Saturday 25 February 2023

Bitter cold and just plain bitter, better days ahead

Warning: there is a bit of a rant ahead. This freaking winter weather is driving me batty. It was stupid cold for several days this week, with -30C (-22F) and windchills closer to -40C/F in the early mornings. Day time highs were 10 degrees warmer but to add insult to injury, we had snow and wind as well. Thankfully, not a lot of snow, but with the wind it tends to blow in on certain parts of the driveway and sidewalks. 

Oh, that reminds me. Recall the city by-law that requires residents to clear their sidewalks within 48 hours of a snowfall or risk a fine of $300 to be added to their property taxes?  Recently, there were two individuals in the local news regarding this by-law. The first, a handicapped individual who was charged $482 for the clean-up of his sidewalks (he lives on a corner lot), when the volunteer from the Snow Angel group didn't clean the sidewalks to the width required. As with the second individual this was due in part to the city plows pushing snow from the streets onto the sidewalk. After some back and forth with the city, that fee has been cancelled. As the homeowner stated, he can't afford to pay to have his sidewalks cleared and he certainly can't afford to pay the additonal fees...especially as the city expects it to be paid with 90 days.

The second individual happens to be a former co-worker of mine. He lives on a crescent and the City plows that cleared the crescent pushed the snow onto the side walks and driveways. When he called the city to complain, a by-law officer came by and gave him a warning to clear it himself. He went to the local television news station and suddenly large equipment showed up in his crescent and took all the snow and ice build up, pushed it into the center of the crescent and then trucked it out. 

Our City Manager has now come out and said that some "logic and empathy" should be applied to the policy. One councillor has suggested the by-law needs to be reviewed. I concur, especially when the cause of the problem is often the city plows. They've done the same on my side of the street, but so far no one has complained as most of us have cleared a wide enough path. Even though I long for spring, these troughs (with snow piles on either side) will be ponds in warm weather and skating rinks in the cold. That's when I get out and shovel the snow they've piled up onto the street again. Not supposed to do that either. Too bad, so sad as my dad used to say.

Needless to say I stayed indoors as much as posible this week, with quick trips out to the bird feeder and the mailbox, and one afternoon trip to pick up some groceries, I've accomplished that goal. Basically, I've spent my week puttering around the house in between curling draws, knitting and cross-stitching while the games are on, working on Ancestry, and cursing the weather the rest of the time. I didn't even go out to Stitch and Chat on Wednesday because it was so miserably cold.

Anyway, enough of that whining. We're supposed to get a break from the cold this weekend, and I've got plans to head out to my daughter's later next week. Someone is turning 6 on Thursday! Here's a cute photo my daughter sent me - they had a dress-up day for Valentine's Day at school. Lots of exchanging of Valentines and candy too. Do you see he's lost his first tooth? Exciting times, and let me tell you, I'm glad I'm not the tooth fairy - inflation has caused the price of teeth to go up. At least according to my daughter.

The Scotties Women's curling will come to an end this Sunday. It's been a great week of curling with some really incredible shots (and some stinkers too). Our Sask. women didn't have a great week. They couldn't seem to find their draw and hit weights and the skip wasn't able to put the broom in the right place. Sadly, they won only two of their eight games. Maybe next year. Last night's games were very exciting and since TSN is re-airing the broadcast this morning, I've got it on while I read blogs and work on Ancestry.

I'll leave you with a photo of a very special backyard visitor. The squirrels have broken the cage I used to hang the suet, so had placed it on top of the feeder. Something (probably a squirrel or larger bird) had knocked it to the ground. I had seen a larger bird on the fence and hustled to get my camera. The photo was taken about 8 a.m. and it was overcast so the quality isn't the best, but what you see here is a Northern Flicker, a woodpecker.

I've run out of suet, so will pick some up sometime this week. My cousin suggested a mesh onion bag to hold it and it just happens I bought onions in my groceries this week. I'll rig up the bag and hang it on the tree that holds the bird feeder. Hopefully the squirrels will leave it alone.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 18 February 2023

A little work, some rest, and friendly encounters

 How can it be that it is already mid-February? We're definitely on the downward slide towards spring. Winter, however, won't let go for awhile yet. We had a couple of really cold days this week, and more cold is expected by mid-week next week.

