, I don't know.)

    I feel really bad that your last photo triggered something about the old man and the sea. Perhaps we should call you Santiago? (Which beats El perezoso del árbol...)

    1. Yeah, SilverSea's Silver Spirit and Silver Whisper spoiled the Big Boat experience for me. I guess I'm past the Party til dawn phase of my life. I'm in more of a good book and a single malt phase now. Old man and the Sea works for me.

  4. Silver Whisper was a delight. I convinced my wife (50 years Friday) to cross the Atlantic on board her. We took the route the Titanic would have taken on the return of her maiden voyage. Service was all you could desire and more, food was top shelf. Our only complaint was the beverage service ran out of Guinness four hours out of NYC. It was different being underway with no watches to stand, no magazines to inspect, and no Gunnery exercises to grade. Ancient GMC

    1. It was a nice ship and with only 290 passengers aboard, finding a quiet place to sit and do whatever was pretty easy. But...running out of Guinness? Grounds for Mutiny!

    2. Just think, by 2023ish, you'll be able to actually sail on the Titanic II (a modern repro of the original) on the exact same route!

      Not me. I don't tempt fate that way.

    3. Agreed. Certainly on the first voyage!

  5. We were on Royal Caribbean last month on a chartered ship. Ours was a motorcycle rally, but yours looks like a ton of fun. The Queen Of The World thought your wife's cake was cute as heck.

    1. A motorcycle rally on a cruise ship? That must have been "highly entertaining". And worth a post to describe.

    2. Talk about rolling seas...

    3. I've got a mental picture of D-Day in Animal House riding his motorcycle up the stairs. There were times on the ship when I probably would have given the equipment and the elevator situation.

  6. The large cruise boats don’t hold any appeal at all.
    GS and I did the Inter-Island cruise in Hawaii with about 3000 others.
    Found the best place to be in each port was aboard the ship.
    Last summer’s river cruise was a delight as there were only about 180 others.
    Next cruise is on a 900 passenger ship, which really seems like more than I care to deal with.
    The most fun we’ve had has been road trips.
    Just the two of us with our own itinerary.

    1. I agree with the last part, Skip. Mrs J and I have been taking road trips pretty regularly. As to cruise ships, I think there's really a big break in my enjoyment at about 1000 pax. We'll go back on Royal Caribbean for wine cruises as that helps our friends out and makes Mrs J a bit of money on commission, but it won't be something to do to relax. Now, if Grandkids arrive and a multi-generational trip is planned, that would definitely be a horse of a different color (No hints or other encouragement was intended to whomever might be reading that last statement. None whatsoever)

    2. Yeah and I look forward to them, Soon! Right guys?

  7. You're a Travelling Man, aren't you?

    Those ships are just... too many people. I get fidgity in a 1/4 full movie theater.

    Plus... the heights. Mrs. Andrew would want to have an exterior room, and she'd spend most of her time out on the balcony. Me? Nope. Heights suck. Subtle motion where it's not supposed to be (like in tall buildings) really screw with my inner ear and balance and I'd be miserable. Bleh.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Glad your big dig is going well. Are you putting in a box culvert or just standard drain pipe?

    1. I agree too many people. I would think you'd have a bigger problem in an inside cabin. Nothing to see that indicates motion, but the inner ear fluids are still moving around.

      We're not using drainage pipes and I'm not sure what a box culvert is. I've always called what we're gonna build a "low water crossing". It's basically a dip that goes perpendicular to the road in a known low water area. When it's finished it'll have 15" concrete footers in the ground parallel to the road with the roadbed inside the crossing concrete also. It's primary function is to ensure the road doesn't get destroyed by flooding. If the water rises above the crossing, it's to deep to be safe to cross, and we just ride it out.

    2. Box culvert. Think big cement box except with two open sides. Big giant square pipe. Like a box. Except made out of concrete.

      Really big ones can be used to make storm shelters. Or homes.

