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Location: California

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Ride

In Facebook:

Donn Coon
Nearly midnight here. Just rode out a nice, 10-second rolling earthquake. Now to see the news of where it was centered.

Roni Depue
ok give me the info now and i'll read in th emorning, going to bed now

Donn Coon
Turns out SUPER MILD: Magnitude 2.6 - Channel Islands Region - Calif - 11:53:03 PM.

That's oceanic, approx 7 miles south of where I'm sitting. REF: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/ci14685564.php

Small enough to be insignificant but close enough to make my lamp shades jiggle. And the cat to look around, blinking.

Cruise Reminder

It's helpful to keep track of cruises, especially when bragging about them to other passengers one meets along the way. And, when not bragging, it's good to have a record for one's old memory.

Here's the tally as of now:
01 ms Veendam (Alaska, May 2000)
02 Vision of the Seas (Mexico, Dec 2002)
03 Regal Princess (Panama Canal, Dec 2004)
04 Regal Princess (Mexico, Oct 2005)
05 GTS Summit (Alaska, May 2006)
06 GTS Summit (Hawaii, Dec 2006)
07 Regal Princess (Hawaii, May 2007)
08 Diamond Princess (Hawaii, Sep 2007)
09 Dawn Princess (Mexico, Feb 2008)
10 Island Princess (Panama Canal, Sep 2008)
11 Golden Princess (Hawaii, Dec 2008)
12 ms Ryndam (Sea of Cortez, Mar 2009)
13 ms Veendam (Sea of Cortez, Oct 2009)
14 Coral Princess (Panama Canal, Dec 2009)
15 Golden Princess (Hawaii, Apr 2010)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Aloha to His Perfect Angel

We had planned to do some shopping together in Ensenada during the final port call of this cruise. As most would have expected, there would be trinket shopping and a stop at Hussong's before searching a modicum of contraband.

Being laid up just a bit, we decided that I would stay on the ship while Danny did the carousing in town. He knows the way, the targets and the right prices. So, off he went, pausing to waive just after disembarking.

Being adventurous, I decided it would be alright for me to step on shore. There were sea lions basking and barking nearby, and I wanted to get a picture, if possible. Got it!

Being curious, a visit of my own to the nearby trinket shops seemed in order. Absolutely nothing caught my eye except for tons of stuff I figured to be worthless. Mexican silver can be high quality, but not if purchased from sidewalk vendors. Being prudent, I kept my wallet closed.

Being cold, I returned to the ship, to the comfort of a warm cup of coffee and a Lido Deck perch to watch the returning shuttles to see if I could spot Danny's return.

Being later than I had thought, Dan was already back onboard; he walked up behind me as I watched down for him. He had accomplished his mission, and we are about to become outlaws, but DON'T TELL A SOUL. If we get away with it, we'll tell you all about it. If we get caught, you'll read it in the news.

Being done in by another great cruise, it's time for some sleep as the ship slips us northward toward Los Angeles.

Throughout the cruise, one vision caught my eye nearly every day. A couple, possibly in their late 40s, have been on my mind; allow me to share.

The woman is wheelchair-bound. Very tiny. One notices that she is always smartly dressed, every hair in place -- quite pretty, in fact. Often an observer sees that she keeps in communication with the man by pointing her one usable arm, or by uttering indiscernible sounds, as he pushes her chair from place to place. I have observed them enjoying music in one of the show lounges, and in the casino, where she seemed in control of her slot machine while he kept watch. One evening, they searched diligently together through the walls of passenger photographs, hoping to find any pictures of themselves.

What stood out to me most, though, was that this woman wasn't well dressed by mere chance. Her hair didn't magically fall into place each morning. Obviously, she wasn't crisp and smart appearing by her own doing. Too, during those vocal exchanges, it most certainly wasn't a language you or I would comprehend. Yet, the gentleman always seemed to know what each 'oooh', each 'bluh' and each 'weee' meant.

I have wanted to write a verse for them. I've made pockets full of notes -- pondered long just how to assemble the words that could set their story well enough. Perhaps that will happen in time, but for now, I can only share what I saw. The focused, devoted efforts of a gentle, patient, loving, caring and understanding man aptly displayed his vision. She is 'His Perfect Angel'.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Closing In

Since leaving Lahaina on Monday, the crossing back to Mainland has been relatively quiet onboard. New acquaintances are now old friends, best places to eat have been revisited, and show venues repeated. No new photos to share. No new adventures to lie about. Today (Friday) is the last sea day before reaching Encenada tomorrow, and the night-long slip back to Los Angeles Sunday morning.

Of course, we'll be happy to get home, to see the cats, birds and Etta's amarilis. Emails to their caretaker have been returned, so we keep wondering about the homestead.

