Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Next Cruise

Cover of a 1913 book about the Panama CanalPanama and a little bit of South America on the Island Princess

We have a cruise coming up early this winter -- ten days on the Island Princess, sister ship of the Coral Princess. We think back on our April 2007 cruise on the Coral as one of our favorites. So this time we will be on a ship with an identical layout and size and with a nearly identical itinerary. Like the Coral the Island Princess was launched in 2003 and carries a maximum of 1,970 passengers with a crew of 900.

It's a slightly smaller ship than some of the others we've been on. We like the size a lot. It is big enough to have all the amenities we want but it isn't huge and hard to get around. Click here to look at the deck plans.

Island Princess at sea

We sail out and back from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The ports of call are Orenjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; then Panama with a partial crossing of the Canal. Morning and afternoon we cruise around in Gatun Lake and then take the locks back down to the Atlantic, followed by a visit to Cristobal for sightseeing and shopping. In the next few days there are stops at Limon, Costa Rica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; then back to Port Everglades.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sarasota Trip, Day 5

Monday, October 12, 2009 -- Home

Up and out and on the road by 10:00 AM. We got on Interstate-10 about 25 miles north of Perry and were flying home. Good news, the construction around Tallahassee is finished after many years and we never slowed down.

When we are on the road and need a room in small-town America we often stay at either a Holiday Inn Express or at one of Hilton's Hampton Inns. Both offer a free continental breakfast plus they promise a couple of hot items -- sometimes scrambled eggs, mini-omlettes, fried eggs, bacon, sausages, etc. But today it was Huevos Rancheros -- scrambled eggs with Mexican-ish stuff mixed in, seriously overcooked and served cold. What were they thinking?

Generally the Holiday Inn Express chain has a better breakfast than does Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express has those fantastic hot cinnamon rolls.

Gary's cardWe made good time heading for home, thanks in part to the extra hour we gained when we crossed the Chattahoochie River heading west. Lunch was in Chipley at Gary's Flaming Grill again.

We picked up the cats from the pet hotel and were home before 4:00. Today's distance was 266 miles and the total for the trip was 1,145 miles (1,843km.).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sarasota Trip, Day 4

Sunday, October 11, 2009 -- Heading Home from Sarasota

The weather seemed a little bit milder this morning. Or have we just gotten used to the recent heat wave.

Before we left town we visited Toby, Debbie and their daughters. What a great place they have. An open, airy house with fabulous plants and trees and art. And what an office!

Early afternoon we started up I-75 North and hadn't made any plans for how far we would try to get before stopping for the night. Soon after Tampa we tired of driving on the congested Interstate and took the exit for Brooksville. A few miles later we joined the "old" road, Route 98. It's a divided highway but the style is pre-interstate highway -- no exit/entrance interchanges. Plus lots of speed traps. And there's almost no traffic, the opposite of I-75. Relaxing to drive.

We took 98 as far as Perry, that's where it heads west to Florida's Panhandle and the northwest coast. Along the way 98 adds Routes 19, 27 and 55. One road, four route numbers. Our drive today was 303 miles, and a total of 897 miles so far for the trip.

Logo: Mama's Italian Family Restaurant, Perry, FloridaIn Perry we found a room for the night at the Hampton Inn. And almost next door a wonderful place, Mama's Italian Family Restaurant, with home cooked food, Italian and other kinds too. You can visit their web site here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sarasota Trip, Day 3

Saturday, October 10, 2009 -- In Sarasota

Along Longboat Key, FloridaAnother hot day. We drove around the city taking in the sights.

Longboat Key, pictured here, was beautiful as always. There was a huge festival and arts fair going on at St. Armands Circle so lunch at the Columbia was out. We soon went back to the mainland to continue our tour.

