My View by Sandra

and other stuff . . .

Day 14 – Hawaii Cruise – Christmas Eve and Home

It was cold – very cold. It was so hard to believe that just days before I was in the ocean snorkeling. Now reality had set in and we were in San Pedro – ready to take the road home. The good part? I missed LuLu so much and it was Christmas Eve. It didn’t seem like it because we hadn’t had all the Christmas hype. The ship was decorated beautifully for the holidays and during the last couple of days, there were Christmas carols playing everyplace. Home sweet home.

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January 7, 2009 Posted by | Travel, Vacation | Leave a comment

Day 13 – Hawaii Cruise – Ensenada

We arrived in Ensenada, Mexico. I’d just been here in April. I wasn’t going to get off the ship, but was on a mission to get marionettes for the kids. I’d gotten one when I was there last time and there were requests to get more. I caught one of the buses headed for town and then searched each little shop until I found a few of the puppets on a string. Ensenada has really changed in the past twenty years. It’s cleaner, more organized and you rarely see a junker car go by. The kids are out selling their Chick lets, but I noticed that most of them were wearing very nice clothes – Disney sweatshirts and Nike shoes. Back to the ship after looking around a bit. Stopped by the pharmaceutico for some meds for friends who’d asked me to pick some up.

When I got back to the ship, I had to pack and put the suitcases out in the hall. This is the hard time – knowing I had to go back to the real world – sigh. This was such a wonderful vacation.

Ensenada, Mexico

Ensenada, Mexico

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Travel, Vacation | Leave a comment

Day 12- Hawaii Cruise – I’m sick

Deck Chess Game

Deck Chess Game

I woke up this morning with the cold. No longer was it me wondering if I were getting one. I, indeed, had one. But, if you’re going to catch a cold, a cruise is definitely a good place to recoup. Room service brought our coffee. Donna went up to the dining room and brought back breakfast (I can eat anytime. Colds, flu, whatever do not interfere with this fat old body). I slept all day. So did Donna. For dinner we ordered cheeseburgers from room service and then I watched a movie that night while Donna went out.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Favorite Sites, Travel, Vacation | Leave a comment

Day 11 – Hawaii Cruise & I won money!

Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat

I woke up feeling as though I were coming down with a cold. Went to the breakfast buffet for a relaxing, delicious breakfast. I’m trying to be sure that I use the stairs every chance I get so perhaps I won’t take all this food home (in the form of a larger me).

It’s getting a little chillier as we head back to the main land. Love saying “main land”. Sounds cool to me. Not feeling fantastic so I just laid around most of the remaining morning. I wish I were major wealthy – I think thing one of my favorite things on this cruise is the over-sized balcony. It’s almost as big as our room. We’ve really spent a lot of time out there.
We headed back to the casino. After all, I had casino money I was playing on so it wasn’t hurting as much. I found another machine that just kept winning. These are 2 cent machines so there’s no huge jackpot – just lots of playing time. Finished out ahead again. What a nice feeling. There was a $1 slot machine that had a ‘spin’ thing on it. If you landed on the ‘spin’, you got to d’oh … hit on spin and win what it had. I really wanted to try it so decided that I’d spend $20 and if it didn’t hit, I’d walk away. Four dollars in, it came up with two bars and a 25 times symbol. Five hundred dollars! How cool was that? I still had $16 of my original $20 so decided to finish that – again for a chance to spin. Four more dollars and this time I hit a seven and TWO of the 25 times symbols. Not sure what the symbols were – just knew they were good. This time, the machine didn’t give me my winnings, I had to wait for an attendant to come so I could sign some forms. I was so excited. This time I won $1,250. With all my winnings, my cruise was paid for.
I couldn’t believe how my luck had changed and then remembered I’d bought a little Japanese Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat) when I was in Maui. I didn’t buy it for good luck, I just thought it was a cute piece of Japanese art that I had seen. I did notice that every shop had one sitting by their cash registers. Could it be the little critter was beckoning the slots to win?
I was on Cloud 9 and except for the nasty cold that seemed to be creeping up on me, all was well in Sandra-Land.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Favorite Sites, Travel, Vacation | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 10 – Hawaii Cruise – at sea day

Uneventful, but relaxing and fun. Had a good breakfast buffet and sat on deck with my computer while eating and people watching. We have clouds and it’s windy, but on a cruise, who cares? I’d love to swim more but there is so much chlorine in the water, it’s hard to survive. I did get some goggles, but just the picture of me in a bathing suit wearing goggles is a picture that not many want to see. Trust me.

