OK, I admit, the last two post have been pretty much about food, dining, fun.

Left front:  Bob, Linda,  Right Front:  Lori, Rob  enjoying the Lawn Club Grill.

Left front: Bob, Linda,
Right Front: Lori, Rob enjoying the Lawn Club Grill.


Feeling like a kid again!

Feeling like a kid again!


Well, I told you that I was gonna blog about the cruise, and pretty much, the cruise is about food, dining, fun!  While there are many good choices of dining, certainly my favorite is the lawn club.  Located on the top (14th) deck is a patch of green grass, I would guess the size of a football field.  On the same deck is a specialty restaurant, at which if you so desire, you may participate in the cooking.  I will tell you, it is some kind of fun!




First is the making of flatbread, cruise talk for pizza.

AAAAHHHHH! Gourmet Pizza by Chef Todd

AAAAHHHHH! Gourmet Pizza by Chef Todd

Go Rob!. As you can see, I'm looking pizza hit the roof.....I took home the apron!

Go Rob!. As you can see, I’m looking up…my pizza hit the roof…..I took home the apron!

You make your own, and they cook it.  If you throw it and hit the ceiling, you get to take home your apron (I will be taking two home).







Then you get to pick your meat from the reefer, and cook it on the grill.  The master chef Sanjay and I have gotten to be good friends.


Wednesday night we had a small get together in our room and went to the grill.  Lots of fun and laughter, good memories.  A PS about our friend the Postmaster who has taken as many as 6 cruises in a year.  As it turns out, in 2007, he won the HGTV house in Colorado and sold it for a ton of money (good for him).

The glasses were arranged.  We put the same wine in different glasses and you can't believe the difference in taste and smell!

The glasses were arranged. We put the same wine in different glasses and you can’t believe the difference in taste and smell!



The other cool thing we did was the Riedel wine glass workshop.  In a nutshell, the shape of the glass has a VERY significant impact on the taste of wine.  For example, a chardonnay glass has a narrow mouth.  This causes the wine to exit directly on the tip and middle of the tounge which is the location of taste buds that taste sweet.  Then it goes to the outside of the mouth to bring the balance of the taste








3 more days……can’t believe this has gone by so fast.  It has been great!  Certainly, a part of the highway called my life, I will not forget

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Life is art

One of the things my Dad taught me was to appreciate fine dining.   The environment, the food, the presentation, you know…..the whole enchilada (or maybe Tornedos de Filet).  Anyway this ship is a great place to be if you appreciate fine dining.

This is what I call dessert!

This is what I call dessert!


Steak Tartare.......aah!

Steak Tartare…….aah!










For Vegans (like Karra) only.

For Vegans (like Karra) only.


We went to a place called BLU last night.  Karra got an appetizer for vegetarians.  I probably should mention Karra made the decision to go Vegan.  She thinks it will help her health, I think she is crazy.  Any way, this is her appetizer and she loved it.  A lot of the experience of eating here is the presentation.  Some works of art.  The executive chef came by our table.  He is a young chap from Portugal.  As you can see from these pictures, he is an artist in food.  We are enjoying his art!





I had chocolate fondue for dessert.  It came with banana, strawberry, marshmellow, and pineapple to dip in the most luscious dark chocolate.  I came to the conclusion that you can dip a ball of dirt in dark chocolate and it would be a delight!




Speaking of art, I find it all around me.  This ship is a floating work of art.








      Farewell, next installment will include a story about how the correct wine glass is crucial to the wine.

           PS.  Just kidding about Karra becoming Vegan.  She had a filet for dinner!

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This boat is rocking, and I’m sleeping like a baby

OK, I admit at this point, I am reaching for material to keep this blog engaging.


Problem is, that we (especially me) are doing exactly what we came here to do.  Nothing.  And for those that have worried about my stress level, I admit, I am feeling invigorated.  My energy level is returning….not just my physical energy level, my emotional energy seems up.  Still 7 days of cruising to go, sure it will only get better.  This morning the Captain said we were 800 nautical miles from land.  Dead center.  Believing that this puppy won’t break down!

