Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 8 - Cruising the Sounds

Good day from the chilly Sounds down in Fjordland National Park. We lucked out being on the starboard side where we’ve had the best views for seeing these beautiful fjords with their many skinny waterfalls. This photo is an example of a larger one. We learned that those waterfalls put about 6 inches of fresh water on top of the sea water, which plays a bit of havoc with the ecology.
There is even snow up on some of the higher peaks as we exit Doubtful Sound where we are picking up wind, chop and now low clouds. My new fleece jacket felt mighty good out on the verandah. We have cruised totally alone through the sounds, except for a few dolphin, seagulls and other boats in evidence anywhere. Dick is particularly enjoying watching a lone tern glide just above the white caps, with nary a flap of his wings in his search for lunch. Hopefully he’ll show up nicely on Dick’s video clip.

We enjoyed breakfast with an interesting couple from Ft. Myers. Our dinner companions for this cruise consists of a couple from Canada and a widow from Montreal, a French Canadian. Haley, you should be with us to practice your French with her! The single lady from Las Vegas changed her reservation to the earlier seating, so we are a very small group.

After dinner last night, we discovered a good string quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello), and we’ll go hear them again this afternoon, as well as the a capella quartet whenever they are performing. That group consists of four Michigan College friends, who perform a little humor in between numbers...sometimes ‘little’ is the operative word, however they are cute and have beautiful voices. We’ll manage a little reading and a nap. How’s your Sunday? Life is good!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 7 - Dunedin

The sun is shining, the air is crisp...great day for our bus tour of the local area. We are docked a few miles from Dunedin where the bus picked us up at the early hour of 8a. We stopped first at the lovely rail station (shown above), where inside were beautiful old mosaics and stained glass panels, all featuring train motifs. Very interesting. Next we were off to travel the hillsides, stop at the steepest street in the whole world, designed by some guy at a desk in England who had no bloody knowledge of the hilly topography here!. Then we were off to the obligatory local botanical garden, getting low on battery stength. There was a grocery store across the street, so we made a dash for batteries in plenty of time for the bus trip up another hillside for a view of the harbour where we are docked and then over to the other side of the sheep covered peninsular to see the sea on the other side. Lovely indeed...sheep, hillsides, ocean...we love it! Interesting architecture down here...lots of metal roofs on houses, even house with 'gingerbread' on them. We've seen that all over.

We opted to leave the bus when we arrived back in town and lucked into the public library with FREE browsing offered. WOOHOOO!!! It was fun stopping by and saying 'howdy' to some of my blogging friends...couldn't make the whole round or I'd be here awhile and I don't want to hog the puter! Dick is over surfing the web, too, so he is a happy camper. We've managed well with only one puter between us.

Most of the ports we’ve visited have been piled high with logs and/or wood chips, all intended to be loaded on freighters and shipped to far away places like China, Japan, and other ports where they’ll be made into cardboard, toothpicks, etc., then sent out everywhere in the new form. A big freighter is parked next to us (Albany Pioneer) today that had all four bay doors yawning open this morning, awaiting their load of wood chips. We are now back from our tour, and two bays are closed, and the conveyor is dumping chips into the next bay. The bulldozer is still over in the chip pile pushing and shaping the mounds to get the material over to the intake place where it is then placed on a conveyor and dumped into the bays. Fascinating process. Dick is lovin’ it.

Tomorrow is listed as a ''cruising day'' through the opposed to a sea day, which the next two days will be. In other words, we won't be getting off the ship till we hit Melbourne! That's perfectly OK...I still have photos to work on and books to read...and maybe a nap to take. Life is good on the High Sea!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 6 - Christchurch

Today’s bus tour took us to downtown Christchurch, another hilly, seaside town. First we stopped at a lovely park that represents the Canterbury Plains, but we only had time for just a few quick photos, then we were off to see another botanical garden, although there was no time to tour it, so we simply checked out the lovely stone buildings nearby housing museums, theaters, and art centers. Next we drove outside town up to an overlook for photos, but they probably won’t be worthy to post as it was mostly overcast...and WINDY, not that wind affects the pictures; we just didn’t want to stay out and get blown off the hilltop!

We did stop at Cathedral Square, where we would have enjoyed more time, but that’s the way it is with tours. Two guys were entertaining folks on their ‘giraffe’ unicycles and with their funny banter. That is what Dick (far L) is videoing in the picture above. Haley, we found your Tim Tams just off this square...hopefully they won’t arrive as ‘crumbs’ instead of cookies (biscuits). We’ll try.
Chunkygal, I love your Christmas cards!, the odds in the casino are not good (according to Dick), so he isn’t playing (and I don’t play at all)...and no, I haven’t read "Blue Latitudes," but it certainly sounds worth reading.
I have about 200 pictures from these two tour days to sort through while Snoring Beauty enjoys a nap. We leave here about 6p tonight, heading south to Dunedin where we have an early tour booked for tomorrow. Yuck, whose idea was that???
Oh yes, we were served what was supposed to be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner last night, but it was far from what would have been on my table at home! They tried. I certainly hope all of you counted your blessings...we did! Life is good!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 5 - A Wellington Thanksgiving

