Errands

I went out today. Doesn’t seem like much does it?

Prior to the pandemic, I went somewhere, did something every day. Whether it was to San Francisco to class, to Cal more of the same, visiting kids, running errands.

Then with the pandemic, going almost nowhere. And, for me, since I was not exactly living alone it wasn’t as much of a burden as it was for many other people.  When 2021 rolled around and vaccines became available, I started “working” in Alameda County’s clinics 1-3 days a week.

But perhaps all those days on deployment where I never went outside the wire, or all those sea days on ships left me well able to cope with “going nowhere” since I certainly wasn’t “doing nothing.”

So after arriving here in Labrador, I didn’t go outside the ship/oops building for a couple of days. But today it was a trip to New South Wales (less than an hour south) so that Jill could drop off three stitched pieces for framing, and Spotlight (kind of a combination of Bed/Bath&Beyond & JoAnns in the US) and Aldi (yes, Aldi is here too) where I bought chocolate.

And then it was back to the fine views looking east at the Pacific Ocean.

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One hassle fixed

First – yes, I did get the issues with USAA resolved. But it took turning on my phone, accepting the AT&T charge and having to spend time wading through the automated menus, speaking with a poor woman in Texas in the middle of her night shift, and explaining that the world doesn’t live on smartphones.  Frankly it feels like a decade or so ago when I made a trip to the US and needed to get to a hotel from the airport.

Anyone else old enough to remember those banks of hotel information right outside baggage claim with the ugly plastic handset attached? The one where you could make courtesy calls so that the hotel van would come and rescue you? That trip, those facilities were absent. A lovely person at the Information Desk let me use their phone to call after explaining that I had just arrived from overseas and didn’t have US dialing access on my phone.  Today – even if you can txt or call the hotel – they rarely have courtesy pick-ups. Uber & Lyft have taken that expense off their bottom line.

Never mind…. Since the card issues were resolved, I finished making my arrangements for the Adelaide->Lisbon leg of the trip in between spending time on the Halloween Countdown.

The end might just be in sight… or not. I certainly would like to have it done…

 

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Not fun

Remember in the “old” days – let us say about five years ago – when you had a bank/credit card problem and you were unable to call you could send them a message? And a real, live human being would get back to you?

Those days are long gone. There is now the basic assumption that EVERYONE has a smartphone, easy access to the internet AND that they can send/receive text messages. And phone, let us not forget about the phone. My bank even used to have a number that those overseas could call collect.

No more. The AI chat is worthless. You can’t send a message from either the app or the webpage.

Why am I complaining? I am in Australia. For whatever reason, after being away from home for about a month, my travel notification (note – no actual travel locations were requested or could be provided)) fell out of the system. The obvious follow up is that my credit card is dead. The only way I can get it re-established is to call the bank. Remember what I said about having a phone? And using VOIP doesn’t work because they want to TEXT you a code before letting you out of the automated system.

Ugly, ugly do-loop. I have my phone on airplane mode because obviously I can call home over the internet and get messages over iMessage (as long as the other person has iOS of some kind) or WhatsApp. So now I get to turn on my phone and pay the piper…

Stitching, even clowns, is better.

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Schlange

(snake, queue, Stau etc)

It was an adventure getting off the ship this morning. I can’t even start to imagine what it would be like if the ship was full. We came into Brisbane right on time.

that is our pier – all those blue ramp looking things are the enclosed walkways which will get us from the ship to the arrivals hall. If you click on the picture (on the blog) you will get a larger version which just might be easier to see.

