Saturday, April 5, 2014


I have always and will always love Yosemite. The first time I came here was in 1965 with my grandparents and during that same time period as a Boy Scout. I was here in the late 60's as a hippie, in 1972 on my honeymoon, from 1982-1985 I lived and worked in the park and returned last year for a one year working vacation. Even though I was raised in Merced, grew up in Laguna Beach and loved being at sea in the Navy, when I crewed on John Wayne's boat the Wild Goose and on cruise ships Yosemite will always be home.

So now it is time to say goodbye for now one more time. After a year as the old guy behind the cash register at the Ahwahnee Gift Shop it is time to resume my career as an Acupuncturist at Sea.

It was a great year and allowed me to relax and focus on my photography. It also allowed my to pursue another of my life long passions or a better way to put it…obsession…backpacking.

Although I have hiked hundreds, actually thousands of miles through the Sierra, the Sawtooths and the Rockies I have not done any serious backpacking in a number of years and moving back to Yosemite last year opened that door again.

Throughout my life I have hiked hundreds of miles in Yosemite and the surrounding Sierras but there is always a trail or a lake or a mountaintop that you have not been to before. And even though I hiked some of the trails that I had hiked previously that was my focus this year, to hike places that I had never seen.

I had hiked the Panorama Trail many times and this year was no different and my first hike of the year. As it was early in the season I was rained on, hailed on snowed on but the sun did come out every now and then during the eleven mile day hike.

Nevada Falls from the Panorama Trail

Self Portrait at Nevada Falls

My next hike was again just a day hike on the Pohono Trail and covered sixteen miles. I had never taken this hike before and it is now one of my favorites. It starts from Glacier Point and traverses the entire south rim with Yosemite Valley 4,000 feet below. The views were incredible of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and El Capitan.

Glacier Point Trailhead with Half Dome
and Tenaya Canyon in the background

Yosemite Falls from the Pohono Trail

Taft Point View from the Pohono Trail
Look close and I am on the left
give the granite cliffs scale

Crocker Point View from the Pohono Trail
With El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls

The Trails End at Tunnel View
Great View of Yosemite Valley

On my next weekend I decided to hike another trail that I had not done, at least some of it. I had already hiked for the valley floor to the top of Yosemite Falls many times, I had hiked from the valley floor past Yosemite Falls to do the traverse to the top of Lost Arrow and back but I had never hiked from the other direction down to the valley.

I set out on my first overnight hike of the season. The hike covered seventeen miles carrying a forty five pound pack from the Porcupine Creek Trailhead to the top of North Dome where I would spend the night after making a side trip to Indian Rock.

Indian Rock

Half Dome and Clouds Rest from the top of North Dome

The next morning I would hike to the top of Yosemite Falls and then take the Yosemite Falls trail down to the valley floor. Even though a good portion of the hike was downhill that does not mean it was easy. Backpackers know that it is harder on your back, lungs and heart going uphill and harder on your knees going downhill.

View From The Top of Yosemite Falls

View From About Half Way Down the Yosemite Falls Trail

By the next week most of the snow had receded in the high country so it was time to head elevations between 8,000 - 10,000 feet. So the decision was made to hike to Grant Lake, which was all uphill the first night and then drop into Ten Lakes Basin the next morning for another night out. Then on the last day climb out of the basin and make the long hike back to the trailhead where I was parked totaling a twelve mile hike.

Close to Grant Lake

Overlooking Ten Lakes Basin

Ten Lakes Basin

The Long Climb Back Out of
Ten Lakes Basin

The following week it was time for another long hike, in fact my longest of the summer. I would cover thirty one mile in forty eight hours. I again started at the Porcupine Creek Trailhead and spent the first night on North Dome. The next morning I got up and hiked past the top of Yosemite Falls and spent the night on the top of El Capitan ten miles from my start. The next morning I hiked out to the Big Oak Flat Road Trailhead and was out by early afternoon.

