Sunday, February 5, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017 – Coalinga, CA – Cloudy - 59F

Slept in a fever dream but the room was quiet (no earplugs).  Jet lag got me up pretty early but up for good at around 7:30 AM.  Breakfast was served between 6 and 9 AM so I was hoping that most of the guests would have finished and gone by this time. 

IMG_20170109_HIE Big Country Inn room

Room 119

IMG_20170109_Holiday Inn Express Big Country Inn

Hotel Grounds

The Breakfast Room is located right next to our little group of rooms.  We walked over and found it empty.  It was a small room with maybe 10 tables but it had everything I needed for breakfast – Raisin Bran plus strawberry compote and a waffle maker.  It also had hot foods but the eggs had bacon included.  We mentioned to the nice woman handling breakfast about the bacon and she produced four cheese omelets (had to be ready make – they were too uniform).  The entire breakfast, including some really good coffee – was very tasty.  Perhaps one of the better Best Western Breakfasts we have encountered.

No time for a shower today although it would have been interesting since we were in an accessible room.  I envisioned another flooded bathroom.  I got a sense of California’s water shortage issue when I checked out the water pressure in the sink.

We got on the road about 9:00 AM and calculated about two and half hours of driving to get to San Francisco. 

IMG_20170109_on the road from Coalinga

Starting Out…

IMG_20170109_I5 Leaving Coalinga

Interstate 5 North

IMG_20170109_Pacheco Pass

Wind Turbines – Pacheco Pass

We programmed the add-on GPS (didn’t get charged for it by Dollar) with the address of the Rental Car Return Place near the Embarcadero and got back on I5.  No stops today and we continued on I580, which took us along the East Bay.  We passed through Oakland and then over the new Bay Bridge into San Francisco ($6 Toll this direction). 

IMG_20170109_almost here

Almost There

IMG_20170109_crossing Bay BridgeIMG_20170109_new Bay Bridge

IMG_20170109_Bay BridgeIMG_20170109_on our way to Dollar

Crossing the Bay Bridge and Wharf District

Finding the Dollar facility was a snap and we encountered hardly any traffic during this morning’s drive.  We returned the car without any issues and were about to call an Uber to take us to Pier 27.  Instead, based on advice from someone at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf (where the rental place was), we took a cab.  He said the ride was only $7 and he would have been ride except that, according to the cab driver, you can’t let anyone off except at the official drop ($300 fine he said).  We waited in a line of cars until the meter ticked off an additional $6 or so, so with tip the ride was $16.  Next time, we will get dropped off across the street from the Cruise Port and save $10.  It was a lesson learned.

After a very chaotic and crazy wait in a long line, we eventually dropped off our bags, passed through security, and through some miracle (and fast movements) got into the short line for check in.  We didn’t wait long to get on the ship.  We went to our cabin – P223 – which was available and dropped off some of our stuff.  Instead of going to the buffet for lunch we ate at Alfredo’s Pizzeria.  Veggie pizza, plus vegetarian garbanzo bean soup, and Greek Salad made for a tasty lunch.

IMG_20170109_on board

View From the Ship

The afternoon was spent setting up our dining (Anytime), signing up for excursions, and attending the safety drill. 

I got a note from the Entertainment Department (looks like my contact with be Lisa Richard, Entertainment Manager).  She has the same name as the Cruise Director I worked with on the Celebrity Equinox.  The letter said I would be doing all nine talks including one before we get to Ensenada.  I have only one Theater date – the rest of the talks are in the Vista and Explorer’s Lounges.  I called the Production Manager and asked him about the AV – I will need to use the HDMI to VGA adapter and we are going to try things out tomorrow at 11 AM before my first talk.

We had dinner in the Horizon Court Buffet – just too tired to deal with the Dining Room.  There wasn’t much for us to eat and it was very crowded.  Also, the hand sanitizers were gone and no one was handing us dishes.  The ship added new hand washing stations but I only saw one couple using them.  Sounds like Norovirus Roulette to me.

I am now typing this in the Wheelhouse Bar while listening to smooth jazz.

We attended the “Welcome Aboard Show” at 9:30 PM in the Princess Theater.  Dan Falconer, the Cruise Director, introduced some of this staff (Lisa Richard was not there) and the Orchestra played some music.  The headliner was Miguel Washington, a comedian, we had seen before.  He had some new material and was pretty funny.

IMG_20170109_CD Dan FalconerIMG_20170109_Dan Falconer CD

Dan Falconer – Cruise Director

After the show, we went back the room – totally pooped from our adventure.

Seas are a little rocky and the ship and room are creaking.  Earplugs are required tonight.

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