Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: How Dogs Love Us by Gregory Berns

How Dogs Love Us
I (Rob) also just finished reading a fascinating book called "How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain" by Gregory Berns. 
    In addition to being dog owners, dog rescuers and dog lovers, I'm working on my third book called "Pets in the Afterlife" and how they communicate so this book is really important to me.
    This is what the book is about: Proving dogs have emotions just like people do, using MRIs by scanning their brains during tests!  The author takes you on the adventure from proposal to training the dogs to the results- and of COURSE dogs have emotions!
  As a scientist myself and someone who works with Dog rescues (and has 3 dogs) we know that dogs show emotion, dream and have personalities. This scientist found a way to PROVE it scientifically to those who don't understand dogs (or those who have the ridiculous archaic beliefs that dogs "don't have souls/minds/think"). Our dogs are just like young children. They can think, reason, feel. This book is about this scientist's inspiration to understand his own dogs, how he trained them to stay perfectly still in an MRI (which people struggle with) and the amazing results.
   Okay. Now that I got that out, here's the BOOK SUMMARY:

the author's dog Callie in the MRI
The powerful bond between humans and dogs is one that’s uniquely cherished. Loyal, obedient, and affectionate, they are truly “man’s best friend.” But do dogs love us the way we love them? Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns had spent decades using MRI imaging technology to study how the human brain works, but a different question still nagged at him: What is my dog thinking?
After his family adopted Callie, a shy, skinny terrier mix, Berns decided that there was only one way to answer that question—use an MRI machine to scan the dog’s brain. His colleagues dismissed the idea. Everyone knew that dogs needed to be restrained or sedated for MRI scans. But if the military could train dogs to operate calmly in some of the most challenging environments, surely there must be a way to train dogs to sit in an MRI scanner.
With this radical conviction, Berns and his dog would embark on a remarkable journey and be the first to glimpse the inner workings of the canine brain. Painstakingly, the two worked together to overcome the many technical, legal, and behavioral hurdles. Berns’s research offers surprising results on how dogs empathize with human emotions, how they love us, and why dogs and humans share one of the most remarkable friendships in the animal kingdom.
How Dogs Love Us answers the age-old question of dog lovers everywhere and offers profound new evidence that dogs should be treated as we would treat our best human friends: with love, respect, and appreciation for their social and emotional intelligence.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Double Birthday Today: Dolly and Tyler!

Dolly and Tyler: The birthday kids cuddle
Our Weimaraner Dolly Loretta (named for Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn) turns 9 today. Our youngest Dachshund, Tyler turns 3 (no more terrible twos!)
- Our thanks to Amber Keirn of the former Wolf Creek Weimarner Rescue for saving Dolly and allowing us to bring her into our family, and to Melissa McMillion Ball and Shelley Sehnert of Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue for bringing Tyler to our family.
Happy birthday Dolly and Tyler! 

 
DOLLY'S BIRTHDAY!  Today, November 29th,  is our dog Dolly's birthday. Dolly, our lovable, affectionate, obedient, loyal, protective, sweet Weimaraner turns 9 today. I remember when I drove to Tennessee in March 2005 to the Wolf Creek Weimaraner rescue to adopt her (our friend Jeff came with me). Dolly is the sweetest dog you'll ever know. Our friend Elvina calls her a "classy lady."

Franklin, Tyler and Dolly pose
TYLER'S BIRTHDAY!  Tyler came to us about a year ago as a foster dog through Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue. His paperwork said that he was 2  years old, without a birthdate. So, because he and Dolly have become a tightly bonded pair, we made today his honorary birthday. It makes perfect sense that he was 2 years old when we got him because this last year as he worked his way into our hearts and we Adopted him in April- he's truly been exhibiting the "Terrible Twos!"  He's been a little hardhead sometimes, and a bit hard to train, but today he's 3 years old, and is much better. He and Dolly love to cuddle all the time, and he bats her in the face with his paw, playing with her every day. They chase each other and play tug of war with a toy as Franklin looks on. (Franklin is our senior kid, who turns 10 in March!)
Dolly on 3-18-05 when I met her






Dolly enjoying a stick outside and resting in the shade








Tyler: The terrible Twos

In the News: Coffee as medicine? Japanese scientists show how it helps the heart

Dunkin Donuts coffee for health!
Being a HUGE Dunkin' Donuts coffee drinker (and scientist) that I (Rob) am, I LOVE when coffee and science come together and prove great things about coffee. :) Here's one such study from Japan.
Drink up!!

