Travel With RJ

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Mp3 players are a great invention! Back in the old days, you would have to have a bulky casette player, and loads of tapes. The came portable CD players that were maybe even bigger than the cassette players. And then stacks of CDs. But with mp3 players, you don’t need to have piles of tapes or cds. And the mp3 players are relatively tiny!
A couple years ago, I bought 250 meg Sandisk mp3 player at Circuit City on Black Friday for $50. It was an afterthought. I had not been shopping for one. But I grew to love it. I could load it up with music, and take it on vacation. It was great to have tons of music while sitting in an airport waiting for an flight. I have also used it while hiking.
But as great as the 250mb mp3 player was, I could still run through all the music between leaving home, and arriving and my destination.
Last year on Black Friday, I found I could buy a 512mb mp3 player for around $50. But I decided it was worth $50 just for double the amount of music I could have. So I passed. I planned to wait till this year’s Black Friday, and look for a deal on a 1gb mp3 player. But with a trip to Gatlinberg, TN planned for next month, I decided to look at some mp3 players. I looked around on eBay, but I didn’t trust what I was seeing. Many of the auctions were from sellers in China. There were many cheap off-brand mp3 players. I decided to look at Circuit City’s website. I found a 1gb mp3 player for $69 (with free shipping). It had decent reviews. I shopped around. I found the same 1gb Sandisk Sansa M240 mp3 player on Amazon for $59 and free shipping. I ordered it. In the pictures it looks like it might be just a slight bit larger than the one I currently have. I hope it isn’t too much larger though. It should be able to hold 4 times more music than my 250mb mp3 player. It will be great to have on my trip next month. The trick part will trying to figure out what music I want to put on it. I could load an audio book on to it. But I probably wouldn’t, as I wouldn’t want to be listening to the audio book over and over. Music, I can listen to many times.

In the last few years, canopy tours have been added to many of the Caribbean cruise ports of call. Canopy tour is another name for zip lining. Basically you hang from a cable and glide from to tree to tree.
I had seen video of another couple doing one, and decided that I wanted to try it myself.
Actually I had made a small zip line in my back yard as a kid. We found some old electrical wire, and strung it between a couple trees. We attached a pulley to the wire, and had a handle attached to the pulley. My friends and I took turns zipping down the line. We had a blast for a couple weeks until the wire broke. It broke on my turn, and I fell about 10 feet straight down on my butt and bruised my tail bone! Ouch! Apparently electrical wire is not made to be a zip line. Live and learn! It had been fun though!
Now about 30 years later, I got the chance to try the real thing in Costa Rica! The professional zip lines are much safer than the home made zip that we had made as kids.
First, we got in line, and had harnesses attached us. The harnesses are the same kind used by rock climbers, and were strapped around our waist, and legs. There were several straps with carabiners attached to them, and also a big pulley. We were also issued helmets and leather gloves.
After we were equiped, we got went to the next station. Here we were given instruction about how to do it. Again, it was about safety. They showed us where to place our hands, and how to brake.
Following the instruction, we were set to go. We walked down a dirt road, and took a little side trail. There was a long line of people waiting to go. We had stopped to take a couple of pictures along the way, so were were in the back of the line. We took some more pics while in line. There were cool into lines of leaf cutter ants on ground carrying chunks of leaves.
After a while we made it to the wooden stairs that led to the first platform. There was a cable leading up the stairs. WE WERE ALWAYS ATTACHED TO A CABLE! We were attached to the cable as we climbed the stairs. At the top of the first set of stairs, they woudl attach another of our straps to another cable on the next set of stairs before disconnecting us from the first cable. After ascending a few flights of stairs, we were at the first platform about 50 feet above the ground. Were then attached to a cable that wrapped around the tree to wait our turn on the zip line cable.
When it was our turn, our pulley was attached to the zip line cable. Also one of our straps was attached to the same cable as a safety back up. And a second strap was attached to a second parallel cable. Only then were were disconnected from the tree.
To zip line across, you simply need to lift your feet off of the platform, and let gravity take hold, and slide you down the cable. There was a guy on the platform at the far end to catch you in case you get out of control.
There first zip line was the shortest. I think that was to give you a taste of what it was like before you saw any of the long ones in front of you. Probably if the first wire was a long one, more people would chicken out. In all, I think we slid down 10 or 12 lines with the longest line being about 500 feet long.
The Costa Rica canopy tour was a blast! I am sure that the canopy tours in other ports of call would be as fun. One guy was telling me about a canopy tour that took him back and forth across a valley and that he was as high as 500 feet above the ground. I don’t know where that was though. If you are afraid of heights, you will porbably not like canopy tours. But I think even slightly adventurous people will enjoy themselves!

