Fall Vacation Cruise, 2005

Wake at 3:30 1/2 hour early both of us have not been sleeping well, too much to do. Grape nuts, milk, V8 and grapefruit for me yogurt for Berni. Quick drive to LAX at this time of day. Amazing how crowded the C lot shuttle bus is at 5:15 am. Have to check in with humans for an international flight, I've gotten so used to ATM style boarding passes. We booked through United but the flight is actually Air Canada. We are a little early but it suits both Berni and I. We couldn't pick our seats so we end up with a center and a window, I ask for an aisle and they have one so I leave Berni with an empty seat next to her and I get an aisle farther back. I have a young Canadian women next to me reading 'The Art of Selling'. She does not say a word to me the entire flight. Berni's closest passenger is an oil man from Edmonton Alberta. He and his family have been vacationing at Disneyland. He was speculating about all the work that might arise from the hurricane headed towards Texas. Either they have changed Vancouver airport or Air Canada has better gate locations because the walk to customs is much shorter than the last time we were here. Luggage retrieval and Customs are uneventful and quick. I have reserved a full sized car - Hertz gives us the choice between a Yukon, a Durango and a mini-van. I chose the Durango thinking it will be the smallest, it may be but it's still big. It has running boards and you really have to climb up into it to mount up. We get good directions from the Hertz girl on how to find the ferry with some minor excitement we found the ferry terminal. $40 for the ride on the Ferry this wouldn't be a cheap commute. We are an hour and 15 minutes early and a good thing too, the ferry is full and traffic is heavy, the queue is 70% full when we arrive. We get out, stretch and look around. We are bound for Gibsons on the sunshine coast. The ferry ride is only forty minutes. The views are spectacular and Berni finds the tourists information and pumps them for 20 minutes. Gibsons is 10 minutes from the ferry landing. We park and go to lunch at "Molly's Reach." It is on the water. As we look for a table with a great view a lady invites us over to sit with her at her spectacular view table. The place is a bar that serves food but right on the water. We find out about her kids, her house rebuilding project, her dad, her divorce, she's a nurse by the way. She finally pays her check and we eat our burgers. We are very hungry. It turns out "Molly's Reach" was a star in a Canadian TV series "The Beachcomber." We head up to the BnB, "The Maritimer" and meet Wendy, the innkeeper. Great rooms, we get our choice. We stay with the lighthouse room. It's in the attic with a great view of the inlet. We take a little drive down the coast to Sechelt. It is a township run by a local Indian tribe. We park by the water side and watch the sunset. I get a much needed 20 minute nap. We drive back to Gibson and have dinner at one of the restaurants Wendy suggested the "New Orleans Cafe" very nice place with a great view of the water. An all female staff from bus person to Chef and all in between. Great Restaurant with view of the water is a recurring theme on this part of the trip. We have jambalaya and an apple salad for starters then pork tenderloin and Salmon with yahoo sauce. Desserts are a coffee chocolate mousse and apple bread pudding. The butter tastes better in British Colombia? Great meal. We tried to stay up to watch TV but failed. Asleep by 10.

Saturday 9/24

Wendy believes in BIG breakfast! Strawberries, yogurt and granola. Egg cups - Canadian bacon pushed down into cupcake tins with an egg and cheese on top, baked in an oven served with fresh tomatoes from her garden. Then chocolate zucchini bread as a breakfast dessert!!! Took the walk downtown today. School road has a 22% grade, this thing is steep. I don't think I have ever in my life walked on a steeper road. We do some light recon shopping, buy some theater tickets at the coast bookstore. Our first close look at the marina. A real eclectic mix, million dollar yachts and barely floating hulks. One houseboat has its own floating barge garden. The hike back was great cardio. Took a ride down to Roberts Creek and had lunch at Gumboot cafe. A real throwback to the sixties. All vegi and organic, pot smoking Rastafarian on the back patio. We have mushroom pizza and I had an organic root beer, Berni had a real beer. More art shopping and reading kills the most of afternoon. To give you some idea of how lush and green it is, one of the businesses in the area offers moss removal for your roof! We stop in at the Maritime Museum in Gibsons before we freshen up for dinner .Very nice little 2 story building. Maritime stuff one the first floor, lots of ship models and small marine engines. Second floor was local memorabilia. Very interesting stuff, 1920 dental stuff, Berni found it a gas. Dinner tonight is at the Haus Europa. One of the few places without an ocean view. A Swiss couple run it, combination restaurant on the ground floor, and their home on the second floor. Europa salad, smoked cod on focaccia bread, veal with goat cheese melted on top and a scallop risotto. Chocolate mousse and caramel custard. Off to the playhouse. Great Community Theater, seats 160. Two one act plays by Canadian playwrights. Good acting but the plays were a little dark and off beat. Locals must have thought so also, only about 50 people in attendance.

