Day 5, Suddenly it came to an abrupt END–THE ENTIRE RIDE! So close yet so far…

The ride started out well enough, after all the excitement from the previous day we shoved off around 1AM.  We stopped to gas up the cars as well as get water and supplies for the ride.  It’s getting exciting, after tonight we would be two days out from Tampa Bay, finally getting it there.  Today we were riding 138 miles, easy enough–NO SWEAT.  Bill started out on his ride and he finished in about 2 hours 15 mins.  We switched and I jumped on the road, we were supposed to be riding basically on two main roads, but along the way the route was changed and we were making all kinds of twists and turns on the road.  The ride was getting easier on long rides like this we basically ride ourselves into shape, by the end of the ride we would be in better shape than the start of the ride.  Evidenced by my blazing 19mph pace, we were both riding better–the terrain was flat for the most part.

I was just following my lead car, so I didn’t really know what was happening; I am like  male model–I DO WHAT I AM TOLD!  I do my miles and then we switch.  Now we switched and I am DEAD TIRED the schedule that we are keeping is brutal and the double duty (driving and riding) is just making things all that much harder.  I put my head back on the headrest for a second and fell asleep.  When I woke up no one is anywhere, I don’t know where they went.  I immediately floor it to try and find the–I catch up with them 8 miles down the road.  I must have slept for a while as they were a significant way down the road.

As I catch up I am looking at the GPS, I see that we are suppose to be going south but were traveling east, I asked why, but was given no response.  So we kept going.  No when I switched we had about 58 miles to go, but at this point the GPS shows 70 miles to go, obviously we are getting farther away.  I finally stop everyone and tell them we are gong the wrong way, we have to make a right turn somewhere to continue going south.  It is at this point Bill has a MAJOR meltdown, he starts to yell and just plain old acting like an asshole!  He said he’s done, he told us we can do whatever we want to do.  I told him to get in the car and ‘calm down and shut the fuck up.’  Anyone who has ever uttered the words ‘calm down’ to someone knows that that is the last thing they do after saying the words–LOL.  It only seemed to enrage him even more.  He tries to haphazardly load his bike into the car, I told him I would do it, but he HAD to do it.  He was not being careful not to damage MY bike, I was getting a little annoyed as he may damage MY BIKE–WTF!

He manages to get the bike into the car, myself and Maddie are sitting there and laughing our asses off, we can’t believe what a scene he just made and what an asshole he was being.  As we’re laughing, I ask her if she has the address to the hotel, she did and I said well, let’s go, doesn’t look like we are riding anymore.  We start to drive and as we are driving we get this message:

This “fools errand” has come to an end. I will absolutely make good on getting both of you home, the bike shipped and the $$ I agreed to with Maddie. Beyond that I cannot invest more of my time, effort and energy into something that no one cares about. I thought the premise was sound and trying to do something good seemed like a good idea 4 weeks ago. Alas, I was completely delusional, wasted time, money and friendships in the process. No good deed…… I am sorry that I wasted your time as well. Thank you for trying with me, I know I do not make it easy sometimes and for that I am truly sorry. I checked into the hotel and you both can whenever you arrive. Let me know how you want to sort out the flights. I can purchase them for you or write you a check to cover the cost if you prefer to get them on your own. Maddie, I will give you a check for the remainder, or will get the cash. Up to you. I will sort everything else out on my own. I am still going to put in the miles, just cannot logistically do it from here b/c of my car. Anyway, let me know how you want to get all your flights and bike shipment handled and we will get it done. The rooms are paid for so by all means stay the night and fly tomorrow. However you want to do it.

Maddie and I looked at each other, I said, ‘WTF dude, did he just break up with us thru a text message?’  Then we laughed hysterically because it was just so absurd!  We have travelled this far only to give out a few hundred miles out–NOT COOL!  I was resigned to ok, I was pissed off and angry from the scene he made and then this!  FUCKING AYE!  I called Kathy to talk to her and and just give her the lowdown on the absurdity of this, the first thing she said is ‘you have to complete the mission.’  She said it several times and the more she said it the more I started to believe it.  At this point I was calmer and thinking more rationally and in my head I was saying ‘yeah, she’s right we have to finish this thing.’  I spoke to Maddie and she was also on board and we attempted to speak to Bill, problem is this idiot wasn’t answering the phone.  He knew we were calling as I had to have called at least a dozen times if not more.  Ironically he was in the room right next door to me–the front desk wouldn’t tell us what room he’s in citing privacy concerns.

