Saturday, June 5, 2010

In a lifeboat off the Canadian coast

It was pointed out to me that as far as my followers are concerned, I must be in a lifeboat drifting off the Canadian coast because I didn't finish up my cruise journal.

I'm still alive and have been back in the States for almost 2 weeks.  I just forgot to finish up.  My bad.

Ok, it's now Sunday and our ship, the Royal Princess is still moseying in a leisurely pace towards Victoria, BC.  We weren't docking in Victoria until 12:00pm (noon) so we kind of joked that everyone from the deckhands to the busboys and cabin stewards were given a chance to steer the ship to kill some time and maybe take it off some sweet jumps which is what I'm pretty sure is what caused my mal de mer the night before.

After breakfast, we put on our walking/running shoes and hit the jogging track to burn off the excess calories.  13 times around the jogging track was the equivalent of 1 nautical mile so around and around and around we went.  Lisa had wanted to experience as many on board activities as she could so she played bingo, took a line-dancing class
worked on the jigsaw puzzle in the ship's library, lounged in a deck chair, went online in the internet cafe and hit a couple of golf balls up on the top deck.  She and I also decided to soak in the jacuzzi and go for a swim in the pool.  The water was nice and warm and very buoyant as we splashed around in our running shorts and tank tops because none of us had brought a swimsuit.

We were nearing land although we were never actually very far from land the entire voyage, so we headed back to our cabin to shower and get ready to experience Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

We got off the ship and had our passports ready so we could be allowed to enter Canada
We had arranged to take a tour of Victoria from the vantage point of an English double-decker bus
and we enjoyed our tour and the commentary of our tour guide, a delightful little English guy named, "Poppy" until the freezing-ass Arctic winds blowing in from the ocean forced us to abandon the top open deck and scurry down into the enclosed lower level of the bus.

We were dropped back off at the dock in time to enjoy lunch back on the ship before heading back to town to hoof it around on our own.  We walked and walked and walked, going in, you guessed it, home decor shops.  Again.  We also saw the Legislature, or Capital building
and wandered through the famous Empress Hotel, 
which is known for its Afternoon Tea, which we didn't do since a) it was rather expensive and 2) I didn't bring my hat and gloves and if I can't be properly dressed for Tea, then I'll have to pass.  We saw a number of people milling about, dressed in an odd Victorian/Goth/Pirate/Gypsy/Mad Scientist combination of clothing and discovered that a Steampunk Convention was being held at the Empress.  I had only first heard about Steampunk (Google it) barely two weeks earlier and here I got to see examples live and in person.

So we're walking around the waterfront, looking at all the boats all decorated for the next day's Victoria Day celebrations and suddenly, all I want, more than anything, is soft-serve ice cream.  I dunno why I had this incredible craving but a craving I had and I NEEDED to get some soft-serve vanilla ice cream stat!  Luckily, there was an ice cream stand that happened to have what I needed so I got my fix and enjoyed it immensely.  Sadly, there wasn't really enough time to see more of the attractions that Victoria had to offer.  I did think Victoria was absolutely charming and I definitely would love to go back and spend a couple of days.

We were pretty tired after all that walking so it was time to head back to the ship and rest up before dinner and to do our packing.

I did learn a couple of things while on this cruise:

- Dramamine only works if you take it BEFORE you get seasick.
- Dramamine is a great sleep aid.  Maybe that's how it works:  it knocks you out so you don't feel the pitch and roll of the ship.
- Opening your eyes underwater in a saltwater pool is a bad idea. 
- I can overcome my serious acrophobia. Sometimes. 
- My Sketchers "Shape Up" shoes were what was causing my hip, knee and ankle pain.

Despite my seasickness, I thought this was a great trip.  None of us were interested in partypartyparty and dancing all night or gambling.  We aren't middle-aged "Woo! Girls." At least not on this trip.  This was all about relaxing and sightseeing and just enjoying ourselves and that we did.


Friday, June 4, 2010

You would cry too

Let's talk birthdays, shall we?

My beautiful son, the "unique and special" Thing 1 
turned the Big 18 on May 30.  For his birthday, he received a suitcase and kick in the butt.  Ok, I'm kidding.  He didn't receive a suitcase.  But he did get a complimentary full tank of gas for the Red Rocket.  And the Red Rocket has a very large gas tank.

Until he decided he didn't want to be fussed over on his birthday (fuss of the cash kind was still acceptable, though), we used to throw Thing 1 a big ol' birthday party every year with those Moonbouncer jumpy things and party hats and lots of food and sugary drinks and cake and ice cream and a pinata filled with the good candy.  Oh, those were the days.  