Turkey and the trimmings are promised to us for our dinner tonight in celebration of this being Thanksgiving for us Americans. It feels strange being far from home and without our family on this special holiday, but we can certainly count our blessings from anywhere...and family, friends, faith and freedom are at the top of my list for sure.
Hello from cool but sunny Wellington, the capital of N.Z. We did a panoramic bus tour this morning to see the city sights, the botanical garden, and a brief stop to go inside Old St. Paul’s Church. They built a new one, and this beautiful parish church was fortunately saved from the wrecking ball. It no longer has Sunday services, but is used for weddings, funerals and baptisms, according to the volunteer.
The flooding of a long extinct volcano crater created Wellington Harbour. The city bends gracefully around the port and the houses seem to flow out of the hills, right down to the sea. Edwardian buildings and narrow streets contrast sharply with the modern skyscrapers. The picturesque rugged hills and cable cars have often caused this city to be compared to San Francisco. Since it lies in the path of the only major gap in N.Z.’s central mountain range, the city has earned its nickname of Windy Wellington. It is on the southern tip of the northern island, and we are enjoying watching the ferry traffic going in and out, as well as seeing all the planes outside our window on final approach for the local airport. Water, planes, and ships...the only thing missing–family and friends. Y’all come on down!
Dong, this is the woods where "Lord of the Rings" was filmed! I know you said you want to come here and check out that piece of history. Dick caught me taking pictures for some fellow passengers. The triangular building is the Byrd Memorial, explorer to Antarctica...and on the side is a tile rendition of the Aurora Australis. The rest of the pictures will have to wait to be uploaded.
Know that as we give thanks today, we are thinking of EACH one of you. We are mighty blessed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 4 - Napier

Napier is a cutsey art deco city that had to be rebuilt after the ‘31 earthquake that destroyed almost every building in the downtown. We took the shuttle bus into town and looked into shop windows, then strolled along the beach that contains no sand. It all left with the quake and was replaced by small dark pebbles that are not so inviting to walk on. There is a nice walking/biking path for sea viewing, however. Napier is a retirement/tourist town that is the largest crossbred wool center in the Southern Hemisphere, and is one of the largest apple, pear and stone fruit producing areas in N.Z. It is also steeped in Maori history, and was visited by Capt. Cook. Now you know.
I just received a text from our Melbourne friend. It’ll be good to see him next week. Yes, there will be pictures!
Last night’s entertainment consisted of the ship’s band and singers/dancers. Tonight we have an Aussie cabaret star. We shared the bus ride back to the ship with the music man from Michael’s Piano Club, who promises to play "Georgia" for me if we come listen to him:-) He accurately identified my accent, as he worked for a time in Atlanta.
Since we are in port, there isn’t a lot going on onboard of interest, so reading and watching a tv movie was our afternoon entertainment...activities that are in short supply when we are at home. We set sail at 4p, heading to Wellington...the nightly show begins in an hour. Life is good on the High Sea!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 3 at sea...

So today is a sea day and we are back in the cabin after attending a digital photo seminar that was fairly informative for us. Of course there are always folks there who hardly know how to turn the camera on, much less do anything with it, but they need to begin somewhere. I wish I had brought my instruction manual...since I didn’t I learned about some settings to look for and we have made some changes to my camera that I’ll now play with. For instance my camera focus was set too broad, so that is now narrowed and maybe will help in the dining room setting. I am not happy with the group photo from last sailing, but this was the best of the lot. That pesky wall light messed up the lighting focus...and yes, the request for Dick’s show and tell in his new hat will follow soon, even though he hates to pose. I’ll tell him it is setting research!
Our boat speed today is literally at a crawl, which means that we are at sea to avoid docking charges! The sea was pretty rolly last night, so there are quite a few ‘green’ folks today. Speaking of green, our TV color is mostly green. A green Obama looks very strange indeed! Dick just called and asked for someone to please come adjust our TV, and he got a lot of bull about ‘crossing the equator changed the magnetic polarity, making it impossible to fix.’ Helllloo...the guy didn’t like it when Dick told him we were on the Rhapsody last week and didn’t have this problem...and in this same hemisphere! We’ll survive this trauma.

Oh yes, we have a lovely verandah (did I mention that?) that we might get to use today, since the sun is now beginning to come out. I am looking across the water at mountains in the distance, and they must be 12 miles away, as that is the magic number in order for the casinos/shops to be open. You know what profit centers those are! One doesn’t get a dime outta us (casino); the other only gets a nominal amount:-)

"The Bourne Ultimatum" is playing in the cinema this afternoon, so we might go see that if we are awake. Dinner tonight is formal, followed by the Captain’s welcome party and then the show at 11p. It’ll be a late night. Like Empress Bee says, we’ll see if the show wins or our jammies win.
We are having a great Tuesday at sea. I hope your day is great!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 2 - Tauranga

Kia ora! That’s ‘hello’ in Maori. Tauranga (Maori name meaning ‘resting place for canoes’)is shrouded in overcast and mist, so obviously the visibility is disappointing. We are docked at the city, so it was only a 5 minute walk down to the shopping district where Dick found a spiffy Aussie hat to help protect his bald head when the sun comes out again.

This is a very nice ship, other than not having internet in our rooms again. So chunkygal has been on this ship before! I didn’t know that. And you saw my dtr out with some guy, huh? Well, I’ll bet I know who it was! I think she is too old to misbehave:-) Anyway, back to the ship...the staff are all friendly; food/service is good. Unfortunately, the entertainment for tonight is the same Phantom of the Opera guy we saw last week. He was good, don’t get me wrong, but we’ll pass up seeing him again this soon. And that is OK. We’ll see what other good opportunity presents itself! There is always another book to read...

How was your weekend? Cheers...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Welcome to Auckland!

Check out our itinerary for the next 14 nights...heading back to Sydney. Wait...didn't we just leave Sydney???

Who knew our hotel would be next door to an adult bookstore? Were those ‘working ladies’ I saw outside? And my companion in the elevator later on? Hmmm, I wonder.