I finally heard back from him.  Bill is passionate about raising the funds for the charities.  He gave me a wrap that ‘no one cares,’ the amount of money raised was significantly low and he was dejected.  He just thought it was a waste of time.  He was bummed out and really despondent.  I explained for the amount of time it took to put this together I think we have fared very well all things considered.  We have made it almost 700 miles and we’re less than three hundred miles from our end point.  He was adamant about not continuing.  I kept pushing, I said let’s just sleep the night rest and instead of leaving at midnight as we have been doing, let’s leave around 6AM or 7AM.  He wasn’t the least bid interested in doing that.  Finally he said ‘look I am going to do the miles just not with you two.’  It was at this point it finally sunk in that we WILL NOT be able to complete this ‘fools errand’ as he put it.  I spoke to Marjorie and she said the same thing, ‘you have to finish you’re too close.’  I agreed, but as I said he just wasn’t having it.  I thought about just taking the van and grabbing Maddie and just rolling out, BUT with the ‘unstable’ mental state Bill was in, I wouldn’t put it past him to report the car stolen and open up an entire different set of problems.  Also, part of the agreement for the ride was that we’d get a ticket back home as well as have the bike shipped back–a significant amount of money, hey a deal is a deal why should I come out of pocket to get home.

Much to his credit, Bill was a man of his word!  We went to UPS and had the bike packed and shipped to Chicago (for RAGBRAI) $280).  He then went and purchased and airline ticket back to DC ($500 x 2 for myself and Maddie).  I wanted to get the hell out of there as I would probably kill him the more I thought about it.  I was having dinner with Kathy in Arlington before heading back home–a win in itself!  😉  He then paid Maddie the remainder of the money owed her and bought her a ticket back to DC–we were going to be on the same flight.  As I said he was a total mensch about getting us and our stuff back home for that I do thank him.

 

EPILOGUE:

I was not a fool to participate in this folly, I knew what I was getting in to all along.  I thought the planning was very haphazard and wanted to bail several times during the planning stages, but I am not one to miss an adventure, besides the stories I can tell from it will be priceless.  I was not forced to do the ride, I went into it fully well knowing what to expect and for the most part I thought everything went as good as can be expected considering the planning.

Interesting events I may or may not have told you about:

  • We lost a driver from the FIRST day, a second driver was supposed to drive the second car, Bill and I would have been on the road together while these two would be our support along the trip.  Both drivers were paid a significant amount of money, well Maddie was I don’t know about the the other driver.  This was probably the most significant event of the trip as we would only have ONE rider on the road and would be pulling double duty riding and driving.
  • We stayed at all four or five star hotels, Marriott Courtyard for several nights and The W in Atlanta on night, we DID NOT have to share a room, we all had our own rooms and all meals were paid for by Bill.  Bill said he had a private sponsor for the actual ride costs, in my opinion, BILL was the sponsor.  I believe all the money came out of his pocket.  KUDOS to him.
  • Bill had several meltdowns along the way, I’ve done a lot of these long distance rides, you can tell when someone just doesn’t have the goods to ride.  I felt Bill was ill prepared for the ride.  Indeed leaving up to the start of the ride he was doing 30 and 40 mile rides, as I did several centuries.  I think the stress took a toll on him hence leading to the eventual demise of the ride.
  • Bill delayed the ride on day three from The W because he met a woman at the bar, we were packed and ready to leave at 1AM as discussed; at the last minute he changed the ride time to 5 or 6AM.  This is significant because this was the day of the accident.  One can argue if we had left on time perhaps the accident wouldn’t have occurred?  Hindsight is always 20/20.
  • We traveled at night, which I was adverse to from the beginning driving at night is very dangerous, Bill was unwilling to relent on this.  In retrospect it wasn’t too bad an idea, but I say that as we did have an accident.  For the most part the roads were clear and the weather was cooler.
  • Bill claims to be completing the ride BY HIMSELF, he posted this on the Team RWB Cycling group:  It has been rumored by some that A Ride For Reclamation has ended. This is completely false. It is true that without any remaining logistical support, the ride cannot continue exactly as planned, but it is by no means done. The next two days were to be from Valdosta to Crystal River, then to Tampa. It is 238 miles total and I will be doing those miles. I cannot do them alone safely over the course of 238 miles, but will be driving to Tampa and doing the 238 miles through Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. I have a GoPro and will be using it you capture the beauty of those 3 cities as I complete the ride.  This smacks of being ridiculous–why didn’t we just finish the mission?  He is the one who pulled the logistical support!  Does he think that anyone cares at this point?  He looks like a clown planning this and then not completing it.
  • I sincerely believe that all funds will make it to the charity, he has been a stand up guy all along and even to the bitter end.  If he doesn’t get the money to the charities I will contact law enforcement myself.  I wasn’t crazy about him using a GO FUND ME site for the fundraising.  It is easy enough to link directly to the charities to donate.
  • Being that this ‘fools folly’ using Bill’s own words was put together in just about three weeks, I still think it was amazing what we accomplished.  I full believe had we had more time and planning we would have been able to entice more riders to come along, raise more awareness, and there may have been a better plan, in the end they way we were abandoned leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
  • I was not forced or obligated to do this ride.  I joke around that Marjorie ‘volunteered’ me do the ride, hence I did.  In reality ‘no one tells baby what to do.’  I am a big boy and make my own decisions.  As half cocked the ride was I committed to doing it regardless.  HEY IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ADVENTURE!
  • That all being said I would NEVER do another ride with Bill, I would participate in one that he may organize, but he needs to be more on the management side NOT the riding side.
  • Maddie and I have gotten a lot of crap about not finishing the mission.  Unfortunately there was no way to for us to complete the mission without investing a significant amount of our own money.  Had we taken the rental that we had and went on our way, I wouldn’t put it past him to report the car stolen.  Also we had gear in the car to lug, clothing, bags, etc.

