Wow, I cannot believe we're already halfway done with our Legacy Genealogy Cruise and this is the first time I've posted here. Two explanations - we're having too much fun and the Internet speed on a cruise ship doesn't really exist. Below is a compilation of my journal entries for the first week or so. Wish you were all with us, but we're having the time of our lives.
September 25, 2013 Back home, by 9:15am each morning I have showered, finished breakfast, checked the headlines and a few emails, helped get the kids ready for school, taken them to school, studied, and have planned my work day. At 9:15am today, as I lie in my bed on the Celebrity Millennium on day 3 of our cruise, I started to feel guilty for sleeping in so long. That guilt did not last long as I remembered my cruise slogan, “because I can.”
We have had a terrific start to our 10th annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise. I fear to check the scales as I’ve already eaten enough for the entire week. Along with nearly 300 other friends and genealogists in our group, we’ve enjoyed getting to know each other and learning from our speakers. Megan Smolenyak, Karen Clifford, Barbara Renick, Dave Berdan, and myself taught day one’s classes. To accommodate our large group, the ship moved our classes to the lounge in the front of the ship, which had a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and a large skylight – a beautiful location for nearly any event. The skylight’s sunshine proved too much, however, for the projector during my 11am class, “What’s New in Legacy 8” so I cancelled it and we moved everyone into the conference rooms downstairs. After lunch we resumed and I got to show off the new features in Legacy that we’ve worked on for so long. Lots of “ooos” “aahhhs” and “applause”! You will all get to see it in action before too long.
Yesterday we enjoyed the day in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My wife and I boarded a catamaran and toured the beautiful ocean rocks, watched the sea life, and sipped cold pineapple juice. Rough life, eh? We then toured the peninsula and took lots of pictures. On the way back I realized I left my cash and credit cards on the ship, which was probably a good thing, but I really wanted to try some authentic Mexican tacos. I hope to get my chance today in Puerto Vallarta, where we will arrive in a couple of hours.
September 26, 2013 We’re getting to that part of the cruise where it is difficult to identify the correct day of the week. Alas, it is Thursday at 8:55am, and as I type this, I am sitting in my room’s balcony watching the waves of the Pacific rush past me – in the middle of a torrential downpour. A bright flash of lightening just struck, the loud thunder followed about seven seconds later. And it is beautiful. I’ve had quiet time this morning to ponder about the state of the world’s genealogy, and about what I could do to help it progress. I look forward to the future!
Yesterday’s trip to Puerta Vallarta will be difficult to top. Shortly after our arrival we boarded a boat and crossed the bay for a visit to a private beach getaway. Waterfalls, angelfish, and a delicious buffet welcomed our arrival. I had been hoping for an authentic Mexican food experience and I got it, topped off with a glass of my now-favorite pineapple juice. We were then taken on a guided snorkeling tour. I enjoy exploring the water underworld although this morning I wish I would have remembered sunscreen for my back. We also toured the sub-tropical rain forest, learning about the vegetation and shaking fingers with the monkeys. We also spent time in the hammocks, listening to soft music and enjoying the sounds of the waves. Paradise – yes! Could I spend my life there? Probably. I’d have to check into Internet speeds first.
September 29, 2013 I’ve had too much fun these past couple of days to write until now. Thursday was a sea day which meant genealogy classes! I had the pleasure of speaking in the morning, beginning with our small group and 1-on-1 sessions – I had a blast answering Legacy questions, and even found a couple of dangling Legacy 8 bugs while doing so. Dave’s been in his room programming every day, putting on the final touches before our release. After lunch Megan Smolenyak taught her two DNA classes, and we learned about the story behind her Smolenyak2 name and got new ideas on DNA’s role in our genealogy. What a fascinating topic and wonderful speaker!
Yesterday we visited the country of Guatamala – somewhere I never imagined I would visit. We decided to take our own tour instead of booking through the cruise ship’s excursion, and next time we’ll probably stick with the excursion desk. We hoped to see the old Mayan ruins which our tour guide promised. We did see them, but it was at a museum instead of the real thing. Oh well – I did see things in Guatamala City that I’ve never seen before. The mountains and rolling hills were amazing, but the poverty and living conditions were unlike anything I have imagined. The freeways were crowded with so much traffic that street vendors walked between the lanes of cars selling cotton candy, iPhone chargers, and dried bananas. We stopped at a park where I ate an authentic tamale and had some roasted corn. That was fun!
Today I’m looking forward to spending more time with our genealogy group as Karen Clifford, Randy Seaver, Steve Salisbury, and Megan Smolenyak speak to us. I think I might break down today and purchase an hour’s worth of Internet use – I haven’t read or composed even one email for over a week now. It’s kind of refreshing, but I’m also wondering what’s going on back home.
October 1, 2013 Yesterday in Costa Rica now sits at the top of my cruise favorites. Firstly – what a beautiful country! Only the size of Virginia, it is home to 4% of the world’s wildlife. And we saw lots of it, beginning with gigantic crocodiles which we viewed from the safety of our little boat. The river which we navigated was home to 25 crocodiles per mile. Next, my wife and I saddled up and went on a horseback ride through the jungle. Watching the monkeys in the trees was something I won’t forget. Something I hope to forget is that my horse was the slowest, and no matter what I tried, he liked hanging out in the far, far back. I don’t think he understood my English, and I didn’t speak enough Spanish. It was enjoyable nonetheless. After a buffet of authentic Costa Rican food, we went zip-lining through the rain forest. I’ve been nervous about this adventure for months as my fear of heights has not yet been conquered. Oh the compromises we make in a marriage. :) It turned out to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From the tops of the trees (must have been hundreds of feet up) we could see everything – rivers, jungles, the ocean, monkeys, and even their beautiful macaws. The platforms upon which we stood at the tops of the trees was the scariest part. They were narrow and without railings. The only thing keeping me from falling was my safety rope which I hoped was really strong. My legs felt like they had heavy weights attached to them as I tried to gain the confidence to move them one step at a time. Once I had jumped off the edge I truly enjoyed gliding through the tall jungle.
And so this morning, I am happy to be alive and happy to have experienced what I did with my wife and fellow adventurers. Today we are at sea for another full day of genealogy classes. We’ll begin with one-on-one and small group Q/A sessions, but I’m thinking of starting out the session by sharing some new ideas about how Legacy can help solve brick walls. Tomorrow we travel through the Panama Canal.