Photo Diary :: Our Trip to Punta Cana

Our Vacation
Every year, my wife earns an all-expense-paid vacation for two to some beautiful, exotic locale for being one of the top salespeople in her company. Every year, she takes me on this vacation. Every year, I take photos and then post them in a photo diary. Here is this year’s retro photo diary.

The view flying into the Dominican Republic.

As we banked left, and turned over the island, we saw the side of the island where our resort would be located. Look at that water!

Our Arrival
Our arrival at the Resort. I don’t often get greeted by throngs of clapping people and waiters who immediately hand me fruity, non-alcoholic beverages. But then again, I’m not a top salesperson in a multi-national company, like my wife.

The Hard Rock Cafe and Resort

This is the resort we stayed at – the Hard Rock Cafe and Resort. It’s only two years old and used to be a Moon Palace Resort, until it was sold to Hard Rock last year. Interesting fact – Hard Rock Cafe entered into a formal business partnership with the Seminole Tribe from Florida. They say it was to “give back” but really, they did it because it makes it easier to incorporate casinos on their properties.

The grounds at the resort, which was all-inclusive resort. As we were checking out, I was informed by the hotel management that the term “all-inclusive” did not refer to the towels. Or the nightstand.

The view outside our balcony, leading down to the beach.

The grounds, which were being watered by sprinklers. Or, as the single mallard refers to it, “My personal shower playground.”

The cascading pools.

Our Room

Our room, the honeymoon suite in the largest building on the complex. You’ll notice it says, “Honeymooners” on our door. I may or may not have been purposely vague when asked by hotel staff if we were, indeed, on our honeymoon. (I’m joking, but I really don’t understand why we were given the Honeymoon Suite. Not that I was complaining.)

The bottle of champagne that awaited us, you know, to help us celebrate our recent marriage. Like I mentioned before, I don’t understand why we were given the honeymoon suite, but I suppose you could make the case that within the light of human history, anything that happened within the last decade really does count as “recent.”

Our room had this hanging on the door. You know, because we were on our honeymoon.

What honeymoon suite at the Hard Rock Cafe would be complete without a picture of Elvis and Priscilla? Because all good romances meet when an Army GI meets a stunning and attractive young woman who captures his attention and turns out to be 14 years old.

A nice quote from an great Elvis song. Of course, that song would later be remade by UB40 and used prominently in the soundtrack to the movie “Sliver” about a creepy superintendent who spies on the tenants of a building using hidden cameras.

A very nice two-person jacuzzi tub. And they included a bench. If it’s a two-person tub, and it’s a two-person suite, who do they think would be sitting on the bench? Spectators?

The giant mural hanging on the ceiling above the hot tub. This sort of creeped me out. I don’t want John and Yoko looking at me when I’m in the tub. Luckily, their eyes were closed.

The best place for this stunning photo of rocker Gwen Stefani kissing her husband Gavin Rossdale? Right above the toilet. The Hard Rock Cafe Resort’s interior decorator’s hunch that there is no better time nor place to contemplate the romance of the No Doubt rocker and the Bush front-man than while relieving oneself was SPOT ON!

The Beach

This is truly – without exaggeration – the finest beach I have ever been on. Amazing. I am not being hyperbolic.

On the beach.


While at the pool, I ran into this traditional Dominican warrior. I think he was trying to fish in the kid’s pool.


Vacation for me = sleep + reading. Here are some of the titles my wife and I plowed through while on the beach. My choices were mostly non-fiction, first-person narratives written by authors with unique, humorous voices. I hope to be one of those one day.

Strange/Funny Signs

A sign at the gym. The use of prepositions is dazzling!

This sign was posted on every stairwell in the hotel. A warning, that you can slip and fall. Which is fine, until we got to our wing of the hotel, where the icon changed, slightly, leading to real confusion.

Now, apparently, the only people at risk of slipping are babies? Or perhaps midgets? Ooompah Loompahs?

Awesome Rock Memorabilia

The best thing about the Hard Rock Cafe is – of course – all the historic memorabilia that reminds you of epic legends of rock. The north lobby was decked out with giant, commissioned murals that were really cool. This one was hung imPres(ive)ley.

It’s hard to “imagine” a more famous star to include in your lobby.

I like this one Berry much. It’s very Goode.

The only artist would could have painted this better would have been Mick-elangelo. (I am sorry. I will stop now.)

This hand-painted upright piano was owned and used by Elton John.

In the main group lobby, there were four giant pictures hanging above the check-in desk. Here’s Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors, who died of a drug overdose.

Hendrix and Joplin, who both died of a drug overdose.

And here is Carlos Santana. Who didn’t die of a drug overdose. Because that would be too morbid to go 4-for-4 in your main lobby with stars who died of drug overdoses.

Legends of Pop

At the other end of the resort, there was a “Legends of Pop” gallery, featuring 8 artists. Shown here Lady Gaga, Elton John, Shakira and Prince. Lady Gaga doesn’t have a giant track record, and Shakira was chosen likely because of her massive influence on Latin America, but I’m okay with all four so far. But then, I turned and saw the other wall.

