Saturday 30 March 2024

Back to normal?

It's hard to believe that I've been home for nigh on a week. I'll reach that milestone around midnight! It has been a busy and mostly productive week. This weekend, however, looks to be quiet - I'm hoping to work on a few vacation posts for next week. For the commenter that asked, the photo on Wednesday was of bougainvillea - a prolific flower that thrive in the heat of the Caribbean. 

After arriving home early Sunday morning, I spent the day doing as little as possible. The cat had me awake at 6 a.m., and I'm certain there was an afternoon nap. Monday, though, it was time to get busy. I sorted laundry and had the second load in the washer, before I left to get groceries. My son did some cooking while I was gone - the number of pizza boxes in the bin were far less than I thought might be there. :) He even had meat thawing in the refridgerator so I didn't have to plan dinner on Sunday. 

Once home and with the groceries put away, I continued my laundry, updated my budget spreadsheet, did some on-line banking, and had a wonderful chat with my friend K. They are leaving this weekend for a cruise in Florida. Unlike my trip, they are driving down, and plan to visit friends in Texas and Arizona before returning home. I'm not sure I could manage (or even want to) a road trip of that length, but I'm sure they'll have some interesting stops along the way. We've tentatively planned to get together in mid-May - I'll be in the city to do some yard work for my son - before they leave at the end of May for another trip. 

Tuesday was another busy day with errands. I needed to pick up some boxes for D for packing in the east end of the city, as well as paperwork from her doctor's office. Since I was in that end of the city, I went to the Walmart store for a couple of things. It is the one near my former house and I know the layout far better than the one closer to us now. There was a stop at Value Village (Tuesday is senior's day), where I picked up a lightweight windbreaker, a pretty tea cup and saucer for my daughter's collection of blue glassware, a bath towel, and a humidifier. All of that for just about $20!

I needed a haircut too. Do you ever wake up one day and realize you can't stand the length of your hair for one more minute? That was me. I tried a different salon which is a few minutes drive from this house. I had tried another salon with my last haircut several weeks ago, and went home with a cut I didn't like. Thankfully my hair grows quickly. I'm much happier with this week's cut, and the stylist wasn't much younger than I am. We had a wonderful chat discussing growing up in the 1970's. Anyone else remember the Bay City Roller plaid pants? From there it was a short drive to the motor vehicle office to get a new photo for my renewed driver's license. That was another good reason to get a haircut!

Meanwhile, in between runs into the stores and mall, I was speaking with and e-mailing the insurance agent. While I had contacted two other companies before I left on my trip, neither had reached out to me by the time I returned. D gave me information about a local insurance company and the agent owner took care of things for me very efficiently. One more task off the checklist for the move.

On Wednesday, I drove out to D and Eli's to drop off the packing boxes and the paperwork from her doctor. Eli was at school when I arrived so D and I drove to the larger nearby community to order mattresses for delivery in mid-April. We found what we wanted on sale, and I think the salesman was very happy to see us come through the door. We made a couple of other stops and were home in good time to pick up Eli for lunch. He hadn't slept well the night before so D kept him home that afternoon. We all had a rest, though I don't think anyone actually slept. 

By 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, I was on my way back to the city. Once home, I spent far too much time contacting the utility companies to arrange for the services at the new house. The worst was the local city hall to arrange for the water/sewer to be connected. Not only did I have to complete an "application" form for service along with various other documents, getting connected required an admin fee of $140, reduced from $240 for agreeing to have the payment taken directly from my bank account every two months.. This despite the fact, that I already have a property in the community. Since I was in the city, this required a couple of phone calls, as well as e-mailing the completed documents and by the time all was said or done the process took nearly 2 1/2 hours (much of it waiting). Had I thought to stop at the city hall while I was there I probably could have saved some time. I did get dinner made while I was on the phone with the various utility companies so it wasn't entirely wasted time.

Hopefully the last snow of the season!

I was happy to relax that evening and watch the Blue Jays win against the Tampa Bay Rays in their season opener. We got about 3 inches of snow overnight Thursday and through the day on Friday. I spent much of the day catching up on blog reading, watching some previously aired television programs including the Brier final, as well as the Jays game in the evening. In other words, I had a pretty relaxed day!

