“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” (Alysha Speer)
What does it feel like to cruise through the Panama Canal and environs beyond as we did on our recent December 2019 cruise? An urban dweller like myself might consider this amazing sea experience extending over eighty kilometers long as a trendy amusement park ride as described in the following exaggerated account.
Imagine the thrill of entering a narrow tunnel threading slowly through dense jungle terrain on both sides. Of course you will have to be patient and wait your turn to experience this amusing carnival ride as hundreds of cargo ships and oil tankers will line up with you to take their turn at designated crossing times during the day. Your anticipation will build then as you cross under an enormous arch created by the “Bridge of the Americas” overpass marking the beginning of this Panama Canal adventure. Soon you will become mesmerized by the sight of awaiting giant locomotive monsters who will slowly drag your cruise ship in mule like fashion through the tight waterway squeeze ahead. As your ship edges ahead, feel the side walls closing in beside you as you enter the rolling gates leading to each lock ahead. How “cool” it seems then that your massive boat can defy the forces of gravity as you experience the mechanically driven rise and fall of elevation inside these narrow sided tubes.
There are other ways that Panama Canal World can amuse your tourist mind. As you exit the Panama Canal, an exciting jungle tour awaits you as you enter the vast expanses of nearby Gatun Lake. It will probably be raining in this tropical wonderland, but getting lost in the mud on this unforgettable nature walk from a remote shoreline location there will provide endless fun. You might even spot exotic wild animals such as wild sloths, colorful toucans, and howling monkeys hiding amidst extraordinary tropical plant life everywhere. At the Santa Clara Visitor Center, don’t forget to buy a ticket for the film. Feel your emotions rise as you watch how this historical canal was miraculously built amidst tropical disease, financial hardships, and political unrest. So let’s keep the camera fun going as I reveal some heart-searching photographic moments. from our latest Panama Canal adventure.
I thought I got rid of the traffic gridlock in Fort Lauderdale!
Why do I have to get up so early to see the Panama Canal?
Move over cargo ship. My boat is bigger than yours.
Hey tugboat, I’m lost in the jungle. Can you help me find my way?
I love to build things. What can I make with these objects?
Oh no! I think it’s going to rain again.
Crocodile on the bank! No wait it’s only a log.
What happens if we get stuck in the lock?
What are you looking at? I’m over here.
Am I seeing double? Why are there two Panama Canals?
Maybe I’ll see a dinosaur somewhere in this scary jungle.
I’m lost. Where did the walking path go?
Oh there it is!
I wonder if you can smoke any of this?
Oh my God. I lost my tour bus!
Quebec City is the most European of any city in North America, they speak French all the time. There is a part of town called Old Quebec which is really like being in France. The architecture is just gorgeous, food, shopping. I’d say Quebec city is the most beautiful city in North America I’ve seen.” (Sebastian Bach”)
We’d reached the end of our sixteen day cruise in late summer and eagerly awaited a relaxing, four day conclusion to our latest vacation in historic Quebec City. Seeing again the majestic towers of the Chateau Frontenac Hotel, as we sailed in along the St. Lawrence Seaway, I quickly re-imagined our youthful frolicking in a winter holiday wonderland during our first trip to Quebec City in the late 1970s. Vivid memories of those exhilarating moments for us remain. In walled section of medieval Vieux-Québec, I recall wandering aimlessly with playful naïveté at the time as we felt true romance in sharing a dripping cheese fondue over a warm fireplace then. I also flashback to admiring images of stately carriages hauled by horse and buggy in bitter cold air. Strong memories also survive of us getting lost in the narrow cobblestone streets with limited direction/distance tools to follow as steep hills provided little challenge to our youthful vigor.
Being now seasoned travelers in our early retirement years, we realized with optimism that our enduring resolve to settle into the present moment of travel would provide a similarly satisfying visit to Quebec City in late summer 2019. In particular, I would thus feel free to set out on my own to seriously photograph historic landmarks around Quebec while my wife could embrace the social company of her Canadian friends. You might then say that our 2019 Quebec visit provided a successful test of the enduring strength of our 40+ years marriage as we mutually respected each others differing sightseeing interests in a non- possessive way Enjoy the uplifting spirit of Quebec City “now” in the following photographs.
On this cruise visit to Quebec City, we cut short our first city walk on a cold and drizzly summer morning.
Yet in spite of such foul weather, spectacular artistry designs captured my photographic attention there.
Facing a steep climb in North America’s oldest walled city, I gazed with wonder at the unfolding panorama of Vieux-Québec.
Booking a four night stay just outside the old city walls at the Hilton Quebec, our 12th floor suite offered gorgeous views of the Quebec City regional skyline.
Taking strenuous walks from the Hilton to and from the old city each day offered us plenty of cardio activity.
Our Canadian friends, Fabienne and Claire accompanied us on a long walking tour along the St. Lawrence River via the historic heights of the Plains Of Abraham.
Descending by steep steps to a shaded board walk below the Hotel Chateau Frontenac came impressively into view.
