An unanticipated opportunity thanks to Captain Rick!…

Yesterday, Captain Rick Sullivan chatted with us in Dizzy’s Jazz Bar. His warm demeanor and superb sense of humor have made sailing aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas a sheer delight.

With plans to take the tender to Kailua-Kona, we busily prepared the day’s post while seated in the Diamond Club Lounge on deck 14, our favorite morning spot on this 24-night cruise.

After Tom stepped out to head back to the cabin for a few minutes, I stayed behind with my fingers flying across the keyboard to get the post uploaded so we could take off for a walk at the cruise port of call that requires a ride on the tender.

The group of dignitaries from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, came aboard to present Captain Rick with a plaque welcoming the ship to the city.

At the time, I was the only passenger in the Diamond Club, keenly aware of the quiet and serenity usually lacking aboard this particular venue. A cloudy day, we weren’t in too huge of a hurry to go ashore, but, in typical Hawaiian style, a cloudy day could easily and quickly turn into bright sunshine.

Stopping to contemplate my next line of type, the door to the Diamond Club opened with a key card, and in walked our ship’s, Captain Rick Sullivan.

Having heard him over the loudspeakers, enjoying his lively and humorous demeanor and, seeing him wandering about the ship engaging so freely with passengers, I had no doubt it was him.

During the presentation…the official from the Mayór’s office and Captain Rick.

Let me clarify…we aren’t Captain or otherwise groupies. After all of our years of world travel, we’ve come to realize and embrace the fact that we humans are all alike in many ways regardless of ethnicity, celebrity, financial status, or notoriety. 

We’ve never attempted to dine with a ship captain, meet with a ship captain or engage in any particular conversation with a ship captain.  We always felt we could leave that up to those who found it most appealing and vital to their personal experience.

A representative from the Mayor’s office in Kailua-Kona and Captain Rick.

For us, we are always able to glean the best experiences from engaging with anyone of any culture, whether it be a local carrying a basket of fruit on her head or a local taxi driver scurrying us around.  They all matter to us.

As he entered the room with a wide and warms smile on his face, he suddenly fell into the category of another kindly human open to engaging in conversation with a fellow human in his path.

Hotel Director Michael Landry, Kailua city official, and Captain Rick accepting the plaque

Easily, the conversation flowed, and in no time at all, we were sharing personal anecdotes. Moments later, Tom entered the room and, without missing a beat, stepped right into sync into our discussion in Tom’s usual welcoming manner.

After a chat, Captain Rick, upon hearing about our website, invited us to attend the upcoming presentation by local officials, marine and city staff to present Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas with a welcoming plaque for its first destination port of call in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Plaques and gifts were exchanged between the city and the ship.

The presentation was scheduled within the hour in the bar/lounge Dizzy’s Jazz Bar located outside the door of the Diamond Club. Captain Rick suggested we sit and chat in the bar while we wait.

Captain Rick also presented a plaque to the city of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

The conversation flowed with ease as we shared our story of world travel, our site, and why we decided to travel the world.  In turn, Captain Rick shared his story, including his vast experiences at sea, all of which further exemplified the fine details of the life of this special man.

When the guests arrived, Captain Rick reminded us, as he stood to greet his guests, to stay put and embrace the experience taking as many photos as we desired and joining in conversation with the group.

The gathering took place in Dizzy’s Jazz Bar on deck 14, outside the Diamond Club Lounge.

Regarding the event, we stayed back a little, but in no time at all, we were approached by a few visitors, not hesitating to share in the conversations. What a pleasant surprise to our day in Kailua-Kona, unanticipated and surely serendipitous, as are many of the memorable events in our lives.

We enjoyed speaking to Mark, one of the representatives from the city.

It never seems to be about the tourist sites, the organized tours, and old buildings. The best moments are always about the creatures God placed upon this Earth, both human and animal.  We’re grateful, forever grateful, and eternally humbled by that which crosses our path on this worldwide journey.

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2016:

The two Katuts and Ribud (the pool and landscape guy) hold up the three kilo Blue Fin tuna for our next meal. After it was cleaned and filleted, there were two huge portions that we’re sharing each night. Such wonderful people! Such fabulous fish! For more details, please click here.

We’re in the US!…Kona, Hawaii….Photos to follow…

The veranda in our cabin is great for photos but also relaxing and drying hand-washed clothing.

We’ve been in and out of the US a few times over these past years.  Once in September 2014, when a cruise ended in Boston, we stayed for three days to visit my uncle and cousin.

In 2014/2015 we spent a total of eight months in Hawaii on four islands. On three other occasions, we sailed in and out of Florida.

The coral reef at our last port of call over a week ago.

We haven’t been back to Minnesota since October 2012 or Nevada since December 2012. This morning at 6:00 am our ship anchored out to sea in Kona, Hawaii (the Big Island of Hawaii).

At this point, we’re planning to go ashore in Kona, Hawaii after we upload today’s post. In 2014/2015, we spent six weeks on this island. After having seen so much while there, we aren’t decided yet if we’ll disembark the ship to take photos and walk around.

Passengers checking out the sea for photo ops.

This morning was spent in one of the most painstaking immigration processes we’ve encountered (since our scary illegal immigrant situation in Australia in March) in all these years of travel.

