Monday, November 25, 2013

It was bound to happen

Well…….two and a half weeks to update the blog isn't my personal best (at least I don't think it is) but it's likely close. Had to be reminded by a visiting daughter yesterday to "post to the blog". She's just into the teacher routine of preparing report cards and lesson plans and has no recollection of how difficult it is to be off work for two months. I've been not so gently reminded by the other visiting daughter who is taking a couple of weeks vacation to "not talk about not working"as it's unpopular with the rest of society. I'll just say that yoga this afternoon with retired folks and walking the dog were my only concrete plans for the day. 

First to recap - the cruise was wonderful. We'd been a bit concerned as the fall can be rainy in the caribbean but we had great weather. Enjoyed the Doubletree Suites at Gallery One (thank you Hotwire) in Fort Lauderdale which was across from a Publix store so we picked up some wine to enjoy on the trip. We did have a wet evening as we headed out to Chima, the Brazilian steak house, which by the way was fantastic! Embarkation day was grey but we made sure to catch the shuttle from the hotel over to cruise port early to enjoy the Westerdam. Five or six ships leaving that day as Fort Lauderdale is the third busiest cruise port in the world, so not unexpected. Stateroom 4130 was large with a generous balcony on the port side and it is worth the extra $100 for the week to have a balcony in the tropics. The staff were great (as usual) with 60% being Indonesian while 35% were Filipino. Great room steward and dining room waiter (who was going home in two weeks to meet his newborn son and was very excited at finding himself a dad) - this was the first time the shore captain and myself had seated dining for the late setting. He apparently must've agreed to this when booking the trip (as it was he who made the arrangements) and was not impressed to find this was the case on the first evening, but was unable to blame anyone else for it. It turned out to be a very compatible table of six with a couple from Ohio - a lawyer and dental hygienist and another from New Jersey - a podiatrist and pharmacist who we spent a fair bit of time with. We enjoyed three wine tastings on board with a very down to
champagne tasting
earth sommelier who said "good wine is what you like" and learned more from his very matter of fact talks than in all previously. We caught two shows, one with wonderful blues singer / band and another of a magician/comedian and visited the jazz lounge one evening. Enjoyed the speciality restaurant (The Pinnacle) with the New Jersey couple and had a great meal at the Italian restaurant (The Canaletto) where the Capt. and his wife ate as well, but since I eat supper with the captain every night, it takes a lot to impress me. In discussion over supper we decided that there were cutbacks, and apparently the same comments from those who had cruised with Princess. Certainly not terrible, but likely a result of trying to keep the prices down. I can't say that I noticed this with Norwegian in the spring though. Sea days are always nice and we had two of those to enjoy our own personal wine on the balcony - could've done without the clouds of marijuana smoke from the balcony above and the deaf 80 yr old nudists on the next balcony over but… was a cultural experience. Managed to finish The Virgin Cure (set in 19th century NY and an excellent read) then Five Days at Memorial (which is about the flooding during hurricane Katrina and although excellent, it is very disturbing) and then Kitchen Confidential (which will never allow you to look at a chef the same way again). Turks and Caicos were beautiful and we booked a great snorkel tour off the beach out to several reefs. Capt. Scraper knew NS well - he had two children in the Halifax area and his ex had lived in Grand Turk until the kids were four or five.
angel fish
schools of grunts
Fantastic snorkelling with large schools of fish, crystal clear water and the boat to ourselves. It was warm, friendly and fun - what is not to like? San Juan, Puerto Rico was very historic but quite developed. We took the free hop on and off trolley up to El Morro (the castle) and wandered our way back through the city. Great architecture, Spanish being spoken and lots of photo ops. We made it back to
El Morro, San Juan, PR
the ship and a little rest on the balcony before the only brief shower of the cruise happened. Although we had intended to snorkel in St Maarten, the seas were too high and so we instead went body surfing at Dawn Beach, which turned out to be great fun. Our table mates from supper joined us (surprise) and so we had a great visit,  lunch, caught some rays and shared a taxi back to the ship then shopped at the cruise port on the return. It was a good day to escape Phillipsburg as the Dutch royal couple were in the city and with all the crowds and security it was frantic. Wonderful spot to return to from the looks. The final stop on the eastern caribbean itinerary was Half Moon Cay which is on Eleuthera, one of the Bahamas. Too rough again for snorkelling but we enjoyed a beach morning (shared with passengers from the Ryndam which had just repositioned from Athens on a 36 day cruise ahhh) and then back by tender to the ship. A weekend in Fort Lauderdale where we enjoyed the very swishy boutique hotel, The Pillars, on the inter coastal waterway (thank you again Hotwire) and two wonderful suppers - one at an Italian restaurant on Los Olas called Timpanos - VERY highly recommend it, and the always wonderful Greek Islands Taverna of course. Uneventful flight home via Newark, stop at the teacher daughter's to pick up the electrician daughter who had arrived from out west a few days previously and a windy, rainy drive home. 

I spent the first day home working on my powerpoint presentation for the library talk. I did a Midweek Break session on Nunavut. Took my fans with me as two friends and the visiting daughter came along and were joined by about 15 community members. The cable cameraman arrived and so it will be rebroadcast. The talk was well received and everyone should have their fifteen minutes of fame. Afterwards we headed to a new eatery and enjoyed lunch - it's called Bread and Olives where we enjoyed ourselves "four girls having fun" as a senior stated making his way out the door. A Frenchy shop on the way and we headed home. 

Last week the boy captain's new lobster boat (bubba's very first boat of his own) was put in the water just five days ahead of the lobster season opening. The first day has already been delayed five days more so lots of time for the last minute details. He was pretty pumped when I dropped his sister off to take the maiden voyage around to the fish plant. He was being very mature about his decisions and I was proud of him - told his sisters it was his university graduation, as it's all he's ever wanted to do since he was a little boy. When we were discussing his grown up behaviour, the captain who takes the shore captain's boat said "well it was bound to happen sooner or later".  Everything seems to be working well and he is in the final preparation stage now. 

On Friday as we readied to go out the door for a road trip, I climbed out of the shower and put on what I thought was Body Shop lotion on my arms and legs. It was really sticky and hard to rub in and I was thinking 'I usually like Body Shop but this stuff is crap' when I checked the label and found it was……..body wash. sigh. Had to rinse my arms and legs off again. I had a final physio appointment to check my shoulder and am pleased to report I have been kicked out as it is completely unimpinged (if that is even a word) now. We started off with a Frenchy shop and errands in town then off to the appointment. The visiting daughter got to be a tourist in Lunenburg and we followed up with a late lunch at The Knot pub before a final Frenchys instalment and a stop for beverages and ingredients. A long but pleasant day.

Saturday the sisters made their way around town as the second one ran a 5 km race in just over 25 minutes, they had lunch, went to a craft show, ran errands and generally enjoyed themselves. We had company over for a supper of moose meat chill, biscuits and bread with apple crisp and mincemeat pie as dessert choices. Good friends and conversation made for a fun evening, which had been meant to be the last social event before lobstering of course. The only slip up was when the life partner was speaking of a Christmas party and when answering whether I'd be available to go said "she's working" which stopped me in my tracks when I heard that four letter word. I quickly clarified that traveling to Atlanta with my buddy is not anything close to work. Sunday began with eggs benedict for the girls, then a turkey dinner for them, their brother and his girlfriend before the teacher daughter headed back to the city. 

Had a nice email with an attachment from the nurse daughter of her RN license history. Made me think of how tickled her grandmother would be to receive such news. She continues to make her new grad way and except for calling her father late at night asking what her boyfriend's cell phone number was (he being in the same town and time zone mind you - as she wanted him to bring her cell phone which she'd forgotten at home) is doing well. She will of course be working her first Christmas. Plans are for the two western daughters to get together over the holidays and I must confess to being a tad bit jealous when hearing of plans for Banff over New Years. I will see whoever isn't working on January 2nd when I fly back through on my way to work. 

Soon time to pack for Atlanta. I think a southern girls week will set things up just fine for the holidays. So, off to work on a little Santa's elf project now before it gets too late. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Offshore Detour

As the travel partner is safely tucked away for an early bedtime - he is someone who can actually go to bed and fall asleep at 8:45 pm. - I am updating the blog which I've meant to do for a few days now. We are headed off on vacation in a few hours and although all packed, the house tidied and clothes laid out, there is no point in crawling into bed to lay there with eyes wide open. He will be the one driving to the airport on this dark, rainy night so needs to have some sleep on board. We are catching a 6:45 am flight to Philadelphia and then on to Fort Lauderdale. Saturday we head out on an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Holland America Westerdam. We have reservations at a Brazilian restaurant tomorrow night called Chima Brazilian Steakhouse:

The way this works is that you turn up a green card or marker to keep the servers coming with the cuts of meat and turn it over to red to stop them or give yourself a rest. My friend and I tried it on the cruise in the spring and it is a great experience. I've already decided we can walk up and take a cab back to the hotel. Ahhhh

3 pm boarding the flight
So to recap on my exit from Nunavut. The final few days (as usual) were busy with wrapping up the paperwork, trying to help out with the workload and cleaning up the apartment while packing away my 'stuff' for the next contract. I asked the front desk staff if they would miss me and Elizabeth said "I miss you already" and Rita said "I'm just a big puddle of tears sitting here" which is in keeping with both their personalities. The days have been getting progressively and quickly shorter north of the arctic circle and by the time we were boarding the plane it was sunset….at about 3 pm. On Thursdays the flight is direct to Yellowknife and we had just enough time to walk off one plane, through security and on to another. Well, I took a moment to hand off the Blackberry to the flight paramedic who had left it with us on the last medevac. Could be a while before they passed that way again so he was most grateful that I was a courier. The flight to Yellowknife was an uneventful as the first segment, retrieval of bags and over to the hotel on the shuttle. Storage of my frozen and dried arctic char in the hotel freezer and then upstairs. Calls to both of the western daughters who were giving out Hallowe'en treats and working the next day. A get together with my roommate from Kugluktuk who was flying in to Taloyoak in the am and a local gal who used to work north and is now in Edmonton. Good chat and exchange of Christmas gifts for the eastern family from their western daughter and lots of community info for the staff member. 

A sleep in the next morning and then checking on flights as a really strong wind and rain storm predicted for Nova Scotia. Over on the shuttle, check in, security and to the departure lounge. A final chat with the Dr who is flying out to BC about the same time and then we're off. I watch The Heat with Sandra Bullock and it is laugh out loud funny - both my seat mate and I are hysterical - you gotta see it. He hasn't been home to Ontario since June so I'm feeling rather fortunate myself. A quick turnaround in Pearson with a sandwich and drink and the flight is still on time. I make calls and check emails from home and the word is….nasty night, can't believe you're flying. That flight is going and I'm getting on it! The flight is rather smooth and I watch Two Guns with Mark Whalberg and Denzel Washington to distract myself but as we approach Halifax the word from the flight deck is that "it's going to be rough, we'll make it as smooth as we can, the flight attendants are fastening everything down and prepare for some turbulence as we head in". He wasn't underestimating the wind for sure - who needs a roller coaster ride when you can fly? You can hear a pin drop and everyone sits with their head down as we approach. But we're down and there's a communal sigh of relief and then we are having trouble standing to get off the plane as it's rocking so in the wind. Wow! The teacher daughter and son-in-law are waiting for me at the baggage carousel and we're quickly underway. Off to retrieve my car, then on the road as I just want to sleep in my own bed. I'm thrilled to discover that Tim Hortons has pumpkin spice tea and cinnamon crunch bagels and am home by 1:30 am. Ahhh, cat on my feet. Love it!

A low key weekend where I catch up on the mail (not much) and the news and fight with the husband's  iPad mini to install updates. Walk the dog, enjoy the mild weather and generally settle in. Monday is a day for appointments and a buddy comes along for company to Bridgewater and Lunenburg. We manage some shopping in amongst the appointments and have a good road trip. She's now officially retired and tells me that there is nothing she misses about working. 

The remainder of the week has been spent readying for vacation, doing a CPR recert for the local fire
department and having a spa day. Got my hair cut, had a mani - pedicure and some waxing, needed a nap after that. Hard life. First time I've had a pedicure but it sure won't be my last! The travel partner has been going flat out to try to tie up last minute details with the plant, getting ready for lobstering and the boy captain is having a new fishing boat constructed. The plan is to have it out of the boat shop in a few days - lobster season starts here November 25th - it'll be a tight deadline but they seem to thrive on those. The lad has applied (you have to apply for names) to call the vessel FV Offshore Detour. Kind of a nice play on words. He is over the moon, but pretending he's not excited about it at all. He has had more wisdom tooth problems and so had a dental appointment this week 'not wanting to lose any time off the water' as he said. Antibiotics and then extraction of the cracked wisdom tooth next week. Seafarers medical next week as all those details have to be taken care of before regular routine comes to a standstill. 

So, time to crawl into bed for a short nap and then….let the trip begin. Can't say 'let the vacation begin' because that happened when I arrived home on Saturday morning. So from -29 c to +29c in one week. Ahhhh.