Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cruisin' toward Cruisin'

I hate February in New England. And right now, I hate the end of January, too.

It's bitterly cold, there's so much snow piled up outside that it's nearly reached the bottom of the light pole in the front yard, and the ice is a constant source of treachery. I find myself in despair over winter and without much hope that spring, never mind summer, will ever return to New Hampshire.

But in less than a week, this melancholy will hopefully be at least briefly interrupted because I will be embarking upon a Carribbean cruise with my two best friends from high school. These are women with whom I have shared many an adventure over the decades so much fun is guaranteed.I am already warning people that I may not return from the islands until June, or perhaps July. I only hope the City of Portsmouth does not mind me telecommuting for a few months.

When the kernels of this great cruise adventure began, I was quite impressed when the unofficial tour director of our group (the one on the far right) snagged us a seven-day trip aboard a Holland America ship for just $666 each. Who would pass that up?

But what I didn't figure on was all the cost and effort required in preparation for this one-week vacation.

First, there was the matter of summer clothing. My two traveling companions currently reside in two very warm Texas cities so they have lots of it. I, of course, live in New England where one rarely needs warm weather attire (see Paragraph 2, grumble, grumble). In addition, my fitness regime has resulted in the discovery that what little summer wear I do possess is now too large. So task No. 1 was finding clothing for this trip. However, in New England we are still buying sweaters, hats and gloves, not cruise wear! That has led to untold hours of shopping on the Internet for bathing suits and other necessary apparel. As Husband No. 1 noted, the UPS trucks have been lining up outside the house for weeks.

However, as most women are all too aware, clothing worn by a model never looks like it does on a real woman. This has led to numerous trips to return merchandise to the local outlets of the online shopping venues, led by the exchange of bathing suits. (But kudos to JCPenney for offering both the model view of a bathing suit and also a photo of a normal, or even plump, woman wearing that same suit.) I thought about not getting a suit at all, given the reports of nude beaches on some of the islands, but decided that might send me well beyond my comfort zone and the people aboard the cruise ship might find this, ah, unusual. (I'm not sure cruising freestyle means naked). Therefore, my credit card is now so hot that it could melt the three feet of snow outside my window.

Not only did I need bathing suits and clothing, my sneakers were way too beat up for an excercise class with Holland America and some tropical excursions suggested the need for a raincoat. The credit card continues to smoke.

And of course, my hair must be in adequate shape to accent my new clothing. And if I'm wearing sandals, I will need a pedicure and must consider other beauty treatments, as well. Cha-ching.

Because my friends are traveling from Texas, they have no concerns about weather interrupting or delaying their plans. However, as New England is facing down yet another major snowstorm this week, I have taken precautions and scheduled myself to fly into Fort Lauderdale a day before the cruise just in case. Since I am reluctant to spend the night sitting in the airport or waiting with my suitcase at the dock, this also means renting a hotel room for the night. Cha-ching.

At this point, I believe that one could legitimately conclude that the cruise ship cost is slightly higher than first anticipated. And if I'm going to be visiting places I've never seen before, of course I need to snorkel with the stingrays on the world's third-largest coral reef off the Turk and Caicos Islands and also see volcanic remains by kayak, hiking and snorkeling while in the Virgin Islands. I did save some money when I refused to join my two wild traveling companions on a zip line tour ABOVE the rain forest, but the credit card is still close to melting by now.

Perhaps I should walk outside with it to see if it helps with clearing the front walkway. Or maybe I should conclude that the damage is now so high that another couple of nights in Fort Lauderdale won't matter.

I'll get back to you on that -- in about two weeks!


Lorna Barrett said...

I'll be thinking about you (and green with envy) as I'm freezing my butt off here in Western NY. Hope you have a wonderful time.

Anonymous said...

Ohh, Patty! I am still laughing! Too funny, and I feel so honored to be a part of your blog! See you in a few!

Diane said...

You gotta do the zipline!! How cool would that be:).

MaxWriter said...

You could have worse problems than too-big summer clothing, you know! (Congratulations on all your hard work paying off.) And have a delightful WARM time on all of our behalfs (behalves?).

Pat Remick said...

No ziplines for me. It's enough that I'm getting on a plane by myself for the second time in 23 years. Nope, my idea of vacation is a book in the sun with good friends and tropical drinks!

Anonymous said...

So here you are getting too much sun and I am at Saddleback where the mountain has been shut down twice in the last 3 days because of winds gusting to 60mph which caused some pretty interesting whiteouts as in "Where am I?"