Tag Archives: vacation

Vacations with Hurricane Earl

Last Saturday, my wife and I set off for a late vacation in the Caribbean. We had hoped that we would be able to avoid hurricanes and foul weather. The first two days, the sun was out and we spent some great time on the beach.

On Monday, we woke up to strong winds, sheets of rain and a growing awareness of what we had gotten ourselves into.

Photo: wife takes video of bad weather from balcony
Hurricane Earl sweeps across our beach front on St. Thomas, VI

Our resort was located right on the ocean, but on the leeward side of the island so the full force of the storm did not hit us. We were also sheltered by hills. The resort management switched over to their own power generator even before the storm hit.

Photo: swimming pool and palms trees blown by hurricane winds
Hurricane Earl lashes the pool at our resort on St. Thomas, VI

Shortly after I took these shots, the wind shifted and came straight at us. Our balcony began to fill with water. Darkness came and we could not see how fiercely the winds were blowing, only hear their howling. That was the most intimidating moment. Continue reading Vacations with Hurricane Earl

What a grueling week!

Photo: Road to Botany Bay Plantation, SC
Road to Botany Bay Plantation, SC

My wife was looking for a place t0 spend a short time (3-4 days) on the beach. She has no concept of U.S. geography, much less drive time. So she picks out Edisto Island, South Carolina. Why not? It’s on the East Coast. It should be close to Ocean City, MD, Cape May, NJ,  or Virginia Beach, VA, all places where we’ve gone. Well, Edisto Island is actually close to 600 miles south and 10 hours away, not counting restroom stops, meals, missed turns and calls to the resort to get final directions. It lies a good two hours from the closest I-95 exit.

Of course, it’s my fault for not being more actively involved in the decision-making process. I wanted Teresa to be happy so I let her pick out the spot, and did not think through what it meant in physical wear-and-tear on the body by sitting in a car for that long, even if I did not drive the whole way.

We arrived really late, about 11:00 pm by the time we got to our room. In the morning, I tried to open the Venetian blinds for a view, and they fell on my face. To make matters worse, my wife found Palmetto beetles in the room, insects that bear a strong resemblance to cockroaches, and that makes my wife freak out. Management changes us to better quarters to compensate for the hassle. We got to the beach for a late afternoon sampling of sun and surf, but we were kind of numb from fatigue. So it ended up, that Tuesday was our only full day of beach time.

I made sure that we were not at the beach from noon to 3:00 pm to avoid overexposure. We explored some of the sights, mostly the state park that showcases the ecological environment of barrier islands, sand dunes and coastal swamps. Edisto Island is a resort area that’s built up over the past 30 years. It’s avoided some of the pitfalls of summer vacation destinations.You go to Edisto Island to get away from it all, not fill up your time with amusement parks and bad restaurants.

Wednesday morning, my wife insisted on one last visit to the beach, and I practically had to put a gun to her head to get her into the car. We got a late start and then routed our return through Myrtle Beach because my wife wanted to see what the place was like. It seemed to be all that Edisto Island was not. We were back on the familiar I-95 by 5:00 pm, which translated into arriving home at 2:30 am.

Oh, yeah, and the yoga

I went in to work late Thursday and did the normal Friday, but I was a walking zombie. After work, I took a yin yoga class at Thrive Yoga, which went a long way towards tapping into the raw tension that had stored up in my tissues. Last night, I really slept deeply and did not wake up until it was too late to grab my usual Saturday morning yoga class. I need the rest more than I needed yoga practice.

I could not have made it through the “vacation” without yoga. Every time that we pulled off the highway, I did some stretching and folds to get fresh blood into my muscles. Every night, I was doing 20-60 minutes of yin and restorative yoga just to relieve the muscle soreness.

Magic at Cirque du Soleil

Photo: Teresa and Michael outside the theater at Disney World Last month, Teresa and I took a long postponed vacation, five days in Orlando, Florida. For two days, Teresa kept me running to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts so that she could satiate her thirst for the ocean — white sands, waves and sun. We stopped at the Kennedy Space Center for a couple of hours, not long enough to take the whole center in. We also spent one full day at Epcot Center, Disney World and also another day shopping for gifts and bargains at the outlets that tempt the tourists to delay their return to the Magic Kingdom. Teresa complained that we had waited 15 years too long: we should have brought the kids to Orlando when they could have enjoyed it. Of course, in those days, we couldn’t have afforded it.

For me, the highlight of the trip was the Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian ultra-circus, had a resident show, La Nouba, at Disney World. I had seen Cirque du Soleil on television and was intrigued by the concept. But TV or phtographs could never capture the electricity and scope of the performance. First of all, the Disney World show is presented in a custom-built freestanding theater so it is a magical setting. The lighting, the set and wings were exploited to increase the impact. The audience was seated in the round and the actors frequently ventured into the audience. I thought the music was recorded but there was a full musical band seated in the elevated wings and the singers roamed the stage.

Photo: House troupe, La Nouba at Disney World
House Troupe, Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney World
© The Walt Disney Company
Costume credit: Dominique Lemieux

Once the lights came down and the show got underway in earnest, I gasped. It was overwhelming; I felt as if my senses were insufficient to take it all in. My eyes were darting back and forth trying to catch all the action. As the performers soared through the air, danced across the stage, balanced on the edge and tumbled, it suddenly occurred to me that I was seeing something that I aspired to in my own yoga practice. The grace and strength, the imagination and dexterity, the playfulness and wit that drove the performance were the essence of my intention when I stepped onto the mat. Not that I could ever aspire to the sheer athleticism and skill that the Cirque du Soleil cast displayed, but that joy and courage could propel my own body as it flew out of downward-facing dog to forward bend or balanced in crow.

Photo: House troupe, La Nouba at Disney World
Teresa in front of the Big-Tent-style theater where we saw La Nouba

A week later, I was in Barbados at an evaluation for a new online education program that CICAD, my employer is sponsoring. After our last session, I went back to my room and did a yoga practice on my balcony — maybe it was something magical about Caribbean seas, winds, sand and sun. As I stretched out in side plank, my top arm reaching high and my shoulders arching back, my vision just took in the blue sky above the railing and it felt if I were balanced precariously on a high wire, and in a daring flourish, I lifted my top leg into tree position, resting my foot on my thigh. It was all an illusion, a trick of tunnel vision and concentration on my practice, but it was also a seed of intention.

For purposes of clarity, I am adding the explanation of the term “La Nouba” because there’s no way of know what it means. I stayed through the entire show and I did not get. Of course, I did not buy a program.

La Nouba originates from the French phrase “faire la nouba,” which means to party, to live it up. It transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, engaging the imagination from beginning to end with opulent sets, brilliant choreography, theatrical lighting and provocative music.

Postscript:
Debra Perlson-Mishalove told me that she had read that many cast members of Cirque du Soleil practice yoga. It wouldn’t surprise me. Yoga Journal has a mention of cast members in a yoga class.