Friday, March 12, 2010

Now all I have to do is survive the rest of the workday...

We are packed.  The luggage is in Arizona, making its way overland to the port.  I have made my list, checked it so many times the print has worn off, and we have everything we need (unless I forgot to put it on the list).  The house is closed up, doors locked, trash taken out, dishwasher run and emptied, disposal run (don't ever forget that one, or you really won't want to come home!), the mail and paper stopped, the cat sitter engaged, and the dogs off visiting their grandparents.  I got the lights set up on timers and a radio set to come on occasionally.  The kitchen sink and counters are clean.  I have checked in for my (corrected) flight.  There is gas in my car so I can drive to the airport.  I have removed dangerous liquids and pointed objects from my carryon - including a toothpick I found in one of the pockets that I can't explain.  I have my sandals and hairbrush and iPod and sunglasses and passport, and a few spare chargers for things.
I think we're ready to go.  I certainly hope so, because after all that, I'm kind of tired!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If you want to read some real travel writing

Always compelling, sometimes funny, sometimes tear inducing - and always humbling for me.  Start here, and hit "Next" until it no longer works.  As of today, this is a work in progress.

Monday, March 08, 2010

4 or 5 days to go

One of the useful skills I picked up in the Navy Supply Corps was the ability to calculate inclusive dates.  So if you need to know how many days it is from March 8th through the 13th, I can work that out for you with variations depending on whether both the 8th and the 13th are to be counted or omitted or only one of them, etc.  The problem comes in knowing when to pick one option over others.
Anyway, it's 10 am (Denver time) on March 8th, give or take a few minutes.  We can get onboard around noon (San Diego time) on March 13th.  Strictly speaking, that's 5 days and about 3 hours from now.  But do we start the official "Vacation" when my flight leaves?  When my husband starts to drive out?  When he and my daughter leave Phoenix?  When we all reunite in San Diego?  If we pick my husband's drive as the start, we're under 3 days already.
We've assembled more stuff in the guest room with the suitcase, for what that's worth.  Note that preposition, though; it's crucial.  "With", not "in".  We really need to make that transition tonight, I guess, for most stuff - especially since the suitcase is on the brink of becoming plural, depending on shoes (it's always the shoes!).
This time next week, I plan to be "reading" (more likely, napping with a book) in a deck chair in the sun somewhere - unless there's a cooking class or wine tasting going on.  Well, there's a thought to hold work at bay for a while....

Friday, March 05, 2010

They're not doing dance, they're doing Meteorology

Cruises are educational.  I'm not even on ours yet (I'll be leaving for the airport in just a little over one week from this instant) and I learned something today, precisely because we are going on a cruise soon.
What I learned was, in the Pacific off the coast of Baja California, winds coming out of the northwest are pretty standard, not some anomaly produced only when blizzards are sweeping across the Sierras to the Rockies.  I was hoping that would not be the case, but it's true. 
When we went on our previous Mexican Riviera cruise, the final "fun day at sea" (whatever Princess might term such a thing) was decidedly less than fun, because of 37-knot winds coming out of the northwest, churning up 10-12 foot seas and making the ship move in ways that didn't exactly upset my stomach, but made moving from place to place just bizarrely difficult.  Dangerous too, if the rumors of broken bones and smashed artwork are to be believed.  And at the end of that cruise, I believe I even declared that I'd had enough of going to sea for a while (it didn't last all that long, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I said it out loud).
Given our geographic constraints and my husbands very very (very) strong preference to avoid flying for any reason whatsoever (and he is not kidding), our cruise options are limited by the amount of vacation we can take at any given time.  If the absence can't be long enough to include driving to a port and back, we just don't go there.  So for this coming trip, we were always looking at a California-based port of embarkation. And this time of year, that probably meant LA to Hawaii (but not round trip, so that's out, because you can't drive back from Honolulu) or LA/San Diego to the west coast of Mexico somewhere.  On the way back, we head right into the prevailing winds, unless (according to the websites I found) there is a cold front positioned exactly in the right spot to calm everything down.
Probably not 37-knot winds this time; it sounds like they stay closer to 20 knots on a routine basis.  And maybe that will keep the Oosterdam from doing the shimmy-shimmy-shimmy-shimmy, SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! motion that the Diamond Princess produced the last time we headed north in that area.  I hope so.  I really do not want to waste a vacation day watching Alfred Hitchcock movies in the stateroom because I can't predict whether the next move is a shimmy or a SLAM.  (I blame the stabilizers for the motion, by the way, and I would advocate pulling them in or turning them off or whatever when heading into the waves - it just felt so unnatural that I kept thinking I could have handled the unstabilized motion much more easily.)
I'm not going to worry about it, though.  If we hit rough seas this trip, I'll find a sheltered topside location to sit in and spend my day watching them - not TV documentaries.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

