Saturday 30 September 2017

Day 1 - Newport RI

This was my first visit to the New England states and I certainly wasn't disappointed.  I don't recall when we arrived in port, but Conna, Valerie, Lori and met for breakfast at 8 a.m on the aft deck of the ship.  

It was a bit of a gloomy day, but the temperatures were lovely.  I can only imagine what it would look like with the fall colors.

Conna had found a two hour sailing on the Aquidneck on-line.  For approximately $30 p/p we boarded the schooner at about 10:30 in the morning along with the other Canadian in our group, Maureen.  Our crew were three young men in their 20-30's.  They were definitely characters, and whenever we asked a question, they had a story ready for us.  

Conna is on the left, Lori on the right as they help raise the sails after we motored out of the bay.

This was one of the ships (or is it a boat?) at anchor.  We were told it was 281 feet long and had arrived from Europe sometime earlier this summer.

Our schooner was only about 80 feet in length, had two masts and four sails.  I was quite happy with the size!

This is the aptly named Clingstone House.  It was built in 1905 by Wharton (of the Wharton School of Business).  After a hurricane blew through it (almost literally) it was sold for less the $4000 in the 60's.  The current owner passed away last year, but it continues to be used as a rental property.  For a mere $10,000 a week, you can rent this self-sustaining house on a rock.  With 10 bedrooms, it's a steal if you take 9 of your closest friends with you. :)  Of course the only way to get there is by boat, so there would be some added costs as well.

We were told this house was the former summer home of the family of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  Can you imagine?  If this was their summer home, I can only guess how large their 'rest of the year' home would have been.  

It puts into perspective this building, which was apparently Jackie's playhouse!  What a lucky girl, though I suspect she wasn't the one who cleaned it.

I have no idea who currently owns the property but it has definitely been well kept up.  Below and to the right of the playhouse was their boathouse.  It appeared to quite large (like everything else).

After being deposited back on shore Maureen left us as we wandered over to the Crab Shack, which had been highly recommended by the crew.  I'm sure it would have been good but both Lori and I were ready for a sit-down meal, and the Crab Shack was exactly that...a small building on a pier with picnic tables full of customers.  We made our way back up to shopping district and found the Brick Alley.  We had a bit of wait, but it was worth it.  Several of our party had lobster while I had fish and chips with a local beer.  

I had thought I'd take the trolley up to the Cliff Walk but by the time we finished lunch it was mid-afternoon.  I'm sure I would have had time, but I have a fear of missing the ship.  The rest were ready to go back too, so we all took the tender back to the ship.  I changed into my bathing suit and made my way to one of the hot tubs to relax before showering and changing for dinner. 

There were 14 of us that evening, which we split into two tables, one of eight, one of six.  We waited a very long time for tables as we arrived at 6:30 but weren't until nearly 8.  I left around 9 with Maureen as we wanted to see the Marriage game.  It was hilarious - particularly because the oldest couple (who had been married for 70 years) were at odds as Ada wasn't aware John had entered them.  She kept shooting him dirty looks and her responses were curt (but always correct). The two of them easily won, missing only one question.  He was asked what the last words were said in the bedroom at night, he answered "Give me a kiss" which she answered "Move over".  

Another great day at sea.  We sailed that evening for Bar Harbor, Maine but the captain's announcement that evening wasn't promising.  The ship was in motion all night, though not horrible and I certain didn't feel ill.  

Friday 29 September 2017

On my way

This post is nearly a week behind but I hope you won't mind if I recount the trip over a series of posts.  I have photos but writing keeps the memories alive as well.

I flew out of Regina last Saturday morning; it started early with a 3:15 a.m. wake-up.  I washed up, got dressed and called a cab.  He was earlier than I anticipated but this turned out to be a good thing, as I got held up in a line up at check-in.  For some reason, the machine could not read my passport, and even the agent couldn't get it to work.  It was never a problem at any other airport on the trip, so have to assume it was this particular machine.  The two people in front of me seemed to be worse off, not sure what paperwork they required but it certainly was a lot.