These are good folks, Joe and Leona from California

These are good folks, Joe and Leona from California




We had dinner with Joe and Leona again last night.  I will tell you, they are among the most delightful people I have ever met.  She is gracious like my wife.  Joe reminds me of me.  Just lots more success. We have been truly enjoying their company.







When we got in it was 10:30, coupled with the time change we had to make, it was 11:30.  We found our little friend, Karra gave him her Gelato (yes Tige, she tried Gelato) she had left over.

We got in bed and watched a WHOLE movie.  How bout that kids…..nearly 2 when I went to sleep.  That’s great, but getting up is a real problem.  You know how you feel, loosing an hour in the spring?  We have done it 4 of the last 5 nights.  At least it wont be bad in Europe.  Problem is, we are just there one day, and then to the ranch.  I’m guessing the first few days will be hard.


This foyer is 8 stories tall. If there is one thing that I would improve/change, maybe the entertainment.

Then off to Breakfast, then Karra went to a facial, I got in a conversation with a couple from New York which lasted 2 hours.  THAT is what is relaxing… pressures, no deadlines, do whatever you want, when you want….THAT is my idea of vacation!




Then in for a 2 hr nap, and up for a workout.  Then (now) I blog, work on the website, we go to dinner again.  That is our life…..I like it!





So, I will end with this. Vacation is good, it is necessary.  I, however, think I prefer going for the long one every three or four years. Karra and I have discussed at length, we love this.  Next is through the canal to Chile from Florida, maybe longer.   For us….this has been monumental!  It would be wrong for me not to thank two very key people that have made this possible for me.  First Cynthia Allison.  She is a true friend and gallant employee.  And Andrew.  I would not have been able to leave the ranch if I could not trust him the way I do.  Thank you both for making this possible for us!

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I like this rut, I just miss my cows!

AAAHH!! Another day at  sea.

It is amazing how fast things go by.  I find myself already lamenting the end of this exceptional experience.  I am having a bit of a problem keeping these blogs even slightly interesting.  Why you ask?  How much can you say about eating too much and hanging around the room?

We did have an interesting dinner experience last night.  We are in “Celebrity Seating”.  No that is not JUST because we are famous notables!  Traditionally on cruise ships, you eat at one of two seatings, at a set time, at the same table, with the same people.  That can often times be a wonderful thing, unless you get seated with a 90 year old couple from Florida, or perhaps a …..well you can imagine!  In our seating arrangement, you come on demand, and can sit alone or with other people; you just don’t get stuck with the same people if they don’t suit you.



Isn't she beautiful?!?

Isn’t she beautiful?!?




So last night, we stopped by the wine cellar for a glass.  ( Bub, you would like this place!) I tried an Italian Cab, not my favorite, and off to the general seating restaurant.  We were seated with 3 gentlemen from Florida (all transplants).  One (right up your alley politically Patricia) from Canada, one from England, and one from Israel.  For the most part, pleasant types.






I think that shadow in the picture is my finger…….Oops.





The highlight was certainly dessert.  The gentleman from Israel ordered a pear dish that seemed to me to be some sort of bread pudding with raisins.  The Englishman spoke up and matter-of-factly exclaimed “ that is Spotted D_ _ k!  Apparently a favorite in England.  Not sure what it is, but it created quite a stir at our table!





Today is most certainly the roughest day.  We are grateful for the stabilizers this ship has.  As a comment.  I am pretty amazed at the number of cruises that people go on.  The record I have heard is 60 (I’m thinking trust baby), and a close second is a retired postmaster and his wife, a total of 39 with 6 in one year.  Yes President Obama, the government does create jobs.  Unfortunately at the expense of the private sector that creates wealth.  I could do this again for sure…but how do people have a life doing multiple cruises every year?  Any way, there have been many comments that the Celebrity line is far and away the best value for the quality….Karra and I have already plotted the next. Hopefully for our 60th birthdays.