... and 3-4 clothespins

A lot of the web-based packing lists for cruising include clothespins.  They have multiple uses - if you need to do a quick swish of the skivvies in Woolite, a la Rick Steves, they can anchor the results to that laundry line that pulls out from the wall.  They could serve as skirt clips if the hangers don't have anything like that.  And they can weigh down the shower curtain to keep the water confined to the shower.  We've actually used them a lot on previous cruises.
So why can't I find them anywhere this time?  Have we maybe been donating them to each ship as we leave?  During my adult life, I know that I have purchased at least two packages of the french-style wire clothespins.  We don't just use them for cruises; they're also pretty handy to close the top of an open bag of chips.  But when I started packing on Sunday and went around the house to gather them up, I found exactly two of them.  Only enough to hold down the shower curtain - not enough for our needs. 
They don't appear to be for sale just now anywhere - Target's Dollar Spot would be the most likely place, but I didn't see any there.  So I'm substituting the wooden ones this trip.  I have a fresh package of those that I found in Phoenix a while back and flew home in my carryon bag.  I actually saw them on the TSA x-ray image, and I can't imagine what they made of them - but they let me on the plane with them and we can use them now.
They'll go in the car with my husband, though.  We need them on the ship and I don't want to be forced to mail them home from the airport.

Monday, March 01, 2010

We're packing...

Got the suitcase (yes, that's singluar - so far, anyway) down this weekend and started getting things together.  I found my slight-overkill packing list from our last cruise, and am using it for reference anyway.  It's quite amazing how little you need on a cruise once you abandon the thought of dressing for dinner.  Barring underwear, my stack of clothes is less than a foot high - and that's everything on my list!
I had to back myself off a good bit while putting together the first-aid kit, though.  We had the remains of several first aid kits in the medicine cabinet, and I started to combine them.  However, once I found myself stuffing in the latex gloves and gauze rolls and the mylar heat-retaining blanket, I came to my senses.  Cruise ships have a medical staff, and if we're dealing with hypothermia or a wound big enough to require a roll of gauze, I think they're going to be involved - and they bring their own supplies.  So it's whittled down to fit in a small ziploc bag (of course the ziplocs are coming with us).
I think, perhaps, that there is no experience more demoralizing for a middle-aged woman who is not still in training for the Olympics, than trying to find a flattering swimsuit.  I have been duly demoralized this weekend.  Almost to the point of looking for a bathing suit from the turn of the previous century - one of those ones with a high neck, leggings and a calf-length skirt.  I can say with absolute authority now that the world does not need to see me in a tankini or in a string bikini or halter top - ever.  After a few failed attempts to try on something that looked potentially un-frightening, I gave up and added my old workout Speedo to my stack of clothes.  It's not particularly flattering, either, but it's a workout suit, and isn't supposed to be glamorous.
Then we ended up at Costco yesterday - being a weekend and all, we are required to go to Costco at least once, I think.  And they had women's swimsuits for sale there at a reasonable price.  No opportunity to try them on, and they came in recognizable women's clothing sizes.  I found one that looked reasonable - not utterly glamorous, but not utilitarian either - and bought it.  It looks okay.  People will not run screaming from me if I appear in public wearing it. 
But seriously, after that experience, I'm eating salads and soups for lunch and dinner for the next 2 weeks.  No exceptions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Update on my missing reservation

I am an idiot.
At least, I was apparently an idiot on January 21st of this year.  I finally got hold of a live human at the airline so that I could have them find my missing airline reservation for the cruise.  I gave him my credit card number - no joy.  I gave him my confirmation number and name, and he found the reservation just fine on his system.  Yep, absolutely perfect.  A reservation for a flight leaving Denver and flying to San Diego around 6:00 pm on Friday the 12th.
Of February. 
I booked the wrong month and - obviously - missed the flight altogether.
The customer service rep was very gracious, and the airline had held my reservation as unused credit, so I was able to apply it toward the correct flight on March 12th.  Granted, I had to provide some additional cash to get on the new flight, since the cheapo fares had long since been exhausted, but I have a seat and the additional cash is a reasonable price to pay for idiocy.
I don't know what made me try to do the early checkin the other day, but I am incredibly glad that I did it - just think what might have happened if the first time I tried to pull that reservation was 24 hours before the flight! 

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