Larry Cohenís 2014 Holiday Cruise Buttons

Larry Cohenís 2014 Holiday Cruise

Day 0 Sunday December 21, 2014
Home - Baltimore - West Palm Beach - Port St. Lucie

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The actual digital photos have much better resolution than the enlarged photos.

When we read about Larry Cohen's Holiday Bridge Cruise, Sue and I thought that it would be ideal for us. At least one of us had enjoyed the Regional at Sea Cruise that we took in 2012, and we were both ardent admirers of Larry Cohen's approach to teaching. Besides, we did not have any solid plans for the Christmas and New Year's holidays; Sue's relatives do not ordinarily do much in the way of celebrating, and all of mine are distant in one respect or another.

The new suitcases were capacious and light. In addition, the zippers still worked, at least for now.

The decisive factor for us was that this cruise included stops in four countries that we had never visited – Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. We would only spend one day in each country, but we figured that we would at least savor a small taste of each.

I researched the Celebrity Equinox on the Internet and discovered that it seemed to be viewed rather favorably by the cruising community. I also investigated the excursions that were offered, and I found one that seemed exceptional at each of the four new ports. The cost of the cruise was high, but the positive factors seemed to be equally lofty: warm weather, nice ship, lots of bridge, Larry Cohen, and some potentially exciting tourism. The timing was perfect, too. No local bridge tournaments that I would consider attending were offered those two weeks, and we would be back in time for the end of the regional in Newton.

The sign at the gate in Baltimore said that it was 77 degrees in West Palm Beach, but it was even warmer than that by the time that we landed.

Sue had flown to Florida a few days earlier so that she could visit her dad in Tampa and some friends of ours, Chris and Sandy Tsiartas, in Port St. Lucie. I spent the time doing laundry, buying new suitcases, and watching meaningless bowl games. My cat Giacomo was definitely suspicious. Whenever I was seated he transported himself into my lap.

My first view of Palm Beach from the airplane.

Sue Rudd, a friend from bridge, had agreed to drive me to the airport on Saturday morning. She arrived at the house at 6:10 for my 7:50 flight. As predicted, a dusting of snow impeded us a bit, and we arrived at Bradley at 6:50. The unexpectedly long line at the Southwest counter and the usual holdup at security meant that I had to forgo my usual breakfast sandwich at McDonald's. This surely qualifies as proof that the terrorists have won. I had to subsist on Southwest's peanuts until the plane landed in Baltimore, where I faced a three-hour layover. I chose BWI's Silver Diner, where I ordered pancakes, eggs, and sausage. My itinerary left no time for lunch, so I gorged myself.

The Captain Kirk model is perfect for someone who makes fewer than ten phone calls per year and receives none.

My layover in the Baltimore airport was punctuated by three obnoxious fire drills. I am not kidding. The incredibly loud blasts on the public address system made it difficult for me to concentrate on the book that I was reading, Forged, written by Bart Ehrman. I think of Prof. Ehrman as a kindred soul. His research on biblical texts had the same kind of effect on him as investigating the two millennia of Christian history did on me. I wrote him an e-mail once when I heard him on Coast to Coast. He responded the same day.

Cosmo the cat likes to relax next to his stuffed friends during the holidays.

I completed one of the "hard" sudokus on the flight from Baltimore to West Palm Beach, just as I had on the first leg of my flight. After the plane came to a halt, I had the thrill of actually witnessing from my window seat the unloading from the plane of my new blue suitcases. I confidently walked to baggage claim and quickly found them. I then extracted my vintage cell phone from my backpack. Although I had charged it overnight, it was literally dead on arrival. Fortunately, there were plenty of electrical outlets at the airport, and I had my charger with me. Sue took my call in her rental car at the cell phone lot, and we had no difficulty connecting.

In theory Santa took requests from the audience.

I walked outside. It was hot, delightfully hot. Not warm, not pleasant, HOT.

Driving in Florida is a unique experience. The roads are, of course, uniformly flat and straight, and outside of rush hour, they are ample. We have yet to sample them during rush hour, and we have no intention of ever doing so. We made it to Port St. Lucie in about an hour, but it took us another thirty minutes to find the Tsiartas house.

The most striking scene was JLC in a bikini. Consuming all of that yogurt hardly seemed worth it.

My supper was a reheated meal from Carrabbas. I am not complaining; it was very good. We were entertained during supper by "Deaf Santa," one of hundreds of battery-operated Christmas figures owned by Sandy and Chris. The appellation was inspired by the inability of the toy's voice-recognition software to interpret almost anything anyone said.

After supper the four of us watched a movie on TV called Christmas with the Kranks. It related the heartwarming story of a couple that decided to blow off Christmas one year and take a cruise instead.[1] Despite the obvious parallel to our own situation, I was not engulfed by the true spirit of Xmas as all of the characters in the film eventually were. On the other hand, I was no longer curious as to whatever ever became of Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, and his bald spot.

At some point before I fell asleep I realized that I had forgotten to insert my Barbasol can into my shaving kit.



[1]  I know that this sounds like a setup, but I honestly do not think that the Tsiartases chose this film with malice aforethought.