Hello from Auckland, where we boarded the beautiful Celebrity Millennium...and are now beginning our southbound journey toward Tauranga, followed by a sea day, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Dusky Sound/Doubtful Sound/Milford Sound, two days at sea, then Melbourne, AUS, where we’ll meet up with friend Luke. He was a physical therapist for the AUS rowing team, and our family befriended him when he was in Mayberry for the ‘96 Olympics (the rowers trained in our lake). I was a torch bearer for our town, so we all got to spend quite a bit of time with Luke during the local festivities both in Mayberry and in ATL, where friend Joy and I were Olympic volunteers. After Melbourne, we have another sea day before hitting Sydney.

We are back now from our boat safety drill, feeling all secure in the knowledge that there are plenty of lifeboats for all of us, as well as life jackets. Lunch earlier was good (better than the Rhapsody), so that is a PLUS. We are now underway...walked about the ship, then sat visiting with a nice couple from Scotland in the card room. That was more fun than going to the show tonight, so we are missing that. We have late seating again for tour planned for Tauranga tomorrow as 80% chance of rain is expected. We have 100% at the moment. That’s OK...we are on a cruise ship, enjoying a nice glass of wine and everything is lovely. Cheers!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Arrival back in Sydney...and head to Auckland...

Good rainy morning from Sydney! We’ll get off the ship shortly and walk across the pier to the train station...maybe sit and take turns walking over to the Opera House before heading on to the airport. Rough day, huh? I think we can handle the stress:-)
Amy said there were snow flurries at home and she didn’t even want to know the temp here. Wonder why?
Stay tuned for the next adventure. What are y’all doing for the weekend? Life’s short; make fun of it!!! Cheers...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another sea day...and roo, too!

Hmmm...our final sea day on this ship. Arrival back in Sydney tomorrow.

Bee/Sarge...have a great time on the Splendor. Can't wait to hear/read all about it! We are cruising the world, right? Life is grand!!!

I have posted pictures from Cairns and of Bisbane, so check out and see a roo or two!

This is our final day onboard the Rhapsody. Tomorrow we dock in Sydney and depart for the train station where we’ll take turns watching luggage and walking over to the Opera House for a close-up view of it. Our flight to Aukland is 3ish, so we’ll take the train to the airport for the three-hour flight.

Last night was a hoot. After dinner, Dick and I went to see the cruise director and staff do an adult something or other...we were clueless what "Qwest" was...but we sure found out! It was an adult scavenger hunt. The faint of heart, those easily embarrassed, etc., were informed that ‘there is the door’ and you can leave. You are forewarned! Oh dear, what did we get ourselves into? We were instructed to team up in 5-8 members, young/old, men/women, and then we would be given instructions. We were told there would be prizes for the team with the most points, but to be careful on the dance floor coming up with the requested items, as the prizes were ‘crap that weren’t worth breaking a leg over.’ Three twenty-somethings asked us to join them, and everyone got in the spirit. First off, we were asked if we had a Compass schedule (the daily cruise paper), then a map. These guys had played before and were prepared. We produced and were on a roll. Then the CD wanted a guy to come up with his pants on backwards! Jared jumped up, shucked outta his jeans, turned them around, and off he went to proclaim our points! Fortunately, he was wearing nice boxers:-) And it went from there. A request for two bras, empty, had Kim and I discreetly removing ours...and Jared the runner was off and running to get our points! Jared even donned his wife’s bra, skirt, and heels (somewhat) for the Miss Rhapsody (guy) contest! I couldn’t believe all the guys up there in their skivvies!!! We didn’t win because we couldn’t produce any dentures on our I know why we were picked to join the young’uns! It was great fun...and no camera, darn it.

So now tonight is packing...and saying goodbye to various folks. But a new adventure awaits us. Life is good!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Arrival time at 7a...departure at 6p...

Perfect day today, except it was HOT and muggy. Since it was 17 at home this morning, our kids, Joy and Jennie won't sympathize very much.

Hello from Brisbane...we just set sail...they had rain storms for the previous two days, and it is raining now as we depart, so we lucked out.

The Lone Pine Koala sanctuary was great...will sort through pics on our sea day tomorrow and upload them to to the pic blog.

Gotta run...almost time for the evening entertainment and dinner...I know you feel our pain!

Love the comments...will catch up tomorrow. Life is good on the High Sea!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sea day #3

Here we are on another sea day...heading to Brisbane........

Tomorrow is Brisbane, where we’ll have to tender again. We have an 8:30a departure for our five-hour tour of ‘Brisbane Sights and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary,’ so my posting will be delayed until we can get back to the ship. The wee girls will be excited to know that koala and kangaroo pics will soon follow, as that is what they want to see:-) This is a big country and there is much to see and do...and obviously we can’t do it all in one trip, but we are sure trying!

I am enjoying all the emails and comments. Keep’em coming! At least the internet is faster on this ship than on some of the previous ones we been on, so I plan to upload some photos to my photo blog. Check out periodically and take a wee tour of this beautiful country!

Life is short...make fun of it and go cruising!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Willis Island

Here is a panorama of the Cook Museum...biggify and you can spot Dick to the R of the steps...that was about the hugest mango tree we've ever seen over there on the L...
Cruising Willis Island is what the Cruise Compass says for today. That’s it–we cruise right by it, although we may have to actually anchor to make it legal as a 'stop.' According to the captain, due to international regs we have to cruise to here to qualify this as an international cruise. It contains a meteorology monitoring station, staffed by three people. Gosh, they’d probably like for us to stop and chat awhile. How bored can they be? The island is also inhabited by thousands of masked, brown and red footed boobies–a seabird that looks alike a dressed up seagull. Now that’s a thrill for ya.