Great observation -- Teens passing by present perch: "Lookit! There's an old guy with a Netbook!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 8: Aloha, Hawaii

Today's visit to Lahaina, Maui Island, was as delightful and fun as we had hoped. Good thing, because this is the last we will see of Hawaii until December, and good times are so much easier on the memory.

Poor Danny. I shopped, and I shopped ... every jewelery store I passed. I finally found my ruby! I coddled it, I "Oooh-ed" and I "Aaaah-ed" over it, I tried it on - repeatedly - although it was too small, so I tried it over my little fingertip. With all my admiration, I made the sales lady quite nervous. In the end, I put the ring back, and I asked the lady to promise it would still be in the store at the end of the year. She quaintly offered that possibility, but could give no assurance. "B - But," was all I could sputter as Danny hauled me out the door.

We followed with a refreshing lunch before returning to the ship. During, I was able to make the best photo of Dan that I've seen in a while (above - don't you agree?).

Our ship remained at anchor for several more hours - time enough for a nap, then some scouting about to find interesting ideas to share. The second picture (above) may be one find that I've shared before, but it's a gem.

NOTE: A statistic was shared during dinner this evening: It seems that most regular cruise ship passengers report that they make love at least once during each cruise. Oh dear. The statistic is way, way ahead of me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 7: Day Off

The last time we were here at Nawiliwili, we used a rental car to visit western and northernmost parts of Kauai Island.

This time, if we leave the ship at all, it will be later this afternoon, possibly making a call to replenish our wine and to locate a newspaper. Satellite television delivery has been weak throughout the trip, and we are a bit out of touch with the world and national news. For instance, only today learning of the Iceland volcanic activity, and the millions of stranded travelers.

Dan's already puttering at the laundromat, and I'm writing this drivel to admit we're slightly done in. Easy does it. So, there's not much to report here, but to say that we may experience our highest temperatures so far - in the upper 70s.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 6: Honolulu, 1

Berthed, as so many times before, immediately next to Aloha Tower, Honolulu.

This day has proven to be exhausting, to say the least. It started with our stroll along the decks of the ship and it ended with tons of memories. Read on ---

Day 6: Honolulu, 2

Come to think of it, throughout our lives there often tends to be a person or two who, through seeming simple circumstances, become a milestone in our lives. Today, I reconnected with one of my milestones.

Following a civil-service job with the U. S. Army, David and Lucy Vargas moved with their four sons from the mainland to Honolulu about three years ago. After a number of years of touch and go email communication, David and I connected via Facebook about one year ago. In the past year I learned of a traumatic health matter that nearly took David's life since arriving in Hawaii. He suffered liver failure, and he nearly died following a liver transplant. He and his wife shared with us their conviction that it was only through the fervent prayer of family and friends that he has survived and is now back at work full time, and thoroughly enjoying their new lives here in the islands.

So, what was that milestone event? David's early adulthood had been as a career Navy man. In 1993, as a Yeoman First Class, his was retiring from his last assignment at the Naval Base at Port Hueneme.

It occurred that, at that time, the Navy was short of yeomen, and as David's date of separation approached, there was concern that his station would suffer somewhat if they could not find a replacement to handle his work in their Office of Military Affairs.

At my home in Bakersfield, I answered the phone one day. I was asked whether I knew this and that computer program. I lied. Then I was asked if I could show up the following week in Port Hueneme to be trained in some or another specialized work by a Navy guy who was retiring. Sure, I could.

David's retirement from the Navy was the simple action that led to my subsequent years fulfilling Defense Contractor assignments. That work led Dan and me to move back to Oxnard, and to my doing that work until my own retirement.

It was a little touch and go for David and me as we tried, via email and a few phone calls, to pull off a reunion today. We met up in Pearl City, at the Aloha Stadium. Dave, Lucy, Dan and I spent some time catching up on one another's lives before they drove the two of us back into Honolulu. It was time well spent.

Day 6: Honolulu, 3

Friday evening's (yesterday) showroom entertainment was ... nearly indescribable. Welsh singer and comic Diane Cousins filled the room to capacity for two shows. We attended the late show.

Cousins appeared virtually alone on stage, with orchestra nearly hidden in the misty background. For nearly an hour, she had us feeling the gamut of awe; between songs, her banter kept us gripping our seats to keep from rolling onto the floor. She touched on home life, show biz, children, elders and nationalities with her twist of in-your-face, smack-dab truth. When ever she sensed that we couldn't take any more comedy, she delivered powerful songs with her powerful voice, during which our tears of laughter became tears of pathos for the sensitivities we all share in matters of love, of loss, or of rebuilding lives.