In the News: Coffee as medicine? Japanese scientists show how it helps the heart
Source: Los Angeles Times:
LATimes Article Nov 24, 2013


A study presented last week (week of Nov. 17, 2013) at the American Heart Assn.’s Scientific Sessions meeting offers new evidence that coffee boosts the function of small blood vessels in people who are already healthy.
Researchers in Japan recruited 27 young adults in their 20s to participate in the study. None of them were regular coffee drinkers, but they agreed to consume two 5-ounce cups of joe for the sake of science.
On one of the days, the coffee was caffeinated. On the other day, they drank decaf. They weren’t told which was which. Neither were the researchers, who measured the volunteers’ blood pressure and blood flow after they finished their beverages.
All the medicine you need
The researchers placed a probe on the tip of each volunteer’s left index finger or thumb and used a technique called laser Doppler flowmetry to measure blood flow to the digit. It works by shining a laser beam through the blood and measuring how much it is scattered by the movement of red blood cells. For the study, the researchers interrupted blood flow to the hand for one minute, Dr. Masato Tsutsui, the cardiologist who led the study, said in an email to The Times. When the minute was up, they monitored how quickly the normal blood returned to the finger or thumb.]
It turned out that blood flow measured in the finger or thumb was 30% higher on the day they had regular coffee than on the day they had decaf. This was significant because the measurements are a proxy for how well the small blood vessels in the body are working.
That wasn’t the only change. Blood pressure rose “significantly” as well on the days the volunteers drank regular coffee, according to the study abstract. But the caffeine didn’t cause the volunteers’ hearts to beat more quickly.
The researchers also measured levels of the neurotransmitters epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine in the volunteers’ blood plasma. The levels were essentially the same after drinking both types of coffee.
“This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health,” Tsutsui said in a statement from the American Heart Assn. Tsutsui is a professor of pharmacology at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.
If scientists can figure out how caffeinated coffee helps small blood vessels work better, “it could lead to a new treatment strategy for cardiovascular disease in the future,” he said.
 But this is probably not the only reason why many studies have linked coffee consumption with better cardiovascular health, he said via email. Instead, he said, it’s “just one of many.”  
    HEAD TO DUNKIN'' DONUTS NOW TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH AND DRINK UP! :) 
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Watch for Signs from Spirits of Your Loved Ones on Thanksgiving !

Our loved ones are with us today!
Holidays are a prime time to get messages from spirits of loved ones who have passed away. As I mention in my books "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium" and "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead," our loved ones who passed are with us during holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

  Think of it this way: During a holiday, birthday or anniversary you will usually either have friends and relatives over for dinner or call them and wish them a great day. It's no different from the other side. They want to do the same for us, because we can't pick up the phone - so they come to us!
   People who have passed and crossed over become spirits. Those who choose to stay behind on Earth are ghosts. Spirits have the ability to to come to people anywhere in the world, and even come to multiple people at the same time. Whenever the Holidays roll around, they are known to try and pass messages that they're there with the family as well.
  So, how do you look for signs from them?  
- If you turn on the radio today, Thanksgiving, and you hear their favorite Christmas song (because radio stations are already playing them) - the spirit has influenced you to turn on the radio to know they're with you.
- You may find yourself doing or saying something that your late mother,  father, sister, brother or friend would be doing, or saying. Spirits can influence us to do things and say things they used to.
- You may also see someone that resembles a late loved one if you're traveling about today.
   - Look for pennies or other coins on the ground. Check the year, too- because it has some significance. I was out walking our dogs this week and found a Quarter with the year 1981 on it. That was the year my grandmother passed, so guess who dropped that coin for me? 
-  On Thanksgiving 2011, my friend Lynn's brother Michael came to me with messages for her. He told me things I had no idea about, including that they had the same eye color. SO, be vigilant and don't dismiss happenings- our loved ones DO come back during the holidays to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah."
  Wishing you and your loved ones a great Thanksgiving- and KNOW that those who have passed are still around your table. You just don't have to feed them! :)
Rob Gutro

