Why the CDC is SO wrong and What I love about CRUISING

PETRI dish…..Avoid cruise travel……LEVEL 4….Regardless of Vaccine Status…..and so much more…GRAB a headline and run with it. Let me tell you WHY this is so overblown!

Here are a few travel bloggers / vloggers who spell it out clearly –

http://Morgan’s Unofficial Travel Guide – Morgan O’Brien spells out in this video the differences between cruising and visiting Florida theme parks. Morgan and his family spent 21 days in Florida visiting multiple theme parks and returned home (to Germany), and a week later popped positive for C-19, despite being TRIPLE VAXED. Be aware…NOBODY was checking vaccine status at the entrance to ANY amusement park in Florida or asking for your negative test results.

In order to cruise out of the USA, you must be “fully vaxed”, and present a negative test taken within 2 days of boarding the cruise ship. My recent travel (Oct-Nov 2021) on the Grand Princess required me to present my test results and vaccine card prior to boarding, and then I was tested 3 more times while on board.

The cruise ship I was on this past fall had a capacity of 25% !! Most ships are sailing way below capacity. As cruising restarted, the capacity has gradually increased, but let me tell you…it was like sailing on a private yacht! Yet, the CDC talks about the crowding…..

Princess Theater
Princess Theater – nearly empty on the Grand Princess on Oct 18, 2021

The theater never “filled up” so social distancing was NEVER a problem! Every entertainment venue on that ship was like this. EVEN the casino and sail away and deck parties.

Sail away party
Sail away on the Grand Princess Oct 23 2021. NO Crowds here….lots of spacing in outdoor areas
sail away show
Watching from an upper deck, I felt sad that there were so few onboard to enjoy the entertainment

My sister and I went to BINGO which is a popular activity on a sea day, and take a look at the “crowd”….

Vista Lounge for BINGO…..no crowd

So; tell me about “congregate settings” ?? Petri dishes?? Nothing anywhere is as clean as these cruise ships. I have personally observed the rigorous cleaning, the mask wearing of the crew while outdoors, the mask wearing of passengers indoors except when eating and drinking. Elevator limits, hand washing stations at every food service venue, and all the hand sanitizer machines. Take a look at the “health protocols” with Princess Cruise lines – https://www.princess.com/plan/cruise-with-confidence/cruise-health/frequently-asked-questions/us-cruises/ NO WHERE else in America do you find this “level” of health safety protocols. Not in any hotel, airport, amusement park, shopping center, movie theater or sporting venue!

Another Cruise Vlogger – TONY – LA LIDO LOCA – talks about the CDC change to the cruise travel warning. He runs through the numbers and discusses an article from the Cruise Line industry association. The CLIA article states “Vaccination rates onboard a cruise ship are upwards of 95 percent—significantly higher than the overall U.S. population which is hovering at 62 percent” – “

AND …..

  • The latest data show that, even with higher rates of testing, the cruise industry continues to achieve significantly lower rates of occurrence of COVID-19—33 percent lower than onshore.
  • According to the CDC’s color-coding system, a cruise ship may be determined to be “yellow” – and, therefore, subject to CDC observation – if a threshold of 0.10 percent or more passengers (i.e., 7 out of 6,500) have tested positive in the last seven days, or if even just one crewmember tests positive.”

So, yes, the latest variant is highly transmissible, but I submit to you that a cruise ship is far safer than a trip to your local supermarket, movie theater, big box store, restaurant, football game or other sporting events.

Check out Tony / La Lido Loca latest – http://Fighting cruise misinformation

Check out ShipLife and answer the “SAFE” question – https://youtu.be/qfFSSSaoRvs

What do I love about cruising and why do I still plan to go in just a couple of weeks again?

  • I go for the FOOD
  • I go for the Entertainment
  • I go for the destinations
  • I go for the relaxation
  • I go for the fun in the sun
  • I go for the spa
  • I go to meet new friends
  • I go for the wine tasting and the afternoon tea
  • I go for the sunrise and sunsets on the water

and so much more.

Cruise Barista cappuccino
Delightful coffee
Beautiful desserts
Delicious desserts
Morning coffee at sea
Relaxing mornings on the balcony
Breakfast view
Watching the wake
What to do on a sea day
catching some sun rays
Happy Birthday to my sister Anne

Waiters who sing!

Hysterical fun with the crew
Sunrise in Cabo
Sunrise in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Electric bike ride in Cabo
Adventure bike ride in Cabo

And I go for magical moments like this, when Hector, the head waiter, came to our table with his music and really lovely voice!

To quote Tom Pignetti, a doctor, who commented on the LaLidoLoca VLOG post linked above – “I do believe that the CDC is singularly focused on reducing cases and that they are NOT concerned with balancing out other concerns. Considering that, they exert their influence/control where they can. Since cruise lines share information regarding # of cases, that makes them easy targets. People are catching covid in their homes, grocery stores and other places in the community. I had ONE day this week where I had nearly 10 patients cancel appointments due to the patient or their spouse contracting covid. We continue to go to work and care for our patients. I will continue to cruise and am looking forward to my cruise on the Adventure of the Seas on January 26th. I am much more concerned about catching covid in the community BEFORE the cruise than I am catching it while ON the cruise.

So, in spite of the CDC, I will continue to cruise. My next cruise is January 19th out of Florida. The risky part of the entire trip is crowding into the airplane, where I will wear my KN95 duck bill mask! I have chosen to spend my days “LIVING” instead of “WAITING”. And yes, I’m less concerned about catching covid on a cruise ship than I am in my community.

Travel Adventures in San Diego California while Cruising

During my 18 day cruise on board the Grand Princess recently, we went to San Diego twice. I tried to book an excursion to the San Diego Zoo through the cruise line, but it was not available. My tour desk consultant recommended the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located Escondido, California. The best description comes from their website – “The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. The Safari Park, an 1,800-acre wildlife park, is home to more than 3,600 animals representing over 300 species. More than 1 million guests visit each year, and see wildlife in herds of mixed species, in expansive savanna habitats. The Safari Park also maintains a vast accredited botanical collection of more than 1.3 million plant specimens, representing over 3,700 species. Guests are invited to take part in thrilling safari experiences and create lasting memories, while supporting San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation efforts to save wildlife worldwide.

I am pretty certain I covered all 1800 acres. There was a tram tour included with the ticket price, and I took that, but I still walked over 18000 steps according to my Fitbit tracker. Not very far thru the gate of the park, I started seeing the birds.

San Diego Zoo Safari

My photo’s don’t do it justice, because, honestly, I forgot to take photos most of the time. I was just enjoying the activity and the animals.

Flamingos and ducks

Since I was there with my simple “cell phone camera” a lot of shots at a distance were just not easy to get. Zooming in with the phone pixelates the image, and so I took a few, but mostly, just enjoyed the experience.

Gorilla lunch time

What I quickly noticed is things were very spread out in this wildlife park. The other thing was how much work had gone into the horticulture of the park. It was really like an arboretum. The area in California is very dry and arid, so seeing all this plant life carefully set let me know right away how much care was taken to give you a good experience, as well as the animals a good environment. This beautiful walkway led up to the area where the gorillas were housed. Not quite a jungle, but definitely not California desert.

Gorilla walk

This one little area of succulent plantings shows how much care went into the area the guests were visiting.

succulent plantings
Enjoying the greenery

The views of the mountains in the background show a stark contrast in vegetation.

