Notes from Puzzle Palace

Monday, January 10, 2022

Los Angeles to San Diego

 WARNING: THREE PARAGRAPHS OF NEGATIVITY.  Skip if you want the real report. 

After receiving a bit of negative feedback on the Oceania group on Facebook, I want to address this.  I have no need to, but I want to.  I am NOT an elitist.  Quite the contrary.  I grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin on an even smaller dairy farm. I’ve worked my way up through a lot of hurdles and have finally been able to enjoy life.  Work hard and save your money and you too can be able to do what my husband and I are doing. 

I am really quite upset that people wrote that my blog left a bad taste in their mouth.  If you read more than one posting of mine, you will see I’m not a negative person.  Los Angeles did not appeal to me.  I have friends who live here and I applaud them for doing so.  I can not.  I have never seen pollution as bad as I did when I woke up on Thursday morning.  I was in shock.  And as for "bashing my dinner companion"  Yes, I will admit I did. That couple insulted me beyond belief.  If you were told that anyone could do the job you did after you acquired not one, but 2 post graduate degrees and are able to be called Doctor, you would be insulted too. I could have given names or descriptions, but I did not.  I simply said I was insulted and am glad they are not continuing on with us.  You took one paragraph out of context and ran with it. Let’s face it, if you are like me and are on this Oceania 6 month cruise, then you too are elitist.  Not everyone can afford both the money and the time to do such a thing. 

Yes, I’m glad to leave LA.  I had no idea how polluted it was.  As an example, I lived in Hong Kong for 25 years.  Being there I had the opportunity to travel to many places in Asia.  Two really stand out.  Beijing and Kaohsiung.  Both cities are so filthy that I can taste the pollution.  One can not see into the distance.  I hated both and couldn’t wait to leave.  Does this make me a bad person?  No.  It makes me one who enjoys breathing clean air.  When I lived in Asia I would take photos of blue sky days and revel in the Chinese National Holidays when the factories were closed.  You could breath without pain. Without that terrible taste.  Tonight's dinner companions said the same thing I did and THEY LIVE IN LA!  I’m glad to know I’m not alone.  

And that is enough of that. I write for myself and for my friends.  No one forces you to read my thoughts.  If you don’t like my opinions and ideas, don’t read them.  


When the announcement came across the tannoy that we were not to go to San Francisco, I was very disappointed.  We were looking forward to the visit and seeing the kids and puzzling friends.  I understand the change and am glad to be going on to Hawaii.  So what does this mean?  Well, change of mindset.  First of all, it will be warmer, not colder.  I always like that.  I’m a hot house flower.  The cold hurts too much.  Having grown up where I did, as I did, there was a lot of cold in the winter. Anything below around 80 degrees and I am freezing. :) 

When we get back to San Diego we shall scoot along down to the Italian part of town and do a bit of shopping.  If I remember right, there are a few puzzle shops over there.  It’s been a while though, perhaps they are no longer there.  But it’s a good excuse to leave the ship. I think we will buy some more of that zinfandel. We enjoyed it and the wine we brought with us will not last much longer.  We need to restock.  That seems to be a good mission for the unplanned stay.  

On the CruiseCritic board, a member reminded me that Art of Play is in San Diego.  I feel foolish.  I forgot that they are there.  We met the owners at an IPP in Kanazawa Japan a few years back so why not go over and say hello.  Maybe they will have something we don’t have.  That would be funny.  

First thing in the morning our room steward came in with my ATW jacket. Contrary to what I read on the boards, the jackets run small.  We aren’t big people, but I couldn’t close the medium jacket. I know it doesn't help anyone on this ATW, but if you join a future cruise, with a 36 bust, the medium is just too tight. I waited until now to get a replacement.  Just in time too. It was nippy outside today and this did the trick.  

On Saturday we awoke to find ourselves in San Diego.  Upon waking, we met with some other world travelers who had rented a car and made our way to Costco to purchase a couple more cases of wine to hold us over for a few more weeks.  Chuck and Debby get an A+ from me.  I was told to write that.  If I didn’t I would be in big trouble.  :) Just joking.  It was very kind of them to ask us to join them in the morning.  I think we were discussing the lack of a Costco card and that was what caused the invitation.  So we met at the appointed time and off we went.  They were hunting a toothbrush and we separated and found our items.   Our items consisted of a box of wheat thins to ease my tummy on rough sea days and 2 more cases of wine.  It was especially helpful to have a car available for this.  Once we paid, we then went on to Art of Play.  

