Gone, John, Jax and Eric

Travel Leave a reply
Are you ready to travel?

I’ve been obsessing with two “professional” travellers right now.

First is Gone John. A Canadian who has recently made the leap from disk jockey to backpacker and is currently jumping around South East Asia. I follow him on Instagram and Facebook and sigh heavily every time he posts. His site is a well of information of cheap and off-the-beaten path travel. He and his boyfriend (who currently lives in Japan and writes about Tokyo Disney, the lucky so and so) are on the precipice of becoming part of an elite group of people to have visited EVERY Disneyland in the world. I am simultaneously jealous and in awe.

Secondly is Nomadic Fanatic – a cubby lad Eric, and his massive cat, Jax, roaming the US in a collection of RVs (currently on his 4 version of mobile home since starting out). I’ve been watching 2-3 episodes per day since discovering his channel and I’m gobsmacked and envious that he is able to just drive with no set destination. And after delving further into his story, I’m even more gobsmacked that this is actually quite popular – there is a sizeable sub-culture of non-working people just driving around, living 24-7 on the road, with no base or home to speak of. I have yet to find out how he can afford this – gas and maintenance and vet bills do pile up – I am hoping there is an episode where he explains how all this came about.

And before you comment, yes, if I really wanted to drop everything I could travel for the rest of my life – nature finds a way, right? But I don’t. As much as I love travelling, I’d be missing Sheldrake and the cats and a familiar bed and kitchen where I don’t have to guess where the pots are, after a long while.


Teach Your Heteros Well

Disney, Queer stuff Leave a reply
Gay Days 2007

“We were thinking of heading down to Disney World for Gay Days.”

“Ah. What happens then? Are there parties?”

“There are, and they’re off-site. But we don’t go to them. We’re kind of old to be going to those things. Since we don’t go to them all that really happens is that for 4 days The Gays go to a certain park per day. They wear red shirts to show solidarity. One year my sister in law and her son came and they wore red shirts too. It was a nice gesture.”

“That’s cool.”

“There’s also sky writing and signs behind planes over the parks.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“I’ve seen JESUS SAVES in skywriting and WARNING: GAY DAY AT MAGIC KINGDOM or WARNING: GAY DAY AT EPCOT kind of signs behind planes.”

“No shit! What do they think is going to happen? You’re going to set off a glitter bomb??”

Bless your heart, David T.

Lonely Friday Night

Toronto Leave a reply

Scanning Facebook yesterday at work (um… Hi boss! it was research!) I came across a post from a local restaurant showing a picture of a bunch of firetrucks …on my street??

“Lots of excitement today! Street closed and 5 trucks!” The caption read.

Oh. God. My first thought is that my 8 year old computer finally decided to give up in a spectacular explosion of ripped DVDs and thousands of GoPro files. Phweee!! Second was a Deadpool-esque moment where time slowed down and I though “Did I leave the stove on?” Then I thought “oh my god the cats…”

I frantically banged on Twitter looking for news. You really notice how small buttons are on your phone when you’re freaking out and tapping anything that may look like a possible link. And might I add that the mobile version of Twitter is like trying to dress angry snakes in traditional Ukrainian wedding garb. I found a emergency services scanning account that said the fire was a few stores south from my home. I breathed a sigh of relief.

When I got home after work I found the source of the fire was our Friday Night tradition – a super friendly pizza shop we go… er… went to: 2 for 1 Pizza burned down. SharkBoy and I have …er… had been going to it for years, spitting in the eye of our gym goals and getting a pie for our traditional “wind down after the week-cocoon in front of the big screen fatty fat fatsters” movie night.

No more, it seems. I can hear my post-cruise weight starting to fall already.

The owner knew us so well he would toss in free dipping sauces every so often. His daughter worked behind the counter while she was going through university and we would tip her a few bucks. He was one of those people who was never stressed or angry and always smiled when he saw you – sickening.

I’m kidding. I really do feel bad for him and I hope the owner and his daughter are ok. I’m glad no one was hurt.


Star Wars Day at Sea – Star Wars Day (at sea)

501st, Disney, Travel 2 Replies
Mellon Wars

The big day arrived and we race to the top deck to see what is in store for us.

