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Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles

April 20, 2018 Friday – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hong Kong to Los Angeles, California, USA

2018 Borneo tour

Rice flour pancakes, real maple syrup and a cappuccino for my breakfast

I’m up at 5:15AM, put my bag out and have breakfast at 6AM downstairs in the hotel with the rest of my tour group. Since all the bags and people are aboard bus, we leave 15 minutes early for the Kuala Lumpur International airport. Our local guide Susan is a Type A personality, so everything is highly organized for us! We arrive on Level 1 where our driver Mohammed drops us off. We then take the elevator to Level 5 where Departures are located. We check-in, go through security and clear Malaysian immigration. We then take a train to the departure gates, find our gate and board our Airbus A330 – a four hour Dragon Air flight, which leaves on time at 10:30AM.

After disembarking our first flight in Hong Kong, we re-group at the end of the Jetway and Michele suggests a few of us more mobile members go ahead to start the transfer process, including a couple of security checks. It is a pretty long trek across this huge airport – taking about a half hour to find our gate and get ready for our much longer flight to LA. It is totally disorganized at the Cathay Pacific gate, with Business Class and priority boarding mixing with Premium Economy, but we  eventually all board and are seated.

The Premium Economy upgrade is expensive and only applies for the return trip segment between LA and Hong Kong, but it includes a nicer dinner menu with more choices, complementary alcoholic drinks, a chair that is more comfortable, which reclines more, and has a recliner foot rest. We also get to board before regular economy and have our own cabin with exclusive washroom.

About an hour out of Hong Kong, we have drinks and dinner, and are then given a bottle of water and an overnight kit for the night. I plug in my notebook computer to the 110v outlet under my seat – another perk of Premium Economy. I’m satiated and relaxed as we head eastward over the Pacific aboard Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER. I manage to sleep off and on for the first seven hours as we fly through darkness. The Milky Way and southern constellations are beautiful as I observe them out my south-facing window. At the seven hour mark, we have blue sky, but I can’t see the Sun rising because we are heading due east.

Rosco's Chicken & Waffles

Rosco’s Chicken & Waffles

We land 12 hours after departure – two hours less than the flight in the opposite direction. As a Canadian, I qualify for the faster customs and immigration kiosks at LAX, however once through that hurdle, I still have to join a second line to see an agent before I’m free to collect my bag.

I say goodbye to Michele at the baggage carousel and walk over to the hotel shuttle pickup area to catch a shuttle to the Best Western Airpark hotel. The hotel is nothing special, but it is clean, quiet, and the best deal in the area. I immediately have a shower and go to bed for three hours. After waking, I go across the street to Roscoe’s Chicken Waffle restaurant, which is very busy. Just like the name says, they serve chicken and waffles…not a vegetable in sight except for some greens listed on the menu that nobody seems to order! The chicken is good, the waffle is OK, and I’m no longer hungry. Let’s just say it was an interesting cultural experience!

I return to the room and checkout things online before going back to bed. Flying eastward means I get to live today twice, gaining some 15 hours in the process while crossing the International Date Line. In reality, all it means is that I’m tired from the long flight and my body’s clock will be screwed up for a couple of days!

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Kuala Lumpur to Brunei

April 6, 2018 – Friday – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

2018 Borneo tour

I have Coconut flour pancakes, savoury stuffed croissants and a cappuccino again for breakfast in the Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur this morning – a yummy way to start the day!

We fly to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei at noon today, so we are on the bus in front of the hotel by 9:30AM. Traffic is slow, especially at the toll booths along the way to the airport, so it takes us well over an hour to arrive. Initially, our tour guide Susan suggests we should check in as a group, however the group check-in is slow, so we switch back to individual check-ins, which gets our boarding passes and bags checked faster. Clearing Malaysian immigration is a dead slow process, since they fingerprint or take a mugshot of everyone leaving the country – quite strange!

Visas from Malaysia & Brunei in my passport

Visas from Malaysia & Brunei in my passport

Although we had cleared a security checkpoint just before going through immigration, we have to do it all over again before we can enter the gate area. Our flight was scheduled for 12:30PM departure, however it is just after 1PM when we pull away from the gate in a Boeing 737-800 on Royal Brunei Airlines. Lunch is served on this two hour flight – I choose the sweet and sour chicken with rice, which is piping hot, a bit spicy and quite tasty.

