Spit tube and tracking necklace.
We have been on four prior cruises; one river and three ocean. This is our fifth and the first one in 2 years. Covid-19 has dictated the essence of the cruise. It is safety; for us, fellow passengers and the crew. We were reluctant to take the cruise, but, staying home at our age (79 & 81) seemed even worse. And, a cruise ship seemed like the safest place. But, we had to jump through a lot of hoops; the most important being not to forget to wear our masks and carry our tracking necklace.
Covid-19 has added a number of things to the ordinary cruise:
1. All passengers and crew must be completely vaccinated.
2. VeriFly is required to prove your vaccination status. No cheating.
3. Negative PCR test 72 hours in advance of various deadlines depending on destination.
4. Negative Antigen test 48 hours in advance of boarding the ship.
5. Second negative Antigen test 48 hours in advance of boarding the ship, because due to a flight delay, we thought it would be 50 hours.
6. Vaccination card.
7. Check in at the dock before boarding the ship with copies of all documents
8. Negative PCR test on boarding the ship. This ship has its own lab to do daily PCR tests.
9. Masks at all times when outside your stateroom except when eating.
10. Daily spitting in a tube which is collected at 9:00 AM for the daily PCR test – hard because we do not have enough spit early in the morning – collected by the room steward in a big bag.
11. Daily questionnaire as to your health.
12. Temp check at the entrance of each restaurant or cafe.
14. Separated seats in the theater.
15. Separeted tables in the dining areas.
16. Whirlpool and spa areas limited to 10 people and apointment required.
17. All crew masked, vaccinated and tested daily.
And, we have yet to get to our first port on this cruise.
My hot dog.
Now that I have had my two Covid-19 vaccine shots; I am testing myself; including a trip to Tucson to see my grandchildren.
The trip included an airplane ride, contact with other people, eating in a restaurant, shopping, movie (Nomadland in a theater) etc. I was always masked and kept my distance.
The best part of the test was to go to my favorite pre-pandemic hot dog stand on Alvernon.
El Sinalvense Hot Dog Cart
1528 N. Alvernon Way
The result was worth it. The “chef” wore a mask, the food was tasty and I have not developed any symptoms beyond enjoyment.
El Sinalvense Hot Dog Cart.
The Chef in Action!
LAS VEGAS, NM – 30 HOURS
After 6 months of Covid 19, and in anticipation of at least another. 6 months, we decided that we had to learn to live with it. Retired, we pretty much live a quiet life; however, travel plans have been interrupted, including a Family Alaska Cruise and a a cruise to the Caribbean. Alaska was cancelled, the Caribbean was reset for March 2021 and was then cancelled as Viking cancelled all cruises until at least March 31, 2021. We are betting on being able to go in June with our 125% deal, especially since the vaccines have arrived and being in the over 80 category, we expect to be high on the list.
We have mastered shopping, eating out on outdoor patios, exercise in small numbers at the YMCA and having friends over for outdoor drinks and dinners.
We have not been able to master travel, given our ages, 78 and 80 and various state and international restrictions. There is also a fear of flying.
So, we decided on a short train trip. Albuquerque to Las Vegas, NM is about 3 hours on Amtrak. Las Vegas has a renovated Harvey House Hotel, Castenada, next to the tracks, as well as an earlier one in Winslow, AZ which we have stayed at.
Train 4 was only 20% booked when I got tickets, $15 apiece each way. Leave at 11:45 and arrive about 3.
Castenada had rooms available for $130 including tax etc. and they claimed that they let a day lapse between guests and that the rooms were super clean. The restaurant was closed, but from Wed. Through Sat , 3-8 you could eat on the patio, first come, first served. A limited menu but it looks good.
No breakfast, but the hotel said that the Spic and Spam was just 3 blocks away. We have eaten there and they have great Mexican Food. The place also has an automatic Tortilla making machine which cranks out fresh tortillas.
We were still nervous, so we have gloves, masks, 90% alcohol handi wipes, and water proof pillow case covers, $25 from Amason. We could have gotten disposable hazmat but enough is enough is enough.