I’m not known for window shopping in our city travels, but this display caught my interest for sure.
So did the colorful sidewalk displays of late summer flowers.
Admiring the impressive medieval facade of the Chateau Frontenac, we took a curious peak at its lavish interior.
Reentering Old Quebec, we passed through the old city wall. A sentimental saunter amidst the lively cobblestone streets of Vieux Quebec then provided a romantic twist to our latest visit.
At the Plains Of Abraham Museum, l experienced the sounds/sights of colonial era warfare associated with the British invasion of Quebec City during the French and Indian War.
Outside the museum, a short path led to the restored ramparts of “ The Citadel”, marking a key site for French defense of the city from British control in 1759.
I noticed how an imaginative redesign of a historic church could now function as a modern library.
As an esteemed center of wellness provision in Quebec City, Le Monastery des Augustines provided a celebratory setting of healthy food options for our last meal in Quebec City.
“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas, and goals.(Skip Prichard)
It’s cruising vacation time for us again as we embark this weekend on a thirteen day sea adventure north along the Atlantic Eastern seaboard. How exciting it will be to enjoy the welcoming spirit of nine, day trip stopovers from Fort Lauderdale to Quebec City along the way. Hoping to sustain interest with an organized group at times, three relatively inexpensive, tour excursions bookings for the U.S. portion of this journey seem immediately essential. (1) In New York City, a “hop-on, hop off” bus option should provide maximum freedom of choice to cover main Manhattan sights for our full day ashore there. (2) While docked in Boston, a half day excursion to nearby John F.Kennedy / John Adams National Historic sites seem similarly enticing. (3) Exhibiting a taste for seashore seclusion, a morning walking tour of Maine’s Acadia National Park cannot be missed as well.
For our remaining six, shore destinations, we will either simply walk off the boat for a bit of spontaneous sightseeing near downtown or in the case of Quebec City, hook up with our resident Canadian friends there. We thus look forward to a welcoming presence whenever we can in managing our limited free time ashore. Yet I now realize that any expected hospitality in travel contains only half the story. For in fully enjoying these present moments of “hello” travel pleasantries, it seems equally satisfying to openly practice purposeful acts of thankfulness in return. Thus in thinking back to past vacation situations of welcoming potential, the following photographs do inspire me to express thoughts/actions of sincere gratitude.
1. Las Vegas Sign – “The American Dream”
Entering the neon studded strip past this glittering welcoming sign, I suddenly realized that money must be used wisely within restraint according to my budgetary limitations. Thank you.
2. Puget Sound Sign- Wild Nature
The beautiful depiction of Puget Sound in this poster engaged my political interest in preserving the natural beauty of our western U.S. wilderness lands. Thank you.
3. Reggae Beach Bar Billboard – Lifestyle Change
Spotting this sign as I sat lazily on a beach chair in Cozumel, I realized that I could feel free to travel at a much slower pace. Thank you.
4. Dodger Stadium Road Sign – Baseball’s History
As I entered this picturesque hillside venue, this obscure road sign inspired my personal connection to famed legends of L.A. Dodger baseball. Thank you.
5. Route 66 Ad- U.S. Era Flashbacks
Cruising along “Mainstreet USA” in Kingman, Arizona, this sign introduced an authentic, road trip glimpse of small town” America reminiscent of my happy childhood past. Thank you.
6. Kansas City Vegetable Art Piece – Nutrition
Upon entering the front steps of Kansas City’s Nelson – Atkins Museum Of Art, this creative sculpture aroused my interest in following healthy nutritional practices by eating freshly grown vegetables. Thank you.
7. Freddie Mercury Statue – Power Of Music
As I paused to gaze at this amazing Freddie monument during a boardwalk stroll along Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland, I regained a surge of youthful energy in recalling his magnetic rock musical presence as leader of Queen. Thank you.
8. Pensacola Airfield Statue – Companionship
At the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, this statue demonstrated to me that difficult tasks in life can often be accomplished best by embracing teamwork strategies. Thank you.
9. India Cemetery Statue – Inner Spirit
On a guided tour of New Delhi, India, this friendly sculpture design aroused my curiosity to explore “East Asian ” modes of inner spiritual worship. Thank you.
10. Morro Bay Mural – Diversity
During a monthlong stay at this Central California, beach- town hideaway, a colorful wall mural covering up the divisive presence of a surrounding wall reminded me of the critical need today to embrace cultural differences at home and travel. Thank you
11. Curaçao Welcome Sign – Travel Mindset
As we disembarked from our cruise ship for an self guided, walking tour of this Dutch Caribbean island, I recall how the cordial appearance of this welcome sign relaxed my mind from burdensome past/future thoughts at home to thus enjoy the present moments at this destination. Thank you.
12. Golden Gate Statue – Patriotism
At the south entrance to this famed bridge along San Francisco Bay, the heroic sailer depicted in this monument impressed me to honor the great sacrifices that our U.S. military has endured to protect our country. Thank you.