October 29, 2006

So Much for Today's List

So I had made up a list of things I planned to do today. All that was shattered though. I went to Sam's Club. While walking through the store, I heard someone calling my name. I turn around and spot someone. I didn't recognize her at first. And then I realized it was my best friend from high school. Dena! We hugged and then started to chat. Catching up from the last time we had seen each other. My usual half hour to forty five minute walk through the store now stretched out to about two hours as we yakked. It was great seeing her again. And I really don't feel bad about not getting most of the things done that I had planned today. It's nice to meet old friends and remember both the good times, and the bad times, from the past.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

I Think it's a Little Off

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Yes, our last name is uncommon. However, this is saying that we don't exist. Mike and his brother would be surprised to hear this.

However, there are quite a bit of people with my first name:

Posted by Valkyre at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2006

Superman Has Dropped By

This is a repost of the last message I posted before the server went down.

A few nights ago, Pepper went out the doggy door into the backyard. Suddenly she started barking. I can recognize the different tones to her barks. This one meant, "There is an intruder in the backyard. An intruder can mean anything from a red squirrel up to a human. I figured it was the red squirrel. During the day, he has made the powerlines that run over the backyard his personal freeway. This agitates Pepper to no end. However, her barking continued. Whatever was out there was not intimidated by her. I felt I better go check. I peered through the doors into the dark backyard and tried to get my eyes to adjust. I followed Pepper's field of vision and than I saw something! It looked like a person with several blankets draped over thier head was dipping his hands into our above ground pool. How did he get in here? Both gates are padlocked shut. Why isn't he reacting to the dog? Is he crazy? Then my eyes adjusted to the dark. It wasn't a real person. It was a Superman mylar balloon. Someone must have had a party and the balloon got free somehow. As it lost helium, it drifted down. And ended up floating just above the water line on the pool. In fact, it looked like Superman was dipping his toes in the water. I brought the balloon inside and let Pepper sniff it so she would quit barking at it. He is now inside the living room drifting around, just a few feet off of the floor, watching us.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2006

I'm Back!

And the site is ugly.... The server hosting our blogs over on JaguarPC went down. Some files became corrupted, according to them, and the couldn't save them. So, they ended up having to go back to their last "back up". Which was October 3rd. Fortunately for me, I had backed up my blog. A few days ago, Mike and I were unable to access our blogs. It said that we weren't authorized to access the MySQL database. A feeling of panic came over me. Unable to get to my blog? I pictured years of work wiped out. I hadn't backed up the blog in ages. Mike was able to change a couple of lines and gave us permission again. I backed up my blog immediately.

So, since I hadn't backed up a blog in ages, I forgot exactly what I was supposed to do as far as importing entries. So, I hit the import button. I was thinking that I would have to load the file into the blog. No, I forgot that ages ago, I had added an import folder to the MT folder. And sitting in that folder was the back up entries for Project 66 Bug. Guess what happened? Yes! I had loaded to files from Project 66 Bug into my directory. I removed the 66 bug files and put my backed up blog into the import folder. I loaded it into the directory. Yes! All the entries were there. Twice..... Yes, except for the last few entries, every entry over the past several years was in there twice. So now, I had categories that included the ones from Proect 66 Bug. Entries from that blog, and over 500 duplicated entries. My options were to go through and delete every repeated entry. Delete the 66 bug categories and entries and then rebuild the whole mess. I decided to start from scratch. So, It's back to this. I will get it back to where it was. Right now, I need to find some missing images.

I only lost two entries. The one with the pictures of the spiders. And the one I posted about the Superman mylar balloon. I will post the Superman one again. I don't know about the spiders.

Okay.... I just added a new stylesheet. It's called Georgia. I don't know if I like everything on the other side. I need to play around with it more.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2006

It's Best to Stay Inside

So, I'm getting ready to go to bed. I go to lock the front doors. But first I peek out to see if the cars are locked and alarms enable. I look to the right. 20 feet away, in a place where no light can get through due to our trees, I can see a large orb spinner spider sitting in his web. Where there's one, there's dozen. This is the season of the orb spinner. They build their webs at night and take them down in the morning. I figure if I can see a spider, 20 feet away, in the dark, I'm staying inside.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:14 AM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2006

Stories I Like

And they say dogs are dumb.

