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The Major’s Walk-A-Thon

Date: Saturday April 09TH 2022
Time (EDT): 7:14 AM – 8:14 AM
Sunrise (EDT): 7:05 AM
Location: Homestead Florida
Sky: Partly Cloudy
Temperature: 60°F / 16°C
Dewpoint: 57°F / 14°C
Relative Humidity: 88% Rising
Winds: Calm
Barometric Pressure: 30.07″ / 1,019 MB Rising

Longtime readers of my blog know this series. It’s one of the originals from the late-2000s era.

“The Major’s Walk-A-Thon” is simply the name of my personal fitness program that has run concurrently with much of my salvation in Jesus Christ. You can read how it all began at High Noon on Christmas Eve in 2007. That approximate 0.75-mile walk unsuspectingly began 15 seasons of intentional powerwalking around my neighborhood and elsewhere.

Each season is generally the 7-month mid-October to mid-May dry season here in South Florida where I live. This is Season 15, and this is my 3RD walk of the season. Last season (14) was pretty bad, as I only walked 3 times for a total of 6.72 miles. It was my worst season since Season 7 (2013-2014). This season (which is drawing to a close) may possibly be worse than last season, but hopefully it won’t with at least one more walk.

So this past Saturday at dawn on an unusually chilly South Florida morning in the low-60s (even some scattered upper-50s) I took advantage of the chill in the air, and I ventured over to the city park about a mile-and-a-half down the road from my neighborhood. It’s got lots of open spaces to walk or jog including an elevated (atop a manmade hill) 0.475-mile rectangular asphalt track.

This was a 3.40-mile power-walk in 59 minutes and 41 seconds. That’s a pace of 17 minutes and 33 seconds per mile. (I walked 3.42 MPH.) I did 7 laps around the track.

Some #Fitbit heart rate stats – 35 out of 59 minutes in “peak”; 19 out of 59 minutes in “cardio”; 162 BPM at peak; 142 BPM on average.

This walk by itself was longer than I walked in an entire day in the 7 days prior. It was my longest powerwalk in over 4 years – since my final walk of Season 11.

Fun Fact: During the start of the COVID pandemic (when we were all in lockdown) I powerwalked around my neighborhood on 16 mornings for a total of 23.10 miles.

We’ll see how it goes over the remaining 5 weeks of our dry season. Once the rains arrive, so do the bugs, and it’s no fun to walk in heat, humidity, and swarms of bugs – especially mosquitoes. (I live near the edge of the Everglades – where the bugs are born.)

Well I thank you for reading a special Wednesday edition of my blog. This weekend got an early start. Tomorrow it’s #TravelThursday – followed by #GoodFriday. After that it’s #SundayScripture – followed by #Top10Monday.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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My Carnival Liberty Vacation 2022

And now Week 2 of my 7-week series on my 8-day fun-filled vacation on the Carnival Liberty out of Miami Florida.

So I sailed on a ship that was built between 2003 and 2005. It was my first sailing on the Carnival Liberty, but it was my 7TH Carnival cruise in a row (going back to February 2010) that was on the nearly identical Conquest class ship (Glory, Valor, Liberty, Freedom). The flagship of the class – the Carnival Conquest – I’ve actually never sailed on.

This ship definitely had its issues. It was leaking from the ceiling above on various decks / floors. With a drip-drip here, and a drip-drip there. Here a drip. There a drip. Everywhere a drip-drip. Actually it wasn’t that widespread. Just a few drip-drips in a few spots around the ship, and perhaps a few flooded cabin bathrooms and deck corridors.

I had a few issues in my own cabin. Shortly upon arrival I realized that my mini-fridge had power (a light on), but it was not cooling at all. It appeared to be completely defrosted and warm to the touch. I notified my cabin steward when he introduced himself to me on that first afternoon, and while I was enjoying my fancy steakhouse dinner up on Deck 10 my mini-fridge was swapped out and replaced with one that actually cools. Oh – and my cabin steward left behind my first towel animal of the cruise:

I also left behind a note to my cabin steward on the 2ND morning of the cruise due to barely lukewarm water coming out of the shower and faucet in the bathroom. A technician was there within a few hours, and he fixed it almost immediately. I enjoyed hot showers every day after.

I’ve sailed on Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Disney, and all cruise ships have their assorted problems – more so on the older ships. It’s how they respond to the problems that’s important. After 2 Norwegian Epic cruises just 13 months apart in late-2011 and early-2013 I haven’t been on another NCL cruise ship since. The 1ST Epic cruise was fantastic during the week leading-up to Christmas (2011). The 2ND Epic cruise was not such a good experience for me – due mostly to some maintenance issues in my cabin that went unresolved for the entire cruise. I also encountered condescending customer service on that cruise.

But let’s get back to my Carnival Liberty cruise. My cabin steward (Ketut) was awesome. Every time he saw me out in the hallway (which was every day) he enthusiastically greeted me by first name, and I did the same with him. Customer service all around from the cruise staff was wonderful. The “Fun Squad” was friendly. The Cruise Director – Dustin Gabriel – was perhaps one of the most visible and personable Cruise Directors I have encountered on any cruise ship I’ve been on. He was everywhere. I saw him numerous times per day all around the ship. He led many fun activities. He was funny and sarcastic at the right times, and he was also informative and serious when he needed to be. I hope he’s my Cruise Director on a future Carnival cruise !