 

Day 4, Well it was bound to happen right?

The day started out well, I mean how couldn’t it, we were big pimpin’ at The W the last 1.5 days.  Our original plan was to leave at 1:00Am, but due to some unforeseen circumstances we ended up leaving at 3AM.  Headed out of Atlanta was ok, mostly flat, a few hills but nothing like what we saw the first three days.  I was making good time, my odometer showed about 19mph, but Bill said it was 17mph, lets not squabble about a couple mph, lol.  All I knew was I started riding and a short time later I was ready to switch, miles were going by rapidly!

We switched somewhere the hell in Georgia, lol.  Bill gets on the road and a short while later, tragedy strikes (cue the music…), not to be too dramatic, an elderly woman sped into our line, she missed Bill and then by the time she corrected her path she ended up hitting the right rear quarter panel of our Dodge Caravan.  NO ONE WAS HURT!  It was a little scary to say the least because this could have turned out a lot worse than it did.  We called the police to do an accident report, the woman admitted it was her fault, as it was no one was even arguing otherwise.

OK, so after the police report is taken.  We call Enterprise Rent a Car to have them tow the vehicle.  It is now 6:00AM, a their tow truck will not b here until 9:00AM–WTF Enterprise?  At this point we are still contemplating riding, but more than likely not.  It’s one of those things, we started the workout, switched and then we sat around for several hours, afterward who wants to get back on the bike and go.  But still hadn’t made the decision.  We spoke to the police officer and he said he trumps Enterprise and can have a tow truck there in 15 minutes–only issue is for them to be paid (the non-authorized town company towing Enterprise’s car).  The tow truck shows up, it is agreed that I will ride with the tow truck and Maddie and Bill will go to Enterprise to pick up a new car.

I jump into the tow truck and the driver is nice enough, his name is Marty and we are just talking and goofing around.  Honestly laughing at the situation and, I notice that I lose cell service, no big deal it goes in and out as we are in the ‘sticks’ in Georgia.  We get to his shop and I get out and hang out in the shop.  Now I am still wearing my kit at this pint, his wife (I can’t recall her name, but was a lovely woman), and I gentleman named Quentin was working on restoring a 1957 Chevy.  We’re talking, they offered me a sausage sandwich, which I wasn’t in a mood for.  Honestly I just wanted to get going again.