In terms of decorating the ship – it was zero. Not like Xmas or Halloween, but what could they do? Spread sand everywhere? Evacuate the air? I don’t know what I was expecting but I was a little let down in that regard. I think that if Star Wars morphs into a religion or some sort of national holiday* some time in the far future, we’ll have Sith Trees and Bantha holly and Jakku carols. But for now, all we got was a stage in front of the kids pool made up to look like a Tantive IV doorway.

Costumes. So many kids costumes. Purchased at the parks before boarding the ship, untested and ill fitting (sorry, 501st coming out in me). So many Kylo Rens. So many Reys. A couple Fynns. One on fleek Death Star (see pics below, it’s awesome). One older gentleman in a good rendition of a rebel pilot in boxers (see below. Fleek).  And the guys from the Ottawa Garrison. Damn them for brining their full armour. Damn them! So jealous. Wherever they went they were stopping crowds.

When you boarded you were given a card of three photo op (sorry – Character Experiences) choices: Dark Side, Bespin or Tatooine. You were left to guess who you might see at each, but you were only going to get 2 out of the 3 AND they were totally random – Dark Side could be Darth Vader, or Darth Maul. Tatooine could be C3P0 and R2D2… Bespin could be Willrod Hood… I had submitted my choice within minutes of getting the form and wound up with tickets to “Dark Side” and “Tatooine”. Our first experience was at 9:30am. I was dressed in my Imperial Deck Officer and ready. God bless SharkBoy for walking around with a 50 year old nerd dressed up as a symbolic neo-Nazi made up in Space Gear all day long…

We get to the meet and greet and while we were waiting, the tiny pocket bear of an Assistant Cruise Director (I swear to god I wanted to hug the New Zealand stuffing out of him) asked if we wanted to know who we were meeting, I couldn’t wait and said yes.

“The greatest captain the First Order has ever known…”

I nearly fell to the ground in tears. I knew she was an option and knew that the chances were 1 in 3 and boom – lottery! I have a slight obsession with Captain Phasma – Yes I was let down that she only had maybe 6 minutes screen time but the hype around her before the movie had me in it’s charms. Plus she’s damn shiny.

We get our turn with her and all I can do is stammer and nod – I don’t remember at all what I said to her other than “Ahuyuck!” laughter. “She” had several digitized sound file conversation clips the actor could choose from and I got “I have heard of you rising through the ranks. Here’s hoping you’re not a disappointment” Or something. I was too busy Ahuyuck-ing and gawking at “her”** to remember entirely what was said.

We wander the decks looking at people’s creative costumes and seeing roaming characters. After a while I was hot so we grabbed our shorts and hit the main pool to watch a couple episodes of Star Wars Rebels on the Funnel Vision TV, floating while the cartoon played. Shortly a small child of maybe 12 years old started to swim in front of us – back and forth. He had no Stranger Danger filter and thought it was ok to talk to two older, bald headed bearded guys in the kiddie pool. Back and forth, all the while asking us questions.

Who is your favourite Star Wars character?
What is your favourite Star Wars movie?
What’s your favourite line?
What ship would you have if you could have one?
Is Yoda really dead?
Rebels is really Star Wars – that guy there is really Luke Skywalker.

The last was not a question, obviously. When he exhausted his list of questions he moved into firm statements about Star Wars.

He. Did. Not. Stop. I looked around for his parents. I was going to steal this child because his spirit was Star Wars through and through.

But at the same time, I was conscious that two adults chatting with a kid in the pool for more than a few minutes could be regarded as pedo. This kid went on for a solid 44 minutes (two Rebels episodes) and though I welcomed the rapid fire questions, it did get tiresome. He was an awesome kid though. I’d call him a friend in another life.

Out of the pool, back into uniform and we had our second Character Experience with Darth Maul. He didn’t say a word. I didn’t say a word except Hello, and The Empire thanks you for your service! All I got was a stern stare.

Other things happened: roaming characters like Jawas (I missed), Sandpeople and bounty hunters (Zam Wesell!) were all over the place. I only saw a few, sadly!

There were periodic Empire Announcements on the Funnel Vision TV.

After dinner there was a brief show of all the characters on stage (in case you missed them during the day) and a fireworks show.