We are off to the Wine Cellar , then dinner and a show with our new friends from California, Joe and Leona.


Signing off .   TA TA!



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I reached a goal today!

Well, Sort of.

When I left I said I was gonna spend a day and not get up.  Well I almost made it.  Till 4 anyway.  Two movies.

Had to workout with Matt.  He is a trainer from Croatia.  Very knowledgeable.  He is going to work with me and send me home with a program.  Todays workout was all on a yoga ball.  I can’t believe how hard it is.  Sweat pouring off my chin.  Tomorrow, spinning at 9 and Boot Camp at 10.  Back to back.  Should be hard, will be fun.

When I am at home, I typically have a snack in the afternoon.  Maybe a few nachos, maybe a PB&J sandwich.  Everyday at 3:45 Sebastian drops by with a tea cart.  Karra has darjelling tea, I have, well,

not a PB&J

Dinner with my lovely wife tonight.  We miss each of you..sort of :)!

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A floating Childress Texas

It is interesting to note that there are more people on this ship than live in Childress.  And I must admit, I find the people on this ship somewhat more hospitable.

So far, one of my favorite results of cruising, are meeting the people.  Interesting people.  People from all walks of life.  One of the couples we met are Joe and Leona from Beverly Hills.  I mentioned in my last entry that we were going to dinner with them.  That experience most certainly justifies a further mention.  Joe’s father immigrated from Syria.  He built a chain of retail clothing stores numbering nearly 200.  Many in Houston and Dallas.   They are terrific people.  She is as delightful as people can get.  I knew Joe was my kind of guy when we were at the end of our bottle of wine and when I turned my head, he poured some of his into my glass.  I realize there are those reading this that just went….YUCK!!  Not me.  A real act of friendship from my point of view.   We have planned to see some old friends in Seattle when we get home.  Last night we decided to “drop by” Beverly Hills.  Yes Heritage, you are going to Beverly Hills!

So I can’t help to make a political statement here.  Our administration is always saying the immigration is what has made America great.  He is absolutely right…immigrants like Joe and his father.  Not the kind that come across our borders, refuse to learn our language, nor become our part of our culture.  Immigration is not just moving, it is integrating as well.

So last night a great dinner, tonight a comedian then dinner.  Oh yeah.  I forgot to tell you that I got to try something I have always wanted to experience.  Opus One cabernet, 2009.    Never thought I could afford a bottle, and NO ONE sells it by the glass.  However, there is a place on the ship called the Wine Cellar.  You can try over 200 wines 2 oz. at a time.  There was some OPUS left, so I bought it.  The steward took the bottle out of the machine, said it was about empty and poured me 9 oz.  Very generous, ……..God provides the desires of our hearts. You should believe Him, trust Him for that.    It was good….but as with many things, not as good as I had imagined it would be!  Often times the things we think we REALLY WANT……when we finally get them……are just OK.



This trip with Karra, however, is NOT one of those things!

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Frivolity is good for the Soul

So life on the ranch is pretty much the same all the time.

Dealing with the day to day minutia consumes most of your time.  Once in a while, you even have time to make capital improvements: maybe build a fence, kill some cedar trees, construct a loafing shed.  So our home life is work out, then eggs and sausage or cereal for breakfast, some quesidallas for lunch and a while a fairly sizeable number of choices, it is the same choices, for dinner.  Not much money or time spent on frivolous things.


Enter vacation.  Frivolous is par for the course



One of the things we are blowing a lot of money on is massage.  Yes, massage.  The entire staff here is good.  I have used this woman from the Phillipines; Arlene.  This woman has a set of hands like a pair of new Craftsman vice grips….old school!  So this morning, I’m thinking “wonder what kind of massage I should get today?”.  I look at the list of options and EGADS!….. at the top of the list (I’m not making this up)  is Indian Scalp  massage. So I’m thinking to myself….this sounds dangerous; decided on deep tissue…sounded safer to me.