Okay, so Michael. Madonna. On the far right, there’s Mariah. But who’s that in between Mariah and Madonna. Is that? Wait. No. It can’t be. Is that TAYLOR SWIFT????!! Taylor Swift makes it on a wall with MJ, Madonna and Mariah Carey? That’s like having a cartoon all-stars featuring Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Snarf. Or a Mount Rushmore with Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Millard Fillmore. Or a Best Cities to live in, and listing Austin, New York City, Atlanta and Fargo. I am lodging a formal complaint with Hard Rock Cafe. And the entire Seminole Tribe.

Other Cool Things

At dinner one night, we saw this display. I’d like to remind everyone to beware of the Carbo Cobra, that disguises itself among the baguettes to stalk its prey.

Throughout the resort, there were several quotes from famous rock songs. I’m not sure if the placement of an ATM under this quote from the Steve Miller Band was planned, but you don’t often see hotels encouraging you to commit grand theft, so that’s a first.

The Three Coolest Things I Saw

This giant painting was in the entrance of one of the guy’s bathrooms, which was initially confusing to me because an icon of maleness, Prince is not. I looked to the other entryway and saw Cheryl Crow, so I knew I was safe. But let’s be honest, Prince is a smidge androgynous. Regardless, how much would I pay for this to hang in my house? I love me some Prince.

An outfit worn on stage by Eminem. The plaque said it was used in a video, but I don’t remember which one. Still, very cool to think that one of the finer lyricists of my lifetime once sweat in this.

And this mural rocked. I want it in my office. If it hadn’t have been 15 feet by 12 feet, I would have attempted to smuggle it out in my luggage. Also, the Hard Rock Cafe had a show featuring a Michael Jackson impersonator that was simply awesome. Check this guy out.

I Need Your Help
Finally, I come to you asking – no, begging – for help. I saw hundreds of pictures, paintings, instruments and other bits of rock history through this vast, 1,787 room giant resort. But this one atrium perplexed me for the ENTIRE TRIP. Let me show you. Side One:

Seems like Axl, Bob Marley and …Lenny Kravitz? Who is that guy on the far right? And is that Axl or Eminem? I’m assuming Axl because of the bandana.

Who is this guy? I kept thinking Lenny Kravitz, but would Lenny Kravitz really wear that kind of pseudo-Hawaiian shirt?

Who Are These Guys??
And then, directly across from Axl, Bob and Guy Who Looks Like Lenny Kravitz, were these three paintings. I didn’t recognize any of them.

I thought at first this was Johnny Cash, but he wasn’t dressed in black. Is this early Elvis? I don’t know.

Also unclear. A member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? A homeless man?

When I asked several Hard Rock Cafe employees who the man in this painting was, I received the following answers:
“I think it’s someone important” and
“That wasn’t in my training” and my personal favorite
“It’s a US President. The second Bush, I think.”
Really. The Hard Rock Cafe has a painting of George W. Bush?

If you can help me end the mystery, I sure would appreciate it.

Final Thought
I’d like to thank my wife, for deciding to take me on this trip, but also for being awesome and rocking this dress.

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7 Responses to Photo Diary :: Our Trip to Punta Cana

  1. Susan says:

    Ricky Nelson? Robert Palmer?

  2. Drew says:

    Dave – through the combined effort of my brother, my wife, and me, here is our opinion of the artists in question.
    We all agree that it could be Axl Rose, but if so, it is not a very good painting of him. It also kind of looks like Brett Michaels to me and he always wears a bandana.

    The one on the right is not Lenny Kravitz. It is Shaggy. Do a Google Image search for Shaggy…

    Now for the next three. We are not quite sure on the first one, though we agree that it is probably not Johnny Cash. Cash was right handed and the guy in the painting is left-handed. My brother suggested it might be Rick Nelson, though he too was right handed, so we really aren’t certain. Elvis was right handed as well for whatever that’s worth…

    I could agree with you that the second one is David Crosby, but my brother tells me that he is 100% sure that it is Jimmy Buffett. Do a Google Image search on “young Jimmy Buffett” and it is hard to disagree with my brother.

    My first guess for the third one was Glen Campbell, but the resemblance wasn’t quite right. My brother again tells me that he is 100% certain that it is Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Again, a Google Image search makes me think that my little brother is right.

    Oh, I’m not sure that the “Legend of Pop” is Taylor Swift. I’m still not sure that the “legend” part applies, but to us it looks like it could be Debbie Gibson.

    Hoped that helped some.

  3. Charles says:

    Did not know you were a prince? I am a huge fan. We should talk “Prince” sometime. As long as it doesn’t fit into Booty-GOD-Booty!

    • dave says:

      Are you kidding? Love. Me. Some. Prince. If there were a Fantasy draft of all the musicians in our lifetime, and I had the number one pick, I would be completely justified in selecting Prince first overall.

  4. Zsombor Nagy says:

    The mystery man is Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys probably from the mid 60’s

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