Book Review! "Theresa Caputo: There's More to Life Than This"

I just finished reading Theresa Caputo's book "There's More to Life Than This  Healing Messages, Remarkable Stories, and Insight About the Other Side from the Long Island Medium
     I enjoyed reading the book and the stories of how messages she got were proven and were very healing to the people she read for.
   I did find it fascinating that she had terrible anxiety as a result
of ignoring her abilities. The book says that once Theresa began channeling, she realized that she felt much better after delivering a message from Spirit and releasing that energy. Since then she’ s used her extraordinary gift to help people heal from the loss of their loved ones.
  The book addresses what happens to your soul when you die, what Spirit says Heaven is like, what the deceased want you to know, the importance of living a positive life, and the many roles that your family, friends, angels, guides, souls of faith, and God play here and in the afterlife. One thing that I didn't care for were all of the heavy religious references, but to each his own. The communications are the most important thing. Yes, religion is helpful in establishing spirituality, but people grow out of their religions and become spiritual, realizing that God, the supreme energy, Odin, Buddha or whatever you want to call it has no boundaries for unconditional love.
     Since I wrote two books of my own about talking to dead people and what I learned, there were just a few things that I learned from Theresa's book. But- for anyone that enjoys the show, you'll enjoy the book!   - Rob



 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip #8: What Was the Resort Like? / Karma and Weird People

SO WHAT WAS THE RESORT LIKE? 
Tom and Rob  - ready to go home!
In the Oasis Sens Resort, there were about 6 restaurants open at different times (they don't open before 6:30 a.m.).  The food was okay - filling, but nothing to write home about.  One person we met got very sick on the water in the resort's nightclub (although I drank water in the restaurants and had no issues). The waitstaff and spa people were really nice.
 - There were several pools and it was very relaxing. We also enjoying walking the beach.
 - The downside was the weather. It rained 3 of the 5 days (not all the time though) but the surf was so rough from a stationary front that red flags were up telling people not to go in the ocean (some fools did, though).
Lobby of the Oasis Sens Resort Hotel

MORE KARMA AND WEIRD PEOPLE - The resort was gay-friendly so there was a level of comfort. In fact we saw about 10 gay couples during our stay. What's weird is that they don't seem very friendly. While sitting at a table in one of the restaurants, Tom talked with two guys in their mid-20s at the next table while he was waiting for me. The two guys were from New Hampshire and this was their first trip. He asked if they wanted to join us afterward for coffee or a drink. They said they had to meet someone at the bar so that was that.  - An hour later as we were about to leave they came back and sat and talked with us for 30 minutes. We talked about dogs, New England and vacations and it was nice. They suggested meeting for lunch and dinner the next day at 1pm af 6pm so we said okay. They didn't show and didn't leave a message. Tom later  ran into one of them who was somewhat aloof  and somewhat short. We didn't get it. The next day, they saw us sitting in a restaurant and walked by without waving or anything. People are weird.
Tom hiding from weird people!
  When you treat others poorly or act strange it comes back to you. That's karma. At the end of our short stay we learned that one of the young guys got some kind of food poisoning after they ignored us. I never wish bad things on people, but it's a lesson to keep in mind: What you give is what you get.
 
the flight home!
CHECKING OUT:  Check out was a little more complicated because of all the little papers they give you, and you have to check your bags with the bellman and he calls you in the lobby when your shuttle arrives... he needs the ticket he gave you for the luggage but also the small 2 inch receipt from the front desk that shows you paid for your room (which I had to search for!).      It was a good trip, but I would recommend that people leave EARLY in the morning for the airport for earlier flights.  Our transport was 11am for our 2pm flight (which was ample time) but we struggled to think of what to do in the morning after breakfast.
A SHORT VIDEO COMPILATION OF OUR TRIP