Habitats at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

savanna habitat San Diego Safari Zoo

The Savanna habitat was huge, and to access it, you could take the included tram ride, around the perimeter, or pay extra for a variety of “safari” options. Those options looked very cool, but the price was pretty steep. You certainly got in closer to the animals with those options.

We could see a large variety of animals from zebras to giraffes from our vantage point in the tram. There were elephants and hippos wandering about. The big cats were in another area, separated from the animals they prey on.

Giraffe at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

It was so cool to see the numbers of animals and to see they had a lot of space in their habitat.

Big open spaces for the animals

One thing that was most interesting to me was the California Condors breeding and nesting facility at the top of a hill. If you click on the link above, you can watch the “Condors Cam” during daylight hours. The California Condor was on the brink of extinction in 1987. “The California Condor has been to the brink of extinction—and back. By 1987, habitat degradation, poisoning, and shooting had nearly eliminated the California Condor in the wild. The 22 individuals remaining were captured for captive breeding programs, which are credited with the species’ survival. California Condors are now being reintroduced into the wild each year.” source – https://abcbirds.org/bird/california-condor/ That said, it was a serious hike up the hill to the area where we could view them from a platform. It was well worth the hike to me.

If you ever find your self in Southern California, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a nice destination for the day.

On our second visit to San Diego, I took a wine tasting tour out into Temecula California. Our first stop was the Wilson Creek Winery where we had a lovely lunch before our wine tastings. One of the most interesting things we tasted was a sparkling wine with an almond flavor. It was a lovely refreshing wine. It’s the one bottle I didn’t get a photo of. Our wine guide told us that particular product helped them to meet their 5 year business goal in 3 years, and is a resounding success. The Wilson Creek Winery is a rather newcomer to the wine makers in Temecula, and a lovely place to visit. I thought a “slide show” might let you peak at some of what we tasted and the views we enjoyed. The white Cabernet Sauvignon is very refreshing and not something I had ever tried.

In one area of the tour at Wilson Creek, we were able to see the “artists work” with wine corks. These might motivate you if you have a collection of corks!

Our next visit was to a Mount Palomar Winery, one of the oldest in the region. We had to choose from the menu for our “tastings” with little fanfare and no tour. The only info on the wine we received was from what we were able to gather from the menu. We were given tickets for our tastings, and could enjoy 5 different types. While the wine was nice, the ambiance in the tasting room was a little less than I expected. Walking around the grounds you could see there had been some effort in making outdoor tasting areas, which would have been a lot nicer. Looking further out at the hills, there was a lot of “replanting” and a lot of barren hillsides happening.

The area around Temecula is filled with wineries, and each has their own “special flavor” or style. Our tour guide pointed out a tour happening as we were driving out, and it was a “motorcycle with a double side car”. The rider takes his 2 passengers out for tastings at a variety of wineries and ensures they return safely to their hotel. So, lots of touring opportunities from every comfort level.

Both times we were in San Diego we left late in the evening. The city has a spectacular skyline, and it’s one of those places where you can sit to enjoy the view from the ship too.

San Diego skyline from the ship

There is plenty to do within the city and around the harbor, if you happen to find yourself in San Diego for a day. We’ve been there in the past and done some touring around the harbor, so I enjoyed these visits that took me out of town to something a bit different.

Note….yes, there was adventure in the wine drinking, the food eating and the day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! Big thumbs up to the tour desk on the Grand Princess for suggesting the Safari park and a big thumbs up to the folks who made you feel so at home at the Wilson Creek Winery.

Have you been out having any adventures lately?? Do tell!!

Travel Adventures in Ensenada while cruising

Last post I shared my adventures in Cabo San Lucas. This post is all about Ensenada Mexico. Backstory – I was on a series of 4 and 5 day cruises out of San Pedro California, the port for Los Angeles. The first and third cruise were 5 day round trip going to Cabo San Lucas Mexica, and the second and fourth were 4 day trips going to San Diego and Ensenada. Typically, I never get off the ship in Ensenada, but this trip, I had to use up a bunch of onboard credits.

On my first visit to Ensenada, I booked a tour that involved wine and cheese. This tour came recommended as a replacement for one that had been booked in another port, but cancelled. (More about that when I write about San Diego!).

The description given by the cruise line is as follows (https://www.princess.com/cruise-search/details?voyageCode=R134 )

WHAT YOU VISIT – Baja-Med Cuisine Experience
Your guided tour through the Guadalupe Valley area includes indulging on delicious locally made cheeses, wonderful wine tastings hosted by friendly wine connoisseurs, and lunch at an award-winning Baja-Med restaurant.
Stops on this tour were hand-selected by Bill Esparza, a James Beard award-winner and leading expert on Latin American cuisine.

Each winery will offer wine at a special ‘cava’ price.

As you make your way through Ensenada to Valle de Guadalupe, you’ll find beautiful scenery among majestic mountains and sierras where vineyards blossom during spring and hold their harvest in the fall.

The description did not do the excursion justice! We left the port on a small tour bus, with only a few adventurous individuals and drove through the city and along the coast line, before turning off into the mountains and into the Valle de Guadalupe. As you came over the mountain pass and looked out to the valley, you could see how fertile the area was, full of vineyards and other farming.

Our first stop in the Guadalupe Valley was in the town of Villa de Juarez, at a cheese shop. Sadly, this was our only view, as it turned out to be closed for an emergency.

Cheese shop stop

We were supposed to have made purchases here, snacks for the day, and maybe something to take home. Olives and cheese were the feature we were promised. The tour guides were horrified to find out it was closed, and loaded us all back on the bus to the 2nd stop.

Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio

This stop was our second, and it was lovely! “Bodegas de Santo Tomas has a rich, fascinating history. As the very first winery in Baja California, Santo Tomas was originally founded in 1888 by native Italian Francisco Adonegui and Spaniard Miguel Olmart. ” (https://www.bajaunitedwines.com/santo-tomas/ )

The views around this winery on a hilltop were astounding, and totally unexpected on my first real “off ship” adventure in Ensenada. Enjoy the photos. This first one made me laugh…when you read the label on the glass!

The view thru the wine glass
Who knew….Applebee’s wine glass in Ensenada!
Looking out over the valley

The views just got better and better, and there were so many places to sit and take them all in.

Wonderful areas for wine tasting outdoors

Just after 11 am, we were tasting wine, enjoying the lovely 80 degree temperature, and I was pleased I had packed a little sunscreen!

Enjoying the view and the weather

This jewel of a winery was something to really sit back and enjoy! I’m sure I don’t remember what I tasted, but the companionship of the others on the tour was great, and it was all delicious. There were SO many wonderful places to enjoy the view.

Large tables with a view of the tasting room and the valley
Highly recommend Bodegas De Santo Tomas Cava San Antonio in Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada Mexico

Our next stop took us to Casa Magoni Valle De Guadalupe for another round of wine tasting. Our first pour was at the tasting bar, and I paid better attention to what we were being served. The young server was quite knowledgeable. https://casamagoni.com/en/

This is a small, family run winery that has been in business since the late 1990’s. They certainly have an appealing product and lovely presentation.

Casa magoni Valle De Guadalupe
Delightful white wine

We carried our wine glasses with us to the seating area, under this wonderful oak tree. It was a lovely place, in nature, to sit in the shade and enjoy the offerings.