So, good morning from another sea day where we are opting not to attend beginning bridge, team trivia, nor a fine art & watch seminar. Nor the flower arranging competition. Caribbean music by the pool with our books will be followed possibly by the scrapbook seminar (who scheduled it for 1p, right at lunch time?). And we’ll miss the talent show at 2p followed by bingo. Hmm, why do we like sea days? Actually, we do go and enjoy the various musical offerings throughout the day. And we read. I just finished three Sue Grafton books, and have an FBI thriller by Catherine Coulter to read after Dick finishes it. Now that is a vacation to me–being on the water, having someone else to cook/clean, and getting to read. Dare to be dull!

I have actually been doing some photo editing, sorting, deleting, etc. I’ll take the time to do some more ship shots during these two sea days. What do we think of this ship you ask? Well, it is an older one in their fleet. I don’t like the fact that I can’t get wireless in our room. It wouldn’t cost a whole lot to add repeaters throughout the ship for guest convenience. The decor is nice...not gaudy as on some ships. Our accommodations are adequate. I was surprised there were no robes in our room (are we not in a good category?), and no bottles of shampoo or lotion as on other ships, even this same line. There is the addition of a tea kettle, which is nice, although I haven’t used it. Hair dryers are pretty standard these days, but I haven’t used that either. Storage is adequate, although no ship ever has enough hooks on the wall. I would recommend that addition, along with a night light in the bathroom. Our bed is quite comfortable, and we have both slept well...and enjoyed a few naps. The food is pretty good, but they can’t hold a candle to Carnival and their salad bar on the Lido deck. Here, they offer 3 salads a day–always Greek, a pasta, and a black bean combination. Now I do like all of those, but where is the seafood salad? Where is the true salad bar? Theirs is pathetic, but there is one in the main dining room. Huh? I have to get up and go over to the salad bar there myself to get a good salad? If I wanted to do that, I’d just go to the Lido deck. What’s up with that??? I’m gonna have to go try it just to see what is there that is not upstairs. And forget their croissants. They are not flaky at all, more like a croissant-shaped regular roll. Heaven forbid!

And I finally lost my clip-on shades for good two days ago, somewhere between security check in and our room. It still haven’t shown up at lost ‘n found, so probably it was smashed by some heavy feet in the elevator. Yes, Joy, these are the same shades that popped off my glasses and landed in your dress pocket at lunch the day before we left! I do have a back-up set of shades. This is just a minor annoyance in the scheme of things.

Our entertainers last night were quite unusual–quick-change artists! Who knew? I had never heard of such a thing. It was a high energy couple who are dancers and have won all sorts of dance contests and awards and stuff. They do incredible costume changes that are like magic! Sarge, you’ll have to add that to your magic act! They must have Velcro down to a fine art the way they go from one costume to another in a matter of seconds. Literally. All of the changes are done either behind a "wall" or inside one of those fabric slinkeys that one slips into while the other brings it up and shakes it while the person inside changes. Fast. However, the last change was the most amazing. All her outfits were skimpy except for the very first one and the almost last one. The first one covered up multiple outfits that got skimpier as the dance numbers went on. That was easy to understand. In that last number, her ‘dress’ was short, covered front and back and was more modest than previous outfits, so I knew something was gonna change. He came out with an umbrella, held it over her and when it opened, lots of long gold shimmery confetti rained down on her and when she was in the clear again, she was wearing a backless long dress! Obviously it was inside her short dress, but it was still pretty amazing. Dick sez she wasn’t hard on they eyes at all. And boy, could they dance!

Tonight we’ll be entertained by an Irish lass, who promises an evening of Irish fun, laughter and song. I’ll have to say that RCI gets kudos for their evening shows being diverse and better than average. And this cruise director is pretty good, too. Certainly no John Heald, however, but this guy is a young Brit with potential and a sense of humor, oops, humour.

So our day on the high sea is sunny and great. I hope yours is too! Cheers...

Monday, November 17, 2008


A view of the outdoor market at Port Douglas yesterday...
Port Douglas is small...and yesterday was HOT! We docked next to a small shopping mall, which was a pleasant walk through en route to the outside market beyond it where we got the full blast of the heat. Many tents were set up, displaying jewelry, soaps, hand carved wooden items, clothing, purses, fruit, plants, etc. Of course there were a couple of massage booths, but even that wasn’t appealing in the heat. What was delightful was a large cup of fresh squeezed chunky pineapple juice...yummm. We were entertained by the colorful birds in the trees over our heads, talking and flitting from limb to limb. And of course Dick quickly became bored with the shopping and headed back to the mall to sit and at least enjoy the cool while I made a purchase for our girls.
Our onboard ship pilot was on the tender with us back to the ship, so we questioned him as to why our ship didn’t dock at the port in Cairns...and we got the straight skinny on that. The locals thought the Rhapsody was too large to dock there, although the Legend is the same class of ship and it docked just fine. Our captain called for a meeting with the local harbour folks, and they came onboard for the cap to ‘splain a few things. The upshot is that we’ll pick up the Cairns harbour pilot to come onboard and watch while we dock at another port so that he can see how smoothly our ship handles. The locals lose out on a lot of revenue when the ship has to tender, as folks have the tendency to only go ashore once and don’t get off/on the ship, therefore spending less. Our pilot suggested that those ports requiring tendering will be bypassed in the future, thereby losing ALL revenue! We learned that we have to tender in Brisbane simply because the cruise terminal is on the WRONG side of a bridge that we can’t go under. They think it is too cost prohibitive to move the terminal. Here’s your sign....duh!

