Thursday, November 12, 2015

On this day in history ... the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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A Marine visits the Memorial
Image by Meutia Chaerani - Indradi Soemardjan
Link


On this day in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated along the National Mall in Washington, DC.  From the History Channel (link),

First unveiled on November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial remains an atypical war monument. Its main feature, a V-shaped wall inscribed with the names of over 58,000 U.S. soldiers killed during the Vietnam War, lacks heroic or patriotic symbols, and its polished black granite fa├žade contrasts with the white marble statues and structures surrounding it on the National Mall. Nonetheless, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Washington, D.C.

Often referred to as the "Wall", it is a powerful reminder of the greatest sacrifice.  When I was stationed at the Pentagon, I volunteered with a veterans group who read the names of the service men etched on the "Wall" along with those who passed from Agent Orange. 


American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) Vietnam Wall
A Marine visits the Traveling Wall
Kansas City Symphony
Link

The Wall has become a place to heal, inspiring the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.  From its website (link),

Our Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, it stands six feet tall at the center and covers almost 300 feet from end to end.

This Traveling Memorial stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It was made for the purpose of helping heal and rekindle friendships and to allow people the opportunity to visit loved ones in their home town who otherwise may not be able to make the trip to Washington.


Do you know any Vietnam Veterans?  Have you visited the Wall?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from our convention stash - these veterans defended our freedom to read romance.   Comments are open through Saturday, November 14, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 15.


Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Names on the Wall
Image by Hu Totya
Link

Monday, November 9, 2015

On this day in history ... the United States Marine Corps

Flag of the United States Marine Corps.svg

On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress tasked Samuel Nicholas to form two battalions.  

One hundred seventy nine years later, on this day in 1954, President Eisenhower (an Army man himself) dedicates the USMC War Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery.   The memorial depicts the raising of the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. 




Happy 240th Birthday, US Marine Corps!  I invite you to leave birthday greetings for the Marine Corps.  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 14, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 15, at SOS Aloha.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


Marines in 1918 during WWI.
Public Domain 





Thursday, November 5, 2015

Aloha to Royal Caribbean Weekend Cruise - Coco Cay (part 2)


Continuing my visit to Coco Cay ...


... the limestone rock reminds me of the Dragon's Teeth on Maui (link).


I found a friend in the low tide ...


... and another cruiser found live conch.  I suggested he let them live since we could not take any shells off the island.


I returned to my friends camped out on the lounge chairs - here's my view looking up!


This is paradise!


By late afternoon, it was time to return to the Enchantment of the Seas.


The shadows of our tender as we pulled up to the ship.  Do you have a favorite seaside retreat?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, November 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 8, at SOS Aloha.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The towel monkey in our stateroom

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Aloha to Royal Caribbean Weekend Cruise - Coco Cay (part 1)


On Sunday morning, our weekend cruise dropped anchor for the tender boats to ferry passangers to Coco Cay.  From the Royal Caribbean website (link),

Surrounded by the gentle, translucent waters of the Bahamas chain lies the secluded island of CocoCay®, an eco-certified private destination. Reserved exclusively for cruise ship guests, this 140-acre tropical paradise was awarded a Gold-Level Eco-Certification by Sustainable Travel International™ for its environmentally friendly activities and tours. With its white-sand beaches and spectacular surroundings, CocoCay is a wonderland of adventures. Explore new aquatic facilities, nature trails and a ton of great places to just sit back, relax and enjoy a tropical drink. 



I spotted this iguana upon arrival!



So many choices ... so little time!


Plenty of white sand and beach chairs!

Look who I found in the sand ... given Baltimore is famous for its crabs (and the Orioles color is orange), I brought him home with me.


I was surprised to see chickens on the islands ...


 ... but not coconuts!



These flowers, in the shape of a heart, remind me of my beloved Hawaii.



I signed up for the Nature Tour to learn more about the island. My guide noted that Royal Caribbean populated the isolated island with iguanas and chickens to entertain the tourists.  I am confident the flora, fauna, and gorgeous blue water is entertainment enough!



My guide pointed out the half flower ...



... and shared the story of Naupaka from Hawaiian legend.  I kid you not.  From Aloha Hawaii (link),

In ancient times, there was a beautiful Hawaiian princess known as Naupaka. One day, the villagers noticed that Naupaka looked very sad. They told her parents, who approached Naupaka and asked her what was troubling her.

“I have fallen in love with a man named Kaui,” replied the princess. “But Kaui is not of noble birth—he is a commoner.” According to Hawaiian tradition, it was strictly forbidden for members of royalty to marry people from the common ranks.

Distressed, Naupaka and Kaui traveled long and far, seeking a solution to their dilemma. They climbed up a mountain to see a kahuna who was staying at a heiau (temple). Alas, he had no clear answer for the young lovers. “There is nothing I can do,” he told them, “but you should pray. Pray at this heiau.”

