Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

Cruise with a View….part one
October 20, 2017

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Although I’d sailed in 1966 on an older ship from Canada to England, I’d never been on a cruise. This ocean cruise was a whole different cup of tea. It was a seven-day cruise leaving from Long Beach, CA with two stops in Mexico: Cabos San Lucas (two days) and a stop in Puerto Vallarta for a day with two sea days back to Long Beach port.

We were lucky to have been asked to join a family of a friend, and together we travelled with a composition of  slightly over two thousand guests and close to nine hundred crew members. All from many walks of life, countries, backgrounds and mind sets. The goal of Carnival Cruise Lines was to arrange and create something from this mix, and forge a unified whole from the hearth using the sun and fun. Our purpose was to enjoy ourselves.

To me, more than the surface aspect of cruising, this trip was a snapshot into humanity as it surrounds us. It became a metaphor for learning and my view of that metaphor.

Upon arriving to embark, I was totally impressed with the boarding agents and their efficiency. Adding to this, was the beauty of the ship, how clean everything was and the friendliness of the crew we encountered.

Our cabin was roomy, (photo of Joe included) with an efficient bathroom, super comfortable beds  and this towel art, which changed daily:

 

Every time there was a new towel art figure in our room, it conjured up childhood memories to me. Remembering the warmth I felt when mom would wrap a towel around me when I got out of the bath. Memories of long gone pets. Memories from when my parents took me to the zoo. Feelings of softness, warmth and love during my up bringing. Such a simple gesture with the power to make me appreciate how fortunate I am.

There was a mailbox outside the cabin door for events and notices, and inside on the wall were cards for room service, non disturbance and our service team for the cabin. About this time, there was an announcement that lunch would be served on the Lido Deck until 3:30pm, so we headed in that direction. Our suitcases and bags would arrive later.

We took the stairs up eight fights so we could see some of the ship. Art pieces hung on each landing and there were art glass pieces encased behind protection in the corners.

When we reached the Lido deck, and the multiple eating areas and restaurants, it seemed we had joined all of the other two thousand guests. We had to wait a bit to get a table before we could look around and choose something to eat. I found out by the end of the cruise, that the first and last eating sessions on a ship are completely full and bring out the best and worst in people. This was my introduction to some of the unpleasant traits of human nature: excess and greed.

We secured a table, and as we waited for the rest of our group to join us, I watched as plates piled high with food passed us. Endless food of all descriptions: pot roast, chicken and fish (fried, roasted or grilled), vegetarian, vegetable and starch selections, fresh fruit, regular and gluten-free breads and meals, deli sandwiches, smoked salmon plates, pizzas, wraps, burgers, hot dogs, roast pork, pastas, multiple ethnic including Chinese food, salad bar selections, dessert plates, beverages and more. Too many to list.

After everyone arrived at our table we took turns getting food so as not to lose the table. As I passed other tables I couldn’t help but notice all of the half eaten food plates left behind, as the same people were digging into another plate piled high. Waiters were busy picking up plates with left-overs, that never seemed to end. And, as soon as the waiters had cleared these, replacement plates were piled up faster than they could pick-up. It was organized insanity.

I didn’t know if the factor that drove this phenomena was (a) it was free, (b) guests felt they paid for the food, therefore everything was game on, (c) guests who might not have had an opportunity in the past to try some of these choices had the opportunity now, and they tried some new things, didn’t like what they tried and left the rest, or (d) didn’t care. Judging by the amount of waste I saw, I grouped it under the former heading of excess and greed. I added waste.

(After having been in the food and hospitality business for over forty-five years, I didn’t have any food on the ship that wasn’t good, great or exceptional, in taste, quality and eye appeal. As a matter of fact it left me feeling spoiled and appreciative).

 

After lunch, we went back to the cabin to see if our luggage had arrived. It hadn’t, so we took time out to explore the ship.

I didn’t take photos of everything that was available to guests on our ship. There was a full gym (I used the stairs instead….which turned out to be not enough exercise for the weight I gained) on two levels with a full spa, steam and sauna. Water slide, exclusive over 21 areas, multiple pools for children and adults with their own food and drink bars, basketball court, ping-pong, miniature golf, whirlpools, private decks, library, art gallery, games room, many cocktail lounges, extra pay dining rooms, the four-story theatre and arts center, 24/7 fresh sushi bar, coffee bars, the comedy club, piano bar, the disco/nightclub, casino and on and on. Along with the numerous function areas, there were daily activities, directed by an excellent cruise director.

