On-time, Under-Budget

Our recent family vacation to Florida was memorable and lots of fun.  The kids spent time with Grandma and Great-Grandma – including a day at Disney with both Grandmas(!) that involved Jedi training, a rascal scooter, an unexpected reunion with Ohio cousins, and intermittent but pleasant showers.

Despite torrential rain our first day at the beach (or more appropriately, because of these storms) the wife found a record number of shark’s teeth.  It could have been warmer, but the Gulf was hospitable as always, and we had three nights of excellent fresh seafood. Continue reading

Messin’ with Texas

The vacation posts on Beemsville have often tended to be  late for a variety of reasons.  This summer’s entry saw us traveling to Dallas, TX to visit cousins and my sister.  That’s right. We weren’t satisfied with record highs and drought conditions in the home state; those hundred degree days in Illinois were just to get us in the mood.  We really wanted to experience early August in North Texas, get the full effect. Yes it was hot, but actually a little cooler than home for a couple of days.

Of course the real draw was family and a chance to reconnect.  My sister had been down there for over a year and we miss her.  And staying with my cousin Andy, who grew up a couple of miles away from us, who played sports together , went to school together, worked on the farm together, caught frogs, snakes, fish, and lizards together – well, this trip had been in the making for years. Continue reading

Vacation Planner

Nothing like a couple of weeks of sub-freezing weather and snow to put a vacation in mind.  Some place warm and pleasant…  Some place with all-ages family entertainment…  A location with decent weather of the warmer variety… And  we have such a place in mind, have even designated our timeframe.  Of course by then the weather should be considerably better around here, and who knows how high the gas prices may climb.

Therein lies the danger.  When you have young kids and vacation time rolls around, you want to maximize the fun factor and get the most out of your hard-earned money.  Your inner-Clark Griswold rises to the fore, and you have to fight the urge to plan every last detail within the frame of your own personal definition of vacation fun.  You have to think about the others.  You have to remember:  it’s supposed to be fun!  You have to try and avoid worrying too much about the expense – because what’s the fun in that?  You can’t feel guilty about taking a vacation in these troubled economic times.  Hey, you’re feeding the economy and you’ve certainly earned it…

Most importantly, you have to fight your instinctive urges to couch the journey in the trappinsg of a wagon train or cattle drive or sea expedition and avoid that ‘onward or else!’ mentality.

Ahh,  vacations…

The Emergency Clinic

After the bus wreck and a mostly calm 45-minute ride on a smaller bus to the next town, Higuey, we arrived at an emergency medical clinic.  Located within what looked like a four-story retail-type brick building, sharing space with little shops and restaurants, the Clinica Dr. Virgilio Cedano looked a lot different than the big sterile-looking facilities we associate with an ER.  I was on alert because we’d already passed what looked like a hospital on the outskirts of town, and the clinic certainly looked older and less modern.

ER Clinic in Higuey

We later learned that you have private and public hospitals in the Dominican Republic, and not all the public hospitals are equipped with ERs.  Don’t know if that was the case in Higuey, but we concluded the private option was likely better equipped.  The doctor at the hotel told us this was probably the better facility.

It was very chaotic, with a crowd of onlookers there watching and the staff at the ready.  They did an admirable job with the triage as we shuffled off the bus and showed the nurses and doctors our various injuries.  The older and more seriously injured were processed first, including a boy in his early teens with what looked like a broken arm, an older lady who couldn’t stand, and a man with a pretty serious laceration on his arm.  They also processed our tour guide, Jose, who looked to have several broken fingers and a serious cut on his arm.  Here Jose finally broke down a little, after having kept it all together through the ordeal.  They took him up to surgery on the second floor, and that was the last we saw of him.   Continue reading

The Bus Wreck

Funny thing about car crashes.  They always seem to unfold so slowly, like honest-to-god Hollywood slow-mo, except you can’t really do anything…   At least that’s been my experience.

First of all, Jackie and I are OK.  A little banged up, a little sore, but OK.  I have bruised ribs and a sore lower back.  Jackie has some bruises and stitches in her lower back.  It could’ve been worse.

So there we were, coming back to Punta Cana from a tour of Santo Domingo, a three-and-a-half hour bus ride to the oldest capital in the Americas (a standard historical trip, the likes of which I always seem to prefer, and, if normalcy had prevailed, about which you’d now be reading while viewing the standard site-seeing photos), and all seemed well.  We’d already shared our joke about crazy Dominican drivers and how our driver was just as crazy yet safe, ha-ha-ha.  We’d seen the sites, stopped for the midway home final pee and shopping break, and were settling in for one more hour before the resort.  Jackie and I were seated comfortably in the middle of the bus where I wouldn’t have to witness the insane-o local driving techniques.  On the drive to, we’d seen an identical tour bus on its side in the ditch near a small town, and shared a meaningful yet dismissive glance.  That stuff happens to other people…

From behind we heard the wail of approaching sirens – ambulance or police.  I glance up and thought, I hope that little car coming at us can finish passing that other truck (passing seems like a drunken dare in the DR, and all the roads are two-lane…).  But the little car seemed to panic, couldn’t get out of our lane, and our own bus-driver attempted to swerve to avoid impact. Continue reading

Live from the DR!

We have limited connectivity here, and since writing and blogging are among things I like to do, and since vacations are all about personal enjoyment and relaxation, behold…

Beemsville live from La Republica Dominica*.

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Arrived on-time and with no problems.  The rooms are nice, the beach is close, and the drinks are plentiful.  No problema.  Tomorrow it’s Santo Domingo, the oldest capital in the Americas.  And as it turns out, yours truly is not the whitest man here (because there are Swedes, Irish, and pasty English in the house as well).

We’ve both managed to read large chunks of our novels.  Lots of long meandering conversation.  Lots of one-on-one time.  And that’s all for now…

*More photos on Facebook