Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Train Was Late--Very Late (Part One)

When I bought my ticket for Amtrak’s California Zephyr train from Granby, Colorado to Grand Junction, Colorado, the clerk warned me that the train might be a bit late—maybe as much as two hours. Still, it seemed like a good solution to our problem.

We spent a week driving to Seattle so that we could go on our Alaskan cruise. (Yes, I know. Most people fly from Oklahoma City to Seattle. Even those who drive take less than a week to get there. But we travel by the “Ten to Three” plan. It works like this: The motel’s check out time is ten, so we leave then. We drive for a couple of hours, then stop for lunch. After a leisurely lunch, we drive until three, when we can check into the next motel. We then have time for a swim in the pool or even a nap before supper. This routine continues throughout our trip.)

Okay, I’ve had my little ADD break, so I’ll go on with my story. We spent two weeks on the cruise, followed by about ten days in Oregon playing on the coast and visiting Wild Child, The Blonde, and the Grand Dog. (More about that later. But look. Isn’t he a great looking dog?)

Next, Dr. Lobo left me at the Portland airport so that I could fly to Denver in preparation for my annual “Gabfest” with college friends. While I gabbed with my friends, he drove toward Colorado, following the Ten to Three plan. We thought he might need extra time to get to Granby, where Gabfest takes place. The California Zephyr stops in Granby, so we decided we would shorten his eastward drive. I would take a westbound train and meet him in Grand Junction.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it would have been, except for a few complicating factors. First, although the train was scheduled to arrive at 10:37 a.m., my friends needed to drop me off at the train station at 7:45 so they could get to the Denver airport in time for the Gabfesters’ flights. Okay, no problem. I can entertain myself for long periods of time with a book, a notebook, and a pen. The Granby train station is merely a waiting area, with no clerks. I figured I could get a lot of writing done with all that solitude.

The first hour and a half were lovely. Then, what should appear but . . .

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cruising Along

I've never thought of myself as a person who would love cruising.

I thought cruise people were wealthy.
I thought cruise people were sophisticated.

I thought cruise people were big time partiers.

Since I'm not wealthy, sophisticated, or a partier, I figured cruising would never be my thing.

But Dr. Lobo had been to every U.S. state except Alaska, so of course we had to go there. We decided a cruise might be our best option. During the cool days of November, we booked an Alaskan cruise on Holland America's MS Amsterdam. That decision enabled us to escape Oklahoma City's hottest July on record.

Here is my first view of the ship that would be my "home" for two weeks.

Embarking at Seattle, we entered a different world.

As we pulled away from the dock, I had to call a couple of special people and share my excitement. I may have squealed.

My quick adaptation to cruise life amazed and worried Dr. Lobo. But how could I not love it? Smiling people cooked and served my meals, made my bed, and cleaned up my messes. (This does not happen at home.)

The scenery was breathtaking, of course, and each port was interesting and fun. But even at sea, a multitude of activities kept me busy and happy: movies, team trivia games, lectures, shopping, Tai Chi, listening to the stringed quartet, reading in the library, nightly entertainment, participating in an On Deck for the Cure walk (breast cancer), new friends, and more. I even went to the gym (once).

Then there was the food--always available and generally excellent. I tried to counter the calories with exercise. (Eat a chocolate cream puff; walk around the promenade deck). I haven't worked up the courage to weigh myself, but judging from the fit of my pants, I'm sure the calories won. They had a definite advantage, thanks to the "Dessert Extravaganza."

Each night when we returned to our room, a cute animal shaped from a hand towel greeted us.

Cabin stewards left chocolate on our bed. I put those away instantly. I wanted to keep my cabin tidy, you know.

Our grandbear, Junior, accompanied us. We enjoyed his company except that he kept asking to be taken to the buffet line for salmon.

Dr. Lobo has to maintain his reputation as a curmudgeon, so he won't admit to liking the cruise, but he can't fool me. He had fun.

We spent fourteen glorious days in this alternate universe. Three days after disembarking, I booked our next cruise.

I am indeed a person who loves cruising.