I see Marty bring the keys in from the car and he drops them in a way which there was an attitude on the desk.  I don’t quite know how to explain it, but it wasn’t just putting them on the desk.  It’s at this point I felt  little uncomfortable, nothing was wrong, they were all being extremely nice to me and I had no inkling there was a problem.  It was the old ‘you can take the boy out of The Bronx, but you can’ t take The Bronx out of the boy.’  I was gabbing away with his wife about all kinds of crap (secretly in the back of my mind I figure if I am their friend they won’t kill me–I think), as I said she was very nice and easy on the eyes too.  I learned their entire life story, why is it that I bring this out of people?  I still had no cell service (THANK YOU T-MOBILE!)  Then MArty introduces me to  gentlemen that is the police chief in the neighboring town, my mind was a little bit more at ease.  Looking back at it I’m an idiot, these were very nice people but because of my NY paranoia, I turned it into much more than it should have been–LOL!  I ask to use the phone to call Bill, they obliged–come to find out they had to go to a couple of different Enterprise Rent a Car to find a minvan.  Even after all of that they still didn’t find a minivan–we ended up with a Hyundai Santa Fe.

It is now 12:00PM, and it’s sweltering hot and humid, we decide to just go to the hotel and call it a day.  After everything that has transpired, no one was really in the mood to go back on the road anyway.  Enjoyed a day at the pool and relaxing again, stayed at Courtyard by Marriott.

Day 2, things are looking up…

Last night/This morning we rode in from McKenney, Va to Raleigh, NC.  It was a nice ride, there were a lot of rollers–AGAIN!  Man Ray was right, I knew we would hit rolling hills, but so many–WTF!  Bill took the first shift from McKenney to the middle of somewhere in Virginia.  A lot of long steady climbs and a lot of rollers, all in pretty good.  His moving average was 16mph, which isn’t bad all things considered (meaning not bad for a rookie….), LOL.

We pulled over in the middle of I don’t know where and I took of for my 40 miles, man was is bleak.  Riding as night is as much fun as being punched in the face.  On the one hand it’s great because there is no traffic and quiet and peaceful (if you’re into that crap); if you’re like me, I need visual stimuli, so as peaceful as it was it was BORING!  I tried to take in as much as I could.  Evidently I just missed hitting a deer, I didn’t see it but Bill did–maybe he was hallucinating?  Again, for my portion of the ride a lot of climbing and a lot of rolling.  The climbs I can slow down to 13 0r 14mph, but the downhills, I was hitting 40 at times.

We got on to the outskirts of Raleigh and after Bill’s second shift, I took over.  I was excited because the road was relatively flat and looked like a lot of undulating without huge climbs.  I came up snake eyes on that…I would crest a hill and then there it was ANOTHER HILL–WTF!  It just that they kept coming and coming, but I knew we were close, there’s nothing like knowing that you’re close to the end of the ride to motivate you…But like I said they just kept coming and coming–when would it END!  So I just going and going no big deal.  We were about two miles away from the hotel and I got the hook to jump in the car as we had to jump on I-44o for a couple of miles and I couldn’t ride there.

Interesting things I have noticed, my legs have SWOLL up–YES!  It’s only been two days, but I tried on my jeans and they are much tighter on my quads than they were a few days ago–this I am happy about.  I also noticed that I am sweating profusely around my stomach, I believe it’s all water weight, I won’t know for sure until I get back and get on the scale to see what’s going on.  This only goes to my dream of having a six pack and NEVER having to wear a shirt while limboing everywhere.  STOP LAUGHING, IT CAN HAPPEN…

Two more weeks until RAGBRAI (www.RAGBRAI.com)

It’s been a long, long time since my last post!

It’s been almost a year since my last post, as I sit here and write.  So many things have happened in the last year, it’s hard to keep up.  My last post was in July 2014, I hadn’t yet gone to RAGBRAI, which I hadn’t been back to in several years.  It was a great time, met some life long friends and one in particular that always has no up to no good.  NO GOOD in a great way you know who you are!  LOL!

So first of all I have to say am watching Cast Away, the movie always makes me think of Jenn, my one love from college whom I definitely shouldn’t have let go, but LIFE HAPPENS and sometimes these things just don’t work out we want them too.  C’est la vie right?  There is a pat in the movie toward the end when Tom Hanks goes to see Helen Hunt and they embrace in his Jeep.  And for a moment they lose themselves and he starts driving away with her and she says ‘I love you, you’re the love of my life,’ they jump in the Jeep and start driving away and then she says ‘Chuck,’ and he finishes off by saying ‘you have to go home.’  I feel like that at times when I think of here, I have seen her on several occasions, when I hugged her it felt like we never broke up all those years ago, but ‘she had to go home,’ she will be the great love of my life that got away.