 

For the guests, this vessel seemed on the outside, to be a self-contained floating city of fun and excitement. An escape from reality that could possibly solve some of their problems in life, even be it for a week. I found the Carnival crew went out of their way to try to fulfil the needs of every guest and make them feel like each and everyone of them was the most important person on earth. That in itself was an insurmountable task. People end up bringing their individual worlds with them. Worlds of inner pain that keep surfacing outwardly through action, deed or expression of self. Overhearing conversations as we participated in activities on board made this apparent. I’ve always felt, that inner pain, is just a lack of love on some level. This vessel and it’s amenities were the temporary compensation being used to fill this ache that never seems to disappear.

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Our first stop was Cabos San Lucas. Carnival brought in ‘tenders’ to take us to shore. We didn’t sign up for the excursions that were available on board. We wanted to take our chances on shore to see what we could experience.

We were surrounded with options when we reached the shore for scuba diving, glass bottom boats, deep-sea fishing and private boat tours to El Arco and End Rock. The on board Carnival tour was $35/person, but we ended up accepting a private tour for $11/person.

 

There is a photo here of ‘Last Rock’ with a sea-lion perched on top of the rock. At first we thought it was a statue, but as we got closer and we circled the area, the sea lion would change its pose. We were all laughing because the sea loin did it for all the boats that approached.. Major ham and great entertainment. He should be paid for all the photos that were taken of him.

Afterwards we walked the main boardwalk and stopped in at a couple of places, one being Senor Frogs. Lot’s of fun and the hot chips and salsa made the beers go down easier.

We had to be back on the ship by 4:00pm because it would cruise the coast during the night and come back in the morning for the second day where we’d have from 7:00am till 3:00pm on shore again if we wanted. We went back to the ship, got cleaned up and waited in a lounge for everyone to arrive before we went into the dining room for our dinner.

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I found the dinner meals exceptional. As Trump would say, ‘tremendous’ selection, and it was different every night. Always six or seven appetizers to choose from, a ‘unique item’ like veal tongue, or frog legs or rabbit, etc., plus a selection from the grill with assorted sauces, or two vegetarian meals and a selection of six or seven desserts. Hence, the added pounds when I stepped on the scales at home.

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Road Trip……..day five
October 6, 2017

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After the continental breakfast included by the hotel, and frost on the car windows, we were on the road by 7:00am. Even though it was only 42 degrees when we left Mammoth, we wore shorts and a T-shirt because we knew the day would be much warmer in the valley below. Overall  the day temperature was a comfortable mid nineties. We passed Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine and entered Death Valley. Most of the roads we’ve travelled on this trip were either in great shape or newly paved this year. I really enjoyed the topography, ups and downs, ascending and descending from all the different elevations. Our first stop was Father Crowley Point. The view from here was vast and endless with an empty simplicity. Most noticeably, there was an incredible quiet.

Next stop was Stovepipe Wells Village, where we stopped for lunch. Two bread sandwiches (oh, forgot there was a paper-thin slice of meat in it), and a coke came to $18.00. Sitting on the rocking chairs on the porch, outside the general store and eating the sandwiches though, made the experience……actually fun.

After lunch, we headed for Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes (reminded me of the sand dunes on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands where we’d go and slide down on the dunes on our backs or stomach….I was 17, and much younger then) and the Harmony Borax Works.

After this, we headed for Furnace Creek Visitor Center, but being a Sunday it was closed. Next destination the Devil’s Golf Course. The landscape looks like a golfer had left thousands of divots strewn over a few thousand acres. These divots are mostly composed of salt deposits. I took a close-up photo of one below.

Badwater Basin was next on our list.

Artist’s Drive is a one-way road through the mountains that looks like it has been painted with hues of red, green, blue, rust and purples. There are steep dips and turns on the road and Disneyland modelled their car ride in California Adventure after this Drive. This Artist’s Drive is much longer and four times the fun. The scenery of the mountains and colors are outstanding and even breath-taking at some points. Our photos don’t do it justice. A real must do if you get out this way.

Just after this drive we headed back to the main road. Shortly after the junction on the main road, there is the historic Oasis Hotel. It is undergoing a major renovation at this time. It is in the middle of no-where and looks like a mirage oasis brought down from heaven. Exotic palms and trees were being planted around the site and it’s a stark contrast to the landscape. It is going to be the place to stay when it is finished. The photo below is the way it looked before the renovation.

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Moving on, our next destination was Zabriskie Point.

After this we were going to go to 20 Mule Team Canyon, but the road in was long and not in good shape (very rough gravel). Not worth the damage it might do to the car. So, we headed to our last Death Valley site; Dante’s View. It’s a long way to the top with hair-pin curves and a steep incline. When you get to the top, all you can smell is the burnt rubber and hot oil from vehicles engines.