Story here:

Injured Dog Limps Into Hospital Waiting Room

BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- An injured 6-year-old German shepherd mix limped into a hospital waiting room after apparently being struck by a car, according to animal control officials.

Buddy the dog limped into emergency at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Bellflower on Wednesday and sat in the waiting area at about 1 p.m., officials said.

"We were on a routine assignment, and we got a Code 2 that a dog had wandered into the hospital," said Wendy Alexander of the animal control unit. "When we walked in, he was laying on his bad hip. At that time, we didn't know that there was an injury. He was shaking. I thought, he knew he needed help, and he knew where to get it."

Hospital officials called the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey, and agency officials picked up Buddy and brought him to the shelter for treatment of a fracture.

"We don't know where he got hit by a car, but we're happy he chose the right place to get help," Capt. Aaron Reyes, SEAACA's director of operations, told the Whittier Daily News.

Through an identifying microchip implanted in Buddy's skin, SEAACA officials were able to locate his owner, who adopted him from the animal shelter about five years ago. Fabian Ortega, Buddy's owner, owns a construction equipment rental business about a block from the hospital.

"We didn't teach him that," said Ortega. "I don't know how he figured that one out."

Ortega said he had been searching the area for his dog since he ran away about two weeks ago from the yard of the business while the fence was repaired.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2006

What's With the Pink!?

It's October once again. And that means it's Breastcancer Awareness Month. It also means it time for the annual Boobiethon. I wasn't able to send in any boob pics' this year. I did however, make a donation like I do every year.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:09 AM | Comments (1)

October 05, 2006

Cruise - Last Day

All good things must come to an end. We are on our way home. I woke up at 3:00am again. But, looking out at the waves didn't soothe me this time. Stress crept in. I started to worry about Teresa's accident. In just a few short hours, we would get our first look at the damage. Thoughts of insurance, lawyers, lawsuits, high insurance rates crowded my mind. Then, I started to think of work. Crap! I couldn't get back to sleep. I wanted to catch a few more hours before we got into San Pedro. Or else I would be exahusted all day. I drifted back to sleep after about 15 minutes.

I woke up again at around 5:30am. I looked out the window. While the sky was still dark, it was almost as bright as day outside. There were a ton of sodium vapor lights. I could see buildings rather close to the ship. We were passing them slowly. "Where are we?" I asked. "I think we're almost home." Mike said in response. San Pedro? I didn't recognize anything. However, we slowly passed a building that looked somewhat familiar to me. Ah yes, the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. I have been there before. Years and years ago. It's actually an interesting museum. A little further and we were pulling up to the cruise ship terminal. Like I said earlier, Ensenada's terminal may be smaller, but it's much nicer. The one here looks like an old warehouse. Not very attractive. You would think that Los Angeles would want to make a better impression for people who might be visiting for the first time.

We were given the option of leaving the ship at 7:00am with our luggage. Breakfast was going to be served a little earlier today. They would start at 6:30. Mike and I considered the earlier exit. But, there probably wouldn't be time for breakfast. When they called you to exit at 7:00, you had to get off the ship. Another reason I didn't want to do it? I pictured hundreds of people crowding the stairs and elevators with their luggage in tow and bumping into anyone who got in their way. We took the option of being assigned a colored tag to put on our one suitcase. When they called that color, you had to exit the ship, clear customs and then pick up your luggage. The yellow tags had a big number 1 printed on them. I figured that would mean we would get called first. That meant that we would have had to leave the ship by 8:00am. Plenty of time for breakfast.

Turns out it was just the opposite. We would be one of the last ones called. Mike and I sat up on the 12 deck, still in the good ol' Windjammer buffet nursing a few cups of coffee well after breakfast. We watched as the ship slowly cleared of passengers. They wanted us to wait in the cocktail lounges, or by the pool. But, we stayed in the Windjammer until we were finally kicked out. We went to the outside deck and saw this guy:

He had figured out that docked cruise ships equal food. He was hanging around on the rail mooching off of the people eating outside. I don't know if he was having much luck. Mike found a muffin that had been left behind and broke off a piece and gave it to him.