Cast Away

I’m at a point in my life where I feel like I’m at a crossroad, a sense of ennui has set in and I feel like it’s time for a change.  There is nothing that keeps my in Hoboken, I have a job that I marginally like, I have some good friends, but I’m gregarious and can make new friends anywhere right?  😉  I never thought I would be single still at this point in my life.  I am saddened to think that I FAILED at marriage, I’m not used to failing at anything.  But I failed miserably at it–I ruined her life and mine seemingly.  No regrets–still does suck!

Enough of this melancholy BS, you read to hear about my adventures right?

July 2014, rode RAGBRAI, great ride with Team RWB.  We had a small group but, had such a great time.  I met this really nice woman Marjorie, with whom I spent most of the week bringing up the end of our group.  RAGBRAI is so great, you can go thru it like you’re riding Le Tour de France or you can meander and take in all the sight and happenings at this great annual event.  Obviously we chose the latter–had so much fun.  So much fun that I am going back again this year for another go at it with a different group.

As you all may or may not know my dream is to run a triathlon, but the swim has always been kicking my ass.  I did a couple of triathlon relays last year–West Point and Nations Tri, this year I’ll be doing the full triathlon all on my own–God help me!  I also will be doing a couple of Sprint Triathlon relay’s.  Today I signed up for a Austin 70.3 Half Ironman, although I am sure I shouldn’t have but anyone who knows me–GO BIG OR GO HOME right?  LOL.  So now it’s all about training for the big show(s) in the fall.  My Ironman occurs a week after the NYC Marathon, maybe I’m not that well though out..

I did the New York Road Runners 9+1 program last year, I have a guaranteed spot in the NYC Marathon this year which I am proud to say I will be running.  I am also running the Chicago Marathon in October as well as The Disney World Marathon in January.  I am pretty sure I will run The Paris Marathon in April.  I only registered for Paris 3 out of the last 5 years and ended up chickening out.  No turning back this time.

I am currently prepping for a ride from Washington, DC to Tampa, FL.  It’s called the Ride for Redemtion, we are raising funds for several charities one of which is Team RWB.  We will be leaving on July 3 and finishin about 9 days later.  Quite an aggressive schedule, you all know I’m not well thought out all the time–this is proff.  But hey life is all about the adventure right?  Stay tuned I’ll blog and let you know what’s going on during the ride.

 

9lbs in one week? WTF? A LOT of WERK, and good clean eating…

OK, so I got back on the ball since last Friday and really hitting it and eating clean. I am always amazed what I can do when I buckle down; lost 9lbs this week–WTF! I credit it to eating clean and WERK at the gym!

I got my ass handed to me tonight when I took back to back classes with Caitlin, holy shit she is tough. I had forgotten how intense her classes are, and fun. I did so many burpees and push ups it was just ridiculous. I am running everyday day, put in 10 miles this week, not much but a good start. I want to start running on the Greenway on the west side, any takers out there?

I bought a slow cooker a couple of weeks ago, thank to my friend Melissa she motivated me to start cooking instead of buying all the time. I mean I do buy good stuff which can get expensive, but it so nice to make a meal which will last for several days and keep me out of the Aspen Market. You should subscribe to her blog, (http://steakssquatsandsundresses.wordpress.com/), really good stuff and great workout advice. She’s really got her crap together!

Busy weekend ahead, I have the row-a-thon in Monroe, CT tomorrow. We are rowing 50,000m (31 miles for the uninformed). I was practicing a little, rowed 3000m in 27 minutes–WHICH SUCKS! It’s 10 person team so we’ll make it thru, or it’ll kill us! LOL

Mediterannean Cruise 2nd Half–Athens to Istanbul

Well, it’s almost 2 months since I returned from my cruise, but here’s the second half of my trip.  I was trying to find the itinerary as I sit here in my office.  It’s a little slow today and quite frankly I would rather be at the gym if not for this 6:30PM appointment.  As I found the itinerary I realized the first half of the trip was much more eventful!  LOL!

The second half of the trip was actually the last 1/3 of the trip had we boarded in Barcelona, but we didn’t so let me stop dwelling on it.  The problems of the bourgeois right?  The second part of our trip began in Athens, we were docked there for tow days.  People were getting off and new people were getting on the ship.  The good news for us was the second half of the cruise wasn’t that full so we upgraded our cabin to a SUITE–yeah buddy we were big pimpin!