You have to balance the risk’s of Covid 19 with going crazy; and at 80 the choice was easy. Crazy is not my thing; caution is ok.
Fortunately, we can park in a city garage a block from the Amtrak station. We have had one Covid 19 test which came back negative, but that was a month ago. Since the trip we have had two more tests, both of which were negative. The tests were drive through and waiting in line took about two hours.
Before taking the trip, we considered what could go wrong.
If we are denied boarding on the train because of symptoms, no problem; we go home and are out $130 for the hotel. If we get toLas Vegas NM, and the hotel won’t let us in because of symptoms, or if the return Amtrak won’t let us on board, what do we do?
There seems to be only one bus a day, at the wrong time. Even if we could get to Santa Fe, The RailRnner is not running, and buses may be risky. Where do we spend the night. Car rentals seem to be non-existent in Las Vegas
It all worked out well. The trip was worth it and we are trying to think how we could do another.
In August 2019 while visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we ate at Sky Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant that featured a rice table, known in Amsterdam as rijsttafel.
There are several Indonesian restaurants in Philadelphia; but, none in Albuquerque or Tucson. Sky Cafe is authentic, small, and except for us everyone appeared to be Indonesian. It was crowded at 6:00 and we had to sit in the hall for 20 minutes until a table was ready. Sky Cafe was down a hall in an ethnic shopping center. It was full of uncrated furniture. The sign on the door said Sky was expanding.
There is an extensive menu, but only one “rice table (rijsttafel)” for $17.
The liquor laws in Pennsylvania are BYOB (bring your own bottle) for restaurants, so we took two bottles of wine. Sky Cafe provides glasses and cork screws. There is no corkage fee.
This part of Philadelphia is out of our comfort zone, but it was not problem. An ethnic neighborhood, with a safe and local feel.
We used LYFT and when we left the restaurant, our Lyft showed up in minutes, but we did not recognize it because a cop had pulled him over for a broken tail light, which did not result in a ticket. When we got the message that “your car is here,” we discovered it was the car the cop had stopped in front of us. A story to tell.
The trip back was without incident. He told us he was about to attend the police academy in New Jersey to become a police officer. Most Lyft drivers have an interesting story to tell.
For more information on rice tables in Amsterdam search Rijsttafel on Wikipedia, which has a bunch of pictures and a list of items in a typical Rijsttafel.
Maybe you want to prepare your own rice table (Rijsttafel) with a cookbook from Amazon.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
We visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on May 15, 2014. We took the train from Paddington Station in London and the bus from the St. Austell station to the Eden Project.
The Eden Project, which opened in 2002, was built-in a 35 acre reclaimed, open clay pit, 180 feet deep. It was partially filled with soil and recycled waste. On top of this was built two enclosed biomes; one a Rainforest Biome and one a Mediterranean Biome.
The Rainforest Biome is about 750 feet long by 330 feet wide and 150 feet high. It contains over 1,100 different species of plants and has areas devoted to West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tropical Islands and Tropical South America.
The Mediterranean Biome is about 90 feet high and contains over 850 different species of plants. It represents the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
In addition to the two major Biomes, there is a Core educational, administration and museum building along with an Outdoor Biome. There is an outdoor stage, paths, parking and a land train.
There are several restaurants serving a variety of “responsibly sourced, fairly-traded, direct sourced, organic, seasonal, and/or local and freshly made” food.
We spent a day there and could have spent more time. They have a lot of special events during the year, including “The Art of Stories,” “Harvest,” and “Christmas at Eden.”
There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts” in St. Austell. We stayed for two nights at The Grange in St. Austell.
It is easy to get there, even if you are old. Take the train from Paddington to St. Austell; check into a bed and breakfast: take the free bus from the train station to the Eden Project. Enjoy.
You should compare this to Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ and Arcosanti in Cordes Junction, AZ. You should think about how old open-pit mines and remote places can be re-configured as educational, research and residential communities for the future. Maybe you would like to live in one. Maybe it is a partial solution to the aging problem.
If so, go to their web pages; they all allow for interns, visitors, and maybe a new career.