After breakfast in the dining room, we hung out till just after 0800. From the ship to the arrivals hall was apparently about 400 meters according to one of the guides. I have no reason to doubt the information. That portion of the trip – as part of a long, long, long line of people took about 40 minutes. It seemed that about half the ship was attempting “self-assist” walk off for whatever reason. Among those passengers obviously were those too old, too infirm, too much luggage to safely handle; or pick D) more than one of the above ….

the upshot was that once we entered the arrivals hall and had to clear immigration – there were those having a really tough time.  Instead of a straight shot, we wove through eight (count ’em – 8) lengths of the hall between those wonderful post/band things that are beloved of airport security everywhere. Remember I mentioned that there were those with luggage issues? I counted three serious crashes during my 15 minutes of being herded back and forth. 

Immigration itself was a breeze. Hand over your passport, show your face, wait for the computer to verify that YES, you have completed the electronic visa and paid your fee. Move on to the baggage hall, collect luggage and then take a rest break before the next bit of adventure. 

Rarely seen during the cruise – the ship’s Captain was actually in the outside area. Why? Well, as it turns out, this is the first time that the Quantum of the Seas has docked in Brisbane. For that matter, it may well be the first time the ship has been in Australia. 

The port presents a plaque to the ship on its initial visit to the port. The Captain in return provides a plaque to the port in recognition of the day. I am thinking this may not be an infrequent occurrence for the first few cruises. 

From there it was maneuver through the crowds to get to the ride share location. Jill had pre-booked an Uber which turned out to be an excellent idea. The taxi line was still several hundred people long at the point where we loaded and left. 

it is early in the evening but I am really tired and going to sleep early I think…. 

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Witches & Wizards & Skeletons

It is Halloween. (Local Time is 2000) There are a few dressed up, some decorated doors, and a party planned for late tonight.  As you can probably guess, I am not going to stay up for it.  There is also the slight matter of packing since we disembark tomorrow.

I ran into the Witch & Wizard (Warlock? – he wasn’t sure and deferred to his wife) at dinner.  They had picked up costumes in Hawaii just to be able to do something for Halloween. I have shared several of the decorated doors before.

But the best was the slightly older than 2 young man running around in a black pajamas featuring a glow in the dark skeleton. He was excited to be out with his mum handing OUT candy. She was dressed like a scarecrow complete with turnip head and toted a rather large plastic pumpkin full of lollypops.

I am off to toss my last couple of things in a duffle and head to bed.

Oh – I finished the Funky Peacock….

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Play that funky music

through your headphones please!

What is it with people anyway? WHY do they obliviously noise pollute public areas? Tomorrow is the last sea day prior to the end of the cruise. The only thing I can think of is that everyone is trying desperately to get in their last bit of “FUN” prior to departing the ship. 

We gave up sitting in our lovely cozy spot on Deck 14. I headed back to the cabin for an afternoon of some stitching and attempting to not snooze so that perhaps I can sleep tonight? 

But the Haunted Library is complete –

 with a closer look at Mary Shelley writing a monster who creates a monster.

 

Which means that something really simple was in order. Meet Funky Peacock by MarroomyDesigns (who I found on Gumroad). This one loads in PK as does the crab. Neither the Hen nor the Camel work, so when I get there… stitched on a bit of opal 16 count from Fortnight Fabrics

 

Packing – ugh….

(and my “real time” is late evening on the 30th….)

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Waited too long

(Just for clarity –  I am at GMT + 11 and my server, located in California is GMT – 7)

It was lovely this morning as we sailed into Noumea, New Caledonia. Earlier we passed a number of smaller islands including a number sporting various industrial facilities. The actual pier where we docked is large and located in an obvious commercial shipping port. From my balcony I could have easily spent the morning watching cranes, forklifts, container lifts, and trucks going about their business.

My attempt to join my monthly Zoom “Fancy Folk” cross stitch group lasted through about the first five minutes. Once there were more than five on the call, apparently the bandwidth went beyond what the system here was willing to support and I was bumped off and not able to reconnect.

I seriously thought about taking the free shuttle bus to town or walking to town but decided to wait till after lunch. This turned out to be a major mistake. The clouds rolled in followed by first a mist, then a rain which continued with added thunder, just in case I didn’t get the idea.

