Day Five, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – November 21

I woke up at 7:00 am and saw that we were getting close to shore – and there were a couple other ships close to shore.

Grand Cayman is a “tender” port, so we’ll anchor a ways out and take small tender boats into port.  Last time I did this, in January, it looked like a parking lot of boats out here.  We’ll see how it looks here later today.

People going on excursions go first, then we can get tender tickets.  I imagine if we go later in the day we won’t need those, but if we do, they’re in Topsiders on 12, mid.

The show tonight looks good – The Fantastic Flying Fingers of Piano Showman, Stephen Kane.  The description says “Forget your old piano lessons!  Stephen pushes the keys to their limits:  Jazz, ragtime, classical, the hits of Billy Joel and Elton John.  Exuberant playing and soulful vocals plus a few good laughs.”

Unfortunately, we’re going to miss that since it’s at 8:30 pm only.  Tonight is the night we have dinner with an ship’s officer in the Tsar’s Palace.  It might seem rude to say “Gotta Go!” in the middle of the meal.

(Note on 2/21/2014:  I just found out that Stephen Kane will be on our next cruise so we’ll get another chance to hear him!)

As predicted, after breakfast in the Great Outdoors, tender tickets were no longer needed.  We gathered up our stuff to take shopping and waited in line for the next tender.  On shore, we avoided “pirates” and other photo ops.

5 other ships in port today – 3 Carnivals, one other Norwegian (Pearl) and a Royal Caribbean.  All tendering folks to and from town.

We looked in the windows of the terminal stores, then kept walking out the gate to the main road along the harbor in George Town.  We looked in a couple jewelry stores and a Swatch store – Tom is still looking for a watch – but found nothing appealing in our price range.

We found the “Cariloo” store where everything is bamboo and Tom got another shirt.  He had bought one onboard the first sea day.  It does feel nice and soft but I didn’t want to get a Tshirt.  We ran into the “hot tub vet” and her mom and Tom mentioned Cushing’s again.  Maybe we’ll email later.  Or not.

Up the street to a Scotiabank where Tom enquired about opening a bank account.  Their dollar is more stable now than the US.

Back down to shopping – into DelSol.  I got another hat, this time with a butterfly that adds color when it is out in the sun.

A tshirt somewhere else, a bathing suit for Tom, some trinkets.

It was very hot and there were just too many people from all these ships so we crossed the street to go back to the ship and came across a small park.  The lookout station was in a small treehouse.

Back inside the terminal, we got a tote bag to carry all our swag, plus some wind chimes.

We had our first lunch onboard when we got back.  We took it to the Great Outdoors again.  Much nicer than sitting outside than in the Garden Cafe.

Walking, reading, writing, napping… tI had thought we might go in the hot tub/pool again but the afternoon disappeared.

Time to get ready for our dinner with an officer.  Dressed up and hustled down the Photo Gallery on 7, mid.  I thought we were going to have our picture(s) taken but it was really just a meeting place.

2013-11-22 18.05.04We got to our table in Tsar’s Palace.  Two others were already there, another Thomas and a Dr. Julie.  We had assigned seating so it was Sandra Franklin, Human Resources person, with a Tom on either side.

On my other side were 2 women who had been best friends since second grade, for about 50 years.  They talked about once a week but this was their first cruise without their families and their first non-Princess cruise.  The more talkative of the 2 was a photographer.

Dr. Julie was – oh yes – a veterinarian.  She seemed surprised that people got Cushing’s so we had more discussion about that.

This will be known as the Educating the Vets cruise.

It was an excellent dinner and we learned a lot about ship operations, NCL and more from Sandra.  Much of the crew here is from the Philippines but none had lost family members in Typhoon Halyan.  NCL offered support to all and made phone calls to check on family.

Sandra was originally from Guyana and now St. Lucia.  She has a daughter in college in NYC and thought that this would be a good job to have as an empty nester.  Sounds good to me, too!  I wonder if there’s much call for piano teachers onboard…

Walking around, changed clothes.

