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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dulles to home (really, this time)

May 5

Slept very badly.  The bed and pillows were much harder than I like but at least the sheets were nice.  Woke up every hour or so all night long.  Got up about 8:50 (I had optimistically set the alarm for 9:00).  Since I had virtually nothing with me, it did not take long to get ready.

Down to the lobby about 9:10 and checked out.  The shuttle to the airport was scheduled to leave at 9:30 but there were dozens of people in the lobby.  Luckily they were not waiting for the shuttle and there were only nine of us.

Arrived at the airport at 9:45.  My boarding pass was marked pre-approved so security went quickly.  Had to take the "mobile lounge shuttle" to one of the midfield terminals and arrived at my gate by 10:10.

Watched the planes and saw the little puddlejumper I was taking arrive.  Sat until I saw my suitcases being put on (being bright turquoise they are easy to spot).  The plane was nowhere close to full and many people spread out.  Since I was in the same clothes as yesterday, I felt sorry for the man next to me.

The flight was a grand total of 22 minutes from take-off to landing and a few more minutes for taxiing.  We arrived a few minutes early and my luggage came off the carousel just as I arrived in the baggage claim area.

My friend Carolyn picked me up and took me back to her house where I had left my car.  I was home at 2:30.

Another wonderful adventure is over.  I met some great people and saw some new places that I hope to visit again.

Stay tuned for my next cruise in October.  Four friends and I will be cruising to New England and Canada.

Smooth sailing until next time!

From the selfie camera at the Space Needle

The trolley barricade I described yesterday

The puddlejumper (we walked down the blue ramp on the right and then up the steps built into the plane)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Seattle to home (not really but I am in Virginia)

May 4

Woke up for the first time around 5:15 and about every half hour after that until finally getting out of bed at 8:48.  Checked my messages and, sure enough, my flight had been delayed.  When I booked in November the flight was supposed to leave Sea-Tac at 12:50 and arrive at IAD at 8:38 giving me an hour and 22 minutes lay over.  In February the flight was changed to 1:21 arriving at Dulles at 9:20 (layover down to 40 minutes).  This morning's message says we will not leave Seattle until 1:50 but arrive in Washington at 9:30.  Without any more delays I should make my Richmond flight (but my bags might not, which is ok since I'm going home).

After getting dressed I went down to the continental breakfast and had some juice and a roll.  Went back and got my luggage and then called for a cab.  They said 3-7 minutes but the taxi arrived as I was schlepping my second suitcase out of the door of the hotel.  The ride to the airport only took 20 minutes and I was checked in five minutes later.

Although my boarding pass was not marked "TSA pre approved" I was sent to that lane and was through much faster (and did not have to take off my shoes) than the other lanes.  One of my Cruise Critic friends and I had a discussion about this and he thinks it has to do with age (old people are less likely to be terrorists???).

Found a nice place to sit by a big picture window where I can watch the planes load/unload and take off/land.  Bought an over priced, not very tasty bagel while waiting.

It is now 1:05 and my flight is now delayed until 2:10 and not scheduled to arrive in DC until 10:02 - after my connecting flight leaves.

About 1:15 they announced that those who would not make connecting flights needed to get in line to discuss changes.  In a not very proactive manner there were only two employees (although there were four computers) to make changes for the 20 or so people in line.  I was up to the fourth in line when boarding started.  We backed away from the gate at 2:18 so I will definitely not make my flight.

I am in seat 1B (asked for 3B but they changed planes and 3B is in economy on this one) and have a good view of the galley and the door to the cockpit.  Just watched an interesting safety measure.  The captain signaled that he needed to come out of the cockpit so the flight attendant in the front called for one in the back to come forward.  After she did they placed one of the trolleys sideways across the bulkhead so nobody could get past.  The captain came out and one of the flight attendants went in (I understand US carriers have been doing this for some time whereas European ones only started after the tragedy with the German plane).  Only after the copilot had a break did the attendant come out and they finally removed the trolley barricade.  (They just did it again and I was able to get a picture.)

They served lunch which was not the best meal ever.  The salad was tasty but the chicken was so dry I thought I was going to choke.  There was an interesting potato cake and some broccoli that had seen better days.  On the other hand the gelato (first time I ever had that on a plane) was delicious as was the chocolate chip cookie that was brought around six pm (still on Pacific time).

We landed at 10:00 so I missed my flight.  United has me booked on a flight tomorrow that should get me home about 1:30 pm.  They gave me a voucher for a hotel that gave me half off a room at the Hilton (I only have to pay $69 plus tax).  Took the hotel shuttle with a van load of other stranded passengers.  The hotel does not even have free wifi so I am using my iPhone as a personal hotspot.

Going to watch The Tonight Show and go to bed.  Will have a final post tomorrow.

