Posts Tagged ‘Taco Bell’

The opposite of a bucket list

People regularly compile lists of 50 or 100 things you should do before you die – places to visit; films to see; books you really should read; and experiences you should have. The topic of this blog is 7 things I never want to do again in my life.

1. Go Whale Watching. I’ve done this at least twice in my life: once off the coastline of Maine; the second time off the coast of California. Now, undoubtedly, these are better places to see whales than in, say, Oklahoma…..but only just.

It seems to me that whale watching consists of getting in a fairly small boat for several hours. After a short period of time, about half of your party goes green with sickness and retreat inside the boat. They can’t wait for the experience to end. The other half isn’t so lucky. They get to point at objects on the far horizon. While it is quite fun to point at a random point in an excited way to see how many people also see the non-existent whale, you do eventually end up glimpsing a whale tail. At the end of the experience, you are left with very many photographs of the sea where allegedly there was once a whale. Whale watching is a waste of time; go and see Shamu instead.

2. Read The Bible. I’ve also done this twice. Now the Old Testament is pretty interesting in parts, but there is far too much begatting for my liking. The New Testament is just made up, and Paul is a bigot who would be too extreme even for Fox News.

3. Go to Disneyland. I have been to all the Disney properties around the globe; California twice; Florida too many times to remember; and Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong once each. That’s it. I don’t need to do it again (sorry kids). I get that it’s magic; it’s definitely clever, but has anyone ever done the math(s) on how expensive it is? It cost about $400 for my family of four for one day at Magic Kingdom. At most times of the year when you get to take a vacation, the park is really crowded. Almost all of the lines quickly extend to over an hour in length. Maybe you will get to do 8 rides or features that are worth paying for. That’s $50 per feature.

4. Eat a Hershey’s chocolate bar. I’m sorry to break this to everyone, but they taste of vomit.

5. Eat at a Taco Bell. I only attempted to do this once. What a profoundly depressing experience that was. Utilitarian, dirty, ingredients seemingly sourced on the basis only of price. A friend of mine recently told me that he had once gone to Taco Bell but that they weren’t able to serve anyone. Apparently, their meat hose was blocked. Yeuch. Go to Willies or Chipotle instead.

6. Watch a Director’s cut movie or indeed any movie over 3 hours in length. Directors – You should be able to tell your story in 90 to 100 minutes (2 hours max). Producers – Fewer people go to very long films. Cut the film and see your revenues rise. I won’t be seeing Wolf of Wall Street.

7. Go to Las Vegas. Where to start? Let’s start with the positive elements. I like the brash nature of the shows, especially the magic ones. I like that the airport is near to the Strip.

Now, let’s move on to the debit column:
i) Incessant noise everywhere and at all times of day and night. The first two occasions that we went there, we checked out and left the city early. Seeing Las Vegas in my rear view mirror were my favourite memories.
ii) What is the point of a slot machine? It’s just a mechanism designed for you to waste your time. You will eventually lose all of your money. I just can’t see the joy in holding a large cup of grubby quarters and putting them into a machine, or of playing long enough for someone to come up to you to offer you a comp (lementary drink)….Especially, when you are obliged to pay a tip greater than the value of the drink.
iii) The length of the buffet lines at any time you typically would eat. The only more depressing experience is the quality of food from most of these buffets, above that of Taco Bell but only just.
iv) There are some seriously long walks either inside the hotel or between hotels. It doesn’t look too far because of perspective; the length of your walk just looks short compared to the huge size of your hotel destination. Also, I don’t much appreciate all of the fliers for girls thrust in your hand or strewn on the sidewalk.

Besides, I was married there.

I am now preparing myself for all of the responses from Shamu-lovers, Vegas residents, bible-bashers, Micky fans, aficionados of long films, smore gourmands and, of course, my wife. The only fans who won’t object are Taco-Bell lovers (because they can’t read).