This ended our stay in Death Valley. We were heading east now to Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House. It has a long history and I’ve borrowed the link from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amargosa_Opera_House_and_Hotel

Our final destination for the trip is Pahrump, Arizona. We headed east and arrived around 5:00pm. We figured we’d stay at one of the casino hotels, have a good meal and head back to Palm Springs tomorrow. Below is a chuck wagon outside our room in the courtyard and a photo of inside the casino.

 

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip…….day four
October 4, 2017

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We left Denny’s in Merced at 7:00am. Our first stop was Mariposa an old mining town from the gold rush era. It’s present claim to fame is its musical festivals usually held in June of each year on their fairgrounds. We would have stayed here instead of Merced, but we wouldn’t have arrived until much later and the motel prices were substantially higher. Overall, I guess it wouldn’t have mattered on the time basis as we were up most of the night anyways. Something we look back on and just laugh. The town is wonderfully charming with its hanging flower baskets and you should check out the original courthouse.

 

After Mariposa, we entered Yosemite National Park. We decided to head for the furthest point in the park…Glacier Point. It is a long drive with incredible scenery on either side of the road and well worth the trip just for the view. We were lucky, as all the signs in the park said all roads were open, even though they had recent snow and a forest fire. Areas we passed were still smoldering and there was some smoke and haze lingering, but over all the views were perfect. When we came down the mountain, the rangers were already directing traffic away from Glacier Point, as it was at capacity. It was exceptionally busy even though this was off-season. We were glad we went here first and early.

 

You can really see a major portion of the park from this vantage point. Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and Half Dome included. It gives you great perspective and makes you feel small and insignificant when you take in its vastness. Our next stop would be Tunnel View with a few stops for photos in the snow. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia was closed for restoration. There is numerous hiking trails, cliff climbing, soaring and trail riding available. Even free shuttles around the Valley. We were here on a day trip so we limited our hiking to about two hours for the area around Mirror Lake.

 

The roads in the park were quite busy with lots of traffic. At some of the sight-seeing spots, we had to drive through the parking lot three or four times to get ‘lucky’, just to get a parking space. The longest wait we had been at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel where it took us an hour to park. After Tunnel View we headed for Bridalveil Fall.

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After waiting an hour to park at the Yosemite Hotel, we hiked to Mirror Lake, which happened to have a very low water level. The walk was great and invigorating, and again with endless beauty. We passed a lot of bike riders on the walk and some campers and serious hikers. The creek that flows from Mirror Lake had enormous rocks in it. It makes you wonder how and when they got there. Some were the size of a small house.

 

Back in the car, we drove to Yosemite Village and the Visitor Center. We picked-up a lot of information on the park at the Center and took time to talk to a few Rangers. From this point on we would head out of the park. Next stop, Tioga Road and closer views of Tenaya Lake.

 

The scenery was beginning to change as were the mountains. The passes through the mountains led us up sometimes and down other times. We passed Lee Vining and came to Mono Lake. Mono lake had receded quite a bit also. It was down 40 feet from its original height.

 

On the road again to our final destination for the day….Mammoth Lakes. We arrived at 6:00pm and checked into our hotel. We asked for a good place to eat at the desk and the manager recommended a restaurant a few doors down from our hotel, or we could take the bus, or walk downtown (20 minutes) and go to the Village. He also mentioned that Oktoberfest was on and it was quite the happening. We lucked out again with our timing. We went to our room, settled in, cleaned up and decided we’d take the brisk, chilly walk to the Village and Oktoberfest. When we arrived there was a few large tents with traditional German music and full menus of Oktoberfest food (Yummmmmmm!) and a lot of people dressed in German garb. Beer in authentic steins, schnapps and German wines were available with the food.

 

We filled up on food and walked around the village. By the time we’d done this we were starting to feel the cold and I convinced Eberhard to go to one of the restaurants inside and have a final glass of wine at the bar, so we could warm up before the trek back to the hotel. Enough said. Tomorrow….Death Valley.

The Swimmer
November 24, 2011

We all have things we like to do, that bring us closer to who we are. For some its car racing, for others, its mountain climbing, still others are lucky enough to have this feeling doing what they love while doing their work.

For me, it’s either cooking or dancing. I don’t know if the sensations are equivalent for each of us, but somehow, it sparks light in us. I was talking with someone the other day that is training for the upcoming summer Olympics. He’s a swimmer. I asked him what he felt when he was swimming. I wanted to know if it compared to how I felt when I was dancing.