Flight to Toronto and to New York were smooth.  I was fortunate in having a seat between myself and another guest on both legs.  I arrived in New York (LaGuardia) just slightly ahead of schedule and that's when things took a turn.

Misdirections from the welcome staff had me miss the first shuttle to the hotel, but with a second call and ignoring the instructions from the welcome crew I made my way to the proper area.  I can't explain why the shuttle picked me up where people were being dropped for their flights, rather than the pick-up area except there was lots of construction going on.  It made no sense.

When I got to the hotel, things went from a little annoying to my worst nightmare.  I had booked my hotel using Airmiles, but the hotel had no record of my reservation.  After nearly an hour of attempting to contact Airmiles in Canada (it was after hours and everything was shut down), the head office of Marriott in the States, we simply gave up and I paid for a night's stay.  $299USD plus taxes resulted in a charge to my credit card of $434.93!!!  I have since gotten it straightened out but at the time it was a frustration I could have lived without.

At this point, I wanted nothing more than something to eat, a shower and bed.  The following morning, I took the hotel shuttle back to the airport where I picked up the shuttle to the cruise port terminal.  Our embarkation was delayed as the ship had arrived from Europe that morning, and had to be fully cleared by the US Coast Guard.  We heard later too, that the ship had lost power so it was a bit of wait.  However, as I have platinum status, I was in VIP group 8 and on board by 1:45 p.m.  

I dropped off my carry-one at my stateroom, then went up to the buffet for a bite to eat.  I hadn't bothered to eat at the hotel, as dinner the menu was small and the prices were high.

I headed back to the stateroom to grab my camera and found that my luggage had already arrived!
While I was unpacking, my steward Richard dropped by to introduce himself and check if I needed anything.  
I told him, no I was unpacking, then was heading to muster drill at 4:15, the sail-away at 5 or 5:30 and had dinner plans for 6:30. 

He laughed and said, you have this figured out.  

I had an interior state room for this trip, so there was no sea view or windows.  Yes, it was dark at night but with all the lights nd mirrors it never felt small or crowded.  I might have felt differently if I were travelling with someone but for one person it was perfect.

The bathroom and closet are just inside the door.  There is a small bar fridge in the cabinet below the television, a hair dryer is affixed to the wall next to the mirror and there is lots and lots storage - both bedside table, drawers in the desk, and cubbies in the closet that holds the safe.  

I did a walk-about while waiting for muster drill.  It's held before sailing at the start of every cruise to ensure passengers know how to put on a life jacket and safely leave the ship in case of an emergency.  All guests are expected to attend and those who don't get a special visit from an officer.  I've never missed but I expect they must a remedial class! 

At sail-away I met many of the solo cruisers and a few Cruise Critic members.  Our solo group comprised 13 women and 2 men, two of us were Canadian, the rest were from the United States, and those primarily from New York or Baltimore. Conna was from California and Matt currently lives in Arizona.  The average age was probably 60'ish  (Facebook photos don't always tell the truth).  

It was a hot and hazy day in New York city, with clear skies.  My favorite photo of sail-away is that of Lady Liberty.

Later that evening, eleven of us met for dinner.  The host was shocked when we asked for a table that large, but they managed by squeezing in another chair at a table for ten.  We spent the dinner getting to know each other a little better, and while we sat down shortly after 6:30, we didn't finish dessert and coffee until nearly 9 p.m.  I can't recall what I had for dinner, but the chatter and laughter are with me still.

Tomorrow - Newport, Rhode Island

Thursday 14 September 2017

30'ish hours and counting

Packing is nearly complete, I just have to do some laundry tomorrow so I have some extra clean unmentionables.

Check out my little packing buddy.  Another cat who has to know what's happening at all times.

He really has been a blessing these last few days.  I miss my Sami so much, but he makes me laugh at his antics.  Sheldon also has a tendency to curl up next to my ear at night, with his motor running.  I wake up to the sounds of his purrs.  He's such a love bug.  At the moment he's laying beside me in my chair on his back, front paws in the air, fast asleep.  If I knew it wouldn't wake him, I'd try to get a photo.