Our seating area under the oak tree

Our small little group filled a table, and enjoyed the dappled sunlight as the wine was served.

Sitting under the oak tree

Our second pour was equally nice, and I made a point to capture a photo of the wine label. Maybe I will find it at home someday.

our second pour

Because we missed our cheese shop stop, our wonderful tour guides made arrangements at this vineyard for something lovely to nibble while we enjoyed our wine. Just take a look at the delights we were able to enjoy with our wine. (Note….this was all before lunchtime!!)

Delightful snacks
Delightful cheeseboard

It was just what we needed and everyone felt refreshed with a bit of bread and cheese and olives

Our next our of Magoni wine was a Sangiovese Cabernet wine. It was spectacular!

Magoni Sangiovese cabernet wine

Just look at that color. The flavor was lovely.

Sangiovese Cabernet wine
beautiful ruby

Our final stop on this tour was for a wine pairing with lunch at Finca Altozano http://fincaltozano.com/

OH MY GOSH….what an amazing experience !!! The “Med/Mex” blend of food was beyond description, along with the setting and views. Go look at the link and then come back! If you are ever in BAJA California….make a reservation and go spend the afternoon, eating lunch, drinking wine, and enjoying the views. This was the best time ever!!!

Finca Altozano

My photo’s don’t do the food and the flavors justice. Take a look and let me know if your mouth is watering, and take a look at the faces of my table companions. Everything from grilled octopus cooked in soy sauce, citrus, ginger cilantro and roasted peanuts to a lovely “panzanela” salads and garden risotto, and roasted lamb. The menu at the link below shows the wonderful food options and descriptions. It might might give you an idea of the abundance of local flavors. Those gardens in the photos account for the freshness of the food. My friends at the table were stabbing the last bites of octopus and Portobello mushrooms, to not leave a bite behind. Honestly, if you asked, I would tell you I don’t eat lamb. This was the loveliest lamb I never ordered and so delicious. – https://stitchinggrandma.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/86ddb-eng-27ago21.pdf

The views of the gardens were stunning and the variety of seating for dining was amazing. (So were the tortillas, and bread, made by hand right on site.)

How do you top this kind of adventure…..well….you have to return to Ensenada. And, I will NEVER “not get off the ship” when I do. Years past I would only get off and shop right in the stores in the port, but they all closed due to COVID and have not been reopened.

When I returned the following week, I really had a hard choice to make….food/wine or action/adventure!!

I chose the “action / adventure”…but got surprised by a little wine at the end! I signed up for an excursion that was an ATV ride in/around the wine country of the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada. Sadly, the tour cancelled because NOT enough adventurous people signed up. When I went to the tour desk, my favorite tour employee explained I was the “only” brave soul on the ship! Imagine that! He made a recommendation to me to try the “Baja Off Road Buggy Adventure” and I took his advice.

When we boarded the bus, there were just 7 of us on that adventure. On our way, the tour guide showed us the official “downtown” area of Ensenada, complete with red sidewalks! This was to help the “tourists” find their way around town I guess. We road the small bus again up to the Guadalupe Valley and beyond to a small village, called Santa Rosa, off of dirt roads. Once we turned off the main roads, it was a bumpy ride into the village.

We were given bandanas to wear over our nose and mouth, goggles and helmets, and directions on how to operate the dune buggy. Because I was taking this adventure on my own, I was the sole occupant in the buggy, doing the driving. I took my place as “last in line” because I wasn’t sure quite how fast I wanted to drive. There were lots of warnings about possible roll overs, so I erred on the side of caution. We were instructed to “follow the buggy ahead” and slow down if we can’t see thru the dust. As Baja is rather dry, there was a LOT of dust. There was an ATV following our group, and I am sure I spoiled his “fast ride” because I did “slow down” in the dust so I could see where the road was going and where the rocks and ruts in the dirt trail were!

My dune buggy for the ride

We did a little hill climbing as the blue line on the map shows. At the 1/2 way stop we had a chance to look back at the hills and trail we had just ridden while we stretched our legs and drank a little water. The shade was appreciated! We had great laughs, looking at each other and how covered in dust we all were!!! My charcoal grey sweater was going to need a good wash!

We had to slow down as a group a couple of times to allow for the roaming cattle in one of the villages we went through. Most of our ride was in an area that was unpopulated.

Just a little dusty

We were so dusty at the end of the ride that the guide got out the electric leaf blower, and had us all line up to get blown off! Just brought home a little of the Baja with me. After the ride, and the “clean up” we did a little “wine tasting” to wash the dust off! (Of course, we drank a ton of water before that….). There was a little “snack window” where we could purchase food, and I chose a bag of chips to go with my dust and wine! They looked and tasted like Lay’s Potato chips, but had a different name. I didn’t mind at all.

The guides poured the wine and encouraged us to enjoy as much as we like, as he had no other groups coming that day.

This couple offering the tour / wine tasting are brother and sister, and they were such a delight. So, we all enjoyed the wines, each of us had a favorite. I liked the Chardonnay the best, and even the “non-wine” people said they were very nice.

When we went back to the ship the first thing I did was put those dusty clothes in a plastic packing bag for laundry at home! Even my shoes were coated in brown dust. The tour guide had said, you don’t look like Gringo’s any more!! We all had that nice “brown” look of the locals, but it was just dust!

My sister took a small shuttle bus trip from the port into downtown for shopping, and there were only a few people on the bus for the short trip. If you are physically able, walking to the downtown for shopping is about a 15-20 minute walk. She was fortunate and had a guide take her to all the places she asked to see, including a restaurant for a delicious lunch. She could not have walked the distance so the bus ride was a great option. She said the food was great and all the shops were happy to have her browse.

I know that when I go to Ensenada next time that I will be “off the ship” for some adventure and food, and I would encourage anyone traveling there to take a look at the Guadalupe Valley wineries, restaurants and other activities. Heck, next time I might just go downtown to eat fish tacos!

Where ever you go, what ever you do, choose to have an adventure!! More in another post about my fun at our San Diego port of call!

Travel adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Last post I talked about the adventure in travel while flying and new requirements for cruising. This post is about the fun adventures I had in one port of call, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I sailed on the Grand Princess, beginning October 18, for a total of 18 days , 4 cruises. We went from San Pedro California to Cabo San Lucas on a 5 day cruise, round trip, then from San Pedro to San Diego California and Ensenada Mexico round trip for a 4 day cruise. We repeated each of those cruises a second time. This gave me an opportunity to try a variety of activities at each port of call.

On arrival in Cabo San Lucas Mexico for the first journey, I signed up for an excursion that was definitely a new adventure for me.

Booking through the cruise line, I boarded a bus that took me up the coast to a ranch, called Tierra Sagrada – Cabo Adventures, Todos los Santos, Playa Cerritos Sur Pecadero, Mexico. My adventure for the day was a CAMEL RIDE! Yes, a real camel!!

Camel ride Tierra Sagrado

Our camels were “tethered” together and we had someone walking along to make sure they behaved . Our ride was about 20 minutes long from start to finish, and there were lots of photo’s being taken by the resident photographer. I guess I was unprepared for purchasing the whole collection of photos, so I came away with just this one copy, but a lot of fun memories. I can officially say I was “kissed” by a camel, had an experience that I would encourage everyone to do! The excursion included a ride on the sandy beach and through the desert.

