There’s something interesting that happens when you’re on vacation with no real plans (other than relax) - you get a lot of time to think. We spent four days on on the road and seven days in the Gulf of Mexico on a west Caribbean cruise. 38 hours of total drive time gives you a lot of time with your own thoughts, especially when most everyone else in the car is either sleeping, reading, or watching movies.

Not only does it give time for thinking, it also gives you time to simply observe, if you so choose. Observe people, your surroundings, your own reactions to things, etc. It really goes hand in hand with having time to just think.

So, with that very simple premise, here are some of my thoughts and observations from our trip, in no particular order.

  • Lewis and Tolkien really were masterful in the way their incorporated their faith into “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, respectively. Lewis is a bit more overt with Narnia, but it’s still done in such a way that it doesn’t alienate readers, nor does it fall solely within the “Christian” genre. It’s simply fantasy. This is something I’ve considered for a long time in my own thoughts on “Christian” video games (and my own future aspirations of game development), especially since they’re almost universally terrible. The best “Christian” games are the ones that aren’t labeled as such, but still share the teachings of the Bible through what is considered more “secular” means. Doing that also means the creator in the chosen medium can reach a wider audience. Things labeled as “Christian” tend to have a very niche following.
  • Teen Titans Go! did an amazing four-episode tribute to the 80s titled “The Night Begins to Shine.” Lasers, a dragon, the art style, the music - it’s all there and so much more.
  • I can’t stand tourist traps, specifically where tight-corridor shops are involved with pushy salespeople. In fact, I gave them a special term while we were on the islands (Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel) to match how I felt about them - tourist trap hell.
  • I was not impressed with Jamaica. We got off the boat, got bombarded by several taxi drivers trying to sell us a ride somewhere while we were walking down the road, only to find out the whole area is gated off so you have to take a bus or taxi out. The entry area is basically a prison that forces you to use one of those services. And to make it worse, they followed us up and down the road until we went back through the gate back to the ship. Again, tourist trap hell. The view from the ship was nice though.
  • Grand Cayman was much better - still a tourist trap right off the pier, but the people were nicer and not pushy. We could have walked around more, but it was raining most of the day.
  • Cozumel was somewhere between the Jamaica and Grand Cayman experience. Not a prison, but people peddling wares and trying to get you into their shops everywhere. At least they didn’t follow us around. However, the stores were extremely cramped and it was stupidly hot and humid there. Really, I can deal with the last part well enough, but when combined with tourist trap hell… Yeah, screw that…
  • A few years ago, I went to Belize and Guatemala for a missions trip. The heat and humidity was similar to Cozumel, but it didn’t bother me. It’s amazing how the purpose of a trip will change how you deal with certain things. Also, we had some time while we were on that trip to do a couple “touristy” things, and those didn’t bother me. Mostly because people weren’t trying to sell us stuff everywhere. The shops were available, but we didn’t have to go anywhere near them if we didn’t want to. That definitely helps.
  • I ate way too much on the cruise, but it was so good.
  • My memory is best described as experiential - I tend to remember things based on experiences. I can look at a picture and know it happened (either because I’m in the picture or I took it), but if there wasn’t an experience attached to it, I probably won’t remember anything about it. That’s why I can remember events/experiences better than moments captured by a picture.
  • Because of the previous point, I usually take pictures for other people, not really for myself. I almost never look at pictures I’ve taken, unless I’m showing them to someone else.
  • Kim and I went to a lot of trivia games on the ship. All my “useless” knowledge finally paid off - I won one of the games and got a “ship on a stick” trophy. That was after a three way tie, which ended with me winning the tie-breaker by recognizing a sequence of prime numbers and giving the next prime. What can I say? I love math.
  • People tend to lie to themselves so often that they end up believing the lie. Or it’s perpetuated by someone else. Same result, though. I’ve spent most of my life saying “I’m not an artist” or “I’m not a creative type.” Except I am. Both. After 15 years as a dental technician, as I was changing careers, my boss (one of the lab owners) said I was “a master of my craft.” Making dentures is surprisingly creative and artistic (I can do some crazy wax sculpting). Now, my job is writing code, which has its own level of creativity. I’ve played D&D off and on for the last 20 years, and most of the time, I was the DM. In that role, it was my job to create worlds and populate them. All that to say, I’ve learned to recognize the lie - I am both an artist and creative. Like most people, the lie is perpetuated because we tend to look for talent, not hard work. Talent only goes so far, though. Hard work is required to become the best at something. Even talented people have to push past their talent to become better.
  • Texas speed limits between cities don’t make any real sense. Some are 70, some are 75, and they’ll suddenly drop to 55 (yes, from 75) without warning.
  • Indiana doesn’t know how to do road construction. A sign that says “road work next 25 miles” along a major freeway is a sure way to get everyone on that road to ignore just about every sign. Speed limit of 45 or 55? Nope, average flow was still 70. No trucks in the left lane? Again, no. They were in all three open lanes. Basically, 25 miles of construction is an easy way to build up state funds through overblown tickets. They don’t have the manpower to physically work on 25 miles of road. It would be far better to block off two miles of road and work on the half mile at a time that they can. Keep the traffic going, don’t arbitrarily block it. I also say this as someone who drove through there 3 months ago. Very little has changed - the new pavement is a little longer and there’s a torn up bridge. That’s about it.
  • Social media, while it can be good, is incredibly toxic. I’ll be using it (mostly Facebook) a lot less. Again. And hopefully stick with it this time.
  • Church politics is one of the most divisive things in the church (probably mostly in America), which should be obvious, given that any form of politics causes division.
  • If you’re taking time to argue theology (specifically with another believer), then you’re wasting time not fulfilling the great commission.
  • Being related to someone by blood doesn’t mean much to me. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., that I don’t really know. When we moved to New Mexico in 1992, that was the last time I saw some of them. Or have only seen that a couple of times since then. I have friends that are more family to me that those that are actually related to me.
  • People are too busy. We, as people, tend to lose sight of what’s really important because of busyness. In case you’re wondering, relationships are what I see as the most important thing that busyness tends to get in the way of. And yes, I’ve let go of some relationships because of busyness. I’m not really interested in pursuing relationships with people that don’t make time for those relationships.
  • Similarly, “I don’t have time for <insert activity here>” is a lame excuse. Just say it’s not a priority - at least then you’ll be telling the truth. Everyone has the same amount of time, and your time is no more important than anyone else’s. Your priorities may be different though, and that’s okay. That being said, relationships should still hold the highest priority. People will be there long after everything else crumbles, and relationships are the only thing that will carry into eternity.
  • Teen Titans Go! also did a pretty cool Oregon Trail episode.
  • Metroid: Samus Returns is an amazing remake.
  • I really need to get back into playing music. I have an acoustic guitar, but I’ve always preferred electric. And I still want to learn to play the harp.
  • What is a breakfast food? Or a dinner food? Why do we wait to eat dessert until after dinner? There is no real reason for any of those. The truth is there are things people think are “right” simply because they’ve been told them all their lives. Realistically, none of it really matters. They’re arbitrary constructs created by someone in the past that society tended towards. Read “20,000 Days and Counting” - it’s an awesome book that looks at life and death and what really matters.
  • Though they are fun and relaxing, cruises aren’t the be-all and end-all of vacations that some people make them out to be.

I might expand some of these into their own posts later, but for now, there’s a look at the random thoughts and observations from our vacation. Welcome to the chaos in my mind.