Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Miami Vacation - Part 2

Tuesday, July 5, 2011
It was just too much to put in one blog entry.  And so, like the crusty uncle that bores you to death with a projector full of vacation picture slides, I present to you more Miami pics.

Like Jake, this shark in front of the Bass Pro Shops lost one of his teeth.  Without the toothless area, CJ wouldn't be able to perform this fine impersonation of a human hors d'oeuvre.


Darby and Ariel at the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk.


Alan and Danita


Chilling.


Too often, we leave the kids to their devices.  Literally.  Even the six year old has to have his fingers on the laptop, iPad, iTouch or iPhone.  Not only that, it's gotta be hooked up to the internet.  Steve Jobs - you're a witch!  If there was even a micro spare moment during the vacation, you'd see these little boogers scrambling to be connected - Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Facebooking, texting, emailing... it was ridiculous.  Like little crack addicts.  Jake is less than two seconds out of bed in this picture and he's needing his internet hit bad.  What have we created?


Carol and I got to visit my good friend Edisa at the new US Southern Command Headquarters.  Edisa and I worked together a few years back.  Although the job was extremely challenging, spending time with Edisa was the best.  I really miss her.  Got to see some of the old gang too.  The new place was really nice.  Might have to find my way back to Miami.


Saw a couple of these guys basking in the sun.


It was all smiles on our 4 hour fishing trip aboard the Flamingo.  Couldn't beat the scenery.


CJ the hood ornament


Bait


The pose while cruising through Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America.




Rigged and ready to catch some fish.


That's Darryl the deck hand on the left.  It was obvious he had been on the high seas for quite a while.  I think he was growing barnacles.  He had to be one of the grumpiest and vilest human beings I've ever met in my life.  I'm convinced he's eaten a child or two.  "I told you we shouldn't have done a drop rig!  Filth, flarn, filth!"  Note:  actual language replaced because this is a family blog.  "Those kids are gonna be bored out of their minds in a few minutes!"   Loud burp right after he removes a remora suctioned to his backside.  "Who put this squid on the railing?!?  That's gonna jack up the boat!"  Juicy fart.  "Argh, look at this tangle!  That's gonna be 30 minutes of no fishing!  I told you so!"  Silent fart followed by seagull poop hitting the deck.  Although he reeked of pessimism, his gloom and doom disposition rang true as soon as we left calm waters...


No more smiles for the cousin trio.  Our young fishermen were not amused by the steady rocking of the Flamingo.  Queasy and green is no way to go through life.  While it didn't stop them from feeling horrible, CJ's suggestion of going horizontal helped the cousins to avoid the dreaded technicolor yawn - unlike the rowdy teens who were loudly chumming the waters over the side of the boat with their violent vomit comets.  I was proud that CJ, Jena and Ariel didn't hurl.  They were troopers.  I believe this type of experience is a major reason why Jena's brother Joel will be doing Army or Air Force ROTC at VMI vice Navy ROTC.  Darn shame.

I should be fair.  I'm exaggerating with Darryl's personality.  He was keeping it real and was very helpful.  I don't think we could've gotten a harder worker.  There's not much he hasn't seen.  I could've sworn we brought four kids on the boat though.


Catching a couple of tilefish.


Josh getting in on the action.


CJ feeling a little better.


Staged picture only.  No actual hurling, unlike the group of teens that kept yelling for their friend Ralph.  "Ralph!  Ralph!"  CJ now knows that if he's disrespecting Mom or Dad or isn't doing his chores, he just might get the dreaded punishment of an all day deep sea adventure with Dad.  That'll keep him on the straight and narrow.


Alan enjoying the ride.


The tourists on this Duck Tour boat gave us a couple of loud quacks as we sailed by.


What recession?


One good thing about Fort Lauderdale fishing trips is that even if you don't catch anything, you'll still take in some fantastic scenery.  You know you have a big boat when you need a small boat to get to your big boat.


Believe it or not, after having a bad experience during the deep sea fishing trip, later that same day, Jena and Ariel wanted to go to the lake and do some freshwater fishing.  They just had to catch some fish.  Reminds me of my brother Lee when he gets skunked on a fishing outing.  He goes out and eats some revenge sushi.  Jena caught this little one without a fishing pole.  She used a stick and some line just for kicks.  Show off!


Speaking of showing off, here's Jake showing off his new Jake-O-Lantern smile.  Always the negotiator, Jake let it be known that he thought the Tooth Fairy should leave him more money than usual because 1) he's on vacation 2) it's one of his big teeth 3) it's right after losing the other big tooth.


Carol on the balcony of our resort.


Jake enjoying the big sauna tub with some of the members of Jena's duck collection.


