Around the World 2016, Day (-1)

This is it.  Bags are packed.  Kim was over for three hours doing final review of things to do as well as just to visit.  Boarding passes for tomorrow’s flight have printed and our transport from home to shuttle to Vegas has been reconfirmed.  We’ve watched some football and are watching more as I type this evening.

We were shocked to see the fire in Dubai at the property that we walked through on our way to the Burj Khalifa for the trip up the world’s tallest building back in 2012 on a previous cruise.  We did stay to see their fireworks, which were more impressive than any others I’ve seen.

Now that it is after 8 PM we’ll watch some more TV and doze in our chairs until the taxi comes at 320.  More tomorrow if I’m awake enough when arrive in Florida, otherwise the following day.

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Around the World 2016, Day (-2)

Today is the first day of vacation.  Real vacation.  Everything is done for the big trip so today is mostly watching movies and football and other TV shows.  There were a couple of brief trips the whole 2 miles to Walmart for little things as well as a couple calls to credit card companies to make sure that they won’t panic if there is a charge from Maputo or Male or Manila.

Tomorrow will be more of the same.  Kim will come over to go over final things for her living here for six months.  And the great mouse hunt continues.  We’ve set traps for three nights and so far no luck.  Either the critters are very smart, or finding something to eat elsewhere.

Some of the folks going are already worrying about impacts of El Nino and some changes of times for arrival and departure from various ports.  They seem to forget that out of 92 ports we’ll miss a couple of them for weather or other reasons and there will be nothing we can do about it.  It goes with the territory, just like flying in winter means you may have delays.  Stuff happens and we just go with the flow.

In 48 hour we’ll be in 80 degree Florida instead of 39 degree Utah.  I can hardly wait.

Around the World 2016, Day (-4)

All is becoming ever more real as the countdown continues.  This is Monday and we leave home at 320AM on Friday.  Still have one doctor followup, dogs getting groomed, a free recall maintenance on the car, house cleaner, final briefing with Kim, our house sitter, last minute laundry, and throwing last things in carry on bags.  The four bags we shipped already should be in Florida today.  At least that’s all that is on the list as of now.  I’m sure some other last minute things will come up.

We plan to doze in our chair/recliner while we watch the New Years Eve playoff games and whatever comes on next, most likely the interminable discussion of the game that will follow in a few days for the national championship.  The dogs will be very confused by all of this, but will be happy when Kim shows up to move in later in the day.  They really love that she sits on the floor to play with them, as well as taking longer walks with them than we do. If the ship sinks or terrorists get us (and we have NO worries about either one, though some neighbors and friends do) the church and the kids get everything.  Well, they don’t get the dogs, Kim gets them.

Today is, for me, taken up with final sorting, charging, and packing of electronic equipment.  The final things on that project will be done about 200 AM on Friday. That isn’t because of procrastination but because of staying online most of New Years Eve.

Soon we’ll be where it is warmer, and may within a couple weeks be complaining about the heat in Brazil.  I can hardly wait.

Around the world 2016, Day (-14)

This is one of those days with many relationships to others. It is a week before Christmas, two weeks before New Years, seven weeks before my 73rd birthday (5 February 2016).  Yes, I’m a calendar and numbers geek, but most of my friends knew that already.  I spent 14 years living at an address that irritated me.  It was 3577.  It should have been 3579, but wasn’t, for no good reason other than some guy in some city office said so.  I wasn’t irritated enough to try to change it, but it was always there.

It is an emotional time of the year for so many reasons. Family is far away for both of us. Gail’s only relatives are in the bay area. Our kids are in Idaho, Illinois, and New Mexico.  We’re not going anywhere this holiday other than the three church services we’re serving at, plus stores and restaurants.  We’re not complaining, and have made our choices. Two weeks from the time I’m typing this we should be getting settled in our room at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale for two nights.  We’ll be tired after a night and day of traveling, but we’ll be on our way on our biggest adventure yet.

Both of us miss our parents and siblings who’ve gone on ahead of us.  Gail’s sister passed away at Thanksgiving two years ago, so that’s another thing that made that a tough holiday. We both remember some 70 years of “good old days” in our memories.  Growing up, going away, getting married, having kids, getting married, and so on, they all splash around in my brain.  All of those memories are good for us, even those with sad parts and special memories of those we miss so much.

I’m a guy who is particularly emotional with lots of music, and frequently has tears down his face during certain songs. Tears always appear during Taps, Eternal Father Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn), Let the Day Begin, Kyrie, Amazing Grace, The Road Goes On Forever, It’s My Life, Livin’ On a Prayer, and Highwayman.  The list is obviously eclectic and far from complete.

So what inspired this digression?  As I started this entry, a Jon Bon Jovi compilation of performances started playing on Palladia and I got blindsided by two of his songs, which again brought tears to my cheeks.

She says, “We’ve gotta hold on to what we’ve got.

It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.

We’ve got each other and that’s a lot.