After arriving in Brunei, we clear customs and immigration, find our local tour guide, and hit the ATMs for some Brunei Dollars before being transferred to the Radisson Hotel in Bandar Seri Begawan. After a quick cleanup in our rooms, we leave in the bus for a buffet dinner at nearby Tarindak d’Seni, an up-scale restaurant beside the Brunei River that serves traditional Malay food. Some of the entrees are a mystery, but the food is good. After we return to the hotel, I have a shower, and then watch a movie before going to bed.

Malaysia & Borneo local flights

Malaysia & Borneo local flights

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Tucson to Victoria

2018.02.23 Friday – Depart Tucson – flight delays and cancellations!

JoeTourist: Tucson &emdash; Joe's selfie in front of some Saguero cactus outside the airport entrance

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

I take my time this morning in the hotel, going for breakfast around 8AM and then taking a walk around the neighbourhood, knowing that I’ll be sitting in airports and airline seats for most of the afternoon and evening. I also text Angel to coordinate the return of the Tesla Model S I rented. I check out of the hotel just before noon and drive over to the airport’s short term parking lot. I contact the Telsa’s owners to let them know I’m ready to return the car to them. They tell me they are on their way, but don’t show up. After an hour of waiting, I leave them a voice mail and eventually they tell me to just leave the car where it is and they will remotely lock it and pick it up later. They could have told me that up front – very poor communication on their part! The trip display in the vehicle shows that I drove 666.5 miles, used 189 kWh of electricity, and averaged 284 Wh/mi energy consumption. So if I was paying for the electricity to power the car, it would have cost me about $20!

JoeTourist: Tucson &emdash; Noble Hops bar and restaurantI check in with Delta airlines and see that my boarding pass shows the departure time for my flight from Tucson to Seattle is delayed to 6:25PM (was 3:55PM). Before going to the gate, and knowing how much of an actual delay I’m dealing with, I decide to have a meal at Noble Hops, a bar/restaurant by the Delta ticket area. They serve very nice craft beer on tap, so I have a delicious Shepard’s Pie with my Dragoon IPA – the bill comes to US$37 (CAD$40)! I know the airline won’t be serving meals, so I will at least have one good meal under my belt to keep me going on what it looking to be an endurance contest.

I proceed through airport security and find my gate, the estimated departure time has slipped yet again to 8:00PM. At this point, the gate staff rebook me to the last flight out of Seattle for Victoria at 11:17PM, arriving in Victoria at midnight. Our aircraft is still stuck in Seattle due to bad weather, and will have to be de-iced for a second time before they depart, which means it will be 9:10PM before it will depart Tucson back to Seattle. That means I’ll miss my connecting flight to Victoria and I will have to overnight in Seattle. I hate airlines!

The gate staff are doing their best by offering free snacks and beverages. They hand me three meal coupons worth $15 each for breakfast, lunch and dinner in either Tucson or Seattle airport. I go down a couple of gates and find a bar that serves food and order a grilled chicken sandwich, using one of the coupons. Several of the passengers on my flight are at the bar drinking. After all this, the aircraft finally pulls away from the gate at 9:15pm. It will be a 3 hour and 11 minute flight according to the onboard announcement. This is an Embaerer aircraft, which means it’s small: one isle with two seats on either side, small overhead compartments, and the seats are quite cramped.

Once we are clear of Tucson, we fly through some very rough air while the crew try to serve beverages. It never fails! The captain takes the aircraft to a lower flight level, which smooths things out considerably. I watch a movie using my iPad and Wi-if through the Gogo inflight network for free: “Pirates of the Caribbean- Dead Men Don’t Tell” – the first movie I’ve watched all the way through for probably a decade!

Orion and the Crescent Moon are visible off the wing to the west during the last hour of the flight. Once we land in Seatac, the fun begins. My big bag is checked through to Victoria, so it doesn’t appear on the carousel. I go to the Delta Baggage office nearby, and thank goodness a woman is still there despite it being after midnight. She advises me to go upstairs right away in order to arrange for an overnight hotel with the Delta agents before they go home. There are no agents to help me upstairs, so I return to the baggage office. I try calling the Delta Customer Assistance number, but nobody answers – so much for customer service or caring!