So after chatting with a French colleague (currently on vacation in Japan) for barely a couple of minutes before the  internet failed again. We never had a chance to get to the business portion of the discussion. I went back to stitching. The last section of The Haunted Library by Lola Crow arrived in my inbox this morning. It is fun – Mary Shelley writing …..

 

It was still raining when we headed back out to sea

which made for interesting looking ships, lights, skies, and reflections.

We have just tomorrow and Monday left at sea before docking on Tuesday.

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Across the DateLine

And here I am, on the other side of the dateline from just about all of you. So for me it is evening on the 28th (Friday @ 1848). I find that it is better that I just don’t do time conversions and just follow the clocks, my phones, and accept that I will be watching some webinars at weird times.

It was also obvious that the RCCL app is not equipped to handle a dateline change, since it kept insisting that today was Day 15 and everything (as in any place to eat) was closed and would reopen tomorrow morning. Ok – I haven’t been doing anything useful with the app anyway.

I have been working on the Halloween Countdown

and the Halloween Decorations are starting to appear on cabin doors…

 

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Two hour day

Perhaps, if you are from the US, you remember the old TV show Gilligan’s Island?  It was the silly (not reality) show where some passengers and a couple of crew went off for a “Three Hour Tour” and got stranded on an island. Some where, some how. Roy Zimmerman did a fabulous take-off of it ( link here – it is political so up to you).

Well, we sailed across the International Dateline. Not being completely clueless (altho it is obvious that a large number of the passengers on this ship are….) the ship is changing both time and date at 0200 in the morning.  That means that I get exactly two hours of 27 Oct 2022 before the day vanishes into my past.  I will gradually get the hours back as I travel west, but at an occasional hour a day I am never going to notice the return of my lost hours.

I need  sleep……

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Door Chicken

Remember what I said about the vast majority of passengers on this ship coming from Australia & New Zealand? 

Now, think about cars and driving rules/ Got it? Now expand that to walking, stairs, and going through doors. North Americans (and all Europeans outside of the UK which doesn’t really amount for much now that it has exited the EU) drive on the right. People walk on the right, passing is done on the left. In an emergency, one veers right.  Drop this smaller but not insignificant number of persons on a ship where the majority of people drive on the left, walk on the left and veer left when confronted with an emergency.

Or someone in their direct path – which puts both on-coming people on a direct collision path.  

I have been watching this phenomenon since Hawaii and it became obvious. So I now walk down the left side of the stairs. I head through the middle of sliding doors and let the other person go first. If they duck one way, I go the other…

and tonight we travel back another hour (and I think jump ahead a day if this is when we are crossing the International Dateline.  So my – 6 hours from Pacific Daylight time turns into being 18 hours ahead. In reality – it means that I am still going to be watching some of my continuing education programs at 00Dark 30 in the morning – it will just be on a different date. Sucks…

But it is also how I found out that there are green lighting strips in the halls that only shine at night

The Mini-Haunting SAL is complete except for the backstitching.

and Dreaming of Butterflies

is also complete.

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The final hour

Well, as of 0200 the ship made the final time zone change on this side of the International Date Line. I promptly ran into the obvious problem – no way to set my phone etc. The result was spending the day “an hour ahead” of everyone else.

It was weird – having to mentally adjust the observed time to the “real” ship’s time whenever I thought about doing something. The reason was clear – If I wanted to attempt a couple of webinars (on PDT) I needed to have ” real” time I could track. Also – frankly – having my brain engaged at 0630 seemed more rational than at 0530. Can hardly wait till we go across the dateline and I am operating on a different date than California.  Not.

On the  map – you can see we are sailing toward Australia – at the bottom – you can see the UTC – 12

a close up with a few more islands – none of them visible. As we transited into slightly “shallower” waters – the seas didn’t get any smoother.