At the dance party after the fireworks we saw the Pool Kid mentioned previously. Dancing alone to the remixed Star Wars themes, set to a disco beat. He had some serious moves, which made me want to steal him even more. However, I did not see any parent or guardian around him at all and I surmised that this child was actually my spirit, manifest in human form, going free.

There was a midnight buffet not 2 hours after we just finished our big dinner. I have never…EVER… felt so full. I had a taco and somewhere in my body I could hear a gland weep with exhaustion. Some of us were drunk and tired. Some of us were food smacked and tired. We were all tired.

I went to sleep happy.

I do have to call out Dave who I think had the best fan costume I saw all day: he was wearing a very accurate Han Solo outfit with the hilt of Kylo Ren’s sabre stuck into his chest. It was suggested that Thom should walk in front of him with a Spoiler Alert sign. Good job!


*May the 4th is a strong contender. Though people will put up their lightsaber tree on May 25th – they will be know as Old Republic Traditionalist.

**I say “her” because I didn’t see any woman over 6’5″ on the cruise. Trust me, I was looking.

Star Wars Day at Sea – Grand Cayman

501st, Disney, Star Wars, Travel Leave a reply

Oh Grand Cayman, home of many Canadian banks that hold twice as much money than any of us could imagine. You can practically smell the data transfers.

GC is an island surrounded by coral so the large cruise ships are forced to tender their passengers. I think it’s just a way to filter out the lazy cruisers from visiting the island. We should have been one of those cruisers…

The process of getting 4000+ people off a ship with 3, two hundred seater boats running constantly between mainland and ship is a bit long. It took us close to an hour from deciding to get off the boat to hitting the port. Disney had the line going constantly and to be fair it was a disciplined process, even when 1/3rd of the passengers had strollers.

We hit the port and wander around for a bit with no goals in mind. We took a few pictures and then decided it would be fun to “go to Hell”. Hell is a tiny village on the north tip of the island that has a gift shop that is run by an insane person who wears a dollar store red cape and may or may not have pointy devil horns on his head. Depending on the day, I guess. It also is the home of volcanic rock formations that make the place look like… Hell! Yes you win a prize!

SharkBoy sees a bus stop with locals standing all around and we head over to ask which bus will take us there. The steward directs us to a dilapidated mini van and ushers us into the empty vehicle. The driver waved at us from across the parking lot as we sat. And waited. And waited. And waited. “Island time”, right? And waited. And then we got out when I suggested we go find a private cab at the port to take us. Of course we were yelled at we walked away. Thankfully they didn’t take our fare and we got away scott free.

At the port the same thing happened. We asked for a cab, got shown a similar van and were ushered in. This time there were other people in it. I slowly discovered that the couple near the front were going to Seven Mile Beach, the other couple were going to a fish farm and we were probably last on the list. And we waited. And waited.

In both instances the cab driver wanted to fill the van before leaving. I get it, efficient and saves gas. But damn our luck.

We got out and I swear to god the couple at the front glared at me and I might have imagined it but I thought I heard a whispered “Please take us with you!” from couple #2.

Windy return to the ship

Back onboard the boys went back into the Spa for a round of specialty showers and a lay down on a heated ceramic bench. They claim the bench makes them doze off. The thought of me dozing off in public fills my head with images of drool, saggy body parts and air leaving my body. Nobody needs to see that.

In preparation for the next day, the day we all signed on for, the guys from Capital City Garrison brought their buckets to dinner. I was utterly jealous.

Star Wars Day at Sea – Cozumel

Disney, Travel 1 Reply

I’ve been asked if Disney was showing any Star Wars stuff during the 7 days at sea. Nope – the cruise was “regular” up until that one day. They were keeping their cards close to their chest like a sexier 70s version of Kenny Rogers, not the current, slice-and-dice face version of Kenny Rogers that scares kids and can be used as a Mayan sacrifice mask. All of the Star Wars magic was being held for the second last day of the cruise.

We docked at Cozumel and the weather was beautiful. Sunny and warm, just like a vacation should be – took us 4 days to get to it.

Thom and Dave went on a snorkelling excursion and we lost them immediately after breakfast. According to their stories and pictures they shared at dinner, they had a great time.

