Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11/26/08 Happy Thanksgiving Blog Readers! Tomorrow is the big day and we hope that all of you have a marvelous time with family and/or friends. We have driven our RV down to the Colorado River near Ehrenburg, AZ where we arrived today to spend the holiday with our fishing group, the RoVing Rods. Not being inclined to wait until tomorrow for feasting, Chuck and Peggy Palumbo prepared a nice spaghetti dinner for the 16 people already here, with everyone else contributing salads or dessert. If we had any hopes of starting to drop some of the pounds we gained on our recent cruise, they were dashed by this delicious meal. Usually this group meets at Mittry Lake, near Yuma. But they have relocated here in the hopes of catching more fish, and this move has already paid off for some of the fishermen. We hope this luck continues so that there might be a fish fry in the next few days, as well as the customary turkey dinner tomorrow.
Here are a few more details about our cruise and some pictures, which I promised you last time. The last post on this blog was from Punta Delgada, Azores, which was the second stop on our 12 day trans-Atlantic cruise. The cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship called the Navigator of the Seas. Here we are in front of it. As you can tell, it is a huge ship: about 3000 passengers and 1200 crew.

The interior of the ship was very pretty (although the art work was kind of cheesy). Here is a picture looking down towards the Promenade deck:

There were also some whimsical characters near the onboard casino. The one is black is Elaine.

One of the best parts of the cruise was having our friends, Dick & Carole Schneider on the ship with us. Here they are with Elaine up on the upper deck.

Punta Delgada is a very nice little town, with old yet attractive buildings and is obviously very well maintained. This time there were a lot of Christmas decorations up in the narrow streets and also lots of colorful flowers:

Besides walking around in the streets and doing some e-mails at the internet, Carole, Elaine and I took a local bus over to the other side of the island and back. It was interesting to see the fields in the interior as well as what the other towns were like where there was not much tourist activity because they are away from the cruise port. Besides meeting 2 Mormon missionaries on the bus, who greatly impressed us with their maturity and dedication, we also met a young man in a small bar when we stopped for a glass of local wine. He gave us a lot of information about the life there, as well as the food and the wine.
Then it was time to enjoy 6 days at sea. There were many activities on the ship, including 2 different ice shows, live entertainment every night after dinner, and game show type events and dancing until the wee hours. Elaine and I did several exercise classes each day and also spent some time using the elliptical machines and weight machines in the gym, as well as walking on the deck a lot to try to burn off some of the thousands of calories we were eating every day!
There were three formal nights for dinner, so we dressed up a bit. Here we are with Dick & Carole, looking much nicer than usual, don't you think?

There were 4 gay guys at the table next to us at dinner, so we exchanged seats with the straight couple who was assigned to their table and we ate with them several nights. They were all very nice and wonderful company, and we were glad to have the chance to spend some time getting to know them better.

Another friend we made on the ship was a guy named Ray Rosborough, who used to work in the SF Sheriff's department with our good friend, Jonna Harlan. What a small world!

Our last port was Nassau. We have been here before several times and think that the town is not very charming, but we walked around a bit anyway, just to get off the ship. Here is a picture of the ships that were already moored here and the town:

We had a very nice group of people at our table for dinner every night, including a delightful older couple from the Czech Republic and a Canadian couple who also have a place in Florida, named Paul and Joan. We had an enjoyable cocktail party in their room while the ship was docked in Nassau, and it was great to hang over their balcony and look at the scenery and passing boats.

Our cruise ended last Saturday, but by the time we flew back from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida it was late so we stayed at a hotel near SFO. Then we took BART back to Fremont to pick up our car from Tarra's. Next we had to drive back to Park Sierra, stopping on the way to have a late lunch in Merced with my granddaughter, Paige. Monday was busy with chores like laundry and appointments at Kaiser in Fresno. So we felt lucky that we were able to get away from Park Sierra by about 10 AM on Tuesday to start the drive south. Tuesday night we stayed at an Indian casino between Redlands and Palm Springs and a massive rain storm hit after we went to bed. There was so much standing water in one of the rest areas we stopped in today that I'm surprised there weren't ducks swimming around! We are hoping for nice weather tomorrow for the Thanksgiving Feast, since RV events always have to be held outside.