Today, I've gathered up the various boxes in the basement that will be going with me and will start packing the contents of the china cabinet and desk. With the snow on the ground the sorting and re-packing of various boxes in the garage will wait until later this week when the temperatures are forecast to be in the range of 10-15C (50-60F). 

Today the Men's World Curling starts with an early game, as the event is being held in Switzerland. Between baseball and curling, I'll be well entertained.  

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Tuesday 26 March 2024

What I did on my winter vacation - March 6-9

I'm home again, after a wonderful vacation, and a final travel day that reminds me that air travel is anything but fun these days. But more on that later, after I've shared photos and stories from the pre-cruise and cruise itself. By then the memories will have faded of a not so wonderful day.

My goal is to post about the vacation over a few weeks, with regular posts as I've been doing for Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In a few ports, and on sea days, there wasn't a lot going on so you can expect to see a post combining these periods. 

So, let's go back to March 6, about 3:50 a.m. The cab arrived ten minutes ahead of schedule and the flight to Toronto was delayed about the same amount of time. I guess that evened things out. In the Toronto Airport, I had plenty of time before my next flight, so treated myself to a Wahlburger, fries and a beer while watching some of the Brier (men's curling). My wallet was much lighter after that meal, and to be honest, the burger wasn't that great. I spent the rest of the time reading my Kobo.

My flight to Fort Lauderdale started boarding about 3:30 p.m. (2:30 Regina time). I managed to sleep about an hour before we hit some turbulence. We were on the ground in Fort Lauderdale about 7:15 p.m. (6:15 Regina time), but I had to wait for my luggage and for the hotel shuttle. The first shuttle pulled out just as I reached the pick-up point - I arrived at the hotel an hour and 15 minutes after landing. 

I stayed at the Best Western Airport/Cruiseport Hotel on State Road. It was in a decent location, with a couple of fast food restaurants, Mediterranean, pizza, and pub restaurants nearby. There was also a Winn-Dixie grocery, a Bealls clothing store, a Dollar Tree, and a Big Lots in the mall across the street, and a Walgreen's about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. 

The hotel is an older, smaller hotel, just two stories and it could use a bit of a refresh in certain areas. But my room, with two double beds (non-smoking) was very spacious and clean as was the bathroom. My view out my window was the Holiday Inn next door so I kept my curtains closed. The room had a mini-fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, and a microwave. It did not, however, have a room safe so when I went to pool, I found a hiding spot for my purse and passport.

The pool was at the back of the property, partially shaded, and well used by the guests. I sat out on a lounger reading while I was there, but the water didn't look particularly clean so I didn't go in. The family with several young children didn't have the same concerns - they provided great entertainment for me. In addition to the pool, the hotel had a complimentary breakfast each morning from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. There were omelets one day, scrambled eggs another, biscuits, bread, bagels, waffles (make your own), sausage, fruit, yogurt, cereal, milk, tea, coffee, and orange juice. 

The hotel hired a third party to provide a shuttle to the port for $15 US per person. A taxi would have cost about the same, so I signed up the day prior to the cruise for the transfer. All in all, it was a decent place to spend the three nights prior to the cruise.

I realized when I reached the airport that morning, that I had forgotten my phone charger. I spent my first morning in Fort Lauderdale walking to various stores, hoping to find what I needed. I did not, so I ended up having to order from Amazon with delivery promised the same day between 2-6 p.m. The delivery did not arrive as scheduled. The following morning I received an e-mail that delivery would be made that day (Friday) by 2 p.m. I had hoped to ride the water taxi, but decided to hang out at the hotel waiting for my package. If it didn't arrive as expected, I'd made the decision to hire a taxi and find an electronic store, as none were within walking distance. Thankfully, the package just before 1 p.m.

I was tired of fast food by this point, and had met a server (wearing a t-shirt with the logo)  from Mini-Pita, a Mediterranean restaurant, at the Dollar Tree that morning. I asked her if they serve salads, they do, and she showed me their location. There was a lot of construction happening and their sign was hidden behind some framing but it was just across the street from the hotel. The salad was delicious and huge. I ate half at the restaurant and took the rest back to the hotel for dinner. 

