Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011

The sea swells are coming from the side today so the ship is rolling a bit more than the last two days. Skies are partly cloudy and I can see rains squalls in the distance. We’re about 500 miles west of Ensenada, traveling at 19 knots. My nose is plugged up more as the cold runs its course. Started reading Deception Point by Dan Brown. Hard to put down. Just kind of lounging around today. There’s a backstage tour this afternoon and I want to see the Orange Bowl. I’ll be rooting for Stanford. I’m not that interested in the evening show, so I’ll got to the theater and watch “The Expendables”. Finally, Happy Birthday Bobby!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011

Another full day at sea – we’re about halfway between Hawaii and Ensenada with mostly sunny skies and fairly smooth seas. Former ambassador Mark Ginsberg’s talk about Wikileaks – very interesting stuff. In the evening we again were entertained by Jimmy Travis. He is a lot funnier than whe we first saw him in 2006. My cold still hasn’t changed much, but being plugged up at sea isn’t much fun. Finished off the book Jawbreaker by Gary Berntsen. Very good read about the whole Tora Bora situation in Afghanistan. Thank you Jon for getting it for me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! I awoke feeling a bit better than yesterday. Breakfast was very sparsely attended due to the New Year’s Eve party. I guess the night club went on until after 3am. My plan last night was to do laundry and I guessed right – we had the place to ourselves.

Claudia had a morning and afternoon music teaching session. Lunch was another big buffet – for me I had prime rib, lobster, salmon, snapper, beets, artichokes, a couple of cold salads, and a brownie to top it all off.
More activities aboard ship today and smooth sailing. Watched the Rose Bowl (TCU vs Wisconsin) on the big screen in the night club. I was one of three people rooting for TCU. Great game and a win. Now the Big-10 is 0-4 in bowl games. Remember I am a USC / PAC-10 fan, so that’s where my allegiance remains.

After dinner, there was Liar’s Club – two of the shipboard entertainers and the Rabii (one of three clergymen aboard the cruise) defined very obscure words and the audience teams had to guess who was lying. The entertainers were Jimmy Travis, a comedian/singer from Nashville, and Mark Merchant, the ventriloquist. Lots of laughs and the most guests I have seen at one time on the ship – standing room only.
The worst news is we have to set the clocks forward as we will be back on Pacific time tomorrow.

Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010

Another day of pretty clear weather, and one of inactivity for me as I have started to come down with a cold. Lots of liquid, a nap in the morning, watched a movie in the stateroom, off to lunch (great roast beef sandwich!!), and had a chance to talk to the ventriloquist on board for some of the entertainment. We talked for probably 15 minutes, so it was interesting to understand how he’ll do a performance. 
He uses an outline and he has a number of jokes from his life experiences that he can insert depending on the audience and how well things are going. He has a surprise character for tonight’s New Years Eve party. I wish I felt better because I would have liked to see it, but I have decided because of my cold, not to attend. Also, I am not in the mood for dressing up as tonight is one of the “formal” nights on the ship. Seeing in the new year has not been a high priority for me for as long as I can remember anyway. I’d just as soon go to bed early. 
What I am planning is to do laundry when the others are celebrating – I’m hoping I am the only one with this brilliant idea… No pictures today.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010

Last night, during our transit to the Big Island, our captain informed us that we were making a brief detour to Honolulu for a medical emergency, so I got to see the skyline at night. We had to anchor a few miles offshore – it was easier and quicker to off-load and transport the individual than it would have been to dock (there may not have been space or there may have been security issues preventing us from getting closer). Anyway, the view was pretty awesome.
Today is our last day on the islands, and we finally the clouds parted. We saw the sun all day long. We are on the Big Island and our excursion was to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory and to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
This was probably our best tour of all the ones we were on. Our guide was funny yet very knowledgeable about the geology, history, culture, flora, and fauna. Kilauea was spectacular and with the clear skies, we could easily see into the crater as well as the peaks of Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea.
We also walked through a lava tube (600-800 years old). Lava tubes are how most of Kilauea’s lava is carried to the sea. The one we walked through was about 100 yards of its several mile length. There are others much longer. The one we were in was about 10 feet in diameter. It was in the middle of what is now a rain forest – thick vegetation because it is on the rainy side of the island (400 inches rain each year).
Kilauea crater is on the dry side (10 inches a year), just few miles away. We also made a stop where the lava flow of the 1974 eruption covered the road. The lava rocks were very rough and sharp.
With days like today, I can see why Hawaii is so popular, especially when you are on Hawaiian time. So much to see; each island is different. The downside is how expensive it is to live here. Tonight we leave the islands and spend the next four days at sea. We’ll have a brief 3 hour stop in Ensenada before returning to LA where I hear it is raining again.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010

Overcast skies again today. Our port is Nawiliwili, Kauai.
We actually saw a nawiliwili tree which the town is named after. Our excursion today was to Waimea Canyon which is supposedly a small version of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. We couldn’t really tell – when we got up there (3800’ above sea level) it was fogged in.
After about 15 minutes, the fog cleared up enough for about one good picture. Based on that picture, I am sure it is spectacular if it’s ever clear. I can believe why they call Kauai the Garden Island.
There is such an abundance of vegetation, it’s too much to describe. Our other stop was to Spouting Horn, a volcanic hole the becomes a geyser when the waves break on the shore. Thought I got some great video, but the camcorder didn’t show anything at all. Bummer…, but I did get some pictures.
Tonight is the Neptune Dinner aboard ship
– Filet Mignon & Lobster, drool, drool.
Tomorrow we head to our last port in Hawaii before heading back – Hilo on the Big Island.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010

The driver gave some insight to property ownership, and we saw the Iolani Palace from the outside only since this was a 15 minute stop. We also went up into the mountains to see the Punchbowl Cemetery, and Nuuanu Pali, before heading to the USS Arizona.
Due to the length of time waiting for the specific tour time at the Memorial, there was no time to see Waikiki, Diamond Head, or much of anything else
The Memorial had two interesting museums while waiting for your time to board the launch to the Memorial. One of the features is a scale model of the Arizona and the Memorial which was especially interesting since the water at the Memorial itself was murky.

There is still a sheen of oil and occasional bubbles of oil coming from the Arizona.
Hard to believe it was 69 years ago. The Memorial is simple and you are only allowed 15-20 minutes before heading back. Still it was very quiet and somber. Thanks to all our servicemen and women worldwide for their continued service.

Before returning to the ship, out tour bus drove through Chinatown, which appeared to me to be rather run down and dirty. The buildings are old and not well-kept. We got back to the ship too late to do anything else. Maybe next time we’ll see more…
The evening show was performed by a local hula dancing school for boys and girls, and was really enjoyable. Each dance was a story which was told first and you could follow the story through the movements. Very nice.
Tomorrow, we go to Kauai.