At the end, we learned a lot about the animals, and then took a nature walk thru the desert gardens to the restaurant, where we were served at a buffet some typical Mexican food. I really enjoyed everything I ate, and I also enjoyed the tequila tasting after the meal.

Meal at Tierra Sagrada Cabo adventures
Chicken Mole, pinto beans, caprese salad, green bean salad, broccoli, potatoes and a quesadilla

Chicken Mole is an interesting flavor, with a hint of chocolate. Some make mole with chocolate, and other recipes do not. This one was fairly rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy. I had not had Chicken Mole since I was in the 7th grade at a friend’s birthday party. All in all the food was delicious!

The tour company, Cabo Adventures did a great job with their facility out in the desert. Check out the offerings – https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/outback-and-camel-safari

My second visit to Cabo San Lucas was also just as much fun, but a lot more activity. The excursion was also with Cabo Adventures, and I went prepared to “buy the photo pack” ! This time I was booked on an Electric Biking Beach Tour. (https://www.cabo-adventures.com/en/tour/electric-bike-adventure)

We road out across the desert first and then back along the beach. These fat tire bikes could really get through the sand, especially with the electric motor the bike had. It was almost like riding a mini-bike. Out of our group, 2 ladies dropped out of the ride, as they didn’t feel confident or in control. I am overly cautious, and kept my speed down, so I didn’t spin out or spill. I got to see some video from one of the cruise ship employees on the ride when he spun out and crashed !. I think he was showing off for one of the dancers from the ship. I was without a doubt the only “senior citizen grandma” taking this ride, but I had a great time. This was much more “active” than the camel ride. They loaded us up with safety gear and we road for about 2 hours. It was definitely and adventure. It did take some “getting used to” riding these power assisted bikes. Other than starting off, you really didn’t have to pedal much, but as a person who rides bikes, it just came naturally for me to pedal. The bike had a throttle and a speed controller, and you could get going pretty fast. Laughing was part of the activity for sure.

This excursion included lunch and margaritas! While the meal may look the same, I made different choices, including ribs and a green salad.

Another wonderful lunch Tierra Sagrada Cabo Adventures

Our tour guide was making the margaritas, and liberally pouring them for us! It was a great way to relax after the exhilaration of the bike ride.

No visit to Cabo San Lucas can be without a view of the ARCH !!

The Arch in Cabo

Returning to the ship, I enjoyed some relaxing in the hot tub after the bike ride! Our ship stayed in Cabo overnight, and during the evening many people were out on shore, having dinner and enjoying the town. I pretty much had the pool area to myself!

relaxing on board

Early the next morning I got to see a wonderful sunrise from our balcony.

Dawn in Cabo

Little did I know there was a fishing tournament starting just past sunrise — promoted as “World’s Richest Tournament, the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament“, hundreds of boats were milling around near the cruise ship and the rocks.

boat fishing challenge

At one point, the boats all took off in various directions, as fast as they could go!

Heading out to fish

It’s a high-profile yearly event where competitors put down astronomical entry fees to lure a marlin big enough to take the jackpot.

Since our ship stayed anchored overnight, I was able to enjoy the view of the rocks, while eating my breakfast….million dollar view !

Breakfast in Cabo

My sister and I found a great spot on the back of the ship to hang out and visit for the morning and still have a view of “the rocks”.

Anne and Mary in Cabo

All said and done, our visit to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, both times was a resounding success.

Check back later this week for some of the action from San Diego and Ensenada.

Travel planning and changes

Oh, it wasn’t so long ago I wrote a blog post about planning for a fall cruise to Hawaii. In this time of uncertainty, things have changed. Hawaii was making it difficult for the cruise lines to resume operations in the Islands with the rise of the Delta variant. Early in September, my cruise line cancelled all the voyages through the end of the year to Hawaii. You must know how disappointed my sister and I were, as this would have been our FIRST cruise following the restart of cruising this year. Of course, with the cancellation of the cruise came all the “other” cancellations…flights, hotel, airport to hotel shuttle etc. That took me a couple of hours to work out. And the details of refunds, and air miles being refunded etc.

A few days after the cancellation, we had the opportunity to rebook for the same ship, but different dates. That meant rebooking flights, rebooking hotels, and airport shuttle. *note to self….don’t forget that shuttle*.

We are now sailing in mid October instead of November, and are getting an extra 3 days on board. We booked a series of 5 day and 4 day cruises, commonly known as ‘back to back‘. 18 days instead of 15, which is a nice bonus.

We board in San Pedro, California and go to Cabo San Lucas Mexico, for the 5 day segment, then return to San Pedro. The 4 day segment sails to Ensenada Mexico and San Diego California. Then there is another 5 day and another 4 day segment. We were able to stay in one cabin for 3 out of 4 segments. We only switch once, after the first 5 days. Those packing cubes will be very handy for that I think and I am thinking my “carry on” will be the only thing I unpack at the beginning of the cruise.

In August I mentioned I had purchased packing compression cubes. This is a change of packing for me, as I normally use “SPACE BAGS”. You may have seen these photos in a previous post.

When I packed these last month, I was figuring on 3 formal nights and 9 sea days. I pulled everything out of the suitcase, and removed several formal night items, but pretty well left in what I originally packed. I removed my snorkeling equipment, as I don’t like to snorkel around Cabo. I added dress shoes, two pairs of sandals (one for water side), and will wear my sneakers on the flight.

Along with all the packing decisions, I had to decide “what” I was going to do in San Diego, Ensenada, and Cabo. I like to take ship excursions, because I have onboard credits to spend and this is a great way to use them up.

In San Diego I chose an excursion to a couple of wineries in Temecula California…tasting included. The description reads – Vitagliano Vineyards A family owned and operated establishment, Vitagliano’s ten-acres boast the finest super Tuscan varietals in Southern California. Descend the steps to a small lake with grass lawns and stone architecture flanked by tall trees for a boxed lunch and a tasting of six wines. Mount Palomar WinerySitting in the shadow of the Palomar Mountain range, the award-winning 55-acre winery specializing in Bordeaux style and Italian style wines offers sweeping views of the vineyards and tiered hillsides. Soak up your surroundings while indulging in six tastings. Save a little time to ascend the grand staircase to the plateau above the facility for a grand view of Temecula landscape with grapevines to your right and left. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY- Savor the rural landscape just miles from the hustle and bustle of San Diego. WHAT YOU SEE ALONG THE WAY- Located about an hour from San Diego, you’ll drive through the hills and mountains known as the Peninsular Ranges, whose peaks help create the hot days and cool nights needed for growing all but the more delicate varietals.

In Cabo San Lucas Mexico, I picked an excursion that was VERY different. It was listed as “Camel and Mexican Outback”, and was described like this- “Baja-Style Ranch in Tierra Sagrada —
Ride in air-conditioned comfort from the pier to the coastal town of Tierra Sagrada, where you will climb aboard a 4×4 off-road vehicle to a typical Baja-style ranch. During your short journey, a guide will share the local customs of this traditional town. You will be greeted by your local host once you reach the ranch, and you’ll experience a traditional Baja meal. Participate in a tortilla-making presentation, learning how to create this Mexican culinary staple, and then savor a tequila tasting. There is also an optional twenty minute two-person camel ride along the secluded beach at the ranch. At the conclusion of your visit, climb aboard your 4×4 off-road vehicle for the short return to the ranch entrance. An air-conditioned van will be waiting to take you back to Cabo San Lucas. Once at the pier area, you’ll walk back to your ship.”
(That last sentence amuses me…as the ship is anchored and you have to tender….no walking on water for me!)