I went to the casino for a little while but was lucky enough to get one that paid and paid and paid some more. It was so nice to spend an afternoon where I used the casino’s money and not my own. Did not win a car or a fortune, but it was fun. Met some interesting people as I sat there.

Formal dining tonight. Donna and I dressed up and went to dinner. Lovely. Our dinner partners tonight were from Nebraska, Washington state and Canada. Food was delicious, as always.

After dinner I got my camera and walked all over the ship taking pictures. Everyone was watching shows and doing other things so it was nice and peaceful. It was also horribly windy out on the upper decks. I wanted to get a picture of the huge lighted Christmas tree up on the top of the ship. I just had a little section of deck to go but the wind was so bad, I was afraid I’d get blown overboard. I was in my good clothes so definitely didn’t want that.

I came back to the room and spent the rest of the evening sitting out on the balcony. It was gorgeous.

Donna had gone to a show and said that the two couples next to her got into a fight and spilled a drink all over her arm. Today’s youth? No, two old men dressed up in their suits and tuxedos fighting over who was going to sit where. Sorry I missed THAT show.

Rainbow from our balcony

Rainbow from our balcony


Goodnight and on to day 11.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 9 – Maui

Fish

Fish

I’d been to Hilo (and Kona) and Oahu before, but never to Kauai and Maui. By far Maui is my favorite. Today was incredible. I got up early, had breakfast – then boarded the tender to take me to one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I had booked a tour on the Island Princess tour – a snorkeling adventure. The boat went about an hour and a half from where our ship, the Golden Princess had anchored. We then donned snorkels, fins and masks and climbed down the ladders on the back of the boat into the waters off the Molokini Crater. The water was a little cold at first but then never felt cold to me again once I went underwater. The underwater beauty was something I hope I never let the memory of slip from my mind. I was expecting it to be nice but nothing like this. The water was so clear with coral on the ocean floor and fish of every color swimming by.

Then we started back, stopping for an hour in “Turtle Town” to snorkel some more to view the giant turtles. I guess I didn’t expect to actually see any and was total breathless when I saw the first one swim by. They’re huge and they’re not afraid of people because when they have to go up for air, they go right by without a second glance.

We saw huge whales on the trip. One had a tail span of about 24 feet. Incredible.

We shopped for awhile and then came back to the ship to get ready for dinner.

Another fantastic day.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 8 – Kauai

Wal-mart Shuttle

Wal-mart Shuttle

We arrived early in Kauai. It’s the wettest place in the world – which we believed as we watched the rain come down. But, because it rains so much there, the landscape is so plush and beautiful. Green, green and more green. I heard my phone beeping that I had a message and when I checked it, had a picture from my mailperson and friend Cathy, showing a picture of the snow that had fallen at home this morning. It’s incredible. I love snow and hope each year that it’ll snow. As soon as I’m gone a little while, they get a huge storm. I can’t decide whether to be jealous or not.

I had a nice breakfast and then we headed out to check out this island. Anytime you stop in port, there are shuttles and buses. Some waiting for those on planned tours, some there with rides to town. We had asked several people during the past few days where they’d gone while on the various islands. I wish I were kidding, but many said they’d been to Wal-mart. I wish I were kidding but Wal-mart has free rides all day to their store. Today floored us when we saw several lines of people waiting for tours, etc. There was one really long line – 5 times the average line. We thought it must be a good tour and checked it out … Wal-mart.

Donna and I skipped that tour and went into the little shopping part of town next to the enormous and beautiful hotel, the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club. Then Donna came back to the ship and I went to the hotel to look at their botanical gardens. Incredible. I spent quite a bit of time there taking pictures and looking around. It was such a relaxing afternoon. Even though the walk was a long one, I walked by the ocean back to the ship. I felt I could eat a little more if I walked it. Good reasoning?

Line to tour Wal-mart in Kauai

Line to tour Wal-mart in Kauai

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 7 – Honolulu

We were up bright and early and headed for Honolulu. Our friend Louise met us right aside t he terminal and off we went to check things out in Honolulu. Top priority for me was to find some flowers to take pictures of. Louise took us to the Foster Botanical Gardens. I’ve known Louise since we were best friends in sixth grade. Hate to put it this way but that’s over half a century. What a fun surprise that Louise greeted us each with a fresh flower lei.