Sharkboy, Beta Mike, JohnnyB and I went shopping. Not touristy, just outside the port, sugar skull-shopping*. No. We hit up the MEGA store, steps away from the port! Imagine if Costco and the saddest Walmart had an affair and popped out a bastard love child shop. Mega would be it.

As we’re walking around the store I was hit with an American-like culture shock – I couldn’t read the Spanish signs. Duh, Ted, you’re in Mexico? Then I get the brilliant idea to fire up my phone and pop open Google Translate. If you’ve not used the camera feature on this app it’s a lot of fun pointing your phone to a label or sign and seeing the fumbled translations on product names. Mystery products like “potato” revealed themselves to be “Child of the ground” or “milk” became “leaky boob stuff”. It was worth the Roaming charge.

My great takeaway? An orange C3P0 t-shirt and Tang. Muevo Mexican Tang in all the rainbow flavours no longer legal to sell in Canada! Yum!

Pro Tip: with Disney enforcing the wine and beer only onboard policy, this is a great place to stock up on your cabin drinking supplies – it’s a short haul back to the ship. The shop took US$ and Peso.

We then wandered away from the port. Our first stop was a mass of colour just past the Mega. A carnival! A carnival of dubious copyright infringements! Nearly dilapidated rides air brushed brightly coloured, somewhat familiar cartoon characters to make the bambinos smile! One carousel boasted 20+ infringements including a Woody Woodpecker on all fours that suggested more of a gimp’s position, rather than an inviting pose for kids to ride on his back.

Next was a church. It was pretty against the saturated blue sky. I’m not much of a religious person but the washrooms were nice.

After that we wandered and found a soccer pitch and sat in the shade of the bleachers. Petted a dog and looped around to the far side of the city and found a small hole-in-the-wall place that sold $1.25 tacos. Yes. I had a couple, smothered in a chopped green chilli that when ingested, numbed my lips with it’s heat. I should have pulled out Google Translate and asked what it was…

Back to the ship where SharkBoy and Beta Mike went to the spa while  Johnny and I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the adult pool discussing family and life and whatnot. When the boys returned from the spa they brought us chicken tenders and fries.

It was the perfect day.


*We did get a sugar skull.

Star Wars Day at Sea – At Sea

Disney, Travel 2 Replies
Not the best weather starting out

The first full day on our cruise was just a day at sea. No ports, no nothing.

The first day and the weather wasn’t that great for sitting outside on a deck chair, reading a book and being served cocktails like you would on a 1940’s trans-atlantic cruise, no. It was downright cold in the morning. But there was a lot to do, the ship was always bustling with something and we did…stuff… but for the life of me, I cannot remember what we did that day!

For sure we got in and out of the hot tub/adult pool and had a couple beverages but that wasn’t until mid afternoon, as we got into warmer waters.

Even though we had just spent two days in the park and a day getting on the ship, this day felt like the actual start of the vacation for me. I like to think my lack of memory is based on a great weight had been lifted and my mind turned off for the day and not some sinister “boring old day” excuse. I just went with the flow. No plans, no worries, no needs other than the 2pm/4pm/6pm visits to the unlimited chicken fingers dispenser*.

I do remember we went to Palo that night. The dinner was amazing, as usual and this time I managed to pace myself and made it to the lava soufflé without feeling like I was going to explode. Pro Tip: Force yourself not to fill up on the antipasto or the bread. Trust me on that one. Even though the aged parmesan cheese with basalmic vinegar drizzle with a baby-sized ball of prosciutto is placed in front of you and whispers to you to “eeeeat meeeee… eaaaaat meeeee…”, save room for the mains and the dessert.


*Actually I had more free ice cream this trip than free chicken fingers. I feel like I let someone down here.

Star Wars Day At Sea – All Aboard

501st, Disney, General, Star Wars Leave a reply

Before the cruise we had spent two days at Epcot & Magic Kingdom with Sis-in-law Sylvie, Pogo, Shawn and his new girlfriend, Dana (who is utterly cool), which was a blast. Though it did rain while at The Kingdom, we had a great time largely due to Beta Mike and unlimited knowledge of the park – he was the tour guide extrodinaire and would part with nuggets of trivia when we walked by things: “That trash can right there is where they found a human lung.” He pretty much made the entire week interesting and fun by always “being on”.