  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip #7: Spa Day and a Grandmother's Message

Because I (Rob) can get messages from people who passed and because I'm not well-developed in my abilities (I call myself a "Medium Rare"), they come to me when the come to me. Well, one spirit did come to me when I was at the resort!
  SPA DAY - Because it was Tom's birthday celebration, one of the things he wanted to do was get a massage and a facial treatment (we're getting old, okay? - we need a nip, tuck, and stretch). Because it was a gay friendly resort, they took us in as a couple and we got massages and facials in the same room. The two middle-aged Mexican women who worked on us were very gentle and it was a relaxing experience. My face actually appeared to have less laugh lines on it.
The blue and black blanket
  A GRANDMOTHER'S MESSAGE - During the massage, my head was clear and I was very relaxed. That's when the grandmother came through for the woman (whom I'll call Maria) who was giving me the massage. She showed me a blue and black blanket and said "she was there" She showed me a young girl chasing a dark colored bird in a grassy area. She told me to tell her grand-daughter that she is around her and helping her take care of things.
   After the massage I explained about my abilities, and although they spoke no English and I spoke just a little Spanish, they knew what a Medium is. One of the other employees, a cute young guy named Milton provided translation. Then it all came together. Tom helped interpret the signs and it made sense.
Young girl and a bird

CONFIRMATION!  -   Maria said that she was very worried about her 90 year old mother's health and was just with her in the morning. She said that she put a black and blue colored blanket on her mother to keep her comfortable.That meant that Maria's grandmother's spirit was there when she covered her mother with the blanket. Maria's grandmother thanked her for taking care of her daughter (Maria's mother).
    Dark colored birds are a symbol for someone who has passed or is about to pass. I saw a dark bird hit the window of our house the week before Tom's grandmother passed. The dark bird and the young girl were symbolic of Maria's young niece who recently passed. This was Maria's grandmother's way of saying that Maria's niece is safe and with Maria's grandmother on the other side.
COMFORT AND THANKS - Maria was so grateful for these messages. Milton, who was translating, said that Maria had been very upset by her mother's failing health and was grateful to know that her grandmother's spirit was with her mother, and also happy to hear that her niece is safe on the other side with her grandmother. In fact, while we were getting ready to leave the spa, Maria brought us two glasses of champagne!

NEXT: WHAT WAS THE RESORT LIKE? and MORE KARMA IN ACTION 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip #6: A Beach Day!

Finally, Rob and Tom on a beach day!
Sunday, Nov. 17 was our beach day. The clouds finally departed and the sun shone brightly as temperatures warmed near 90F in Cancun, Mexico.

After a 6:30 a.m. breakfast, we decided to walk the beach as the rough waves continued to crash upon the sand. We walked for about 2 hours and looked for shells as we did.

The beach from the pool of our resort
DAMAGED HOTELS- As we walked north along the beach there were several hotels that were hurricane damaged and abandoned. They were also stripped of resources that would be used in other new structures. One hotel was roofless and we could see where a pool once sat, only by blue tiles along a broken wall facing the ocean. I don't know which storm that was that caused the destruction, but I would guess it was hurricane Wilma in 2005.
someone parasailing on the beach









Tom and Rob enjoying the sunshine on Cancun beach!

 Tom managed to get a nice tan, and Rob, despite sunscreen, managed to get a red-sunburnt chest and shoulders (although covered with a shirt and towel most of the time.
Clouds moved in later
Clouding up in the afternoon
READING/WATCHING -    We did a lot of reading on the beach and a lot of people watching. There were a LOT of people that should NOT have taken their shirts off...  Of course, they did offer shade to little kids that couldn't find an umbrella. :)

NEXT: SPA DAY AND A GRANDMOTHER'S SPIRIT'S MESSAGE


Later, Tom found his margarita!

Tom's margarita was out!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Does this make sense to you? Trying to Over-ride this Voted in Maryland Law?