Chocolate Buffet night.  People lined up waiting.  We went in, got some pictures but it was just too crowded.

On our way out, we found the “Sugar-Free Chocolate Buffet”  Much fewer stuff by way fewer people.  So we got a few “healthy” items and went out to the Great Outdoors to indulge.  Maybe no sugar but I think that there was a bit of fat.

Walking, sitting by the pool, a bit of reading/writing.  I finished my book and started The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

Today’s Stats:

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Partly Cloudy 88F/31C

Sunrise: 6:38 am

Sunset: 5:48 pm

Arrival: 8:00 am

All Aboard: 3:30 pm

Day Four, Montego Bay, Jamaica – November 20

Jamaica

We were up fairly early this morning and watched the ship make good use of its azipods to dock next to the Star Taurus, a crude oil tanker.

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After that was successful, we went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast.

About 10:30, we went down to 4 and down the gangplank to check out a bit of Jamaica.  We were at the regular cargo pier (#2), so we took a shuttle over to the cruise terminal.

This terminal was several tacky shops but Tom got some postcards and I got a little bag for carrying my Kindle on deck.  He looked at watches in The Royal Store but didn’t buy anything.  They gave us a free Jamaica keychain for looking.  Whoopee!

We took the shuttle back and made good use of most of the other folks being on tours and such.  We had a hot tub to ourselves for over half an hour.

In a bit, a couple folks joined us.  One was a veterinarian and Tom told her about my Cushing’s experiences.  After about 45 minutes I got out to read for a while.  Then in the pool – salt water!  Who knew?

Tom thought I should go over and talk to the veterinarian but I said I was on vacation, not here to “talk shop” unless I found that Cushie-looking woman again.

We stopped by the Great Outdoors and had some coffee.  A yellow butterfly flew by but didn’t stop at our table.  It wasn’t as big as Alice’s butterfly, but I wondered all the same… How does a tiny thing like that fly up to the 12th deck of a ship?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alice on this trip.  She would have loved this cruise, especially the Sea Days.  Looking all around at the vastness of the ocean, the beautiful clouds, sunsets, the moon.  I know her soul is out there, somewhere, in one of these beautiful things that God has created.

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Great Outdoors

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Great Outdoors

Back in our cabin, it was fun watching people hustle back to make the 3:30 all-aboard.  I got some shots of the ship just sliding out from the dock, parallel to it, instead of backing into the Star Taurus.  The folks on board that ship looked happy that we didn’t hit them, too.

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We bid a fond adieu to Montego Bay and head off into the sunset.

We tried the Garden Cafe for dinner tonight, too.  Pretty good – both plates worth!

The usual after-dinner deck stroll, then back to the cabin.  I was asleep by 9:00PM…and up at midnight doing my website chores and blog-writing.

We didn’t go to the show again.

Tonight’s towel animal was a lobster.

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Today’s Stats:

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Mostly Sunny 85F/30C

Sunrise: 6:22 am

Sunset: 5:34 pm

Arrival: 8:00 am

All Aboard: 3:30 pm

Day Two, At Sea – November 18

image

I woke up about 6:30 and sat out on the balcony writing yesterday’s blog post with the help of the Freestyle Daily newsletter.

We’re definitely off the river now but it’s still pretty calm.  Some seaweed floating by – there might be a storm somewhere.

About 9:30 or so we went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast – and ate too much!  A woman with a major Cushing’s-looking hump went by.  I didn’t see her face but I’ve been looking for her since, just in case. We walked up to the 13th deck, the Sun Deck and wandered around.

I had signed us up for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and I was sure that it was at 11:00 am in the Star Bar on the other end of 13 but when I looked at my phone, the time said 10:00 so I was sure we’d missed it.

We sat on 12 of a while, by the pool, just relaxing and decided to go shopping.  I needed some glue for one of my sandal soles that was leaving the rest of the sandal.

