Saturday, October 22, 2022

Willie Nelson must be very happy...


I usually write this blog several days in advance, so this post will be relating to old news for most of us. President Biden has issued a blanket pardon for all those people convicted of the federal crime of possessing cannabis.  Our president has also urged congress to change the laws regarding cannabis, and has encouraged governors at the state level to do the same thing for their jurisdictions.  I can only imagine Willie Nelson lighting up a spliff to celebrate this event.

- - - - - -

When I was in college, I was one of the few people who didn't have a connection to buy my own weed. Therefore, I only smoked if a friend would pass me his or her joint.  For the most part, cannabis had little effect on me at the time, as it only made me sleepy.  I can still remember one of the few times that I did get high, and I was tasked to drive from Flushing to Fresh Meadows (Queens county, NY).  Instead of making a left turn onto the Long Island Expressway's service road, I continued South until I reached the outskirts of Jamaica.  Let's just say that my my then girlfriend was more affected than I was, and that the only way to see the movie Logan's Run is well under the influence.

Over the years, I have had some interesting experiences with weed, but not in the way you might expect.  For example, I was engaged once, and the woman who I was engaged to didn't think I would smoke.  She lit up a joint, shared it with her friend, and didn't even think I'd enjoy a smoke.  (You can easily guess that I didn't get married to that woman.) Another time, I was with a friend who was recovering from cancer, and he shared some of his stash.  While smoking, "The House of the Rising Sun" came on the radio, and I did an impromptu translation of the first verse into (my long forgotten) German. Lastly, I visited some friends (documented in my previous blog) to watch some old cartoons, and enjoyed some of their stash - and had to wait a while before I was safe to drive.  (People needed to be fully alert to drive to/from their home.)  There are more stories, but these are the ones that first come to mind.

Now that cannabis is legal in New York, I don't find that it will influence how I live my life.  Although recreational cannabis is not officially available in my state, it is available in at least one nearby state. I have no urge to go to a dispensary to buy any weed.  Yet, I will continue to advocate for complete legalization, as I consider cannabis to deliver a safer high than that from other legal substances.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Day 11 - Debarkation and a Possible Disaster

The cruise ship arrived in New York Harbor much earlier than expected. And today was a day where I made many mistakes due to being tired and exhausted from walking an average of 3 miles per day.

- - - - - -

Both of us woke up early, and became alert as the ship cruised under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.  This is where RQS spent the last bit of charge in her camera, trying to get shots of the New York Harbor at night.  Only one problem - it is hard to get a stable picture when the ship is moving and one is barely awake.  

Around 7:30, we went to the restaurant and had a leisurely breakfast.  And then, it was off to the terminal to claim our luggage before heading home.  As now being usual, the luggage handlers put my bag in the wrong area, and I had to look in a different area to find it.  Unlike past trips, there was no one at the customs desks - we could walk right out of the terminal without having our passports inspected again.  And then it was time to go home....

RQS summoned an Uber, and had a second rate driver take her home.  As for me, Cabbies only wanted to take people to the airport.  And after about an hour of waiting, I joined a couple from England walking East to hail a cab.  All 3 of us got in the cab, and we headed for the East Side.  And there my trouble began.  When I reached Grand Central, I forgot my big bag in the car.  I was going a little bit crazy until I received a call on my cell phone.  The English couple was only a block away, and I could pick up my bag.  Will miracles never cease?  So, after retrieving my bag, it was back to Grand Central where I could take the train home.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Day 10 - A Last Sea Day


This was the last day of our cruise. Not only were we sad because the cruise was almost over, but we also knew that we'd be dealing with the problems of the real world upon our arrival.

- - - - - -

We decided to wake up late, as it was the last full day of the cruise. Our first thing to do was to ask for a couple of “attaboy” cards from Guest Services, so that we could extend our thanks to the two crew members (our room steward and a waitress at a restaurant) who went above and beyond the call of duty. Then it was off to breakfast.

After breakfast, we went to the ship's theater for by a presentation from the ship’s captain on how the ship is run, coupled with a Q&A session.. It was nice to hear the audience applaud him for safely getting us to Corner Brook instead of assuming we could port at any of the Canadian ports we were scheduled to use. Afterwards, it was back to our cabin, where we were able to hand our steward his gratuity - and found another towel animal hanging in the room. That was a nice touch that we didn’t expect on the last day of our cruise.

Packing for debarkation is always a pain in the neck, as there are always some things that can easily be forgotten. I also now worry about my bag being misplaced by the baggage handlers, and RQS understood where I was coming from. (And yes, they did misplace this bag the next morning. But I digress.) We were able to get our bags out in the hallway by 11 pm, and then get a little rest before coming into New York Harbor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Day 09 - Boston, MA


Boston. Today, we'd meet RQS's friend and go to see "Old Ironsides".

- - - - - -

We’re supposed to see one of RQS's friends, and I don’t know what to expect from this friend. RQS mentioned things about this friend that might bother me in other circumstances. Luckily, we would have a short time with her, and have the rest of the day for ourselves.

