Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vacation redux - part 4

We decided Wed would be our 'stay at the house' day.  For some of us that meant sunbathing on the rooftop deck, while for others it meant reading in the shade, and for all of us it meant enjoying our lovely, refreshing pool.
Our private pool with stone waterfall

Since the description of the house included the indoor/outdoor sound system with iPod hook-up, The Newlyweds brought their iPod and we enjoyed hours and hours of terrific music this day and other days of the vacation.
Lounging by the pool
On Mon or Tues night while sitting out on the patio at night we saw an unknown animal scamper across the patio.  This wasn't entirely surprising since our house was built into the side of a mountain surrounded by jungle.  But on Wed we figured out what that unknown animal was:  an iguana.  Most of the time he hung out at the edge of the roof, underneath a clay tile.  Other times we saw him sunning himself on top of the clay tiles.  I named him Gary the Iguana.
Gary's tail hanging off the roof
Gary sliding back underneath the clay tile
It was a wonderfully relaxing day of sun, shade, music, conversation, reading, napping, guacamole, Sole beer, sightings of Gary the Iguana, watching beautiful birds, and enjoying the break from our regular routines.

We decided to head into PV for dinner and wound up at Fajita Republic.  As usual, we ate outside on the patio so we could enjoy the breezes, sights, and sounds of downtown.  For some reason I could not remember the correct name of this restaurant to save my life.  I kept calling it Fajita Revolution or Fajita Nation - I don't know why.  The food was great and we had a great time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vacation redux - part 3

On Tues after a leisurely morning of coffee and bakery items on the patio, we decided it was going to be our beach day.

On our trips to and from PV we had all noticed this lovely beach area that never had many people at it.  There was plenty of parking and the beach was deep with white sand - much prettier than most of the US beaches we'd been to.  The contour of the coastline there was such that this area of beach was like a cove.  It just looked perfect to us.

So we packed up our Mexican sarapes/blankets and a cooler of soda and beer and headed to the beach.  It was divine!  We laid in the sun for 20 minutes on each side, then headed into the water.  It was cool enough to be refreshing but not cold.  The water was clear and a pretty blue shade.  While we were there a few others came to enjoy the beach too, but then left after less than an hour.  It seemed they had just stopped on their way somewhere.

When we felt we'd had enough of the sun we packed up our camp and headed toward the house.  But instead of turning to go up the mountain to the house, we decided to drive further south to see what we would see.  There were miles of beautiful coastline, lots of tropical vegetation and palm trees, and then we saw a sign for a restaurant called Le Kliff.  Perhaps that might make a nice spot to have lunch, we agreed.  So we kept driving until we reached Le Kliff.

From the parking lot it appeared to be a single-level building that resembled a ranch-style house, but as we walked to the entrance we found it was very, very different.  Le Kliff is open air restaurant (there is a roof but no walls) built out and down the face of a cliff that juts out into the water.  There were at least 4 or 5 different levels, all with tables set with white fabric napkins, silverwear, and clear water glasses.  It was by far the fanciest restaurant we went to the entire week, and we just happened to be wearing bathing suits and t-shirts.

Since it was about 3pm (neither lunch time nor dinner time) there were few patrons in the restaurant so we were escorted to a table at the very front, overlooking the sea.
Cocktails and appetizers at Le Kliff

There were breezes there we had not felt on the beach.  I just could not get over how beautiful it was!

We ordered margaritas and several appetizer platters to share and thoroughly enjoyed our lucky discovery. When we finished our waiter brought out a heavy guest book and a pen so we could write our names, from where we were visiting, and a comment about experience at Le Kliff.  Before leaving we walked along the little trails that had been carved into the side of the cliff that took you down to the water.  It was spectacular!

After returning to the house, putting away the groceries, and reading/relaxing on the patio we decided we would drive into PV for dinner.  One of the Newlyweds saw a recommendation on TripAdvisor for Barcelona Tapas so we decided to go there.  On the way into PV we stopped for a sunset photo-op.
Me & Spouse in front of Los Arcos (The Arches)

1st off, the drive there was crazy.  The entire city of Puerto Vallarta has cobblestone streets which are bumpy as hell, but to top it off we were trying to find this restaurant and kept going up and down these REALLY steep streets, seemingly in a circle at 1 point.  I mean, the grades of some of the streets were so steep that you couldn't see the road ahead of you.  Once we finally arrived, we walked up 3 flights of stairs to eat on the rooftop which offered fabulous views of Puerto Vallarta.  We ordered several tapas that everyone liked the sound of and shared it all between the 4 of us.  It was really good and we had a fun dining experience there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vacation redux - part 2

We all slept in the next morning, and finally ended up on the patio near the pool around 10:30am.  We decided we would drive into PV, have lunch, do a little 'exploring' and get a better sense of the area, and then stop at a grocery store for coffee, breakfast food, and snacks for the week.