Finally they called yellow. We went down to the centrum staircase and noticed that the line was winding around the floor, back to the 4th deck. Augh! Forget about it. I had to use the bathroom really bad. So, we went around the ship trying to find working bathrooms. Seems as if they shut the water off. And that didn't stop people from using the toilets. It was quite the mess in some of the bathrooms. We finally found some that weren't too bad in an isolated part of the ship.

At some point, Mike snuck back up to the Windjammer and took this shot.

Once everyone was cleared out, they removed all the leftover food and cleaned the place up. They must have done it in mere seconds. It's hard to believe that this place was packed for breakfast a couple of hours ago.

Back to the 7th deck to look at the long line waiting to go through customs. There were quite a few others waiting up there too. Suddenly, I noticed a gap. No one seemed to be coming down the gangway anymore. "Let's go get in line!" Mike didn't want to. He said that he had seen gaps like that before. Usually it's from someone who's a little slow moving up in the line. I ignored him and went down to the Centrum deck. The line was much, much shorter. I got in line and called Mike from my cell. "Get down here! The line is shorter!" Good thing I got in line. As soon as I called Mike, they called down the rest of the people to exit the ship.

Not all of the customs windows were open, considering that a cruise ship had just pulled in and about 3000+ people had to be cleared. But, we were waved through.

To the room to get our luggage and out to the taxi stand. Unfortunately, since the Beetle was now wrecked, there was no way for Teresa to pick us up. A taxi from San Pedro to Gardena, a distance of about 12 miles cost $32.50. It was my first ride in an taxi of any kind. We get home and get our first look at the car. Not as bad as we were imagining. Not good either. We are greeted by three very happy dogs. The girls come out too. I immediately pull out the Fuji and start snapping pictures of the damage to the Beetle. Then, and only then, could I go inside. Our vacation was officially over. I can't wait until we do another cruise. I'm smitten. Maybe for our 25th anniversary?

Posted by Valkyre at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2006

Cruise - Day 4

Ensenada.... What can I say about Ensenada? Again, I woke up as soon as the light came through the window. Again, I snapped a picture of the first thing I saw when I peeked out the window.

We were entering Ensenada Harbor. I watched as we passed several small boats on their way out of the harbor. Most likely fishermen. Compared to the behemoth Los Angeles harbor, Ensenada harbor is dinky. This was it as far as cranes off loading ships.

However, the cruise ship terminal in Ensenada, while small, was much better looking than the one in Los Angeles. And newer too.

Visible from the terminal was a large Mexican flag.

Even though I am taking this through the window of the ship, it was that gloomy outside. And, I think that that is smog that is obscuring the mountains in the background.

We looked down at the terminal and watched as the tour buses, shuttles and cabs lined up outside. The buses were for the people who paid extra to go on tours. The shuttles and cabs were there to take passengers to the downtown area where the shopping is. Mike and I decided to walk.

The cruise ship provided us with a map of where they recommended we shop. Certain shops were certified by Royal Caribbean. In other words, if you were to buy anything from these shops, Royal Caribbean would guarantee your purchase.

Mike and I started out and walked a little more northwards than the path that was designated by the map. We wanted to cross at a signal. We got about halfway across, when it changed suddenly. We stood on the center island and watch the traffic whiz by. Got the green and completed our crossing. We walked up a side street by, what looked like, an elementary school. All the kids were wearing uniforms and it looked like it was a nutrition break for them. We ended up on the main street, with all the shops, but we were several blocks down. It was a little dingy here.

As we approached the main shopping area, we came across a street vendor with some unique souvenirs. He made scorpions, bugs and lizards out of wire and then would paint them. He was asking $8.00 for them, but told us that he would let us have one for $6.00, since we would be his first sale of the day. I wanted to buy one for Kelly, my employer, but I dind't want to carry it around all day. However, the $6.00 price was only good at that moment. I bought one. Black and red. I will have to take a a picture of it when I go to work tomorrow.

As we continued, we noticed that the buildings were getting cleaner, and better maintained. We were on the main drag. We started seeing Royal Caribbean approved signs all over the place, so we knew we were at our destination.

