Food for Thought

Dearest Rachel – I don’t know what sort of manna or ambrosia you get to eat where you are; I assume that, since heaven still contains most of the truly good things in life, you’re able to eat and enjoy things (and hey, Jesus ate fish after His resurrection, so why not you?). And whileContinue reading “Food for Thought”

Views from the Port Side

Dearest Rachel – I understand that we don’t necessarily have a say in where our stateroom is located on the ship when we sign up for a cruise. Half of the passengers will get starboard cabins, and the other half will be on the port side. It rather has to be that way, otherwise weContinue reading “Views from the Port Side”

At Any Price?

Dearest Rachel – It’s morning in Tokyo Bay, and we’re suddenly only one of dozens of ships within sight of each other. You’d think we were in a race to get to the port or something. There’s a certain point in every trip where are you mentally begin preparing yourself to leave and return home.Continue reading “At Any Price?”

Kobe – 神戸

Dearest Rachel – Thanks for indulging me in a little bit of reminiscence about the city I remember best from my last time in Asia; I only wish I could have brought you with, so that you and I could have swapped stories about our previous visits. Granted, your homestay village of Tsumago is soContinue reading “Kobe – 神戸”

Kyoto – 京都

Dearest Rachel – I know I should be talking about Kobe, since that is the port that we will be coming into tomorrow. However, since our excursion is a Shinkansen ride to Kyoto – and this is the place I remember so vividly, as I walked around it during the day after the Emperor Showa’sContinue reading “Kyoto – 京都”

Hiroshima – 広島

Dearest Rachel – For all that Hiroshima has a certain singular claim to fame (if nothing else, it is the yardstick by which all nuclear devices are measured against, usually in terms of dwarfing it), there is so much more to this city than that one terrible moment. Indeed, the fact that it still standsContinue reading “Hiroshima – 広島”

Kitakyushu – 北九州

Dearest Rachel – So, after that brief sojourn on the tip of the Asian continent proper, we return to the islands of Japan. And I use the plural deliberately, since this is our first visit to a city on an island other than the main one of Honshu. Kitakyushu is a city located in theContinue reading “Kitakyushu – 北九州”

Busan – 부산시

Dearest Rachel – I know that, when cruises’ destinations are within the United States (such as to Alaska and Hawaii), there is a stop (or, more often, an embarkation point) in another country, so that the ship isn’t subject to the laws of the United States, which presumably are considerably more stringent than the internationalContinue reading “Busan – 부산시”

Kanazawa – 金沢

Dearest Rachel – I think of Japan (and the main island of Honshu in particular) as being much like California in shape and climate, if clearly not in culture. If we think of ‘cruise ship speed’ as equivalent to 25 mph on land (at least, that’s what we always referred to it as we droveContinue reading “Kanazawa – 金沢”

Niigata – 新潟

Dearest Rachel – Even before we head down the gangplank tomorrow, we should have a beautiful view, no matter where we are; the side of the ship not facing the city should be able to see Sado Island. At least, that’s what it looks like on the map of the prefecture, showing where the cityContinue reading “Niigata – 新潟”

Akita – 秋田

Dearest Rachel – We’ve now gone across the top of Honshu, and continuing our counterclockwise route around the country through the Sea of Japan (as opposed to the Pacific Ocean proper). Akita (literally translated ‘autumn field,’ which suggests we’re here at exactly the wrong time of year – evidently, the many rice paddies turn aContinue reading “Akita – 秋田”

Broken Morning

Dearest Rachel – I have to confess, I’m not really sure what time zone I’m functioning on at this point. I only know it’s not really the one that I should be on. Since there’s nothing particularly interesting in terms of entertainment after dinner (unless I want to stay up until 11 or so, toContinue reading “Broken Morning”

Aomori – 青森

Dearest Rachel – As our one and only sea day comes to a close, I’m starting in on sending out these daily pre-docking reports, like we used to do as a family. As I’ve mentioned a few times previously, most of the research is being done by artificial intelligence – because there’s too many stopsContinue reading “Aomori – 青森”

