Let’s Try This Again


We don’t necessarily have a bucket list of things we want to do before we die, but we do have a general idea of places we would like to visit. Antarctica has been at the top of our list for many years. We first planned, booked, and PAID for a trip in 2007. We were living in Australia at the time, and were excited to be going on our first big travel vacation in many years. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the trip when Rinker (the company I worked for at the time) was bought by Cemex. It was too late to get a refund, but we did receive credit for future trips with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris. This worked out for us, as we were able to take the fantastic voyage to Svalbard and the Arctic Region in 2008:

Photo by Lou in the Arctic. There are no polar bears in Antarctica.

Fast forward ten years to 2017. We planned ahead and had booked a cruise to Antarctica again. We planned well in advance, picked the Expedition Ship we wanted, secured the cabin we wanted, and then … cancelled. This cruise was with National Geographic/Linblad, and we were fortunately within refund time frame when we cancelled due to Lou’s impending knee replacement (the first one!)

Penguins we did NOT see on our first two cancelled expeditions

Would we ever get to Antarctica? Thoughts of the big expedition went to the back of our minds and we filled our travelogue with adventures in Galapagos, Alaska, and Disney. We began to think seriously about Antarctica, and booked a short “practice” cruise with National Geographic to the Canadian Maritimes. And then … drum roll … the pandemic hit. The Canadian Cruise was cancelled, and our out-of-state travel came to a halt.

Earlier this week, we had just settled into our pre-dinner routine to watch the news (always an experience at our house) and perhaps have a glass of wine or a cocktail. Lou said, out of the blue, “I’ve been thinking about your 70th birthday next year (thanks for reminding me, Lou) – what do you think about going to Antarctica?” I think I was speechless for few moments. I had pretty much knocked this trip off of our radar, but guess what? Not only is it back on, it is booked and the deposit has been paid!

Penguins we hope to see on our 2023 voyage

We did go back and forth for a few days:

Sharon: Are you really sure you want to do this trip…
Lou: Yes, I really want to do it. Do YOU really want to go?
Sharon: Yes, I really want to go, do YOU really want to go?
… several more iterations ensued…

… and so we ascertained each of us REALLY wanted to go. We discussed expectations, based on past cruising experiences and possible physical limitations. Lou may not want to go on all of the shore excursions, but that is okay. His primary concern is that I do all the activities I want to do, without worrying about him. This works with this type of Expedition Cruise, as there is plenty to see from the ship. And he will do some of the zodiac landings, so I think it will be fine. He did say his favorite activity is to take photos of me in the zodiac!?!

I can see where this could be exciting 😉. Seriously, Lou does get interesting shots from the ship.

We are excited! Normally this type of cruise is planned at least 12-18 months in advance. We are booked for February 2023 – just 6 months from now!!! We were very lucky. Both the ship we preferred, and the last one of the type of cabin we wanted, were available for our chosen itinerary.

National Geographic Explorer – brochure photo

The cruising season for Antarctica runs from November thru March. January seems to be the preferred month, with penguins and whales both making an appearance. The mid-February departure date was the only one that went to Antarctica, South Georgia Island, and the Falklands. This should still be good viewing season for penguins and whales. We ruled out the November departures, figuring February was a better time to be away from Maine.

This map shows our itinerary. We will fly from Miami to Buenos Aires. There we hook up with our travel group, and take a 3 hour charter flight to Ushuaia – at the southern tip of Argentina. We will cross the Drake Passage enroute to the Antarctic Peninsula, then to South Georgia, and on to the Falkland Islands. The trip is listed as being 24 days, but I believe we actually have 20 nights on the ship.

Concerns

My telling of the story may make it seem like this was a simple decision. It wasn’t. The cost of the trip, and being away from home for almost a month were the first two hurdles. Expedition cruises to Antarctica aren’t cheap, and if we were going to do it, we were going to include South Georgia and the Falklands. And it should not be a surprise – we picked one of the highest cabin categories since we will be onboard for 20 days. As for being gone so long, we are fortunate that Teresa seems to be excited about taking care of the dogs. We worked our way through cost and time away by rationalizing that it had been forever since we have travelled,

Hey look! We already have our life jackets. Sorry pups, you can’t go.

The biggest unknown is dealing with Covid. The pandemic is still here, and there is no hope that it disappears in six months. The ship follows onboard masking protocols, and all passengers and crew are tested before embarking. We will have travel insurance, and will do everything in our power to make sure we are Covid-free before the trip. We are less concerned about catching Covid, more concerned about how a positive test could interrupt the travel plans. Lou has already spoken to our new GP about getting medical clearance for the trip, and she said she will help us make sure we have the latest vaccines and boosters.

I think I have been the one more concerned about the what-ifs related to Covid. Lou’s attitude seems to be that we have sheltered in long enough, and shouldn’t avoid travel just because something might happen. I am good with this approach, and also take comfort in knowing the trip will be rescheduled if something goes awry. We will get to Antarctica!

Planning

If you have been following this blog forever, you might know we like to plan. I will no doubt be sharing some of the planning process as we go forward. It is fun to have a real trip to think about! The good news – you will only be subjected to our (let’s be honest – my) musings for a few months, since February 15th is departure time!

Thanks for following along. Can’t wait to inundate y’all with photos of icebergs, penguins, whales, seals, albatross, and more. Oh, and food. You know there will be food photos.