Unfortunately, this is where things went sort of bad. We weren't really impressed by most of the shops. There were a few, here and there, that were unique in the items they carried. But, most of the other stores seemed to be prescription drug stores and bars. The booze was cheap and so were the drugs. People were standing outside both places trying to get us to go inside.

Also, every 10-15 feet there was some sort of street vendor. They were selling bracelets, with ones name stitched in, or they would put your name on a grain od rice. They were selling myriads of other things, but we would walk by them rather quickly as they tried to block our path, so we would look at their wares. That got old pretty quick.

It wasn't that way in the actual shops, though. Mike needed a good pair of walking shoes. He had only brought his dressy cowboy boots with pointed toes. His toes were getting squished and they were very uncomfortable for a lot of walking. So, we saw a shop that sold nothing but sandals. We ducked into there. There was no hard sell. Mike tried on several sandals and walked around in them to see how they fit. This shop wasn't on the cruise ships recommended list, but we really didn't care. Mike bought a nice pair of huaraches for $18.00. He wore those out of the store and had the lady bag his cowboy boots.

We walked by a somewhat odd store with a ton of t-shirts in the window. It reminded me of the old "head shops" that one used to see. The ones where you could buy bongs and rolling papers. One of the t-shirts was of Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton's . They were snuggled up against each other and had a heart around them. I immediately thought of our daughter, Amanda. She loves that movie. I kept that shop in mind. Further up, there was an entrance off of the sidewalk. Over the opening it said, Art of Mexico. Cool! I wanted to see some stuff from local artists. As we walked into the courtyard, I noticed a small dragon kite hanging outside one of the shops. When I saw that, I thought of Teresa, who is into dragons. I wanted to see if they had more inside the shop, and how much it cost When we walked inside, we were greeted by this:

A gorgeous much, much larger kite hanging from the ceiling. Way too large to bring home. But nice to drool over. Along with the other kites that were displayed throughout the shop. These kites were made locally. We decided to come back later. I was going to get the small dragon for Teresa, but I didn't want to carry it around all day.

We got to the end of the main shopping drag and made our way back down. On the way down the other side of the street. Again, we had to dodge street vendors. Nothing much there to impress us. When we got to the end, we went to the head shop like place and bought the Nightmare Before Christmas t-shirt. Remember I said it seemed like a head shop? We think the owner may have been on something. He was acting somewhat strange.

We then made our way back up to the little courtyard, back to the kite shop. And I bought the small dragon kite for Teresa. We exited through a door in back and that put us on the street that ran paralleled the waterfront. We could see the ship from where we were. We crossed at a crosswalk, at a four way stop. Drivers here are more polite than the ones in Los Angeles. I didn't have this fear of being run down while in the crosswalk. Even here, we weren't safe from beggars or souvenir vendors. It was only when we passed the guard shack on the way to the cruise ship terminal were we finally safe.

Mike took this nice panoramic shot with his camera. I left my big Fuji behind. I didn't want to haul it around while we were walking through the city.

We really don't feel any urge to return to Ensenada soon.

We were back well before dinner. Since we had so much time, and since this would be our last full day we decided to really tour the ship and take some pictures.

This is a shot of the pool.

That tall thing at the back is called the Viking Crown. It's a fancy cocktail lounge. We went up inside there to enjoy the view. However, on the opposite side, they had installed one of those rock climbing walls which totally obscured the view for anyone who sat in front. Out on deck I took some pictures of the city. I really hated that haze. Wasn't much I could do though.

Interesting thing was this sunken boat that was within view of the ship. Some seals had made it their home and we could hear them barking. If you look closely to the right, you can just make them out.

The ships engines kicked on. It was time to go. Back to San Pedro, back to home. We passed by these guys on our way out of the harbor.

It would be our last dinner at Vince's. When the guy who took our drink orders came over, we told him we didn't feel like having anything. He said, "This always happens when people return from Ensenda. He was implying that we had been taking adavantage of the cheap beer that was flowing in the bars in the city. I didn't feel like explaining to him that it was because we were a little depressed about it being near the end of the cruise.