About two hours after leaving Port Canaveral, the Princess Cruise Lines ship the Crown Princess apparently suffered a problem with it’s rudder causing the ship to tip heavily to one side. The listing caused tables to over turn, and things to slide around and break. Passengers were running for thier life vests. At least 93 passengers were injured, 16 of them seriously. Injuries included cuts, bruises and fractures.
The ship returned to Port Canaveral where the problem is being investigated. The Coast Guard can’t say how many degrees the ship tilted before righting itself.
The ship had been scheduled for a 9 day western Caribbean cruise with ports of call being Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, on Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.

A lot of people worry about incidents like this. But if you look at the number of cruise ships, and the fact that they are cruising nearly 52 weeks a year, then these incidents only make up a very tiny percentage of the total number of cruises. Most cruises suffer no problems, and have nothing but happy passengers. I don’t know that stats, but you are problem more likely to be in a car accident, than a mishap like this on a cruise ship.

When is Love Boat going to be out on DVD? You can get almost every other TV series in the world on DVD, but not Love Boat. I just checked Amazon, and it allowed me to sign up for a notification if Love Boat is released on DVD. I just can’t believe it isn’t out already. You can get Fantasy Island on DVD (talk about a travel show!).
Love Boat probably inspired me to choose a cruise for our honeymoon more than anything else. I don’t know why. I just always enjoyed the show, and the cruises looked like a lot of fun. It not like I expected to meet Captain Stubing, Gopher, Doc, or Julie. But it just looked like it would be really cool to see all of those places. Julie was a lot cuter than any of the real-life cruise directors I have seen. I have a better chance of meeting “Julie” now as Lauren Tewes works as a cheese steward in Seattle where I get back to visit every couple years.
I can’t wait till they finally bring the Love Boat series out on DVD! I guess for now, I will have to be satisified with actually taking cruises. Life is hard!

*update 1/27/08*
The first season of Love Boat is finally available for pre-order on DVD!
Love Boat DVD
Click here to see it at!!!

My old cheap hiking boots have about had it. I bought them at Target a few years for about $20 or $30. The brand name is Cherokee which I think is a store brand. I have done a ton of hiking in them. But when in the rocky terrain of climbing Cascade Mountain, they offered little ankle support. There is also a small hole in the leather on the outside of the right boot. Not sure if it happened on the mountain as I hadn’t noticed it until after I came back down. They have been good boots for what I have done, and I might keep them around for a few particular, really messy geocaches. But I want to get something better.
With plans of climbing more of the Adirondack High Peaks and the possible climbing halfway up Mt Rainier next year, I want some good hiking boots. Boots that are designed for what I will be doing. But I know nothing about hiking boots.
I stopped in at my local Dick’s Sporting Goods store. It took a while to get help. They didn’t have a big selection, and the girl working in that area didn’t know anything about hiking boots either. She said they will get a larger selection of boots in the Fall. So I stopped into another Dick’s that was close to my work. They had a slightly larger selection of hiking boots. I never did get the guy to come help me. He was helping someone else, then just sort of dissappeared into the back room.
I have looked online, and found some great deals on hiking boots. But I hesitate to buy them online not knowing how they will fit when I actually get them. Also, I still don’t know what type of boots will be best for the types of hiking I am planning on doing. If I am going to be spending the money on new boots, I might as well get the right ones.
I called Dick’s Sporting Goods via a phone number I found on their web site. I talked to a nice girl named Tammy and she gave me a couple suggestions. She said the Hi-Tec Ascent II boot would probably work well for me. Also the Salomon Mega Trek is supposed to be good. I read a review of the Hi-Tec Ascent and it sound like a fairly solid but relatively inexpensive boot.
After work, I headed over to Eastern Mountain Sports. They had Asolo, Montrail, and their own brand EMS. The boots were slightly more expensive, but they people there seem to be more knowledgable.
Yet another Dick’s Sporting Goods was across the hall. They had a slightly better selection, but still not what I was looking for.
Then I went across the road to Gander Mountain. They had a very good selection. Brands such as Columbia Sports, Vasque. And a brand named Irish Setter? The guy was helpful, but I think he was more of a salesman then knowledgable.
I have decided that whatever boots I get, I want Vibram souls, and Gore-Tex. Right now I am leaning to the Montrail at Eastern Mountain Sports. The Montrail Torre GTX boots have gotten pretty good reviews. I am sure they will be better able to fit me properly. I could get the boots cheaper online, but when you figure in shipping, and stuff, and the personal service, I will probably be better of at Eastern Mountain Sports. Maybe I will head over there tonight after work.

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