I love reading all the comments, so keep’em coming! Bee, I know you’ll have a good time on the Splendor. Look forward to reading all about your cruise. I haven’t had any cake on this cruise, but I’ve had some great creme brulee..last night’s was labeled "BBB" which stood for Banana Bailey Brulee...yummm...lovely combination! Life is good!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday in Port Douglas

Dick and I had a lovely day in Cairns (pronounced *cans* for some reason). A rather large catamaran did ferry duty from our ship to shore, where we were met by the typical tour bus, with Michael as our driver/narrator. He drove us past lots of sugarcane fields, blooming royal poinciana trees, stately date palms and other flora and fauna we recognize from our time of living in Florida. Many of the homes are built up on stilts, since there is frequently a flooding problem here during some rainy seasons.
We had a drive along the beach and saw lovely homes prior to beginning our climb up to the rainforest. We got to see the skyway that skims over treetops for those choosing to see the forest that way, but that method was not for us today. Well, we got to the top and I was expecting to actually be up close and personal to a tree or two...but no, we were deposited in a shopping district! Don’t you know how happy Dick was (not!). He is a good sport, so after walking the length of the shopping road, he ran into another guy from our ship and they went and did what guys would rather do than shop...drink beer! I helped the economy out by buying a tee shirt, then retrieved my wayward guy and we headed back to where the bus was parked.
Our tour next took us through some of the industrial areas, then we had a short stop at the beautiful lagoon, shown above. What a fun place to play for kids of all ages. And there were booths set up with folks selling local goods. I wish there had been more time to look at the lovely displays of this ‘n that, but we were already running a bit late, so I resisted temptation.
Sarge, you would have enjoyed the magician last night. I thought fondly of you and your magic tricks on the Blogger’s Cruise. I hope MagicMatt is practicing cuz that would be a fun job for him to do someday. Bee, I’m sorting pictures and will try to put them up on my ivylog space, even before we get home, so I’ll let y’all all know when/if I get that done. I posted a new pic yesterday on this blog, and it didn’t take *forever* for it to upload. But I may wait till the hotel stop between cruises to do that. Just so ya know.
The entertainers last night were a high energy couple billed as "Extreme Vegas." He did juggling and balancing acts; she was the hula hoop queen, keeping MANY going all at the same time. Interesting.
So today we have now docked at Port Douglas. We’ll again have to tender over to shore, and will just walk around through the market. Not much going on, since it is Sunday. This is apparently another place to see the GBR from, but we aren’t docked long enough to do any good, unless we want to try again on the flightseeing.
Hope your day is great. Life is good!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Dick preferred reading to attending the sexy legs contest. I think he would’a won! And the scrapbooking session was, well, how do I describe it? A guy is in charge, can you see where this is going?, and he has a base page with cut outs clipped to it as a hand out, and everyone can just glue, cut, use the crimpers, gel pens, whatever. The page is not 12x12, so I didn’t do any glueing. He did show us how to do that little fold-out box thingy where one quarter of a small square is glued down and the rest of the square pops open to reveal an inside, hidden area to place photos. We were given a cut out of the word "paradise" and some other cut outs to cutsey up the page. Most folks had never ‘scrapped’ before, so this was a very basic class. The guy had lots of enthusiasm, and did stress that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way to do a page. It’s all good!

So what did we do at the GBR? Well, we tried to go on the glass bottom boat, but the clerk said that the water was too murky and she didn’t want to take our money and have us be disappointed! How nice was that? Next we called the airport to try to do a flight seeing, but they were all booked up till after sail time:-( We got skunked, so I guess we’ll just have to come back. Our next option was to simply hop on the free bus and ride around the small island, which we did and that didn’t take long. Our tablemates did go out to the reef, and all pretty much looked like lobsters at perhaps I was the lucky (safe) one after all. Sigh.
The pic above is the harbour at Hamilton Island, taken yesterday. Today we are at Cairns and are heading shortly to the rain forest. Bee, thanks for letting us know that John G’s is still open. Dick has on his John G’s tee-shirt today! We’ll join you there after Christmas.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

Hamilton Island, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, is the largest and most comprehensive resort in the south Pacific. There are lush tropical gardens, fine white beaches and crystal clear water. There’s a Fauna Reserve with koalas and kangaroos, numerous boutiques and restaurants, and an extensive range of activities to do...or not do. Hamilton is fairly hilly, rising to 230 meters at Passage Peak.
So that is your history lesson for the day. Greetings from sunny Hamilton Island, where the open boat just left carrying passengers (not us) off to see the GBR. Note the word ‘open.’ I don’t do open boats, with this lily-white skin that pops out pre-skin cancers for a hobby. Nope. Not gonna do it. It is an hour and a half travel time to the reef from where we are anchored, not to mention time spent to float and look at the reef, then the return trip. We have to tender over into the city, so that is what Dick and I will do after all the tour folks get gone. I’m sure we’ll have a lovely day. Life is always good around the sea.
Nan, I send big hugs to you and our sibs in remembrance of Mother’s passing two years ago today. May we each continue to celebrate her life in all that we do! Now all of you go out and hug someone special today!!! Life is precious.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sea day #2