Now, doesn’t that sound like an adventure???? But wait, there’s more! Our ship stays overnight anchored in Cabo, and we are going there twice. So, for the second trip, I booked this – Electric Bike Beach Adventure —Fun for the whole family, this is a great way to get off the beaten path and discover hidden gems not easily accessible on other tours. You’ll leave the harbor for a short motorcoach ride to a private ocean side ranch where you’ll meet your expert team and get familiar with your electric bike. Different from a motorbike, it’s basically a bicycle that delivers extra power on demand and the extra wide wheels make it ideal for traversing rugged terrain. If you pedal hard, very little battery is used, but when you just feel like coasting at a slow pace, the electrical assistance offers a boost to keep you moving. Your guide will be on hand to assist you along the way. Explore sandy trails and natural rivers beds, alongside the Pacific Ocean, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and stunning views. Then feel the adrenaline and excitement as you ride over a beautiful, soft-sand beach beside the glistening Pacific Ocean. LUNCH included! Feast on a delicious a Mexican buffet lunch at Tierra Sagrada restaurant while soaking up the incredible ocean views followed by a fun and entertaining tequila tasting class”.

I love an excursion that includes a meal and even better when it includes wine and tequila. There was a ZIP LINE adventure, but I really struggled with risk management on that! Yesterday my daughter said “WHY NOT”….so I looked today at it, but can’t work it in the schedule. Our ship is in “port” from noon-noon, and some excursions are only available in the afternoon. So, this time around it will be camels and bikes for my alternative transportations, and no high wire flying for me.

I haven’t chosen any thing for Ensenada for either stop or the 2nd stop in San Diego. I will probably head for “fish tacos” in Ensenada the first time, and maybe the “blow hole” at the beach. Our 2nd stop in San Diego is mid-week, and I plan to book the excursion to the San Diego zoo. I haven’t been to that zoo since I was a child and I look forward to visiting again.

You might remember from a cruise several years ago that my sister and I took the “seal boats” tour in San Diego. That was an exciting adventure. You can use that link to look back at that trip. I really had to talk my sister into that seal boat tour, but I recall she had a lot of fun.

I really enjoy revisiting places I have been to over the years. My sister has some favorite memories of Cabo, from 2008 when we went whale watching on yellow banana boats! I don’t think her back would manage that bouncing today, but it is fun to remember. She and I have gone to “Hotel California” on an excursion once, and I’m sure she will find her adventures on this trip. We move at “different speeds”, so we often choose our own adventures and excursions in a port, then meet up at dinner and swap stories.

Cruising in 2021 is an adventure in itself. If you are not willing to play by the current rules, save your money and wait a year or two to travel. The current restrictions/requirements have changed every few days based on CDC changes. Princess Cruise Lines is taking health and safety very seriously, and are strictly following CDC guidelines.

As of this blog publication, this is the current information. Don’t rely on it, it will change twice or thrice before we sail in less than 25 days. If you are cruising, check your cruise line website DAILY!!!

Princess Cruise Lines is currently booking 100% vaccinated adult guests through December 2021. (Unvaccinated children is another whole adventure and you must read your cruise line rules!)

In addition, we have to wear a mask in public spaces indoors the terminal, gangway, and on board indoors and in elevators. Masks can come off when outdoors and socially distant. We are allowed to schedule in the main dining room for a shared table, and won’t be “stuck” at a table for 2. Buffets are open, but staff will serve you.

Lastly, a COVID test must be taken 2 days before sailing, and results must be shown at the terminal prior to boarding, along with your vaccination card and passport. Be sure to read your cruise lines specifications about TYPE of test you require.

Finding a 2 day turnaround on a COVID test was an adventure. The cruise lines are allowing an “at home/proctored test” and have links on their websites to where you can order one. These tests were Binax/Abbott Labs and are proctored by E-Med and are quite simple to use. I follow several cruise “vloggers” who have successfully used these tests and filmed the entire process. Thankfully, you can sit at home, do the test in front of the computer / phone and have results in 15 minutes. The fee for these tests is fairly low, compared to what you might pay going to a private lab or at some airports for a test for travel. Getting a “free test” at your local health agency doesn’t guarantee a quick test and you must arrive with results in hand at the port. If you want more info on the “at home/proctored test”, make a comment and I will give you a link to the test order site or to the VLOGGERS who have done videos about the testing.

Are you planning any travel adventures this fall?

B25 Mitchell – the Panchito experience

Incredible experience with the Georgetown Aviation Museum volunteers and flying on the B25 Mitchell aircraft they maintain, named PANCHITO. For all the official details, check out their terrific website – https://www.delawareaviationmuseum.org/aircraft/b-25.html

The original Panchito according to the above website – ” The B-25J, serial number 43-28147, was assigned to Captain Don Seiler of the 396th Bomb Squadron.  Capt. Seiler named his new plane “Panchito” after the feisty Mexican rooster from the 1943 animated musical “The Three Caballeros”.

Below are just a few pictures outside & inside the aircraft.

Below is some fun “flight information” about our flight from Georgetown, Delaware (GED) to Hagerstown Maryland (HGR) . Our “show time” was 0600 on Saturday morning, Sept 11, 2021. We helped with moving the B-25 out of the hanger, acting as spotters, and putting the other planes that are stored in front of it back into the hanger. My hubby went along and assisted too, but he didn’t go on the flight. By 7 am we were onboard and getting ready for take off.

Stats from FLIGHTAWARE.COM – 50 minute flight GED-HGR 7:06-7:56 , 151 miles, max altitude 5900

Once we landed, we got straight to work! We unloaded all the “gear” for the day from the aircraft. (Thankfully that stuff was loaded on Friday). There were 2 tables, 2 coolers, multiple bins of “retail sales items” and chairs, 2 EZ-UP tents, and lots of aircraft maintenance gear. We had just under an hour to get the tents set up and be ready to deal with passengers booked for the first flights of the day.

My main job was to check in the passengers and get the forms all signed, and to sell merchandise to people at the show. My friend Pete did the safety briefings and took them to the aircraft, and between flights he also worked at the tent selling things.

The B25 flights were scheduled, and sold in advance of the show, 6 passengers per flight. There were a total of 5 flights in Hagerstown.

After the passengers went out to the B25 for the last flight, we started packing up the “briefing tent”. Once it was airborne, we started packing up as much as we could, so when it landed, we could be ready for loading. One of the volunteers came from Pennsylvania, and had a pick up, so it made for much easier transport back over to the aircraft. We got a good workout handing up the equipment to one of the crew members once they landed and the passengers were all off the aircraft.

We were scheduled to “block out” of the spot at 4:45 and needed to be back over the DelMarVa Pennisula by 6 pm.

We got a nice tailwind flying back, and had to spend some extra time with low level flights while we waiting on our designated time for 3 fly-overs. We had to be over Mardela Springs at 6 pm, and Georgetown at 6:15 pm, then one more flyover on the south side of the Indian River Inlet.

