Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale..."

The Carnival Spirit

As I've said before, this is more an idea-driven blog than an event-driven blog. Still, sometimes you experience something too good not to share.

Stephanie and I just got back from a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. My father-in-law invited us to join him and all of Stephanie's siblings for an eight day cruise down the Pacific side of Mexico if we agreed to attend a handful of financial and real-estate lectures (his field) that were being conducted while the ship was in transit at sea. Of course we all agreed.

The Family (Stephanie's dad is taking the picture)

We almost didn't make it to the cruise. Our plane from Denver to L.A. was turned around enroute when a passenger begin experiencing a minor heart attack. As a result, we missed our connecting flight to San Diego and went through three stand-bys before finally getting in. As we had Stephanie's sisters' boarding passes, there was the potential for a very unfortunate vacation.

Luckily we made it in time and I found myself delighted to be back in San Diego where I'd spent over a year in naval training. While checking onto the ship, I watched S-3 Vikings, the jet's I'd flown in, buzz around the skies with the next crop of trainees.

As a guy on the aviation side of the Navy, within a few moments of easing out of San Diego and heading toward the open ocean, I'd put in more sea time than I did in five years of naval service!

One of the two formal nights

The Carnival Spirit is essentially a giant slice of Las Vegas put to sea. Casinos and Vegas-style shows abound and while we peeked in on each, we preferred to grab a book and lay out on the deck or just stand at a railing and watch a world in which there was nothing but frothing ocean as far as you could see.

I shared a few delightful moments in Italian with the captain, a Sicilian, though discovering that the ship's senior staff was composed mostly of Italians made me wonder if we'd ever reach our destination. “Domani, domani.”

Thanks to GPS, we were able to chart the ship’s progress on the TV in our room. Humorously, these same TVs were fed with satellite signals of each of the major networks beamed from, of all places, Denver! While we watched our home state get inundated with snow, we all gleefully sat out and got sunburns. Well, maybe not so gleefully.

I made a pact with myself before we left. Unable to get fresh seafood in Colorado, I pledged to eat seafood for every single meal. I succeeded but for one or two breakfasts.

Cliff divers

It was wonderful to pull into port, wander off the ship and thrill at the aspect of finally being in a foreign country again. It had been far too long.

Our first stop was Acapulco where, among other things, we watched the famous cliff divers scale sheer rock faces and at just the right moment—when the tide surged—throw themselves off into the rocky inlet below. But Acapulco was in the middle of a festival, overrun with Mexican revelers and while lively, was not a particularly relaxing locale.

That would come the next day in...

Our beach

... Zihuatanejo. This tiny beachside town held a special place for my brother-in-law and me as we adore the film, The Shawshank Redemption, and this is where Andy Dufresne goes after he escapes from prison at the end of the movie.

Zihuatanejo is a charming little town and we spent our day beneath a thatched umbrella drinking margaritas out of pineapples and tequila and rum out of coconuts, reading, and snorkeling among exotic corral reefs festooned with all sorts of beautiful sea life.

I'm a sucker for the ocean. Must be because I was raised in the mountains. Whatever the reason, I will live on the beach some day.

Anyone seen a commercial around here?

Likewise, the next day, in Manzanillo, we relaxed on the beach and snorkeled around jellyfish to a massive shipwrecked cargo vessel, lost over 50 years ago.

It's not a real cruise if there isn't a toga party!

Sunset at sea

After pulling back into San Diego just over a week later, Stephanie and I rented a car and headed for L.A. for a visit.

A friend of Stephanie's works as a Post Production Coordinator at Warner Bros. We were able to get a fascinating VIP tour during which we visited the giant mixing stages, the ADR dubbing stages, the score stages, the editing booths, etc. currently hard at work finishing this summer's likely blockbuster, Poseidon. We bumped into the director, Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, Air Force One, Troy), as well as the producer, Duncan Henderson (Dead Poet's Society, Harry Potter, Master and Commander) and the editor, Peter Honess (Rob Roy, L.A. Confidential).

As phenomenal as that experience was, the real treat was stumbling upon the West Wing stage while zipping around the lot in a golf cart. Giddy with the sort of excitement only prepubescent girls usually exhibit, we walked the halls of our favorite TV show and even found the Oval Office. Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman) was inhaling some catered grub just a few feet away.

I told you never to call me on the Red Phone!

We also spent a few days with my 7th-grade locker partner, best friend, best man at my wedding, and Hollywood actor, Kris. Beach volleyball...a movie at America's most famous theater, Mann Chinese...we even took in one of his improve shows.

Ahhh! Brandon's doing "King of the World" on the front of the boat again!

All in all, a very nice vacation. It’s not every trip that you learn how to shelter your investments in an off-shore account, properly board a lifeboat, fold your beach towel into a monkey, how much aloe human skin can absorb before reaching absolute saturation, that the great Richard Dryfuss is an unmitigated horses behind and that you, yes you, my friend, have a great looking aft!


Anonymous Paul said...

What kind of seafood is good for breakfast???

More on Zhijuatineo (sorry I didn't look up the spelling)please. Is it resorty or isolated, big, small...???

Glad you had a good time.


12:44 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Salmon and whitefish were always offered and always accepted.

Zihuatanejo is both small and isolated. It doesn't seem like a place a cruise ship would visit, which is what makes it nice.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I am overwhelmed with beach/West Wing/San Diego/occasion for formalwear/crash-course-in-investment-allocation envy.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

And thrice-daily seafood envy. Mustn't forget that.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

It looks like your wife stepped into a Star Trek replicator.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Say what? Is this something about her being a twin?

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Uh, yeah. That, and the third apple didn't fall too far from the other two as well.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that the Kris that I think it is? Good for him. By the way, my cousin, Joe Egender, is an actor and was on a few West Wing episodes.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

A question I could answer much easier if I knew who you were Anonymous! If you were among the CSCS crowd of yesteryear, yep, it's that Kris.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Sounds like you had a great vacation...but the real question is have you heard on whether or not you got into BU....and if so are you going to come out to the open house at the end of April?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Ah, see, now you're giving away my life secrets and not allowing me to bore everyone at this blog with them later on. Shame on you, my former Film Studies classmate!

In answer to your question, yes, I was accepted to grad school at Boston University.

Now, if only the decision-making process was that easy…

6:16 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Drop me a line at Grinth--we have lots to talk about.

6:26 PM  

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