The morning of the cruise we met at Mike and Johnny’s beautiful home and had a moment with Ms Olive before the dog sitter took over. The other couple we shared the seas with, Thom and Dave, arrived soon after and we set out in two cars to the port. Each mid-sized SUV was packed to the brim with luggage as you can imagine three gay couples would. We stopped in a gas station on the far side of the airport that sold deep fried Gator bits. That people were actually buying. With money.

I. Love. Florida.

We parked and entered the terminal and checked in, no issues. As we waited for our boarding number I wandered in and out of the 4000+ crowd, looking for other 501st comrades and found a few. We chatted and shared our excitement. Nothing compares to Star Wars Nerd Excitement – it’s almost visible in the air and makes cats horny in a 2 mile radius. They should bottle it.

We board. And as you might have read previously, we were announced as the “Healey-Maquette” family. Yeah me and the wooden model. Nobody noticed, we were too excited.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship and the first (of many) drinks in La Piazza. When they released our rooms and our luggage was delivered we dressed for dinner and experienced that evening’s sunset (of many). But before the food trough was lowered, we saw that night’s show and then head into the restaurant. Little did we know that we were already singled out by one of the crew…

Dinner was a curiosity. Dave (a staunch Republican) and Thom (a staunch I never got what he was) told us about their plan to adopt a child in the very near future, told to us while Dave carved up raw garlic across his steak. The wait staff were a bit alarmed by the request yet brought him two hearty sized cloves. He folded them into his steak as we discussed diapers and future travel plans. As one does. I snuck a glance to Thom to see if this was normal and got no indication that this was going to be a problem with him. Later. In a small cabin. To each his own, I thought and fattily dug into my 3rd dessert.

Sharkboy and I retired early while some tried out the nightclubs.

There is NOTHING like sleeping on a ship in somewhat calm waters (the weather was super windy, but not, you know… Royal Caribbean windy)

Star Wars Day at Sea

Disney Leave a reply

“Please welcome the Healey-Maquette Family!”

With that, the atrium of the Disney Fantasy is filled with thunderous applause.

Okay maybe not thunderous with only 8-9 crew on hand to applaud your arrival onboard the ship, but it was still uplifting, regardless.

We booked this cruise back in Feb 2015 when I was denied a winter vacation due to something at work… which I can’t recall… what it was… I know I was mad and bitter for days after my denial but post-cruise, all that is gone.

During that anger, Disney announced the special Star Wars cruise: Character meet and greets! Special menus! Guest appearances! Horn! Suddenly the money started to burn a hole in my pocket and I rushed to put down the deposit. We were committed.

I can say I never want to book any vacation more than 8-9 months away ever again. The waiting nearly killed me. There is a permanent greasy stain where the Disney Countdown app resides, on my phone’s screen. The worst was around 50 days left to go where time seem to contract and elongate, like Mathew McConaughey diving into an interstellar black hole. But we got through. The day came and we flew out with no issues. More on that later.

Was it worth it?

Hell. Yes.

Look, I love Disney Cruise Lines and I don’t care what people think. Their food may be meh*, their major onboard entertainment may be people running around in foam heads** and their excursions may be pricey, but somewhere after 4 cruises with them, I’ve grown to love the ships and the service. I am sure if I went back to RCL or on to someone new, I’d be judging their service to Disney with a bias

Add the excitement of Disney displaying Star Wars characters up close for interactions and pictures and I’m as happy as a Moof Milker on a Moof farm.

I’ll be adding more later – pics and commentary – as the week progresses. I have to get past this post-vacation blues somehow!


*The main dining rooms tend to get a little “showy” with their plate presentation and that’s great, but nothing can hide the fact that the cheddar soup you just got placed in front of you has a skin on it, created by the time it took from kitchen to table. I do have to say that I’ve never had a “bad” meal on any ship. Forgetful ones, but never Bad.

**Good news! The stage shows are now starting to use the remote animatronic heads instead of the fixed eye/mouth ones. It’s just a puppet head but to have Baloo’s mouth move to the music and eyes blink offers a better performance.