The top of North Dome With Half Dome in the Background

Chilling in my hammock on the top of North Dome
With Half Dome in the Background

My Camp on the Top of North Dome With Half Dome in the Background

The Summit of El Capitan
with smoke haze from the Rim Fire

One of the Climbers Camps on the Summit El Capitan
note the rock windscreen

From the Floor of Yosemite Valley
Looking Up at El Capitan

Next it was a short eight mile overnight hike to the Seven Lakes Basin a little over 9,500 feet elevation. At these elevations it is almost always windy and this day was no different. Still it was well worth the hike to spend the night out in the pristine wilderness.

Cascade Lake, Seven Lakes Basin

Seven Lakes Basin

Seven Lakes Basin

On my next weekend it was again time to push myself. I decided to go towards the Clark Range as the Rim Fire was blocking access to much of the east side high country. Still I would be able to hike over elevations of 9,000 feet and be in yet another area I had not hiked before. And I would push myself to cover twenty six miles I less then twenty four hours carrying my normal forty five pound pack. (sorry could not locate a photo)

With the short hiking season due to the Rim Fire that would about cover my backcountry hiking for the summer. Still with the too many to count five to ten mile hikes, three to four days a week throughout Yosemite Valley's trail system I was still able to hike well over three hundred miles this summer.

And now it is early April 2014 and time to say goodbye to Yosemite once again. I will return as I always have but for now it is time to travel to other countries throughout the world to discover their beauty as I set sail and resume my career as an Acupuncturist at Sea on various cruise ships world wide

Bridalveil Falls

A Lazy Afternoon Spent Watching Bridalveil Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Ahwahnee Meadows Dawn on My Ten Minute Walk to Work

Fern Springs

First Snow of the Year at Valley View

Winter at Valley View

Tenaya Creek

The Milky Way in Yosemite Valley

Night Shot of Yosemite Falls

Classic Moonbow Shot of Yosemite Falls

And Now Some Shots of the Residents of Yosemite

Buck Mule Deer in the Ahwahnee Meadow
This is about 50 yards from where I live

"His Majesty" near the Ahwahnee Meadow
Look at the size of his rack

The Local Bobcat near the Ahwahnee Hotel

The King of the ForestThe California Black Bear
They Can Be Black, Brown or Blond….

And Now My Home For the Next Seven Months….

Cunard's Queen Victoria

I hope you enjoy the photographs of Yosemite and in the near future you enjoy more of my images as I photograph the world….


Sunday, March 30, 2014


Last week I received my last installment of paperwork from Antoni. It included my contract, immigration letter, employee handbook and numerous other documents to read and/or sign. This week after my physical from the port doctor in San Francisco and I scan and send it back to Antoni that should be it...all the paperwork is done.

First I want to make a disclaimer, I am far from the top Acupuncturist at Sea. I still have a lot to learn but I have picked up a few tricks along the way that I think might be useful and I thought I’d pass them along. When I started my first blog AcuDoc's Excellent Adventure I looked on the Internet for anything to get an idea of what it was like to be an Acupuncturist at Sea. I found nothing available so I started my journey and posted what I experienced.

With that said today I want to talk about seminars. During your training with Stephanie you reviewed and were tested on public speaking and your ability to give a seminar. I'm sure it was impressed upon you that the seminars you give on ships is your life's blood, it is where you draw from to get your patients during the cruise.

If you have already worked on cruise ships as an acupuncturist you know they are part of your weekly routine. Depending on the length of the cruise typically you give between three and five seminars a week.

If you are on your first contract you my be dreading have to give seminars and the possibility of experiencing a "brain cramp" and forgetting where you are or what you are saying. First don't worry about it; it happens to all of us whether you are just getting your sea legs or if you are an old salt. In time seminars will become just another part of your practice and nothing to fear. In fact many like myself simply love to give seminars and interacting with those curious about our profession.