Nothing like being a tourist!

Nothing like being a tourist!


Port in San Marten today.  Not much there: pretty beach, lots of shopping.  I worked out, Karra decided to go “walking around”. All married males know that is female speak for shopping. And as you might expect, the grandkids scored



Tomorrow is our first at sea day on the crossing.  Captain told us at dinner it would be a good crossing with the exception of the third day.  Could be rough.  Thanks to our friend Dr. Pratt for the patches.  They may come in handy!

This is the "Allure of the Seas" the largest cruise ship on the seas.  6000 passengers.  Pretty much Texas size!

This is the “Allure of the Seas” the largest cruise ship on the seas. 6000 passengers. Pretty much Texas size!




Going to eat dinner tonight with a couple from Beverly Hills.  He started a retail chain, currently 200 stores. Salt of the earth kind of people.  The kind of people that once were esteemed for work ethic and courage to persevere.  Today, seems like our administration holds their type with a sense of disdain.  She went on the zipline tour with me.  Was too old according to the rules…..lied to them.   She is my kind of gal!

So…Grandma Hill, I am preparing to do what you always dreamed of…cross the Atlantic on a ship.  I believe she is happy to know her “Toddy Boy” is on his way.  So am I!  Better yet,

with the woman of my dreams!

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My vacation legacy.

My dad started it… vacationing style I mean.

My first recollection of vacation was a trip to Denver. We made it late one afternoon and he pulled into the Ramada Inn Cherry Hills.  A very nice place by his thinking.  Probably over the family budget, but it was vacation!  Dad always said, “don’t look at the prices on the menu, it will only ruin the vacation”.  Mom, on the other hand, who was responsible for the checkbook and the bills, was always aware of the prices.  Another thing dad was famous for was not making reservations.  In 1968, Dad came home and said, “lets go to the Hemisphere”.  It was a huge event being held in San Antonio.  We arrived without reservations.  Dad pulled into the Hilton with mom sure he would never get us a room anywhere, much less at the central hotel of the entire fair.  He, of course walked out with a key.  I’m not sure how he did it, but it drove my mom crazy!!  We ate dinner on top of the Hemisphere tower that night.  Had my first shrimp cocktail that night.  I thought of Dad last night as I slopped a healthy dose of cocktail sauce on that jumbo shrimp!

Anyway, when I go on vacation, it’s gonna be fun.  Try new things.  Don’t look at the prices.  So yesterday I got a massage……and a facial.  Yes, a facial.  If you know me, you know that is a little, well, out of character for me.  But I figured, what the heck, I’m gonna give it a whirl!  The massage was great, then the facial.   It felt pretty good really, but then she put a peel off mask on me.  You know, they spread some sort of warm, plastic like concoction that dries hard, then she peels it off.  When the whole thing is finished she puts a mirror in your face and in some sort of Serbian accent, says, “can’t you see the glow (pause here)  the lightness?”  Well I just didn’t have the heart to tell her looked pretty much the same to me….56 year old guy that spent too much time in the sun.

Now to my point.  That facial made me think a little.  In life, we put all sorts of things on to cover up what we really look like (or really are).  We convince ourselves that it will work, but the truth is, it won’t.  I intend to use this trip to think about who I really am.  Who I really want to be.  Who God created me to be.  I’m gonna be looking for the peel off masks in my life.  I know that God is the only one/thing that can rejuvenate my skin or anything else for that matter.  But this is for sure.  He isn’t interested in the shallow parts of my life; to Him, beauty is not skin deep.  Looks like I’m in for a little DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE!

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A workaholic in therapy in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

Well, here we are in paradise.  Paradise is a relative term, really.  I think I live there.  I love the ranch.  I love my life.  Work….play….for me it is the same, honestly.  That is how I got here.  You see, when you love what you do, you don’t think about vacation.  Every day is a vacation.  But….over time, it adds up, it is insidious.  I could go into detail, but I won’t.  Let’s just say that one day you wake up and you are tired.  Not just physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired.  The things you love begin wearing you out, become a burden.  THAT, is when you know it is time to make a change.