The baggage clerk indicates this is not something she normally does, but she makes a call and has someone walk her through issuing me with a hotel coupon for the Red Lion Inn in nearby Renton. By that time, her co-worker in the back has located my bag and put it on the nearby carousel for me to pick up as I go to the hotel shuttle area. I manage to squeeze into the last seat in the shuttle that is about to leave with my fellow Delta passengers, taking us on a 20-minute drive from the airport.. The night clerk at the hotel slowly checks all of us in. The hotel is no great shakes, but it is clean, and after turning the heat up and having a quick shower, the bed feels good!

2018.02.24 Saturday – Seattle to Victoria

I’m booked on a 1:05PM flight to Victoria, so I can sleep in before going downstairs for breakfast. There is a buffet, but I prefer to have a vegetarian omelette along with the rather mediocre coffee. I check my Starbucks app, but there isn’t one close by and I don’t see any other coffee shops in the mall the hotel is located in, so no cappuccino for me this morning! I take the 9:30AM shuttle back to Seatac airport, since the hotel isn’t running any more shuttles after that until after lunch.

I have to clear security without the TSA Pre-clearance I usually have on my boarding pass, however I have lots of time, and the procedure isn’t too stressful. The flight leaves on time and I’m back in Victoria airport an hour later. My bag appears on the carousel, I clear Canadian customs and immigration in under a minute and take a shuttle back to town. They drop me off a few blocks from home, so I slowly walk home, and I’m greeted at the door by the dogs. I make myself a cappuccino before unpacking. My daily routine resumes tomorrow!

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Museum of Optics & Mineral Collection

February 20, 2018 Tuesday – Museum of Optics & Mineral Collection at the University of Arizona, Tucson

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

I go downstairs for breakfast and then check out of the Red Lion Inn. I had down to the University of Arizona, since a friend suggested I see their Optics Museum at the College of Optical Sciences. the University is located downtown, which is on the way to my new hotel on the south side of Tucson. I manage to find pay street parking only a couple of blocks away, and use Google Maps to find the building on campus.

The Museum of Optics is self-guided, with displays on several floors of the building. After starting in the lobby with several beautiful glass sculptures and some telescopes, the tour starts at the top of the building on the 7th floor. I then work my way down floor-by-floor. They have an extensive collection of eyeglasses, binoculars, monoculars, opera glasses, historic cameras, stereographs, telescopes, and much more. It is all fascinating, and free-of-charge! The architecture of the Meinel Optical Sciences Building is quite striking, since it has a segmented glass front, the sides and back are wrapped in dark copper, and there are internal light shafts that go top-to-bottom.

Since I have well over an hour left on the parking meter, I go to the Flandreau Science Center and Planetarium which is across the street from the Meinel Building. I pay the $6 Senior’s admission and spend time taking in what is perhaps the most impressive collection of minerals on public display in Tucson area. Their amazing collection of meteorites includes some as large as a suitcase! It is a shame the displays aren’t better lit, since it’s hard to appreciate the colours and textures of the minerals when they are in glass cases under fluorescent lights.

After checking into the Baymont Hotel and Suites, I enquire about the Tesla Destination chargers outside. They charge $2/hour and have to turn it on when I’m ready to charge. I’m pleased the charge is reasonable…this is going to be so much more convenient than staying at a hotel with no electric vehicle support. Rather than drive out to the Tesla Supercharger (about a 15 minute drive), I decide to try out the Tesla Destination charger. The front desk clerk is thrilled, since this is new to her, and she has never seen a Tesla up close before. As it turns out, several of the charge points don’t work, but I finally find one that lights up green on my Tesla. It is a 40 amp 209 volt supply, so the charge rate is about the same as I have at home (Level 2 charger). I end up paying for 3.5 hours’ worth of charging at $2/hr.

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Dragoon Ranch to Tucson

February 19, 2018 Monday – Dragoon Mountain Ranch to Tucson, Arizona, USA

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

My friends and I leave the ranch this morning, bound for Tucson. With all the rain we’ve had over the last few days, I’m concerned about the washes on Sybil road being in rough shape, so I take the road to St. David and then take the state highway through Benson and join I-10 there. I meet my friends at their car rental agency in downtown Tucson and give them a ride to the airport.

I then head north to the Oro Valley and check in to the Red Lion Inn around 1:30PM. I ask them about using an external plug to charge my Tesla, but they say they have none. I look later, and sure enough there are zero plugs on the outside walls! My Tesla Model S is currently covered in mud from driving the ranch roads all week. I want to have a clean car to drive for my last few days in Tucson, so I go to the nearby Mister Car Wash (4941 N Oracle Rd). I pay them US$45 for a hand wash and “Hog Wash” (power wash the mud off) and clean the interior. The crew also give the car a light detail and do a terrific job (see above banner image), so I give them a generous tip. The Tesla Model S now looks better than when I took delivery of it!

