A while ago Hubby and I were at a party. And while he was standing with his buddies drinking beer and talking politics, or baseball, or golf, I was sitting with a group of ladies I've known for years, but usually only see at parties like this. Hockey parties. Not parties where hockey is played or watched. But parties held a few times a year where a group of up to twenty assorted couples get together, a group connected, at least initially, by the fact that the husbands play hockey together. And have for years. And years.
So anyway, I was sitting that Saturday night, talking to Sue and Sue. Yep, there are a lot of Susans in our group. Our conversation was in part about cruises. Sue #1 had been on a Caribbean cruise last spring with three women friends and, although I had seen photos on Instagram, I hadn't spoken to her about it. She had a good time, she said. Everything was lovely. But she said there was a sameness to the daily island excursions that wore a bit thin after a while. And then we discussed the idea of cruises in general. Pros and cons. And, given that we're all getting older, whether cruising is something we might like to do when our current favourite mode of travel becomes unfeasible. Too exhausting or stressful or unmanageable. Sue's hubby and mine have known each other since they were teenagers playing junior hockey together. And they're similar in many ways including the fact that their wives both think (or know) that their husbands are not really cruise people.
Hubby and I have never been on a real cruise. I know for a fact that I could not drag him onto one of those big, big ships with thousands of people, or even hundreds, with on-board pools and water slides, five star accommodation, and midnight buffets. Nope not a chance. And that's okay because, to be honest, I'm not interested in those anyway. Friends of ours have taken smaller, more interesting (to me anyway) cruises, to Norway and Russia, or parts of the east including China, or on rivers in Europe. But Hubby is still dead set against the idea of an extended cruise or an organized tour any longer than a few days. At least for now. And I'm okay with that.
For now we still love to make our own itinerary, rent vehicles, and stay wherever we want for as long as we want. Usually at some point during a long trip we will book a short, organized tour. In Australia we went on a three-day "Outback Safari" that left from Alice Springs. Driven in a twenty person bus, we visited Uluru and King's Canyon, hiked, slept in permanent tent encampments, and sat around the campfire at night drinking wine and talking. It was wonderful. We met lovely people. And around the campfire, during the four hour hikes, and the long bus rides we really got to know each other. We still keep in touch with one young English couple who stayed with us in Ottawa for a few days a couple of months later when they were just finishing up their around the world trip.
Then a few years later on our second New Zealand/Australia trip we went on a cruise. Of sorts. For three days and two nights we sailed around the Bay of Islands, in New Zealand, in the beautiful boat you see pictured below. Nine passengers, three crew, and a dog. The very antithesis of a big cruise ship.
|The Manawanui, a 22 metre ketch|
We anchored at islands like the one below, where we hiked, and swam, and then were picked up in the zodiac to go back to the boat.
|Hiking on a small island in the Bay of Islands|
|The beach where we swam after a hike. Bliss.|
|Hubby paddling his kayak.|
One day we fished. It was kind of funny when one of the guys gently began to explain to me how to keep my rod tip up. I guess he didn't see me as a fisherman. At least until Hubby told him about the 40 inch brown trout I had caught in the Yukon. Then Hubby and I found that we each had a fish on, at the same time. And as we both reeled in, the ladies started chanting, "Sue, Sue, Sue!" They hoped I would land my fish first. So I did. Sometimes it's good to blast a stereotype out of the water, eh? Pun intended. That's Moby the dog supervising as Daniel helps Steve net his fish.
At lunch that day, we feasted on wonderful salads, cold white wine, and freshly caught fish. Some had been made into sushi, and the rest lightly smoked, or barbequed. My first time ever eating sushi, which I only tried because Nicola convinced me I should. I loved it. And I had caught the fish.... which was pretty cool. In the picture, I'm sitting with Nicola and Steve from London, and Sally from Devon.
Hubby is logging some major hammock time in the shot below. Doesn't this look idyllic? That's because it was. A fabulous three days. We often talk about that trip. How we made such immediate connections with the other passengers. How when we were booking the trip Hubby had to convince the agent that we were up for it, fit enough and mobile enough despite the fact that we were in our fifties and sixties. Ha. Seems funny. Eight years later, I think I'm more up for it now than I was then.
|Just chilling on board the Manawanui.|
Now before I close I want to take you back to that hockey party. To that group of men and women whom I met because they either played hockey with my husband, or were married to someone who played hockey with him. Hockey was only the initial connection all those years ago. We're really like family now. Albeit a family who named way too many of their kids Susan.
You see when I first started dating Hubby I think there were a couple of other women in the hockey group named Sue. Then I came along. Then John married a girl named Sue. Then Bill did the same. Then it became a joke. I remember one year standing in someone's kitchen at a party with a few of the other women trying to figure out the "Sue senority list." Which Sue came first and all that. There were, I think, five of us at that point. Then one of the guys showed up with a new girlfriend whom he introduced as Sue. "No way!" all the Sues standing in the kitchen exclaimed. The new Sue just smiled. Turned out her name was Tracey or something, and he was just pulling our collective leg. And she kindly (albeit a bit tentatively it looked, and no wonder given our reaction) played along. We always laugh about that night.
If you enjoy cruising, I hope you won't be offended when I say that Hubby and I are not cruise people. Some of my good friends take cruises every year and think I'm nuts to go canoe camping. I love them anyway. So, now it's your turn friends. Any travel anecdotes you want to share? Or other thoughts?
By the way, if you are travelling to New Zealand and think that our Bay of Islands excursion would suit you, here's the link.
Linking with Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner and Saturday Share Link-Up at Not Dressed as Lamb