STATS FROM FLIGHT AWARE – 1hr 31 minutes home with 3 fly overs HGR – GED dept 4:52 landing 6:23pm, max altitude 7240

My husband was “on the ground” at the 20th anniversary of 9/11 program in Georgetown, and he was monitoring our path on FlightAware.com . While we were “getting close” I was able to send him a text message and tell him our “actual” ETA, which he shared with the MC. He knew we had these other fly-by’s, but wondered what we were doing looping around. 3 of the “loops” in the above picture were of fly-by’s, and the rest we were just “killing time and looking at the countryside”.

To see our return flight on Flight Aware .com, click link below and then hit the REPLAY button at the bottom- https://flightaware.com/live/flight/map/N9079Z/history/20210911/2115Z/KHGR/KGED

All of my photos and videos are in an album you can see in my Panchito Flight Experience album here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/N8D3dsjn3anonSA16

I would like to say, this was an incredible flight adventure for me. I think my last flight on board a military aircraft was in 1979, on board a C-141, flying from Incirlik Air Base Turkey to Athens AB, Greece. I was a “very new” Staff Sergeant at the time. In all the years between then and now, I worked at military bases, and spent 26 of those years at Dover AFB, and never got another military aircraft flight again. I spent a lot of time on the ground on the various planes, from KC-135, KC-10, C141, C130, C17 and C5, along with DC8, DC10, 747, and an Anotov 124, along with many planes belonging to our international partners. It was an incredible way to honor the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, and makes me think about all the military people I have known since then, that have done their duty for this great country.

I would like to thank my friend Pete, who asked me to help for the day, and the incredible people from the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation who maintain and operate the B-25 Mitchell Panchito. The pilots, Sabrina and Calvin do so much more than just “fly”. Sabrina was there on Friday, working on reinstalling panels on the aircraft until after 8 pm. Calvin did all the arrangements for the bookings for the flights, loading the gear for the outbound flight, taking lunch orders and even towing the aircraft out of the hanger. A very young crew member was Connor, and he was handling every odd job sent his way, including assisting with fueling. On the ground in Hagerstown I got to meet Bill, aka The Janitor. He was a secondary crew member handling passengers in the back of the aircraft.

If you have an interest in flying on this WWII era aircraft, look at the events tab on the museum website – https://www.delawareaviationmuseum.org/events.html and pre-book and pre-pay. The “money shot seat” is the jump seat. It takes a good bit of effort to climb on board and maneuver into any of those seats. (My quads are telling me that today!!) The next event locally is at the Wings and Wheels Air Show, October 2, Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown Delaware. If you want to fly in this aircraft, I recommend you get yourself booked in advance! I usually go to this event with my hubby, as he likes to take his truck and show it at the “car show”. This year, you may find me at the B-25 tent or out and about the area. I often run into friends showing their vehicle or looking at some of the other great aircraft on display. Over the years I have shared photo’s, and the last time I went, my grandchildren really got to enjoy the planes, the cars, and of course, all the variety of vendors.

I hope you enjoy looking at the photos in the album, and in those videos, appreciate the “sound” of freedom that military aircraft make.

Have you ever done an “experience” flight such as this? Do tell….love your comments!

UPDATE — I’ve been advised that the “stats” in FLIGHT AWARE are not always “spot on”, so take what you see on that website with a “grain of salt”. The pilot informed me “ FlightAware’s altitude reporting is not accurate. We have proved that with flights we know and recorded our actual altitude against what FlightAware shows.” Our minimum altitude was above 1000 feet during the flyby’s.

Planning for cruising in 2021 & 2022

My younger sister and I have spent the last 17 months in “cruise withdrawal” as we watched our cruises cancel due to the worldwide pandemic, and waited for travel to restart. I think the worst for me was on my birthday in 2020 when my August 2020 cruise cancelled. All during this time, we have scratched cruises off the calendar, waited on our future cruise credits and refunds and schemed where we would go when things opened back up.

My sister gets lots of offers from the cruise ship casino to beckon her back on board, and I help her sort out her itineraries and avail myself to her gracious offer to be her cabin mate on some of these trips. The offers usually include a free cabin, with us paying the port fees/taxes, insurance and tips, excursions, drink packages, air fare, transfers, hotels before/after the cruise etc etc etc. We pay for everything EXCEPT cabin fare for the trip on her special casino offers. I always tell people to take the advertised “cabin fare per person” and multiply it by 3 for the real cost of cruising. I am not complaining, at all, about a free cabin, but most of the time, I am spending somewhere in the $1500 range for all those etcetera’s. Cruising with my sister means, I am not paying for her share, and she is not paying for a solo fare either. We have done a LOT of trips this way and hope to do many more. My first 10 cruises, I paid full fare, and didn’t go nearly as often. My hubby doesn’t enjoy cruising, so travelling with someone who loves it as much as I do is great fun.

Our first trip in 2021 will be late fall. We will sail in November on a 15 day cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back to Los Angeles. We will meet up on the west coast, on the ship for this trip. Our second cruise will be a 10 day Southern Caribbean out of Ft Lauderdale in late January. We will meet up at a hotel the day before the cruise and travel to the ship together. There are a bunch of others “in the works” in 2022. She and I will meet up onboard in March to sail again to Hawaii. I also have a twice postponed QUILTING CRUISE in late August with my sister-in-law, and then again meet my sister on board for an Alaska cruise in September. Last one I plan to be on with my sister in 2022 is a repositioning cruise from Quebec to Fort Lauderdale in late October. So, lots of reasons to celebrate our vaccinations and avoidance so far of that dreaded virus! My hubby is so worried I will not get to take these early cruises and doesn’t want me disappointed. I refuse to think in those terms, and would rather carry on with my plans.

This week, I sat down at my computer and created a “spreadsheet” for each cruise.

And of course, each cruise has a file folder and all the pertinent details filled in. It is a LOT to keep track of, and my sister has twice as many to keep organized!

As we chat on line about the various trips and airports and connections, etc, we do our best to keep it all straight. I went so far as to get us both a dry erase calendar on Amazon for 2022 a few months ago, when neither of us could find them in the stores. Mine lives on my fridge and I am trying to help keep my sister organized as well.

cruises 2022
2022 Cruise Calendar

I keep my file folders near my kitchen computer with printouts of the travel summary for each cruise, my spreadsheet, my airline confirmations, my hotel confirmations, my ground shuttles etc. Each trip gets a file. It is complicated, but I am a logistics kinda person and I thrive on the planning.

In all our planning, I follow some great video content creators on You Tube. Two of my favorite cruise you tubers are Don Terris – Don’s Family Vacations, and Tony Barnette – La Lido Loca. I watched a lot of travel content on you tube in the last 17 months, watching and waiting. Those two content creators are friends, one reporting from Canada, and the other from Florida.

I also have been watching a ton of “packing videos” as I start to think ahead to November. Somewhere along the line I bumped into the idea of using packing “cubes” . Let me explain how I have packed for my previous cruises. I have been on 17 Princess cruises, 1 Celebrity, 1 Oceania, 1 Carnival, 1 Norwegian. That said, I pretty well know how to pack….but it has been SO LONG in between my last cruise in August 2019 and now! In the past, I packed in “space bags”. Those plastic zipper, squish the air out bags. I lay everything out on the bed I think I want to take and pack “by the day” with all the necessary things. I like to make sure I am packing the “right” color bra/under ware for the outfit etc. Anyway, load the bag and squish out the air and put it in the suitcase. All good, but things do tend to wrinkle, and everything needs to come out of compression air bags and be hung up, put in drawers etc.