The itinerary for this cruise included 2 full days at sea (after embarkation day) – followed by Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao (in that order) – and then 2 full days at sea en route back to Miami. Sailing south and east towards and into the southern Caribbean on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday was a bit unsettling for some on the ship as we were sailing against very strong and gusty southeasterly winds the entire way due to a wide pressure gradient between low-pressure and a series of cold fronts to the north – and strong multiple high-pressure centers to the east. The ship did a little bit of rocking and rolling during this early part of the voyage, but then the winds and the seas calmed a bit as we slowly approached Aruba on Tuesday morning – Day 4 of the cruise.

I rarely get seasick on a cruise ship, and I didn’t this time either, but I was ready with the Dramamine on-hand in the event that I did. (I never had to take it.)

And so next #TravelThursday I’ll tell you all about the first port-of-call – Aruba.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 6 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off at the end of Day 16 at my hotel destination on the west side of Hattiesburg right around sunset that night. It was my 2ND stay at that particular hotel, and it was a good night’s stay. Back in November I wrote all about Hattiesburg Mississippi here on #TravelThursday. On a future road-trip I need to spend a couple of days there exploring the local area rather than just a hotel night.

Early the next morning – Saturday November 27TH 2021 – I departed at dawn with freezing cold temperatures and a heavy layer of frost on my car windows. Temperatures dropped to as low as 30°F / -1°C during the first hour of my drive southeastward along historic U.S. 98. I drove through Semmes and Mobile Alabama right around 8 AM, and on the east side of Mobile (after another scenic drive along Battleship Parkway) I picked-up I-10 eastward.

Post-Thanksgiving holiday traffic on I-10 eastward was a madhouse. Once again it was quite scary driving through Pensacola. It didn’t really get much better after that. I don’t think I’ve seen and experienced I-10 as busy as it was on that Saturday.

I eventually had enough of the extreme anxiety, and I got off I-10 about 95 miles earlier than originally planned – at U.S. 231 – which leads southward into Panama City. I’m very familiar with this road, as one of my longtime friends has lived a couple of miles off the road for the past 20+ years. After a fuel pitstop at Love’s (my new favorite gas station / travel stop on the road) I took a series of backroads across the Florida Panhandle (south of Tallahassee) and into the “Big Bend” area of the Florida peninsula.

U.S. 98 is fun (translation – peaceful) to drive between Hattiesburg Mississippi and Mobile Alabama, and I especially love it along the “Big Bend” area of Florida south of Perry. I picked-up U.S. 98 in Wakulla County – which is another fascinating area of my state that I’ve spent very little time in (other than driving through). I’m a big fan of “Welcome To Plathville” on TLC, and on a recent Season 3 episode the family ventured down to Wakulla Springs State Park for some fun in the sun and sea. Now I want to visit !

I enjoyed a nice #LuDinner (late-Lunch / early-Dinner combined) at an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in Chiefland – which incidentally I plan to eat at on every future visit through Chiefland. After my hearty meal I continued on for another hour to my hotel destination for the night in Crystal Springs (another town I’ve spent the night at previously). It’s located along U.S. 98 and Florida State Road 44, and where the two routes meet – it’s a very busy and congested intersection.

From the very cold low-30s up to the mild mid-60s – those were the temperatures during my drive back into my home state.

Just like Day 16 I drove another 523 miles on Day 17, so that’s 2,497 miles on this road-trip so far. And that’s where I’ll end Part 6 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll conclude with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 5 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 9 within the eastern portions of the Dallas Texas Metroplex (Collin County). I visited the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas military museum, and then from there I visited the “Dallas” TV series museum – the Southfork Ranch. It was an interesting combination of military history and television history, and it was very appropriate in that I discovered the “Dallas” TV series in England in 1986 with my military dormitory buddies. It was “must-see-TV” for us back then.

Here’s what’s even wackier. During our guided tour of the Southfork Ranch, one of our tour guides went around the room and asked where each person or couple was from. I responded “Miami”, and a couple on the other side of the room did the same. We eventually met up outside on the front grounds of the mansion following the conclusion of the guided tour. The couple were actually from Homestead (same as me), and the guy worked at Homestead Air Reserve Base (same as me) for the same Wing. He left / retired a few years ago, and he and his wife moved to the Dallas Texas area. We actually knew some of the same people on base. #SmallWorld

After I returned back to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house on that Friday afternoon I did not drive my car again until the following Friday morning. I enjoyed the day-to-day routines with my family, and we did the normal things that we always do during the week leading-up to #ThanksChristmasGiving – our traditional combined Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of my favorite things to do is something that goes back some 40 years, and it’s as simple as shopping with my brother. It’s also a good workout keeping-up with my brother in the stores.

On Day 16 of my road-trip – Friday November 26TH 2021 – I departed my family’s house for the start of the long drive home, but first I had to let my defroster melt the coat of frost off my windshield and rear window so that I could see. On that frigid morning I took the backroads of the local area over to U.S. 69, and I took that to I-20. On the south side of Shreveport Louisiana I got in one last meal at Whataburger.

Fun Fact: The nearest Whataburger is about 380 miles from my home.

After my early-lunch at Whataburger I proceeded onto I-49, and I took that to Alexandria Louisiana. From there I took backroads and old U.S highways through the rest of Louisiana, across the mighty Mississippi River, through Natchez, and over to Hattiesburg. I pretty much traced the same route eastward, as I took westward 2 weeks earlier.

I arrived at my hotel destination on the west side of Hattiesburg right around sunset that night. On that day I drove 523 miles, so that’s 1,974 miles on this road-trip so far.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 5 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll reach Florida next week, but how deep into Florida will I get ?

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries