Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth 2

Top ten list of places I want to visit or revisit

Greetings, readers. Something this morning made me think about all the places I’ve been and all the places I still wish to see before I die. I thought to myself, wow, there is a top ten list to work on today. Probably only the top three will be in order. So, without further ado, here we go.

#10. Walnut Grove, Minnesota. I would love to see the town made famous on Little House on the Prairie and visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum.

#9. Take a trip to Holland to visit the relatives.

#8. Catalina Island, California. I was there with my ex-wife Georgia once and it was beautiful.

#7. Los Angeles, California. Georgia and I did the tourist attraction bus tours. That was such fun. I would love to do it again.

#6. Wilmington, North Carolina. My friend David’s daughter is going to college there and she just loves it. It is about ten minutes away from the beach. If all goes well, I will see Wilmington at Emily’s graduation.

#5. Gottlieben, Switzerland and the Drakensberg castle, which I remember as a hotel. Gottlieben is a little town, and I do mean little, on the Rhine river. Back in the day, you could take boat rides to various points along the river.

#4. London, England. I would love to hop aboard a British Airways 747, fly to Heathrow airport, get on a double-decker tour bus and see the sights of London, including Big Ben and 65 Eaton Place.

#3. I would dearly love to cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. Georgia and I had a wonderful ten-day cruise and it was one of the highlights of my life.

#2. While we are on the topic of cruising, two more ships come to mind. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (my parents and I traveled on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 when I was a child. I was too young to realize what a wonderful experience it was.) Also I would love to go aboard the Princess cruise line’s Pacific Princess, aka the Love Boat.

#1. To continue to go to Bear Spring Camps in Maine for as many years as I can. It is my favorite place in the world.

There you have it; an easy peasey top ten list for a Friday. Take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Our voyage on Voyager of the Seas

Greetings, readers. When I was married to then Georgia Kockelmans, she and I went on a cruise in 2005 which was one of the happiest times we spent together. It was a ten-day grand vacation, with two days down and two days up on the Atlantic Ocean, and four ports of call in the Caribbean. Our ship was Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.

Good friends of ours drove us to Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey where Georgia and I waited several hours for the ship to be cleaned and re-stocked. We had much to do in the meantime; there was customs to go through including showing passports, and baggage checks. I had the eager anticipation for this trip of a little boy. It was the first time I had been on a liner since 1973’s Queen Elizabeth 2 crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with my parents. I was wide-eyed at the whole experience. Then we got the news: something had delayed our boarding and we were all going to be in this waiting area for much longer than anticipated. Since we were all checked in, that gave people time to smoke, stretch their legs, and get a drink. However, we weren’t allowed to venture far away from the boarding area. Finally in the evening around 7:00 or 8:00 as best as I can remember, we were allowed to board.

When we got to our stateroom, our luggage was in front of our door, just like it was for other passengers. If memory serves, when the ship was finally ready to cast off, we were already three to four hours behind schedule. It was going on 11:00 p.m. Georgia and I went out to our balcony and watched our ship sail under one of New York City’s bridges. We swore the top of the ship was not going to clear the bottom of the bridge, then we both looked at one another as if to say, “I’m sure this captain has done this a hundred times. It must be safe.” We watched it safely go under the bridge and out to the open ocean. Then Georgia and I went into the stateroom and enjoyed the complimentary beverage that was given to all passengers.

While I don’t remember every single detail of this voyage, I shall now tell you a little bit about the ports of call. We visited Labadee, Haiti; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Freeport, Bahamas. What I think we did was go to the southern most port and work our way back north, but I’m straining my memory eight years now so I hope I’m not fibbing.

At one of the lovely ports, Georgia and I decided to go swimming with the dolphins. Now, I can’t swim to save my life. For insurance reasons, even the most avid swimmer was made to wear a safety vest. One of the park employees had to hold me while I kicked my feet, so that I could use both hands to pet the dolphin, and give it a little kiss. All of the sudden I saw Georgia’s eyes get big. I looked over and saw the person holding me up was swimming in front of me. I had one of those hey, wait a minute, moments. I thought to myself, “Hey, if you are in front of me, who is holding me up? I must be treading water all by myself.” And sure enough, I was. As soon as I realized it, I began to flounder like the Titanic. The guy came back over quickly and caught me.

At another port, Labadee, Haiti I believe, I went hog-wild with my souvenir buying. I wanted remembrances of my trip. Of course, everything was hand-crafted, and quite expensive. Looking at the items much later, Georgia and I both chuckled over the fact that they were probably not worth the money I paid. It was worth it as I had these reminders and do to this day.

Two highlights now from on-board ship. While neither Georgia nor I was big on dressing up for the formal dinners, we did do it once out of the two formal nights. I rented a tux from the shop, and Georgia looked elegant in her best outfit. We sat at a big table with many of our fellow passengers and enjoyed delicious food, wine, dessert, and coffee. We fit in as best as we could. All other times, we dined in leisure clothes, on our time schedule, at the venues on the promenade levels, cafes, the 50’s style diner, or our personal favorite, room service.

The other big on-ship highlight was the couple’s massage at the fitness center. Two words describe that: completely scrumptious. It was an hour-long session, being rubbed down and pampered from head to toe. We left feeling like a million bucks.

On the cuter side of the ship’s decor, in every elevator was a plaque on the floor with the number of days left in the voyage. Changing them every day must have been a lot of work. Other niceties on the ship included the clubs and our ultimate favorite place, the casino. Georgia, my hat’s off to you for your prowess on the slot machines.

As the ship approached Bayonne, New Jersey, we both knew that something magical was ending. I always expected to take another cruise one day, but we never did. The whole ten-day experience is something I will always treasure. Years later I found on the internet a webcam mounted to look over Voyager of the Sea‘s promenade deck. It instantly brought back the feeling of being on board.

Next Wednesday will be a personal day, and Rebecca has asked to do the blog entry on Thursday. On Friday or the following week, since a lot of my readers seem to be big into the Air Crash Investigation series, I will do another blog entry about that show. Until soonest, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Top ten list of the best things I’ve ever done

Greetings, readers. Here is a top ten list of highlights from my life, plus one honorable mention. They are eleven things or events which I’ve done, that every time I look back on them they bring a smile to my face. Only #1 and #2 are in definitive order. So I hope you enjoy.

#10. Taking a cross-country trip from Pennsylvania to California with my Aunt Marilyn. [Circa the late 70s or early 80s.]

#9. My transatlantic crossing on the Queen Elizabeth 2. [1973. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and I sat at the captain’s table. I have a photo of Dad and me in white hats, on board the ship, most likely on the way to dinner.]

#8. While married to Georgia Barnhart, we took a cross-country trip, via the southern states, to visit my mother-in-law in California, and the subsequent trip to Disneyland.

#7. As a child, learning to play Christmas Carols on my organ. [Ordinarily I’m not good with instruments, but the chords were one finger touch for my weak left hand, so I was able to learn some songs to play for my parents.]

#6. Becoming the Godfather to David and Geri’s older daughter Ashley. I also treasure becoming part of my best friend’s wife’s family as their uncle figure. [Extremely rewarding.]

#5. Meeting and remaining good friends over many years with David Trost, Rebecca Taylor, Georgia Barnhart & Jim Sneeringer.

#4. Wrote my three books and had them published through CreateSpace.com. [I am also proud of my play which got a staged reading at a nearby playhouse, and is currently being turned into a novel by Darren. I also wrote a screenplay for a Charlie’s Angels TV movie back in the day.]

#3. Started my blog in December 2011.

#2. My various trips to Europe with my parents. [Especially Rome, Italy and Amsterdam, Holland.]

#1. Going to Bear Spring Camps in central Maine.

Honorable Mention: Giving several performances of my lip-sync air-guitar show in my apartment building, including a tribute concert to a late friend, Erin Beish.

Well, there you have it. As most of my steady readers will note, Bear Spring Camps is #1. No big shock there folks. Until next week, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.