After her show, Danny and I spent some time with Diane -- yes, we now share a first name basis with her. That time was short but very memorable, and we left her with hope of meeting her again one day.

Well, la-dee-dah. Guess what! Shortly after lunch today, as we headed out to make an afternoon, we did meet up with Diane once again. She was awaiting transportation to the Honolulu airport as we were passing by. We heard, "Well, look. It's Dan and Donn." So, we enjoyed another few minutes of visiting, and we took advantage of the moment to make a photo together.

Some lady.

Day 6: Honolulu, 4

Later this afternoon we headed eastward from downtown Honolulu, passing into and through Waikiki's long row of uppity hotels. Then came Waikiki Beach's stretches of human skin. Resembling the flags of every nation, the hoard was made up of all age groups, all sizes (read: ALL sizes) and colors. We stopped when we reached the eastern stretch of Waikiki Beach, where hundreds of artists display their work for sale while toiling over canvasses depicting many versions of Diamond Head.

We got our own version with a single shutter snap.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 5: Hilo Shopping Spree

I promised pictures we hadn't done before, and here are a few.

Hilo's Farmer's Market: only one section was open today. It's been raining and shoppers from the cruise ship are sparse. At the moment, just the two of us among locals who shop there anyway.

We noticed something that's not seen too often. The posts with crossing signal buttons include a second button, mounted low down, for use by helper dogs. Pretty forward thinking, but for one thing; non helper dogs probably pee on it, though. I can just see the poor helper dogs, opting to stand on hind legs to use the button you and I would use.

We made it to Cronies, in spite of the rain. So proud of myself, I had to hog a wonderful Swiss and Mushroom Cronies Burger. Enough grease to keep my feathers dry, then some.

We had stopped at many stores and I wasn't particularly watching  while Danny shopped around. When we got back to the ship, he pulled out one item he had bought - a traditional Hawaiian Mou Mou. I was relieved to see it wasn't my size.

Now it's time for an afternoon nap before our sail away -- off to Honolulu.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 4: Thursday

Vista Lounge, Golden Princess: 1 year ago last December, about 3:00 one morning, I stole into this showroom, to its control room, to lift a disc from a CD drive. You see, no other location on this ship was playing Hawaiian music, and it was a cruise to Hawaii. I liked what I heard in this room one afternoon, so I wanted to obtain a copy for myself. I took the disc to my stateroom, made a copy of the 92 Hawaiian songs it contained, then slipped back to the Vista and returned the disc to its drive.

Good news and bad news: The bad news is that the computer I'm using during this trip has no CD drive. The good news is that there is no replacement disc in Vista Lounge. The one I used before is still there, playing daily, and I already have all its songs.

Today's thrill: about noon time, we spotted six frigates feeding off the port side. They always amaze me - their lonely, years-long flights at sea.

A similar moment, December 2006, prompted me:
It comes from all directions,
Left and right,
High and low.
The press of laughter, hopes and dreams
To cancel those we know.

That frigate, there, that follows us,
Loops and soars,
Tests the wind.
One morsel at a time enough
To guide the agile wing.

Tomorrow we dock at Hilo about 8 AM. Looking forward to checking out the Farmers Market, near downtown, and a stroll over to Cronies for lunch. Maybe some pictures of something we haven't snapped before.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 3: Wednesday

Tuesday was Formal Night. Blah!

When ever we dress for Formal Night, upon making new acquaintances and being asked where we live, we like to say, "just above Malibu." That avoids quizzical looks that seem to wonder: "Didn't think gentlemen from Oxnard ever dressed up." Or, "Gentlemen from Oxnard take cruises." Or, "Gentlemen? From Oxnard?"

We entered slightly warmer weather today. It was still overcast but calm winds early in the day, but, just past noon, the Captain drove us right into a very wet squall. That lasted but 15 minutes or so, then we dried out beneath resumed overcast. Perhaps tomorrow?

I watched for the afternoon deliver of fresh cookies from the galley. When they were put out, I went for my two, then poured myself some coffee and headed to a favorite, pool-side people-watching spot. As I took a seat, I learnt that my cup of coffee had made it with me. The cookies ... were history.

This evening, we joined our table mates for dinner at the appointed time. We've come to terms with them that politics is off limits, there being an even split of ideologies -- four level-headed progressives and four people of, ya know, that other persuasion. All were nonplussed, though, when Danny opened our conversation with, "I don't recall it ever taking this long to get to Cabo."

More later ....

Day 3: Later

Scuttled up to the Skywalker Lounge just before dinner to see what was happenning. Remembered some pleasant get-togethers there in December of 2008. Also remembered one queer sign that I photographed back then. Sneaked around to locate it (in a staff only area) to see if it had ever been changed.