So they did. And as they prayed, rain began to fall. Their hearts torn by sorrow, Naupaka and Kaui embraced for a final time. Then Naupaka took a flower from her ear and tore it in half, giving one half to Kaui. “The gods won’t allow us to be together,” she said. “You go live down by the water, while I will stay up here in the mountains.”

As the two lovers separated, the naupaka plants that grew nearby saw how sad they were. The very next day, they began to bloom in only half flowers.




The sea grapes, coccoloba uvifera, produce jam ...



... its stem produces a salve for teething children and the leaves, when fully grown, produce eco friendly "paper" plates for a beach picnic! 


We found an abandoned structure, probably built by the British Navy in the early 1800s, to protect the Bahamas from the French, Spanish, and even the Americans.



We ended the tour on a deserted beach far from the water activities.  


Stay tuned for more pictures from Coco Kay.  Back to my orange crab friend, what shall I name him? One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 8, at SOS Aloha.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Aloha to Royal Caribbean Weekend Cruise - Queen's Staircase

 

I walked from Fort Fincastle to the cruise ship via the Queen's Staircase. From Bahamas.com,

The Queen's Staircase, commonly referred to as the 66 steps, is a major landmark that is located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau. It was hewn out of solid limestone rock by slaves between 1793 and 1794 and it is said that it provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City. These steps were later named in honour of Queen Victoria, who reigned in Britain for 64 years from 1837 to 1901.


From the top looking down ...


... and from the bottom looking up.


The staircase creates a topical paradise in the limestone hill.


Mother Nature at her best.


Here's the defense ship ...


... in front of the Enchantment of the Seas!  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll publish the winner on Sunday, November 8, at SOS Aloha.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Towel art in our cabin.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Aloha to Royal Caribbean Weekend Cruise - Fort Fincastle

 

After our Segway Tour, the shuttle took my friends back to the port ... but I asked the driver to take me to Fort Fincastle. From nassauparadiseisland.com,

Erected in 1793, Fort Fincastle was named after British captain Lord Dunmore—and his second title, Viscount Fincastle—who had it built to protect Nassau Harbour and watch for encroaching pirates. Since it was located atop Bennet’s Hill, the highest point on New Providence Island, the fort provided fantastic views of Nassau and Paradise Island as well as the eastern approaches to New Providence. Its appearance alone must have been daunting enough to all would-be marauders since its cannons were never fired! Open seven days a week, 8:00am to 4:00pm.

The fort was constructed from limestone in the surrounding hills, creating the Queen's Staircase which I'll spotlight tomorrow.
  

Fort Fincastle is shaped like a steam paddler ... thus nicknamed the ship that goes nowhere.  It reminded me of Blackness Castle near Edinburgh, Scotland (link) - it is also shaped like a ship!


Although the castle was closed, it still intrigued me!


The cannons were never fired ...


... but the castle gives an excellent view of Paradise Island ...


... home of the Atlantis resort.


I also spied the three cruise ships docked in Nassau.  Do you have a favorite castle?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts win a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 8.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City







Friday, October 30, 2015

Aloha to Royal Caribbean Weekend Cruise - Nassau Segway Tour



On Saturday afternoon, my friends and I donned hair nets ...



... and bike helmets for the Nassau Segway Tours.  From its website (link),

Explore Nassau’s spectacular blue waters and beaches, as you and your Segway glide along the walkways lining Nassau Harbor. Your tour starts just a mile from the cruise ship port, where our complementary van drops you off at our home-base, located just behind the Cricket Club. Here you will be assigned a Segway, meet your tour guide and receive a brief orientation and personal training. You will be surprised at the ease with which young and old alike learn to master riding the Segway.



Now it’s time to experience first-hand the Segway’s amazing abilities as you and your Segway roll along scenic Nassau Harbor to Junkanoo Beach. Here you make your turn back toward the sights and sounds of the colorful collection of local restaurants and bars known the world over simply as “The Fish Fry” for a brief break and a chance to purchase refreshments. Next, your new found skills are apparent as you and your Segway have some good natured competition with the other guests on our low- activities course and enjoy a great view of historic Fort Charlotte atop the hill just above you.


I was curious about Fort Charlotte.   From the Bahamas website (link)

Built in 1788 by Lord Dunmore the fort was named after the wife of King George III, Queen Saharia Charlotte. The middle bastion, Ft. Stanley and the western portion, Ft. D'Arcy were added later.

This fort has a moat, dungeons, underground passageways and 42 cannons, which have never been fired in an act of aggression.



Our tour guide, Amine, introduced us to Goombay Punch - a carbonated pineapple drink bottled in the Bahamas by Coca Cola.  I loved it!


Amine also introduced us to the "Fish Fry" - a row of fish stalls turned into restaurants which delights locals and tourists alike. Twin Brothers was featured in the finale of Top Chef All Stars.


We tried fried conch - it was delicious!  Would you have tried the fried conch or Goombay punch?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.   Comments are open through Saturday, October 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 1, at SOS Aloha!

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Majestic tree at the foot of Fort Charlotte.