Courtney Tillett

"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” -Frank Herbert
Living in: Anderson, United States
  • Day13

    Hilo, Hawaii, Hawaii - Part 2

    October 11 in the United States

    Our captain just announced that all passengers and crew were back on-board early so we are already heading out. I will try to make this quick. We actually saw a good bit of wildlife today. Since I can only post six photos in a post, I wanted to include this separately.

    While walking, we though we saw a "different" looking squirrel. Upon closer examination, we realized it was a ferret! We never saw a squirrel but we saw quite a few ferrets!!

    Also while walking, we saw a turkey wandering along the road eating grass. Who knows!?

    At Carlsmith Beach Park, I crouched down to get closer to a turtle. I almost freaked when I saw something like a snake slithering through the water!! No worries, though! We were able to spot it again: most likely a snowflake eel! Very neat!
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  • Day13

    Hilo, Hawaii, Hawaii

    October 11 in the United States

    Today we had every intention of using the local bus system...but that never happened. Hilo had a shuttle service that would run to the Farmer's Market, but it was no longer in service. The nice lady at the information booth gave us all the information we needed to catch the bus. And we had every intention: waiting at the bus stop with our exact change (something that seems to be standard across Hawaii). But a young couple walked by and inspired us. We figured it was our last port day before five days at sea; we could use some walking. So we walked the two miles to town. The first part wasn't pleasant, being through a very industrial area. The second part, however, was through a nice park set away from the main road.

    Once to Hilo, we first visited the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, which was the one main thing on our list of things to see in town. It did not disappoint. It was free admission, but I enjoyed it so much that almost wished they asked for donations. Many people probably don't spend much time there, but we just enjoyed several of the videos and their 3,500 gallon salt water tank of fish local to Hawaii. I will have to note that in the tank they had one fish that they had just recently discovered/identified, a type of butterfly fish. We also watched some great video on the recent volcanic eruptions. I had not been keeping up with the volcanic activity, but, while still active, no lava has been reaching the surface for some time now.

    After the Discovery Center, we walked around town for a while. We had a Walking Tour brochure, but except for a park (that had a sundial that was correct!), we weren't interested in most of the stops. We were going to catch the bus to return to the ship for lunch, but upon checking the schedule, we realized that if we walked the route back to the ship, we would arrive before the bus. So, off we went walking.

    After lunch we headed the other direction from the ship towards Carlsmith Beach Park, a popular spot with the locals (have I mentioned that this whole week is a holiday in Hawaii?). Again, we thought about catching the bus, but decided to make it a walking day (with the option to take the bus to return to the ship if we needed it). The park was another 2 miles away. Carlsmith park is known for its green sea turtles. It is a popular snorkel and swimming spot, where locals respect the turtles and the turtles don't seem to mind the people! It is illegal to touch a sea turtle; they are protected by law. Once again we were not disappointed. We saw six different turtles. They really didn't seem to mind the people AT ALL. In fact, one was swimming right toward two girls (one on a float). I tried to catch their attention because we foresaw how it would play out. Sure enough I caught the girl's eye just in time to point out the turtle at her feet. She didn't seem to mind it, but the girl on the float freaked out, flipping the float, screaming in fright, and chaotically trying to swim away. The poor turtle didn't mind a bit, just continuing on his way. The other, non-startled girl even followed him along for a while.

    We have seen quite a lot of wildlife, but for pictures, I will include that in a separate post. I will include mostly pictures of the turtles in this post. In total, before dinner, we have walked just short of 29,000 steps and 13.5 miles. I will consider this another Camino training day!
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  • Day12

    Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

    October 10 in the United States

    So I will start this post with last night. It may come as a surprise to some, but I have never ordered from the in-room dining service on a cruise. Last night after dinner, I wanted some chocolate chip cookies. They only had peanut butter and oatmeal raisin in the Lido, which was not the first time. Perturbed enough with this regular occurrence, I decided to order chocolate chip cookies from the in-room dining, since it is on their menu. When I called up, the nice man asked how many. I said three, thinking that I wanted two and Harold might want one. Amazingly, they arrived within five minutes (and were warm)! The crazy part was when I looked under the plate cover: I had TWELVE cookies. Harold thought maybe they give them in sets of 4, so I ordered 3 sets?! Believe it or not, the nice guy called back about forty-five minutes later to ask if I had gotten my cookies. I told him the situation, and he laughingly said, "I wanted to make sure you had enough!" I couldn't stop chuckling after that.

    So today we had the much-dreaded adventure of tendering. Hot and slow. The trip was worth it, though. Lahaina is a very quaint town. It is famous for a banyan tree right in town: Maui's oldest living banyan tree. I tried to take pictures, but I just couldn't capture it. The roots that come down from the branches have formed what appears to be other trunks, making it look like many connected trees. Banyan trees provide ample shade, which can also make it difficult for photos.