Nope. It's exactly as I saw it. Still makes me think: I should work for Princess to edit such signs throughout the fleet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day Two

Danny had a brief photo-op moment with the ship's Captain.

Second full day at sea is a bit warmer, but we have not yet reached that 'tropics' feel we love so much. I suspect that will be tomorrow afternoon, and we'll start watching the western horizon for signs of islands during the lapss we take around the ship's Deck 7 hiking path.

Finding various couples to join in with Team Trivia, to share stories and lies. Funnest part of cruising.

There are questions and comments we have for some folks and this seemed a good opportunity to see who's watching and who's not watching.

Candy: Can you help us with your description of the ring you want? You said "princess crown". Were you speaking of something that looks like a monarch's crown or something that looks like the Princess Cruise Line LOGO?

Debra: Neither of us are necessarily good sources for your answer. We enjoy visiting Aruba, and we can recommend visiting Orangestad. We have considered flying down there some day to spend a week or so. The city is under heavy re-construction right now, though, and I have no idea how long the work will progress. They're working to accommodate the growing number of tourists. Their agriculture is weak now, and the economy has them in quite a pinch, so the construction is going slowly. We cannot comment on Antigua; seasoned as we are, we've never been there. Our only recommendation: TRY Aruba, AVOID Jamaica.

Roo & Fox: being domestic is really great, but it can be wearing. Could you consider a compromise? Like, go out to dine a couple times a month. Dining out is great cement for hen houses.

Matthew: I was surprised to be the only one who remembered, but I don't think they minded.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Decadence, Decaying?

Taking dessert on Lido Deck usually helps extend the evening's Dining Room experience. Maybe, at times, it helps one to forget, as well.

There's no need mentioning last evening's meal. Gastronomes would become sick. So, the Fettuccine Alfredo with Baked Chicken Breast will not be described.

As you may remember having heard, there have been times that enemies worked out their grievances using most vicious methods. Often, we have been told, one proved his manhood by sitting over his enemy and, with sharp blade, carved around conquered victim's head and lifted away his entire scalp. A trophy. One can imagine a campsite with multiple trophies roasting in the sun. It's just as easy to imagine that, just after a few days, a scalp will have dried into a piece of tough hide with its mangled mane still attached, An horrible thought, one difficult to shed without finding something else to think about.

So, this fettuccine had been ladled onto a serving plate days ago, and the sauce poured over it, then left to sit. All that sauce finds its way to the bottom of the pasta, coats the dish, then waits to be served. For days. Who could imagine that Alfredo sauce can harden much like a man's severed, dried scalp? But that's what it does. When served, one is unable to twirl a mouthful with a fork because each strand is stuck in place, much like that mangled mane.

Dan and the three couples at our table had wonderful meals. I'm told that my disappointment was my own fault. So, I'll try again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Starting Out Right

Since this cruise was first booked, the first thing on my agenda was to grab a couple of this line's famous Chocolate, Chocolate-Chip cookies. OK. Been there. Done that.

We left home at 9:30 and had breakfast at Henri's Cafe. Not caring much for Buffet Breakfast onboard ships, Danny was concerned about having one last breakfast before leaving. I keep reminding him that his hopes are set too high. After all, dining at sea isn't like dining in Oxnard; there are so few dogs and cats at sea.

We were on the highway to the Cruise Port by 10:15, and we pulled in at 11:30, unloaded and parked the car, then headed onboard. Reached the stateroom about noon - perfect time for checking out the buffet, and my heart's desire, those blessed cookies. There was one small problem. The cookies were next to the "Bloody Brownies", walnut brownies with hot fudge topping. I figured it would be good if I tested them before everybody else, just so I could ensure their quality, you see.

Shortly (3:30) we must go through the mandatory lifeboat drill, then we're off. Danny and I will proceed to Lido, starboard, aft for a planned 'sail away' party with several passengers we met via CruiseCritic.COM. I've already met one of them. Whilst smoking a while ago, a fellow from Florida approached me and knew my name. He recognized me from my CruiseCritic picture.

So - since things will be hopping soon, it's BYE for now. Check back every couple days to see if I've become bored enough to post some more.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Her Last Goodbye

All who knew that gentle voice,
Or shared the timid wave,
Knew the source of light within–
The reason she was brave.

No one heard the voice that day
Her Journey sought repose.
She slipped away, then softly said
"Goodbye" with but a rose.

Etta's rosebush struggled through the winter she was taken ill. When she died, the bush lifted this single blossom as her "Farewell" to those she loved.

In Memory of Etta Kleinschmidt.
Her Last Goodbye, © 2006 Donn Coon.