I was surprised.  This was a small shop. I thought I’d be able to see the entire stock that is on the webpage, but boy was I wrong.  It is smaller than our bedroom was in Hong Kong.  That’s not to say it wasn’t nice.  We managed to find quite a few puzzles and games that we didn’t have.  I even found a cute salt and pepper shaker duck/rabbit set.  This of course will be used in the Puzzle Palace for Berrocal dinners.  Or should I use the Rubik’s cube type?  

From there, we returned to the ship to have lunch, and a nap.  The nap was not meant to be. Instead, George gave Rod and Merry a lesson in 3D printing.

To make it even more interesting, Rod had just mocked up a set of gears for a watch using Tinkercad.  They turned it into an STL file, sliced it and printed it right then and there.  Of course it wasn’t a good copy, but that wasn’t the purpose.  He enjoyed the lesson, and will most likely go get a 3D printer. 
They very kindly gave us a postage stamp sized jigsaw puzzle. It’s a cute little thing.

When they left, George took a nap, and I went for a walk down the street to an outdoor market that I saw being set up in the morning. Boy was I wrong!  This wasn’t an outdoor market it was a rally of the worst kind. Antivaxers, pro-tRumpers, kill Faucci people, pro-gun owners, and a whole lot of religious zealots to name a few groups.  I walked as quickly as I could past the place, crossed the street and returned to the ship.  I know when I am where I don’t belong.  

When I returned, I was looking at the life boats and did a quick calculation to come to the conclusion that only 900 people could ride in them.  I asked a crewman standing at the shore about this.  He said there could be an approximate maximum of 1300 crew and passengers on the ship.  He then pointed out the life rafts toward the front of the ship.  Reassured me that there were 22 of these that will hold 20 people each.  I made a joke about it looking to be to few places for people.  He smiled and replied that the ship was never full.  You’ve got to love a man with a sense of humor.

At around 4 pm we decided to go jump in the hot tub again.  It is such a nice place to just sit and relax.  We spent around half an hour in there, had a quick shower then went back to the room to send emails and what not.  

Dinner was in the grand dining room again.  We are just fine with that.  We were joined by another couple and a single lady.  All were pleasant company.  At the end of the meal we had a good chuckle over a failure to communicate.  One of the guests asked for 2 petit fours. 2 as in 2 individual pieces. What she got instead was 2 petit four tours.  Sadly everyone else had a dessert as well and it could not be eaten.

We returned to the cabin for another good nights sleep.  When we woke, we both commented on how calm the seas were. Another laugh.  We had forgotten that we are still in port.  We stayed in bed for an hour or two doing a bit of work, then we got up did exercise and had some  breakfast.  Our breakfast has been since we first met, nothing more than a glass of orange juice for George and a glass of milk for me.  Room service called to see if we had made a mistake and wanted food as well.   We assured them we did not, but that didn’t stop the server from asking if we wanted some food brought to the room when he delivered my milk.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say they are trying to make us get fat.  

After breakfast, I again went up to the gym to do yoga. For a new one to this, I think I’m finally beginning to understand. It is just stretching exercises.  I don’t understand how my friends lost weight with it, but I shall stick it out for the duration of the cruise.  It won’t hurt to try.  Who knows.  I may even tighten up a few wobbly bits. Darn.  I got downstairs only to find out there was a schedule change not reflected in the daily currents. Yoga was at 9 am today and at 10 am tomorrow.  One day I will get the schedule right.  

So on to our next mission.  We are on our way to a UPS store to send a package to our kids in San Francisco. You know, the gifts we were going to give them when we saw them.  After that we will scoot on over to Seaport village to go to Geppettos toyshop and see if we can’t find a few puzzles there.  I remember last time we were in San Diego that I purchased a few there so why not try again as we have the entire day.