Friday, November 14, 2008

14 November We are in a public internet in Punta Delgada, in the Azores on the 5th day of our repositioning cruise between Barcelona and Ft. Lauderdale. Happily, we are with Dick and Carole Schneider and have been having a great time. The ship is the Navigator of the Seas and is a much larger ship than the last one, so there have been adjustments to make. There has been only one afternoon and evening of fairly heavy wind which causes us to walk the decks like a drunken sailor. And it was amazing to watch the waves in the swimming pools and all the water sloshing out over the top. Although we have been doing lots of walking, stair climbing, and some workouts in the exercise room, the food has been plentiful and good, and we will no doubt have to shave off some pounds when we get back. Once we leave here we have 6 days at sea, and then we will be in the Bahamas. Our return date is the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, and we fly back to SFO the same day. So no pictures until then, and a more complete report at that time too. The weather has been good, sunny and warm, and the entertainment too. So we are happy cruisers and we hope all of you blog readers are doing fine too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

11/6/08 Hello Blog Readers,
Have been meaning to update this for a while, since we forgot to put a few pictures on that people specifically requested from the wedding. So I will do that, but I’m warning you now, there is going to be some ranting at the end of this posting due to the passing of Prop 8 on Tuesday.
On the day of the wedding, my brother brought a gift from my stepmother, Maxine, who couldn’t attend. We were supposed to open it between the ceremony and the reception, but somehow the box got misplaced and we didn’t find it until the next morning. Had to laugh out loud when we opened it and found 2 baseball caps, so we wore them when we went to brunch at Chukchansi later that morning with 30 family members and friends. Here we are wearing the caps:

Another picture which I forgot to put on was a picture of our rings, requested by LaVerne Markle. So here is that picture:

The day of the wedding we were pleasantly surprised to see several of Elaine’s cousins in attendance, whom she hadn’t seen for many years. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to get a picture of the two of them and their husbands with us. But we did get a picture of them with Elaine and all her sisters, so here is the “cousins” picture.

Cousin Anne,Elaine's sisters Barb, Georgeanne, Mary, Elaine, Penny, Mary Sue, and Cousin Miggie.
One of our friends, who stood up and gave a little vignette during our “roast” at the wedding, Polly Sagasser, is an avid quilter. She made us a Crazy Quilt as a wedding present, and here is a picture of it:

We have been spending the time since the wedding catching up on post-event tasks such as sending thank you cards and e-mails, actually reading the hundreds of cards we received, making final arrangements for our cruise, participating in park events, and having some social times with RV friends who stayed past the 25th. Now we are all packed and ready to head for the Bay Area tomorrow morning. We catch our flight to Barcelona on Saturday morning and won’t arrive there until Sunday afternoon! There are stops in Minnesota and Amsterdam. Dick and Carole Schneider have a small apartment in the Gotic Quarter and have graciously offered to let us stay with them the one night we will be there before catching the ship on Monday. We are looking forward to our time with them, and also some rest time while on the ship. The ship docks in Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 22.
Now it is time to rant about the outcome of the election on Tuesday, so if you want to stay apolitical, quit reading. Of course, we were very happy about the outcome of the presidential election, since an Obama presidency will no doubt not only help the world perceive our country in a more positive light. But also, the Democrats have always been more supportive of minority rights than the Republicans, especially more so than the Religious Right. Anyway, as the country and the world are being so ecstatic about having an African American President and the implied equal opportunity for everyone in this country, Gay rights were being pummeled in every state where there was a proposition on the ballot. It was a close race but Proposition 8 was passed in California, which bans Gay marriage. This was largely due to the fact that every church was preaching “Yes on Prop 8” from the pulpit. Our marriage is still legal, and should remain so. But now the opportunity for other Gays to marry has been eliminated except in Massachusetts and Connecticut. How is it that everyone can recognize that we shouldn’t restrict the rights of minorities such as African Americans, yet take away a right that the California Supreme Court granted Gays only in June? Why is it that the religions of the world that are supposed to be preaching love are preaching hate and bigotry? Why are heterosexuals so against Gay marriage? Are we somehow invalidating their own marriages if we can have those rituals too? What gives a portion of our population the power to deny basic rights to another portion of the population?
Currently these are the countries which allow same-sex marriage:
Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain
Additionally, these countries allow civil unions and/or registered partnerships:
Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary,Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland,
United Kingdom, Uruguay
How come some of these very Catholic, or otherwise traditional countries can be so much more “democratic” than the USA, which seems to think we have the right to preach to everyone about Democracy? I for one am sick of it, and hope that the test of Gay rights, which certainly will happen at some time in the future in our courts, will come soon. Because basically marriage is a contract between 2 people, and in our country where there is supposed to be separation of church and state, every citizen should be allowed to make this contract with another person, if they so choose.
And I am tired of people telling me that being Gay is a choice. I don’t know anyone who has chosen this lifestyle. Why would we? There is not one advantage to being Gay, and there are a lot of disadvantages. And one of the biggest disadvantages is being discriminated against by people who think they have the right to determine the values by which everyone will live. Here is a very thought provoking quote:
"Lesbians and Gays are perhaps the only minority not raised by their own people; and whose parents do not share their minority status. Like cuckoos, we spend our formative years tucked away in the homes of people who assume we are like them, who school us in traditions that will ultimately exclude us, and who teach us, quite often, to despise the people we will become.”
So although we had a very happy wedding, largely due to the love and support of our many friends and family, we are saddened by the blow that has just been handed to the Gay community in our country. We hope that soon things will change and we hope that we, and you, can be agents of that change by our openness, fairness, and compassion, as well as our determination to allow every citizen the right to choose how to live without fear of repercussion or rejection.