After driving around a bit we parked about a block from the Malecon, the boardwalk along the beach, with the water on one side and stores and restaurants on the other side.  Our 1st mission was to find sunscreen.  Since we only brought carry-on luggage we could not bring any liquid more than 2 oz.  We strolled along the Malecon, tried on sunglasses, bought sunscreen, exchanged some US $$ for Mexican pesos, and marveled at the gorgeous warm and sunny weather.  (It had snowed the day we left.)  Then I met Gerry.

As we passed by a shop a young man said "Hello, how are you?" in Spanish, to which I replied "Fine, thank you" also in Spanish.  Then he asked me my name in Spanish and I replied.  I had just exhausted my repetoire of Spanish phrases, so he gave me a quick lesson, saying things 1st in English and then in Spanish for me to repeat.  His name was Geraldo but he said "everyone calls me Gerry".  He asked me how many were traveling with me and where we were staying, then offered to tell me all the good places to go for gay entertainment during our visit.  I thanked him for the offer and caught back up Spouse and the Newlyweds.

Since we weren't sure where it was, we got a cab to drive us to Blue Chairs, the gay beach resort.  We asked for a table for 4 on the covered patio so we could watch the bikini-clad boys while we ate our lunch.  We walked through town a little and once back at the car we headed north to the grocery store called Sorianna that had been recommended to us.  It was interesting to note how some things were way less expensive than in the US, while other things were more expensive.  We bought a whole pineapple for $1.00 US, while regular apples were nearly $4.00 US per pound.  

It was late afternoon so we headed back to the house with our groceries and went for a swim in the pool.  When talking about dinner 1 of the Newlyweds saw a review on TripAdvisor for a restaurant in the town of Mismaloya.  We didn't realize there WAS a town, we just thought it was an area.  Since we'd been in PV all day we decided not to drive back in for dinner but to try the place nearby called Tony's Hideaway.  

The directions were comical.  "Look for the sign for the zoo and take that road but bear to the right at the split."  "When you see the tequila factory, turn left and head up the hill, then turn right.  Tony's is ahead on the right but there's no sign."  Amazingly we found it and were escorted to the dining area on the rooftop just as the sun was setting.  After ordering margaritas and pina coladas and enjoying a guacamole and chips appetizer, the kind waiter asked if we were ready to see the menu.  We said yes so he returned with a large round platter with a lobster, shrimp, fish filet, chicken breast, and 2 kabobs.  That was the menu!!  He explained the options for preparation and we ordered.
The view from Tony's Hideaway in Mismaloya
Me & Spouse at Tony's Hideaway

The Newlyweds at Tony's Hideaway

The food was absolutely delicious and we all enjoyed the entire experience very much.  Then our waiter brought us 'flaming coffee', compliments of the house.  It was a wonderful mixture of liqueurs in small glasses that were rimmed with brandy and set on fire.  Oh my god was that delicious!!!  I could have drank a gallon of that stuff.
Flaming coffee

Monday, February 25, 2013

Vacation redux - part 1

To say 'we had a wonderful time' would be an understatement.  We truly had a fantastic trip!!!

Our 1st flight was from Philadelphia to Phoenix where we had a layover of nearly 2 hours.  This was great because it gave us enough time to eat lunch.  We sat down in this BBQ joint Spouse agreed to watch the bags while I went to the bathroom.  When I returned he told me he'd ordered our drinks.  Then I watched the bags while he went to the bathroom.  

The waiter who brought our drinks was slender and obviously gay.  I don't mean that in a negative way; I'm just saying his lisp had a lisp.  After setting the sodas on the table he asked me "Do you want me to give you a few minutes so you two can canoodle over the menu?"

Yes, he said "canoodle".

Without sounding tickled I told him we'd already looked at the menu and I was ready to order for both of us.

"Thuper!" was his response as he pulled out his pen and pad and wrote it down.  Then he sashayed off and a few seconds later Spouse came back.

"I just ordered from the gayest man in all of Arizona, I'm sure" I told him with a chuckle, and then I told him about using the word "canoodle".  He was a great waiter and was very nice and pleasant.