    3. Sounds like it might be what we’re gonna use

    4. Somewhere I have designs for a half or full buried house made out of box culverts. The only thing you have to custom manufacture would be end pieces where windows or doors would fit, and the main central room where all culvert rooms meet.

      One manufacturer even advertises their box culverts, and their custom end pieces with storm doors, as easy storm shelters. (Interior of the larger 1 piece box culverts are 8-10' high, 10-14' long and 10' deep, with a foot of concrete on all sides. Insta-bunkers. I like bunkers...)

  8. I would have thought that a large cruise ship would have been all too much of a reminder of the Forrestal.
    But on a cruise ship I had my own stateroom, and only shared it with the Hot Chick from Philly.
    And compared to the lines for everything on the Forrestal, the cruise ship had no lines to speak of.

    I would like to try a VSCS (Very Small Cruise Ship) in the future, and then I will have a comparison.

    Nice post and I enjoyed the travel!

    1. I really enjoyed the two cruises we took on small ships. I had no complaints about the big boats except crowd size. It’s at least an order of magnitude more difficult to cook and serve a meal for 3000 instead of 300 and the quality suffers. Not horribly just noticeably. On a small ship you can build a theater that seats 300. You can’t build one for 3000. So reservations or other adjustments are needed. But, as I said, it worked for the Wine Cruise. It could work for a multi-generational family cruise. Not so much for Mrs J and I on vacation.

  9. Very entertaining post, Juvat. You're quite a good travel writer. Parts of that cruising thing look to be entertaining and enjoyable. I'm not sure yet that I'd be comfortable at sea without a daily air show, jape/dfm in the drinking water, and no needle gun in the band's rhythm section, but I'm almost willing to maybe consider thinking about giving it a try. Especially if I can wear..., oh, never mind.

    That was a very serviceable representation of an Eagle, btw.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks PA. There’s a plethora of options, styles, ports and prices. Regardless of what Brother Nylon said about my Sartorial being, i was far,far,far from being the least stylish person on board.

  10. Not for me, I fear. I don't trust anything with that much hull out of the water.

    1. Yeah and I was told somewhere that it only draws 30’

  11. Margaritas actually do help your dancing. Have enough of them and you stop caring about how well you dance, and you quit caring about what other people might think! Gonna add Roatan to my travel bucket list.

    1. It's not me I'm worrying about when I'm dancing. It's Mrs J and others who could be critically injured by my dancing. Margarita's help, but do not completely allay the danger. Fortunately, in the Salsa line, the rest of the tour gave me a very wide berth and enjoyed the attempt at gracefulness.

      Which failed.


    2. Ahh, I didn't realize it was a safety of flight issue. Guess you gotta go to loose cruise with your maneuverability issues.

  12. Went to Fredericksburg a few weeks ago on a whirlwind drive. On the advice of a lexican stopped at the Pacific war museum. I wish I’d had more time as one could easily spend two days in there with all of the artifacts

    One small correction: Bush was rescued by a submarine off the coast of ChiChi Jima.

    That was the island that was the Japanese main transmission facility for all over the Pacific, and it is about 150 miles north of Iwo Jima.

    James Bradley, author of flags of our fathers, wrote a wonderful follow up called Flyboys about the fate of eight American pilots who were POWs on the island of ChiChi Jima.

    It was pretty gruesome what the Japanese did to them, and it was classified for many years

    1. Interesting. May need to go back and reread thr info package there.

    2. William, I concur with Flyboys- most excellent book that really opened my eyes up to the air war in Japan. The brutality of the Japanese, even to their own troops, was shocking to me.

  13. Glad things went well, and y'all enjoy those cruises... I've had my share, and no desire to get back underway... :-)

    1. I've done 3 or 4 cruises on the USN cruise line. Given that...I can't disagree with you.

  14. I'm obviously late to this post, but wanted to note that it was a pleasure to meet Juvat in person. The kids enjoyed the museum too.

    1. Sorry you had to endure the agonies of moderation. (Comments on posts older than a week go into moderation.)

      Glad you had a good time!


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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