Tuesday, January 21, 2020
It’s the last full day of our Crystal Serenity cruise. We’ve thawed out our Minnesota bones over the past two weeks, our blood now runs a bit thinner, and we dread the thought of returning to about a foot of snow. Will we drive through a snowstorm to get from the airport to our home? Will we get stuck in the driveway again? Will we even be able to drive home right away! I’m shivering already!
As if to prepare us for our return home, the day is markedly cooler and cloudy. Most days have been sunny and warm up to now.
Every time we travel to warmer climes, we consider the possibility of buying a retirement home there. Wouldn’t it be nice to have hibiscus blooms year round? What about fresh mango and papaya? Mai tais, margaritas, pina coladas, the list goes on.
My husband dreams of year-round gardens. At home, he starts annuals in the greenhouse around March, with the hope that we can transplant them in early May. Trees may start budding in late March. Perennials begin to emerge in April, and we have riots of color all summer and into the fall, but by October, we need to prepare for winter.
Truly, Minnesota is beautiful in the summer. Minnesotans come out of hibernation and start wearing shorts as soon as the temperature rises above 60°. The lakes and rivers encourage days of laziness on the patio or on a boat. That’s after the ice goes out of course, which can happen on the Mississippi River in mid-March, but many lakes will still have ice for a few more weeks.
Packing is always awful, but at least it goes quicker when you’re returning home. You don’t have to decide what to pack, you just have to find it! Whenever I think I’m Ii she’d, I find something else that has to be squeezed in. Or, worse yet, I need to dig something out from the bottom of the fullest bag.
We Listened to San Francisco based DJ Bob Ray talk about, and broadcast an interview with, Tommy James and the Shondells, who came on the music scene in 1966 with their first big hit, Hanky Panky. Bob Ray does tell a good story.
The group was signed by Roulette Records which had ties to the Genovesa crime family. Although they had a couple dozen gold records, they never received any royalties, being cheated out of $40 million. For more about their story, you can read Tommy James’ book, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells, or you can wait for the movie to come out.
We enjoyed listening to Dick Morgan one last time, as he spoke about the US invasion of Panama in 1989, “Operation Just Cause”. The two week war removed Manuel Noriega from power, something for which the Panamanians were very grateful.
Mr. Morgan’s experience was very personal, as he was #3 on a 32 person “hit list” complied by Noriega to protect his regime in case of attack by the US. The plan was to kidnap the people on the hit list, imprison them, and kill them as leverage against the United States attacking. Shortly after the invasion began, an eight person US military team showed up at Morgan’s home to let him know that one of Noriega’s hit squads was coming for him. Soon afterward, the hit squad, also eight people, arrived and were engaged by the “good guys,” who took them all out. Noriega’s team was outfitted with stolen US uniforms and equipment.
During the afternoon, Mark saw a helicopter flying fairly close to our ship. Normally, we don’t expect to see choppers over open seas since their range isn’t great, but we soon learned that it was coming from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, which was sailing about two miles off the starboard side. We could also hear jets screaming by, but by the time you hear them, they are already out of sight! Crystal knows how to put on a show.
This afternoon, we got a personal tour of the stage sound and lighting engineering areas. Thank you, Cruise Director Rick Spath for arranging this. My electronics geek husband was delighted! I was too. Sound Engineer Sebastian Ostornol showed us the sound mixer, computers and screens he works with to create the best sound for the speakers and performers.
Lighting Engineer John Eigner took us into the lighting booth and spoke about how he can direct curtains, lights, screens and colors right down to the minutest detail. He can even direct a spot at an individual seat in the audience. The engineers start prepping 15-20 minutes before a show to make sure everything is in order.
The walls on either side of the stage are equipped with fiber optics used to create those “starry” nights. There are LED matrix screens in the back of the stage and on the sides that show videos and background.
Tonight’s sunset was beautiful again, and…we saw the GREEN FLASH! Mark has claimed to have seen it in the past, but I was skeptical until tonight. It really does happen! Unfortunately, I don’t have proof, my camera is pretty good, but the photographer is only so so.