David R. Miller

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David R. Miller




North America » United States » California » San Diego March 10th 2015

The plan for today, our last day in San Diego, is to see as much as possible of Balboa Park. Originally known simply as City Park in the 19th century, it was selected as the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and renamed in honour of the Spanish explorer. Over the years, other exhibitions were held there and other buildings built. Many were turned into museums and gradually the park became the city's museum centre. We take a taxi from the hotel to the park. We buy a package that allows us to enter up to five different museums during the day. First pick is the Air and Space Museum. It's similar to other museums of its type, with a variety of aircraft on the floor and suspended ... read more
Apollo 9 Command Module, Air and Space Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Billy Bishop's medals, Air and Space Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Entrance to Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

North America » United States » California » San Diego March 8th 2015

Blissful sleep-in morning. Today the plan is to hook up with Vi's cousin Mike, who lives in San Diego. Mike and his wife (whom we have never met before) pick us up around 11 and whisk us to brunch at a really interesting restaurant called the 94th Aero Squadron. The restaurant sits alongside an old airfield that is still used by smaller single-engine planes and vintage aircraft. The restaurant picks up this theme and features decor and memorabilia from the air forces of the first and second world war. The spread is fantastic, especially the seafood, which includes about three different types of salmon, numerous shellfish, Alaska king crab and much more. Bottomless champagne flutes ensure that everyone is happy. We eat outside on a patio, where we have front-row seats to planes and helicopters landing ... read more
View of San Diego and ocean from Mt. Soledad, San Diego, CA
La Jolla Beach, San Diego CA
Pelicans at La Jolla Beach, San Diego CA

North America » United States » California » San Diego March 7th 2015

Up early to submit to U.S. customs on board, mandatory for all non-U.S. citizens. Long wait. Our guy has trouble finding our entry stamp in our passports, which I guess is more important than I thought. But, of course, it is there. Relatively efficient disembarkation. Outside the weather is beautiful; warm but not humid, not a single cloud in the sky. I call our hotel, which sends over a van to pick us up. The hotel is not too far away from the cruise port, located on the outskirts of San Diego Old Town. After checking in at the hotel, we spend the day exploring Old Town. This is a reconstruction of the original San Diego town on the original site, the first permanent European mission on the Pacific Coast in 1769 and the first official ... read more
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Oceans and Seas » Pacific March 6th 2015

The ship seems to be getting smaller. Did not expect to spend 10 of the 14 days of this cruise stuck on this boat. A gilded cage is still a cage. But this is our last full day on board. We pack, review our bill, and do little else. Another beautiful day on the ocean, although quite a bit cooler (~20°C). The ship is following the coast of the Baja Peninsula and we are often in sight of land. We attend a presentation in the afternoon on the attractions of San Diego. We did not realize the city offers so much, and we are pleased that we elected to spend a few extra days there. Entertainment tonight is a "Dance with the Stars" take-off. A number of passengers have been practising dance routines with the ship's ... read more

Oceans and Seas » Pacific March 5th 2015

Another full day at sea in our velvet prison. We watch the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where Cabo San Lucas is located, pass by in the distance as we continue north. It's not nice to tease us like that. A beautiful day again. The sea is fairly calm, although there is a stiff breeze. During breakfast, we see diminutive flying fish just above the surface of the water, probably spooked by the ship's passage. It's amazing how far they travel in the air. The birds following our ship avail themselves of the opportunity to swoop down and pick them off. I spend most of the day reading and relaxing while Violet slowly roasts herself on the poop deck. We attend a presentation on the life and voyages of Captain Cook. Some bad news from home ... read more

Oceans and Seas » Pacific March 4th 2015

Really bad news this morning. The captain announces that there is a mechanical problem with one of the ship's generators that prevents us from traveling fast enough to make Cabo San Lucas and arrive in San Diego on time. So Cabo is being dropped. That's the second port of call to be dropped from this cruise. There'll be some kind of compensation, of course, but it's extremely disappointing. Many passengers are angry. So now we're stuck on board until San Diego. But it's a beautiful prison. I've given up trying to post my blog. It's simply an exercise in frustration because the connection is so bad. I'll catch up once we reach San Diego. Entertainment tonight is a rehash of guitarist Fabio and comedian Kevin. My previous comments apply to both. After the show, we head ... read more

Oceans and Seas » Pacific March 3rd 2015

A lazy day at sea, sailing towards Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We sleep in and basically veg most of the day. The weather continues to be beautiful. The Ottawa Senators have been on a winning streak with young Andrew Hammond in goal. Not sure yet whether I should get excited. I spot a TV that is actually showing hockey highlights. Darn, the Sens lost to Columbus in a shoot-out tonight. That leaves them still 5 or 6 points out of the last playoff spot. But if they win all their games, and Boston loses all theirs... The show tonight features a comedian named Kevin Jordan. He's good, but I find his comedy very "American," in that it focuses on differences between people: white vs. black, rich vs. poor, old vs. young, etc. After the show, it's ... read more


Our third port of call in as many days finds us in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Most of the organized tours involve a visit to Antigua, another well preserved Spanish colonial town that I am sure is beautiful. But we have selected a tour called Mayan Cosmology and Ancient Ruins, which will take us to the ancient Mayan site of Iximche. For this, we have to get up at 5 am! It's another perfect day, weather wise. Only wisps of clouds in a brilliant blue sky. It's already quite warm when we board the bus at 7 am. Our guide is Alfredo, a personable young man with an engaging trick to keep our interest. He poses questions, lets us think about them for a while, then later gives us the answer. Example: The ancient Mayans practised simple ... read more
Mayan temple, Iximche, Guatemala
Sacrificial stone, Iximche, Guatemala
Ball court, Iximche, Guatemala


If it's Sunday, it must be Nicaragua. We have arrived at Corinto, Nicaragua's commercial port on the Pacific. The closest city of interest is Leon, and that is our destination today on our bus tour. Our guide Jorge is a fount of information about his country Nicaragua, "the land of lakes and volcanoes." He spins through the history of the Spanish conquest, the era of pirates and privateers, and the long decades of the Somosa dictatorship. The revolution against Somosa by the group that came to known as the Sandinistas started in fact in the University of Léon, our destination. The constant backdrop to our journey is a series of tall volcanos in the distance. Nicaragua has 19 volcanoes, and three are still active. It's an almost forgotten fact that Nicaragua was under serious consideration for ... read more
La Asunción Cathedral, Léon, Nicaragua
Roof of La Asunción Cathedral, Léon, Nicaragua
View from La Asunción Cathedral, Léon, Nicaragua

Central America Caribbean » Costa Rica February 28th 2015

This morning we arrive in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. We have opted for a "Discover Costa Rica" bus tour, which quickly leaves Puerto Caldera behind and starts climbing. Costa Rico was reputedly named "Rich Coast" by Señor Columbus himself after the rich flora and fauna and after the hoped-for mineral riches. The natural beauty of this country is astonishing. The Pacific side, where we have landed, is extremely mountainous, with broad valleys cut by rivers where towns and cities are nestled. It is manifestly dry, though very hot, and many of the trees and plants we see are clearly waiting for the advent of rain, which will start in May. The flowers are fantastic: a hundred different shades wherever you look. Many of the most beautiful flowers are actually on trees, including magnolias and many others ... read more
Cathedral in Palmares, Costa Rica
Central park in Palmares, Costa Rica
Coffee growing, Doka Estates, Costa Rica




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