Spiedino di Mare

Spiedino di Mare

Since I skipped lunch today, I decide to treat myself to a nice dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. I walk the block up the main drag from the hotel to the restaurant, arriving at about 5PM. Their Happy Hour is 4-6PM, so I order a Classic Martini, which only ends up costing $4.46, and it’s nicely made! They also have a three course dinner special, so I have a lovely minestrone soup to start, Spiedino di Mare (grilled scallops and shrimp with broccoli) for the main, and mini cannoli for dessert. The food costs $18.99, so the total bill with tax and tip is US$28.97 which I consider a bargain for the good service and excellent drinks and food. I bring the cannoli back to my hotel to eat later.

After researching the Level 2 charge points near the hotel, I realize that once my existing charge is depleted, not being able to charge overnight is going to be a serious inconvenience. This issue is going to limit the distance I can take my rental Model S each day, so I decide to cut short my stay at this hotel and move to a hotel that has Tesla Destination Chargers. The Baymont Inn Tucson Airport has seven Tesla destination chargers (and 7 additional generic J1772 chargers), so overnight charging becomes a reality again. I book the next three nights at the hotel and go downstairs to cancel three nights off my stay with the Red Lion Inn, so I can change hotels tomorrow. I should have done more research and booked the Baymont for my whole stay, since it is also a bit cheaper than the Red Lion.

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Sonoran Desert Museum

February 14, 2018 Wednesday – Day trip from Dragoon Mountain Ranch to Tucson and the Sonoran Desert Museum

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

I drive everyone to the Sonoran Desert Museum this morning, which is 15 miles west of Tucson. We stop to charge the Tesla for 20 minutes at the Tucson Supercharger, which is just east of the city. We then drive another half hour bypassing the city westward into the beautiful Sonoran desert.

It rains lightly while we are at the Sonoran Desert Museum, which keeps the daytime temperature down to the point we are wearing light coats for most of our time here. Since we arrive just after noon, first stop for most of us is to have a snack and drinks at the coffee shop before we walk the trails. We spot a beautiful Bobcat, nesting hummingbirds, a Peregrine falcon in flight, and lots of other birds, animals and of course all kinds of cactus. Our last stop before departing is the caves and a breathtaking mineral display.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum – galleryslideshow – photos from 2017 and 2018

 

El Charro cartoon

El Charro cartoon

After driving back into the city, we meet some friends for dinner at the well-rated El Charro Cafe restaurant in old town Tucson. Being Valentines Day the place is busy, however the Mexican food is terrific. The drive back to Dragoon Ranch starts out with pouring rain as we leave the city, but it thins out by the time we pull into Benson for a quick shopping stop at Safeway. I wash the ranch road mud off the Tesla outside before I park in the garage and plug it in to charge.

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 5 at sea

Monday, Oct 16, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

The ship’s clock is set forward one hour again last night. I’m awake at 5AM and see Crepuscular rays at sunrise over the ocean, so take some photos before going back to bed to sleep in until just after 8AM. I go to the main dining room for my cappuccino and breakfast. I’m seated at a table with a couple from Nanaimo, a woman from Ohio, and a man from the Silicon Valley.

This is our last day aboard the ship before we disembark in Vancouver tomorrow morning. Some lucky passengers are staying on the ship as it transitions to the Caribbean ending in Fort Lauderdale. I have heard some passengers want to extend their cruise, but the ship is fully-booked out of Vancouver. There are many more people aboard in wheelchairs than on my previous voyages with Holland America. I’m thinking this might be because there was only one tender port on this cruise (Lahaina), so these people could disembark at all the other ports-of-call.

While we are having lunch in the main dining room, Captain Scott comes on the PA system to report that we are a bit ahead of schedule, so we will be in Juan de Fuca Strait by 6PM this evening, will pick up the pilot off Victoria at 11PM, and will dock in Vancouver by 5AM tomorrow morning.