When we got up, I saw a guy in a Cruise Critic tshirt and we followed him to the elevator.  He was going to the Meet and Greet!  I guess my phone compensated for the difference in time zones and we hadn’t missed it.

We got to the Star Bar and signed in just before about 10 officers came in.  The heads of the various departments were introduced and answered questions.  We got their phone numbers in case of problems.  We were able to sign up for dinner with one of them on Cayman Island night.

Left there and went shopping.  On the way, I saw that no one was at the restaurant reservation desk.  We signed up for Brazilian Churr-whatever for tonight at 7:30.  We’d always wanted to try that.  This was a perfect opportunity at only $20 each.

Tomorrow night we go to the Mongolian Hot Pot.  We did that before when Michael was with us and loved it.  We’re looking forward to experiencing that again.  As an aside, I am the only person I know (or have heard of) who owns her own personal Mongolian hot pot.  It makes a great conversation starter at dinner parties.

Finally got to the store.  I found my glue and we got a couple tshirts, one on sale.

Up to the cabin.  I was reading and suddenly it was quite a bit later.  How did that happen?

Out on the balcony, I finished my first book Midnight at Marble Arch: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel, by Anne Perry.


Started City of Dark Magic: A Novelby Magnus Flyte.  I love having all my books on a Kindle.  So much easier than carrying a suitcase of books!

 

Back up to 13 for Tom’s meeting and I read out on the deck, same as yesterday.

The sunset was so glorious again. Looking out at it, it looks like you can get a glimpse into heaven.  I said a few words to God and reminded Him to take good care of my Alice.

It got chilly after 5:00 pm, same as yesterday.  Maybe tomorrow i’ll remember to take my hoodie.

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We stopped by the grill to see if they had bratwurst and sauerkraut like they did last time, but no :(  Probably just as well.  That was a daily occurrence before.

We did get burgers, fries and stuff to tide us over until dinner at 7:30.

Back to the cabin/balcony.  Tom napped, I read.

I got semi-dressed up since it was what passes for formal night here and we headed out.  We thought we were following the signs to Moderno, Brazilian Churrascaria but ended up in a long hallway of cabins.  Back to the elevators and tried again.

We ended up in a horseshoe shaped area, in a bar.  We stood there for a few minutes and finally had to ask for help.  The waitstaff indicated we should be on the other part of the horseshoe so we went across the connected part.  I’m sure these all have names but I have no idea what they would be.

We got to what turned out to be the back of Moderno but we didn’t know that.  Another waitperson said we were in the wrong place and we needed to go up to the hostess station at the horseshoe tip.  Sheesh!  We followed their signs.

Came up behind the hostess and kind of surprised her, I think, but she took us to our table.  Folks explained us things to us as we were going but I missed the info about the tongs.

Excellent salad bar with Brazilian and other exotic selections.  Brazilian seafood chowder and bean soup.  I had the bean soup due to my seafood allergies.

I used the tongs for the little round parmesan bread balls.  No problem.

Turned the little card to green to let the gauchos know we were ready for the 10 different types of  meat to start appearing.

The first one was 2 kinds of sausage.  One was Spanish chorizio, the other Portuguese something.  I tried both and they were both good.

Then, chicken legs marinated in lime juice and chicken breast wrapped in bacon and maybe marinated in something.  I just had the leg.  The gaucho had trouble getting it off the skewer (maybe wrong term for this) so she indicated I should take it.  I used my fork.  Should have used the tongs.  Oh well – next time!

Pork rib with BBQ sauce and marinated in red wine.  I had trouble cutting it but what I could get was very tasty.

Various cuts of been including sirloin and filet minion.  All wonderful and so tender.  No fork needed.

We could have made an evening of this, one meat at a time.  I was already stuffed and wanted a dessert so I flipped my card to red.  Stop the meat!  I missed out on the lamb but it had to be.

Mango rice pudding for me made with tres leches.  I had thought it would be like Mango Sticky Rice.  Similar but different.  I liked it and it would be a new favorite of mine had I never had the sticky rice version.

