Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Calm Before the Storm - V-Day 2020

All the boats are washed and clean.
All those "I'm gonna get to it" tasks have been gotten to.
Fresh oars, fresh stripes, and a group of fresh gondoliers:
all waiting for the big day to finally arrive.

Valentine's Day is the "Superbowl of gondola cruises" for us here in Newport, and in a lot of other places.

It helps us get through winter, sure.
But it's also a huge event that we look forward to - simply because it's awesome.
On most nights a gondolier is one of a few who are out doing cruises,
but on February 14th it's all boats all day and on to midnight.
That's exciting to be part of.

In between dialing things in on several boats,
and fixing even more things on land,
I took a boat out to move it to another spot, and I caught this view.
Gary was just departing with a happy couple,

gliding towards a colorful horizon and making great memories.

Happy Valentine's Eve, amici.
I hope you sleep well and have a fantastic Valentine's Day.

-Gondola Greg

Thursday, January 30, 2020

That Heat Where Eddie Smoked Me

photo by Cassandra Mohr

About a year and a half ago we did a fun segment on gondolas for an Australian TV show.
Along with showing how romantic it all was, I mentioned that we also race these boats.  The host HAD to have us race for the segment, so Eddie and I took a couple gondolas out and ran a down-and-back sprint.  
I didn't expect to win, because Eddie is younger, bigger, 
and had been training a lot, but as luck would have it, I won that race.

This year at Nationals, Eddie and I ended up in the same heat 
for the Solo Sprint event.
It was again - a down-and-back course.
I thought "well, I beat him before..."

Turned out that such logic did NOT apply.

Eddie beat us all off the line, made it to the buoy turn first, and from there...flew away from us, all the way to the finish line.

It was an impressive performance, but it got me wondering:
was this payback for that race in front of the TV cameras?

Or had he just let me win that time?

I guess we will never know.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Just another Summer January

This time of year we never know what we'll get,
weather-wise, that is.

Today I was happy to be rowing in my summer uniform:
short sleeves, thin overshirt, and mesh deck shoes with no socks.
My sunglesses weren't dark enough, 

and I was still warm enough to sweat a little.

Just another summer day in January.
I just hope we'll have this kind of weather on Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Back in 2019...

With all the craziness leading up to the last day of the year, 
and the requisite lazy recovery after, 
I neglected to post these images from December 29th here in Newport. 
Just another day - working a job that's way better than I deserve.

Gondolier Mike Bixler heads off with happy passengers 
on the gondola known as "Stella".

Rowing alongside Linda Isle, the lady in the gondola has no idea that she's about to be asked the biggest question ever by the man she loves.

She said "yes", of course.
And they lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas from the Gondola Blog

It's been a great and eventful year.
I am thankful for the time I got to spend on the water and on land with all my friends in the gondola world - both in the U.S. and in Europe.

The above photo was shot on Christmas Eve as Eddie Rivera rowed past the Pearson's Port fish market, heading off for a relaxing cruise with his passengers.

I wish you all a great Christmas and look forward to spending time with as many of you as I can in the coming new year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Rainy Day Sunset

It rained last night.
At the end of the last night of the Christmas Boat Parade, 

the gondoliers of Newport finished their cruises and tucked their boats in for the evening. 
And then, as if it had been politely waiting until we were finished, 
the rain came down.
Came down in buckets, it did.

This afternoon, Eddie and I pumped all that water out of the gondolas, 
as it continued to sprinkle on and off.

Veteran gondolier Alex Boullon escorted his passengers down the gangway and onto a gondola.
Excitedly they settled into the seat, bundled up in blankets, 

and prepared for the adventure ahead - an adventure that involved the umbrella they'd brought along just in case.

The sky above us was filled with rain clouds, but off to the west conditions were clear enough to bless us with radiant colors as the sun began to set.

As Alex pushed away from the dock, 
the rain began to fall with greater intensity.
The couple laughed as the gentleman popped open the umbrella, 
and their gondolier propelled them ahead towards the PCH bridge.

 Hard rain came down for a few minutes as the sun fell on a distant horizon.

 After spending a few extra minutes under the shelter of the bridge, 
the gondolier and his couple emerged to see even more beautiful vistas.

A pelican and a pair of ducks loitered near the shore.

 For reasons that only the pelican will ever know, he decided to take flight.
I silently thanked him for choosing to do so while I was actively shooting pictures.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

December Serenity

There is a certain kind of serenity that often comes 
with the month of December.

No, it doesn't come in the madness of traffic-clogged roads.
It can't be found in the overcrowded shopping malls.
And while I love the Christmas Boat Parade, 
that's a spectacularly beautiful craziness of a whole different flavor.

December serenity is found on the waters of Newport, 
with the early-setting sun with fiery colors.
It's lit up by thousands of Christmas lights that stretch across rooflines,
and palm trees, and sailboats, and yes...even gondolas and fish markets.

I snapped these photos this week as gondolier Paul Imler cruised under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge and past Pearson's Port seafood market.

With the tide at a low level, and the three bent palm trees of Bayshores Beach in the distance, Paul rows leisurely towards the PCH bridge.

Sunsets come in many colors, but when they happen on the water, 
we colors below the horizon as well.  
Lately we've been blessed with some brilliant shades of purple.

December serenity - something I look forward to every year.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Texas Blue Light Special

photos by Kevan Burt

I took four passengers out for a cruise last night here in Irving, Texas.
Kevan - the location manager took some photos as the light was beginning to dim.  It was just dark enough for us to show off the cool blue lighting along the rail of the gondola.
The wind came out to play for a while but it was more than manageable.
We all had a great time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Taking Off in Texas

My wife and I are visiting our operation in Texas this week.
There are lots of meetings, some boat repairs, 
and a little rowing on the agenda.

This evening, however, I had the pleasure of simply watching a gondolier and his happy passengers head out on the water for a relaxing cruise.

I credit management and staff out here 
for making the boat look so good - with cool indigo lights along the rail.
And gondolier Woody for making it all look easy.

Ciao from Irving, Texas!
- Greg