So, after frogging 250+ stitches out of Dreaming Girl – I restarted butterflies

and finished the third ghost in the Mini-Haunting SAL – so I just need to finish the border. Oh yes, and the backstitching…

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Flipping the clock back

Or turning it back, or having another time zone change. 

Whatever. There were three hours change from the North American west coast to Hawaii. This morning we had another change of an hour to put us on the same time as Pago Pago in American Samoa. Tomorrow morning we will do it again taking us to GMT – 12. This particular time zone creates a bit of a challenge. There isn’t anyone who lives there – so attempting to look it up on a smart phone doesn’t work. The two islands – Baker & Howland  aren’t inhabited by Homo sapiens. 

I can throughly understand why the ship doesn’t want to change two hours at once, There is enough confusion as it is. Of note – some of the confusion could be decreased if whomever controls the electronic wayfarer boards around the ship was a bit more prompt in keeping them on time. Not changing them till 0600 (back to 0500) creates a lot of confusion. and irritation among those who are up early.

BTW – the above discussion isn’t academic for me – I have some CME Zoom’s every Tuesday. Do I stay on the old time zone so that I know when to log in? Or do I attempt to stay on the ship’s time while mentally tracking the old time? ARGH!

The seas have been a bit rougher today. Nothing terribly major, but enough that the rock & roll is easy to feel.  It has been enough that I have heard complaints, whines, and discussions about which sea sickness meds work the best. 

 

 

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The Laundry Challenge

 

There are those things, mostly daily household chores, which go away when you sail on any ship that owned/operated by someone else. So I am not speaking about family sailboats, houseboats, or any of the ‘work for a living” type of ocean travel. And yes, I do mean to exclude you Navy types – your experience is not exactly the same as a cruise ship passenger. I don’t have to cook, clean, do dishes, vacuum, shop, etc. Not having those chores can free up an amazing amount of time.  (Ok, to be fair, there are a number of things on that list that I don’t do at home either. Just saying…)

But anyway – I am not including laundry on the list for a number of reasons.  First – if a trip doesn’t exceed your suitcase space, laundry isn’t an issue. Second, if you don’t mind paying a lot, you don’t have to worry about laundry. Third, if free laundry is included – also not a problem. Fourth – if hand washing is a favorite thing, then there really isn’t a problem either.  Five – and this seems to apply to significant number of passengers – if you spend all day everyday in your swim suit there really isn’t much need for laundry. 

All of this takes me to the last option. On this particular cruise line, I get one bag of “wash & fold” per cruise. The plastic bag isn’t all that big, but it is better than a flimsy paper bag. I have also gotten extremely good at rolling, stuffing, and smashing down. How else would I mange 4 shirts, five pairs of long pants, six support tanks, socks and more than a week’s worth of underwear leaving enough room at the top of the top of the bag to tie it shut.  Hint, you don’t pick it up by the top of the bag.  Then there is the challenge of filling out the laundry slip which seems to cover swimsuits, pjs, underwear, shorts, socks, t-shirts….

 Timing is also everything – managing so that I will be ok till the end of the cruise without too much hand washing. The last is important since there is NO clothes line in the bathroom.. None, nada, nothing other than hanging things over the shower door. It is humid. So even if we were in a port, drying something on the balcony isn’t an option. Moving? Eh, I am not interested in either littering the ocean or watching clothing blow away.

Thinking about it – reading books, talking to friends, drinking coffee, and stitching are all MUCH more interesting. 

Part 3/4 of the Happy Haunting mini-SAL. Still need to complete all the backstitching.

and obviously, this is another Barbara Ana – dreaming of Butterflies started today (because I really didn’t want to work on the Halloween Countdown)

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Not worth an hour

Our “port” today is Raiatea, Society Islands. With a population of around 12000, it has beaches, agriculture, tourism, and a small airport. (that small bit of very flat land right along the shore between the beach and the mountain.)

Again this was a tender port – at least for a ship this size. We were warned ahead of time that the tender ride was about 25 minutes each way.