The head waiter went to the center of the restaurant and got everyone's attention. He then introduced the head chef and his assistants. The ones who worked so hard to make all those delicious meals. They walked amongst everyone to loud applause. Then, they introduced all the waiters and their assistants. I was actually getting emotional inside. We would miss Duncan, our waiter from Jamaica who waited on us for the past three nights. Dinner was over, and we stayed till they practically kicked us out. We were talking to the nice couple who were seated at our table.

Back to our room and to bed.

Tomorrow - San Pedro

Posted by Valkyre at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2006

Cruise - Day 3

26 miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is the island for me....

I don't know how the rest of the lyrics go. I do know this. For some odd reason, I kept waking up every morning around 3:00am. But, I would just look outside the window at the waves generated by the ship, and I would feel better and go back to sleep. Awake again as soon as daylight comes through the window. This is what I saw:

I wasn't too sure if it was Catalina at first. There are other islands up and down the coast and it could have been any one of them. But then, I spotted one of Catalina's famous landmarks. The Casino building.

Catalina does not have port that can accomodate a large cruise ship. The ships must anchor offshore and passengers are taken from the ship in smaller boats. Or, what they referred to as tenders. The first tender was supposed to be at the ship by 8:30am. Mike and I decided to just have a leisurely breakfast and maybe wander down to the tenders around 9:30. We figured most of the crowd would be gone by then.

At 9:30, we go to attempt to get on a tender. Only to see the line extends up above deck 4, where our cabin was located. We walk up to find that it ends at deck 6. The gangway was all the way down on deck 1. "I don't do lines!" Mike said. We decided to wait. We went up to deck 7, to get a look at the tender.

Only one tender? That didn't make any sense. We both agreed that they should have two running. While one goes to the island, full of passengers, another returns to the ship. We watch as the tender fills up. All the seats, top and bottom, were full. By the time it left, it was "standing room only". We watched as it slowly approached the island. Suddenly, it stopped. It had to make way for one of the sleek Catalina Express boats.


(This is an image from the web, I didn't take it.) The Catalina Express had just come in from the mainland, to drop passengers off. They disembarked rather quick. Compared to the tender, in which it seemed to take quite awhile to get everyone on board.

Catalina Express pulled out and the tender made it's way to the shore. While the tender made it's slow way to the island, I took a picture of a ParaSailor:

Someone passing by heard Mike and I wondering aloud why there was only one tender. They replied, "There was supposed to be two. One broke down. This one was late!" Great! So the tender we just now saw take off had been the first one to take passengers off the ship. Mike and I went back inside the ship and noticed that the line was now all the way up to the 11th deck. Rumor had it, that if you got into that line, it would be at least an hour and a half until you could get on the tender. Mike and I figured that even if we got onto a tender, we really wouldn't be able to stay on the island that long. We would want to catch an early one back to the ship, so we could avoid the lines on the way back. Ah well. We thought we would have to forgo Catalina on this trip. So, we started to wander around the ship. I took pictures of the Centrum Staircase.

This is a staircase that extends from the 4th deck to the 7th deck. You can access the Casino from here. It was on the 5th deck.

We walked down to the 4th deck to ask Guest Relations if all the rumors were true about the tenders. We had heard there was supposed to be another one on the way. She told us that there would be one there at 12:30pm. And, she said that the captain will soon make an announcement that the time on the island will be extended for another hour. Instead of being back by 4:30pm, we could come back at 5:30.

Off to lunch. At 12:45, we decided to see if a second tender showed up. Yay! It was here. Not only that, there was no line. We could walk right on. In fact, they were holding it there until 1:00pm. So, we sat there for quite awhile. This is how the ship looked from the tender:

Finally! We moved away from the side of the ship and made our way around the bow. I took this shot:

Finally!!! We arrive at Catalina. Unfortunately, it is too late for us to go on any of the tours. We decided to walk down the main drag and look at all the shops. One of my weaknesses is Salt Water Taffy. So, I was keeping my eyes open for any candy shops. I would prefer the taffy be made at that shop. The prepackaged stuff is usually hard to chew. I saw a shop called Lloyd's of Avalon Confectionary. There was a sign in the window. "Salt Water Taffy". Yay! Even better, they made it there! As soon as we walked in, we saw a woman just turning off the taffy puller which was loaded down with lemon flavored Salt Water Taffy. Mike and I bought a pound, taking different flavors from the bins. The verdict? Delicious. Not too sugary sweet. Just the way I like it. As Mike and I continued down the path, we were getting closer to the Casino. Mike suddenly climbed up the small hill next to the path and started walking down the road. He was looking for the perfect place to take a picture. He found it. A nice shot of the Monarch of the Seas, surrounded by foliage.