Sunday 9/25

Sleeping well which is always a blessing. We had another giant breakfast. Waffles, sausage, whipped cream on strawberries and a homemade oatmeal bar rounds out the menu. I literally couldn't finish. Down School street again and off to see Herb the water taxi guy at the marina. One of the many colorful BC types we meet on this trip. The people we have met are invariably friendly, helpful and a downright pleasure. Herb takes use on a 45 minute tour of the inlet. There is an island off Gibson. The water taxi is the only way to get there other than your own boat which a lot of these houses have. Lots of multistory million dollar homes. After the cruise Berni decides she needs to do some serious clothes shopping, I climb up School street, back to the B&B and watch football and the President's cup golf. A nap ensues. Berni returns at 2:30 and naps till 4. We head down to the "Blue Heron" in sechelt. Another Wendy recommendation. We arrived 15 minutes early, they suggested we walk their pier. Creaky and old, kind of shaky. Great view of Porpoise inlet. We set down to smoked duck Breast appetizers, Caesar salad, tomato soup, seafood medley prawns, salmon, swordfish, Berni had scallops. Raspberry cheesecake and apple tart for dessert. Did you notice we skipped lunch? Back to Sechelt to see the penguin movie. Surprisingly large crowd for a Sunday night. Great film. Back to the B & B to watch a little TV and off to bed.

Monday 9/26

I woke up around 5:30, Berni 6. I showered and watched Canadian sports centre. Get the football and baseball with lots of hockey coverage. Only college football was the SC score since UCLA has a bye. It is the only score I was interested in anyway. One more giant breakfast. Plums, BC grapes and bananas. Cheese omelets and bacon, croissants, toast with grandma apple quint jelly. Two baked apples each with whipped cream. I dropped Berni off in the village and went to fill up the Durango. Close to $50 Canadian for 11 gallons OUCH!! I found Berni trudging up the hill towards an art gallery Wendy told her about. Made it sound like it was just up the hill. It was about 1/2 mile up a steep hill. Berni was glad I found her. The "Eye of the Eagle" was very interesting. Met a lady there who was framing a 10 picture digitally stitched panorama of Gibson taken from the water looking up the hill. Neat picture. We chat about Photoshop for a while. We escape with no purchases and head to ferry. As Wendy predicted, the ferry is not full and a nice surprise, they do not charge for going back to the city. Trip back to the city is noneventful. We find Hertz place downtown and drop off the car very close to the cruise ship dock. The Hertz guy is a big cruise fan so we spend the time waiting for his driver to return talking about different cruise ship and real-estate prices in Vancouver. We get shuttled down to the cruise ship terminal gratis, what a deal. Check in is painless. We are on the 14th deck Lido deck top passenger deck on the ship. This room has a balcony, the first time for us. Wendy and Roger have sent chocolate strawberries and champagne. We hold the champagne for another night, eat 1/2 of the strawberries and put the rest in the frig. I sit down to watch PTI while Berni sets up her spa appointments.

I ask her to check out the gym if she can. I'm getting hungry and Berni's been gone for almost an hour, I leave a note and head to the buffet. Berni finds me and recounts her tale of woe, in her attempt to check out the gym for me she got caught up in a mandatory spa and gym tour/sales pitch. She finally escaped and my note preserved marital bliss. We watched the ship depart from our balcony and watched it go out under Lions Gate Bridge. We had just driven across it 5 hours earlier. We watched a little TV. They actually switched over to an ABC channel so we got to see some of Monday Night Football. Off to dinner. We both had prime rib. The show was a comedian / magician. We decided to pass and went to bed.

Tuesday 9/27

Today is Victoria. Breakfast buffet then off to whale watching. It is a fairly large boat. We decided to sit on the front of the ship, relatively popular seats until we got under way. At which time the splash and wind drove off those concerned with their hair. The biologist was young energetic and informative. Learned about the three types of Orcas - locals, offshore and transients. We spotted a local young male who put on quite a show. He seemed as interested in us as we were in him. We spent about 3 hours out and saw several whale, sea lions (related to bears genetically) and seals. A great tour. We walked from the boat dock to downtown to the Empress Hotel, we have reservations for 2 PM but the ship is leaving at 5 and they want everyone back on board by 4 so we want to move up if possible. The tea room is not that crowded and they fit us in at 12:30. You are paying for the ambiance at the Empress and the place has it in spades. We spend a very enjoyable hour and a half with Yosepf our waiter drinking the Empress blend tea and eating little sandwiches and desserts. After tea we went to miniature world. A cute little tourist trap with at least forty dioramas of historical scenes. I found the model of a sawmill and the explanation of it's working the most interesting. We both enjoyed it. Instead of the shuttle bus we took a pedi cab back. The owner operator was in very good shape he gave a running dialog while pedaling us back, informative and fun. I hit the gym while Berni shopped. Dinner for both of us was veal chops. Very good. We got out of dinner late and couldn't find seats together at musical show. Good show but irritating that it was so full. Will have to talk to waiters about speeding it up at dinner. You sure can tell we are in the Pacific, the ship is moving and rolling as much as any cruise ship I have ever been on. Not bad enough to cause seasickness in me but taxing for the stabilization system. Off to bed.