It was interesting to check a couple of the cruise port tracking sites. All of them listed the two Windstar Ships which come through once a week, of which the Wind Spirit was in port today. It must have been around the island in the same direction as the tenders headed toward because we certainly couldn’t see anything larger than jet skis, some sailing vessels and the usual annoying speed boat.  Of interest – our ship was not listed as stopping here on any of the sites OTOH, this was a fairly late addition when one of the islands nearer Australia wasn’t interested in having a large ship dock.

I thought about it for a vanishingly small number of seconds. Deal with the tender, hang out in a crowd – many of whom don’t wear masks, for about half an hour, wander around for a few minutes, stand in line for an equally long ride back. I took the ship on the water photos yesterday. I might like to see the Wind Spirit (we sailed on her in 2009) but it simply wasn’t worth the investment of time.

Instead – I stitched the Ogre…

and put some time into the frame as well….

 

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Just to take a photo

After spending the morning listening to an interesting lecture sponsored by the BioEthics Department of U of MN and stitching, I joined my friends on deck 14. But there were no whales today. There were also remarkably fewer bar staff circulating and the drunks were absent. As we were still at anchor, I figured it all had to do with the call of beaches…

After thinking about it for…. oh let us say less than five minutes.. I decided to wander down to Deck 2 and catch one of the tenders to shore. Less than ½ full, I enjoyed both the lack and crowding and the smooth seas. On approach to the pier, it was rapidly apparent that there was a long, long, long line of people ready to head back to the ship. In fact, the end of the line was off the pier and around a bend.

Get off? Stand in line for an hour? Nope, not me.

As soon as everyone else had exited the tender, I just smiled at the guys and said I had ridden over to get a picture of the ship. Ok, no problem. Changing locations on the tender, I happily found a seat on the best side for viewing and right next to the cable across the open door. I watched them start to load; surprisingly, there were only about 25 on board when they stopped the line. Ok – not crowded, this is also good.

Obviously, I got my photo.

A bit latet I also managed a photo from my balcony of the last tender being hauled up so that we could get under way (less than 150 km to travel tonight).

which leave me to the elevator photo …

(never mind – photos to be added at 0 insane O’Clock when there is enough band width.

It also means that you don’t get to see Part 9 of the Haunted Library SAL for a day or so. It features the Ghost of books unread… That TBR pile that has grown and taken over….

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Whales and Mountains

Rather than force you to look back at the schedule I included when this leg of the cruise began on the 13th, I will just tell you that we are in Moorea, Society Islands. More accurately, this is Mo’orea of the Windward Islands which are part of the Society Islands. It obviously (at less than 20km from Tahiti ) didn’t take long for the ship to relocate last night.

(Map liberated from Wiki)

It is a tender port, which is why I was hanging out relaxing in my cabin after listening to USCF’s GrandRounds.  I had looked out at the lovely island (Been here before, went sailing, snorkeling, and playing with sea life back in 2013)

I was contemplating putting on a mask and heading up to deck 14. Then I got a text. Whales.

What?

Yes, Whales. Apparently a mom and her calf were checking out the ship. According to various sources – this is an area for humpbacks between July and Nov.

and we all had a great time watching. Phone photos from higher decks aren’t as good as those from lower and decent cameras but still …

and then there is the island itself –

 

 

 

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French Polynesia

What we forget, in our constant bashing of the UK as a former Colonial Power and the strangler of the Commonwealth – is that France is still a colonial power. It owns islands in the Caribbean plus (according to Wiki) over 121 other islands.  It is interesting reading. It is an account, after the spread by water across the Pacific, of a series of European explorers, adventurers, mappers, and exploiters successively claiming various islands in the name of their sovereign/sponsor.  What then follows is more than 400 years of arguments, fighting, government changes, political games – all interrupted by a major war or two. 

