Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hilo, Hawai'i

Today is our first port day, in Hilo, Hawaii. We woke up to overcast skies, but anxious to get out and about to...WalMart. Yep. Every Hawai'ian port of consequence has a free shuttle to WalMart. Perfect for the additional aloe vera, the watercolor brushes and a few other "essentials". Isn't it odd? We flew 6 hours, sailed countless nautical miles only to find ourselves at WalMart. LOL! We also visited Hilo Hatties where the girls and I shopped, Dad and Larry bought chocolates and mac nuts and all generally had a great time. The highlight of the tour? Watching my niece Katherine perform the Hula Dance. We went to the class taught on board yesterday and Katherine has a natural ability to groove...even the Hawai'ian way. Grammy asked her to do the hula while singing the story song that goes with it. Soon enough, outside Hilo Hatties, she and her cousin Ellen were performing the Hula with several ship-bound guests in observance. They got a round of applause for a job well done.

We're back on board and ready to participate in the afternoon activities. I just finished making a ti leaf lei - very fun and I learned lots of fun trivia from the Hawai'ian "Aunties" (although my "auntie" had a particularly low male voice). More relaxing on board tonight with no real plans, other than to be on deck for the evening passing of Kilauea in eruption/lava flow stage. I'm setting my camera lens to take a time-lapse photo, so hopeto post when complete.

Until next time...Aloha and Mahalo for reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

True to my plan, we woke when we felt like it, ate breakfast when we wanted and lazed around by the pool all day. Um, ya…when the sunscreen says “Waterproof”…don’t believe it. I’m a tomato: red and round.

We participated in a couple of quests for the Dam Dollars today, as is usual and customary for us. We started off with a Brain Teaser (7 out of 14 isn’t THAT bad, is it?) and then planned to relax by the pool until watercolor class at 3pm. However, the best laid plans often go asunder, and today was no exception. DJ Matt convinced us to participate in the Pool Games. I mean, why not, right? We already had our swimsuits on, so what’s another dip in the pool? After being assured that this particular game didn’t involve copious amounts of fruit and swimsuits being stuffed…we acquiesced.

We lined up around the pool…all of us suckers, uh, I mean participants, only to then be told that we were now participating in the World Championship Belly Flop Contest. Yes, you read that right…belly flops were the order of the day. Oh, but wait…it gets better! We had to, when it was our turn, go up, introduce our selves and say where we’re from, then proceed to DANCE around the pool before coming back to do the flop at the count of three.

Oh boy. I SO did not want to do this, but if I wanted the girls to do it, I had to go first. Now, it should be duly noted here that I don’t dance. I don’t know how to freestyle groove and I’m sure any attempts would only earn me pity and shame. When it was my turn, I walked up, said my name and where I was from (because it wasn’t obvious enough from the glare of my white legs that I was from Alaska?) then started to walk away. DJ Matt would have nothing to do with that…so I told him that this white girl doesn’t dance. At all. He showed little sympathy and simply pointed me in the direction of my demise. It was the longest “dance” around the pool of my life!

Who knew that dancing and belly flops had absolutely no symbiotic relationship at all? I for one am glad. I stepped to my mark and on the count of three, did my best flat out belly flop. With a resounding “SMACK” and a hit that nearly knocked the wind out of me, I came up to loud cheers and smiles. Guess I’m not so bad at the belly flop thing. Glad I could set an example for the girls. J

Katherine and Ellen have become known as Ham and Cheese on this cruise…one is a total ham, the other one is totally cheesy. They go together just like the sandwich, so there you have it. Because they are so small, DJ Matt invited them both up together to do their dance and their flops. Actually…I was pretty impressed that these two 13 year olds danced their way around the pool with style and flair, then on their mark did the deed. It wasn’t a huge splash, but it was met with rave reviews! I’m so proud.

We headed off to our separate ways (Watercolor class, naps, seminars and lounging) before dinner. Tonight was another formal night, and our table was set and the staff ready for us. The fun and frivolity continued through dinner and we hurried back to our staterooms to change into comfy clothes, then up to the Explorer’s lounge to play Phase 10. A new day dawns tomorrow in Hilo, so until then…Aloha!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

True to my plan, we woke when we felt like it, ate breakfast when we wanted and lazed around by the pool all day. Um, ya…when the sunscreen says “Waterproof”…don’t believe it. I’m a tomato: red and round.

We participated in a couple of quests for the Dam Dollars today, as is usual and customary for us. We started off with a Brain Teaser (7 out of 14 isn’t THAT bad, is it?) and then planned to relax by the pool until watercolor class at 3pm. However, the best laid plans often go asunder, and today was no exception. DJ Matt convinced us to participate in the Pool Games. I mean, why not, right? We already had our swimsuits on, so what’s another dip in the pool? After being assured that this particular game didn’t involve copious amounts of fruit and swimsuits being stuffed…we acquiesced.