Around 9:15, we met up with her friend and toured “Old Ironsides” in a drizzling rain. We found a subtle way to get her friend to drive us back to our ship before taking a nap. Shortly after reaching our room, we had a knock on the door - my laundry had arrived. $15 for a full bag wasn’t bad ($29 with a 50% discount for my Gold Latitudes level.) But I’d never pay $5.00 to get a T-shirt laundered on board, so I was simply being careful to combine discounts where possible. RQS and I are now seriously talking about where to cruise next. However, we both realize that her cats will be a complication for us when we decide to cruise again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Day 08 - Portland, ME


One of these days, I'll get the chance to take this tourist train. Like most of these trains, the ride is overpriced. But the money goes for a good purpose - to keep the history of passenger railroading alive.

- - - - - -

Neither of us wanted to get up early enough for the "sit down" breakfast. We ended up heading to the buffet for another large breakfast. (We’ll both need to diet after this trip!) While at breakfast, I decided to send a bag to the ship’s laundry, as I didn’t want to wash both a load of whites and a load of colors when I returned home. After breakfast, we ordered some photos of the two of us, and returned to the cabin to wait until we reached Portland. While in the cabin, I stuffed a bit of dirty laundry into the paper bag and asked the room steward to take care of it.

When we reached Portland, we did the compulsory meeting with US Immigration Service before leaving the ship to explore the shore front. We walked along the main drag and found a tolerable place to have some clam chowder. (We should have skipped the nachos we ordered with the chowder bowls.) Then, we walked back to the ship to rest.

After our nap, it was off to the Hibachi Specialty restaurant on the ship. This was a mistake, as we've had better Hibachi on land. If we had thought about things, we would have visited this place one night later, as both of us were too full from lunch to enjoy this meal properly.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Day 07 - St. John, NB


St. John, NB. This is a port that I'd skip for St. Johns, NL. There are only two things worth seeing when in St. John, and one of them will almost always be unavailable to cruise ship passengers - a visit to a park on the Bay of Fundy, where one can walk on the ocean floor at low tide.

- - - - - -

Both of us found it hard to get moving when we woke up. But we were able to make it to one of the main dining rooms in time for breakfast, and sat with a couple from England. (This was RQS's first experience sharing a table with other cruiser for a meal.) We had a nice chat with this couple, and wouldn’t mind dining with them again.

After breakfast, it was out and about in St. John. Since I visited the place before, I knew that this wasn’t a place for shore excursions. Instead, we walked to a coffee shop for some free Wi-Fi, then to an empty shopping mall to see if we could find an electronic gizmo we could use to transfer photos from her camera to her Chromebook. Once we were done with the mall, we wnt across the street to the local farmer’s market. There was not really much to see here, so Sue and I went back to the ship to rest before having dinner at the ship’s French restaurant.

Given NCL's penchant for nickel-diming, we were surprised to find that the specialty restaurant staff did us a solid by not charging us for an extra appetizer. Once done with dinner, we went to get our pictures taken, and then back to our cabin to end the day.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Day 06 - Halifax, At Last!


To me, the only Canadian port on the Atlantic (for most cruises) that I think is a must visit is Halifax. Not only is it a reasonably sized city, but it is close to Peggy's Cove - site of one of the most photographed light houses in North America.

- - - - - -

Halifax, at last! Finally, a port that I expected to be a highlight of our trip. The ship took its leisurely time getting into port, and we docked at the expected time. After a while, both of us got moving, getting showered, dressed, fed, and ready for the bus to Peggy's Cove.

Today would be the day that RQS would finally get to take some picturesque photos, as Peggy’s Cove is the one place worth using up the remaining charge in the camera.. As for me, I’d be happy to get a couple of good photos on my cell phone, as I’ve gotten good shots in Peggy’s Cove on my prior visits. (And I did get those good shots.) It was hard to get RQS to stop taking photos long enough to get to even more picturesque locations, but it was worth the effort. She loved the place, and wished that our tour could have spent more time in town.

Next, we were off to the cemetery where over 100 victims of the Titanic disaster were buried. It was a fittingly somber end to a nice shore excursion on a day that started out gloomy. Why do I say fitting? We found out that the survivors of the Titanic were taken to New York where their survival could be "celebrated". But the dead were taken to Halifax, where the work of the registrar of deaths could take place unimpeded by the press.

After dinner, we went to see a Beatles tribute band on the ship’s main stage. Although they were decent performers, they left me wanting something better. I'll always wish I could have been in Vegas when Cheap Trick performed the whole of the Sgt. Pepper album, followed by the Abbey Road side 2 medley to close out their show. For a fleeting moment, Cheap Trick became a better group than the Beatles, as the "Fab Four" never intended to ever have these songs performed in concert.

An early dinner with a friend

  Last night, I mentioned to Pat that I wish I could have been born a cisgender female who looked like this when younger.  If I were younger...