Certain days this week have been busy, others have not. I did absolutely nothing on Monday beyond putter on the computer, stitch and catch up on a few television programs. The following day was much busier (and colder!). Had I been paying attention, I likely would have done my grocery shopping on Monday, as Tuesday was windy and cold. But I wanted to go out anyway on Tuesday, as I had plans to meet a friend for lunch. She and I worked together, in fact did our training together (1997), though worked in different offices. We became good friends when the two locations were merged about five years before we retired. We had a lovely visit, catching up on kids, grandkids, and our activities. 

After our lunch I headed to C's apartment to help her with some paperwork related to her mom's estate. That was dealt with in short order, and we had a good visit. She's arranged for a storage unit, and will be moving items from her mom's condo this weekend. These are items she plans to sell at some point, but isn't ready to do so yet. Her oldest son, will be helping with the move.

Wednesday was stitch and chat - there were three of us again. I, R, and myself. We learned that R is 87, and I would tell you she seems much younger. She was telling us of the various activities she does: quilting group on one day of the week, knitting group on Tuesday at another library in the city, now the one we attend, and she's looking for more. She has been crocheting slippers for women's shelters and wants to do something different - she mentioned knitting toys for kids. I mentioned I'd made a duck for Eli one Easter, and a Rudolph reindeer for myself this past Christmas. She asked if I would mind sharing the patterns - since I got them from Pinterest, I e-mailed her the links when I got home. (She's replied and mentioned how excited she is to start a new project).

I finally got around to starting my decluttering on Thursday. Up first were the lower kitchen cabinets. I got my work-out for the day, crawling around on the floor, emptying the cabinets, vacuuming and wiping down the shelves and deciding what would stay and what would be donated or tossed. I've rearranged a few things as well - let's see if I remember where. Actually, it should be fine because like items are now stored together. (I do have far too many Christmas tins - I kept them for now.)

Friday was another quiet day - my son was home from work. He took the day off after two days of first aid training. Since he likes to sleep in, I tend to keep things quiet and enjoy my relaxation as well. I'll get up and feed Saku and then head back to bed for an hour or so. Later in the morning, I managed to get about half the upper cabinets cleaned and decluttered. I learned that I hadn't left room in the lowers for a couple of items, so did a bit more rearranging and everything fits! The biggest "mess" was the spice cupboard - I wish I had drawer space for them, but instead I have a narrow three shelf cabinet to the side and above the stove. The spices are now sorted by those used in regular meal cooking and those for baking, while bouillion and gelatin were tucked up on the third shelf in a small container as I use them less frequently. By this point I was done and decided the rest of the cabinets, including the pantry cabinet (five shelves) can wait until tomorrow or Sunday...or later in the week.

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts draw started Friday evening, at 8 p.m. Our Saskatchewan team lost, after one bad end when they gave up four points. They fought hard but the other team played too well for them to overcome the deficit. They weren't the feature game, that was between the young Alberta team and the current Canadian champions. At one point, mid-game, the Albertans lead 5-2, but the champs came back and won. There are two draws today, one at 3 p.m. and one at 8 p.m. 

Ancestry has kept me busy too - no really interesting stories in this last batch of relatives. My cross-stitching is nearing completion - though I have a lot of backstitching to do, and I've started the first sleeve of Eli's sweater. It would go must faster if I picked it up more frequently. 

I'll end with a few photos taken in the past day or so of the birds at the feeder in the back yard. The Hungarian partridges have been back too, but I haven't captured them as they are very skittish and fly off when I come close to the sun room windows.

There are three grackles hanging aound. They tend to bully the smaller birds, so I when I notice them, I tend to chase them off.

There are a bazillion (that's my official count and I'm sticking to it), of these sparrows.

The purple finch is back too - I haven't seen them in months. 

You'll notice that we're gray and overcast here. That's the part of winter I dislike the most. Hopefully the sun will re-appear as it gets colder next week. 

Have a good week ahead everyone!

Saturday 11 February 2023

Things happen

Wednesday's photo was sent to me by my daughter. I should note, the house she lives in is over 110 years old. We were chatting on the phone one day, in the late afternoon, and suddenly a piece of plaster fell from the kitchen ceiling. There has been a lot of freeze/thaw in her area (and mine) over the last few days. The roof above her kitchen has a steep pitch with a eaves trough on the peak. That's seems like an odd place for eaves trough to me. In any event the trough isn't draining off the side of the house and large icicles have formed. There is also a very old antenna on that part of the roof, and I suspect that in the winds, it may have lifted some of the shingles allowing the melt to make its way into the house. We won't know for certain for awhile yet, as the roofers in town are busy and she's not been able to get anyone out to look at it just yet. Fingers crossed, next week. In the meantime, there hasn't been much more leaking.