There are a couple things that will help you get through your seminars as you prepare. One Stephanie told me having known I had a background teaching at Chinese Medical Universities and massage schools. Giving seminars to guests on a ship is very different then teaching to students in a classroom. You are not there "to teach" you are there to inform and to book patients. Give them just enough to spark their interest and belief that you can help them. Don't get too technical, remember they are not students and you are not in a classroom. You will know this is happening if their faces go blank, their eyes get that glazed look or if they fall asleep.

Another piece of advice I received from one of my best friends that at one time was a college professor. He told me there are three things that make you successful when teaching. First be prepared, second know what you are talking about and third make them laugh. If you are prepared you will look and feel confident. If you know what you are talking about those in your class or seminar will respect you. If you make them laugh you will keep their interest and they will be hanging on ever word waiting to hear the next punch line. I found the advice from both Stephanie and Bill to be very true.

So let's talk a little about the seminars themselves. I typical give five per week including "Introduction to Acupuncture", "Acute and Chronic Pain Management" and "Chinese Herbs For Health" which are my top three to which I add "Permanent Weight Loss Secrets" and "Arthritis Pain Management".

On longer cruises to mix it up I will change a name and content a bit to "Stop Back Pain Today", "Pain and Stress Management" or "Health and Longevity With Chinese Herbs". I make sure not to offer the same title twice as I want as many people to show up as possible, even though the seminar itself may be very similar.

Regardless of what seminar I happen to be teaching as I mentioned above one of the keys to giving a successful talk is to be prepared, even when caught by surprise, which happened to me on my first ship.

It was Day Two on my first ship, the Carnival Dream, and we were sailing to Cozumel, Mexico. It was my first Sea Day and the assistant spa manager, Eanna Geraghty, approached me and the following conversation took place.

Eanna: Larry do you know you have a seminar in an hour?
Myself: Am I giving one or taking one (remember your first week is filled with safety seminars)
Eanna: Giving
Myself: What Subject
Eanna: Intro to Acupuncture
Myself: I can do that...

The same conversation happened again a few days later when I was to give a seminar on herbs. Eanna now travels from ship to ship training those in the spa. If you ever get a chance to have her come on board consider yourself lucky. She is a wealth of information and knowledge.

So the key to my survival that first week was I was prepared. I had gone over each seminar several times and knew each slide and what I wanted to convey to the guests. There will also come the time where the seminars become second nature and your stage fright, if you experience it will subside. Then the trick is not to become complacent and to keep you seminars interesting, I rely on humor, but I won't bore you with my punch lines.

There is more to being prepared for your seminars then just reviewing and being comfortable with your slide presentations. This trick I learned from Lisa Forsythe who was the Sales and Revenue Manager for the Acupuncture Department of Steiner years ago. I met Lisa when I was on board The Dream when she was making the rounds in the Caribbean. She now has a successful practice in Florida.

Lisa's advice...have a "seminar box". The purpose of your seminar box is to hold everything you will need to conduct your seminar. That way if you are in a hurry, which will happen because you are busy with patients, all you need to do is grab the box and you are assured you have everything you need. This has saved me more then once.

The box can be something as simple as a clear plastic box or something a little nicer like a file box. I opted for a black file box with silver trim. Remember this will be present during your seminar and the more professional it looks the more professional you look. I bought mine at Office Depot or Staples.

My Seminar Box

My Seminar Box is "legal" size in length contains the following. It contains an adapter, an "s" video cord, extension cord and remote for use with my laptop that runs my PowerPoint or Keynote slide presentation. Also I have a needle tray, alcohol swabs, cotton balls and a box of red Serin needles for the "acupuncture does not hurt" demonstration.

My Clipboard with Schedule on the outside
and Intake Forms inside

A clipboard that I have an appointment sheet on top and it opens to hold intake forms and a couple pencils. When the guest signs up for an appointment I give them an Intake Form with the time written on it. I use mechanical pencils instead of pens in case I have to change an appointment.

I also have about four bottles of the Jou Herbal Formulas, which I display during my seminar. I have a box of Tylenol that I read the side effects off of during my herb seminar. And last I have a laser pointer and dry markers if I am using a dry board during a seminar.