    We then caught the local bus to the Maui Ocean Center. Our $4 round trip fare more than paid for itself. What a beautiful, scenic trip along the coast of Maui. We definitely recommend the ocean center, too. It has many exhibits, including several large tanks and one underwater tunnel. It was a bit expensive, but they do tons of conservation work, so it really goes to a good cause. One neat fact I learned today: the octopus is a mollusk (which are usually categorized as having a shell). Only the octopus used to have a shell but lost it through evolution!
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  • Day11

    Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii - Day 2

    October 9 in the United States

    We got up and out pretty early this morning. We first visited the King Kamehameha Statue across from the Iolani Palace. If you watch Hawaii Five-O, if I recall correctly, this is the statue in their opening sequence. We then walked the grounds of the Iolani Palace, but did not go in for a tour. Built in 1882, the palace is the only royal palace in the United States and was the official residence for the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

    After that, we walked the grounds of the Hawaii State Capital which is a very interesting building. Pictures do not do it justice. We then checked out the Eternal Flame Memorial, dedicated to the Hawaiians who served in the US Armed Forces.

    Continuing on our walking tour, we visited the Cathedral of St Andrew (Episcopalian & great stained glass work) and Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady (Catholic).

    Then, on our way to Chinatown, we happened upon a Walmart just when I was beginning to need a bathroom. Apparently Walmart's bathrooms are their contribution to society...they were in heavy use, and poor Harold decided he did not need to go after a brief visit to his. That is one thing that I have been shocked with in Honolulu: the number of homeless. It has been staggering. One of the parks near Chinatown was filled with tents and makeshift shelters. On a more positive note, thought, the friendliness of the Hawaiian people has been remarkable. Everyone talks to everyone it seems. And we have been helped on several occasions when we appeared to be trying to find our way.

    Our last visit of the day was Chinatown, considered one of the oldest Chinatowns in the US. We just wandered for many blocks, through the fruit and vegetable markets, fish and meat markets, trinket shops and even lei shops (made out of real flowers - we even saw ladies making them!). Just neat to wander through it all.

    After that we just wandered back to the ship and again, had a much desired shower after the heat and humidity (although not quite as bad as yesterday).
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  • Day10

    Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii - Day 1

    October 8 in the United States

    We had surprisingly somewhat rough seas overnight and woke up to Honolulu outside. We have decided to do our own thing every day in port instead of the ship's shore excursions. We find we can do more with our time and usually find it more enjoyable. Today we took one of the city buses (Honolulu has a great bus system) to Waikiki. There we tooled around for a bit, making sure to stop by the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue, inventor of surfing as we know it today. He was also an Olympic medalist in swimming (several times), mayor of Honolulu, and Hollywood actor.

    We then went to the Honolulu Zoo, where we found out that today was a holiday, so it was very crowded. And hot. Did I mention hot and humid, yet? It was a decent zoo, but far from one of the top on our list.

    We then returned to the ship where we were happy to get showers and relax for a bit before dinner. I saw a guy on the bus with a Clemson hat, but unfortunately we never got a chance to talk to him.

    Tonight we overnight in Honolulu. We were going to go to the aquarium tomorrow, but we have decided just to do a walking tour of the city. We have changed our plans in Lahaina to do the Maui Ocean Center, which sounds like a much better aquarium than the one in Honolulu.
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  • Day9

    Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii

    October 7 in the United States

    We have made it to Hawaii! We walked outside this morning and WOOF...we were transported back to South Carolina: hot and humid, especially after the cooler weather we had experienced earlier.

    The closest (little) town to the port Nawiliwili is Lihue. We had plans to get the free shuttle to a large mall in the area, and then walk to the Kauai Plantation Railway. However, we did not take into account that it was Sunday: the shuttle to the mall was not running. So the other options were to head to the small beach a half a mile away where there were also a few small tourist shops. Not really our thing. So we just returned to the ship and walked the deck, taking a much needed shower afterwards. We then enjoyed some Gloomhaven for a relaxing afternoon.

    Tomorrow is Honolulu, staying there overnight, so we should have better luck with trying to sight see.
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  • Day8

    Sea Days 4 & 5

    October 6, North Pacific Ocean

    I cannot believe that today is our last sea day before arriving to Hawaii. Time has just gone "poof." The water has just gotten bluer and bluer everyday, along with the weather getting warmer. We have had pretty smooth sailing. Two days ago, by evening, I couldn't believe how calm and peaceful it had become. You would have almost thought we were on a small lake. It was hard to believe we were right in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean! I understand now why they gave it the name Pacific.

    Before we left, I was talking with my sister about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (I think that's the name). While I doubted the cruise company would take their ships near the heavier parts, I have definitely been keeping my eye out. To my amazement (sadly), we have actually passed a lot of trash in the water. Harold laughs at me as I keep pointing out "more trash," but I honestly recall very, very little trash (while outside of ports) from all our cruising experiences before this one. Certain parts were heavier than others, but I can only imagine that all the pieces are slowly working their way to the more central part of the patch. It is just so sad and disheartening to see.