Always knew Louise as a kid was a bit amazed of her knowledge of ‘everything’. She knew just about every plant we saw and the history of it. More importantly, she knew the real, long names of each one. It truly was beautiful. I took lots of pictures and was in awe of all we saw. My favorite plant was one that is the oldest plant on earth – here before dinosaurs, yet surviving the dinosaur. I don’t think I’m as smart as Louise, I can’t remember the common name. It’s beautiful with big, unnoticeable spikes on it. If you touch one you have a real good idea why the dinosaurs left it alone.

We left the gardens and went to The Pagoda. It’s great having a local show you around. This place was gorgeous and unfortunately – closed. We walked all through it though on small walkways which have water underneath where a huge number of Koi and some other large fish swim. We were sorry it was closed but then headed to The Willows. It was similar to The Pagoda. Looked like lots of office Christmas party lunches were being held. The buffet was superb. Many items I’d never heard of – lots of pork, curry dishes and the expected roast pig.

We left there to go to the Punchbowl. It’s a huge memorial – so beautiful. Ernie Pyle and the astronaut are buried there. There are no more available plots there.

Louise had a meeting in the afternoon so we said our ‘goodbyes’ – ooops, I mean our “Aloha’s”, hugged and hoped we’d be able to come back to visit again.

Donna and I then walked around the marketplace close to the ship.

Evening – we had a great buffet onboard.

Went to sleep early. Tomorrow – Kauai.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 6 – Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo, HawaiiWe could see the lights off in the distance early in the morning. That’s a big deal when you have only seen ocean for days. We also saw dark clouds and a massive rain fall.

We had a tour to go to at 8am. We were herded onto a big, very cushy tour bus and off we went, headed for Akaka Falls. We did get to see a lot of Hilo on the way. I’ve been here before but thought Donna might enjoy the tour. The rain had stopped as we got off the bus and the clouds lifted. It was so beautiful walking through the ferns and huge bamboo trees.

As soon as we boarded the bus again, the rain started coming down and the clouds were back. We then headed to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. As though planned, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted. We tasted all their samples – eagerly. I have decided that the fresh Macadamia nut is indeed much different than the nuts we buy locally – even the Mauna Loa brand. There wasn’t a lot to see so as the rain began again when we were boarding the bus, we headed to one of the botanical gardens on Hilo. It truly was beautiful, full of flowers I’d never seen before and a huge display of Orchids.

The bad thing about tours is that you don’t have a lot of time to do much. We were herded back to the bus and brought to the ship in the afternoon. Instead of opting for formal dining or the buffet, I put on my bathing suit and swam for a while before grabbing some Hawaiian pizza at the Pizzeria which is poolside. I love swimming but the pool must have been 90 degrees and so full of chlorine which irritated my eyes a lot. Doubt if I’ll be swimming much.

Cruise lines are so afraid of passengers getting sick, they over chlorinate to keep it healthy. Arggh. Not fun. I did get some underwater pictures of a an adorable six year old, Benjamin. I told him I was testing my camera and would he be my model. He was having a ball swimming in front of me so I’d take his picture. Thankfully he had a lot of energy and was a great swimmer. His parents had been smart enough to put goggles on him.

We ran into a couple who we’d sat with in the morning. They’d gone on a helicopter ride over the island. Their pictures were amazing, even including several of our ship from the air.

Bedtime came early. The ship’s deck was being decorated for an “Island Party” that evening. I was much too tired to even think about going.

Tomorrow, Honolulu. A friend who lives there and who went to school with Donna and I is going to meet us at the ship and take us on a tour. Should be much more fun than the expensive, not so fun commercial tours offered by the cruise line.
akaka_falls

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 5 – Hawaii Cruise

The massage we had yesterday felt great at the time but today I feel as though I’ve been beat up royally. I feel as though I’ve been bruised. In the afternoon, I took my down comforter to cushion the outside chairs, reclined the back, put on my iPod, had a glass of iced tea and then spent hours on the balcony watching clouds go by. Nothing but relaxation.

I always feel that I should be doing something productive so at first I was just thinking of what I should be doing. That didn’t last long. As one who doesn’t excel at relaxation, this was divine.

I ordered dinner from room service and then spent the evening watching tv.

Not much to write about but no regrets.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment