Friday, October 23, 2009

homeward bound

We started our day in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, by taking a brisk walk up to the little shopping area. This picture shows Jane posing in front of some huge statues. I am slightly ashamed to tell you that I have no idea what the statues are.

I regret that I have no pictures of the actual torture that was the high speed jet ride over the class 3 rapids in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. This photo shows the frigid water behind us just after we have returned from the ride and changed our clothes. All I can tell you is that it was horrific. We were given rain pants and rain jackets to put on. These did absolutely nothing to protect us from the frigid water that the boat driver purposely dashed on us by aiming his jet boat right at the biggest waves. Picture having bucket after bucket after bucket of freezing cold water thrown in your face. Oh. it was joyful. I wanted to kill Jane. The ride was fun. The nasty, cold water was not. We were soaked by the time we got off the jet boat. We had been warned to bring a change of clothes and were provided changing rooms. We did survive!

Back at the dock, we zipped through the little shopping area in the terminal. I sat down for a rest and this moose got fresh with me. Of all the nerve!!!

That night, we played bingo. We didn't win. But nobody else won the big jackpot.

The next day found us in Halifax. Nova Scotia where we traveled to Peggy's Cove. Below, you see us posing in front of the lighthouse. It was just beautiful. The trees were every color - just stunning. Back in Halifax, we boarded the Hop On, Hop Off trolleys and meandered through town looking at historic sites and doing some shopping.

That night we played bingo again. We lost again. But we were both so close to winning the $1700 jackpot. We each only had one number to go. Here are our cards and our very sad faces:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am writing this as the ship slowly departs from Bar Harbor, Maine. The sun has almost set behind the mainland and all of the little islands in the harbor. What a gorgeous place!

We had pre-reserved two tickets for Oli’s Trolley, which was highly recommended on Here we are in front of the trolley.

We took the two and a half hour trip, which took us all over Bar Harbor, then over to Mount Desert Island where we toured Acadia National Park. We drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, then over to The Wild Gardens of Acadia, then to Thunder Hole, which is a spot where the waves crash through some rocks and create huge plumes of water in the air. Then we walked all around Bar Harbor, stopping in at a bunch of little shops.

Back on board, we scored a miserable 8 out of 20 possible points in the Afternoon Trivia game. We were slightly handicapped by the addition to our team of two elderly ladies who could not properly hear the questions, so kept giving incorrect answers. After they would give an incorrect answer, one of them would say, “Oh, I thought she said blah-blah-blah.” The other one would chime in with, “That’s what I thought she said.” But to be truthful, Jane and I were not exactly firing on all cylinders. We were tired!
Now we are preparing for dinner.

We have had one interesting scenario. On Friday night, I ordered a bottle of wine with dinner and drank about a glass and a half of it. I asked the waiter to keep the bottle in the back and I would have the rest on another night. On the second night, we dined at Sabatini’s, one of the two specialty dining rooms, so I didn’t ask for the bottle. Last night, we were back in the regular dining room, so I requested my bottle. They couldn’t find it. The Head Waiter came over and asked me where I was sitting when I ordered the wine. We told him. Jane even walked him over to the table and showed him where we had been sitting. He went away and came back to tell me that we had not been in this dining room, that we had been in a different dining room. We told him that we had only dined in THIS dining room. He went away and came back with a waiter from another dining room and asked if this is who had served us. I told him that I did not remember because we have had contact with so many crew, but none more than once. He went away and came back again to argue again. I put up my hand and stopped him. I said that this had already taken up too much time and I did not wish to spend more time on it. He went away. But he came back with one glass of wine for me and said that I should not eat on Italian night without a glass of wine. In my opinion, he should have simply given me a new bottle. But I suppose there are so many people who will try to scam the cruise line that they have to be careful.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This morning, the weather was lovely and showed no sign that the prior evening had contained such scary moments. We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out of the ship. We bought a shuttle ticket and rode over to the historic areas. There we boarded a trolley and rode around to see the sights. It was cool seeing all of the important sights of the Revolutionary War. I was really glad that I had seen the HBO series on John Adams because it gave me a framework within which to fit all of the pieces that the trolley driver provided. He basically followed the Freedom Trail.

After we got off the trolley, we came back to the ship and went to afternoon tea. Then we sat in the atrium and listened to a jazz combo for a while. Then we went to dinner, then to Bingo. And now I am in the room again and Jane is playing cards downstairs. She is a night owl. I am an early bird. But we manage!


Jane and I are alive, thank you very much, though for a while it was questionable whether we would survive the Nor’easter that the captain of our ship insisted on sailing through. We lost the Newport, Rhode Island port due to the weather. The captain made an announcement that I will try to re-create here. In case you aren’t good at figuring out accents, or in case I do a crappy job, I will tell you that the captain is Italian. Here was the announcement:

“Yes-ah, Ladies and Gentlemen, I-ah have to announce-ah that the-ah Harrrbor-ah Pilot-ah has just been on the sheep-ah. Un-ah-fortunately, we have-ah concluded-ah that it eez not safe to-ah enter the-ah harrrbor at theez time. Therrreforrre, theez will be-ah a sea day. A rrevised-ah itinerary weel be deliverrred to yourrr-ah staterrrrroom momentarrrily. I do-ah rrregrrret this dee-cision, but-ahhhh must poot passs-engerrr safety firrrst.”

Jane and I didn’t mind losing Newport, Rhode Island. And the day at sea was nice, unless you happened to be bothered by mildly rough seas. We played “Passenger Feud”, which is just like Family Feud, except the teams are made up of whoever happens to join together. Our team won, of course, and we jumped up and down with excitement as we were handed our signature baseball caps. (Ugh.) We took a line dancing class and learned the Electric Slide (which I already knew), the Achy Breaky Heart and the Boot Scoot Boogie. We are all set for the Country Hoedown. Then Jane played Bingo while I went to the Spa for a hot stone massage.

When I got to the spa, the check-in girls told me that I could not change clothes in the locker room because there had been “an incident”. I asked, “Was it a murder? I believe that my friend and I could solve a murder.” The girl said no, there had been no murder. Somebody just threw up. So, I changed in the shower room and carried my clothes with me. When I got to the waiting area, everyone who was there before me had the little wristlets with locker keys. Everyone who came after me had the little wristlets with locker keys. I must have arrived in the 3-5 minute window where the ship’s crew was cleaning up the locker rooms. Anyway, my massage was okay. It was really a Thai massage with some hot stones thrown in for flavor.

Last night was formal night, so Jane and I put on our fancy clothes. We had made a reservation at Sabatini’s, a restaurant on board that you pay a little extra for. You pick the main course only. Then they bring out 14-16 appetizers which you can try all of, or part of. Incredible. It was really good. After dinner, Jane went to the casino and I went to see a comedian. The comedian was not that great, so I left and went back to the room. That was when the real fun began.

The seas had become increasingly choppy as the day went by. When I got in the bed, I could really feel the swells. The ballast in these huge ships is really great, so when you feel the ship moving, you know you have some extremely choppy seas. Then the ship began a series of shudders and moans. At one point, there was an extremely loud BANG as if something had broken off the ship. At moments, the ship would tilt a bit to one side. I found myself expecting the ship to roll over on its side into that rough ocean.I tried to imagine what it would be like, whether water would immediately enter my cabin or whether I would have any time to prepare. Then I had a moment of two of sheer panic, where ideas raced through my head, one after another. It kind of went like this:

“They said to wear warm clothes in case you have to abandon ship. Should I put some warm clothes on now? Which shoes should I put on? My tennis shoes wouldn’t provide much protection from the cold water but my boots might weigh me down. Maybe I should put my life jacket on. Should I take a life jacket to Jane in the casino? What if I am on my way to the casino with her life jacket and she comes to the room looking for her life jacket and the ship rolls over at exactly that moment? Should I get my phone out and try to call my family just in case the ship is about to go down? Who do I want to talk to? What if I make them panic for no reason? Which clothes would protect me most from the cold water? Should I wear fleece? Should I put my raincoat with the warm lining on? Where is Jane? Why doesn’t she come back to the room? Can she even feel this movement down there?”

This nonstop panic thought went on for a few minutes, then I simply burst out laughing. Jane finally came back. She said that when her stool turned over in the casino, she decided that it was time to go back to the room. We both tried to go to sleep but it was terrifying. Each time the ship rolled into a tilt, we both said “Ahhh!” I just can’t figure out why the captain kept sailing in the storm. There had to be a back end of the storm, like in NYC where we started maybe? Why didn’t he just sail the ship south until he got the back of the storm? Who knows?Anyway, we both finally went to sleep. This morning we woke up in Boston with blue skies and pretty weather, maybe in the 50’s.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

all aboard

After our sumptuous breakfast, Jane and I packed our belongings and went downstairs for a taxi. Off we headed to the cruise terminal. How anyone finds that place is beyond me.

Folks, there is nothing like priority boarding. We went through security, were checked in by a very polite woman and escorted on to the ship. In the meantime, we could hear other people being called by number. Some folks looked annoyed to see us go by.

Once on board, we dropped our stuff off and headed to the Coral Dining Room. All of the ship's staff will direct you towards the Lido deck for the buffet. But it is a highly guarded secret that this one dining room is open on the first day for lunch.

Jane and I both had a shrimp appetizer. I had tenderloin and Jane had salmon. We both had the orange souffle with vanilla sauce. Yummy!

Now we are unpacking. Next will come the muster, then the departure. Fun!

huge breakfast

We ordered room service and ate a gigantic breakfast. We are now getting ready to head over to the ship. I am hoping that we will get on early so we can eat lunch in the dining room. None of the ship's staff will tell you that the dining room is open. They all point you to the buffet up on the Lido deck. But experienced cruisers know to go to the dining room for a great lunch. Let the weight gain begin!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009


We are just back from seeing the Off Broadway production of Hair. The last time I saw this play, I was about ten or eleven years old. Mother brought us along with her on a trip to NYC to meet her lover at the time. She actually confessed to me years later that she left us at the planetarium while she and he went off to have a bit of private time together. It was on that trip that I somehow came into possession of a guitar, which I taught myself to play.

So, Jane and I stood in the taxi line in front of the Waldorf. You would think that the doorman of the Waldorf would have an easy time of getting taxis. Nope. It took FOREVER. When we got in the taxi, we told the driver where we needed to go. He looked at us like we were crazy. He asked us if our show started at 8 p.m. We said yes and he took off like a madman. But he got us there. I love New York cab drivers!!! We entered the Al Hirschfeld theatre just at 8 p.m. There were quite a few people entering the theatre as we arrived, but the lights were already blinking to indicate that everyone should take their seats as the production was about to begin.

This was a good production. A few of the voices were just outright spectacular. I look at their faces in my Playbill and they all look so young. Sasha Allen, as Dionne, sang the opening number, Aquarius. Her voice is incredible - very powerful. I wasn't thrilled with Will Swenson as Berger. I think I allowed myself to expect a sexier version of Berger. Jane said the same thing. Caissie Levy played Sheila. "Easy to Be Hard" was her best performance of the night. It was excellent.

We had a great time!


We are safely ensconced at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Jane is out getting burgers or sandwiches for us, having pronounced the room service too expensive. I am starving!!!

I arrived at the Memphis airport this morning to hear the words that every traveler so hopes to hear. "Your flight has been canceled." Well, no trip would be fun without adventure. The first alternative was a direct flight getting in to Newark after 10 p.m. I begged and pleaded. We have theatre tickets that cost $140 each. The next choice was changing planes in Chicago and getting into Newark at 6:30 p.m. That would be tight for 8 p.m. theatre. The third and best choice was changing planes in Atlanta and getting into La Guardia at 5 p.m. The flight out of Memphis was at 11:40 a.m. Off I went!!!

The flight to Atlanta was 45 minutes and uneventful. The flight from Atlanta to NYC was a bit longer. As soon as we were airborne, the lady in front of me fully reclined her seat. When the flight attendant came with the drink cart, I told him that I wanted to buy the lady in front of me a drink. She turned to look at me with a puzzled expression. I said, "I thought since you are sitting in my lap, that I might buy you a drink." She put her seat forward.

Oops. Jane just arrived with the burgers. More later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

off to the snowy north

Snow has arrived in Pennsylvania and the New York City area is cold and wet. My hope is that my flight will take off at the appointed time and land at the appointed time. Tomorrow night we are scheduled to go see the musical Hair on Broadway. I really want to see it, so I hope we both get there timely and safely.

Given the nasty weather that is expected, I am finding it difficult to get excited about this trip. To top it all off, I have come down with a mild cold. My voice sounds husky and I have a bronchial cough. I really worry that if I show any symptoms at all that I might be banned from the ship. Another option would be that once on board I might get quaranteened, which happened to someone on our Tahiti cruise.

Oh well, no use worrying about things over which I have no control!

I will blog each day of the trip, as usual. Wish me luck!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009


This is the time of year that I have two major projects due.

First is the Reauthorization for the state of Tennessee. I am ahead of schedule on this deadline, with just a couple of items left to fill in when I receive them from the home office. Good! Deadline: October 15

Second is the ACCSC Annual Report. I am ahead of schedule on this deadline, with just a couple of items left to fill in when I receive them from the home office. Good! Deadline: November 15

Third is the ACCSC Reaccreditation Application. I am behind schedule on this deadline, with quite a few items left to fill in!!! This one has me stressed out just a bit. It will all get done, but I am a bit stressed. Deadline: November 2

How do I always manage to schedule my vacations at a time when I am surrounded by deadlines? When I went on vacation in April, I was stressed out about budget deadlines and the completion of my Strategic Plan for FY10.

It'll be fine, just fine.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

making lists

I am leaving on my vacation in six days and I still haven't made a list of items that need to be done, purchased, cleaned, etc. This is not like me. Typically I begin this process weeks in advance. I'm not sure why I am procrastinating, but I checked with Jane when I spoke with her today and she is doing the same thing. The only thing I can figure is that although we are excited about this New England/Canada trip, that the destination doesn't carry the same Woo Hoo factor as a trip to the Caribbean. I do know this: If I don't get started soon, I am going to find myself in cold weather country without enough cold weather clothing!!!