The morning of the cruise, I was awake at 6:30 a.m. My shuttle wasn't until 11:30 so I had time to kill. Breakfast, packing, a walk over to the Winn-Dixie for band-aids and watching the news filled my time before I checked-out at 11. We arrived at the port to a very long line of passengers. However, the line moved quickly, and I was through security, had picked up my medallion (an electronic device that acts as a room key and a tracking device*) and was onboard in about 20 minutes. 

One of the three main dining rooms is open for lunch on embarkation day. The buffet upstairs is always crowded so I prefer to avoid it. I asked for a sharing table and was soon seated with Michelle and Mike from Vancouver - they had flown in from Vancouver that morning. They were exhausted, looking for something to eat, and then planned to go to bed. There are a few good reasons for flying in the day prior and that would be one of them.

A funny thing happened - we were sitting waiting for our table of six to fill up when the waiter approached with a group of three. For some reason, these three people took one look at us and asked for another table. No idea why, and no one else joined us, so we went ahead and ordered our meals. Mike had spent his elementary and high school years in Regina, and our conversation was easy.

After lunch, I did a bit of a walk-about. The Ruby Princess is similar to the Crown Princess, which I've sailed on previously. About 2 p.m. I headed for the Terrace bar/pool area as our Cruise Critic meet and greet was scheduled for 2:30. About ten others joined me and we sat and visited during sail-away. 

The view from Pier 21

Looking up from the Terrace pool/bar

As we were breaking up, Carlene stopped by as she was looking for the unhosted solo group. The two of us headed to the Adagio bar where a group of about 10 or 12 met that first afternoon. We spent an hour there and then headed to a main dining room for dinner. We sat a sharing table with a couple, Leon and Rose, from Massachusetts. The conversation flowed easily, as Carlene and Leon shared a history with the military, and we all enjoy cruising. 

After dinner, I did another walk-about and took a few photos before heading to my stateroom to unpack. Not sure why, but it took me an hour! I met my steward, Joseph, and he took care of an annoying motion light in the closet that cannot be dimmed or shut off. My light would shut off and then switch back on, no matter if there was any movement or not. With some tape and a laundry bag, he had the light and sensors covered. I read for bit before I settled down for the night.
One of the three pools

The buffet a night - much quieter!

*The medallion is used to check passengers on and off the ship at ports. In addition, a passenger can use an app on their phone to order food or drinks, and the waiter can find them via their medallion and make the delivery. I dropped my medallion one evening and my steward was able to tell me approximately where it was located. It may sound a little intrusive but it sure is handy.

Thursday 21 March 2024

Fun with Toad


Enjoying an afternoon of reading on the Promenade deck.

Our view

Enjoying an Amstel beer in Bonaire at the waterfront.

Our lunch

Enjoying a Coca-Cola in the Explorer lounge watching and learning at general knowledge trivia.

Question: Which country has the most volcanos?

Sunday 17 March 2024

Sunny days

 Happy St. Patrick's Day from Trinidad!

It's been increasingly hot and humid as we've sailed further south. 

Since I have access to the internet here in the port I thought I'd post a few more photos.

An auspicious start to the day in Martinique on March 14.

A view from the ship of Carlyle Bay in Barbados, March 15.

Welcome to Grenada, March 16. That's our ship, the Ruby Princess in the background. 

From a shop in the port in Trinidad. Toad and I loved these bags, just not the price.

We've had six ports in a row, and I'm ready for a sea day tomorrow. 

Just two more ports before we sail back to Ft. Lauderdale. There will be two sea days, time to relax and pack for the journey home.

I'm making the most of these sunny days!

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Cruising along

I'm currently at a small cafe across from the spice market in Guadeloupe, enjoying a CocaCola and free WiFi. In fact I think Free WiFi is it's name as that is what is on the banner above the door.

Since I have no tour planned, I have time to do a short post of a few of my cellphone photos.

Sunset at sea, March 11th.

Arriving in port, St. Kitts, March 12th.

View from my seat at the cafe, Guadeloupe. March 13th.

I'll post more when I return home. It has been a great cruise thus far, and I expect more to come in the next 9 days.

