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.
Meals are a source of conflict. No two, or more, people can agree on what to have.
All the usual excuses apply: “it’s too early to decide, I don’t know, what would you like, what do we have in the refrigerator, do you want to go out? Where? And…
We take our guidance from the past several presidents; the Executive Order; or, in my case, the default meal.
This means that I come up with a meal plan, which we will have unless someone comes up with a better plan, which I will accept. I am not obnoxious about my plan, nor is it set in concrete; it is just a simple way of getting on with things.
We are staying with my in-laws for two weeks and everyone is being nice.
Two nights ago I came up with a local restaurant that I am fond of. No problem. Everyone enjoyed it, and seemed happy not to have to make a decision.
Last night it was chicken wings, coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob with tiramisu for dessert. Again, no problem and everyone liked it.
Tonight, I announced hamburgers, bean and salad. And, of course, wine. No objections.
I may have pushed it far enough that someone else comes up with a default meal. I hope so.
This has simplified my life; used up aging food in the refrigerator and made everyone happier.
Old age should be about stress free simplicity. Default meals are a nice start.
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!
Three years age I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 26, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
You can read about the 2020 Matanza in the Albuquerque Journal – January 26, 2020.
The 2021 Matanza has been cancelled according to the Albuquerque Journal – January 19, 2021. We will have to wait until next year for this event as well as for a lot of other interesting celebrations in New Mexico.
Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.
It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.
The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.
You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.
The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended.
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
At 79 I am in the “at risk” group for coronavirus. I have no real underlying problems, other than old age. However, like all of my neighbors, who are of a similar age, I am concerned.
I was able to get gloves early on. (The next blog is on gloves.) I stay away from other people – six feet, except for my wife. I walk 2 1/2 miles every day. I buy groceries during “senior hour” even though it is early in the morning and I am exposed to a bunch of old people. We have enough food for two weeks. Until today, I drove to a nearby store to get a copy of the New York Times. Today, I had it delivered. So, except for a couple of trips a week and my walks along the Rio Grande River, my wife and I are isolated, “sheltering in place.”
The lack of a face mask concerned me, especially since the Federal Government can’t decide if a face mask is helpful, or not. Even if it is helpful, there are no face masks available for old people. Amazon could not deliver before mid-May; Walgreens was sold out; I had no doctor appointments scheduled, so I couldn’t steal a mask. And, the process of going around looking for face masks is dangerous, in and of itself. Talk about exposure. Web pages do not accurately reflect stock in the stores.
What is an old man to do?
I have a wife of 45 years. In that time she has accumulated a number of bras. She gave me one. It was good for two face masks. The elastic straps could be attached to one side with Super Glue. Bras are washable.
I have yet to convince my wife to wear a bra in any but the ordinary way; however, I am working on her. It would be nice to keep her around a little longer.
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.