A Day at Sea

To be at sea (idiomatic verb phrase): 1. To literally sail on the sea in a boat or ship. A: “Is your mother at sea yet?” B: “Yes, her cruise lasts several weeks.” 2. To be puzzled, perplexed, or completely confused (about a subject or some task at hand). I tried to do well inContinue reading “A Day at Sea”

The Moment of Truth

Dearest Rachel – Do you know how I said earlier about how “that ship has sailed” when referring to the fact that you and I would never be able to visit one of Japan’s notorious love hotels together? About that phrasing… I’ve been rather dreading this moment, and not because today I officially become oldContinue reading “The Moment of Truth”

Red Steam in the Sunrise

Dearest Rachel – I’ve made this distinction before; it’s a rare thing that one’s daydreams and one’s dreams should coincide. But this morning’s screenings clearly must’ve resulted from having won the lottery or something like that. I mean, sure, I probably acquired the thing for kopecks on the ruble, but fixing up an old SovietContinue reading “Red Steam in the Sunrise”

It’s That Much Worse If You’re There

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned a little while ago about a dream I had that might have been based off of a plan I was trying to make for yet another trip – and at the time, I didn’t bother to tell you about the details, partly because it was still up in the airContinue reading “It’s That Much Worse If You’re There”

Muzzling the Help

Dearest Rachel – Well, it’s almost time. I’ve gotten word from the installers, and they’ll be out to begin work in either two or three weeks from now. With that in mind, I need to pack everything up from the kitchen and the laundry room. That means enlisting Jan’s help, and getting together as manyContinue reading “Muzzling the Help”

Dreaming a Little Too Deeply

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes you just know where your dream is coming from. That doesn’t make it any less absurd. I’m pretty sure this had to do with the combination of my scoping out a new trip for later this year (pending confirmation of any scheduling conflicts – yes, they can be a thing yet),Continue reading “Dreaming a Little Too Deeply”

To Everything…

Dearest Rachel – So much for the need for a wake up call. My mind is going through this past week, and as I’m lying here trying to get another hour or two of sleep, it’s coming up with a few rules for future reference. Much of it sounds a lot like the third chapterContinue reading “To Everything…”

Towel Critters

Dearest Rachel – I probably should’ve known better. When I didn’t see one on my bed the first night when I came back to the room after dinner, I concluded that the cabin staff no longer folded towel animals. Either that, or they no longer did so for rooms that didn’t have kids in themContinue reading “Towel Critters”

Closing Night

Dearest Rachel – And so, the curtain goes up on the curtain going down. Last full day aboard ship. After taking care of some bills and an email (which may become important later on, we’ll all have to tune in and find out), I decided to add upstairs, and see if I had better luckContinue reading “Closing Night”

A Private Balcony

Dearest Rachel – I know it was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure you remember our first cruise. When the folks took us to Alaska, it was a really big deal, even though we had interior staterooms. You had to bring a nightlight for Daniel’s sake, because once the door was closed andContinue reading “A Private Balcony”

Less Eventful Days

Dearest Rachel – So, we are now headed back toward Florida; another non-stop sail of some 1,200 miles or so. Two whole days of nothing but open ocean, as we make our return. This is the dénouement; barring something catastrophic or stupid (or catastrophically stupid), these last two days will be considerably less eventful thanContinue reading “Less Eventful Days”

Let’s Try This Again

Dearest Rachel – There’s only so long I can go, just sitting around doing nothing while my feet heal. With about half an hour before I’m supposed to meet the group, I decided to head down, but I’m torn between getting a beverage first from the Diamond Lounge. Just as I get out of theContinue reading “Let’s Try This Again”

Stuff Before I Go Ashore

Dearest Rachel – I was told by friends and family at home that, well the port of Curaçao itself was literally nothing much to write home about, the homes and businesses we would pass on the way in might very well be. However, considering how close Aruba and Curaçao are, even with an 11 o’clockContinue reading “Stuff Before I Go Ashore”