Yoder's Restaurant, Sarasota, FloridaWe went to Yoder's Restaurant, for lunch. They serve Amish food. It's located in Pinecraft, Sarasota's Amish and Mennonite neighborhood. The food is simple and delicious. Famous for their pies and hearty eaters, the restaurant recently attracted the attention of Adam Richman and the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food show.

The Sarasota episode featured Yoder's and two other Sarasota classic, casual dining, restaurants, Munchies 420 Cafe and the Old Salty Dog. Watch the Travel Channel's listings for reruns.

Primo! Ristorante, Sarasota, FloridaAfter a nap we joined Michael and Ralph for Italian food at Primo! Ristorante, in Sarasota near the airport. The food was wonderful, thank you, Ralph! And we had a great time catching up. We hadn't seen Michael for more than 30 years and were just meeting Ralph for the first time.

For info on restaurants in the Sarasota area here's a blog, Dine Sarasota Pot Luck, I found that has some wonderful suggestions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sarasota Trip, Day 2

Friday, October 9, 2009 -- To Sarasota and Venice

Today's drive was an easy one and comfortable as long as we stayed in the car with the A/C on. The weather was still at near-record levels of heat with high humidity.

From the Gainesville hotel to the Hampton Inn in Sarasota is just 177 miles. A few side trips brought the day's total to 224 miles, with a grand total of 542 miles for the trip so far. We got to the hotel so early we wondered if a room would be made up for us yet. There was one ready and it had a nice view of palm trees swaying in the (hot) wind.

Ringling Museum of ArtIn 1927 Sarasota became the winter quarters for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1960 winter quarters moved 25 miles south to Venice where it stayed for another 32 years.

Many circus people made their homes in the Sarasota/Venice area and many others retired here. Today there are lots of showfolks living in the area.

Every winter since 1997 circus stars from all over the world gather to perform in Circus Sarasota.

Started in 1949, the PAL Sailor Circus is a spectacular 4 ring youth circus production with Sarasota-area students from the 4th through 12th grades.

One of Sarasota's highlights is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Go visit the Museum's link here, I don't have time or space to tell you about its many features.

Statue, Gunther Gebel-Williams, Venice, FloridaLegendary circus star and animal trainer, Gunther Gebel-Williams, lived in Venice and there is this statue of him there.

Late in the afternoon we drove to Venice to visit our friends Sue and Rudi. True to her British upbringing, Sue cooked a traditional English meal for us: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and parsnips, cauliflower and a trifle with fresh strawberries for desert. Wonderful meal. And a great visit with both of them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sarasota Trip, Day 1

Thursday, October 8, 2009 -- Off we go.

Took the cats, there are two of them -- Susie and Maggie, to the pet hotel around 9:00 AM and went back home to finish packing.

We left Pensacola a little after 10:00. The weather was hot, in the high 80s (31C), and partly sunny/partly cloudy all the way. Very humid. It's strange weather for this time of year but at least there are no hurricanes or even tropical storms.

Historic Downtown Chipley, FloridaWe stopped in Chipley for lunch at Gary's Flaming Grill. We always eat at Gary's when we are in Chipley. It's good, simple and fast -- real Southern cooking. The sweet potato fries are worth a trip. Chipley is home as well to Skins & Bubbas BBQ and The Giggling Shrimp Oyster Bar & Seaford [sic]. And as good as they sound we always end up at Gary's.

Florida Gators logoAt 5:30 PM we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Gainesville. We've stayed there before. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida and the Gators.

Total driving distance, including brief side trips for lunch and rest stops, was 338 miles (544 km).

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store logoWhenever we stay at this hotel we eat at the adjacent Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The First Computer Art Exhibition

Cybernetic Serendipity, 1968, ICA, London
Curated by Jasia Reichardt

Poster: Cybernetic Serendipity, 1968, ICA, London
Click on the image to enlarge it.

A show about computer art in 1968. The poster is still fresh and fabulous. Click here for a link to photos and the original press release for the show. Read all about the exhibition at the Cybernetic Serendipity Wikipedia page.