What to do on Little Gasparilla Island

The girls canoeing, unfortunately not in a co-ordinated way

With no commercial activity at all on Little Gasparilla Island, Tilly has identified that the days form a predictable pattern:

Going for a run on the beach – The Island is 7 miles long – 7 miles of beach and 7 miles of dockside, with a few hundred metres/yards of shrub in between.  We are towards the south of the island, so I can go for the short run southwards or the long run northwards.  At pretty much all times of the day except sunset, the beach is deserted.  It is rumoured that Lorna has also been exercising, but we’ve only seen the walking/warming up stage.

Fishing – After a very slow start (where she caught nothing and whinged that she was no good at it), Nancy is the queen of the fishermen.  As of Wednesday evening, Nancy had caught 11 fish leaving me (7), Tilly (4) and Lorna (4) behind in her wake.  Nancy names each of her fish (Gnish, Gnash, Gnosh, Gnush etc) before banging them on the head and later eating them.

Fishing is often interrupted by more interesting wildlife.  Derrick the duck (he’s a cormorant) is a regular feature on Dock #51.  He occasionally tries to spoil the party by trying to steal the catch mid-air.  Matthew the Manatee often bathes in the dock and an unnamed dolphin comes to play from time to time. 

Other wildlife – There’s lots of other wildlife on the island too.  I almost put my foot on top of a yellow chicken snake that was drinking from our footbath yesterday (it looks like a garden hose).  Apparently, it’s entirely harmless though this did not stop Nancy screeching like a Banshee.  The nesting season for turtles begins in two weeks’ time.   Apparently, these turtles return to deposit their eggs in exactly the same place as they were hatched.  We haven’t seen racoons and armadillos, but they can ravage any garbage that is foolishly left out.  This is doubly foolish, because your garbage has to leave the island when you leave.

Surfing, canoeing or merely jumping the waves– Until they both got injured (Nancy – a surf board to the chin, and Tilly – shell abrasions to the stomach), we were all enjoying boogie boarding.  The water is clear, clean blue and wonderfully warm.  In the calmer seas this morning, we all went canoeing (see photo).  What Nancy best likes about the Island is that she can’t be dragged to any boring museums (because there aren’t any).

Having a shower – The water here is formally called brackish.  It’s somewhat salty and smells slightly of sulphur.  Theoretically, it’s drinkable (though this may be like food from Taco Bell is allegedly edible).   It’s not even a particularly pleasant experience to wash in.  Any thoughts of eating ice cream off your partner’s body would be immediately dismissed (…as they always have been from Mrs B).

Cooking – In the 1970s, John Lennon famously spent 5 years in retirement baking bread and I’m a big fan too.  Lorna has spent a lot of time gutting fish.  Last time we were on the island, we made the mistake of cooking with island water (see above).  It was one of the most unpleasant meals we have ever eaten (though not the worst – my mother’s meat patties and custard beats everything).  We brought lots of fresh water from the mainland and this kitchen is professionally kitted out so that you can cook anything you want.

Searching for other children – Nancy has perfected strategies of winding her sister up this holiday; she needs new challenges.  Unfortunately, this is school time in the US.  Tilly and Nancy have done a bit of children tracking.  You have to say that Tilly is much better at this than Nancy.  She notices smaller than average footprints in the sand, abandoned spades and remnants of sandcastles.  Alas up till now, we have only seen the very young.

Golf carting – There are no roads on the island, but rather sandy paths built for golf carts travel. Yesterday, we explored the island dreaming of which house we might buy if we had the money and the inclination.  We met a handful of other carts doing the same thing.  The extreme storms that hit this coast in the summer months and the general ravages of nature must make maintenance a continuous challenge.  It seems like every cupboard we open in our beach house contains some sort of building tools or materials. 

Playing the piano – Tilly has taken to composing tunes on the honky-tonk piano in the house.  She’s experimenting with minor keys which are strangely haunting.  Especially annoying is that you find yourself humming them before realising where you’ve heard it before.

Watching DVDs – In the evening after sundown, we retreat to the (large HD) TV to watch a DVD.  We’ve had a short festival of Johnny Depp’s work: Pirates of the Caribbean seemed appropriate, but What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was the better film

When you’ve finished each of the above, your day has probably finished and you begin the list again the next day.

The girls fishing