Makin’ My Way Downtown

Dearest Rachel – I’m sure you’ve picked up by now the fact that I feel like a man out of place. For the last thirty hours or so, I’ve been a man out of time as well. For whatever reason, when we were paused outside of Kingston, my phone switched over to what I presumeContinue reading “Makin’ My Way Downtown”

The Dissonance of a Different Drummer

Dearest Rachel – Morning of the fourth day. We were supposed to have been docked in Aruba by now, but that’s understandably been put on hold. Indeed, even while we were in a holding pattern in Kingston Bay, there was another alert topside, as ‘Alpha Alpha Alpha’ was repeated over the public address system. FromContinue reading “The Dissonance of a Different Drummer”

Trivial Rewards

Dearest Rachel – When it comes to favored activities onboard, you had your swimming, of course. As for myself, I guess I have my trivia. It’s not exactly something I would go out of my way to bother with in the past, but given that I don’t know what else to do with myself theseContinue reading “Trivial Rewards”

Out On the Open Ocean?

Dearest Rachel – It’s not quite seven in the morning, and I’m awake early again. It’s not exactly a complaint, but you think it wouldn’t be necessary, as there is nothing much to see when you’re out in the open ocean. Except, apparently, we aren’t. I was actually woken up, in fact, by a textContinue reading “Out On the Open Ocean?”

The Call of the Wired

Dearest Rachel – Back in the day, we used to bring our computers with us on these trips (just like we did when we went to the island) in order to entertain ourselves on certain slower days. In the early days, we had stuff on CDs, which we later swapped out for portable hard drivesContinue reading “The Call of the Wired”

Adventures on the Odyssey

Dearest Rachel – The darkness eventually begins to clear as morning breaks, and the sun comes out in full power before I’m finished with my meal. Granted, I take my time with it, but I’m willing to claim that half my time is consumed with finding an open – and sanitized – table to sitContinue reading “Adventures on the Odyssey”

Heights Above the Depths

Dearest Rachel – I’d like to hope this wouldn’t make you jealous, but I’ve just gotten back from swimming. Although, it wasn’t so much swimming, as hanging around in one pool or another and chatting with other people doing pretty much the same. I don’t know why, but I keep running into people from NorthContinue reading “Heights Above the Depths”

If You Could Only Feel It

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been wondering around top side for the past hour or so. To be honest, I stopped for about half of that hour, as they were showing a movie above the pool; one about souls (in fact, I think that was the film’s name), and one’s trying to get back to earthContinue reading “If You Could Only Feel It”

A Momentary Flash of Panic

Dearest Rachel – Well, honey, I made it this time. Admittedly, I was over prepared this time; the QR code didn’t seem to work with their check in procedures, so I had to show them the previous screen from the pharmacy, showing a negative Covid result. But before that, there was a slight matter regardingContinue reading “A Momentary Flash of Panic”

Back On the… Horse?

Dearest Rachel – Usually, after dinner at their house, Daniel and I will follow Dad into the family room to chat for an hour or so. You probably remember those days well enough when we would be invited over, although you’ll understand that it’s on more frequent – and regular – occasion these days. ForgiveContinue reading “Back On the… Horse?”

Switching Goddesses

Dearest Rachel – You’re familiar with the fact that various cruise lines have a certain theme when it comes to the names of the ships in their fleet. Royal Caribbean, for instance, will eventually go through pretty much every single noun in the dictionary, and as long as they stick ‘of the Seas’ at theContinue reading “Switching Goddesses”

Nine Whole Months

Dearest Rachel – No, it’s not quite been that long; believe me, I’m painfully aware of each time the twenty-third of the month has rolled around. We’ll be there in a couple of days, yes, but that’s not what this letter is about. No, what’s going on right now is something that just arrived inContinue reading “Nine Whole Months”