Super Mario Smash Brothers (or something like that) was the Wii game of choice.  Those darn devices again.


Every time the elevator went by the 3rd floor, a strange rumbling noise would emanate from under the elevator.  We were convinced it was the cables grinding past the forgotten bones of the elevator repair man that was sent to investigate the original noise many moons ago.


We walked around the Hard Rock complex for a bit.  That place has gotten really big.


Too bad Hooters didn't get the memo on the big theme.  For those that can't read lips, Jena is saying, "Where's the beef?"  At least we got to see Prince's purple jacket, Slash's top hat, Elton John's crazy outfits (compete with boa) and listen to some good live music.  There was also plenty of silicone that evening, even outside of Hooters.


This Cuban meal was definitely better than Jena's burger.  La Granja is such a simple place but so dang good.


Although we played plenty of games, we didn't do a full blown Cruz Olympics this time.  We were playing Yahtzee this night.


Taboo was the best though.


 Jena keeping a close eye on the timer.


Of course the Cruz's had to spice things up with the game of Taboo.  Hasbro, take note.  We introduced this plastic horn - the Vuvuzela - as an added punishment if you made three or more mistakes or only got two correct words during your turn.  The Vuvuzela, or Zaboomafoo or whatever it's called, was made famous during the 2010 World Cup.  Imagine an entire stadium full of soccer hooligans blowing into these horns at the top of their lungs to support their team.  If you didn't perform up to standards during your turn at Taboo, the punishment was to place your hands behind your back and take the full brunt of a loud Vuvuzela being blown into your face.  If small pieces of undigested pork or a damp mist of black bean aroma unintentionally smacked your face during the trumpeting of the horn, so be it. More motivation to perform better next time.  Here's Joel doling out the punishment of the Vuvuzela on Brandon.


Darby was fortunate during this punishment.  Her son was being lenient and did not blow at point blank range.  Still deafening though.


Usually a solid player at Taboo, this punishment will remind me not to let my guard down.  After being water boarded at Survival/Evasion/Resistance/Escape (SERE) school years ago and now experiencing the Vuvuzela punishment, I believe the Vuvuzela should be banned by the Geneva Convention.  I can live with the water boarding.


Another fun (and very simple) game was "Four Eyes."  You sit in a circle where you have eye contact with everyone in the group.  Everyone puts their head down.  Someone then says, "head up!" All you have to do is stare at one person and one person only.  Just randomly pick someone.  If that same person is staring back at you, you're both out.  You can't look at the same person two times in a row until you get down to four people.  When it gets down to two people, you have a staring contest to determine the champion.  If it's an odd number of people, you won't need to do the staring contest.


And so the champion of Four Eyes was Jake!  He won it fair and square.  The big prize was Ric Flair.  Josh won Ric Flair at the first Cruz Olympics.  Jena won it last year at the Outer Banks.  And now, Jake gets to take home the prize.  Ric Flair is his until the next big Cruz get together.  For those that can't read lips, Jake is saying, "Woooh!!!!!" in his best Nature Boy voice.


Woooh!!!!


The farewell pose.




The girls get into the act too.


Can I simply say that I love my family?  During the blessing for Alan and Brandon's surprise graduation party dinner, my brother Beanie reminded us all that God has really blessed the Cruz kids in that we WANT to see each other and WANT to spend time with each other.  I don't take that for granted.  Some of my friends don't keep in touch with their mother, father, brother or sister.  The issues that sometimes get in the way are money, kids, favoritism or some rift that seems too big to overcome.  I'm telling you, whatever the issue is, it isn't too big to overcome.  It's simply a matter of letting it go.    

Don't think  that we didn't have our issues.  We fought like cats and dogs as kids and would've been great entertainment on Jerry Springer in our hey day.  Heck, there's stuff happening right now but we're all trying to work through it.

A lot of us expend so much energy putting up these walls of anger, guilt, shame or pride with our own family.  Instead of piling on to those negative walls, be reminded of the Good Book and specifically, the Greatest Commandment - which tells us to love God and love each other.  Remember that this is a COMMANDMENT.  It's not a suggestion or a polite request to follow only if we feel like it.  I'll get off my soapbox (or pulpit) now.

I like to think that we're following this commandment when we get together like we do.  I hope my kids and my nephews and nieces remember and learn from these times together so that they can carry it on with their families when they get older.  

The games, movies, fishing, sightseeing, meals, silliness, shopping, sharing a pew at church, Cruz Olympics, laughs, tears, Ric Flair, loud horns and all of the time together with family - it just brings a huge smile to my face and a tear to my eye.  That's good stuff right there.

Cathy and Lee - we missed you guys.  Until next time.  Woooh!!!!


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