Smooth sailing until next time!

Seattle, Washington

May 3

Woke up a little after 9 and stopped by the continental breakfast around 10 for a glass of orange juice and a muffin.  Then set out and took some pictures in the area before walking to the trolley stop.

On the ship a number of people told me I had to go to the observation deck on the Seattle if it was clear.  Well, it was another beautiful sunny day in Seattle so, even though I hate heights, I decided to do it.  Got in line for a ticket and was able to get on the elevator within 15 minutes.

The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair and has been popular even since.  The elevator gets you to the observation deck in about 40 seconds.  I made sure I stood in the back of the elevator away from the glass.  Once you get to the top there is an enclosed area and then a few steps down is the open area.  It didn't actually bother me because you could not look straight down.  The view was spectacular and Mount Rainier was clearly visible (the guide on the trolley says it is only visible about 1 day out of 10).  Spent an hour at the top and I bet nobody will be surprised to find that the elevator that brings you down goes directly to the gift shop.  They had a Seattle scrapbook package on sale so I had to have it.

Back on the trolley for a ride downtown.  I was going to walk around and find something to eat and since the trolley was empty they dropped me off right by Macy's.  I walked around and ended up in the food court at Westlake Center.  As I was eating my pretzel and drinking a smoothie I watched the monorail (also built for the '62 World's Fair and still using the same cars) I thought that would be a fun thing to do and get me back to the trolley stop.  It only takes a few minutes but it gave me another view of the city.

Got on the 5:00 trolley and rode back round to Pioneer Square arriving just before 6:00.  Both of  my keycards had stopped functioning so I had to go back to the desk to get them reactivated.

Since I had not had a real lunch, I decided to try the Italian Restaurant two doors down from the hotel.  Had a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner.  Back to the hotel around 7:00

Back to Virginia tomorrow.

Smooth sailing until next time!

the hotel where I am staying

                                                                              street art

the Pioneer Building was built in 1892 and during the gold rush many of the mining companies had their headquarters there - later it was a speakeasy during Prohibition

Chief Sealth the Duwamish leader for which the city is named

the Space Needle

view of the city with Mount Rainier about in the center of the picture

one of three giant metal spiders on the roof of a building

a view of the sound and mountains

note the monorail in the center of picture 

ferry coming into the sound

four pictures of Chihuly art


monument to firefighters in Occidental Square

a rally in Occidental Square

Waterfall Garden at the sight where UPS was started

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Seattle, Washington

May 2

Had a hard time getting to sleep last night.  I tossed and turned for over an hour, finally falling asleep after 1 am.  The announcement for self-disembarkation came around 7:20 but I went back to sleep since my scheduled time was 9:00.  Got up a little before eight and was heading to deck 2 to wait when the announcement for my tag color came at 8:30!

Walked right off (no line) and Shane, the CD, and a number of crew members were saying goodbye as we got off.  Found my luggage quickly and bumped into Connie and Sue and had a chance to say bye again.  No trouble getting a taxi and was at the hotel at 9:00.

Luckily, they were able to find me a room so I was able to leave my things before heading out for the day.  I am staying in Pioneer Square, a very historic area.  The hotel is in a registered historical building.  The area is kind of quirky.  It was the area where the city began when Henry Yeslar built a lumber mill in the area in the 1850s.  Much of it was destroyed in a fire in the 1880s but became important again when the Klondike Gold Rush began in the late 1890s.  The miners would stop here and get all of the supplies they needed for the gold fields.

Headed out for the Emerald City trolley about 9:15.  Had to wait until about 9:45 but there was a nice park bench in the square to sit on.  Took the trolley around once and then got off the Pike Place Market.  Had lunch then walked around for about three hours.  I visited the oldest existing Starbucks (they moved to this location around 1976 although it is usually referred to as the "first" one).  I saw them throwing the fish at Pike Place Fish Co. but was unable to get a picture (they were too fast).  The flower stalls were amazing and a huge bouquet was only $10.  All kinds of little shops and stalls on a variety of levels to look through.

Got back on the trolley around three and rode back to Pioneer Square (about two hours) and picked up a couple of soft drinks and a sandwich because I was too tired to go back out for dinner.

Looked through my pictures and enjoyed high speed internet (unlimited internet on the ship was nice but not always fast).  Turned on the TV to a Seattle station that was playing Canadian shows.  I was very surprised to find the episode of "Murdoch Mysteries" based on the book I am reading.    What a coincidence!

The weather was very different from what I was expecting.  I was thinking cloudy skies and rain (at least showers).  The sky was very blue (reminded me of the line in the song "Seattle" that says "The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle").  Heard on the news that the high was 64F but I was glad I took my jacket with me.  (Tomorrow is supposed to be 71.)

Another day on the trolley tomorrow.