The Guide – Eden Project Books, revised edition 2016.
Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about
Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
In August, 2019 we went to Philadelphia to visit relatives who live downtown on the Delaware River. The nearby Independence Seaport Museum, is home to two ships; the Cruiser Olympia, launched in 1892, and the Submarine Becuna, launched in 1944.
Most people have not been on a submarine or a cruiser, and have no idea how confining they are especially when they are as old as these are, and as I am. These are not cruise ships.
We toured the two ships and the Independence Seaport Museum. Having recently come to enjoy cruise ships due to our advanced age, we were impressed by the older ships. And, coming from Kansas and Iowa, I have always been attracted to ships.
A third ship, next to the other two, has a formal restaurant and a cafe. No one in the formal restaurant, but in the cafe, we had a shared lunch on a sailing ship. Half of a Cuban sandwich.
The submarine is not for someone who cannot manage tight spaces; narrow passageways, and low doors from one waterproof chamber to the other. It is a single narrow path through the submarine. It is climbing up and down ladders and keeping your head down. Things have probably changed in the last 80 years, or so, but I think that they must still be confining. Going through the sub is difficult, especially if you are my age, and/or have knee or balance problems. The sub is divided into sections with small (3 ft) water tight doors between them, and you have to step up and over. The hall is narrow – a fat man in front of me almost couldn’t make it through. Old person alert!
A submarine is out of my comfort zone, but irresistible. You wonder how sailers managed to get along; and, the psychological testing that they must have gone through to be assigned to a sub.
The Cruiser Olympia, is larger and had a crew of 33 officers and 396 enlisted men. Except for officers, all the sailers slept in hammocks suspended from the ceiling throughout the ship. They were narrow and suspended from hooks only when in use. You wouldn’t believe the bathroom facilities, medical areas, and the kitchens.
On the shore next to the ships is a museum of nautical exhibits. Three of the exhibits are especially interesting.
The first is devoted to the slave trade and Philadelphia, complete with photos, bills of sale, and slave success stories. They describe the horror of the slave trade which brought from 20 to 50 million slaves to the US. A moving exhibit that everyone should see. They also feature a number of slaves who were successful in Philadelphia.
The New York Times Magazine in its 1619 Project, devoted to slavery, is worth reading, and helps understand the Seaport Museum Exhibit.
The second, the ship building exhibit, follows the life of a sailor on board a ship and sailing in Philadelphia.
The third, Workshop on the Water, is not an exhibit, but a fully equipped boat building shop. There are complete boats in various stages of completion, lots of tools, and an amazing assortment of wood in various stages of shaping. Four men concentrated on the construction of several boats the day we were there.
There is one completed boat for sale for $3000.
A notice seeks teen-age apprentices who want to learn the boat-building trade. I was surprised that there were not a thousand teens lined up. If I was 65 years younger, I would be there.
The bottom line is that it is worth seeing. The space available in 100 year old ships and submarines makes assisted living facilities look like palaces.
The Seaport Museum is on the Delaware River, which runs from the Atlantic to Downsville, NY where there is a dam and the Pepacton Reservoir, a 101 miles NW of New York City. It supplies about 25% of New York’s water. It is patrolled by New York City Police Officers and is fenced and limited to boats without motors.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
Chez Colette’s, is a French Bistro in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, next to Indian Rocks Beach. It is small, about 24 seats, simple, with a delicious menu, French House Wines, and a pleasant atmosphere. On the menu are Beef Bourguignon: (Angus Beef slow cooked and reduced with Red Wine, Carrots, Onions, Bacon and Fresh Mushrooms) and Filet Mignon: ( with Red Wine Shallots Sauce or topped with Garlic, Butter, Parsley and Onions confit served with French Fries). In addition, there is fish, chicken and crepes along with a special, depending on what the chef found at the market that day.
I am waiting for the lamb shanks special, which I have had in years past.
Deserts are the usual plus:
Profiteroles, Chocolate Mousse and Crème Brulee
There is a nice wine list with French wines. Try the house red wine; reasonable, French and smooth.
