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14 October, 2018

Here is the more or less monthly news update about us and our corner of the world.

October 14 2018

First is congratulations on surviving being married to me and thank you to my wife of 39 years (and a few years of ‘practice’ before that). Tess, you are my best friend and I would be lost without you. We celebrated by going our for dinner at our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, Thanh Thanh Oriental Noodle House in Edmonton.

I mentioned last time that we were going on a cruise to Hawaii. We did just that and had a great time.

Cruise Photos are here.

We flew from snowy Edmonton to rainy Vancouver where we stayed one night at the Sutton Place Hotel. Nice hotel, great location near Robson Street on the edge of downtown.

We walked down Robson Steet looking at the shops, restaurants, people and the cars cruising by. I didn’t care about the shops but was interested in the cars. German cars like Porsche and M-B were so commonplace that nobody noticed them. The Ferraris and Lambos drew a few glances but it wasn’t until the Bugatti Veyron rumbled by that everyone stopped to stare. You don’t see cars costing a couple of million (!) dollars often. I had never seen one before. Odd sound too from the 1,500 horsepower, quad turbo, 16 cylinder engine. Very cool!

The next morning we shared a cab with another couple and headed for the good ship Noordam. We did the usual security and immigration thing and settled into our balcony cabin. There were three ships in port with two of them taking on thousands of passengers each. They really know how to move people efficiently.

 This is only our second cruise, the first being some 16 or so years ago. But it didn’t take us long to get into the swing of things and within an hour of boarding we had unpacked and were sitting in a restaurant eating like the little piggies we would be all week!

We set sail around 4:00pm and soon went under the Lion’s Gate bridge where they blew the ship’s horn - I loved the sound echoing off the bridge and the rocks of Stanley Park. We sailed past West Vancouver where I grew up then around the southern tip of Vancouver Island and out into the open Pacific Ocean.

Our previous cruise was on Carnival, this one was on Holland America. They cater to very different customers with Carnival being the better choice for families and the younger crowd. There were only two families with kids on our ship which had nearly 2,000 passengers. There was an ocean of grey hair on board. Yes, just like us.

We met interesting folks from Canada, USA, UK, Australia, and more. Most of the crew were from Indonesia with a few from the Philippines. Great service, amazing food, lots to do on the ship. We had a great time.

We got to Honolulu Hawaii at 7:00am as scheduled. We disembarked after a nice breakfast and again shared a cab with another couple and soon arrived at the Waikiki Hilton. Since we couldn’t check into the hotel at 10:00am, we left our luggage with the desk and went exploring.

Since we arrived in Hawaii well rested and well fed, we were ready to go. Cruising is a very civilized way to travel. We only changed one time zone every second day so there’s no jet-lag. There’s not even a temperature shock as it had been getting warmer each day we were at sea.

We roamed all over the Waikiki area. It is very busy, crowded with tourists, and traffic is terrible. Nice beach though. In the afternoon we returned to the hotel to check in. For a reasonable $20 per night I upgraded the room for more space and a King size bed. I booked a full day tour of Pearl Harbor the the city for the next day and a rental car for the day after.

On day 2 I did the Pearl Harbor tour while Tess roamed around the city shopping and sampling sushi and other goodies.

On day 3 I went to Enterprise to pick up the rental Kia and they gave me a free upgrade to a Mustang GT convertible. Woo Hoo! The one with the 460 horsepower V-8! Yes, it is thirsty but who cares - its a GT ragtop! Very fun car that goes like stink and makes wonderful noises.

We went towards the north shore of the island with our first stop at the Dole plantation. We took a train ride out into the fields and learned a lot. Tess’ father first came to Oahu in 1927 to work on the plantations so it is possible he once worked the very fields we were looking at!

We continued our drive along the north shore at a leisurely pace. Traffic was heavy but we weren’t in a hurry. We stopped at a shrimp truck for lunch (great!) and at many turn-outs and roadside parks. There are beautiful sandy beaches everywhere and lots of places where the waves are pretty big, always with surfers riding them in.

We saw the blow hole, drove through the tunnel into Diamond Head crater, and many more touristy things. This is the Hawaii we wanted to visit - green everywhere, friendly people, warm and breezy. Great!

It was hot (32C) and humid (85%) but a breeze kept things comfortable today. I still kept the A/C going in the car though. Yes, the top was always down. We returned the car at the airport, checked in and after a light meal we caught our 10:05pm flight home.

It was -3C in Edmonton which was a bit of a shock but hey, it is Alberta in October.

We picked up our very happy dog and got home around 2:00pm. We’ve already visited with our son and granddaughter so things will quickly settle into the fall routine.

Type to you next month.

Greg, Tess & Camper