As you can see there are a number of items none of which you want to reach for during your seminar only to find it is not there. Again you are being judged on your professionalism. The more professional you are the better chance you have of booking and rebooking patients. Which is the entire reason for your seminar.

As far as giving your seminar we all have different personalities, so let them shine. Be confident, professional, and assertive but not overly. Know what you are talking about, be interesting and be prepared.

Probably the most important aspect of your seminar is to have a strong ending. Being an avid fisherman I can compare giving my seminar to fishing. The seminar itself is the bait; it gets the fishes (guests) attention. The better the seminar the more interested the fish is as I continue to play out the line as the take “the bait”. Then the strong ending is setting the hook. The only thing left is to reel them in and book the appointment.

During my ending I remind the guests of the conditions that acupuncture is used for by having a slide of those conditions on screen while I am giving my closing. I remind them of my credentials and that I am extremely confident I can help them, I remind them that they need to sign up immediately after the seminar because I ALWAYS get booked..."There are 2,000 of you and there is only 1 of me."

And finally having said two or three times during the seminar "this can change your life" I end with "Who wants to be pain free...Who wants to be stress free, have more energy and feel better...WHO WANTS TO CHANGE THEIR LIFE...RIGHT NOW...TODAY!"

By following these simple rules you will find that your seminar actually can be fun and the best source of patients. You will also find hints in the newsletter and on the Steiner website. Another tip is to contact your fellow Acupuncturists at Sea to ask for their tricks....Enjoy Them and Prosper…

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Well I guess it's time for another update. I have thirty seven days to go or as we would say in the Navy, thirty six and a wake up before I join the Queen Victoria in Fort Lauderdale and set sail that evening for Southampton, England.

I am excited about this contract for a number of reasons. One being that after taking a year off from working on cruise ships I am ready to go back to sea. Another being as a photographer I am going to many countries that I have never been before and can't wait to take pictures. And still another I've been in contact with some of the friends that I had made while serving on ships and can't wait to see them again. I think one thing those of us that have worked on ships can agree is even with all the ups and downs many of us have forged some wonderful friends, some of which will last a life time.

So now to the subject at hand...Paperwork... I said in an early post that I would talk about this a bit more and the time has come. I also may be writing about some of the subjects that I touched on before and I am mentioning here again so you will not have to look to another post.

Antoni from the Steiner office in London will be sending you lots and lots of paperwork. With the new MCL contract taking effect last year there is much more paperwork then in previous years. Plan on spending around four hours total, maybe more, downloading, reading, signing, making copies and sending back to Antoni. Although I have met many of those in upper management I have never met Antoni. He has been very helpful, answering any on my questions and has made the process easy as possible, still it can be overwhelming.

I do want to touch on a few of the documents that you will need but I will not speak about some of the confidential items that Steiner will send you as I think it is appropriate.

First you are going to need a passport. I believe they ask to have a passport that covers the length of your contract. I'm going to suggest that you have your passport for at least two years from the time you board your ship. And here is the reasoning behind my suggestion.

When I was on the Rhapsody I joined the ship during its week-long cruises through the Inside Passage to Alaska. Once the weather changed we head to Hawaii, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific. My contracted ended when we were in Bali, which typically means that Steiner would fly me home from there, I'd take a vacation and then join another ship.

Kauai, Hawaii

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Auckland, New Zealand

Picton Bay, New Zealand

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Isle of Pines, South Pacific

Isle of Pines, South Pacific

Vila, Vanuatu, South Pacific

However I had another idea, rather then flying back to the US why don't I just vacation in Southeast Asia. This worked out perfectly as the Rhapsody was going into dry dock for a month in Singapore. I liked the Rhapsody and my shipmates so this meant I could join her for another contract after dry dock and go to Alaska again…perfect.