You can share a plate; always a plus for us and we always share the desert. Closed on Sunday but open for lunch and dinner the rest of the week. Closed during part of September when the owners take vacation.
Parking in front. Quiet and seems to cater to our age group.
I don’t carry books on trips any more. There is too much bulk, weight and trouble for a person my age. I want to share alternate reading solutions with you.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida has a number of free mini libraries. Take one/leave one. I have seen them in other places including Albuquerque, New Mexico and Waynesville, North Carolina.
If a mini-library is not available, consider the following:
- Kindle – I have downloaded thousands of books, including a number of free ones from Amazon to my I-pad or my Kindle. You can also subscribe to magazines.
- Kindle via your library. Your library may allow you to download e-books to your pad or computer for several weeks. You will probably need a library card, but I can download from the Albuquerque Public Library anywhere I can find Wi-Fi. And, no waiting. It is instant gratification. You will need a library card. And, of course, since you are old, don’t forget “large print” books. Especially if it is a popular book with a long waiting list. Usually the “large print” waiting list is much shorter. And, they are easier to read.
- Libraries. Every library has a room where they sell old books and magazines cheap. Usually $1 to $2 for a hardback and a fourth that for paperbacks; frequently best sellers.
4. Senior Centers – You can find donated books for free. An additional advantage is their bulletin boards which tell you about trips, programs, etc. A cheap tour may be available as well as a computer center with an expert. You can also get cheap meals and a 25 cent cup of coffee.
5. YMCA’s – When you finish your Silver Sneakers work-out, you can take a book from their shelves of donated books. You can also leave books there.
6. Foreign Countries – Check out the bars where ex-pats hang out. You will frequently find shelves of take-one/leave-one books; in English.
THINK OLD! READ FOR FREE! Reduce the weight of your suitcase.
Salt Lake City, Utah, the home of the Mormon Church, is also the repository of one of the largest genealogy collections in the world. It is not just a collection, but a large and active group of genealogists.
We recently went to Salt Lake City because I have an interest in genealogy and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Family History Library is the place to go. And we had to use up two Southwest Tickets. I had not been there since 1953 (Boy Scout Jamboree in Irvine, California) when we stopped on the way.
My focus was on the Genealogy Center. I am a member of the New Mexico Genealogy Society and like many old people am interested in stories out of my past. For example see: Bertha and Gertrude.
The Center is several stories high with several basements. The main floor provides a hands-on genealogy experience; complete with the latest audio-visual equipment and interactive exhibits. You can track your ancestors.
The main research room consists of hundreds of computers and dozens of Elders who are available to assist you in your research. All you have to do is raise your hand and a knowledgeable Elder is at your side explaining what you need to do. They are genealogy experts.
You can spend all day there.
The library has every thing a genealogist needs; and, they are adding to it every day.
Every day at noon there is a free organ concert; well worth attending.
The rest of Salt Lake City is interesting. We stayed a block from Temple Square in an AirBnB. We could walk everywhere, but there was also a tram.
There was a good restaurant for breakfast in a Church Building; however, no coffee. They directed us to a cafe down the street where we could get coffee to go. By the time I picked it up, my breakfast was ready.
We had dinner at Lyon House; cafeteria style.
The food is simple and the portions generous. Again, no coffee; and, no alcohol. Eating at non-church restaurants allowed us wine with our meals.
The 3 night trip exceeded our expectations. We arrived in the afternoon, took a $11 Lyft ride to The Kimball a block from Temple Square and settled in.
There are several church related museums.
We watched people line up outside the Temple to get married. There were dozens of groups waiting their turn to go into the Temple; non-church members are not allowed in.
There are genealogy sources in all states at Mormon Churches.
You can find out about your ancestors without exposing yourself, your age, your ignorance, etc. Old People like to find out things anonymously.
What do old people want to know? Five “old” keys to the Salt Lake City trip:
- Ease of getting there and around.
- Cost – Salt Lake City is reasonable and walkable in the downtown area.
- Safety and security. Salt Lake City felt safe and secure.
- Interesting stories to tell when you get home.
- Preparation. Salt Lake City is easy to search and prepare for.
Think Old! Travel Now!