Tag Archives: shuttle

April 9-10 –Going home

Once at the CDG airport we were pretty tired. Our luggage had gone through to LAX so we only had our carry on’s and large purses, but that was plenty. Unwilling to search for the shuttle to the hotel we grabbed a cab. The travel agency said the Marriot was closest to the airport, but we passed several on the way, including a Sheraton which is actually attached to the airport. At least it was only a 20E ride and about 15 minutes. The Marriott was lovely with the softest beds and pillows, ever. When we checked in I realized my Visa card was gone, so I had Terry cancel it. I am pretty sure I left it in a machine at the Genoa Airport. We watched TV and caught the finale of Britain’s The Voice and then slept hard till morning.

We had coffee and caught the 8am bus for our 10:30 departure. The airport security was miles long and they decided my bag was too heavy. As Carolyn continued I had to go way back to turn in my bag. Good news, because it was a connecting flight there was no charge. Back at the first check point, they let me thru a shortcut and then I was on my way to find Carolyn. The lines were all moving so slow that I actually caught up to her. We boarded promptly and took off on time. Carolyn had bought some more gifts at the airport. On the plane, we were in the bulkhead with a man in the seat between us. Oh well, I am not sitting in the middle, so that’s the way it goes.

We had some ok food, chicken and cous cous and other stuff I ignored. I would really love a sweet right now, but have none.

My wonderful Bose ear buds ran out of charge and the noise on the plane seems so much more awful than normal, since I had a couple of hours of relative silence. I watched the Good Dinosaur, which I though was cute. It is a simple adventure story, no reason for the critics to be so harsh.

I ended up watching animated films all the way home. I did find ice cream bars when I walked around the planes kitchen. I got one each for me, Carolyn, and our seat partner. I also got coffee for all of us. Carolyn and I later spent some time in the kitchen stretching our legs and being entertained by a charming baby named Santiago.

Landing at LAX was quick but getting off the plane took a long time. Most people waited their turn, but some people shoved forward. We had to go thru customs, I was able to text Terry once before customs area blocked all cell use. The line was long but moved fairly quickly. It was interesting to see how the custom officers talked with some people a long time and just gave a quick nod to others. There was a large high school group on our plan and lots of overexcited parents waiting for them. The parents behaved as if the kids were being released from a kidnapping situation, lol. We finally got through and found all of our suitcases. Terry was waiting for us outside, he went to get the car while we waited curbside. The place was packed and it was frustrating for Terry to get to us. LAX is just too big and too messy.

We dropped Carolyn off and when we got home I managed to stay awake until 5:30, then I was out until morning.

All in all, a good trip, interesting sights cool souvenirs.

Thursday on the ms Amsterdam July 3

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Today got off to a wild start, at about 1am almost everyone on the ship (some slept) experienced a lot of turbulence. It was crazy, it was enough to toss you off your bed. Terry and I looked out the window, it was not a storm, it was just very rough sea. Though it was impossible to fall back to sleep for a while I was pleased to not feel ill. I guess my seasickness wrist bands are working, so that is good to know. Eventually we fell asleep, I’m sure most people did.

 

Morning came to a calm sea, we were now close to Sitka, our second stop. We took our time getting up and showering and then went to the Lido Buffet for some breakfast. The lines are so long, so disorganized and the food is only mediocre, what a pain! I much prefer the river cruise style of breakfast, with the cold food out and hot food is ordered and brought to you. Of course there are only 200 people on the river cruise and almost 2000 on this ship.

 

When we were all ready, we went, as directed, to the Wajang theatre to get a number which would allow us to be “tendered” to shore. In large, covered boats they took about 50 of us at a time. It was a quick, easy ride to the nearby dock.

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Sitka is a tiny, charming little town. We headed toward the B___________ Castle. It was such a nice stroll, with so many pretty plants and flowers along the way. Once up the hill, we found only a small, round park overlooking the sea. The “castle” which had only been a mansion, had burned down long ago and the land was dedicated as a park to honor the sale of Alaska to the USA from Russia. There were some informative signs, most interesting to me was the one about the actual transfer of land ceremony. There were a bunch of American soldiers and a few Russian soldiers, there were the representatives from each country to make the change and a planned ceremony of lowering the Russian Flag and raising the American Flag. Unfortunately the Russian Flag was stuck and after two climbing attempts to free it had failed, they tried another tactic. The soldier got the flag free, but to the horror of onlookers, he dropped it to the ground. Amid this embarrassing situation, the American Flag was quickly raised, hands shaken and they quickly departed.

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Because of it’s native and Russian beginnings the town has a strong Russian influence. We visited several shops with the Russian nesting dolls and Faberge Eggs. I bought a few souvenirs, it’s hard because I do not want to get stuff made in China, neither do I want to spend a huge amount of money for native made items. I would have loved to buy my mom a set of nesting dolls, she used to love them so much.