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Usually when we go on a cruise we just get the cheapest thing, but since we were going to be on the ship for so long we figured might as well treat ourselves.  The cabins was spacious, almost like a one bedroom apartment, I think these cabins normally would go for about $8000 bucks had we stayed the entire 22 days, we got the entire trip for less than half of that.  It was really nice, big balcony, big room; I thought our first room was adequate, but after being in this one, I would never want to go back!

So we were supposed to meet Michael’s father and Kevin in Athens, they flew in the same day we got into port, and stayed in Athens overnight as the would board the next day.  We attempted to meet up with them, but for reasons I won’t get into we didn’t end up meeting up, so we went to the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis.  This had to be one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen.  It is truly a wonder.  When you learn about the history and how Lord Elgin DEFACED and desecrated the Acropolis it saddens me.  Something this bold and beautiful which obviously could be appreciated by anyone who saw hence it’s longevity.  It was at first a Pagan temple, then a Mosque, amongst other things.  The acropolis sits atop a hill which overlooks seemingly ALL of modern day Athens, made you believe that you must be a God if you were to live up here.  Currently there is a lot of construction going on there to shore up what is left of the structure and to preserve it.

We first went to the Acropolis museum, which was actually a microcosm of the actual Acropolis.  Each panel on the facade of the building had a carving all depictions of various events and Gods and stuff like that.  It was fascinating.  The original piece was there if it was available and a description of what was carved on the panel.  This was the high point of the museum, all in side there were various artifacts from the building.  There was even a copy of the temple of Athena (which now resides in the British Museum) there.  Totally amazing and the views form up there, oh man too spectacular to describe!

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The hike up to the top wasn’t bad, we got there late and I definitely wanted to go even though it was a long day and I would just as well go back on the ship and get rested up, but how often will I be in Athens?  LOL.  The hike up was so worth it breathtaking views of everywhere, it really left me speechless and emotional as I had read about this and knew someday I would get to Athens, I was hoping it would have been with someone I loved and cared for–it wasn’t it was with Michael, LOL!  Anyway he had been here before and was a great guide, I showed him how to take Panoramic shots with his iPhone and he was like a kid in a candy store taking Panoramic shots of everything.  They came out pretty well too!

Afterwards, we hiked back down the other side and saw one of the arenas which was on the base of the hill.  Athens is a little dingy–at least the area where we were.  Seems like the economic downturn hit Greece hard, when we walked around the main streets, there were so many shops which had been boarded up.  A sad state of affairs, I’m sure they realize if they get off the Euro and go back to Greek currency half the battles would be solved but they would also not be apart of the EU anymore, still very sad to see.  BTW, there are a lot of strip joint in Athens–what does that say?

The next day we went to Crete and honestly I don’t even remember what the hell we did there.  I think we walked around, it probably was very anti-climactic as I don’t even have any pictures from there!

We then had a day at sea, I had an interesting experience on board.  When we were in Athens, and the new people boarded there was this young lady whom I noticed.  She was blonde and quite stunning I thought.  We exchanged glances from time to time and then when we had the emergency drill I noticed she was at the same drill point as we were.  Me being shy I didn’t say anything to her.  The day after Crete we had a day at sea and as I sat around the pool I see here again.  This time she was wearing a sequined purple bathing suit top, which of course I noticed.  We sat on the pool deck across from each other soaking our legs in the water.  As I sat there I thought she was looking at me and I know I was looking at her, since we were both wearing mirrored sunglasses who could tell!

After about an hour, I got up and walked over to the rail, just looking over the side of the ship at the water.  Five minutes later she walks over and stands about 5′ away from me.  I thought to myself ‘gee that’s strange,’ I stood there for a few minutes wanting to say something but couldn’t get up the courage to say anything, so I walked away and sat on my beach chair.  A couple of minutes later she comes and sits on the beach chair NEXT TO ME–WTF!  I’m trying to psych myself up to say something, in the back of my mind I am saying if I called this wrong then I have to bump into this girl the next 11 days and it’ll always be awkward…to make a long story short, I didn’t say or do anything and she left.  Later I am telling Michael what happened and he is telling me that he was watching the entire thing, because it seemed like everywhere I went she followed me for a little while.  He thought we were talking to one another when we were on the beach chairs.  Michael was telling me how he couldn’t believe I didn’t speak to her, as he put it ‘she was practically having sex with you…’  I couldn’t live this down the entire rest of the time on the cruise.  More on this later, there is a happy ending.