All Americans were instructed to meet in Studio B, where the ice skating rink is located, and wait for our numbers to be called. By the time we arrived at 6:32 am all the seating was occupied leaving us to stand for almost two hours.

Boat in the bay.

Finally, we were able to sit for about 10 minutes while the crowds who’d arrived before us filtered out to meet with immigration. While we were waiting we met a lovely couple who’d been traveling the world, homeless like us for the past 13 months. We were thrilled to meet Sue and Scott.

Immediately, we set up a dinner date for the next sea day when we’ll have an opportunity to share our mutual experiences. We’ll surely “pick their brains’ on some occasions we’ve yet to have and vise versa. We’re looking forward to that evening!

Afternoon island view from the ship.

Finally, our group moved along for the 10 seconds it took for an immigration officer to verify our faces against the photos on our passports. Non-US citizens had a lengthier process which included filling out a complicated two-page document.

By 9 am we made our way to the Windjammer Buffet for a small bite to eat. The main dining room is closed for lunch on “port” days.  Lately, I’ve found I feel better if I eat lunch and then dinner about eight hours later, entirely avoiding breakfast or snacks.

After seven full days at sea, it’s odd to see land, although we’ve thoroughly enjoyed each sea day.

Today, we had no choice but to dine in the Windjammer when it would be a long haul until dinner. Many nights we have dinner with our four friends from Australia who traveled together; Ulla, Ray, Julie and Terry. 

We all have drinks (I drink one cup of peppermint tea) while gabbing incessantly prior to heading to the dining room around 7:00 pm, (served by 8:00 pm) in ample time to make the 9:00 pm show at the Palace Theatre. The past few nights we’ve attended a few shows which proved to be highly entertaining.

Now, close to 11:30 am, we’re seated comfortably in the Diamond Lounge, laptops in hand while busily preparing today’s post.  Every so often, a few passengers stop by to chat slowing down the posting process. But, we don’t mind at all. It’s a joyful part of cruising that definitely adds to the experience.

Have a blissful day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2016:

This was moving in the river next to our villa in Bali. It must have been some peculiar fish. For more photos, please click here.

And then there were three…Winding down as the days pass…An unreal video a year ago…

The fog began to roll in as the day wanes.

Yesterday afternoon, the six of us, TJ’s family of four and Tom and I, piled into the minivan for the two-hour drive to Kona. I had yet to experience this long drive across the Big Island from ocean to ocean. Tom had been too preoccupied to take photos when driving to Kona to pick up the family on December 6th. But, he also enjoyed it yesterday.

From left to right; Sarah, TJ, me, Tom, (front) Vincent, Jayden, Nik, Tracy, and Tammy, a photo we took yesterday of our remaining family members. Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent remain in Pahoa for four more days.

The terrain rapidly changed from ocean induced lush greenery to almost desert-like sparseness and dry vegetation. Signs were posted warning of extreme” risk of fire.

Low lying clouds surround the mountains.

By the time we arrived in Kona, the sun was setting. I couldn’t get a good vantage point for a sunset photo when our imminent goal was to get to Costco before they closed at 6 pm. TJ and family’s flights were at 8:10 pm.

Many mountain ranges on the Big Island are higher than an elevation of 10,000 feet.

They were thrilled to stop at Costco for a quick bite to eat before flying back to Minnesota while I found my awaiting laptop and purchased some nuts. We wouldn’t be driving back to this Costco anytime soon.

With many power lines obstructing this scene we still were in awe of this border of trees in the distance.

And then they were gone. And we began the long trek back to Pahoa in the dark. The winding mountainous roads weren’t so pretty in the dark and fog. 

As barren as the scenery is, it offers its own reflective beauty.

At some point, high in the mountains, Tom noticed the outside temperature was only 43 degrees, the coldest temperature we’d experienced since winter of 2011/2012. Even when we were in Iceland in September, it never got below 48 degrees.

The road ahead of us was long and desolate.

Finally, we returned home to an empty house for the first time since December 6th with Tammy’s family of three next door until January 2nd, a mere four days away. Adventurers that they are, we’ll see them here and there, as they complete their remaining Big Island “must do’s” seeing us in between their exciting water-related challenges. We’ll cherish every last moment together.

As we drove by this dry vegetation at 60 mph, it was evident as to why there were fire warnings.
We find beauty in the simplicity of barren land.

Today, my dear sister is having big surgery in LA. I’ll stay close at hand to take calls from her partner with updates on her progress. I can only pray for a good outcome and recovery as she works her way through a difficult time.  Although far away, I am at her side, as we always have been for one another. The same case applies to my older sister in Nevada who also suffers from ill-health.  (It’s in the genes).

The terrain was mostly lava rock interspersed with vegetation that eventually makes its way through the dense lava.
It was sunny but late in the afternoon as we shot the wilderness in the center of the Big Island.

While hanging out a home today, I’ll begin the process of setting up the new laptop. It’s been quite the task, typing on a $10 external keyboard these past few weeks. What a relief, a year later to have a laptop that works well for me as opposed to the keyboard problematic version I’d purchased in South Africa last February with some unfamiliar international aspects. 

Have a meaningful Monday. Back at you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2013:

It was one year ago on this date that we posted this video of tree frog mating in the tree over our pool in Marloth Pak. For the details of that story, please click here.