We left the ship and headed for the UPS store just down the road that was to be opened at 10 am.  Nope.  Closed.  No problem, we went to another one.  This one was closer to our final destination for today.  We scooted on over and then found the UPS store in a hotel.  We folded our scooters and headed upstairs.  The hotel concierge came chasing us down and asked us what we wanted there.  He looked surprised when we told him we were going to the UPS store.  Granted, we look like a couple of bums and with back packs filled with toys and the scooters I guess I could understand his reaction.  He was very helpful when we returned downstairs and told us where to find the next closest UPS that might be opened.  We passed and headed to Geppettos. 

When we arrived, we put our scooters behind the cashiers desk and looked around for puzzles.  As luck would have it, I found one that I did not have.  Smart Games IQ Digits.  This one has 120 different challenges. I initially I did not want to buy it because I thought it was the same puzzle as the digigrams puzzle made by Martin Watson. When we got to the toy store, I realized I was wrong and this is a different puzzle.  We played with it for a bit, but it’s time to move on and do something else.

Lunch was as always on the back deck.  While there, a seagull landed in its usual corner.  We watched it for a while and had a nice conversation about not feeding it.

It flew off for a while only to return and sit on the flagpole.  This was cute because one of the crew was standing below it looking up and boy did that bird start to squawk.  

We carried on with lunch until a phone call came in.  We took what was left of our meal to our room and took the call.  I believe it rather rude to text around company, and even more so to carry on a phone call when others are around.  My 20 year old tells me I’m just old.  I also still expect her to call when she reaches campus so, yes, I’m still old.  :)

The rest of the day we spent in bed watching movies and enjoying our company.  We have been together for short periods of time for 9 years.  We have only been married for three of these.  I can think of no one else I would rather spend time with.   

I took 2 motion sickness tablets around 5 pm and think I will continue with this routine for a few more weeks until I’m sure the nausea is gone.  The ship left San Diego promptly at 6pm.  As we were dressing for dinner, I was looking out over the calm dark waters at the lights of San Diego and heard a rather large pod of seals off to the right.  Sadly, it was too dark for me to see any of them.  Perhaps next trip.

Dinner was enjoyable yet again.  A funny thing happened.  I always put my meal order in in advance because of a few food allergies.  The waiters have gotten used to me having a pot of peppermint tea and a sugar cone with no ice cream inside. Tonight was no different.  I said yes, I’ll have both and a glass of port.  Wow!  Nothing was served. I had to ask for both the port, the tea, and I just gave up on the sugar cone because someone would have needed to run up to 9 to get one for me.  No big deal.  We finished our meal with some very lovely company and before returning to the room we went and got a sugar cone.  I looked around the dining room as I was leaving and realized that they looked understaffed.  There is no reason to complain when the cruise is going along so well.  

We went to bed to the gentle rocking and sound of the waves.  I’d like to say I slept well, but I didn’t.  While the beds are comfortable, they simply aren’t ours.  You know how it is, you get used to a mattress and to pillows and nothing else will work. Well, that’s how it is for me.  The mattress and pillows are just too firm.  We did bring along 2 'puppies' (Japanese microbead cloud pillows). I worked out if I lay on one pillow and have my right arm off the bed that my back doesn’t hurt.  This is most uncomfortable for me, so I ordered two more pillows to be picked up in Hawaii.  Thank heavens we are being let off there.  I would be at a loss.  We have ordered a number of things to be sent to our friend there. No matter how carefully you plan and pack, bot everything works out as it should  The solution is just to remain flexible. This we have done very well.  

My next posting will be about how we spend our time on all these sea days we have.  Until then, I wish you clear skies and smooth seas. 


  1. Fantastic post as always, forget about the naysayers x

  2. OMG! Walking past all of those anti-science idiots must have taken a lot of will-power, I don't think I could have resisted making a few comments. It's funny how their constitutional right not to wear a mask will suddenly turn into their right to make you shut up.

  3. It boggles my mind that someone who chooses to read a blog (a person’s reflections) needs to bash what they say. 😳 Good grief!

  4. Hi,
    Could you tell me what you are taking for sea sickness? How does it make you feel?

    1. Marianne, I have posted a photo of this in my latest blog on sea days.

  5. As I said before, I too have a PhD and taught in Hong Kong. I would have found your dinner companion equally odious and would not hesitate to say so. You were completely justified in your observations, and even if you weren't you don't have to like everyone, it's not compulsory. Those who don't like your blog should just not read it. Annoying.