After our day at sea, we docked in Ashdod, Israel, this was an alternate port as the political unrest in Alexandria the cruise line changed the itinerary.  I wasn’t too disappointed as I had been to Egypt already for The Cross Egypt Challenge, I had already seen all the goodies there, but Michael had never been. I wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum, which there was a tour for.  We bought tickets, followed all the instructions given to us and then by the time they let us off the ship our bus had left without us! WTF!  There was a lot of confusion when we were in this port.  We normally don’t take any shore excursions, because Michael seems to know where to go everywhere (more on that later).

We went back to the ship and were very disappointed.  Michael was livid and left an angry comment card for the staff.  To their credit they responded promptly and offered us lunch, which we declined, but asked them to comp us dinner at the Pinnacle Grill which they gladly did and sent a bottle of wine, as well as refund our tickets (of course).It was nice of the to do, and they did try to smooth it over, in my mind it was little solace as I still didn’t get to see the Holocaust Museum, so it was an empty victory!

The next day we went to Haifa, Israel.  This time as soon as we got our stickers for the group we ignored any and all instructions for disembarking and went straight to our bus.  We were off to Ceasaria and were going to see the Bahai World Center.  Evidently Haifa is home to the Bahai religion, a religion up until now I never even heard of, the center had quite the real estate space, perched atop a mountain overlooking the sea and a lot of the city.  The meticulously manicured lawns and the striking green grass and colors against the bland grey background of the sea made one feel at peace from this space.  We were there prior to the actual center opening up, we were allowed partial access to the grounds.  We were only there for about a half hour as the tour guide explained a little about the Bahai religion.

Our true destination for the day was Ceasaria, which was ruled by King Herod.  Ceasaria was the FIRST ever man made commercial seaport–who would have thought right here in Israel.  The renderings of what the original seaport looked like were spectacular.  Evidently all the commerce that went thru Ceasaria made King Herrod a very rich man, one of the richest in the ancient world.  The site sits right on the Mediterranean Sea and is not particularly preserved well.  They let the tourists walk all over the place; coupled with the fact that it’s right on the water, it doesn’t bode well for the preservation of the site–very sad indeed.  It was HOT–it’s friggin Israel in the summertime, what else was I expecting, but then again it was HOT everyday on every island we seemingly were on.

Yeah, if I was on island of idiots I would be the King.
Yeah, if I was on island of idiots I would be the King.
Ceasaria
Ceasaria
Ceasaria
Ceasaria

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The next day was a sea day and then to Rhodes, home of one of the ancient wonders of the world The Colossus of Rhodes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_of_Rhodes)–which has long since been destroyed by earthquakes and marauders.  It must have been quite the sight.  It’s amazing what those people built all those years ago still stands for the most part, unfortunately all that is left now from the original statue are the pillars it stood on.  Rhodes is a walled city to prevent invasion from forces from the water.  Most of the inside of the city is retail–what else right?  We walked around the city most of the day, went into a castle which ancient ceramic mosaics which were decorating the floor.  Truly spectacular works of arts, if I were the renaissance man I think I am, I would be in big trouble as I have no artistic talents…boo hoo sad clown….

The Colossus of Rhodes once stood on these pillars, you would sail into the harbor through the legs.
The Colossus of Rhodes once stood on these pillars, you would sail into the harbor through the legs.

The next day we were off to Kusadasi, where we would see the ruins of Ephesus, significant because a lot of the city has been excavated and remains relatively intact.  The temple of Artemis and Diana was found here, it was moved to the British Museum (where else right)?  You actually see how the people lived, we saw the actual houses excavated, where the rich people lived, where the poor people lived, the public bathrooms(evidently the wealthy people would pay slaves to sit on the granite public bathrooms ‘seat’ so that it was warm when they sat down), the library, pretty much the whole ‘shabang.’  It was amazing, but what was more amazing was how well it was preserved/put back together.  Obviously it wasn’t to be made whole but  was pretty together, most of the pieces were there, what wasn’t there would eventually be put together.

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Yes, those are Swastika’s bitches–everyone in the west has been stealing our stuff forever!