I have to ask if a new "political platform" just agreed on makes sense after the following law was passed in this state.

FACT: In 2012, a majority of voters in the State of Maryland voted in a law that says "Any politician convicted of a crime must resign from office." 


According to the Baltimore Sun, on Nov. 24, 2013 in an article by Reporter Erin Cox, "Leaders in the Maryland Republican Party are promoting the recent win in the Annapolis mayoral race (the guy won by less than 100 votes). Regardless. here's what DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO US:

"On Saturday, convention delegates voted against a resolution that would have called on public officials to resign if convicted of crimes and incarcerated while in office. State Del. Don Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel Republican, was sentenced last month to 60 days in jail to be served on weekends. The jail term is for two incidents — operating a boat under the influence in a crash in August 2012 and driving a car while impaired in August of this year."

NOW, I ASK YOU- if the majority of the state of Maryland voted to DEMAND politicians who committed crimes step down from the office, then WHY would any political party try to rescind that? (unless a lot of them are committing crimes???)
SOURCE: SOURCE: Baltimore Sun Article

Cancun Birthday Trip #5: Xplor: Zip Lines and Sign from Sprite

This is part 5 of our adventures in the Xplor park in Mexico. The first thing we did was the zip lines, and it included two of Rob's fears: 1) fear of heights and 2) fear of open stairs (with no front riser) - which is how all 7 towers brought us up to the top where the zip lines were. 


There were 2 Zip Line routes,each with 7 zip lines. I think they were both about 150 feet off the ground. The one we opted for, UM, Tom opted for, had the water slide in the middle of the route.  

Sprite's butterfly
SIGN FROM SPRITE - Anyone who reads our blog knows that on July 8, 2013 we said a sad goodbye to our 16 1/2 year old dachshund Sprite. The week that Sprite passed, a yellow and black butterfly followed us around daily. Friends who read about Sprite's butterfly encountered the same kind of butterfly right after reading about it.  As we were going up the first Zip Line tower, I (Rob) was dealing with my anxiety from my fear of heights. As we got to the top of the (open faced stairs) and to the tower platform, suddenly a yellow and black butterfly flew around my feet and lingered for a short time. I KNEW it was Sprite and I heard "don't worry daddy, I'm here to protect you." That gave me the courage to do all of the zip lining.
  What's odd is that it was the ONLY yellow and black butterfly we saw the entire day. All of the other butterflies were blue with black outlines on the wings, and one orange butterfly. There is no such thing as a coincidence.  This was a message from Sprite when I needed to hear it. 

ZIP LINING - I let Tom go first for the most part, but sometimes I had to go first. It was easier to watch him and keep my focus on him as I zipped over 150 feet over the ground. After the first couple of times, it wasn't so bad. THEN we did the water slide.


THE WATER SLIDE - After 2 zip lines one of the towers led to a water slide. I wouldn't have minded

What going down the slide looks like>>>
it so much if not for THREE things. 1) The water was really cold. 2) Twice during the slide forceful jets of water shot in my (and Tom's) face on the way down. (Tom said it should've been toward the feet not the face) 3) at the bottom it dropped you into a 4 foot pool and I wasn't expecting that, so my head went underwater and I got a snoot-full of water. But I got over it all quickly enough and went back to the next zip line.


END OF THE LINE - ANOTHER SOAKING -- By the end of the zip line route, there was another wet surprise that I didn't expect. The last zip line ended in an underground pool in a cave!  Yes, it's cool... BUT
This is where the zip line trail ended
We survived the zip lines!
 the guy at the top of the zip line tower said to me that I didn't weigh enough to get me into the cave. He was right. At the mouth of the cave was a waterfall (a strong waterfall)... guess where I stopped - YES... right UNDER the waterfall. I couldn't see and had to try and paddle into the cave. In addition, the water was over my head (I'm only 5'6") and I don't like it when my head is underwater, especially when I can't see (I had to also leave my glasses in the locker).
   It was a challenge because as you can see by the photo, it was about 50 feet from the cave mouth to the employees helping disconnect the cables from the zip line. Fortunately, Tom weighs a little more than me, so he came through the cave opening without issue.