    So one of the downsides to cruising is the lack of options in TV channels. Today being Saturday, a college football Saturday, was no different. We still tried to go to the sports bar to see if they had any different channels available for the big screen. Ultimately they didn't (we might pick up the signal the closer we get to Hawaii). But while waiting we did get to meet a Georgia Tech fan from Atlanta that was hoping for the same as us.

    One of our pleasures while we cruise is to pick up little sayings and doings of fellow passengers that just bring a bit of humor to our days. Example from this morning: Harold was in the omelette line waiting for his omelette to finish cooking. A lady walked up to the guy behind the counter and genuinely asked, "Is this where I can get an omelette?" The guy responds, "Yes, ma'am." She proceeds, "Do you cook it for me?" He calmly responds, "Yes, ma'am." I can only imagine how a real jokester would want to respond!

    Well, the next posting should be from Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii. And all my posts since Seattle should finally sync up to the web and be available.
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  • Day7

    Sea Days 2 & 3

    October 5, North Pacific Ocean

    So there is not much to report for our last two days at sea. We have enjoyed relaxing. Today was the first warmer day were we could walk the deck and enjoy chilling (no pun intended) on our balcony. The walking deck was very crowded, almost like everyone had spring fever! So far we have seen two ships, one bird, and one silver fish, which we believe was either being chased or doing the chasing, with the commotion that went on in the water.

    We found a bar that has nice, large tables, and we have been playing Gloomhaven there for the past two days. We get a lot of interested people asking what we are playing. So far, no one has heard of the game. Today, M said he found "the game room" down on deck 2, so we will be checking that out later for a potential new game spot. Fingers crossed, since today we had to leave early due to a former-military gathering. Thank goodness we were packing up just as they got started. Our "attacking 3 on the frost demon" just wouldn't have paired up too well with their often somber stories of their military memories. I will have to do better about checking the events and where they are!

    We are getting to know our waitstaff at dinner better. They are still having trouble when I don't order dessert; it is just unfathomable to them it seems. We have met up with J and M a couple of times. I am glad I am not the only one comparing this cruise to our last one. J and I both miss the people and community we had on the Med cruise. And the big tables in the library where you could do your own thing and yet was conducive to chit chat with your fellow cruisers. We also miss the crew. They were just spectacular. I will have to say our room stewards have done very well. They even remember Harold's random comment from the first day about me loving dark chocolate. Ever since we have had dark chocolates waiting for us in the evening. :D

    We have turned back our clocks one time since leaving Vancouver, so we still have two more of those before Hawaii. Other than that, not too much else to report.
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  • Day4

    Sea Day 1

    October 2, North Pacific Ocean

    Well we were pleasantly surprised yesterday: we did not have to do the muster drill. Woohoo! So instead we did...drum roll...laundry! It was a small load, so it wasn't too bad. We are hoping to stay on top of it so we continue to have small loads. We were pleasantly surprised that everything was dry within 24 hours.

    Around 5pm we enjoyed the sail away for around 15 minutes until it started to rain and everyone headed inside.

    Today we played two games of Gloomhaven before lunch. Our travel version has been working well so far. We found our Med cruise friends in the lounge we played in. I will call them J and M to protect their privacy. J and M are four star mariners so they get free ship laundry. Sadly, J has the same worries as us about the ship laundry and washes her quick-dry/nylon/polyester clothes by hand in her cabin! On our upcoming world cruise where we will have free ship laundry, we are discussing having four or so outfits that we just know can be washed and dried at hot temperatures. Then, we will just send out laundry everyday. The trouble will be finding those four outfits. We really enjoy our quick-dry for their comfort and cooling qualities.

    So far we have not been able to enjoy our balcony or the walking deck much due to the cold and wind. Today we are still pretty far north (this morning we were as far north as Seattle). That should be changing soon!

    Audrey, this post is for ya'll! I am posting this while out to sea, so the "dot" should be out in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately, I won't be able to sync any posts until Hawaii, so it will be a while until we know for sure!
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  • Day3

    We woke up this morning to a rainy Vancouver. Last night we made last minute changes to our plans since we were informed we needed to go through customs between 10:30 and 14:30. So much for heading off the ship around 8:30 and touring for the day. Things are different today for port since it is a changeover day for the ship: some getting off after being in Alaska for 8 days and others getting on for the Hawaii trip.

    With the timing change and the rain, we decided we would just chill and play Gloomhaven for the morning. What we failed to know was that 10:30 to 14:30 was not a window. They really wanted everyone off the boat that is In-transit (not boarding for the first time today) to be off the ship at 10:30. So right in the middle of our game they announced this bit of information! Oh well.

    While waiting through security to get back on the boat, I noticed the backpack in front of me had a yellow arrow patch on it. I couldn't help but get their attention and introduce myself as a fellow pilgrim! It was a husband and wife who had walked from Porto to Santiago on the Portuguese Camino. It's a small world!

    Not much else to report. Tonight we head out to sea for five straight days. We are looking forward to the slower pace of nothing to do but eat, sleep, and relax.
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