We made it to the Casino. Most of it was off limits to the public. We could walk in a look around. They would, however, take us on a tour for $15.95 apiece. Since we paid $15.00 apiece to tour the Midway, which was a 3 1/2 tour, we thought that this was kind of a rip-off. (When I told my mom about it later, she told me that the Casino tour is not worth the $15.95).

We started to walk back in the direction we came when we came across a Golden Retriever named Good Girl.

She like to swim out to fetch tennis balls for her master. Every time she came back to shore, she would talk down about 20 feet from him and shake the water from her fur. She did this so as not to get her master wet. I could see where she got her name.

Since we looked at most of the shops that held any interest, Mike and I started to walk up the residential streets. And I mean, up! They were steep. When we got to the top of one of the streets, I took another picture of the ship.

It's not as nice as the one Mike took of the ship framed by the trees.

Mike wanted to try to find the Phone Company CO located on the island. He had been there before. He wasn't quite sure where it was at. Suddenly, a phone company van passed by us. It went up the hill and turned left, and then made another immediate left down the street that was parallel to the one we were on. We went that way and found the CO. He pointed out the old switchboard that they had used for decades. We had to look at it through the window. No one seemed to be around.

After that, we went back down to the main street, with the shops and made our way back to the dock. Caught a tender and went back to the ship. Dinner again at Vince's at 5:30. After dinner, we walked around the upper decks for awhile. The moon was out and we watched how it was reflected in the water. Then to bed. Tomorrow, Ensenada, Mexico.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2006

Cruise - Day 2

What with all the commotion seeming to die down, and having a nice meal, Mike and I went to bed early, the first night. I woke up once during the night and peeked out the window. I could see the wake from the ship. Small whitecaps that gleamed in the lights from the ship. I found watching them kind of soothing and went back to sleep. I woke up again, to find light coming through the window. I got up and looked out and saw the above. We had arrived in San Diego and were making our way to our berth. If one wanted to, you could pay extra and take tours that were being offered by Balboa Park and tour the museums. Last time we were there, we went and visited the automotive museum. Mike didn't believe me when I told him that there had been some vintage motorcycles there. So, we were planning to see the automotive museum, to prove that I was right like always, and then visit some of the other museums. However, when I looked at a San Diego website of the museums around the cruise ship terminal, I came across a listing for an Aircraft Carrier Museum. Interesting! It turns out to be the USS Midway, a decommisioned aircraft carrier turned into a museum by volunteers. I was worried about being able to find her. I figured that the port, if it was anything like the Port of Los Angeles, would be huge. The aircraft carrier could be miles away. Mike was already up and about when I woke up. He walked into the room. "You were worried about finding the aircraft carrier?" I knew then that he had spotted it. He went to have his morning tea, up on the 11th deck and saw, on the opposite side from our room, the USS Midway. She was parallel to our ship and about 2 berths over. An easy walk from our ship. We wouldn't have to worry about cabs, buses, or trams.

The tour was about 3 and a half hours long. You start the tour on the Hangar Deck, where they have a few vintage airplanes on display.

You basically get an idea what life was aboard an aircraft carrier while at sea. The people who are seen, and those who are unseen, but keep things moving. The galleys, the sleeping quarters, shops, post office and barber. Plus much more. From the Hangar Deck, you go down to the Second Deck and tour that. From there, you go up to the Flight Deck and see even more of their collection of vintage planes and helicopters.

After that, we were able to go up into what is called the Island Superstructure. This is the Bridge and Primary Flight Control. (This is the area that Tom Cruise buzzed with his plane and made the guys coffee spill in Top Gun. A different ship in the movie though.) This involved a lot of ladder climbing in some rather tight places, so we had to watch our heads and backs.