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The next day we were off to Mykonos.  Again it was HOT as usual, it was here that Michael had his diva moment and had a meltdown.  All the stress of putting the trip together and keeping us all in line and moving in the same direction he just freaked out on us and finally just left us.  As we walked through town we lost him and then we scattered our own way.  Kevin and Nancy went back to the ship, I rented a scooter and Bill and Anthony rented a car.  I was ALL OVER that island.  I went to several beaches and just explored the island the water was SO BLUE, almost crystal clear.  Again, I couldn’t believe that I was actually there!  There was a big ‘gay convention’ on the island–LOL.  Seriously, evidently every August about this time there are about 40,000 gays and lesbians that fock to the island for a music festival.  SO many beautiful women, but they were with other women!  Who am I kidding I wouldn’t do anything anyway right?  😉

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As we left Mykonos that evening and watched the shore slowly disappear in the distance, it was dawning on me that the trip would soon be over.  The next day was a day at sea as we cruised through the Dardanelles Strait.  I believe one side was Asia and the other side was Turkey, it is a major trade route as we saw many cargo ships going through.  I was up at the pool for a little while but, again it was so hot–I wasn’t there for too long.  When leaving the deck the pool that day I went through the Lido deck, past the buffet.  There SHE was again, my white whale, or should I say blonde whale.  I stared at her for a second and she said ‘hi,’ so I went over.  I got there and started to laugh, as we talked about what happened on board a few days earlier.  Stacey was with her Mom and sister on the cruise.  She remarked that she thought I was gay perhaps (I did explain that I travel with ‘the gays,’ but am not one of them), and remarked how obvious she was being.  I explained to her being the modern Renaissance man I am in the new millennium I wait for the lady to make the first move.  She then remarked ‘I DID, you didn’t do anything.’  LOL.  Anyway we hung out the rest of that day, Michael thought I was in the suite the entire time.  He was a little annoyed I wasn’t on deck at the pool.  What are the chances that someone I meet in the Mediterranean would live only about a half hour away from me.  Well, she doesm we’ve seen each other a few times–the story did have a happy ending! (no pun intended) 😉

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The next day we would dock in Istanbul, and then would disembark the following day.  Istanbul is an interesting city, half of it is in Asia and the other half is in Europe, truly beautiful.  Turkey isn’t on the Euro, and had a good exchange but I really didn’t see any deals.  As with all of our tour it ended in the Turkish Rug shop!  Turks are very proud of their rugs and their is an entire economy built around the production of said rugs.  We went on a city tour, we went to one of the most famous Mosques in the wold-The Blue Mosque, truly a wonder.  What sets this Mosque apart from many others is that it has 6 minourettes around it as opposed to 4 that are at most Mosques.  The inside was spectacular and beautiful.  It’s hard to believe this was built 500 years ago and still is as beautiful now, perhaps more so as these building look better over time.

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Alas, the end of the trip was near, tomorrow we would disembark and be back to Hoboken.  I was very sad, it was truly a magical trip, I don’t want to be too corny but I never though I would ever see this stuff.  I’ve read about it for many years through school and studying world history.  I’ve traveled extensively through western Europe, but never quite made it to the Med.  I definitely will be back, would love to go back to Rome and Venice again.  Italy in general, I’ve been in the mountains cycling, but never down on the water!

Hope you enjoyed reading about my opus!

What will the day bring

As I sit here pondering what the day will bring, I run the Tough Mudder in a few hours, I am trying to psych myself up! I know it won’t be a problem, it’ll be a lot of fun and there’ll be a lot of dirt! I think about how I got into these races and how far I have come in the last two years. The first race was just on a whim! LOL! Now I devour them so to speak. The season is getting late and time to start thinking about the new challenges for next year. Triathlons, more Spartans, travel to some Spartans, triathlons, learn to swim with some type of technique, Paris Marathon, will I survive it? Man on man so many thoughts!

Met a very nice lady for lunch yesterday, a total beast(runner, triathlete, she’s running the Staten Island half today), our lunch reminded me of when I met Jenn all those years back, we talked and talked and talked and everything was very comfortable and not contrived. Only difference only spent a few hours together, whereas with Jenn we spoke through the night! LOL! Well at least I made it to date #2 as I was told…

Ok, enough of my minutiae, time to motivate, look for the race report later, and one day I’ll get to writing about the second half of the cruise!