"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 14, 2014

Vacation: Part 1

Did you miss me?  Come on, I know you did.  Are you ready to hear about our vacation?  Well, let’s go then! 

Our plane was set to leave Northwest Arkansas at 7:20am on Sunday the 6th and we were ready and expecting to be in West Palm Beach before 1pm! 

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There was bad weather in Dallas, so we wound up spending almost 2 hours sitting in a tiny plane on the taxi way before we even took off.  Have I mentioned that I’m claustrophobic?  I can handle a plane ride when there is a destination in sight, but just sitting there was difficult.  Our delay meant that we missed our connecting flight at DFW, so we had to play musical desks to find someone who could/would help us.  We got on another flight a couple of hours later, so we went to eat and then to our gate.  Then that flight was cancelled completely.  Sad faces. 

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Musical desks again.  Lots of very unhelpful American Airlines staff.  Finally, we were scheduled for a different flight to Huston and then on to West Palm Beach, since the only alternative was to get a hotel and try to catch a flight the next day.  That flight was late, but not so much that it messed anything else up.  By the time we got to Huston we were exhausted. 

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We finally made it to West Palm Beach just before 1am and there was a car waiting to take us to The Breakers hotel.  Yay for finally arriving! 

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We missed the activities and party on Sunday evening, so Monday morning we had to check in with the vacation police (my endearing term for the hoards of staff that kept the company portion of our trip organized).  That morning we had the corporate meeting and I had to snap a photo of the screen showing just how awesome my dear husband is at his job. 

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In case you can’t see what it says… it clarifies that everyone who received this President’s Club award is considered among the most elite salespersons in a great sales force, there were 265 winners from 33 different countries and that puts Drew among the top 2% in his field.  Go Drew! 

After the official meeting, the guest speaker was Erik Wahl.  He’s a speed artist and motivational speaker.  That was cool, but I was just ready for an afternoon of this…

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The water was very rough that day, so the lifeguards were keeping everyone very close to shore and there were no water sports available (the kayaks were what we wanted to do).  No matter, we had a great afternoon on the beach, complete with lots of sunscreen and drinks on demand. 

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We ended our afternoon on the beach to shower and get ready for the awards ceremony. 

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We had a super fancy dinner with a table full of people that we didn’t know and then sat and listened while each group of President’s Club winners were acknowledged. 

Ready for Tuesday?  Fishing!  We got up early to meet the shuttle to the marina and it was worth it just for this sunrise.  Amazing.  Seriously. 

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I was so very pleased to see this boat waiting for us.  Not huge, but big enough to quiet my fear of a teeny tiny boat.  And no, it was not named Murphy’s Law, it was the Martini. 

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The captain and the mate were great guys and there was one other couple on the boat who happened to be total duds.  Oh well, we still had a great time!  I made a comment about feeling bad for doing nothing, but David (the mate) said that was his job and it was actually easier for him if we didn’t try to help too much!  So, we sat back, asked questions, kept the conversation going, let him do the hard work and then got to do the reeling and  catching of the fish! 

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We caught several “junk fish” (that were fun to catch, but not for eating), several black fin tuna and then I caught a mahi mahi!  It was so much fun!  The water was pretty rough, but we didn’t get sick (unlike the dud that was with us and threw up off the back of the boat).  It really was so much fun and I learned quite a bit about how different that fishing is from what we are used to here in Arkansas. 

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Back to the hotel we went for a shower, a quick nap and then  for a fancy dinner party in the club house on the golf course. 

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It was an absurdly fancy 4 course meal.  FYI, iceberg wheel is a rich way to say, “We didn’t feel like cutting up your lettuce.”  I tried to be pleasant and enjoy all the ornate food in the dining room crowded with strangers, but really I was thinking about eating a baked potato and sitting on the patio.  I survived.  No worries.  The most interesting part of the even was listening to the man from Saudi Arabia that was sitting next to me.  Somehow we got to a point in the conversation where he told us about the camels in his country.  He explained that each camel has a number on its neck that is assigned to a person.  If a car hits a camel during the day then that number is recorded and the person driving the car owes the owner for the camel.  If a car hits a camel at night then the camel owner has to pay the owner of the car for the damages.  Apparently it isn’t uncommon to find a camel that has been hit and then the head cut off so that the numbers can’t be traced back to the owner.  Interesting, right? 

Wednesday… catamaran day.  The water was calmer, but the wind was blowing strong.  We sailed up the coast a bit, but it was quite chilly so they took us into the intercoastal and found a little cove that blocked the wind so we could go swimming.  The captain of the boat was a lot of fun and took the first chance he found to give me a hard time.  Just as I was about to jump off the boat and into the water, the captain said, “Are you going to jump or not?”  I laughed and said, “I’m fixing to!”  He about came unglued!  “Did you say fixin’?!  I can’t believe you said fixin’!!”  I see nothing wrong with that word, but I am from Arkansas.  We all laughed at my expense and had a good time.  After we went swimming we had lunch and I went back for a cookie, but the tray hadn’t been touched yet.  I was trying to make conversation with some people sitting close by, so…

Me: Do you think I’ll get in trouble for stealing a cookie?

Woman: Surely not, but if you take three then maybe. 

Me: I think I’ll stick with one.

Woman’s husband: Well, you are eating for two. 

Me: (blank stare of disbelief)

I mean, seriously?  Pregnant?!  At least I was wearing a sundress and we can just pretend that the wind was blowing and making it look like a baby bump! 

We trolled through the water way while the captains pointed out some cool stuff and it was a great time (you know, even considering I was eating for two, ha ha). 

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That night was theme night, the theme being early 60’s and the Rat Pack.  Drew and I didn’t dress for the part, just wore nice clothes. 

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Again, the food was interesting and gourmet.  We ate and visited with the people at our table while listening to a great live band and then we called it a night.  There was nobody we were so friendly with that we wanted to stick around, so we decided that sitting on a bench and watching the waves roll in under the moonlight was way more fun. 

Thursday morning we packed up and caught a shuttle to the airport where we picked up our rental car and enjoyed a wonderful few days to ourselves.  I’ll save that recap for another post.  To wrap up this post, I have some commentary on our stay at The Breakers. 

It’s excessive.  Absurdly excessive and indulgent.  It’s fun to see such a different world and lifestyle, but I’m not comfortable with it.  On the island the entire culture is wealthy.  The resort is historic and rooted in the Flagler family and lots of other old money families.  Nannies walk with the children behind distracted moms & dads. Meals are served with 3 or 4 courses and formal place settings.  There are water glasses, tea glasses and wine glasses.  People in tuxedos refill your wine without request.  Half eaten plates of food are cleared and filled with more decadent choices.  Outside the resort the island is rows and rows of wealth management firms, banks and investment firms.  The streets are filled with Rolls Royce vehicles and Jaguars.  The shops are high end boutiques and formal restaurants.  Then you cross the bridge and reenter the real world.  It’s impossible for me to ignore the run down buildings and apparent poverty.  It disturbs me.  In my opinion, it should disturb everyone.  It seems to me that the people who live in a world of The Breakers resorts are in a self absorbed bubble.  They are indulging in every singe material aspect of life while people two miles away are hungry and homeless.  It bothers me.  The excessiveness and entitlement makes me uncomfortable. 

I’m not saying that we should take away all of their money and hand it out.  That’s not my belief.  I just feel something deep inside of me that says I’m not personally okay with such a lifestyle.   All of that said, I’m grateful for experiences so far out of my comfort zone… it stretches me and grows me.   I’m also super thankful that Drew and I had a few days to ourselves after that to really relax and be together.  Stay tuned for those stories. 

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