Monday, November 23, 2015

America's Priorities

Just in case you missed the "news" today...
I'm doing a little recapping for you
from my AOL news feed.
 Click on the pictures to read the 'important'

 Oh, yeah, and there was this one about the tragedy
in Paris.

 There are approximately one million thoughts
running through my head.
And I can't think of one thing to say.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ah, Christmas Music

It happens every year.
A couple of months before our Christmas music presentation
at my beloved Fielder Church,
the choir members each receive a "voice part CD."
The part we sing is highlighted on the CD, and we
are to listen to our songs over and over
(probably mostly as we drive!)
until that music is drummed into our brains.

So when I read about friends who are already
listening to their favorite Christmas music,
I have to admit I get a little jealous.
I can't put Michael W. Smith or Michael Buble on yet,
 because I don't have the ups and downs
of the Hallelujah Chorus quite mastered.
(I am quite good with the words.  That's a joke.)
there are words that give me trouble.
They belong to
Do You Hear What I Hear?
"What a wum bah dah nye ee ay o...Woh oh!"
 It's great!

The selection with which I have the least difficulty
 is also, perhaps, my favorite.
It is a beautiful arrangement of 
John 3:16 and 17 called
God So Loved The World.
Even though I do not need to go over the music
or words, I find myself backing up my CD
over and over to sing it one more time.

Our Christmas concert is two weeks from tomorrow,
December 6th at 4:00 in the afternoon.
I can promise you it will set a great tone for
your Christmas season of celebrating.
(Whether you've already started listening to
 Christmas music or not.) 

Cousin Sarah is coming all the way from Arizona
to hear us!
Well...she is also going to take in
Sanders Family Christmas
with the fabulous Susan Stovall Metzger!

Both are going to be worth the price of admission!
Our Christmas concert is absolutely free!
I hope to see you there.
Stick around and tell me how well I do on
"What a wum bah dah nye ee ay o...Woh oh!"



Sunday, November 15, 2015

What I Missed About Home

This will be very short.

After just a few days of traveling,
I miss these.


Yes, I try to befriend any dog I see,
cause I miss my Charleigh-Girl soooo much.


Cruise ship showers have improved drastically
since we first had a tiny one with a
curtain that stuck to you.
But they don't compare with the
"Calgon, take me away" moments
that take place here.

I love room service but not really their coffee.
Mine is better.

That is it.
Sorry, family and friends.
I'm being brutally honest here.
I'm too busy having a good time to miss you that much.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It Wasn't Perfect

Soon after we started traveling,
I noticed that I and others had an unusual tendency.
It was to tell about a trip's problems before 
describing its high points.
As soon as I realized I was doing that, I vowed to stop.

So I have told you how wonderful my trip was.
it wasn't perfect.

When I arrived in London, one of my bags didn't.
I couldn't believe it.
I had arrived at DFW for my flight two hours early.
I had "bought" my ticket very early 
for a bargain number of Advantage miles,
so my restless legs and claustrophobic self
could fly first class.
My bags had priority tags on them.

The bag was not on my flight, but was 
supposedly on the very next flight.
I arrived at 8:00 A.M., and it was to arrive at noon.

I made two mistakes.
First, I checked my bags at curbside check-in
and forgot to tip the agent.
Then, it took the baggage person at Heathrow
so long to make a report on my missing bag
that I lost my cool with her.
I had a driver picking me up, and I was afraid
he would give up and leave me. 
He was sending me messages, but my responses
were not going through to him.
I left (stormed away) without her completing the report,
with no claim check or report number.
She said, "Thank you."
I said nothing. 
Mistake #2.

The people at my hotel were wonderful!
They wanted to help me so much, but
without any numbers to refer to, there was
not much they could do.
The bag was not delivered to me until
ll:55 P.M. midnight!
Oh, and I just remembered--add another mistake.
I had bought beautiful new luggage for my trip!

Here is what it looked like when I received it.

  Now, mind you it hadn't rained a drop in London or DFW.
The contents were damp but not soaking wet. 
Considering Mistake #1 and Mistake #2, I was
just hoping those were water stains
if you get my drift!

And here is my treasured tray,
my favorite souvenir from cousin Sarah's place in 
Alpine, AZ, which was inside.

I have an address for Baggage Services
which I got from a very nice lady over the phone.
We'll see.