Back to the cabin. Our steward had left us a towel animal.  Tom thought it was a rabbit.

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I changed my clothes, mainly to lose the heels and back out .  We saw our steward and I thanked him for the rabbit.  He said it was a bulldog.  Oh, well!

Out on deck.  We wandered around a bit then back to the cabin.

I read (and napped) for a while as Tom went online.  Then, it was close to midnight so I did my Pender website work.

Then, actual bedtime.

Tonight we change our clocks forward one hour.  Easy for us since we never set our watch the hour back when we got to New Orleans.  We’ll be on time again rather than automatically always subtracting an hour.

The show tonight was Band on the Run with music from the 70s.  We didn’t go.

Did You Know?

The Norwegian Jewel was completed on August 4, 2005 by Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenberg, Germany after 2 years and an estimated cost of $420 million.

The Norwegian Jewel’s maiden voyage started in Europe on August 10, 2005

Approximately 1,200 crew representing over 60 nationalities work on board

1,000 gallons of paint were used to cover the  Norwegian Jewel’s exterior and an additional 3,000 gallons for interior surfaces

There are 12 passenger elevators and 10 elevators for guests and crew.

Today’s Stats:

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Partly Sunny, 77F/25C

Sunrise: 6:19 am

Sunset: 5:02 pm

San Francisco, Day One

First thing we did was go look at the fire escape we didn’t go down in the fire alarm last night.  I’m glad we took the stairs by the front office instead, even though they would have been dicy in a real fire – all wood.

This one looks scary, though!

Inn at the Opera, 5th Floor Fire Escape

Inn at the Opera, 5th Floor Fire Escape

After this, we went to the very nice – and free – continental breakfast at Pläj, the Scandinavian restaurant here.

Pläj

After breakfast, we gathered up our stuff and headed out for the Big Bus tour

While waiting, we got some pictures of City Hall and the Opera House.

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We got on at Stop 7 and took a bunch of pictures, even though it was foggy. On the double decker bus we were pretty close to the trolly car lines!

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Of course, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and took pictures both directions!

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It was so cold and windy, we decided to get off somewhere to get a jacket, sweater, anything.

As it turned out, our bus didn’t take the normal route.  It changes slightly on Sunday’s and the San Francisco Marathon had us rerouted somewhat.

On the way to the last stop, Fisherman’s Wharf, I also took these pictures:

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On Fisherman’s Wharf.  We had to get off here and the 7-11 had fleece jackets.  I put mine on immediately!

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From Fisherman’s Wharf, we decided to take a cable car.  I was amazed that 3 men turned them around manually with a little turntable

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After our ride, we had to get off that and board again.  The line was very long and we could see that it would be at least 3 carloads before we could get back on so we decided to go find out bus again.

We walked up to Union Square…and ran into my endocrinologist from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore!  Dr. Salvatori was there for the Endocrine Society Convention but there had been a gas leak and the convention had been evacuated.

Small world!

After chatting with him a little, we took the bus back home and got off at the other side of the City Hall and walked around to “our place”.

I took a little nap and Tom went out to Walgreens to get some aloe vera for his sunburn.

At about 4:30, I got up and got ready to meet Kelly, a Cushing’s patient and member of my message boards.

She had chosen a restaurant called Absinthe, which was within walking distance.  We got our first table and decided to move because the sun was coming through the windows, then moved again to a corner table.  Then a staff member told us that that table was reserved so we moved again.  That party came very late and we probably could have finished before they got there.  Oh well!

We had a very nice dinner, then, finally bedtime.

Cruisin’ With Susan, 2013

Caribbean Cruise 2013

Caribbean Cruise 2013

I’m so excited!  Just over six years ago Susan M, one of my Cushie friends, invited me on a cruise to Bermuda. I was delighted and excited to go. Then I found out I had kidney cancer and had to bow out at the last minute – the cruise embarked the day I left the hospital. My surgeon said that there was no way I could postpone my surgery for another 5 or so days so someone else went in my place.