Captain George Vancouver

Captain George Vancouver

Lawrence Tartaglino’s Talk: Vancouver: The Man, Island and the City –  George Vancouver was one of Britain’s greatest navigators and cartographers; a man who influenced the world, yet died in almost total obscurity. This is the story of his life and legacy. I learned that George Vancouver settled the details of the Nootka Convention of 1790  between Spain and England with Bodega y Quadra. He circumnavigated the world from England to Africa, Australia, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest of North America, then around Cape Horn and back the England – some 65,000 miles!

I go over to my friends’s cabin for a sip of wine at 4PM…the last of the white riesling we had last night at the Tamarind. I go for a two circuit 1km walk on the Upper Promenade deck. It is raining and foggy as the ship enters Juan de Fuca Strait to rendezvous with the pilot just off Victoria’s shoreline. I spot the two little Pomeranian dogs that are aboard as part of the magician and illusionist show. We are into some serious rollers coming from a northerly direction…I expect we are now over the continental shelf, and out of deep water.

The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the Eurodam's main dining room

The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the Eurodam’s main dining room

My friends and i change our minds about dining in the Lido and instead decide to go to the main dining room for dinner this evening. The Executive Chefs are featured on the menu, so there are some interesting menu choices! We all select the lamb shank, which is slow-roasted with the bone-in just like I get from my local Greek restaurants. I have potato soup with shrimp to start, and finish with chocolate ginger mouse cake. It is all superb! The farewell march by the kitchen staff through the dining room happens as well, so we all give them a well-deserved round of applause.

When I return to my cabin, I pack everything except what I will need for the morning. I am rolling my own bag off the ship, so I don’t have to put my bag out this evening…a much better option since I can finish packing last minute items tomorrow morning. I have breakfast ordered to be delivered to my room tomorrow morning, so I will stay out of the passageways until it’s time for me to leave the ship at 8:30AM.

I go up to the Crow’s Nest on the north side of the ship and catch an LTE connection from my Canadian cellular carrier from there. Once I catch up on a few online things, I shut down and return to my cabin. It faces south, so I’m picking up AT&T, so I make sure I shut off data roaming before I go to bed at 10PM.

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 4 at sea

Sunday, Oct 15, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I wake up at 4AM this morning, but manage to get back to sleep until 6:30AM. Setting the ship’s clocks forward almost daily is starting to catch up with me. I meet my friend in the Explorations Cafe for cappuccino and a snack at 7:30AM. I go to the Lido for some scrambled eggs and toast before walking the circuit on Promenade Deck a couple of times for a 1km distance. It is cool outside, so I zip up my fleece jacket, although the seas are much calmer and the wind isn’t a factor today. When I return to my cabin, I catch my cabin stewards and give them an envelope with some US$ for all their cheerful work keeping my cabin clean.

Ginny Stibolt’s final talk: Public Gardens – Traditional public gardens are well-trimmed and orderly, but newer public gardens have emphasized native plants. When I visit New York City, I want to see Highline Park – a natural park on a elevated rail; and when I visit Chicago – Lurie Garden.

A Belgian ship’s officer hosts an Interest Corner session: Classic Sports Cars and Photography. He shows his selection of the top ten classic sports cars for each of America and Europe, and then follows up with some of his photos from his recent helicopter tour of Kauai, including the spectacular Napili coast. (Slide show of my photos of the Napili Coast)

Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster

Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster

My friends and I go to the Tamarind restaurant this evening, on Gala Night. We all have Martinis in the beautiful but quiet Tamarind bar before dinner, and then dig into the menu to select some items we didn’t try the first time we were here. I select an Austrian Riesling wine, which goes well with the seafood that dominated the menu.

We have: spicy Thai Chicken and rice soup, Shrimp Tempura Indochine, Ginger and garlic wok-seared lobster with sake-braised oyster and shiitake mushrooms, brown rice, Java mint and coconut rice pudding, Mango Cloud – a light egg white soufflé mango sorbet. It was all excellent! I think the Tamarind is perhaps the best restaurant aboard the ship, although there is a modest premium charge to dine here.

Shrimp Tempura Indochine

Shrimp Tempura Indochine

 

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Kaua’i to Vancouver – day 2 at sea

Friday, Oct 13, 2017 – Kaua’i, Hawai’i to Vancouver, BC

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

It is my 65th birthday today. I go up to the Explorations Cafe for my usual morning cappuccino and pastries. Thanks to having an Internet connection while at sea, I read over 50 birthday wishes waiting for me on Facebook this morning – a great start to the day! After I finish my cappuccino, I go to the Lido and have an custom-made omelet for breakfast. A couple from Salem, Oregon sit down at my table, so we talk about the recent eclipse.

