Reaching the Unreachable Star, or It Started When I Chased a Pig, Part 3


Our story so far in Part 1  and Part 2 – We’ve missed a flight, drank, met an older couple from Akron, drank, been charmed by a younger couple from Orlando who wanted a monkey (well, he did, at least), learned a little about SpaceX, met an unforgettable cruise director, and voted up on St. Kitts and down on St. Maarten.

Why is this installment called Reaching the Unreachable Star? Two reasons:

  • It’s a line from The Impossible Dream, from Man of La Mancha, which is about Don Quixote, which sort of references donkeys (who appear in this post).
  • And it almost seems like an Impossible Dream to finish this story, because there was so much I loved about this vacation (and I’m not just talking about my traveling companion. And so much that I won’t even be able to get to, like the woman in the Charlotte airport who used to be into bedazzling.

A funny coincidence

Karen and I aren’t hard to please when it comes to onboard entertainment. We enjoy the musical shows, the live bands – we made friends with Mickey and Marilyn, a couple who (and I swear I’m not making this up) found love at the IRS, and the comedians – so much so that we didn’t even get to do one of our favorite things: Watching movies under the stars on the big screen on the Lido deck.

Both comedians we saw were funny. And dirty. Both interacted with the audience as part of their humor – I guess it’s a comedy thing. But Percy Crews Jr. – the first comic we saw – had us rolling with one routine where he asked audience members whether they liked something – I won’t be more specific than that other than to say his question wouldn’t make it onto non-premium TV even in these relaxed times. He asked a woman in the front row who had the audacity to get up to get a drink. He asked the waiter he summoned for her – whom I’m not sure understood the question – and he asked a young, clean-cut guy in the front row who was just minding his own business with his pretty girlfriend. Juvenile as it was, we laughed heartily at the interplay but then didn’t think too much about it.

Or so we thought. One of the things about cruise ship dining is that you can either dine alone or with other folks. Karen and I alternated, and the next night we were seated with some other couples, including John and Shawna. Turns out they were from Scranton, PA, (Karen’s from Williamsport) and attended Penn State. She was pretty, he was handsome and buff (turns out he is a personal trainer in addition to being a student), and they were nice, engaging kids. And then someone at the table asked the question: Hey, weren’t you guys at the comedy show last night? John reddened a bit but admitted it; he was pretty good-natured about the whole thing.

That opened things up even more: It was Shawna’s first cruise and I think John’s second. They wanted to move South after graduation. And both were majoring in marketing. Which meant Karen and I started selling them on Red Ventures, where I work. I don’t know what will happen. John has a semester left; Shawna has two. But how cool would it be if one or both of them ended up working with me?

Oh, the places we went

The boat didn’t stay in San Juan long, but we made the most of the stop. We went on an excursion to the rain forest there – it did sprinkle a little while we were there. I don’t have much to say about it, except it was so beautiful and so obviously fragile. One surprise – there isn’t much alive there but the vegetation, some birds, and a few lizards. But it was truly awe-inspiring.

My one regret is that our trip to the rain forest meant we didn’t have any time to visit San Juan – it looked like a terrific place, and I’m very interested in the bioluminescent bay there.

Which brings us to Grand Turk – our final port before returning to Cocoa Beach. By this time, Karen was deep in the throes of a summer cold – mine was to come. (Funny how that worked out.) But anyway, Karen was looking for some over-the-counter medication to ease her symptoms – the only choices on the boat were Benadryl and Dristan. She went with Dristan (talk about old school), and we discovered why no one hears about it any more – it’s pretty crappy.

But Grand Turk wasn’t. It was a place of great beauty and kindness, as our tour guide John explained. There were wild horses (I thought some of them might have to drag me away) and donkeys everywhere. They were friendly, furry, and it seemed pretty well-fed. They just kind of coexisted with the people there and – as long as residents secured their garbage – didn’t seem to be causing anyone any trouble. We petted some who were hanging around the lighthouse.

Grand Turk also was home to a beautiful beach, where we met a family from Matthews (part of the Greater Indian Trail Metro) and chatted in the water with them for ages. I think we’d welcome the opportunity to go back someday.

I’m an eating man

No blog post should be complete without a Beverly Hillbillies reference, and the title of this section (a play on the prestigious British boarding school) qualifies. Like Jethro, I enjoy eating. And that’s one of the great things about being on the boat – an abundance of food, much of which is pretty good. There are the big dining rooms that come as part of your fare, but you can also choose some specialty restaurants on your ship for an extra fee. We did the specialty thing twice, and one of them was fantastic! (The Italian option – not so much.) But let’s talk about the Asian place.

Karen and I shared a bunch of delicious dishes, but the two that stood out were the pork belly “appetizer” and the creme brulee dessert. That appetizer was the largest single piece of pork I’ve ever seen at a restaurant. And it was tres delicious. It was cooked perfectly. And I left out something about the creme brulee – rose. Yep, it was rose creme brulee, which just made one of my favorite desserts even better.

The trip back home wasn’t eventful. We drew Pauly again as a driver – his biggest grumble this time was about the passenger who wanted to tell him how to pack the bags. He wasn’t happy.

But we were when we got home. We love traveling, but we love home, too. You can chase happiness (if not a pig) all over the place, but the best location is right where you live. I don’t have to chase it.

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