Several hours later we arrived at the airport in Puerto Vallarta (PV) and made our way to the car rental area where we met up with our dear friends The Newlyweds who'd arrived from Portland just a few minutes ahead of us.  We tossed our gear into the trunk of the Nissan Tiida (identical looking to the Versa but with no airbags or center rear tail light) and headed toward downtown.

We opted not to stay in a hotel or condo in downtown PV.  Our internet research indicated that our $$ would go further staying outside of town and since we had a car that would not be an issue.  We also heard that it can be quite noisy at night in PV and we wanted the option for peace and quiet at night.  So we selected a mountainside villa with more bedrooms and bathrooms than we needed, a full kitchen so we could have breakfast and snacks at home, and our very own private pool.  The villa was in Mismaloya, about 15 minutes south of PV.

Following our directions we turned off the main road at the base of the mountain and then began driving up the VERY steep mountain streets until we found the villa.  One of its owners, Angela, and her friend were there to greet us.  Angela gave us a full tour of the home, showed us where to find everything from matches to beach blankets to the password for the wifi.  Then she and her friend pulled out a bowl of homemade guacamole with chips, a quesadilla, a garden salad with homemade dressing, and fried bananas with caramel drizzle.  We were each handed a cold Corona and welcomed to our vacation!

The home was perfect.  Terra cotta tile floors, Mexican painted tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms, a brick rotunda over the living room, private balconies off each bedroom, gorgeous views of the water, and the peaceful sounds of the jungle.  The home was literally surrounded by lush trees and vegetation and was completely private.  Our intent was to drive back into PV for dinner but instead we just ate the wonderful 'snack' Angela had prepared and sat outside on the huge terrace until well after dark.  It was wonderful to relax in such beauty with our dear friends.
The view from our patio/pool area

Our pool, outdoor dining table, outdoor bar/outdoor kitchen

The brick rotunda ceiling in the living room

Friday, February 15, 2013


Today was my last full day at work.  Tomorrow I'm just working a few hours, then coming home to pack before leaving for vacation.  Sat evening after dinner we're driving to Philadelphia and staying in a hotel very near the airport so we'll be there Sun morning for our flight to Puerto Vallarta!

Our good friends The Newlyweds are meeting us in Puerto Vallarta and we are sharing a lovely mountainside home overlooking the bay, with our own pool and luxurious accommodations.  This should be a nice, relaxing trip as opposed to a busy sightseeing trip.  I'm sure we'll do some sightseeing, but the point of this trip is to relax and have a great time.

While I'm gone I've scheduled daily posts, so you don't forget about me.  Since I don't have a bunch of pre-written topics on hand, I'll be posting a "Man of the day" for each day of next week.  

Hopefully this will keep you all occupied while I'm lying on the beach or by the pool in the sun and 84 degree weather.  Don't hate!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day

Today is Valentines Day, the day dedicated to lovers.

Apparently lots of single people dread Valentines Day because it is a reminder that they are NOT in a relationship.  But I'm hearing/reading more and more about married/partnered/coupled people who also boycott Valentines Day.  Some say its just an excuse for retailers to sell lots of cards, candy, flowers, and stuffed teddy bears.  Others say they don't need a "day" to be reminded to say 'I love you' and be sweet to their loved ones.

Well I say "Get over it, you Scrooges!"

What is so wrong with having 1 day out of the year when you're expected to be romantic and sweet and give your loved one gifts?  Maybe you're romantic and sweet everyday - that's great - then you should be an expert on Valentines Day.  Buy your sweetheart a mushy card and stop being ridiculous already!

I just don't understand why people somehow feel they are being 'taken advantage of' by retailers on Valentines Day.  If money is the real concern, you can always get a card, small box of candy, and a helium balloon at the Dollar Store for $1 a piece!  You don't have to order flowers from an expensive florist.  Lots of grocery stores have floral departments that offer affordable cut flowers.

So to all those reluctant lovers out there I say "just do it"!!

This year I did not send flowers from a florist to Spouse's office as I usually do.  I learned a few days ago that he would be out of his office most the day.  I learned this when I tried to plan to meet him for lunch today, my regular day off.  But as it turned out, Spouse finished his special work activity early and called me at 12:15 to see if I still wanted to meet for lunch.  So we had a lovely little Valentines Day lunch together.  

When Spouse got home from work he was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of purple, pink, burgundy, red, and white blossoms I'd picked out at the floral department at the grocery store, a cute card in a red envelope, and a heart-shaped box of Lindt truffles.  My Spouse is definitely NOT one to turn his nose up at 'silly' Valentines Day spoiling.  I think he looks forward to it.