The ship continues to pitch around as it battles against strong winds from the weather trough in the North Pacific. We also experience rain squalls despite there being some blue sky visible as well. The Upper Promenade Deck is closed due to 50 mph winds!

Ginny Stibolt’s Talk this morning: Between the Land and the Sea – The Hawaiian Islands have about 750 miles of coastline. We’ll take a look at how reefs, wetlands, and mangroves protect shorelines and provide important habitat for birds, fish crustaceans, and more.

We hear from a new Guest Speaker this morning: Lawrence Tartaglino. His talk is titled The Four Mutinies of William Bligh – A look at each of the four mutinies in which Captain Bligh was involved, and a review of the issues, people and circumstances surrounding each incident. I learned: he Joined the Royal Navy at 7 years old, sailed with Captain Cook in 1776 (Cook’s final voyage), his wife was a woman of influence that helped his career in the British Navy, and his wife referred to Fletcher Christian as “That charming young man”!

John and Wendy enjoy some bubbly at the Mariner Lunch

John and Wendy enjoy some bubbly at the Mariner Lunch

My friends and I attend the Mariner Lunch, which happens on each Holland America voyage where there are sea days. Our Cruise Director Nick introduces  Marco van Bellegheim, Hotel Director and Captain John Scott. Captain Scott is a very outgoing man, and regales us all before lunch. I have a tasty vegetarian lunch, including Eggplant red curry along with the traditional sparkling wine served at these functions to honour loyal cruisers.

This evening we celebrate my 65th birthday and both of my friends also have nearby birthdays at the Pinnacle Grill. As it turns out, the Executive Chef for Holland America is staging a special dinner this evening called Rudi’s Sel de Mer – a celebration of seafood! We enjoyed ourselves immensely – the food was wonderful.

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Vancouver to Hilo – days 3 & 4 at sea

Oct 4, 2017 – Third day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: Hawaii: A Timeline of Paradise – The origins of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, the nature of their plants and animals, and how the natural aspects of this paradise have changed over time. I learn that native species in Hawai’i are rare, and even rarer now that many invasive species of plants and animals have been brought in by settlers.

Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset

Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset

My friends and I go up to the Lido for lunch, but can’t find a table, so we go down to the dining room and have a very nice lunch with a couple from Langley, BC, and a woman from south Florida.

Oct 5, 2017 – Fourth day at sea

As is my habit while aboard ship, I go up to the Explorations Cafe for Continental Breakfast: the essential cappuccino, a blueberry cake and some muesli. I find a chair in the adjacent Crow’s Nest Lounge with a forward-facing view and chat with a woman from Parksville and a man from Seattle. The man from Seattle is folding US Dollar bills into origami figures he invents. One is a dress shirt and a tie – very clever!

I meet my friend in the Explorations Cafe for coffee at 10:30AM, and then sit outside on the Upper Promenade Deck 3 to listen to the first four chapters of my Margaret Atwood Audible book The Handmaid’s Tale. I go down to the main dining room for lunch, and sit at a table with the woman from Richmond and her mother from Sidney again – even on a ship this big, you can bump into people more than once! I have a lovely spinach and mushroom salad with grilled salmon on top and some frozen yogurt for dessert.

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this afternoon: Ancient Farming: Roots of a Civilization – she follows up yesterday’s talk by describing how Polynesian wayfarers brought seeds, cuttings, and root stock of plants they’d need in unknown lands (Hawai’i).

This evening, my friends and I have dinner at Tamarind, a Pan-Asian restaurant featuring the cuisine of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. We are all very impressed with the food and service. Our selections:

  • Jewels of the Sea – shrimp-filled wontons with sliced baby bok chop, lemon grass-sesame broth
  • Crisp Fried Soft Shell Crab with Thai dipping sauce
  • Hoisin-Lime Glazed Sea Bass – pan-seared, wok-cooked Asian greens
  • Penang Red Curry Coconut Chicken – spiced chicken, snow peas, eggplant, zucchini, pimientos, opal bail, lemon grass, lime juice, red curry, coconut milk
  • Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly – soy-egg, pickled vegetables, sticky rice, bok choy with oyster sauce
  • Mango Cloud – light egg white soufflé mango sorbet
  • Thai Mini Doughnuts – chocolate, mango & ginger sauces