Oh, by the way it is 26C (78F) at 10:30 in the morning.  No snow in the forecast here.😃

Saturday 2 March 2024

Stormy weather, sunny skies ahead

The weather has been up and down with miserable cold weather starting Monday overnight and lasting until Wednesday overnight. It was -26C (-15F) when I woke both mornings, with windchills into the high -30C's. Let's just say it was cold. We also got snow on Monday so I was out shovelling the darn stuff, not once but twice as it wouldn't let up. We didn't get as much as other areas of the province, but ended up with about 4 inches on the ground. 

Then the weather gods smiled on us and the temperature started climbing on Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m. it was up to -14C (7F). By morning it was warmer still, and our afternoon high reached slightly above freezing. Weird and wacky weather indeed. The downspout on the front of the house has a leak at the elbow and the melting has dripped onto the cottoneaster hedge making a pretty pattern on the branches.

I met my friend and travel agent for coffee/tea on Monday morning - we had a lovely visit catching up on one another's lives. We realized the last time we got together was last summer! Hopefully we can manage another visit in May or June, she is incredibly busy with her travel agency and her family. When I left the shop, the snow was coming down and the streets were quite icy. I did stop in at Value Village where I managed to find a green t-shirt for my cruise. We'll be onboard on March 17th so I wanted something for St. Patrick's Day. 

With the nasty weather on Tuesday, I stayed home and mostly indoors and did lots of housework. In between tasks I managed to arrange movers for April. We take possession on the 10th, my stuff will move from the city on the 11th, and then D's move will happen the following day. D will start moving boxes over on possession date and I'll assist the next day. The movers are planning to be here in the city at 9:00 a.m. and we should be at the house and hopefully unloaded shortly after noon. I have about 50 boxes, some garden items, and only two pieces of furniture that are going with me. The majority of the boxes are already packed and stored in the garage - though some boxes will need to be re-packed/taped shut. I know what I'm doing when I return from my cruise. :)

Stitch and chat was Wednesday and Io and I were joined by another lady, W. Small world, Io and W knew each other already through the church they both once attended. Neither knew the other would be there that afternoon.

I did some running around on Thursday morning, getting some additional cat food, litter, and a few groceries. There is lots of food in the pantry and fridge for my son and I'm well stocked on cat food as well. C will need to pick up a few things, I'm sure, like bread and milk. But I also know full well, that there will be pizza and subs ordered too. 

Thursday was also the day for the home inspection. All went reasonably well, there are some repairs needed, particularly on the exterior of the home. Most of those repairs relate to ensuring that water is not able to infiltrate the house (moving some downspouts, repairing flashing around the chimney and properly nailing down the ridge cap). It appears the shingles were replaced within the last year and some of the work wasn't completely finished. The eavestroughs need clearing - something we do on our own. The inspector also pointed out where windows and doors need the silcone replaced and recommended replacing the front door of the porch. The last item was something we'd already decided needed to be done. All in all, things went well and the more expensive items like the furnace and water heater are in good shape. With this information we lifted the conditions on Friday, ahead of schedule.

The men's Brier (Canadian curling championship) started on Friday evening. It is being held here in the city, though I've decided to watch from home.  I spent the day doing laundry, prepping income tax returns, and chatting with Rob the realtor. In the meantime, D went shopping (locally) and found a great deal on a dishwasher. She called me, I gave the store my credit card number and they'll hold the appliance until we move in. That's one of the nice things about dealing with a store in a small town. For certian, The Brick or Leon's would never have permitted us to store it with them.

Today we're expecting a storm originating south of the border. Accumulation amounts range from about 6 inches here in the city to double that where D and Eli live. She's already decided, should the forecast be correct, that Monday will be a snow day for them. She'll take her time shovelling out in the back, as the city will need to clear the alleyways before she can get out anyway.

The countdown to my cruise continues. I am to fly out on Wednesday morning, though with more snow expected on Tuesday, I might be delayed (fingers crossed I will not). Since I've given myself leeway - the cruise doesn't sail until Saturday, I'm sure I'll get there in plenty of time. I'm pretty much packed, just a last few items to go in the bags. Before I leave though, I have one more thing to take care of - the car goes into the shop to have the side mirror replaced. I won't be recommending this business any time soon as it has taken two weeks for them to paint the mirror so that it can be installed!

Have a great week ahead everyone! If you're in the path of this or any other storm, stay safe.

P.S. One more thing, today is our Eli's 7th birthday! How did that happen?