So what are packing cubes? Generally they square/rectangular containers about 3″ deep with zippers, and some have a second set of zips for compression. Here is a great video on packing using them.

I shared some of these videos with my sister, and recommended she consider getting a set or two. She is going on several “back to back to back” cruises in the spring, but has to change cabins. The concept of the cubes is to put those things you would normally unpack into drawers into the cubes, and just place the cube with contents in the drawer of the first cabin. Then, when it is time to move to the next cabin for the next cruise, it will be quick to pack up her suitcase and make the move. USUALLY, the cabin steward will help with the clothes on hangers, bringing a garment rack and rolling “down the hall” etc. But it will be a royal pain to empty all your loose items out of the drawers. So; she ordered a set and sent me lots of photo’s as she packed to try them out. I was so impressed by how much hers held, I ordered one set for me. We ordered different kinds, and I will share with you what I managed to pack today when mine came. (NOTE…it’s mid August and my cruise is early November).

So; here are the cubes as they arrived in the mail today.

Amazon compression bags
Set of 4 compression style cubes

First things first — 15 day cruise; 3 formal nights. I don’t “get too dressed up” but I have a few things to take for formal night, glitzy blouses, dressy black slacks, a long skirt etc. But, I do like to “change for dinner” in the main dining room and plan to wear dresses. These are all sleeveless dresses. Here is the list of what went in the largest compression packing cube –

Dressy Dinner list
Dressy cube
In the dinner dressy cube

Then I moved on to “day wear” – things I will wear around the ship and in ports. Note – this cruise has 10 sea days out of 15 days on board. I’ve made this voyage before and know that the first 2 days out of San Pedro can be rather cool, so pants and a shirt with sleeves is helpful. I always pack one or two wraps for evenings and inside the air conditioned ship venues.

Daytime Cube

The next two cubes were quite a bit smaller, and I managed to pack in a swim suit, a cover up, underwear, bras (only 3 because today IS laundry day) and a few odds and ends still left out on the bed. The suitcase looks like this right now –

4 cubes fully packed and room to spare
whole lotta room left

The suitcase side with the pockets has a bunch of stuff that I “store there” for every cruise and will need to “sort out” and reconsider before tucking in the nooks and crannies of this large “I FLY” suitcase. There are no shoes/flip flops or snorkeling gear yet or pajamas or make up bag. This suitcase will probably fill right up when I add those things. I have to say I emptied a LOT of hangers and I am probably “over packed” for this cruise. I am considering ordering another set of these cubes so I can better divide the garments between the carry on and the checked bag. Going “overweight” is expensive and compressing the items by volume makes it easy to get the suitcase too heavy.

What else do I take? I take a multi outlet/usb power strip, clothes pins, some washing /dryer sheets, snorkel gear, chair clips for my lounger to keep the towel on, jumbo magnets with hooks , a dry bag for my cell phone, and this year, a very fashionable clip to wear my cruise “medallion” in. (The medallion replaces the cruise card, and you keep it with you for the duration of the cruise. This sparkly bit below can be clipped on a lanyard or the top circle comes off and can be worn on a pretty chain as a piece of jewelry.)

Fun bling for the cruise
Bling for my cruise

What goes in my carry on? I’m staying overnight in a hotel before the cruise, so, I need two full changes of clothing, overnight things, all my electronic charges etc, medications. I will decide what I want to wear to board the ship, maybe include another swimsuit & coverup & sandals, something to wear to dinner both nights, a sweater/hoodie for the travel day and boarding the ship day.

Of course, travel right now requires packing other things that are not something we would normally take. I have a new box of 50 face masks, and will pick up some antibacterial wet ones before I cruise and have them on hand as well. Now, the big decision is….do I unpack it all, or just leave it be with the lists, and hopefully the cruise happens! Summer is winding down, and I have no shortage of clothes to wear every day around the house. (Shhh….don’t tell but I have my “cruise wear closet” in my guest room and generally don’t wear those items around home).

Keep your fingers crossed that the world settles down, and our future cruises will take place! If you cruise, how early do you start packing? It’s time for me to go zip up that suitcase before the cats decide to go on vacation with me!

Sailing through Endicott (not Tracy) Arm

EDIT –  There is a link at the bottom of the post to a Google Photo album full of pictures of Endicott Arm.

I spent the most luxurious day of the cruise sailing in/through Tracy Endicott Arm Alaska. When I boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco almost a full week ago, I booked a day in the sanctuary for the day we sailed to Tracy Arm.For a modest $60 fee, I had access to the Sanctuary for the day. I was up before 5am and on deck in the 45 degree, windy weather and ready to see the ice and glaciers. I made a quick return to my cabin for the windbreaker that goes with my fleece jacket.

Now; before I continue, I have to address one small matter….you see….we were scheduled to sail in Tracy Arm.  In fact; we did not.

I must quote from the “Captain’s log” to tell the story properly. 30 Aug 2019 – Endicott Arm – During the night Grand Princess sailed through Stephens Passage, towards Tracy Arm.  In the morning, at 05:00 am; Grand Princess aborted attempt to enter Tracy Arm due to a large piece of ice in the middle of the bar, and entered Endicott Arm.  After many alterations of coursxe and speed to ensure a safe transit the Grand Princess was in position to Dawes Glacier at 08:30.  Grand Princess then retraced her track through the Fjord and exited the Arm at 11:35.  The two pilots which provided guidance throughout our cruise were disembarked at 14:08 at Cornwallis pilot station and after we proceeded on a South Easterly course towards our next port, Victoia; entering Canadian waters at 22:15.  Noon position 57degress41.3’N; 133degrees 44.4’W. 

I’m sure there was an announcement somewhere along the way as to the change of course etc….but you will certainly understand after reading the following why I was just slightly confused!

Back to the story & photos….

By 6 am I was settled in the assigned lounge chair, sipping champagne between cups of coffee.The angled glass windows helped break the worst of the cold wind. Located one deck above the bridge it was a great view. Watching the people on top of the bridge in the wind reinforced my decision to book the sanctuary.

In the photo below; you might notice the goats and hats etc on the guests….everyone except the lovely bride!!!  This photo was taken about 8:30 am; right in front of the glacier.  Up that close to the Dawes Glacier; the wind was not howling like it was in the preceding hours.

Taking pictures required me to get up and move to another area, but it was a great place to spend the day!!

With the red check fleece blanket (s) tucked around my legs, I enjoyed the ear warmer headband provided. Not to long went by and we were served fresh warm cinnamon flop donuts, followed by made to order breakfast omelettes.It was so good I forget to get the picture until the end.  Cold air makes you hungry and I ate while it was HOT!

The endless cup of coffee and glass of. Champagne.  (Did I mention they greeted us with champagne and the glass was not empty all day?) The travel mug was a complimentary gift, along with all that nice champagne.

After the eggs came the tray of pastry….and more coffee and champagne.

The best pastry on the ship!  (Yes…that is chocolate inside) As we progressed up the Arm to the glacier we were seeing ice in the water.