It's been a full week here, I was in a cleaning frenzy for a couple of days. It isn't as though I don't regularly clean and tidy, but on these days I completed what would normally take me the full week. It was almost like those weekend cleaning sprees when I was working because I was too tired during the week to do much in the evenings. 

On Tuesday, I picked up my friend C to do a bit of thrift shopping. We went to Value Village and Salvation Army before enjoying a coffee and sandwich at Tim Hortons. She scored a lovely purse for $3.66 at V.V. I found divider plates for Eli, two Easter egg kits to paint for Eli, a glass cake pan for me, and of course, more yarn for less than $20. After our lunch, we headed to her mom's house as she wanted me to look through a box of knitting patterns - I found two that I thought I might be able to use. She and her brother have been busy packing things up, and preparing to move, sell, donate or toss their mother's furniture and furnishing. They've cleared out a lot, and everything that is left has been moved to the living room, kitchen and garage. There are a lot of memories in those rooms. C showed me some of her baby clothing, sweet hand knitted or sewn items that her mother or grandmother had made for her. They've set a deadline of March 15 to have the house cleared so they can have it cleaned, and put up for sale. 

I've also spent some time working on Ancestry. I don't know if I've mentioned that I received my results from the DNA test. There were no surprises from the breakdown of countries of origin - primarily Ireland, Scotland, England, a wee bit of Wales and Germany. I had hoped that the test might crack open the mystery of my materna great-great grandfather who emigrated from Scotland. Sadly, that hasn't happened (yet - hope springs eternal, right?), instead I've had several messages from distant relatives on my father's side of the tree. One of those messages added a whole lot of information to my tree, so I've been working through these new additions. I try not to spend more than a couple of hours a day at it, because I start getting confused by all the detail. I still need to go through the DNA connections but there are over 400 of them, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and not certain where exactly I'll start. I do know many of them, have no or private family trees, so I probably won't get any more information from them.

My other project this week is continuing to work on the counted cross stitch. I work on it in the afternoon while the light is good. At stitch and chat on Wednesday I got a good 90 minutes in. There were three of us there, me, I, and R. Apparently R has been there previously about 4 years ago, so prior to my attendance and the two women had also attended the same church. R's husband passed away, she moved from their home into a condo, and as she said, "life got in the way". She told us at the end of the afternoon, that she'd be back next week with her friend W. I do enjoy my chats with I, but having a few more ladies there will be nice too.

Friday, I needed to run out to pick up some cat litter and bird seed, and decided to stop by the salon to see if I could get a walk-in appointment. I walked out a half-hour later, feeling human again, after she cut off about 5-6 inches of hair. It is now just below my shoulders so I can still pull it back as need be. Oh, and I remembered the bird seed but not the cat litter, so I'll add it to the list for my grocery day next week. 

Of course, I've been watching curling too. The men's provincial events for both Manitoba and Alberta have been streaming on You-tube. I haven't watched all the games, as I don't know several of the teams. I've managed to catch two or three draws a day, with the most interesting game last night. I went to bed at what I thought was the end of the game, assuming a certain team had lost. When I checked the scores this morning I discovered they had not, and had won in the extra end. Huh...I saw the last shot of the 10th? So I pulled up the video and discovered that a measure had determined they had the shot rock after all, and tied the game, which meant an extra end. They stole a point and won and are off to the play-offs against another popular team. That game will be played this evening, and you can bet I won't go to bed until the winner is declared. :)

Today will be much the same, some curling - Manitoba games are starting up in a few minutes, some stitching, some housework between draws, and maybe a bit of knitting. I'm sure I'll have the sun room open for the cat later today, as our temperature is expected to reach the freezing point. With the sun streaming in, the room warms up nicely. I may even take my laptop (the WiFi works there) and my stitching and join him.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday 4 February 2023

Regular programming

Wow, this week sped by, and it is February already. We're less than 11 months away from Christmas. Okay, that was my weak attempt at humour for the morning. Let's move on, shall we?