We docked today at Papeete – the largest city in the archipelago. According to Wiki – the population is about 135k. As a comparison – both Berkeley and Heidelberg have more population.  The city is located on Tahiti which is also the most populated island. As was obviously by the amount of land and shore devoted to shipping, ocean transport is key to the populations survival. 

I was actually surprised at how little grumbling I head about masking requirements.  In fact there are a significant number of passengers making at least a token effort to wear masks on an ongoing basis. Anyway…

a significant portion of where we were docked was devoted to shipping, extensions of docks, and more extensions full of containers as well as ferries and the occasional fancy ship. Paul Gauguin comes to mind as well as Windstar (which was not in port with us today. 

 

there is active construction

 

as well as a harbor full of fancy sailboats, a couple of rather significant fancy vessels for charter. Looking up into the hills , I watched as the rain rolled in.

 

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Another Dinner

Apparently the idea of a special dinner for the “Pinnacles” was so well received last cruise, they decided to do it again this cr-19Ouise. The date picked was today, again in the Solarium Bistro at 1830. The menu was essentially the same. Being a more difficult person, I elected for a vegetarian alternative to the Surf & Turf. Last time there was just too much food.

It turned out that my alternative didn’t slow down anyone on the volume of food. My salad was fine. The mushroom soup was excellent. My pasta was the perfect texture, the sauce was fine but on the salty side. The amount? It could have fed a starving teenager. Sabrina, sitting next to me, ordered the halibut but otherwise also joined me on the soup, salad, and berries for dessert.

I escaped about 2045 as there was a broadcast out of the Asian Pacific Travel Medicine community starting at 2100 (my time as apposed to 1400 – 19 Oct in Bangkok. (JEV, Zika, MPox).  Otherwise my day was quiet, I attempted to catch up on my sleep …

Skipping the photos today! Tomorrow we arrive in French Polynesia and tenders to shore).

 

 

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Cheers with an officer

Which, prior to the pandemic, was RCCL’s “Meal with an Officer” This particular benefit kicked in at about 350 cruise points, if I am remembering correctly. It would include a table of passengers with tan officer at each. Often this was a “learning experience” for the new one-stripe officers providing them a chance to interact with passengers. According to several with whom I spoke, it was not exactly a volunteer experience. Good ships provided a special menu. Not smart ships (Independence of the Seas comes to mind) just handed those so invited the regular luncheon menu. And somehow the staff on that particular ship were stunned with a number of the senior cruisers took a hike..

But anyway – since the Pandemic, by and large the senior staff will interact with passengers but don’t sit down to a meal with them. That dinner I attended last cruise was a complete exception. Now apparently the event is just called Cheers with Officers. The poor loyalty ambassador got to do the welcome, then the staff introduced themselves followed by a toast. The officers all left. We ate.

Besides a lovely mushroom soup – I elected for the salmon –

 

Finished the Stitchy Witch –

 

and I think I may have found all of the elevator critters…

 

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Ignoring Neptune

About 1600 today, we headed south across the Equator. It actually could have been a bit earlier, or perhaps later – I wasn’t paying any attention. As seems to be a tradition shared among the cruise shops and perhaps other ships – there was a ceremony held at the pool to induct the new “members” into the court of Neptune. I seem to vaguely remember seeing this on one transAtlantic (MSC in 2007) and my two previous transpacific cruises.  I had no interest in large crowds. Mer/whomever costumes or people getting dunked in the pool. Long story to explain why there are no pictures here..

Instead – since we headed back to the Solarium Bistro for supper – you will get food pictures…

There were the salads –


all the choices of which

I made a selection

watermelon with balsamic vinaigrette, mint and feta

The vegetables

The fish

And desert.

The portions are all small – so there exists the possibility of trying multiple things.

Otherwise – I finished The Harpy

And made a significant dent in what remains to be completed in Stitchy Witch, which I will save till tomorrow in favor of another elevator pix.

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