The lovely hostess in The Sanctuary was kind to take a photo of the glacier with me in the shot.About 9:30 am we turned and took the same route back out of the arm. Along the way I managed a little bit of a nap before lunch was offered and served.I chose grilled shrimp and white bean salad with tomato. It was a lovely lunch, followed by more champagne. Naps were taking place all over the place. I managed to sneak in about an hour or so.

Yes, still covered up with the plaid blanket while the day progresses.  Supposedly the air temp was 54 degrees at the high point…but that was after we left the arm and were sitting out in the sun out of the wind.  (I think it was about 38 starting out with the wind gusting!)  (That 54 degrees was a fantasy in my opinion….)

Tea time on the ship means fantastic service in the Sanctuary too.

Small sandwiches being served to each guest while we sail towards Victoria BC.

Loved the egg salad and the soft roll.

I had to skip the round of fancy cookies that came next! And the fancy pastries. I held out for the raisin scones, jam and “clotted cream”.The day ended for me at 5 in the Sanctuary, which was dinner time. I ate very light!!

If you are sailing on Princess to Alaska I highly recommend the scenic day package in the Sanctuary.

Watch for more posts on my 10 day cruise to Alaska in coming installments!

UPDATE – here is the link to the photos –View of Dawes Glacier and Tracy Arm Photos

Time to CRUISE!

I just printed my boarding passes.  I embark on this journey near 4 am on Friday from a tiny airport in Salisbury Maryland and make my way to Philadelphia and then on to San Francisco CA.  I am looking forward to escaping the hazy hot and humid August weather in the mid-Atlantic.

I thought I would share with you a short list of things I look forward to on every cruise.

  • Sail Away – drink in hand; wind in my hair; watching the ship pull away from the dock, out into the channel/bay and then through the breakers into the ocean. Many places I have been you wave to the people who sit out on their apartment balconies; or are fishing along the channel etc. My most memorable sail away was in the Azores; where the shore was lined with local people; children running and waving.
  • Pub Lunch on a sea day (hoping for 2 on this sailing) – It is styled after a British Pub lunch with bangers and mash; ploughmans lunch ( Just in case you wonder what that is; look at this article ) and fish and chips.  I always order the fish and chips which are served with “mushy peas”. Princess Cruise Lines has it figured out and my British friend enjoyed the lunches as much as I do. One cruise I was on recently also offered fried shrimp in the basket with chips. That was a surprise and I enjoyed it as well.  People who KNOW line up by 11 am to be among the first seated.  These lunches are held usually in one of the large cocktail lounges instead of the dining room.
  • Knitters and Knatters (Where people who do needlework/fiber art get together and stitch and chat). This is usually a 9am gathering in a quiet cocktail lounge on the ship; and even though I don’t knit, I do take along my English Paper Piecing projects.
  • Platinum & Elite evening cocktails  – this is a “special cocktail hour” for people who have cruised at least 8 times with Princess (earning Platinum status). Discounted drinks and lovely horderves before dinner.
  • Sunsets observed from onboard the ship  (I gave up on sunrise 15 cruises ago).  Yes; I still take pictures of them; every trip.
  • That rocking motion that will sooth you to sleep
  • Dressing for dinner in the Main Dining Room and deciding what wonderful food to have each night for dinner.

And of course for this trip there is an entirely unique list

  • Sail Away under the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Cycling in Alaska
  • watching for wildlife and the overall beauty and wonder and scale of Alaska
  • cooler temperatures during a very hot summer

I think this is my 21st cruise, and 17th on Princess Cruise Lines.  I’ve sailed with Orient Lines; Carnival; Celebrity and Oceania as well.  Loyalty does pay off; as I have learned. Princess has lots of “extra’s” for returning passengers, in their “Captains Circle Program“.  I enjoy the free internet; laundry, mini-bar most of all.

My travel companions over the years varied.  My first cruise was a 7 day Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean. It was a “one and only” with my first husband less than a year before he died. It was one of those “someday we will” trips. After that trip; I was invited by my dear aunt to take an extended trip; transatlantic with her. We flew together to Athens and sailed all the way back to Baltimore MD.  She hooked me on long lazy days at sea; and really helped me to relax during a very stressful time.

Two months after my husband passed she called me up one day and said “Let’s go” and I booked another trip; from Rome to Venice; a 12 day trip; where we were joined by 2 ladies we had met on the Athens to Baltimore trip.

My lovely aunt and I sailed together several more times; going to Hawaii, and into the Panama Canal; and on a big family trip to Mexico.  I also traveled with a couple of friends on European and Mediterranean cruises.

My “new” husband got a “trial” cruise to Alaska to see if he passed the test!  He failed the inside cabin test; so when I go with him, I get a balcony or a mini-suite. Happy hubby means happy life!  I book a cruise for “just the two of us” every 3 or 4 years and force him to go and have fun.  We do like taking a trip to warmer climates in the middle of a cold winter!

Lately I have been traveling with my younger sister.  She and I are embarking on cruise # 3 for the year!  Since she retired she is really enjoying traveling and how can I say no when she calls!

Often times I have another cruise on my mind before the current one even sails; and ALWAYS keep a future cruise deposit in at Princess.  So; sailing to Alaska this weekend and thinking ahead to the Southern Caribbean for February or March.

Do you enjoy travel and planning?  Do tell……………..

Traveling sewing kit

I am leaving in less than 36 hours for a trip to California, and a cruise to Alaska. My bags are packed, twice now…and I think I have the essentials.

One thing I enjoy while traveling is working on English Paper Piecing. Bonnie Hunter, Quiltville.blogspot.com, does this when she travels to teaching locations around the world. I started the year I went to Nevada when my Lil sister was recovering from knee surgery. The only time I sit and hand stitch is when I travel. (🐈 in lap at home preventing hand stitching).

Anyway, I sorted out my never ending Double Diamonds project, and got things kitted and organized and all set to travel…..or so I thought. Today I attended a lovely gathering of the Material Girls Quilt bee, and Irene, our hostess, shared a hand sewing kit given to her as a gift by a dear friend.

Her friend used some wonderful Tula Link fabric.

There is a place to keep needles stored on the green wool, pockets for scissors and the awesome Vivilux light, and even a zip pocket and a holder for her Aurifil thread. I loved the idea and got permission to to get a couple of pictures.

After dinner tonight I decided to go PLAY for a bit in my sewing room. I got out 2 fat quarters and a scrap of contrasting fabric and some batting and got busy cutting, sewing, quilting and creating.

I made my travel sewing kit with 3 pockets, and also used a bit of wool for the needles and pins.

Travel fabric for the outside.

Transportation (blue) fabric inside. I fussy cut the fabric for the pockets.

Wide open it is about 8″x 20″.

On the left I have a spool of thread being held on with a tab and a button with elastic. Below is a pocket with 3 sections. In the center is the wool pin holder (with a bit of batting behind it). Below the pins is a larger pocket. On the right is another pocket with the opening on the side towards the center.

I managed to load an Altoid tin with bobbins (for lots of thread variety), another spool of Aurifil thread and my new lighted Needle threader in the pocket sections.

The center pocket has those clover clips that are like spare hands, my Vivilux LED light and a floss container. ( I fly with this, and use the cutter on the floss for my thread.)

This side opening pocket has my Double Diamonds directions along with a 1qt zip bag full of pieces and parts for 1 Double Diamond EPP block.

Now I am really packed and ready to go! Thanks Irene for sharing your kit and inspiring me to make one for myself.