Smooth sailing until next time!

Smith Towere built in 1914 and once the tallest building west of the Mississippi

street scene in Pioneer Square

street scene in Pioneer Square

iron and glass pergola originally built in 1909

dragon on lightpole in International District

International picture

just a few of the flowers at the market

inside of the oldest existing Starbucks

some of the fishmongers at Pike Place fish

the famous entrance

best picture I could get of the Space Needle

King Street Station

paving stones laid out in a Native American basket weaving pattern

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Vancouver, BC, Canada

May 1

Woke up about 7:00 and snoozed off and on until almost 8:00.  Off the ship and through the terminal and  finally to the hop-on, hop-off bus stop a little before nine.

Dennis was our driver/guide and gave an interesting commentary as we drove around the city.  Stanley Park (which is about three times the size of Central Park in NYC) was beautiful.  We passed through Chinatown and Gastown (really want to spend some time here next visit).

Getting back on the ship was a nightmare.  First we were directed around Canada Place but the door to enter the terminal was not marked and a number of us walked all around trying to find the entrance.  Once inside there were people from three cruise ships and no line for those of us "in transit".  We were given a different color ticket than those embarking for the first time.  #7-15 of the new passengers were called (and 45 minutes passed) before we were finally called.  Then down about 30 steps (my knees were not happy) and then we had to go through a snaky line before reaching US Immigration.  Finally back on the ship 75 minutes after getting my ticket.

Lunch once I was back on board and said good-bye to two more Cruise Critic friends (missed all of the ones getting off this morning).

Went to Culinary trivia at three but there were only four of us so Liz just asked us questions without a real game.  We each got a pin and a deck of HAL playing cards.

At  four it  was time for another muster drill.  Up to deck nine for the sail-away afterwards.  Sat and read for awhile before getting ready for dinner.

Connie, Sue, Rebecca (she is just doing a one day cruise) and I played pub trivia.  We had fifteen and tied three other teams but Santana gave an extra point to another team because of their name so we did not win.
Q.  What is the largest political party in the world?
Q.  What is a nanosecond?
Q.  Goat, Three Sisters and Luna are islands near what tourist attraction?

All five of us were present for dinner.  I chose an Indonesian meal which was good but way too much food.  Strawberry crisp for dessert but could not finish all of it.

Came back to my cabin to finish packing.

Pub trivia - Communist, one billionth of a second, Niagara Falls

Smooth sailing until next time!

one of the older buildings

Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Stanley Park

replica of the figurehead from RMS Empress of Japan

"Girl in a Wetsuit" - much like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

street light in Chinatown


Canada Place from deck 10

Vancouver as we sailed away

Friday, May 1, 2015

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

April 30

Awakened just before 9:00 to an overcast sky with mountains on both sides (I get up about 5:30 and open my curtains since I can't leave them open at night).  Watched the morning show (which was about disembarkation over the next two days) and then went to the craft class at ten.  We made pompom luggage tags or book marks.

Trivia was early today since we arrived in Victoria about the time trivia is usually held.  We had 12 correct and the winner had 15.
Q.  Who fathered Cleopatras's twins?
Q.  What country has the longest coastline?
Q.  Where are the finals of Wimbledon held?

After trivia it was time to get my coat (high today was only about 13C/55F), change shoes and purses.  Went down to deck 2 and watched us dock.  Was off the ship about 1:15 and our tour departed at 1:30.  I chose a highlights of Victoria tour so that I could get an idea of what the city was like.  Victoria is a beautiful city, very clean, and every home seems to have a beautiful garden.  Looking forward to a return visit.

Back on the ship about 4 pm and I was starving (I hadn't had breakfast or lunch) so went to the Lido for a delicious egg salad sandwich and salad.  Penny and June came in about 5:00 and we talked about our activities (June had visited with one of her sisters who lives just outside Victoria).

Pub trivia was not one of out better ones.  We only had 8 right and the winner 14.
Q.  Which Disney film was their first feature length film with no animation?
Q.  What was the first of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to be built?
Q.  Which planet is most like Earth?

Had to say good-bye to June and Penny as they get off tomorrow.  We had a group picture taken with Santana, the show host (she also hosts Pub trivia).
Dinner was good and Patty shared her wine with us - a nice Moscato.  I had steak and Strawberries Romanoff.

The show tonight was not until 10:30 and was the comedian from last night.  I gave it a pass since I have to meet for my excursion at 8:45 tomorrow.

Team Trivia - Mark Anthony, Canada, centre court
Pub trivia - Treasure Island, pyramids, Mars

Smooth sailing until next time!
totem pole

the second oldest golf course in North America

phone box and street light in Chinatown

Inner Harbor

the Empress Hotel (opened in 1908)

British Columbia Parliament Building (finished in 1897)