Tag Archives: Travel

5 Things About Taking a Cruise

I haven’t been to a lot of other countries. That might surprise you, since I’m such a cosmopolitan and learned gentleman. But it’s true! Before last month the only foreign country I had ever been to was Canada. And, if we’re being honest (we are!), that doesn’t really count.

However, I was recently able to up my total of foreign countries visited to two! I mean, that’s not great, but there are people in America who have never been on a plane. So I guess it could be worse. Anyway, I took a cruise to the Bahamas (one of the most American ways possible to go about seeing another country), and these are my observations.

5. It Seems Like a Bargain…BUT

The initial reason a cruise seemed attractive was the price tag. I majored in journalism (good choice past Burk!), which means my bank account is less than robust. A cruise seemed like a good way to see a different part of the world for relatively cheap.

And it is! Kinda! See, the initial price per person isn’t that staggering at face value. I think when my girlfriend and I booked the trip it was between $250-$300 per person for an interior room–a room without a view, so to speak. Cruise lines conveniently forget to remind you that there are fees and taxes associated with that price, though. We actually ended up paying a little more than $400 per person.

What a bargain!

Still, that doesn’t seem too bad for a room and all of your meals. Be prepared to get absolutely gouged on everything else, though.

The booze is really where they get you. Alcohol is marked up to airport bar and stadium concession stand prices. I want to drink a cold beer on my vacation as much as the next guy, but I also don’t want to pay $5 for a Bud Light. The mark up on the medicine in the little shop was even worse. Also, the cruise line will tack on a fee for gratuity, which can run you about $100.

4. The Staff is Incredibly Diverse

Our cruise left from Charleston, so I guess I assumed the majority of the crew would be American. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There were a few Americans (mostly people running the activities throughout the day), but, just on the first day alone, we encountered people from South Africa, Australia, England, Bulgaria, Mexico and a number of Asian countries.

Also, our cruise director was named Jacques and had an accent I was never able to place. During the first announcement, I briefly thought he might have been Jean Claude Van Damme fallen on hard times. That proved to be false when I failed to notice any significant splits doing or throat punching throughout the week.

Our ethnically ambiguous director aside, it was amazing that a crew that diverse was able to communicate and keep things running smoothly with little to no issue.

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5 Things About Moving to the South

Over the last 27 years, I’ve lived in four different states. I made my most recent move a little more than a year ago when I moved from Kansas to North Carolina.

However, I was raised primarily in what author Colin Woodward calls “Yankeedom,” a portion of the upper Midwest (that also stretches into New England). As a (proud) Northerner, I was a little ambivalent about what I might experience in North Carolina.

Here’s what I’ve seen over the last year.

Author’s note: This post is based entirely on my experiences. Some of you might have had different experiences or disagree with my conclusions, and that’s great! But I can only speak to my own perceptions. Also, I think it goes without saying, but I will regardless, of course I’m biased. I admit that. I grew up in town northwest of Chicago for 18 years. For me, the South might as well have been a foreign country.

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Moving Halfway Across the Country…Again

A little more than two years ago, I accepted a reporting position in Kansas and moved halfway across the country.

Last month, I accepted a new position in North Carolina, and, once again, had to move thousands of miles. These are the things I learned and observed along the way.

You have more stuff than you think 

In Kansas, I lived in a tiny basement apartment. To put it into perspective, I didn’t have counters in the kitchen, the ceiling in the bathroom gave me (5’5″) just enough room to move around, and my living room couch was about seven feet from my bed. 

Do want.

Yet, somehow, I managed to cram boxes upon boxes of stuff into that apartment. Once you’re forced to pack up all of your worldly possessions, it becomes very clear what you care about.

Apparently, I care a great deal about books, movies, music and video games. Not that, that’s a shock to anyone. I would say about half of my boxes were dedicated to words and stories and ideas.

And I’m fine with that.

Moving is more expensive than you think

I had to move about a thousand miles. It’s certainly not a short move but I really had no idea how much it would cost me.

The U-Haul truck alone, not including gas and hotels, was about $1,000. That might not be a terribly exorbitant amount of money to some of you, but, remember, I work in the illustrious field of journalism.

It’s lucky that I was paid for all my sick days and vacation days when I left my old job. If that weren’t the case, I probably would have had to ask my family for a loan–A loan to move on to a better opportunity, which seems ass backward.

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We’re Not In Illinois Anymore

So if you haven’t heard, which you probably haven’t, I have a real job now. The Manhattan Mercury, in Manhattan, Kan.,  hired me as a city government reporter. Anyway, on Tuesday, I headed west for Kansas. I noticed a lot of things on my 11-hour drive. I also noticed a lot of things during my brief time here. This is a list of those things.

Rest Areas

On an 11-hour drive, rest areas become important. My drive spanned four states, and I experienced each state’s rest areas. There were marked differences. So here are the results of the First Annual Four-State Rest Area Rest Off.

The sign isn't lying.

The Worst: Illinois by a wide margin. What the hell is the Illinois government doing with all that laundered money?

The Best: Iowa by a wide margin. I didn’t know there were rest areas with wireless internet because I’m so used to Illinois’ crappy rest areas.

Coolest Individual Rest Stop: The rest area/Missouri visitors center on I-39. It had a staff, which was surprising and refreshing. But the coolest thing were the cutout silhouettes of bison and cowboys on the hill overlooking the rest area.

That’s how you add some style to a structure that’s used exclusively for bodily functions and stuffing your face with vending-machine candy and pop.

Scratches

After having several CDs skip repeatedly, I realized I need to stop stacking them in the compartment under the CD player. I don’t have a witty comment or pun. I just need to stop doing it. If I write it down, I might actually do it.

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