So, that was it for my first (and only!) Bermuda cruise.

Then in 2008, I heard from my friend again, asking me if I wanted to do the cruise then! Of course, I said yes… She said she was celebrating and upgraded the whole cruise to the Western Caribbean. We had a superior balcony stateroom and I could wear some of the clothes I got for the non-cruise.

You can read all about our 2008 cruise here: http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise.htm and see a slideshow of pictures at http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise.html

Last year, September of 2011, we went on a land trip to Gloucester, MA.  Blog posts and pictures for that trip start here http://maryoutandabout.posterous.com/last-trip-for-awhile.

I was at work today when I saw Susan’s name pop up on my cellphone and knew she wanted to go on another trip.  As soon as I got in my car, I listened to her message.  YES!  Another cruise!

We talked on the phone and decided on this trip:

January 2013 Cruise

January 2013 Cruise

Then, Susan booked the cruise and called back to say it was even cheaper than we thought it would be.  Major WooHoo.  And, we have the all-important balcony.

Stay tuned!

Cruise Countdown Tickers

Beach Buddies

MaryO

Sailing, Sailing…

Over the years, we went on several Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.  We liked them because they were small, casual and were fairly easy on the wallet.

They sailed around the Caribbean to a variety of islands, although they sometimes changed itineraries depending on weather, crew, whatever.  One trip we were supposed to go to Saba but couldn’t make port.  A lot of people got off at the next port and flew home.

The captains were prone to “Bedtime Stories” which were often more fiction than true but they added to the appeal of the trip.  We didn’t care if we missed islands or not – we were just there to sail over the waves and enjoy the ride.

The last trip we took with them was about two years before I started having Cushing’s problems.  (You wondered how I was going to tie this together, right?)

The cuise was uneventful, other than the usual mishaps like hitting docks, missing islands and so on.  Until it was a particularly rough sea one day.  I was walking somewhere on deck and suddenly a wave came up over the deck making it very slippery.  I fell and cracked the back of my head on the curved edge of a table in the dining area.  I had the next-to-the-worse headache I have ever had, the worst being after my pituitary surgery. At least after the surgery I got some morphine.

We asked several doctors later if that hit could have contributed to my Cushing’s but doctors didn’t want to get involved in that at all.

The Windjammer folks didn’t fare much better, either. In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch was responsible for the loss of the s/v Fantome (the last one we were on).

All 31 crew members aboard perished; passengers and other crew members had earlier been offloaded in Belize.

The story was recorded in the book The Ship and the Storm: Hurricane Mitch and the Loss of the Fantome by Jim Carrier.  The ship, which was sailing in the center of the hurricane, experienced up to 50-foot (15 m) waves and over 100 mph (160 km/h) winds, causing the Fantome to founder off the coast of Honduras.

This event was similar to the Perfect Storm in that the weather people were more interested in watching the hurricane change directions than they were in people who were dealing with its effects.

I read this book and I was really moved by the plight of those crew members.

 I’ll never know if that hit on my head contributed to my Cushing’s but I have seem several people mention on the message boards that they had a traumatic head injury of some type in their earlier lives.

 

I need to remember this

A friend posted this on FB recently and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, although this image says it much better than my thoughts have been.

 

Thisisyourlife

 

I’m pretty sure I’m not wasting my life, but I’m also not taking time to “smell the roses” and so forth.  Much of my time seems to be taken up doing things for Cushing’s people, for church people, for my Mom.

The only things I do for ME are to nap, sing in the church choir and ring handbells.

A long, long time ago I took various classes at a local REC center and they had this sign up.

 

Life-be-in-it

 

It’s so true – this is the only one we get and mine is almost half over (*ahem*) so I need to start re-prioritizing and get out there more.

It’s time for ME!

 

Time-for-me

 

Now, I just have to figure out what I want to do…after my nap.