Of course, I'm first and foremost glad I got it
when I did.
Soooo thankful!

remember that wonderful pedi-cab I took home
from the theatre?
I forgot to first ask how much.
So I paid way too much.
I lived and learned.
(Or rode and learned!)
Actually, it was worth every "pound!"

The embarkation process was supposed to be
a breeze on this ship.
It was chaos.
I was told to sit in an area in which,  had I remained,
I might still be today!
I semi lost my cool again!

By the time I was settled in my room I
was so exhausted and flabbergasted that I
did not go to the dining room for dinner.
I missed meeting my tablemates for the 8 days.
I fell into bed that night thinking
I would never do this again!

When my room service came the next morning,
I was gung-ho and back in the saddle!
Never for another minute did I feel like I had
made a mistake!

You will notice that I did not include the rocky sea
as a problem or imperfection of the trip.
If one cruises the N. Atlantic in October,
one should probably anticipate that possibility.
As long as I was not seasick and 
got to ride the North Star, 
I was good with it!

And I learned to use my selfie stick!

The Very Grande Finale!

I did not know when I boarded the Anthem of the Seas 
the full importance of our sailing.
It was a bigger deal than I realized that the
Anthem was changing its home port from
Southampton, England, to Port Liberty, New Jersey.

I knew we would be sailing past the
Statue of Liberty,
but I was not at all sure I would be up for that!
the captain announced that when we passed
 Lady Liberty at 4:00 A.M.
there would be a par-tee on the upper decks
with coffee, snacks, etc.
He asked that we leave our curtains open
and our room lights on when we came up 
so we would look festive as we were filmed sailing in.

Okay then.  How many times would I get 
this opportunity?
That would be One (1) I believe.
Count me in!!!

I had no idea how many would be on the decks.
There were hundreds by the time I got there at 4:00
the prime spots for picture taking were 
full up!

Even the North Star was lit up! 

and People Galore!

Click here for my video!

You will hear a helicopter circling overhead,
and I think you can see its red light!

Then God Bless the U.S.A.
blasted over the speakers!
Goose bump time for me!!!

Since I couldn't get a clear shot of the statue
because of all the people on deck,
I returned to my cabin for pictures.
The captain rotated the ship so that both
sides would have a view!

Here she comes!

New York at 4:00 A.M.

The end of a perfect trip!!!
I came home exhausted,
exactly as one should from a great vacation!
I looked at the clock at 6:23 P.M. that night
and wondered if it was too early to go to bed!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life's A Ride!

The live stage show onboard the 
Anthem of the Seas 
is We Will Rock You
with music by Queen.
It was very appropriate for this voyage!

Hope you're still with me out here in the
smack dab middle of the North Atlantic.
The poor captain is predicting calmer seas every
day, but that hasn't happened yet.
We are up to about day 5, and all of the unique
onboard activities have had to be cancelled.
The ship has bumper cars.
The joke was that we had bumper people instead.

There is something called iFly, which
simulates people flying in air in a big tube.

Now those two things didn't affect me.
I was too chicken to do them anyway.

this trip was all about rides to me.

You remember this

in London!

Well, this

was to be my ride on the Anthem.
Except that it goes up 330' over the ship,
and that wasn't safe on our rockin' and rollin' seas!
It is called the North Star.

So every day we hoped for calmer seas
and winds.
The wind was the real culprit.  
It could be no more than 30 m.p.h.
On Day 6, I got all ready and went up early
to get in line.
36 miles per hour.  Boo.
At that time I resigned myself to the fact that
I might not get to ride it. 

I took this photo of a couple who had been 

out on one of the open decks on Day 6.
I caption it:
"Typical Cruise Attire on the Anthem Transatlantic!"

Many of the shows had to be postponed, too.
Some involved suspended acrobatics.
Too dangerous.
Some of the glass elevators were taken out of service.
But I was still never seasick.
(Or stuck in an elevator!  Some people were!)
I just wanted to ride my ride! 

I did get to:

Have a massage and my hair done...
 The waiting area.
I liked my hair!

 Tour the galley...
Chopping English bacon.
I never made it to breakfast to have any! 

and the bridge...
 The two men are just chatting. 
No one is "driving" the ship!
The closest ship to us at about the 2:00 position.
A rear view from the bridge.

 This is a very new-agey, techno-marvel ship.
I loved this elevator art, which was inside the 
non-glass elevators.