The swimmer told me that the first thing he found was that it gave him a sense of ‘peace’. He said he felt united with the water. There was no duality. It gave him `drive’ and he said “I feel one hundred percent of me”. Purity was attached to this feeling and also a tremendous amount of ‘clarity’. When he’s  submerged underwater he said, ” I sense a power and I feel anything I put my mind to becomes possible”. He said that the water helped him to focus. It shuts out the outside world and all of its distractions. There is only a ‘one’ feeling’.

When I’m dancing, the feelings are similar. I go somewhere and connect to the music that is playing. I don’t know where I go, but it’s a different space. I try to let the music `do me’ as opposed to listening to the music and dancing to what I am hearing. It may sound strange, but there is a major difference between the two. The world around me disappears and I am focused. I feel energized and in control. Outside influences disappear. I feel at one with the music, and what I am doing. As with the swimmer there is `clarity’.

Meditation gives you the same feelings. As does, ‘being in the moment’. I think that’s the key to all of these feelings.

A single focused moment, that keeps repeating itself.

Color Your World – Update 8
May 16, 2011

 

Instant. That’s how we expect everything to happen. We’ve been spoiled.

When I started this program two months ago, I assumed it wouldn’t take too long. But I was using time as a basis for my reasoning. Try and take ‘time’ out of your equation while on any self-improvement gig. I’ve viewed a set of photos of ‘before and after’. I see some improvement. Photos of yourself in the beginning, and then again at intervals along the way really help you to focus on areas that still need improvement. But there is a way to go.

How far is ‘a way’?

I have an image in my mind that is driving me further. At 62 I want to be in the best shape and health of my life. Why now? It’s because I didn’t do it sooner. As you age, life takes on different meanings, hopes, wishes, desires. It’s nice that we still have these traits. We’re not out to conquer the world as much as we are out to conquer those things we feel we didn’t accomplish. However, I do see youth doing things now a days that I hadn’t even considered twenty or thirty years ago. The societal atmosphere keeps changing, and as it changes, so do our selection of choices from which to draw down from.

Some things that I’ve noticed:

Re-igniting my desire for meditation has brought some new awareness and also some old memories. When I was meditating the other night, I could feel my energy building around me. It began to ‘wobble’. To the point that I thought I was going to fall over in my chair, even, while being seated. I haven’t felt that feeling in thirty years. I’m glad that I am exercising. If you begin to meditate, you have to make sure your body can handle the extra energy you develop. Interestingly enough, in many subtle ways, life is improving on itself. The more self-awareness you develop, the less unpleasant experiences enter into your life. A pleasant paradox. Going deeper into who you are is the change you really want. The resonance you project is the music people hear subconsciously. The sound should match the universe.

We have a long, long way to go.

Color Your World – Update 6
April 16, 2011

Since I made it through the first month, I’m going to relate progress by other means, instead of daily.

Progression is based on comparisons. I saw Garrett over the weekend and in comparison, I felt I hadn’t even started exercising. Seeing him gave me great incentive. I still have a long way to go.

This week, I took two rest days from my exercises. When I look to see changes, I realize the changes are coming slowly. Mentally and physically. Some times I feel disappointed. I realize that if I want to get into the smaller size t-shirt I bought two weeks ago, I have to keep up my discipline. Buying a t-shirt smaller than you can wear presently, is the proverbial carrot before the horse. As is writing about it. You must put a challenge ahead of yourself in order to accomplish your goal.

Today, I’m switching out some of my exercises. Take on a new challenge. Something you have to learn, because it is new. Something that will develop a different part of you.

This week at work has been intense, as have the last few months. It culminated last evening in total exhaustion. But this morning I feel a peacefulness I haven’t felt in a while. Today, I’m just going to go with the flow and enjoy the day to its max.

Color Your World – Update 5
April 8, 2011

Day 25. I’m glad no one was around to watch me as I went through these magazine exercises. I felt uncoordinated, awkward and a complete failure as I struggled to the exercise showed in the photos. It’s something new to work on. Some part of me is resisting actions, moves and contortions. I’ll keep at them until I feel a rhythm and smoothness in the forms.

Day 26. I only did push-ups today.

Day 27. Nothing today. Feel unmotivated

Day 28. I felt less motivated than yesterday, but I got up and started on the bike. By the time I finished the bike, I was sweating all over. I worked the last half hour on my upper body. I haven’t returned to the magazine exercises, but will do a portion tonight. After I got off the bike I felt so pleased I beat my own resistance to exercising. The best part of today so far was when I stepped out of the shower and I started to feel the endorphins kick in, and I began to feel on top of things again. It really does make me feel great and I feel I want to accomplish things.

Tried to smooth out the rough edges on one of the magazine exercises tonight. I’m getting better.