Seaweed Farm, Lembongan Island, Bali

Hidden Cove, Lembongan Island, Bali

One of my friends, Caroline, was disembarking in Bali the same day so we spent a few days on an island off mainland Bali relaxing, eating great food and I took my first scuba diving lesson. Next I flew to Singapore to met up with another friend from the Rhapsody, Jessica, and we flew to Vietnam. A few days later two of our friends from the ship, David and Maureen caught up with us. A couple weeks later I said goodbye to everyone and flew to the Philippines to see some other friends that were there vacationing from the states. All in all I spent four days in Bali, three weeks in Vietnam and a week in the Philippines.

Marina Bay, Singapore

Rice Paddy, Negros Island, Philippines

Where I stayed on Negros Island, Philippines
Monarch Resort…steps to the water…$25 peer night

Maureen, Jessica and David where we had lunch on
Cat Ba City, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam where I hired a boat to take me
two hours back to a remote island the village of Viet Hai

Whisper of Nature Resort
Viet Hai, Vietnam…$30 per night

My point being if my passport would have only covered the length of my contract I would have not been able to travel at the last minute. And yes with the Internet you could get this accomplished but I can promise you it will be much more of a hassle then if I had not planned ahead. 

Next you will probably be asked to get a Seaman's Book. When I was on the Carnival Dream in the Caribbean I didn't need one. For the RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas I needed and Bahaman Seaman's Book. And now that I am joining Cunard's Queen Victoria and it is registered in Bermuda I need a Bermudan Seaman's Book. Just be aware that you may need this depending on what ship you are going on and where it is registered. Also be aware that you will need a passport size photo and a color copy of your passport to apply for the Seaman's Book.

 Of course Antoni will send you the paperwork to download, fill out, scan and send back to him. And while I am thinking about it, he sends paperwork to you in batches, so do the same when you send it back to him. I'm sure he is very busy and you are not the only person that he is sending things. Sending him a file here and there would probably complicate things on his end making it harder to keep track. In other words don't tick off the guy getting everything together for you…lol

You will also be required to get a physical from an approved port doctor. If you are a military veteran like myself you will be able to get your labs done, maybe even the entire physical by the VA, which can saving some money. If not everything will be done by the port doctor which can range between $400 and $700. Know that it will take maybe a week at least to get your results. If you are getting your labs somewhere other the port doctor make sure to call, as you will be taking the results to him, and find out what exactly is required as different certificates may need different test. If you already have your labs I have been quoted $175 and $185 for the certificate from the two doctors I contacted, one in Los Angeles and the other in San Francisco respectively.

Another habit that I have gotten into having traveled to Mexico for over twenty years is to make copies of everything. I have two folders, one blue and one red. I keep all my originals in the blue folder and all the copies in the red. And this is VERY IMPORTANT...keep the "blue folder" in your carry-on baggage and you can pack the red with your other luggage. I can not tell you many times I have seen people at the ticket counter with a frantic look on their face when they realize they left their passport etc. in their luggage.

Also you should always keep your passport on you period. Other items I keep in the blue folder are my Seaman's Book, my contract, immigration papers, airline tickets, hotel confirmation printouts etc. In other words anything that you can not replace in a heart beat while traveling and what you need to get you on your ship.One last thing and we will wrap this post up. Check when your drivers license expires and make sure you have a couple years. While overseas I rented cars, motorcycles and scooters in Roatan, Hawaii, Moorea, Fiji, Bali and the Philippines. Many countries will require your countries drivers license if your are renting from an established business like Avis, Hertz etc. Also know that most places require that you are twenty five years or older.

Okay one more thing...make sure your acupuncture license is current and "active". And yes even though you are at sea and not practicing in whatever state you are licensed your license must be current and active.When I decided to go on a working vacation for a year in Yosemite I put both my Washington and Idaho licenses in an "inactive" status. Know in order to move them back to active you need current CEU courses for that year. I renewed my 2013 license for the Queen Victoria and could not use credits from that year, I had to use credits for this year, 2014. If I would were to do it over I would have stayed active as it would have been less of a hassle....just a thought.

I hope that answered some of your question or gave you an idea of what to expect. If not please feel free to contact me.