For love we’ll give it a shot.”

[Chorus:]

Whoa, we’re half way there

Whoa, livin’ on a prayer

Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear

Whoa, livin’ on a prayer

 and 

[Chorus:]

It’s my life

It’s now or never

I ain’t gonna live forever

I just want to live while I’m alive

(It’s my life)

My heart is like an open highway

Like Frankie said

I did it my way

I just wanna live while I’m alive

It’s my life

And those Bon Jovi songs got me off track.  But I’m never “on track” unless I’m following what is on my calendar on the phone, ipads, and computer (all Apple, all synced at all times).  Even then it takes Gail to make sure I check the calendar and do what I should.

So we live our life, do “crazy things” like taking round the world cruises, and so forth.  After all, it is now or never, we know we won’t be around this earth forever, so we’re doing it our way.  Maybe not your way, but our way.  And we’ll be loving every minute of it.

Around the world 2016, Day (-17)

This is the first post in a week, and it has been relaxing but productive.  All of the “big stuff” has been done for a couple weeks and I’m completing my bronchitis antibiotics today, so we’re “over the hump”.  Four large bags (50 lbs each) are being picked up a week from today, and three are already packed and weighed and waiting in the garage.  Besides those four bags we’ll check one more large bag and take our carry on bags.  Kim has spent more time with us this week bringing us papers and gifts from the cruise line and her office, as well as catching up more on the house and fish. At the moment I’m waiting for a plumber to come fix the hot water in the bathtub.  We never use the tub, but Kim does, so it needs to have hot water.

Still to come: packing the last bags, ordering a six month supply of prescription meds, one doctor follow up appointment, having the dogs groomed, haircuts for humans, and odd things around the house. The cleaning lady will come a couple days before we leave, so all will be beautiful for Kim.  We’re also eating up all the food in the fridge and freezer. Kim is a vegetarian, so we’re being sure to eat up all of the fish and meat.

The freezer is full of frozen fish food for six months and one pantry contains many boxes of nori for the fish, and three 1.75 liter jugs of vodka for the fish (they get a tablespoon a day to help balance 180 gallons of water chemistry).  Another pantry contains more than enough kibble for the dogs, which Kim supplements with chicken and pumpkin and veggies.

The last few days we’ll probably eat out or bring home takeout.

Around the world 2016, Day (-24)

It has been two and a half weeks since I last blogged about the upcoming trip.  Why?  It has been busy and just for fun I’ve caught a sinus and lung bug. Yesterday I started the hellish treatment, a combination of levofloxacin (generic Levaquin) and prednisone. Both have serious side effects and risks, but they’re the only things that really work for me. That meant a stretch of 30 hours without sleep, but that should get better day by day as this continues. Other than the lack of sleep, I’m getting better.

In the meanwhile we’ve been busy going to our final round of doctor checkups, buying most of the last minute things we will need to pack on the 23rd when our four large suitcases are taken away, working out more details on the house with Kim (house sitter) and Mike (the fish wrangler, who will visit monthly), and doing our best to trim ourselves down further before the cruise. All is going according to schedule, and in many ways we’re on the downward slope to departure at 0320 on New Years Day. We doubt we’ll sleep much before the cab comes, and we’ve warned our neighbors that we’ll try to be quiet, but if they wake up it isn’t an emergency of any sort and to go back to sleep.

We went to a bridge club Christmas Party today and will go to another tomorrow.  We’re not playing bridge until we get on the ship, and the break has been good for all our preparation.

Whenever possible we choose cruise tour sites that are historical, or else snorkel/swim sites. This trip will include April 17 at Corregidor, the last bastion on Luzon in the Phillipines as the Japanese invaded during WWII. Earlier today we watched Cry Havoc (1943) about the nurses in the tunnels at Bataan.  Like all others on Bataan, if they didn’t die in the battles a great many of them died on the Bataan Death March to the POW camps to the north. The island fortress of Corregidor was the last to fall on Luzon, so we’re now watching John Wayne in They Were Expendable (1945) about those small plywood PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats that were so important in the effort. And they were all expendable.

Other war historical sites we’ll vist include Hiroshima, Okinawa, Saigon, and Hanoi earlier in the trip and near the end, a special dinner on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, docked near the Arizona Memorial, which we’ve visited before. We so honor all of those who served in that war and others. We’ve also visited Omaha Beach, Arlington, The Wall, and Punch Bowl in the past. I tear up every time I visit one of those sites, and every time I hear Taps or Eternal Father Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn).  We hear it in church a couple times a year as well, and I get the same tears.

I might not be here if my father’s service in the Navy during the war had been in a plane or ship. He wanted to fly, but his eyes good enough.  So, using his technical background he served, mostly in Southern California, inspecting newly built aircraft before they were sent off to serve in carriers.  Like all the others that served at home or in non combat duties, we thank my dad, Chief Petty Officer Andrew Lawrence Lester, for his service.