Back down to the flight deck and we could look across and see the grand lady who had brought us here, our ship The Monarch of the Seas.

After we were done touring the USS Midway, there wasn't really any time to go to Balboa Park and tour the museums there. We needed to get back to our stateroom. Dinner was at 5:30pm and tonight was Formal Night. They would prefer the men wear Tuxes, or nice suits. And the women wear cocktail dresses. Mike bought a new suit, just for the occasion. And I bought cocktail dress. Dinner was at a nice restaurant called, Vinces. Very fancy. The waiter puts the napkin in your lap for you. There are about 15 pieces of silverware for you to work through. The food is excellent and there is something different on the menu every night. I wish I could remember what I had. Mike had the Mahi Mahi. While we were eating, a gentleman was walking around taking pictures. He took one of Mike, then one of me. They actually came out better than we thought they would, so we ended up buying them. Here they are. One of the few occasions you will ever catch me in a dress:

Drinks with dinner, a margarita for me and a Rob Roy for Mike. Cordials with desert, and we weren't feeling any pain. We went to bed after dinner. Next day, Catalina.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2006

Cruise - Day 1

Well, it's actually early evening one. Interesting how this goes. The ship starts sailing in the evening. Throughout the night, you are headed for your next destination. When you get up for breakfast, you are there. Teresa had just dropped us off at the terminal and drove away. The latest we could be there was 4:30pm and we were there about 4:20. They were already doing a lifeboat drill with all the passengers. We found our stateroom and dropped of the things we had carried on board. It was mandantory that we participate in the lifeboat drill. We were directed to Muster Station 12. After the drill, it was back to the stateroom to check things out. We were quite impressed by how large it was. I had visions of us standing along the bow watching San Pedro harbor slip away as we start on our journey. That was all shattered with the ringing of my cell phone. The reason I have included the first photo is because I was looking down at these guys from our stateroom window when my phone went off. I look at the caller ID and see it's Teresa. I feel my heart drop. I was hoping that she had been unable to get on the freeway and was asking for directions, but the time between her dropping us off and the call was too long. Even if she hadn't found the freeway, she would have been home by now if she had taken surface streets. I answer the phone. She is almost incoherent. I hear accident. Shit!!!! "Did you hit something!? What happened!?" I hear here say that she hit something. I couldn't make it out. I thought that maybe she had hit some stationary object. Then the cell went dead. No signal. Mike and I run up to the bow outside and get a strong signal. I call her back. From what I could make out, she had gone to make a lane change. She checked her mirror, looked over her shoulder in the blind spot and then started to move to the left. Suddenly, she hears noise and realizes that she's been hit. She tries to move back to the right, but whatever has hit her is moving to the right too. Turns out it was a large commercial vehicle. It has chewed the driver's side bumper, the fender and scraped the side of the car, just missing the door. They both come to a stop. The rear tire is shredded, the rim destroyed. The car cannot drive. The driver of the truck gives her a company "1-800" number and the number off the truck and takes off. As far as Teresa can see, there is minimal damage to the truck. However, since there was more than $750 damage to her car, they were supposed to give her their driver's license and proof of insurance. So, these motherfuckers basically abandoned a 17 year old, distraught, girl with a disabled car. After they left, a tow truck appears on the scene. My daughter thought that maybe the roofing company had sent this truck to pick up the car and so she didn't think anything was wrong when he hooked up the car. That's where she made the first phone call to me. She was actually sitting in the passenger seat of the tow truck when she called me. This is where things get really, really bizarre. I could not figure out how this tow truck came into the picture. This is the conversation between me and my daughter as I can best remember it:

