Trippin’ Version 3.5: From the Caribbean to El Caribe

Guess I’ll just have to sit here and write…

Hay una problema — sorry, there is a problem. I am on vacation again and I haven’t even written about my last vacation! What do I do? Aye ai ai…

Anyhow, I better just get it out of the way. Why put off til manana what you can do hoy? I’ll just ignore the call of the Caribbean, the soft sand, the uneaten, abandoned coconuts and the cheap margaritas under the Casa Cenote restaurant’s palapa roof for just a bit longer…

In lieu of enjoying my current vacation, I’ll synopsize on our November trip to the US Virgin Island of St. John:

1. We took dips like potato chips:

2. We walked it off like Derek Zoolander:

3. We kicked it like a professional soccer player:

After twelve days of observing turtles, spotted eagle rays, sea cucumbers, sea fans, elkhorn coral, lobsters, shrimp and schools of colorful fish, mojito drinking, marching around, finding mostly solitary beaches, eating tons of Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancakes and coconuts, we boarded the ol’ plane and traded our beach towels for skis.

Mid-November turned to mid-December, which began to look and feel a lot like mid-winter. Flurries of snow and tourists descended; the holidays approached and so did the 12-day work stretch at Der Fondue Chessel.  Tuesday, December 22 — day uno of our work bender — the restaurant closed due to bitter cold temperatures up high. Beyond -10, the cold becomes a safety issue if rare complications with the gondola ensue. So — ominously, it would turn out — we had the night off.

chainTwo days after Christmas, cold weather threatened again like an angry chef waving a ladle: it looked as though we would be closing down again for several days. In lieu of this, the powers that be decided we’d move the entire operation to Mountain House (aka Meow-ntain House, per Brother Andrew) — an antique day lodge on the westerly base of Keystone mountain.

Sternos, fondue forks, linens, carts, china plates and countless other Fondue necessities traveled down by snowcat, gondola and Dom’s truck. Then, a joint Der Fondue Chessel/Alpenglow Stube (whose staff was relegated to Fon-duty after their restaurant buttoned up in the cold snap) human chain up the cold, snowy metal stairs on the side of Meow-ntain House.

After five days at the elevator-less Meow-ntain House, the gospel according to Keystone rang through the chipped, wood beams of our makeshift restaurant: No longer shall Meow-ntain House shepherd our people through its small innards. No! By New Year’s we shall be back in the hallowed halls of the Outpost, serving 708 lost lambs by the roaring fireplace.

But again, the powers spake: Thou shalt not serve thine cheesy substance at Meow-ntain House, nor shalt thy serve thy cheesy substance at thine Outpost. Nay! Thou shalt serve thine cheesy substance at… thine Conference Center!


And so it was written that we moved our restaurant again. Arriving at 10 a.m. on the long-awaited eve of the New Year, we created a restaurant out of two ginormous conference rooms, some boldly floral print carpet and a whole vat of elbow grease. Because we are a group of badasses, we still pulled the night off as smoothly as a pot of perfectly prepared Emmental and Gruyère cheese (for the only cheese available at Fondue part two was the aforementioned). The stretch was, as Chef Dave (who’s been around Keystone longer than a fluorescent tall tee) put it, “one of the craziest, if not the craziest, holiday stretches I can remember.”

In short, e’erybody felt more than ready for a break after all that jazz — in my case, more like a grande siesta a la Messicana. With some bike riding involved of course (specifically about 250 miles from Merida to Play del Carmen, but more of that later).

Keepin’ it sunny side up in Izamal…
Gradually finding our way out of town in Merida…


Meanwhile, there is an empty hammock calling my name. So, hasta la proxima vez




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