Unlike my two sisters, *I* never had a birthday party when I was a kid (Bitter Moment #4).  Because I had the luck to be born on the same day as my maternal grandmother, my birthday parties consisted of dinner and cake at home with only family present.  No friends in party hats, no musical chairs, no pin the tail on the donkey, no pinata.  My grandmother would chain-smoke cigarettes and demand yet another Snappy Tom and vodka.  What kid wouldn't want to spend their birthdays like that, I ask.

One year, my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday.  Since I was all into the Z-Boys of Dogtown fame
all I wanted, I told them, was a skateboard from Harbour Surfboards.  With those new-fangled urethane wheels.  I told them over and over that I wanted a Harbour Skateboard and under no circumstances were they to get me one of those cheap-ass Black Knight skateboards with the clay wheels.  

Yeah, yeah, my parents said.  We get it.  Well, I think you can guess where this is going.  I opened my birthday present and stared down at the Black Knight skateboard with its clay wheels (Bitter Moment #7) and I'm all "Is this a joke?" and they're all, "We got you what you asked for!" and they were all proud of themselves for getting me that skateboard I had specifically asked them NOT to get me while Granny waved her empty glass in the air and cackled, "A dog can't stand on 3 legs!  Get me another drink!"  Par. Tay.

Flash forward a decade and change.  TheManTheMyth and I were still in the Newlywed phase and my birthday was coming up and TheManTheMyth started dropping hints about what he got me.  He told me he had thought long and hard about what to get me and he was confident he had picked the perfect gift and I was going to just DIE when I saw it.  So of course I have to tell everyone I worked with that my wonderful husband had got me the most fabulous gift and I couldn't wait to get home to find out what it was and I was sure they'd all be jealous when they heard about my kick-ass gift.

So, I get home from work on the day of my birth and the first thing I noticed was the dozen red roses.  Which raised an alarm in me.  The only time TheManTheMyth EVER buys me roses is when he has done something he knows I'm going to be very, very upset about.  Like the time he came home with his mom who had Alzheimers and her mean, nasty dog, announced she would be staying with us for a while and then in the next breath informed me that he was leaving in a few minutes for a Boys Trip for the entire duration of my MIL's stay.  And the roses were to make it all ok.  Yeah.  Roses = Bad News.

Next thing I see is something very big and bulky wrapped in a black trash bag with a big red bow on it.  Ok, now my curiosity was killing me.  TheManTheMyth tells me Happy Birthday and to go ahead and open my present.  I tear off the "wrapping" and I'm confronted with this:

I stare at it.  Then I stare at TheManTheMyth, who has a huge, happy, proud smile on his face and then I stare back at this...this...thing.  And I say something along the lines of "What. The. Hell?  And TheManTheMyth is all, "It's a transmission!  For the Baja Bug!  Isn't it GREAT! " and I'm all "Are you serious?"  and he's all "I know! Don't you just love it!" and I'm all "Is is a joke?" while looking around for the Candid Camera because this has to be a joke, right?  Who in their right mind would get their wife a transmission for an off-road vehicle she never even wanted to begin with as a birthday gift?

The Baja Bug was my surprise Christmas present (and not a surprise in the "good" sense) and TheManTheMyth had been spending hundreds of hours, not to mention thousands of dollars, getting this thing all fixed up and ready to race the Dakar rally.  For me.  That Baja Bug ended up taking on a life of its own and there are quite a few stories that will have to wait for another day.  

So that was pretty much the end of TheManTheMyth picking out my birthday and Christmas gifts, although he did completely take me by surprise one Christmas, in a great way, when I opened my gift and found diamond earrings.  But nowadays, we just get our own gifts and act all surprised when we open them and there are no more transmission surprises.

It's how we keep our marriage working successfully.  Because we're a couple of old fashioned romantics is what we are.

Maybe this will be the year I finally get a pinata.  A girl can hope.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sea Cruise Part Deux

Notice how I used my bilingual skills in the title.  Impressive, non?

Ok, so we arrive in Vancouver early Friday morning, passing under the Lion's Gate Bridge
It's another lovely day, weather-wise, as you can see from the photo.  We have a bus tour of downtown Vancouver scheduled along with a trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge so we troop off the ship only to be stopped in the terminal because Bippy and Lisa didn't have their Government Identification with them and therefore they were not allowed to go any further.  Since *I* had my State of Confusion California Drivers License with me, I was all, "see ya!" and headed to the bus.  Just kidding.  The two of them sprinted back to the ship for their ID while I loitered about and then we were allowed entry into Canada.