They always made me smile as I tumbled
into the elevator!

A couple of beautiful shots.
A fabulous chandelier.
The giant silver tuba sculpture--with funky lighting.
My friend Linda took this. 
The most beautiful of the restaurants--Silk
 Surf and Turf from American Icon--
I had this twice!

And then it was Tuesday.  Our last day,
and my last chance for a ride on the North Star.
The weather forecast was very promising.
North Star opened at 9:00 A.M.
So I got up early and was all bundled up
and in line by 8:30.

The line was already very long, but I never hesitated.
If it had taken me all day I would have waited.
The weather was very tolerable.
I had lovely "queue" mates.
They even let me do this for a while.

 And about 2 hours later, it was our turn!


Now I can go home!
Wait til you hear about that part!  
And you won't even have to wake up before
the crack of dawn like I did to see it!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Main Event

Yes, London was just to be the warm-up act.
To my great delight, it turned out to be so much more!

At 10:30 A.M. on Tuesday morning, October 27th,
I was picked up at my hotel by a 
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line bus for 
transfer to the cruise terminal in
Southampton, England.
Just look what was waiting for me there!

Didn't I get a great shot?
And all that printing I managed to get on there!

Actually, I was only able to snap bits of the ship
through the bus window as we arrived at the port.

 And there would be no more opportunities for
an overall shot of the ship.
No--I was off for 8 days at sea,
crossing the N. Atlantic to the good old U.S.A.

My stateroom was another small room for one only!
No paying double--no single supplement.
For the first time ever, my luggage actually
beat me to my room!
Here I am arriving at 7652.

 (No making fun of my quantity of luggage allowed.)


The size of the room was perfectly fine.
It had a balcony--but no chair in the room.
That was the only drawback.
The bathroom was standard size--plenty big.

If you will click on that last picture you will see
a black bracelet in a plastic holder on the bed.
That was my WOW band.
It opened my cabin door, charged items to me,
opened the Concierge Lounge door, etc.
With the band on, I couldn't lock myself out
 of my room!
(Which I usually do a couple of times!)

I had studied the ship's features extensively,
so I didn't miss much!
I headed for "270" (degrees exposure, I think.)
That is where the famous roast beef
sandwiches are on the Anthem!

 270 is Huge!
Complete expanse of the back of the ship.
I don't know how my camera angle managed 
to make it look small.

Royal Caribbean did an excellent job with
my dining table placement.
I was with 2 other ladies traveling solo--
one from near Houston and one from Florida.

Here we are in the nicest restaurant--Grande.
That's Linda in the center and Donna on the right.
Donna was actually my next door neighbor--
7650 to my 7652!
Linda and I enjoyed some shows together.
Great match, RC!
For a person who had no chair in her room, this
was life saving--or at least back saving!
 I spent lots of time here.

Cappuccinos, lattes, etc. here 24/7.

Through the web site Cruise Critic I had volunteered
my cabin for the "Cabin Crawl."
Groups traveled around looking at all the
different cabin categories.
The ship was rocking and reeling so bad that
I joked that we might all have to end up
actually crawling to see the cabins.
In fact, here's a video taken in 270 as I was
waiting for the Cabin Crawl to begin.

We were hit by several exceptionally big waves.
I don't know if you can tell, but I just
happened to be filming when this one came along.
Those two ladies are rushing over to try to
photograph it.

After only about a day and a half of mind-bending
effort, I managed to get the wave visible from here!!!
Just click below,
even though the print is not very mammoth!

Mammoth wave

I got to visit one of the two story suites.

Not only a chair--a sofa!!!
I got to sit out on my balcony for a while
a couple of days.

 I really have no idea how I took this picture!
At noon on Halloween the captain delighted in 
telling us we were exactly halfway between
Southampton and Bayonne, NJ, our destination.
Incidentally, I loved our captain.
He began every announcement with:
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Good afternoon dear guests,  good afternoon
dear crew."
I hope there really was as much concern for
the crew on this ship as there seemed to be.
Here I am with Captain Claus:
(which he pronounced "Close.")

 Just a little f.y.i.
I can't stand fake backgrounds!
Now how could we possibly be standing as pictured
when we're in the middle of the Atlantic?
But the picture was free.

Sharing my adventure with you takes me almost
 as long as the adventure itself did! come back.
The best is yet to come!