Back to the trip....I am so looking forward to getting away for a short time.  Work has been so hectic for the past six weeks with the change in workload, as well as new employees and then my coworker had some back issues and has been off work for over two weeks.  I've been covering for her as well because she has my old group.  And just for fun, there was a last minute call to two half days of meetings this week that took me away from the rest of my work.

What doesn't get down by tomorrow at noon will just have to wait until I get back.  I'm scheduled to fly back from New York next Sunday Sept.24 but apparently Hurricane Jose is currently tracking to head up the east coast of the United States.  Some of my fellow passengers have expressed some concern but I'm not worried.  I suspect if it makes it that far north it will be a rain event only, but if by chance it chases us out to means I'll have a few extra days off work.  That wouldn't break my heart at all.

What would be disappointing is if the weather results in the cancellation of two of my excursions - sailing in Newport, and whale watching in Bar Harbor.  So if Jose decides to ruin the party he better wait until we're returning from Halifax to New York.

Time for bed as I'm working tomorrow for 6 hours, then home to do laundry, some housework and finish packing.  Then it's dinner with friends before an early night.  Cab will be at the front door about 3:45 a.m. so I can be at the airport in time for my flight.  I'm hoping I'll be able to post from the ship, but if not I'll be back in 10 days(or maybe a few more) with lots of pictures to share.

Have a great weekend!

Monday 4 September 2017

A very quick update

First off, look who reached the 6 month milestone on Saturday!

He's really starting to be a little person. He adores his mom and dad, enjoys butternut squash and applesauce, and still won't smile (often) for G'ma's camera.  

I had breakfast with D and Eli on Saturday morning.  She's currently living in a friend's basement (bedroom and living area) and had her first shift back at a local retail outlet on Friday evening.  Dad J took Eli overnight and will do so when she works there, at least for now.

I've been busy getting ready for my cruise.....12 more sleeps until I fly to New York.  For some reason, taking a trip gets me motivated to clean. I've and vacuumed and washed the floors in the entire upstairs of the house, cleaned the bathrooms, and did a bit more packing of my daughter's stuff.  I'll get some more boxes this week and take care of the baby's room next weekend.

My clothes and shoes as packed in my check bag, and I pulled out the carry-on this morning.  In the carry-on will be an extra outfit, undergarments, and pj's as well as a small bag of toiletries, my camera bag, a book, my itinerary* and a pair of ear plugs. The latter are for the airplane as I often sleep - I've been known to doze off as the plane is on take-off.

My old trusty purse I carried on many trips fell apart on the last one, so I'll use the travel bag I bought for Europe.  It has a shoulder strap with braided wire in it to ensure it can't be cut easily and has pockets I can lock to carry cash or other valuables.  It's meant to keep pickpockets at bay though I suspect on the Canada/New England that is less of an issue.  In my purse are my cash, passport, a pen, and a few other small items.  It tucks into my carry-on and that bag fits under the bag in front of my seat.  

*On my last cruise (Oct 2016) I got scolded by an American customs agent for not carrying my itinerary with me.  I didn't think I'd need it as we were arriving in New York overnight before leaving for the cruise.  He informed me I should carry it with me at all times.  Lesson learned!

Work will be extremely busy for the next couple of weeks.  We're still in the midst of a transition.  I'm learning a new workload, getting to know my staff, and still finish up work from my old workload.  As well I'm responsible for orientation and this week's training of six new staff.  To be honest, I love being busy so though it may sound as though I'm whining, I'm truly not.  I've either asked for or volunteered for more work. 

It will make the time go more more marble comes out of the jar on Tuesday, only 15 more months until retirement. 

I said this would be a quick update, but of course, I got wordy again.  I'll close off now with one more photo of my sweet grandson.

That's Sheldon beside him.  Eli loves him and so far Sheldon doesn't seem bothered by the baby either.

Have a great week everyone!