Day 29. Bike and regular upper and lower torso exercises. Added running on the spot while I used heavy back and forth motion on my arms. Only managed five minutes. Left me breathless and had to rest.

Day 30. Woke up at 12:40am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I always have a hard time sleeping before a major function. Too many things on my mind. Got up at 5:30am, but didn’t do my exercises. When I left for work, I was angry at myself for being stopped by my own inertia.

Day 31. Had a great workout today. Made up for yesterday. One month today. Will take photos again this weekend and compare them with the ones taken at the beginning. I don’t want to post them yet until I finish my second month.

Day 32. Another great workout again today. I actually wanted to get out of bed and start. I couldn’t wait. It’s making me feel so good. Also, the best part about looking back over the last month is the fact that even though there were lots of trials and work related events that should have stopped me, they didn’t. I feel so much better for it. You can still keep your discipline even through upsetting circumstances. As a matter of fact, it’s better that you do.

Color Your World – Update 4
April 1, 2011

 

Day 18. Made walking my exercise today. Lots of walking. Managed a meditation and finished up with some dancing later on in the evening.

Day 19. Worked the chest area with more push-ups than I normally do and added other chest exercises I had seen on a video. After that I concentrated on the core area and did a lot of work on my waist line, finishing off with leg work.

Day 20. Just a normal workout today. Finished with an extra 20 push-ups in the morning and another 20 push-ups before I went to bed. Read a little before bed also.

Day 21. Three weeks today and it makes me feel good that I’ve gotten to this point. I guess the best part is how I feel in the mornings. I definitely feel like I can take on the day and whatever comes at me. I enjoy the exercises more in the mornings, than at night. I’ve always been a morning person and I feel I’m in flow when I do the exercises early. I think, however that if you are naturally a night person, you might enjoy exercising better at night. When I look at my body I can see some changes. My stomach has shrunk, my chest has lost a fair amount of ‘looseness’, and my legs are firming up. (Still waiting for the butt area to contract). But I have hope and encouragement. Less TV and more reading is helping also. It’s positive things and it’s giving me a more relaxed perspective. Favorite music helps too. Overall, the progress spurs you on.

Today I worked more at ground level with leg lifts and backward push-ups, stomach crunches and squats.

Day 22. Sore all over again today. Taking a day of rest.

Day 23. Just normal exercising today with the bike, push-ups, squats, leg and core work.

Day 24. I was thumbing through some magazines and I found some new exercises to try over this weekend. Today I will concentrate on star squats, speed skater, knee-up jump lunge and sumo kick.

Color Your World – Update 3
March 25, 2011

Day 12. My day of rest.

Day 13. Drove back to L.A. today. Had time to review the last weeks efforts and reflect on next weeks goals. Did not exercise today, but concentrated on meditation instead.

Day 14. Bike and a great session with upper and lower body exercises. Endless problems at work. I’m glad I kept the exercises up. It’s giving me more energy to handle the flow, coming down the pipeline.

Day 15. I increased the tension on the bike today. A little harder ride, but I made it. My other exercises are getting finished in less time. I guess my speed has increased on doing the same exercises, in less time. I added some squats to my routine today.

Day 16. For some reason, the bike today was very hard to do. By the time I had finished I needed a towel to dry myself off. I felt like I stepped out of the shower. The next twenty minutes I did a meditation instead of my usual upper body work out. I feel I got more out of the meditation than the exercise today.

Day 17. No physical exercises today. A day of rest. Read some of my ooga booga books instead. Exercise the mind.

Cleansing
March 24, 2011

I can only guess that the world is going through a major cleansing. Springtime always brings an out pouring of energy, and somehow this year, the energy is causing major upheavals.

The only thing we can always count on is energy. How we use it, govern it in our lives or take it in, determines how we feel. It is the common denominator in our connection with the source. There is a lot of submerged mud that has been stirred and it is now rising to the top of the lake. In order for the waters to be cleansed again, this mud will have to be removed.

We’re going through our own little cleansing at work. It is in progress as I type. As I walked into the premises this morning, it felt good. The energy is higher than it’s been in months. There is also a lot of bleach in the air.

Personally, I’m doing a cleansing. Exercising has given me more energy. I feel better in the mornings, and today during my meditation, for the first time in years, I felt a touch of my old self. The one I use to love. It was a great feeling. Discipline and centering are helping. When you clean inwardly, it kills off part of your ego, and the ego rebels and trys to stop you. It’s like you have to scold it and put it in its place if you want the cleansing to work.

We’re all running as fast as we can, but you can’t run any faster than what you’re doing right now. Build your energy and let it do some of the work for you. It’ll never let you down.

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