My View by Sandra

and other stuff . . .

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 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

Day 4 – Hawaii Cruise

Day 4 Hawaii Cruise

It’s hard to believe Christmas is coming. When you’re on a cruise, it’s just not something you think about. Day 4 started with that swim I’d promised myself I’d do first thing in the morning. Mornings are so quiet and peaceful. Everyone’s asleep or eating breakfast. I was the only one in the pool so tried out my little underwater camera. Had nothing to take pictures of except the drain, the ladder and the Princess logo on the bottom of the pool. Better than nothing I guess.

Had a big breakfast and then off to check out things. Spent a relaxful afternoon on deck just doing absolutely nothing. I’m not good at it but hope to get better as the days go by.

My dog sitter is letting me know daily how LuLu is doing. It seems they’re becoming good friends and LuLu is coming out of the bedroom more and more. I’m even getting pictures of her via email. If I repeat myself, I truly don’t mean to. Cost of the internet use is high so I just use it to upload things, and I don’t want to use the time to check things (included errors). Sorry about that.

Donna and I decided to check out lunch at the Trident Grill by the pool. I had a yummy Bratwurst. Excellent. I rarely, if ever eat three meals a day but there are so many things to try. I have to remember though that I am getting exercise as I get lost (often) and have to walk quite a distance to figure out where I am. I’m sure that by the last day of the cruise, one can figure out easily the layout .

We had dinner in the main dining room. I’ve always loved the formal dinners on a cruise but I don’t care for the food on Princess as I have on other cruises. Tonight we’re doing the buffet that is available 24 hours a day. It’s always so good and there is a big variety of things to eat. Plus there’s a young man who works up there who makes me wish I were thirty years younger — maybe even forty, and if I can’t act on it, at least I can stare – which I do. He reminds me a lot of James Darren in his prime.

There is always so much to do here. I thought four days at sea might be boring. Not at all. One more day and then we arrive in Hilo.

Got word from home that it’s below freezing and snow is expected. I’ve been hoping for snow for years and had a hunch it might snow while I was gone. Oh well, I’ll just enjoy this warm weather!

Underwater

Underwater

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Day 3 – Hawaii Cruise

Day 3

Today is almost over. The good part is that we turn our clocks back at midnight which gives us an extra hour tonight (for sleep). I’ve actually heard from some friends that they’re reading my blog. Am thrilled. Will try to make it about more than eating and eating and then eating again.

Woke up to another spectacular sunrise. There are so many big, puffy, white clouds in the sky and looking out from the balcony at the ocean just never seems to get boring. We started off early for a great breakfast. In my life any breakfast is great that I didn’t have to fix myself. One of the items available is English Sausage. I don’t know if I’ve ever had it before, but know I will want it again. Good stuff.

Took my book on digital photography, my camera and my new little Acer Aspire one up poolside. Never did read or take any pictures, but did meet some nice people.

Moon

Moon

Tonight the moon is the largest it will be for the entire year. I looked out awhile ago and it does look big. I took some pictures of it but they didn’t turn out very well. And you can’t really tell the size of it. Hope you knew about it and checked it out. Beautiful.

Tonight was the Captain’s Gala and formal night. We dressed up and then found out the ‘anytime’ dining was messed up, and we couldn’t get in. We went to the upstairs buffet though and it was very nice. There is always something good to eat so we felt we didn’t miss much.

Found out the pools are always open so may go early and swim for a while. There are several pools, one indoors.

Time for sleep. Until tomorrow.

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Favorite Sites, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Day Two – Crusin’ to Hawaii

Day Two:

Donna got up bright and early and decided I should be up. Rather than wake me gently, she rearranged last night’s room service dishes. Groan. But, she’s still alive and well and isn’t swimming with sharks which is a good thing and a testament to my patience. We had to pray to get through this one.

The sunrise from our balcony was one of the most incredibly beautiful gifts God could have given us . I love to take sunrise pictures in the morning but this was a joy considering that usually the neighbors’ houses, trees, old, unused satellite dishes are always in the way. Not today. Awesome (and I think that word is overused but not this morning.)

How glorious to just take our time to get ready to go out and not be rushed. And, not to have to make beds or do dishes is a major plus. After a morning buffet , we walked out around the pools and all over the ship. We did nothing important. I watched a lei making class for a while. Interesting. There are all sorts of things to do.

One thing I have noticed is that NO ONE has a cell phone since we’re out to sea. It’s really enjoyable, and I didn’t realize it until this evening. I noticed it because the majority of people are so friendly and everyone stops to chat. Dinner tonight was so nice. We shared a table with Mike and Ida, a precious Italian couple who are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Their Italian accents were heavy and at times we did have a little trouble understanding them.
The other couple was Ron and Joanne. They now live in Arizona after Ron retired from LAPD. They’re celebrating their 52nd anniversary. Neither couple looked old enough to be married half a century. It’s amazing how you can meet new people, share a meal, get to know about them and laugh with them as though you’d known them forever.

I’ve been able to email my house/dog sitter to find out that LuLu is happy with her. She (the sitter, not LuLu) accidentally locked herself out of the house. Thankfully I’d given her my brother Bill’s phone number, and he came immediately (2 hour drive) to help get her in the house.

I’m going to put on my jacket now and go sit outside on the deck to watch nothing but dark ocean with lots of whitecaps and a beautiful big moon overhead.
_c1117651

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Favorite Sites, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruisin’ to Hawaii

Day one on my newest adventure – a two week cruise to Hawaii. My former high school friend Donna and I booked this Hawaiian cruise well over a year ago. We’ve3 been so excited as we counted down the days. I’ve spent the past week trying to pack for this. If you’re someone who doesn’t go away much, this can be a frustrating task. But I found a website that describes the best way to pack and it does work. More on that later.

My brother Bill picked us up early Wednesday morning. I kissed the dog (LuLu) about two thousand times and even shed many tears that I would be leaving her. Her doggie sitter promised she’d take good care of her for me.

Stopped to have a good breakfast. Since one of the highlights of a cruise is food and eating, we wanted to be sure we were in good eating condition.

Pulling into San Pedro (California) where the ships are berthed, I was amazed at the size and beauty of the Golden Princess – our home for the next two weeks. Boarding was so organized. No lines to wait in – we boarded stress and hassle free.

The cabins on this cruise are amazing – the layout was well thought out. Must have been designed by a woman. Lots of closet space, drawers – even a bathroom you can actually turn around in. And my favorite part – the balcony. We didn’t have to go up on deck (not an easy task if you don’t know your ship yet). We watched the deck disappear.

A beautiful buffet was available right away. Of course we checked it and participated. The rest of the evening we walked around checking everything out. I played the slot machines for an hour and did okay – didn’t lose.

By 8pm, I was ready for sleep, but not ready to give in to it so was very tired.

Because the cruise is out to sea during the Christmas holiday, the entire ship is decorated for Christmas. Cruise ships are beautiful anyway, but with garland wrapped on all the rails and big trees in the atrium.

It was hard to sleep with anticipation for the next morning. pool_area

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Vacation | , , , , , | Leave a comment