Last Sunday was filled with phone calls from my daughter, my son, and a friend and a long visit here with another friend. There was curling happening too, so it was a full day! The friend who came to visit, is the one whose mom passed away just after Christmas. I remember when my parents passed, I needed to just talk to someone and go through all the moments. So we sat, and she did most of the talking. There were tears but also some laughter. C is/was very close to her mother and they spent a great deal of time together. As expected, she is feeling quite lost. I totally understand it - I saw her yesterday and we've made arrangements to get together again next week. 

I left Regina about 8:30 a.m. on Monday, in absolutely brutally cold weather. It was about -27C(-17F), but the wind chill made it feel closer to -40C/F. When I arrived, D and I unloaded the vehicle quickly, plugged it in, and headed indoors for the day. The hug from Eli was worth the drive!

We spent that day just puttering around the house. I got some knitting done while watching videos with Eli, and D and I did some tidying of her dining room table. It tends to be a dumping ground. In the photo, Eli was relaxing on my mat with Stanley after D and I did our stretching exercises together.

Tuesday morning, my car would not start and we had errands planned. I called CAA and after a quick boost we were headed out. We picked up her groceries (ordered on-line), and dropped D off at one of the stores nearby while Eli and I drove around to warm up the car. We got back and sat in the car while she shopped, and I noticed that just sitting with the car running in that cold, that the temperature of the engine was actually dropping. Our last stop was McD's to pick up lunch and then we were headed home.

I was ready for a quick nap, as Eli had slept with me the night before. D worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep with the noise but she needn't have been concerned. Forty five minutes later I woke up feeling refreshed. That afternoon she made dough for doughnuts in her air fryer and before dinner, she and I fried them up using her cast iron skillet. Yum!

Wednesday morning, about 8 a.m. I started the car with no issues. I let it warm up and had it packed and ready to go within 15 minutes. Lots of hugs before I left. My follow-up mammogram was scheduled for noon, so I stopped at home to unload and relax for a bit. The scan went well, no need for an ultrasound, so I'm feeling assured that whatever they thought they saw back in July and August was nothing to worry about. Definitely a relief!

The next day was another cold day, so I stayed at home and got caught up on some housework. Oh, and watched curling as well. The men's provincial Tankard began Wednesday evening and continues until tomorrow. With three draws a day (except Sunday), I've had to plan out my chores around the curling schedule. I do sit and cross stitch while I watch during the afternoon, so I'm somewhat productive. :)

Hence, grocery shopping on Friday didn't happen until after the first draw. There were some decent sales out there to be had - 10 pounds of potatoes for $4.99 was one, and I filled the holes in the pantry, fridge and freezer, all while staying within my alloted amount. I did splurge and pick up a jigsaw puzzle, on sale for $5.99. Patsy has inspired me to try another one - the Christmas attempt failed miserably. She zips through puzzles in a few days, I'm sure this will take me a few weeks.

Today, I'll be watching curling, doing some stitching and maybe some knitting. The weather has done a complete 180 - we're sitting at -4C(25F) this morning with a expected high of -2C(28F). Of course, there will be snow to add to the accumulation but I'll wait until Sunday to clear the driveway. No reason for either my son or I to go anywhere least that I know of.  Oh, some wonderful news too from this week. C received his promotion on the 2nd. He's officially moved from one division to another. This momma is very proud.

Enough chatter from me. Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I do hope the weather is improving for all of us. While one of the groundhogs suggested just six more weeks of winter in parts of Canada, I highly doubt that will be true for here. But spring is closer than ever, whether it is weeks or still a few months away.

Friday 3 February 2023

Sea days - so much to see and do

A lot of cruisers dislike sea days - they'd rather be in port every day. Generally, these folks do Caribbean or Mediterranean cruises, where the islands/ports are close together. For example, a 14 day Caribbean cruise for January 2024, has only 4 sea days. A 14 day Mediterranean cruise for June 2023, has only 3 sea days. No, I've not get these booked...they are simply examples. Guaranteed these folks aren't doing the world cruise, there are 58 sea days in a 111 day trip.

I've heard comments that sea days are boring. And I say, if you're bored on a cruise ship, you're trying too hard. The daily newsletter that arrives at the stateroom door in the evening, provides a list of activities for the following day - it's also available on interactive boards throughout the ship and on the company's app as well. These activities often overlap and sometimes it's impossible to do everyone one might want to do.