Stay Safe !!!

Happy Mammogram Day


What a weird topic, you might be saying to yourself. Normally I would agree, since few people enjoy having their boobs crushed. But, it is always a happy day when you have your mammogram and the results are good:

IMPRESSION: BENIGN FINDING
There is no mammographic evidence of malignancy. A 1 year screening mammogram is recommended. 

I have mentioned it before, but the Mammography Center here is great about getting back to you the same day of the exam. Here is my selfie for the month – it was nice of them to supply a gown in my favorite color (oops, my pants are too big):

I will also use this as an opportunity to remind everyone – check your breasts and don’t skip your annual mammograms. Seriously!!!

Now that you made it through the Public Service Announcement, here are a few of the fun memories from 2014. Thanks to Beth & Catherine for the hair:

Stay Safe !!!

Congratulations, Yan!


On June 14th, Yan became a US Citizen. We are very proud of Yan and are happy to make this announcement. Way to go, Yan!

Chrisie and Louie could not go into the interview room with Yan, but they were there for support. Louie commemorated the day with an eagle for Dad.

And, folks have asked how Max is doing. Apparently he has a lot of energy but is doing well. He certainly is growing into a handsome pup.

Congratulations again, Yan.

Out to Eat 🍽 


Since we enjoyed our dinner out with K & S, we thought we would visit Aster & Rose at the Youngtown Inn for a second time. It was very good, once again. The menu is limited, but they had a new entree, which is one of Lou’s favorites – duck breast. I stuck with the halibut, and it was enjoyable.

I snapped a few photos of the interior:

We chose the same starters:

The duck breast was quite a large serving:

The halibut was a chunkier piece, but just as flavorful:

It was a nice evening, and a good close to a busy week. We also saw these cute baby turkeys on our way home:

Stay Safe!!!

An Expensive Haircut


Today was grooming day for Lou and the pups. I dropped him off first, then took the dogs for their bath and haircut (Lou just got the haircut, I think).

I picked Lou up and we decided we would stop by the Chevrolet dealer in Belfast. Just to see if they had any cars in stock. We thought we might be interested in a Traverse, which is one of the larger mid-size SUVs. On our way there, Lou saw something on the Jeep lot, so he had me turn around and we went to check out Jeeps and Fords. Literally nothing we wanted to see was in stock. I was interested in the new Grand Cherokee, and also the new Broncos. Nope, nada, nothing to see.

Back on track, we continued to the Chevy, Buick, and GMC dealer. I saw a white Traverse right away. As I pulled in, we saw this stunning cherry red Tahoe. Whoa, we were both smitten, even though we (me) thought we wanted something smaller for the second family car. We joked about buying the Tahoe, then I went to look at the Traverse. It was fine, very plain. It also did not have all the safety features I was looking for. That was okay; we weren’t buying today.

I came back to the car and somehow we decided in about 30 seconds we were just going to get the red Tahoe. I walked into the dealership and told them we wanted the Tahoe, and I would be back with the Jeep for them to look at. They said they would hold the Tahoe for us, although I sensed they thought we might just be a couple of lunatics.

We came home, I cleaned out the Jeep – just some golf stuff, maybe a leftover snack or two, and some dog biscuits. Within 45 minutes, I was back at the dealership. As expected, they loved the Jeep – a 2014 with only 21,000 miles and only minor wear and tear. They sent me off in an unaccompanied test drive while they prepared a quote with the trade-in.

Love my little Jeep, but wanted more safety features and creature comforts.

I came back from the test drive, sat down, looked at the paper, called Lou and said we will take it. Usually you still have to sit there for hours while they do their thing, even if you are paying cash. Not this time. I did listen to the spiel on the extended warranty, and actually purchased it, since we tend to keep our cars for a while. Plus, this could become our primary car if we decide to downsize the Denali Yukon in the future.

I offered to go get a cashier’s check; they said a personal check was fine. I wrote out the check – that was one expensive haircut!

Rather than make Lou go back into town to sign the paperwork, they delivered the car and the paperwork to the house this afternoon. They took the jeep and left the cherry red Tahoe for us. Easy Peasy.

I hope you enjoyed our little story. We had not looked at cars since the beginning of the pandemic. This was our first venture out in a couple of years, and our plan was just to check out some vehicles for headroom. I guess it was meant to be. Stanley Chevrolet just took delivery of this Tahoe last night, and put it on the lot this morning. We pulled into their lot about two hours later, and snapped it up.

I didn’t mind having to make a quick trip to the store this afternoon. A chance to drive my new car, and show it off before it gets dirty.

This turned out to be a pretty exciting day, after all.

Stay Safe !!!

Blueberries!


We were sitting in the sunroom yesterday afternoon, enjoying the air conditioning. A friend stopped by and dropped off a basket of blueberries! She had been out picking them earlier. Thank you, Lisa. And Lou had just said how he wanted some blueberries.

Fresh Maine blueberries (one quart)

Our news is very dull here. Lou continues to progress with his knee recovery. He has started walking around the house with no walker or cane. And he didn’t even take the walker to his PT session yesterday. He said his therapist is pleased with his range of motion.

I am still going to PT once a week for my knee. I continue to focus on exercise, and also getting a few golf games in each week. It was not as hot yesterday, which was a welcomed relief:


Stay Safe !!!