We lined up around the pool…all of us suckers, uh, I mean participants, only to then be told that we were now participating in the World Championship Belly Flop Contest. Yes, you read that right…belly flops were the order of the day. Oh, but wait…it gets better! We had to, when it was our turn, go up, introduce our selves and say where we’re from, then proceed to DANCE around the pool before coming back to do the flop at the count of three.

Oh boy. I SO did not want to do this, but if I wanted the girls to do it, I had to go first. Now, it should be duly noted here that I don’t dance. I don’t know how to freestyle groove and I’m sure any attempts would only earn me pity and shame. When it was my turn, I walked up, said my name and where I was from (because it wasn’t obvious enough from the glare of my white legs that I was from Alaska?) then started to walk away. DJ Matt would have nothing to do with that…so I told him that this white girl doesn’t dance. At all. He showed little sympathy and simply pointed me in the direction of my demise. It was the longest “dance” around the pool of my life!

Who knew that dancing and belly flops had absolutely no symbiotic relationship at all? I for one am glad. I stepped to my mark and on the count of three, did my best flat out belly flop. With a resounding “SMACK” and a hit that nearly knocked the wind out of me, I came up to loud cheers and smiles. Guess I’m not so bad at the belly flop thing. Glad I could set an example for the girls. J

Katherine and Ellen have become known as Ham and Cheese on this cruise…one is a total ham, the other one is totally cheesy. They go together just like the sandwich, so there you have it. Because they are so small, DJ Matt invited them both up together to do their dance and their flops. Actually…I was pretty impressed that these two 13 year olds danced their way around the pool with style and flair, then on their mark did the deed. It wasn’t a huge splash, but it was met with rave reviews! I’m so proud.

We headed off to our separate ways (Watercolor class, naps, seminars and lounging) before dinner. Tonight was another formal night, and our table was set and the staff ready for us. The fun and frivolity continued through dinner and we hurried back to our staterooms to change into comfy clothes, then up to the Explorer’s lounge to play Phase 10. A new day dawns tomorrow in Hilo, so until then…Aloha!

Party On!

The birthday celebration continues…

I’m not exactly sure what it is, but birthdays make me feel like I should do something special for myself. Maybe I’ve actually bought in to the Greeting Card Advertising System after all. At any rate, I’m on a cruise, and after my last experience with Holland America’s Greenhouse Spa, knew that I couldn’t go wrong. Besides…my feet were beginning to resemble hooves and that needed to end in a hurry!

I enjoyed a wonderful Exotic Pedicure and walked out feeling like a new woman! Dahlia did a wonderful job and we had fun chatting about various topics.

I spent the rest of the day playing games, watching the girls swim and just hanging around. I bought a couple t-shirts and that was about it…until dinner.

Now, the night before, dinner was celebrated and Mom opened cards and gifts to celebrate. The staff brought out a wonderful cake, a candle, and treated her like a queen. So…I expected nothing less. Of course, I was yet again, blown away by the festivities. I wonder what the guests at the tables next to and behind us think. Seriously. We’re all celebrating and the stewards and staff are treating us like old friends. I really think it has to do with “you get as much as you give”. We’re nice to the staff, we appreciate what they do, and we talk to them as colleagues in the journey. In return, they treat us like kings. Maybe I’m na├»ve, but I still think it’s true that you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar (thank you, Grandma Bohannon).

I opened gifts from family and friends and read the most amazing cards. Even one from the office. Some brought tears, some brought hilarious laughter, but all brought smiles and a warm glow that still continues. Knowing that people cared enough to send a card made my day.

Tonight, my cake was marvelous. They presented it to me with fashion and flair; the dining stewards, the Asst. Dining Room Manager (William d’Souza), Phillip, Andrew and Benny gathered ‘round the table with several more colleagues and sang me Happy Birthday – in Indonesian AND in English. Benny gave me a Diet Coke in a LARGE glass, Andrew made me a paper rose. Everyone (it seemed like 20 people or so) came by to wish me happy birthday and shake my hand. Genuine smiles and laughter was shared by all. Amazing. Phenomenal. Stupendous.

Afterwards, we watched the Indonesian Crew Show. I’m humbled and amazed at the talent and creativity of our stewards, bar hosts and crew. Incredible! Tomorrow is a new day with plans of doing little-to-nothing but enjoying the pool.

40 never looked so good...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

It's sad, but true. Today...

I'm 40!

I woke up this morning exhausted. We gained an hour and it's a very good thing or I'd still be sleeping, I fear. LOL! I peeked outside my stateroom and was pleasantly surprised to see the balloons, birthday banner and poster on my door. I think if it hadn't been there, I would have been disappointed.

Oooh, have to go. I'll be back later tonight, but I've got Watercolor Painting class coming up right after the Dutch Chip Shot into the pool. Remind me to tell the story of the volleyball game...