Wednesday 9/28

This is our sea day. We have wine tasting in the afternoon. Note in door from Roger inviting us to line dancing and bingo. After breakfast in the restaurant, much preferred to the buffet by me, we head off to beginner line dancing class lead by a Lindsay Lohan look a like. Funny having a Brit teaching country and western dancing. Roger does not show up until half way through the lesson which gets a raised eyebrow from this suffering student. We attempted to learn 3 dances, very complicated foot work, I was good at none of them but I didn't step on anyone or crash into them or fall down so I considered it a roaring success. It was a good aerobic work out and I was very happy when it ended. Berni stayed to play bingo then off for her massage. I went back to the room to read and catch up on the journal. We went to late lunch at the buffet. Then off to wine tasting. Mostly entertainment with the Italian maitre d' regaling the crowd on his philosophy on life and food. The wines were from California and Australia. The chardonnay and the dessert wine were especially good. Back to the room to relax before dressing for formal night. We end up captive in our room while they helicopter a sick passenger to the Humboldt coast guard station. No idea what the medical emergency is but it must be serious because you have to pay for the helicopter ride in this era of fiscal restraint. Lots of pictures before dinner. Berni looks great in them, me not so good. Well my mother and daughter will like them. Dinner is Mahi Mahi for me and lobster thermador for Berni. We do get out on time. The conversation with Jigger, our waiter has born fruit. A comedian with very funny observations on cruise life and cruise passengers. We both laughed a lot. The rest of the group went to talent night, we went to bed.

Thursday 9/29

We awake to PA announcements about checking in with US customs. We head down to customs and the off to breakfast. Customs is painless and breakfast is very good, eggs benedict. We go to our meeting place for our tour and wait, and wait for the last stragglers to get down to customs. No one can disembark until all clear customs. Finally 45 minutes after our scheduled departure we are off to the Muir woods. A very curvy road, Berni pre-medicated with motion sickness medication. The woods were well worth the trouble. A quiet place even with the large number of tourist you see everywhere in the San Francisco area. The coastal redwoods are very tall and majestic. The walk is easy and we have a nice relaxing hour or so. We mounted up and headed for Sausalito. Same curvy road back out. An hour and 15 minutes for lunch. Berni picks the "Spinnaker" restaurant. Margarita's, crab sandwiches and a great view. A little shopping and back to the ship. We camp out on balcony and watch the passage back out under the Golden Gate. Quite a spectacular sight. Back to casual dress and a stop to pick out pictures. Dinner is crispy duck for me and crawfish for Berni. We are off to the second big stage production. We settle in to our seats. Of the 4 of us I see most of the production. The arms of morphius ( they fell asleep ) capture the rest of the group. It was based on music from spy films and TV productions. Very good. Off to bed.

Friday 9/30

Up at 6:30, will have to readjust back to 5:30 when we get home. Another beautiful day we have had wonderful weather the entire trip. Breakfast in the dinning room. We set with 4 other Californians. Fun breakfast. The ship anchors off Santa Barbara and they tender you in. The tenders are their lifeboats. They hold a lot of people. We are on a trolley bus tour of Santa Barbara. We learn quite a bit even if we have been here 50 times before, including our Honeymoon. We are on the bus with six 30 something wives from Utah who have left their children home with there husbands. They are anticipating big messes when they return home. We saw several parks we did not know about, some shopping areas and museums that we plan to visit. On the way back to ship the Utah girls got off at a major shopping center to put one more dent in there credit before returning home. We went over to Sterns wharf for lunch at "Moby Dicks." Great view and a good lunch, I had white roughy and Berni had lobster ravioli. It's a very warm day, has to be close to 90. We headed back to the ship for naps. We pack up our clothes and set our suitcase in the hall before we leave for dinner. We are off to see the comic we enjoyed a couple of nights ago. He had new material and was again very funny. Sort of a Bob Newhart everyman dead pan delivery. Dinner was prawns for me and chicken for Berni. We all agreed to meet for breakfast at 7:30 AM. We head off to the last show. A female singer from Branson Missouri with big blonde hair, go figure. Good Entertainment and our naps allowed us to see all of it. Off to bed. Berni at the suggestion of Gigi leaves the sliding glass door open so she can here the waves.

Saturday 10/1

3:15 AM we are entering San Pedro and it's very foggy. The ship has a very large and loud fog horn and is using it. The door being open makes it even louder. Berni closes the door. We sleep fitfully until 6. We meet at 7:30 AM at the restaurant for breakfast and we are all here. Quite an accomplishment for 16 people. We end up at our dinner tables, a rare occurrence at breakfast. They have French toast supposedly made from the Santa Fe diner recipes. Of course I have to try it. It is made with a corn flake batter, crunchy and good. Disembarkation is painless and fast. We are off the ship and outside with our luggage by 9:00 AM! We told Fred 11 AM so cell phone calls ensue. Fred and Carmi pick us up around 10:15 AM . Fred made it exciting by circling the Terminal a couple of times. Carmi has some shopping in the area she wants to do so after we pick up the Truck at the C lot we go home and dump luggage and they shop. We meet at Market City Cafe and go to lunch together. This ends stage one of the fall vacation, we will be off to Maine on 10/7.