So we took our Bus Tour of Downtown Vancouver and of course every route our bus driver took had some sort of street construction going on.  Still, it was exciting to be in a foreign country and try our best to translate the foreign language, i.e., "Harbour," "favour,"  "colour," "eh."  The hockey fan in me was tickled to see where the Vancouver Canucks play their home games although I am not a Canucks fan because I don't like the Sedin brothers because they're Gingers and have no souls.

We went through Stanley Park and saw the totem poles of tribes of the First Nations (we call them "Indians" in the USofA):  
I took a picture of the lovely view of Vancouver "Harbour" and the ship terminal:
I was kind of bummed we didn't get to spend more time in Stanley Park.  It looked absolutely beautiful but we had places to go and suspension bridges to cross.

When we booked our cruise and were deciding on our shore excursions, Bippy told me we were going to experience the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  And I laughed, "Ha Ha!" because as everyone knows, I am deathly afraid of heights. And snakes and clowns but we're talking about heights right now.  I said I would wave at Bippy and Lisa from the safety of the platform but I ain't gettin' on that thing.

Hello!  It's not like it's just a few feet over the river!  And it moves!  And swings!  And tilts!  Hell no, I won't go!  Um, yeah.
The got me on it.  If you look closely, you can see the absolute terror in my eyes although I'm trying very, very hard to smile, which is more of a grimace because did I mention I was terrified?
Once we made it safely across (I refused to look anywhere but straight ahead to the end of the bridge because if I had stopped to look over the side my eyes would have rolled back in my head and I would have dropped like a sack of potatos) we went on a hike and saw a family of raccoons who refused to pose for pictures, some ground squirrels and beautiful foliage.  I was thrilled to see my favorite flower in the entire world blooming:
I had only seen Lily of the Valley in pictures in books so this was a thrill.  Oh, and the rhododendrons!  They were EVERYWHERE!  I had never seen rhododendrons before because we don't have them here in Sunny Southern California (something about the climate) and they are so gorgeous!  Look!  I'm using exclamation points!

So I survived the Capilano Suspension Bridge and we headed back to the ship to fuel up with lunch before hoofing back to The City and see the sights.  Which meant going into every. single. furniture/homegoods store we saw.  Furniture which all looked exactly the same to me.  But in one store, we got to meet Rufus, which made it all worthwhile to me:
Rufus never met a stranger and had the body mass of a buffalo.  His Daddy insisted Rufus only weighed about 35lbs (Canadian weight?) but um, no.  I think he was in denial about his doggy.  But oh, Rufus was just the friendliest, sweetest boy and while Bippy and Lisa shopped and admired, I sat on one of the sofas and played with Rufus.

We went to the Hudson's Bay store, went in more furniture and home goods stores and finally called it a day and headed back to the ship to rest and relax before dinner. 

The next day was Saturday, our "at sea" day.

Luckily, we had absolutely glass-like conditions as we meandered around Vancouver Island and the little islands to kill a whole day "at sea."
I had my Body Composition consultation at 9:00am, which was interesting, depressing and informative but nothing I didn't already know (give up the Del Taco, kid, and you'll lose weight).

We rested some more, ate some more, circled around some more and then headed off to the lounge/niteclub for Bingo.  Because you HAVE to play Bingo on a ship.  Plus, the jackpot was $500.  In American Dollars, which is righteous bucks.  We lost.  The lady who won the jackpot gave a barely audible, "bingo" when she won which made me want to demand she be disqualified.  I know if I had won the $500 I would have been leaping into the air bellowing "BINGO, BITCHES! I WIN!!!!" at the top of my lungs.  Because I'm a gracious winner, doncha know.

We rested some more and ate some more and finally it was time to get ready for Dress Up Night.  Now, the last time I had been on a cruise, which was the first time I went on a cruise, I didn't make it through the appetizer course on Dress Up Night before I had to make a run for a toilet.  Which I didn't get to in time.  A slot machine was the recipient of the contents of my stomach.

So about the time we headed to dinner, the seas got rough.  So maybe it wasn't Winter on the North Atlantic rough but it was bad enough for me.  And I had foolishly forgotten to take a Dramamine because a) it had been quite calm and 2) I was afraid it would knock me out.  This time, I made it through the appetizer AND the salad course before I had to escape back to my cabin, swallow a Dramamine and fling myself on to the bed where I proceeded to moan and groan with every pitch and roll of the ship until the Dramamine knocked me out.  Which means I was sound asleep before it was dark outside.  Needless to say, I was 0 for 2 in the Formal Dress Up Night on a Cruise stakes. 

To be continued...