Rather than traveling with our home on wheels, we spent the first week of October being pampered on the Carnival Glory as we sailed the Atlantic from New York City, up the New England coast to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and back again. We got quite the wake-up call, though, on the morning of our departure.
The alarm was set early enough so that we could pack our luggage, as well as Harry and Marie's, into our Fit and be on the road by 7 am. As soon as Lucille stepped down from the bedroom into the hallway, her feet landed in puddles of water - not good. Larry had dumped and flushed the black water tank the evening before (thank goodness), and closed the valve as he normally does. Sometime during the night, the hose bib Y malfunctioned and allowed water to drip into the black tank, backing up into the toilet and all over the floor. It could have been a lot worse had he not dumped the tank but it was still messy. We scrambled around looking for towels to sop up the water. Laminate flooring does not like standing water. Because we'd be gone for a week, we didn't want the towels and rugs getting rank before we got back, so they hurriedly got washed and put on the line to dry - no time to put them in the dryer.
Amazingly, with all that running around, we managed to leave just a few minutes past 7 am. Our little car was stuffed to the gills with the four of us and our luggage - good gas mileage was not expected that day as we drove to New York City. We stopped for breakfast at the Twin Colony Diner in Torrington, Connecticut, then successfully followed the GPS' direction to get to the parking garage in New York. This was Larry's first time driving in the city - he did a great job, we never got lost, and were at the garage by 11 am. The Manhattan Cruise Terminal has open deck parking along the docks but we opted for the secured covered parking at Park Rite, a mile away from the cruise terminals. One of their employees hopped in the car (now we were really stuffed) and directed us to the terminal, at which time he helped unload our luggage, then took the car back to the garage.
Getting there as early as we did helped us navigate the check-in lines quickly, but the ship wasn't quite ready for this week's passengers to start loading, so we waited in the terminal lounge for a bit. Once our boarding number got called, we proceeded to the ship and on up to the cafeteria for lunch - our rooms would not be ready till after 1:30. We met up with Pat and Yvette and enjoyed lunch with them before going to our state room. This was our third cruise but the first one in which we've booked a balcony - and what we'll do for future cruises. It was great to stand out on the balcony and watch the scenery go by, or even just to read quietly when we were at sea. Our room was quite spacious (but then anything is spacious after living in an RV full-time!)
Just a few more comments on our cruise - the wait staff was awesome, and quite entertaining; our cabin attendant was top notch; lunch and dinner meals were quite good but breakfast was a little disappointing; and the entertainment professional but we found it pretty loud. On the minus side was the safety briefing that first afternoon - very much needed but the volume was way too loud and the briefing too long. We can't imagine how those older seniors were able to stay on their feet for over 45 minutes. Another minus was the long lines - crowds to get in to the dining room, the shows, the stores - we felt like cows being herded. Maybe a smaller ship would have been less congested.
Our first port of call was Boston where we had booked a Ghosts and Graveyards tour - excellent tour with both the guide and driver really getting into their parts. Some of what we learned: one of the graveyards had over 10,000 - 11,000 bodies buried but only 3,000 stones. About 700 of these stones were used for basement foundations, most of which were used for a nursing home - hmm.....We also learned that the purpose of a pirate's earring was so that when a deceased pirate's body was recovered, it could be retrieved by the earring, then the earring sold to help pay for the burial. The Boston Commons is located on top of a huge former burial ground, with over 35,000 bodies there, some of which are still found when there is construction going on. The Old Granary is the third oldest burying ground in Boston - Ben Franklin's parents, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock are among some of the notable names buried there. The oldest burying ground, where Pierre L'Enfant lies (he designed the streets of Washington, DC), is next to Kings Chapel.
Our next port of call was Portland, Maine, where we had booked the Portland and Kennebunkport tour, along with over 500 of our cruising companions. Imagine ten tour busses just from our ship, as well as other busses, going from site to site, all jockeying for parking places. Because of this, we had shorter than normal stops at the Portland Head Light (gorgeous views) and Kennebunkport, where we only had ten free minutes to wander around this quaint town after having grabbed a quick lunch. Our tour guide told us that other cruise lines book this tour for six hours, whereas Carnival crams the entire itinerary into five hours. We never expected to have that many folks sign up, thinking there may have been a cap to how many participants, but apparently, the more folks that booked this tour, the more busses were added.
Our stops in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia were familiar stops as we had been to both cities during our Maritimes tour in 2008. We opted to meander around the markets rather than take a scheduled tour. Lucille's cousin Richard and his wife Murielle met us in Halifax and took a group of us on a personally-guided tour of some of the city's highlights. We've taken their tours before - always interesting and informative.
Arriving back to New York City was pretty special - we were on the correct side of the ship to see Lady Liberty welcoming us. Harry and Marie joined us on the balcony as we silently sailed by. We had opted to carry our own luggage off the ship and by 8:30 am, we had already retrieved the car and were on our way out of the city, with Larry again maneuvering like a pro.
What was truly amazing about the entire cruise was how calm the seas were - you forgot you were on a cruise ship. Sure glad it wasn't when Hurricane Sandy was making her presence known - that would not have been pleasant.
Because we were back at Klondike late morning, and much earlier than expected, Harry and Marie decided to leave to head towards their home in Ontario. Their Thanksgiving celebration was that Monday and they wanted to get home early enough to prepare. We said our 'so longs', knowing that we will see them in Florida early next year.
Time to finish up getting the Legacy fifth wheel buttoned up for the season, as well as prepare for our own departure in a few days. We quickly got the tarp on it - we've got a local mobile RV repair coming in to winterize it, guaranteeing his work - a small price to pay for that peace of mind.
The critters at Klondike will miss us. Although we only saw one bear this year, and that was on Hwy 8 and not in the park, we did spot a moose and her calf and lots of mice, squirrels and chipmunks. Sometime during the night, a raccoon paid us a visit and when we didn't answer, he left his paw prints on the door - we sure didn't hear him knocking! Twice a red squirrel broke in through a screen window and rooted through our garbage, leaving us a trail of garbage and droppings throughout - yuck! And of course, the mice kept us busy the entire season - this year for some reason, they started coming indoors sooner.
While we were on the cruise, we'd gotten a call that the assisted living facility at which Larry's mother was on the waiting list had an opening. Her move-in day was past when we could stay but we did take her for a tour of her future room and helped her complete most of the required paperwork. Larry's brothers and their families would get her physically moved in. What a weight off of all of our shoulders knowing that she's in good hands and may actually thrive there.
Time to leave our beloved Klondike but it was starting to get colder than we like. Three days' of driving got us to our old stomping grounds at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, where we would be parked through early November. The annual rounds of our medical and dental appointments took up the rest of our month, as well as getting in lots of visits with our friends there.
Coming up: Visit Montgomery and Summerdale, Alabama; Fort Pickens on Pensacola Beach, Florida; a quick stop in Americus, Georgia; Camp Carr through the end of the year.