Hello again from the sea! We love sea days...they can be as active or lazy as one wishes. Today we are opting for more laid back and reading. There is a men’s sexy legs contest after lunch, but I don’t know if I can talk Dick into trying that one:-) He is up top with a book ,trying out the ‘office’ but it appears to be the cigar bar...hence stinky, so I’m not sure it will be used by moi at all. I’ll sniff him when he returns:-)
I do plan to go to the opal/pearl seminar at noon...always an off chance I’ll win the raffle, right? I won’t hold my breath. There is a scrapbooking seminar at 3, so I might check that one out.
The wine tasting was an excellent activity yesterday. We were seated with a young Brit couple that we enjoyed. There are many Brits and Aussies hearing all the accents...and loved being greeted with a ‘hi, y’all’ at lunch yesterday–two couples from Texas at our table! That’s the closest to home folks that we’ve met thus far. Our dinner companions consist of a couple from Scotland and two from Ireland (Dublin and Belfast each). We are all about the same age, with we two being slightly elder but not by much. The dining room can be quite loud, so sometimes it is hard to hear our companions, even for me, so you can imagine how much trouble Dick has with his hearing, combined with their accents! But we are having a lovely time.
Today I plan to walk around the ship and take interior pictures. We each worked on our photos yesterday getting them downloaded onto the puter, deleted, cropped, etc. Just wish we could go ahead and upload all of them as we go! And we are doing well, thus far, in sharing one computer, although I wouldn’t want to do it forever.
We have an invitation to a Crown and Anchor member reception prior to dinner tonight, another membership perk, so our pre-dinner show will have to be cut a bit short in order to make the reception. Dick won’t mind that, since it is some guy singing show tunes! The entertainer last night was a multi-talented guy...he sang and played just about everything but the drums and guitar...and he could probably have played both, given more time on stage! He was awesome...even played TWO penny whistles at the same time. Really cool.
Tomorrow we arrive at Hamilton Island for our first view of the Great Barrier Reef. We are both looking forward to that...and have our hats and sunscreen ready for the adventure! Always!!!
So that’s about our day...a big hello to Maryan...and all the other blog readers. Thanks for your comments...I’m reading every one of them! Bee, hope Chuck’s cold is better and y’all can see him on Sunday. Tell him HI.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sea day

Today and tomorrow are sea days. We love them! Here is a 'stock' picture of our stateroom...which is a pretty good rendition of our actual room. We have the beds pushed together, of course:-) No verandah on this cruise, but we do have one on the next one...

Good morning from the Tasman Sea enroute to the Coral Sea and the GBR! After sleeping in and enjoying our breakfast on the Lido deck, we attended a briefing on the Great Barrier Reef. Other talks will be given about our ports-of-call and shore excursions. We discovered too late that there was a digital workshop, so we’ll try to see if this is offered again at some point. With our RCI ‘gold member’ status, we get to attend the wine tasting this afternoon for free ($11.45 each normally), and they offer other perks for us, such as $5 credit times two for our internet fee! Now you’re talking!!! Unfortunately, this is an older ship and there is NO wireless in the staterooms. I’ll have to take the puter to one of the public hot spots. Bummer, but better than not having it.

Yes, Sandee Comedy Plus, I saw your wave as we passed over CA...WillThink4Wine, have fun in Boston. Will you see MaggieMoo? Bee, Charlie...wish y’all were here! Along with all our kids...sure miss y’all!!!

Sydney is sooo litter to speak of, no graffiti. We saw a City Park Ranger and chatted with him, and Dick commented that he was impressed with how clean the city is, etc., and one of his jobs is to ticket anyone throwing a ciggy butt on the sidewalk, parking tickets, etc. We both said in unison, ‘a meter maid!’ He had a great sense of humor, oops, make that humour! They drive on the left here, which also means that escalators are the reverse of ours; they walk on the left...takes some getting used to. But we are managing.

I forgot to mention that after we walked around the Sydney Tower, we did the Oz-tour, which was an interesting Cyclorama-style look at the whole continent where we sat in seats that rotated to four different dioramas of the terrain around Australia. Worth seeing. We then moved to a different room where were strapped in seats that were Disneyish...there were 180 degree screens up front for viewing as we ‘flew’ around the country.

Amy, thanks for the pics of the boys...adorable! I know they both slept well after all that playing. Brian, hope our kitties are behaving...they are also on the we-miss-list! Don’t forget to bring in the mail:-)

Phone service is spotty, so I’m gonna turn it off for now after charging it. That’s our day today. Life is good...hope yours is, too!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let the cruise begin...

Here is our home for the next 11 nights...Rhapsody of the Seas...departing Sydney and cruising the Great Barrier Reef. Oh, the sights we'll see!

And a big shout out to all the veterans out there!!! God bless each and every one of you for your service to our great country!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tuesday here...Monday there...

Good morning from Sydney! We just made a battery and wine run. Now isn’t that an interesting combination! Dick plugged in his battery charger yesterday and fried we needed a few batteries for the cameras, etc., and figured it would be better to buy now while we can. We also learned that Yellow Tail can’t be purchased is strictly an import wine. Who knew? So, we’ll try something else. That’s always fun.

Uh oh, the zipper on Dick’s duffle bag just broke...traveling is an adventure for sure. He got it fixed, but for how long? It’s not the end of the world if it breaks again. Oh the tales we’ll have to tell!

BTW, we are extremely please that Haley is going on our church vestry! This is a critical year for our parish, with calling a new priest, so extra prayers are needed. We know you'll do a fine job, my dear!

Janelee, so sorry to learn of your friend's death. My prayers will now change for help with the grieving family, rather than healing. Earnestine is now totally healed!

I miss reading all my blogging friends, but love receiving all the comments, which arrive in my inbox. Keep'em coming!

Chunkygal, glad you will be along for the ride. Let me know how your ankle progresses in your comments.

We’ll be heading to the ship shortly...enjoy your day, y’all, or what is left of it! We sure will enjoy this new adventure!

Arrival in Sydney today...