We decided not to go out to dinner tonight, since we had our Valentines Day lunch.  We'll eat dinner at home and relax while watching TV, a quiet night together, with Marvin.

Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stoopid lyrics

Here is another installment of my blog feature "Stoopid lyrics" where I share with you a well-known song with lyrics that don't make sense.

Keep in mind this doesn't mean the song is stoopid or that I don't like the song. In fact, most of the time I like the songs and only discover they contain stoopid lyrics when I try to sing along.  But in all cases, the lyrics make absolutely no sense. 

Thanks to Sean at Just A Jeep Guy for this one.

Catch My Breath
performed by Kelly Clarkson
I don't wanna be left behind
Distance was a friend of mine
Catching breath in a web of lies
I've spent most of my life
Riding waves, playing acrobat
Shadowboxing the other half
Learning how to react
I've spent most of my time

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told it's supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain't got time for that
Catch my breath, won't let them get me down, it's all so simple now

Addicted to the love I found
Heavy heart, now a weightless cloud
Making time for the ones that count
I'll spend the rest of my time
Laughing hard with the windows down
Leaving footprints all over town
Keeping faith kinda comes around
I'll spent the rest of my life

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told it's supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain't got time for that
Catch my breath, won't let them get me down, it's all so simple now

You helped me see
The beauty in everything

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told it's supposed to be right

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of this show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told what's supposed to be right

Catch my breath!

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain't got time for that
Catch my breath, won't let them get me down, it's all so simple now (it's all so simple now!)

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told it's supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain't got time for that
Catch my breath, won't let them get me down, it's all so simple now

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fantastic dream

Last night I had a fantastic dream!
I was walking down the sidewalk on the street where I grew up.  Suddenly I became aware of a scary presence and a feeling of dread.  To try to get away from it I began walking faster and faster until I was running.  The sky became dark and I was running as fast as I could.  I was running so fast that my face down and I could only see directly in front of where I was running.  Just in front of me was a black flowing fabric, like a cape.  It kept the same pace so that it was always just a few inches in front of me.  I was really scared! Suddenly the thought occurred to me to grab hold of the flowing cape, have faith, and stop running.  So I did.

Immediately the cape lifted me up into the sky.  The longer I held on the faster my ascent upward.  I was ascending at such a fast rate that the wind peeled my clothes off.  I felt like I was being carried into outer space, only it wasn't dark.  There was brightness all around me and I wasn't scared at all, despite being lifted far up into the sky.  Then the thought entered my mind to let go of the cape-like fabric, so I did.  I immediately stopped ascending.  I heard a whistle sound followed by a pop, just like the fireworks you hear on the 4th of July.  

Just after the whistle and pop I looked out into the sky and saw a series of images that resonated with me deeply.  It was if I were looking at a slide show projected on an enormous drive-in movie screen in the sky.  The first image was Bill Murray when he was a cast member of the TV show 'Saturday Night Live'.  A few seconds later I saw Gilda Ratner, also from 'Saturday Night Live'.  Then I saw my school picture from 11th grade, circa 1980, wearing a brown print button-up shirt and aviator glasses.  I looked at my arm and saw that I was now wearing the shirt in my school picture.  Then I saw my first car, a pale green Chevrolet Chevette.  These images from my life brought me great joy and happiness!  I used to love watching 'Saturday Night Live' back in 1980 when that school picture was taken and I learned to drive in that Chevette.  I felt very much at peace and not at all concerned about my rapid ascent into the sky.  Am I in heaven?  There was an all-encompassing feeling of joy.

When the giant slide show ended I looked down and realized that I was standing in the isle of a huge outdoor stadium.  As far as my eyes could see there were stadium seats full of people looking up at the sky where the slide show had just finished.  Then coming down the isle to greet me were my father, mother, and my aunt Mary as they looked in 1980.  At this point I realize that I am my current age (49) but they look just like they did in 1980.  We embraced and said hello, although I don't remember any other conversation between us.  Then the 4 of us sat down together in the stadium to watch the next slide show.  The feelings of love and joy continued.

Again I heard the whistle sound followed by the pop like a firework and the next slide show began.  First a grainy, vintage picture of horses in a meadow.  Then 2 dogs playing together in someone's front yard.  Next a vintage red metal tricycle, and then a 1965 Chrysler convertible.  All the images seemed to be from the mid 1960s.  I didn't recognize the images but I felt a deep sense of happiness and joy.  Since the first firecracker sound seemed to announce my arrival and was followed by happy scenes from my life, I assumed that these 1960s images were happy scenes from someone else's life who had just arrived.  But arrived where?