NEXT: FINALLY, A BEACH DAY! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip #4: Xplor: Amphibious Vehicles and Karma in Action!

THE AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLE ROUTE AND KARMA - These gas powered vehicles were
Amphibious Vehicle going through a cave
somewhat hard to steer, so I (Rob) let Tom drive first (we did go back to the locker and get my glasses so I could see to drive, too). The route went about 2 miles through jungle, with some tight turns on narrow roads and then through two underground caves!   Tom drove flawlessly through one cave and I drove through the other.
  In the entrance of both cave areas was a pool of mud, which we carefully drove through so as not to get soaked with it. It was a fun ride.

banquet hall where Tom met the jerk
KARMA IN ACTION - Before we took the amphibious vehicle adventure, we had lunch. During lunch Tom was near the ice cream machine that he had just tried and it was out. He was still standing there when a kid walked up and also couldn't get ice cream out of it. The kid's father came up behind Tom and said to the boy "did you break it?" Tom told him that that spigot was out of ice cream and the man ignored Tom and gave him attitude. So, Tom walked away. During the Amphibious Vehicle ride, guess who was broken down on the side of the road with a flat tire?  YUP, the idiot father that gave Tom attitude. Karma in Action!

NEXT: ZIP LINING AND A MESSAGE FROM SPRITE

Happy 50th birthday Tom!

Happy birthday to the love of my life! 
a serious picture!
family time!
Today, Nov. 23, Tom turns 50!  I knew that he was the one on our first date on Dec. 10, 2005 when we went Christmas shopping and wound up singing Christmas songs together. He's super-smart, funny, quirky, an amazing architect, an amateur historian on the Tudors, loves gardening, dogs and dog rescue, a very clean house, easy to cook meals, vacations, beaches, margaritas and more. It was through falling in love with Tom that my life improved a million-fold. He's taught me so much- like how to lay down floor tile, cut wall tiles, etc. (I just didn't catch on to painting walls, and that's fine with me).  So, today, I celebrate the birthday of the love of my life!!
with Beekman Boys!


house project!



We love being goofy together!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip#3: Xplore: Underground Caves

Tom and Rob ready to "Xplore"
Part three of our adventures in Cancun included spending a day in a natural recreational park called Xplor.
  This adventure included THREE things that Tom has always wanted to do, and THREE FEARS of Rob's that he had to overcome. You'll find out what they are in a minute.

      XPLOR has underground caves where you can take a paddleboat  and another cave where you can swim through them. We took the zipline run that included 7 zip lines with a waterslide in the middle, and the last zip line ends into a lake that goes into a cave opening. There's also an amphibious vehicle route through the jungle and tight caves, and an underground river surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites; where we took a raft ride paddling with our hands while wondering at the rock formation process created by nature millions of years ago. Website: http://www.xplor.travel/ - and a meal is included! 
  The caves date back to the age of the dinosaurs and there were some dinosaur skeletons set up in a couple of the caves (one was a duck-billed dinosaur and another a pterodactyl).
The duck-billed dinosaur skeleton in one of the caves

TOM'S WANTS, ROB'S FEARS:We covered them all in one day at the park.
Tom's wants: 1) zip lining 2) water slide 3) exploring caves
 Rob's fears: 1) heights 2) open stairs (that led up to the zip line towers) 3) having my head go underwater (which happened TWICE-on the water slide and at the end of the zip line in the cave pool.

Stalactites and stalagmites




Entrance to Xplore

WHAT IS A STALACTITE? - A stalactite  means "to drip" and is a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, hot springs, or manmade structures such as bridges and mines. Basically water runs through limestone, a porous rock (or lava, ice or concrete) and the minerals drip, harden and form into a pointed structure.
WHAT IS A STALAGMITE? - A type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings.
end of the zip line trail... in a watery cave!
Although we did the zip lining adventure first, I'll share that tomorrow, because we got a supernatural sign from our late dog Sprite at a good time for Rob.