After an 18-hr. flight from San Fran, we arrive in Sydney at 8:05a today, head to the hotel, and SLEEP! Will post when I can get my brain to function.

G'day, mates!

Our flight raced across the Pacific, crossed the International Date Line sometime about 4a Aussie time this morning, making us lose Sunday totally. We’ll get the day back enroute home next month:-)
First order of business upon arrival at the hotel was a shower, followed by a much-needed nap. Neither of us slept much on the plane. We woke up in time to go eat lunch in nearby Chinatown, then boarded the monorail and did a bit of touring, although it didn’t make as large a loop of Sydney as we had anticipated. We got off for pics at the aquarium area, which is where the ship will dock tomorrow, and got back on the monorail and went further along to the stop where we could go up the Sydney Tower. One picture is looking up at the Tower from the bridge near the aquarium, then the reverse...looking down on that same bridge. The other shot is a picture of the monorail.

I have blogs set up for about 10-12 days, so I’ll add more info to them as I am able. The weather is perfect...about 72. We plan to go back down to the water somewhere for dinner tonight. Where there’s water, that’s where you’ll find us! Life is good!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Judy and the laundromat...

Good Sunday morning, y'all! Dick and I are currently somewhere over the Pacific, so I have a guest writer today. My friend and BSP sista Judy is a hoot. She tells the most marvelous stories, sometimes about almost nothing. I love her witty style, but most of all, I love her good heart. Her DH Jerry isn't too bad either. Hugs to you both. They have moved to a new city and are in temporary housing until their new house closes next week, so she is having to use public washing facilities. Enjoy...oh yes, printed with permission:

Any aspiring writer should spend time in a laundromat, not necessarily to do clothes but to take notes. Life is at its most varied there for character studies, not a bar, not a mall, not an airport or even a hospital waiting room.

You see things in a laundromat that would make Jerry Springer call it quits. You see things that are plain unexplainable.

Today, we went there again. This time Jerry dropped me and the clothes off and went to do other errands. I was pleasantly surprised that it was almost empty, lots of machines open AND in working order, no unattended children....well almost.

There are signs in the laundromat to 'please not leave your clothes unattended.' I have been thinking about that. The mental images are almost too dangerous to report. If I left the laundromat (and my clothes), would they become rowdy and do damage? If I left my clothes, did I need an attendant to do it? That one is verging on probable. Why are there signs about attending clothes, and none about attending children?

There was a real healthy young man talking on his cell phone for the benefit of the entire county and using some truly colorful language. His lip was pierced and his biceps (large) tattooed. I gave him till I had loaded all my washers to cut it out, and then I decided that one of us present should have some self respect.

I went over to him and tapped him on his biceps. I was polite but firm. I told him that his call was not quite private and that he needed to clean up his language. This could well be the end of the story for me!

He went dead quiet, and I assumed he was just showing me how it was done. Then he said in a very polite and lowered voice, "Yes Ma'am."

No more loud or naughty talk out of him in the laundromat. He did his clothes quietly and left. Guess, my "Mother" license hasn't quite expired.

So now I was still waiting on my clothes, when a man came in to pick up laundry that had been done for him. It was a huge stack of gray, not charcoal or shark mist or battleship, just depressing mop gray toilet seat covers. Who would want ONE much less a whole stack???
I thought of institutions that might use that color, but they don't use toilet seat covers. Then a woman came and she picked up a whole stack of them, too. Lordy, I thought, prison? Nursing home? Juvie?

Then Jerry finally came back and I told him about my "tank cover mystery." He told me (without even having been there himself), those weren't toilet seat covers, those are floor polishers!!!

Then there were two women who came in with industrial sized garbage bags of dirty clothes that they had to drag. For the entire time that I was washing and drying my clothes, and believe me it's a long endless stretch of gray time, they continued to bring in bags, tubs (jumbo), and baskets of laundry. They had just finished unloading all their wash as we were leaving.

So I asked myself, where would anyone get that many clothes??? Prison, nursing home, juvie???

The answer to that mystery will remain unanswered, unless they are still there when we have to go back next week.

The end. I hope you enjoyed the story.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

All our bags are packed; we're ready to go...

So today begins the big travel day...hop on a plane heading to San Francisco; sit in the airport for three hours; get on another plane and fly for 18 hours, arriving in Sydney, Australia! Then the really good part...we go on TWO cruises while "Down Under." Woohooooo...this will be a terrific adventure, other than the long flights. I'll at least blog our itinerary so y'all can follow along with us. If you want to.

We had a good visit with Hank and Lois yesterday. Joy, Jennie and Mike joined us for lunch. Did anyone think to take a picture? how dumb was that? Oh well...guess we'll just have to do it again sometime!

Life is good!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Guess who's coming to lunch?

Woohooooo....Hank and Lois are coming to Mayberry today and meeting us for lunch today!!!

Do you think there'll be lots of laughs to go with that food? You bet!

Happy Friday, y'all! Dick and I leave for Australia TOMORROW, so we are spending the afternoon packing, checking our lists, and collecting some sugah from the wee ones...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yard critters, pretty trees, and travel info...

I looked up from the puter this morning and saw these 5 deer enjoying the many acorns in the yard. Yesterday when I drove down the drive, I scared 7 (!) that had been grazing in this same spot...

I couldn't resist these beautiful trees next to a downtown cemetery...

And a shot of our old courthouse...sure wish I could eliminate those ugly power poles/lines...
Wow...look at the magic Miss Bee did for me with PhotoShop! There are a few yards nearby that I would love to have a little cheap urban renewal work performed on...My Thursday is going well, filling in as church secretary, which hasn't been a hard job (I did it for 10 years, so I didn't need much training). Now I only only fill in occasionally when our 'real' secretary takes a vacation. What I really need to do is pack! Dick and I fly to Australia on Saturday and I don't have the first thing in the suitcase yet, but at least it is out of storage and will get worked on tonight. We have that job and contents down to a pretty fine science.