Sunday, February 22nd

Happy Birthday Grammy!!!

Birthdays are fun to celebrate, but it just gets better when you're with family and friends, sailing on a beautiful cruise ship to Hawaii. Pardon me while I take a moment to savor the South Pacific winds and the calm seas...

Last night, the girls and Liz and I decorated Grammy and Popo's door with birthday balloons and greetings. LOL! It's totally crazy and fun and our room stewards are joining right along. Today, Grammy is enjoying her new hair cut/bleach and facial while the rest of us do our various things. Some are swimming outside (the girls), some are sunbathing (me), some are wandering the ship (Popo), and others are napping (Larry and Liz). That's the beautiful thing about the ship...so many things to do and we can either do them all together as we've done on a couple days, or do them separately - whatever works.

Tonight, we have dinner reservations, compliments of William d'Souza - our Asst. Dining Room boss. He's been fantastic, making us all laugh, singing songs (Is it "Don't Cry for Me, Alabama"? or "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"?) He brings the girls special treats, sings to "the Mama" - Grammy, and generally entertains us with song and smiles. Phillip is fantastic as our steward, as is Benny from the bar staff.

William made sure that Mom had a birthday cake, gathered the troops and sang Happy Birthday "in English, please" for Grammy. It is formal night, so everyone looks lovely.

Speaking of Formal Night: It took me nearly two hours to get Ellen's hair curled and pinned up...but she was beautiful! Katherine was beautiful as well and I can't wait to see the pictures of the two of them.

The girls want to watch a movie tonight. I'll go for the popcorn, but not sure I'll stay awake...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today we spent getting familiar with the ship. After being on the ms Rotterdam such a short time ago, it almost seems like home for me. The girls and I toured around, taking it all in. The weather is a little gray and overcast, but that's OK. The magrodome is closed, so the girls went swimming in the Lido pool - for over an hour! There are so many things to do, it's hard to decide what not to do, just so you can rest!

Tonight was an early night as tomorrow we'll be celebrating Grammy's birthday.

Friday, February 20th

I'm writing these posts with date headers so I can catch everyone up. I've been remiss in my duties of posting, so my apologies!

Today is the day we embark the ship. We woke up with plenty of time and proceeded to prepare for the journey. First, we needed sunblock and hair gel (I had to sacrifice my hair gel to the TSA gods upon arrival at the airport - how could I forget yet another travel rule?). Popo and the girls and I decided to go to Target - taxi service was pretty cheap compared to the bus, so away we went. Actually, Ellen and Grammy stayed behind to wait for Liz and Larry and to rest up for the journey.

The San Diego pier is large and as usual, the embarkation and checkin process runs smoothly in the capable Holland America Line hands. After meeting Liz and Larry, we got onboard, headed to the Lido to eat. It was fun to watch the girls' reactions. Katherine seemed impressed, but was trying to remain "cool" about it. Ellen was amazed and everything was "so cool, Auntie!" One thing among many that I'm so proud about working for a company like Holland America is how nice everyone is on board. Time and time again, we were greeted, and Ellen would say, "I can't believe how friendly everyone is!" It's hard to impress a 13yr old sometimes, but Holland has done it again.

Sail Away was great!

Travel Rules

Everyone has them. Everyone uses them. Everyone needs them. Some of us more than others. What's one of the top travel rules? REMEMBER which time zone you're in. So, my last post might have seemed as though it had a hasty goodbye. Rightfully so. We debarked in Seattle to change planes and had about an hour or so to look around and grab some food. We went to the Pacific Marketplace -the girls got burgers, I decided upon some Japanese stirfry (After all...I'm in Seattle, right?) The girls saw a shop that was just about 50 feet away, so while I started posting on the blog, they went to look in the shop. I could see them, and wasn't concerned...until, I realized that my computer was still on Alaska time and I hadn't changed my watch to account for the jumping ahead to a new time zone!

Quicker than you can say, "Don't fly off with out me!", I grabbed all the carry-ons, the girls' gear, and ran (yes, ran...) over to get the girls. Calmly, I said, "We need to go - we're late". They said "OK" in the most calm manner as if they didn't realize that a ginormous catastrophe was looming! Finally - the Look, the frenzy in my voice - I'm not sure which it was - but they decided that if I was running, then they better too. We made it to our gate at the Final Boarding call and jumped into seats. Not necessarily our own, but seats with seatbelts nonetheless. :-)

San Diego was a beautiful mosaic of lights and water when we landed. We got to the hotel without nary a hitch and we called Grammy and Popo from the lobby. There's nothing quite so sweet as a long-awaited reunion. It was completely precious!

McDonald's beckoned from across the street, so away we went. We went to bed, tired but happy, in anticipation of boarding the ms Zaandam the next day.

Ahhh, life is good!