Maybe I was in heaven.  This thought did not make me either happy or sad, although if it were true then I must have died.  Then I silently asked myself if this was heaven, why were my parents and aunt Mary here with me and not with my siblings or with their siblings?

Once again I heard the whistle sound followed by the pop of the firecracker.  I looked back up at the slide show in the sky and saw images I recognized.  They were scenes of happiness for my friend Billy.  I saw his cat Fluffy, then he and I in our matching wool trench coats, Billy making a crazy face, and Billy with his sister.  All of these images seemed to be from 1992.  As if an answer to my silent question, I realized that I was present in the slide show of my happiness in 1980, but I also existed in the slide show of Billy's happiness in 1992.  So this must mean that although my parents existed (sitting next to me) in this stadium, they potentially existed in the happiness and decade of several other people too.  For some reason this was a real comfort to me.  If I were in heaven, then heaven must not be just one thing.  Instead, each person's experience is unique and full of specific joy and happiness for them, while they also exist in the heaven of others.

Yes, I thought to myself, I must be in heaven.  Yet I had no recollection of dying nor any feeling of missing loved ones.  I only felt complete joy and happiness; the opposite of anxiety and worry.

And then I woke up.

The dream was so fantastic I quickly replayed it in my head so I wouldn't forget the details by morning.  Once secure that I had it, I began to wonder why I'd had this dream.  Most scientists say dreams are synaptic firings in the brain that often mesh real life details with unrelated people and places, and that dreams hold no real meaning.  But was there something I could learn from this detail-rich dream?

My first thought was that perhaps the dream was God's/The Universe's way of getting this agnostic skeptic to reconsider a possible belief in heaven.  Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness I was taught that heaven was a place where angels flew around in white robes playing harps.  Yet the heaven I experienced in my dream was nothing like that, and was far more interesting.  The peace and joy were indescribable.

Next I wondered if the dream was really a metaphor for the dramatic life change I chose.  Maybe the running and being afraid in the dream was the way I ran around constantly busying myself in the JW faith so I wouldn't think about being gay, and the fear that someone would find out.  Maybe grabbing onto the cape, having faith, stopping running, and being lifted up from the darkness and fear into the light and joy symbolized my decision to leave the oppressive religion and choose a life of authenticity for myself.  Maybe the slide show of happy excerpts of my life was a reminder that although I went through a difficult journey, there were still happy times back then that I can reflect upon.  And maybe my existence in my friend Billy's heaven was a confirmation that I had been a good friend to him, and that being good really matters.

Or maybe it was the sinus medicine I took just before I went to bed.  

I'm not sure, but it was a fantastic dream!  And whether or not the dream was a lesson from the Universe or a metaphor of my life choices, I decided it didn't really matter.  I'd never really know for sure one way or the other.  

But isn't that the way it is with so many challenges in life?  We can take them as lessons, metaphors, or simply as entertainment.  

As long as we hear them.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Polar Bear Plunge

Yesterday was the 22nd annual Polar Bear Plunge, and for the 9th year in a row our friends Kerry & Hugh came with several of our friends to participate.

Along with Kerry & Hugh were George, Javier, Ana, Allison, Gabe, and Antonio.  They arrived shortly before I can home from work at 5pm and we visited until about 6:30 before heading out to dinner.  While at dinner it started snowing - just what folks preparing for a plunge into the ocean wanted to see!

After dinner we came home and watched an old made-for-TV movie called "Bad Ronald" for which Kerry has held a fascination for years.  It was kind of silly but we had fun anyway.  Afterward we just sat around and talked and laughed until it was time for bed.

Sun morning we had bagels and coffee and talked and laughed until it was time for the plunge.  Kerry, Hugh, Javier, Gabe, and Antonio bravely ran into the 33 degree ocean (the air temperature was 36 degrees) while the rest of us watched, took photos, and filmed it with Kerry's mini-cam.  The water was so cold that Hugh said it felt as if they were walking on broken glass and nails.  Fortunately we brought thermoses of hot water to pour over their frozen feet.

After returning to the house, the Plungers showered and we all went for a late lunch.  Interesting sidenote: the restaurant was almost full of Ravens fans dressed in purple jerseys but it wasn't very noisy.  Then I realized why.  The purple clad football fans were deaf.  

All too quickly it was time for our friends to pack up and head back to VA.  It was a fun weekend spent with our dear friends.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Baby its cold outside

With the recent snow and cold weather we've had recently, I thought you readers might appreciate something to make you feel warm inside.

Have a great weekend!