Me: "You're calling me from the tow truck?"
Her: "Yes!"
Me: "Where did this tow truck come from? Is it AAA?"
Her "No! I didn't call them. He just pulled up"
Me: "Wait a second! Who called him? Did the police come to the accident scene? Did they call him? Is the car being impounded?"
Her: "No. No one called the police. This truck just showed up and hooked up to the car."
Me: "Wait. This doesn't make any sense. Where did this truck come from?"
Her: "I think the guy who hit me called them."
Me: "I seriously doubt someone who left the scene without giving you any information would call a tow truck. Where is he taking you?"
Her: "Power Volkswagen"
Me: "No!!! Power Volkswagen is gone!!! He can't take you there! They are no longer in Torrance. You have to go to Pacific Volkswagen! Besides, they are the one who we bought the car from. You have to take it to them!" (At this point, I thought that somehow Pacific Volkswagen had been contacted because they offer a free tow to their dealerships.)
Her: She's talking to the driver. I hear her say that the car has to be towed to Pacific Volkswagen. It's around this time that I hear her say, "Oh! He's taken me to whatever body shop.
Me: "Wait a second? A body shop!? Where did he take you? I want the car towed to the house. Did you sign anything?"
Her: "No"
Me: "Did you ask him to tow the car?"
Her: "No! He just pulled up and hitched up the car. I thought he had been sent to the scene."

At that time, I wanted to talk to the driver. He refused to talk to me. I think it was around this time that Mike took the cell phone to get more information. It turns out that this tow truck driver tows wrecked cars to this body shop and gets kick backs from the body shop owner. Mike finally got the driver on the phone and chewed him out. He refused to pay for the tow job and threatened to call the police. Soon as the guy heard the word police, he unhitched the car and took off. During all this, I asked my daughter if we should abort the cruise and come help her. She declined. She didn't want to ruin our cruise. I didn't car. I wanted to help her. I asked her if I should call my sister, her aunt, and have her take care of things. She declined again. At this point, the gang plank was pulled away. They pulled the anchors up. The ship gives several large blasts over it's horn. We are leaving. There is no way off now. If we are to go to her now, we are going to have to wait until we get to San Diego. We are standing on the bow of the ship trying to calm our daughter and get details of what the hell just happened. I was extremely worried about her. She is at some sleazy body shop, with the owner. Her car is disabled. Mike called the police to have drive by and make sure she was okay. I told her to call AAA and have the car towed to the house. I wanted her home more than the car, though. I told her to call me as soon as she got ahold of AAA. She called me back and said that they were going to be there in a half an hour. I told her to please call me as soon as she gets home. We are under sail. I was worried that we were going to lose our signal. Turns out we didn't need to worry. There is something called Cellular at Sea. We had a strong signal. Oh! And to make matters worse, Teresa's cell phone battery had gone dead. Her last few phone calls were from the body shops land line. The owner was nice enough to let her use it. We were supposed to eat dinner at 5:30pm in a sit down restaurant called Vince's. It's the equivalent of a 5 star restaurant. Very classy. For obvious reasons, we didn't make it. I figured that AAA should have towed the car back by about 6:30 pm. Still no phone call. Mike and I are wandering around the deck. Unable to really enjoy the open ocean, or the lights along the shore. I called home at 6:45pm and Amanda answers. Teresa wasn't there yet. I told Amanda about the accident and told her to please have Teresa call as soon as she gets home. I try the land line number from the body shop. I get an answering machine. I left a message anyway, hoping that the owner was outside with Teresa. Maybe he would hear me talking and would come in. No dice. I am really worried now. It's dark. Mike calls the police back and asks if a patrol car showed up. Yes, they did dispatch and a police officer showed up at the scene. He talked to Teresa and calmed her down. There wasn't much he could really do for her, though. So, he had left. Not too long after that, Teresa finally called. AAA was late. The driver didn't tow the car, he just replaced the tire. She was able to drive the car home. With a busted taillight, a fender all that had dropped down and was rubbing the tire and pieces of fender sticking out. I wish he had towed it. However, she was home safe. That was all that mattered. Now, we could enjoy our cruise. Since we missed out dinner slot, we found out there was a buffet on the 11th deck called the Windjammer. Mike and I went up there and helped ourselves to some delicious food. I really can't remember what we had that first night. We sat down at a table and watched the ocean pass by. We also saw another cruise ship that we slowly passed. Since I knew that Teresa was now safely home, with the car parked out front, I could relax. After dinner, we retired to our stateroom and went to bed. I was worried that I would have trouble falling asleep, but I nodded off.

Tomorrows entry - Day 2 - San Diego

Posted by Valkyre at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)