Activities range from trivia (always popular), port talks, guest lecturers, movies and concerts on the big screen by the pool, and especially on sea days, games like giant jenga or egg drop contests. In the latter, guests build contraptions that will "float" the egg to the lower level of the atrium, usually from two or three stories up. The egg that doesn't break is the winner. These are all arranged by the cruise staff and the entertainment continues into the evening with muscians in various venues, production shows, comedians, and other musicians in the theatre. 

There are also activities arranged by the passengers themselves - knitters and knatters is an unhosted group, as are the singles/solos, LGBTQ, AA meetings, meet and greets for Cruise critic, first responders, and regular game events for Mahjongg, cribbage, Bridge, and various board games. On the World Cruise, there was a book club as well. There is a library on board most ships, with both books to check out and ones that passengers leave behind that can be taken - I try not to bring any home.

Oh, and of course, on a hot vacation cruise, there is always lazing by the pool and relaxing in the hot tubs. Every ship has a gym for those who want to exercise, plus decks for walking. As I say, you have to choose to be bored.

So what did I do on the ship? As you probably know, I'm a bit of a creature of habit; I do enjoy my routine and I easily slip into one even when I'm on vacation. My days always started reasonably early and got earlier as the cruise continued. I missed sunrise photos those first few days so had to set an alarm a couple of mornings. After getting ready for the day, I'd head up to the deck 15 (Sun deck) to see what I could see, even on the days I missed sunrise.

Birds often follow the ships, most frequently when we aren't far out at sea. Occasionally, they'll actually hang out on the ship. This was up on the sun deck, not far from the burger and fry station. I suspect he was looking for leftovers. Too early! The station didn't open until 11 a.m.

I discovered that the best place (usually) to get a sunrise photo was from the Sanctuary. It didn't open to the paying guests until 8 a.m. so several of us would hang out early in the morning while the crew was setting up for the day.

After my breakfast, always outside of the buffet, I would head down to Deck 7 (Promenade) for my morning walk. Not all of the Princess ships have this feature and I miss it - walking on Deck 15 requires more avoiding of people on sun loungers and in the smoking area. On the Promenade, most people were walking and the chairs to sit in were out of the way. I would walk for a good 30-40 minutes each day, stopping occasionally to look over the railing at the sea. I was hoping to see a whale or two, or maybe some dolphins. After my walk, I'd go to my stateroom to drop of my camera, do my stretching exercises, and pick-up my knitting. 

Knitters and Knatters was from 9-11 in the morning, and while I didn't usually stay the full two hours, I did get some work done. I crocheted four of the "cocoa" mugs for my daughter for next year's teacher's Christmas gifts - she now tells me she needs six. I also knitted a pair of mittens for myself. The old ones I had were starting to fall apart. My last, unfinished project, is a free form crocheted Christmas tree. I was limited to the yarn that I had brought with me.

From Knitters and Knatters, I'd drop off my bag and head upstairs with my camera for a wander. Or on a couple of days, change into a bathing suit and head for the pool (too cold) or hot tub. That only happened twice as I ran into a woman in the hot tub, who hated the ship, hated the food, hated the crew, hated the sea days and I decided the better part of valour was to avoid the hot tubs when there was anyone else in them. 

Lunch was usually around 11:30 or noon. Most often, in the buffet where I'd run into someone I met, or occasionally on Deck 15 at the burger place, where I'd run into someone I'd met. There was a fellow who I'd met at sail-away, and we kept running into each other. He was friendly fellow who was often to be seen chatting with various people. His party of four were rarely together, though I did meet two of them on a couple of occasions. There were also several of the singles/solo group that I'd see out and about. On two of the sea days, several of us met at one of the restaurants for Alfredo's pizza, and for the pub lunch. Yum, fish and chips with mushy peas and Pim's Cup for me.

After lunch, I'd grab my Kobo or a book, along with my camera and back to the Promenade for much of the afternoon. I'm not a sun bather and the music on the pool deck is loud and carries up to the sun deck as well. I found I spent a good portion of the afternoon outside, wandering the deck or sitting and reading. There was always something to see.

Often it was birds, circling the ship, looking and diving for their next meal.

One day, however, was absolutely thrilling (at least to me). 

Sea turtles! There were, what seemed to me, hundreds of them. 

And dolphins too!