UNDERGROUND PADDLING - The second adventure of the day included getting on a plastic raft with hand paddles and paddling through 2 miles of twisting, turning caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites.
  The paddling was shoulder intensive and a good workout. Fortunately, we had experience paddling from our vacation in Puerto Rico when we did the kayak thing and we were pretty coordinated (much more than several others, thankfully).

couple rafting in the caves
Our helmet numbers
  The routes were pretty well-lit and we opted for the longest way. It was really enjoyable, although if anyone has claustrophobia they would certainly not have a good time doing it. We, however, found it peaceful and relaxing.


NEXT: AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLES AND KARMA IN ACTION!




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cancun Birthday Trip #2: Downtown Cancun/Misinformation with a Benefit

   This is part 2 of our trip to Cancun, Mexico where we celebrated (early) Tom's 50th birthday.
Bus ride back to the hotel
MISINFORMATION WITH A BENEFIT -  There are several new time shares being built north of the Cancun hotel 16 mile strip. We learned about them on day 2. Here's how:


  When we arrived at the airport  there was a desk that said "transportation information." So, we were looking for info on where to pick up our shuttle and walked to the desk. There we found a very personable Mexican guy who noticed I was wearing my Superman ring and said he's a huge fan (his co-workers agreed). The guy told us where the van is located, but then asked if we booked excursions to attractions yet. We had not, and didn't know what was around so we let him tell us about some of them.  One was perfect for us: it was called "Xplore."  It had zip lining, a water slide, boating through underground caves and amphibious vehicles. Tom has been wanting to zip line  and do a water slide, so we were sold.
   The guy at the desk said, "Just come see our new hotel and we'll give you a discount on an attraction." He assured us it would take 90 minutes and that this new hotel just wanted to get people to see their place and book a room on their next visit and tell their travel agents, etc.We agreed (the discount for the tickets was substantial and the guy kept saying it was a hotel and not a time share).
Sunrise part 1
THE PRESENTATION -  The next morning at 7:15 a.m. the same guy that talked with us at the airport "information desk" showed up at our hotel with a cab and drove us to the "new hotel."
   There we met a nice retired gay man named Ray who first took us to breakfast in the "hotel." Over a brief breakfast he talked about the place and all its amenities. We mentioned dogs and he has 3 dogs as well, and has a partner there in Cancun, so we had some things in common. It was then that we finally learned that the hotel is actually a time share based on points, and all for a mortgage of $20k.Despite that, out of curiosity we didn't say anything and wanted to see the place (of course, Tom had architectural interests in mind and I wanted to know how sturdy it would be facing a hurricane like Wilma that socked the area hard in 2005).
  The place was gorgeous and the rooms were amazing.  So were the amenities. However, we had never even been to the Cancun downtown area, and this was our first real time in Cancun. We know nothing about the area, economy, transportation, food, etc. and there were too many questions, so we politely declined - besides, we have a financial plan and that doesn't fit in.
    The 90 minute session turned into 3 hours! But we did get tickets to Xplore for 1/3rd of the cost and the place was nice. It was mis-information (or a scam) from the airport... so people need to beware. We weren't upset though. It was a nice place and we met a couple of nice people and got tickets to Xplor at a great price.


Sunrise part 2
EXPLORING DOWNTOWN CANCUN AND MARKET 28 - One of the places we were told to see was "Market 28," so on the way back from the time share meeting, the cab dropped us off there. Market 28 is in downtown Cancun,and it was full of trinkets.It seemed that the Walmart was the center of town. Now this is first impressions, but the  downtown area is run down, dirty and very poor. We learned that a cab costs $16.00 but the bus to and from the Hotel area to downtown should take the R2 bus for $1.00. 

View from our balcony

We found Mopar in Mexico!









MOPAR AND DOWNTOWN CANCUN - Our friends and neighbors Nathan and Stacey have a great dog they named Mopar. Mopar comes from a combination of the words: Motor and Parts. While near "Market 28" we came across a car that said "Mopar" so we had to take a picture for them!


NEXT: XPLOR AND UNDERGROUND CAVES!

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14