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The flowers were simply beautiful, it’s nice to visit places that are not in drought! We also so wild raspberries growing in many places. Terry took way too many pictures to post but here are some favorites.

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We saw a building that was a senior residence, it was a very old building that had gone through several changes until finally refurbished. They had a tiny gift shop with handmade items from the residents, as well as some other items. I bought a few things, glad that my money was going to such a nice place.

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We then headed for the other side of the harbor to see the famous totem poles and their special park and museum. The totems were fine, but the forest walk was great. The foliage was beautiful and some of the plants had HUGE leaves! We also saw and heard a mated pair of bald eagles. I wondered if they knew Liberty and Spirit, a pair of eagles who live in Northern California. The walk was through a forest, but also along the shore. We wished we could bring some of the beautiful driftwood home, but settled for pictures.

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LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS LEAF!

 

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Having seen everything we were interested in, we headed back to the dock. As we passed a shack selling Clam Chowder, Terry suggested we try it. The chowder was wonderful! We were both reminded of the amazing lobster bisque we had from a tiny shack on Martha’s Vineyard. You just never know for sure where the good food will be.

The last tender was to be at 3:30, but we returned about 1:00.

I was very tired, having had little sleep last night, so I took a long nap while Terry watched TV. There is always a movie on which is good and bad. Good cause the movies are current and bad because Terry will start watching in the middle and just as I find myself involved in the story and an exciting part comes along, he stands us and suggests we go out. I have never, and will never, understand how he does that.

We went to the buffet for dinner and sat by the pool. There was a very good jazz band playing. The ship was moving a lot and the swimming pool was swishing the swimmers back and forth, they were shrieking with delight and mock terror. Finally the crew had to close the pool so no one could get hurt. For dinner I had steak, chicken and potatoes. It sounds like a lot but I barely made a dent. Between the ship motion and the not great food, neither of us are eating a lot. However, my favorite server, Angie, always has great food, because she scoops ice cream. We are on a first name basis.

 

The disnitigration of manners and the unawareness of appropriate behavior is apparent on the ship. A older man who was extremely sweaty from his workout came to a table by the pool, and lay on the floor to do sit ups. It was not a very nice sight. A lady took a diapered baby into the Jacuzzi, yuck. And a very large man was leaning back in the Jacuzzi entertaining his friends with the sight of his huge belly. He looked like a beached whale. Terry looked over and said “you never have a harpoon when you need one”. Lol.

 

We took our dessert back to the room to find another nice surprise! Terry immediately found Million Dollar Baby to watch on TV and I went to the ships library to do some writing.

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Tomorrow we will be in Ketchikan and go ziplining in the morning. I am excited about that.

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NASA

 

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After two glorious days visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we decided to go to NASA on our last day. We drove about an hour to the Kennedy Space Center and took the tour. This was a great experience. I have to say I get very patriotic while I was there. I wish we still fully funded the space program, I would certainly rather my tax dollars go there than to fight wars.

We took the bus tour and saw the craft assembly building  It is the worlds tallest building by volume and has 8 acres of floor space. It was not open to tourists that day as it was being used by Space X. The tour bus drive had tons of information, unfortunately delivered in a monotone, but still interesting to me.

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Do you see me peeking out of the rocket?

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Here is some of the info that caught my attention; there have been 135 shuttle missions, 12 men have landed on the moon and the shuttle platform weighs 9 million pounds. Because this area is the lightening capital of the nation they have a giant lightening rod and lightening towers. When there is a launch the noise is too loud and to muffle it they release 4 million gallons of water in 30 seconds. They use kevlar to protect console operators from flying debris during a launch, debris can travel as far as 3 1/2 miles! The touch down speed of the shuttle is 250 miles per hour and the runway is as wide as a football field is long. Wow, lots of big numbers!

We were surprised to learn that though NASA owns 250 miles of land, most is a wild life refuge. There are manatees, eagles, alligators, dear and other animals. The fences are topped with a curved part so the alligators do not climb over, apparently if the fence is straight up and down they are able to climb it. We also saw a hug eagle nest that is over 50 years old.

 

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The bus ride covered miles and miles and there were two brief informational movies shown when the driver was not talking.

When the bus ride was over we explored the open buildings and the rocket garden. I got to touch a moon rock, I found that exciting.

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One of the displays explains all about how the astronauts go to the bathroom in space, not my idea of fun! We ate lunch in the Rocket Garden Cafe, the food was ok, and though the birds were very aggressive, none of them dive bombed us.

There were lots of gift shops of course, I bought book marks and a official guide book. They also sold Big Bang Theory items which I thought was pretty funny. Many people bought stuffed shuttle toys for the kids.

Our ticket was also good for the Astronauts Hall of Fame, a few miles up the road, but we were ready to head back to the hotel. It was fun and educational. If I am in Orlando again, I think I will go back.