I ought to have had my camera on sports mode, as I missed them leaping from the water. One of the passengers shared a video she had captured on FB - it was so amazing. There were at least a dozen or more in this group.

This was my favorite shot, even though the turtle hadn't yet breached the water. It was incredibly close to the ship and within its wake. After reviewing my photos I really wished I had a better zoom lens. I've been researching and will need to upgrade my camera package to get what I want. Can you say big bucks?

Some days, I needed a quick nap in the stateroom, or would rest and read some more before preparing for the evening. Every day I met the group at the Wheelhouse Bar around 5:15 p.m., but on a couple of occasions would be there around 4 p.m. for trivia. I'm not particularly good at answering questions, though almost always answered the Canadian questions correctly.

This was "our" space in the Wheelhouse bar. We often commandeered chairs from other tables to add to the group. It was always a wonderful time, lots of laughter and chatter. Most evenings a group of 4-7 of us would head to dinner together. We did eat at the main dining room a few nights, but as we learned that could require much patience and waiting in line-ups, so as the days went on we preferred the buffet. Every night at the buffet was a different theme - a few I remember were: Indian, Italian, German, and Mexican.

This would allow those who wanted to attend the early show at the theatre (7:30 p.m.) to find a seat by shortly after 7. The early show was always full. I didn't attend every evening, but did see two of the three production shows (basically a music and dance show put on the entertainment crew), a comedian, the Neil Diamond tribute show, and Nathan Phan - a magician, musician and impressionist. I was most impressed with the Neil Diamond tribute show and Nathan - I even went to his second performance - a rarity for me. I had seen the third production show in the Majestic in May so skipped that one as well. 

Because we were usually at dinner, I didn't often see the sunset. But one evening, as we were heading into the theatre I slipped outside to the open deck for this photo.

I was back in my stateroom by 9 p.m. every evening where I would read for a bit before turning in. I knew morning would come early! Throughout the cruise I finished reading five books - that's more than I've read in months. 

Our final two sea days we were expecting to see whales and dolphins, however the weather wasn't conducive. It was cool, windy, and the waves in the Pacific were quite a bit higher than we'd experienced early in the cruise. While we didn't get the rain the California coast was getting, I suspect we were feeling some effects of the weather coming in from the west.

I did however, get some spectacular sunrise shots the one day. I'll share more than one here.

We were up in the sanctuary and actually got kicked out, because we were there so long.

By this point in the cruise, sunrise was much later in the day. If memory serves, we were asked to leave about 7:45 a.m.

I should note, the temperature on those last two days at sea, was about 60F (16C)at most. I had purchased the internet package for the last two days, in order to check-in for my flights, read/write blogs and to connect with my daughter and son. But, having the internet on the cool days meant I was able to find curling to watch too! I still sat out on the Promenade deck in the afternoon, but I'm sure some people wondered at what they were hearing, "Hurry hard, sweeeep!!!"

One of our solo group was part of the Princess Pop choir. This is a group of passengers who work with the music director to learn a few songs for a presentation to the passengers on the last day at sea. I went to see them perform and enjoyed it a great deal.

That ends my posts about the cruise. To end the photos I'll leave you with the wake of the ship. Normally I'd take a photo from the back of the ship, but there were cabins in the way on this ship. This was taken on the Promenade Deck on the last day.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Writing the posts bring back some wonderful memories!

Thursday 2 February 2023

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I had no excursion planned in the port, and though I did leave the ship, I didn't spend much time off of it. However, that day I got in over 22,000 steps - just from moving around the ship for various photo opportunities!

I woke about 6 a.m., as I sensed a change in the movement of the ship. I grabbed a quick breakfast at the buffet and headed up to deck 15 to eat. A woman stopped by the table as I was eating, and I learned she lived in a community that my older brother had lived in for many years. He had left before she arrived, but she had heard his name. Small world!

My first sighting of Puerto Vallarta, still dark at the time. 
After breakfast I headed to the front of the ship for the sunrise.

The sunrise was pretty, but not as nice as the ones at sea. I didn't stick around to watch as the sun climbed over the hills.

The big attraction in Puerto Vallarta was the Walmart store. I'd heard several other passengers talk about making a trip to the store while they were in the port. Especially among those who were on the World Cruise (111 days). 

The store is literally down and across the street from the pier. I decided I would join the parade of passengers when the excursion crowds left the ship and look for a couple of items.