Karra and I were sitting on the couch; I looked at her and said, “We gotta get away”.  We started thinking and realized that we had not been alone (save a weekend in Dallas) together since we came back from Mexico, in 1995.   I really don’t know when we were together alone before that, I think in Hawaii in 1980 something when Chris was about 2.

One day, out of the clear blue, I asked Karra if she wanted to go on a cruise…She quickly said no.  I was stunned, hurt really.  A few days later I confronted her about her comment and with further discussion, discovered she related cruise ships with the beach and suntans.  I reminded her about all the old people on cruise ships.  She relented….I went to work.

Being the bargain hunter I am, I googled “discount cruises” and found Vacations to Go.  They specialize in last minute and discount cruises.  After an exhaustive study, I found a good cruise that left Galveston, and traveled in the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Central America.  Seven days at sea.  We had to get to Galveston, which from Childress means two days down, one really long one back.  Ten days…..I can’t be gone that long!  Oh well, it was a good idea L.

Several weeks later, I tell Karra, “we gotta get away” and went back to the website.  I’m more burned out, tired of waiting on rain, wanting to do something.  Then I remember I have all sorts of free miles and can fly pretty much anywhere for free…….I wonder if there is a Mediterranean cruise?  I find a great one and call my friend Narguess at Vacations to Go.  She confirms that Celebrity is the cruise line to use and I start making air reservations.  Now, I realize that this cruise is 12 days and it is a lot of travel, but I’m getting used to the idea now.  Wait!  No way to get there on free miles.  Bummer…back to the drawing board.

90 days into this “we gotta get away” mode.  Narguess and I are getting to be pretty good friends by this time.  I think she senses this guy needs a vacation, and she is working hard.  Then……”Todd, what about a repositioning cruise?”  I’m an Aggie that lives in Childress, and not to sure what that is.  She explains.  “The cruise line has to move the ships around as the seasons change.  There is one that leaves from Florida and goes to the Mediterranean.  Lots of people don’t like them because there are so many days at sea, and there is not as much to do.  And they tend to be cheaper as well”.  That not much to do part really perked me up!  We talked about it and pulled the trigger.

So my friends.  I am here sitting at my computer on the veranda of our room.  It is 7 in the morning, we just had breakfast on the deck.  Coffee, fresh fruit, blue water……Thunder, we are not in Childress any more!  I thought it would be interesting to write my thoughts and “blog” them to you…..the thoughts of

~A workaholic in therapy in the Atlantic Ocean~

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Theres more than one way to breed a cow.

… and on the Diamond H we use AI.  On a prior post, I discussed why we AI heifers one month before our cows.  We AI’d our Fall Cows on Dec 3rd to calve in mid September.    We use a three shot protocol to synchronize the cows.  First shot is Estradiol/Progesterone to inhibit any imminent heats.  One week later we give lutalyse to trigger the heat.  The next day we give a Estradiol  shot to tighten up the window.  The books tell you to breed by time, 30 hours after the last shot.  We use heat detection patches and breed 12 hours after standing heat.  We have enjoyed a 80% conception rate over the last 5 years.  Environmental conditions such as radical weather changes (common in these parts) can affect your results.

Click to enlarge

John breeding the next great crop of calves.

We AI all our females for several reasons.  First, and I believe foremost, you can bring the best genetics available in your breed to your ranch for a small investment.  I am also able to study the strengths and weaknesses of a bull and match appropriately with my cow.  While not a sure thing, it increases your frequency of a good result.  Therefore, you can launch the genetics of your program at a much greater rate.

I am pleased to say, if the AI misses, We will most probably like the result!  Oscar and Juan Pablo are currently working on our heifers, Ranger and Twin Eagle.

Twin Eagle....Fertility and Muscle

A linebred Northstar Vernon son

3W Lonestar Vernon

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