What and where you ask? I know you did. We begin with an 11-night Barrier Reef cruise out of Sidney. After that, we fly to Auckland, New Zealand, for a 14-night cruise all around NZ and end up back in Sydney, and then we fly home. Won't that be fun? We've never been "Down Under," so we are VERY excited about this trip, other than the looong flights to and from. That'll be the pits, but it'll be sooo worth it.

Anybody been there? Any bloggers there??? Let me know...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy birthday, Empress Bee!!!

All together now..
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday, dear Beeee!
Happy birthday to you!!!!!!!!!

And I even baked a cake just for you...anyone ready for a slice?Y'all go over and wish Bee a happy day! She deserves it. Big hugs, honey. May you enjoy many, many more birthdays!!!

UPDATE--NEWS FLASH----I just called Bee (9:20a) to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her that I have tried on TWO puters to comment on her site. That part of her site is broken at the moment, so keep checking back to leave her a comment.

OK, so y'all did vote already, right? My friend Judy said that the political ads won't be over today--they'll simply begin ads for 2012! Oh noooooooo...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dr. 90210 and his trophy wife...

Check out Dr. 90210 and his young 'trophy' wife...enhanced a bit here and there...

Now that's a set of lips! Amy's big expense was the fake eyelashes...and maybe a whole tube of lipstick! Brian wants to know if you had a coupon for the eyelashes (she is the coupon queen!).
Grumps and I kept the wee one overnight. He woke us up at 4a, but took a bottle and went on back to sleep. He was a mighty good fella...Doodlebug stayed at his other grandmother's house. I share:-)

Camo and tie-dye...what a combination! You can sorta see the black pumpkin painted on his chest. Amy and Haley had fun doing these shirts last week for all four kids. Gotta get a pic of them together.
Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cemetery duty...All Soul's Day

I don't know if this story is true or not, but it is very much worth reading...

I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey's. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655. Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day. Full dress was hot in the August sun. Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever--the heat and humidity at the same level--both too high. I saw the car pull into the drive, '69 or '70 model Cadillac Deville, looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking lot at a snail's pace. An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed. She had a cane and a sheaf of flowers--about four or five bunches as best I could tell.

I couldn't help myself. The thought came unwanted, and left a slightly bitter taste: 'She's going to spend an hour, and for this old soldier, my hip hurts like hell and I'm ready to get out of here right now!' But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in. Kevin would lock the 'In' gate, and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make it to Smokey's in time. I broke post attention. My hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real military sight: middle-aged man with a small pot gut and half a limp, in marine full-dress uniform, which had lost its razor crease about thirty minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery. I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman's squint. 'Ma'am, may I assist you in any way?' She took long enough to answer. 'Yes, son. Can you carry these flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.'' My pleasure, ma'am.' Well, it wasn't too much of a lie. She looked again. "Marine, where were you stationed?'' "Vietnam, ma'am. Ground-pounder. '69 to '71."

She looked at me closer. 'Wounded in action, I see. Well done, marine. I'll be as quick as I can.' I lied a little bigger: 'No hurry, ma'am.' She smiled and winked at me. "Son, I'm 85 years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. Let's get this done. Might be the last time I can do this. My name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few marines I'd like to see one more time.''
"Yes, ma'am. At your service." She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the flowers out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918. She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek. She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X. Davidson, USM C, 1943. She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944. She paused for a second. 'Two more, son, and we'll be done.' I almost didn't say anything, but, 'Yes, ma'am. Take your time.' She looked confused. 'Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way.' I pointed with my chin. 'That way, ma'am.'

'Oh!' she chuckled quietly. 'Son, me and old age ain't too friendly.' She headed down the walk I'd pointed at. She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She placed a bunch on Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968, and the last on Darrel Wieserman, USMC, 1970. She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn't make out. "OK, son, I'm finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home."
''Yes, ma'am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?" She paused. 'Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephen was my uncle, Stanley was my husband, Larry and Darrel were our sons. All killed in action, all marines.' She stopped. Whether she had finished, or couldn't finish, I don't know. She made her way to her car, slowly and painfully. I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin, waiting by the car. 'Get to the 'Out' gate quick. I have something I've got to do.'

Kevin started to say something, but saw the look I gave him. He broke the rules to get us there down the service road. We beat her. She hadn't made it around the rotunda yet. 'Kevin, stand at attention next to the gatepost. Follow my lead.' I humped it across the drive to the other post.

When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny's voice: 'TehenHut! Present Haaaarms!'

I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye--full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud. She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice. I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac. Instead of 'The End,' just think of 'Taps.' As a final thought on my part, let me share a favorite prayer: 'Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home or overseas. Hold them in your loving hands and protect them as they protect us.'
Let's all keep those currently serving and those who have gone before in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy. 'In God We Trust.' If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under!

And may God bless all those saints above...especially remembering my Mother and Marj today.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween cutie pies...

You just knew there'd be pictures, right? Here is Smoky the Bear Cub on the L, and the Park Junior Ranger on the R...Posing with mom and dad...
And the two big girls...
Miss M shared her cap with Grumps...looks cuter on her though.Trick or treating on the square in downtown Mayberry...Haley got the bear cub for as her treat!
Everyone had a good time. Grumps and I went to dinner at Jim and Janet's house...yummmm
How did you celebrate Halloween???