While I had thought I might walk or take a cab to the Malecon boardwalk, I knew that it would likely be very busy, and full of vendors. As I've mentioned previously, I'm not enthralled with being swarmed by the vendors so that idea was quickly rejected. One of the other single/solo members did check it out and said it was very busy so I'm glad I made the decision.

I headed off ship about 8:45. I laughed because the exit from the ship led through the duty free shop (this is often the case in Mexico) and several other shops, before one can reach the busy sidewalk. I did notice one shop in the area that I would stop at on the way back.

The street to cross was very busy, and at least a couple of vehicles took the traffic lights as mere suggestions. Most, however, did stop on the red light for pedestrians. I stayed on the outside away from the traffic and was able to safely cross. 

Walmart was....interesting. It was clear the farmacia was the most popular section and many of the shelves were well picked over. Other areas of the store had very limited selections, and some sections made me think of an old hardware store where parts and pieces of items are placed willy-nily on the shelves. One thing they had mountains of were candies and potato chips.My only purchase was a small tube of toothpaste as I was running low. 

I left the store and walked over to the nearby mall, however it wasn't open until 11. I headed back towards Walmart, as I'd noticed a small cafe (VIPs) and decided to stop in for a cup of coffee when I saw the "free WiFi" sign on the door. I ordered a cup of coffee and a pastry - basically a croissant with chocolate inside. The coffee was amazing and the pastry simply delicious! I used the free WiFi to call D before checking in on FB, my blog, and Instagram. I finished off my visit by catching up on the local (Canadian and Saskatchewan) news while enjoying my coffee refill.

On the way back to the ship I did stop at the Casa Mexican store and purchased the last of the gifts for my children. For C, I found four small bottles of hot sauce, and for D, three small bottles of Mexican vanilla and a glass dolphin. Something interesting happened there; the clerk told me the total was $44 USD - which seemed a bit high, but I couldn't see the screen. The clerk tried running through my Mastercard a couple of times and it wouldn't process. The second clerk came over and said something to her, quite sharply, and she re-ran it again and this time it went through. I glanced at the receipt and noted it read $34 USD. I suspect she was trying to put in the higher price to obtain $10 from the till for herself but Mastercard credit cards don't allow for cash back. 

I wandered around the ship for awhile, dropped off my purchases at the stateroom, dropped off a book at the library and chose another easy read, and went to the gym to stretch before going for lunch. I had been stretching each day, most often in my stateroom, but I chose the gym since there is a scale. Happy was I when I stepped on the scale to learn that I hadn't gained any weight on this cruise! After lunch I headed to Deck 7 to walk, read, and take photos.

The brown pelicans were predominant in the port. Always keeping an eye out for their next meal.

I often take photos, not necessarily knowing what I'm seeing through the lens. This is a ship from Vidanta Cruises, the first Mexican luxury cruise line that debuted in April 2022. Now that takes some courage, starting a new cruise line in the midst of what was still a pandemic. There isn't a lot of information on-line but it appears the 540 passenger ship sails along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Looking towards the city, I noticed these workers on the top floor of the building. It looks to me that one of them is taking a photo of us.

I had noticed at the port shops, a ferry station. These two were coming and going at the same time. I've no idea where they went or where they came from. If I were to return to Puerto Vallarta, I'd probably consider the option.

There was never a time without some traffic on the water nearby.

We had company in port too, when the Royal Caribbean ship pulled into the pier nearby.

All aboard time was 4:30 p.m. I stayed on the starboard side of the ship to watch for latecomers. These fellows weren't late, but I was surprised to see the bicycles. I've never seen that on a cruise before, but it's not a bad idea if one enjoys biking. No line-up for a taxi!

We did have one late arrival. At about 4:40 there was a call on the ship for one passenger and within a couple of minutes I saw him hustling on board with a bag full of purchases. I should note, that I saw many of the crew carrying bags of groceries on board as well - not from Walmart. They do get fed on the ship, but I'm sure there are foods they prefer that they'd find in the city.

I stayed out for sail-away and watched the pelicans.

The ship stirs up the water, and I'm sure that offers the birds good fishing.

I didn't have time to clean up before the singles/solos meet-up so I went as I was. After a buffet dinner a small group of us went to see Nathan Phan's show. A magician, musician, and comedian, he was fun to watch. I was back in my stateroom by 9 and asleep not long after.

Next up - a final post on "what did I do on sea days?".