And Not an Ocean in Sight
I thought I would be blogging from the deck of a cruise ship this month, after 810 days stuck on land. My plan was to fly with my two sisters to Amsterdam today and board Holland America’s ms Volendam, sailing as far north as Svalbard and as far south as Egypt, returning to the United States at the end of October.
Instead, I have returned to land-locked New Mexico for the summer. And I feel darned lucky to have landed here in Santa Fe.
When last I wrote – nine months ago — I was about to return after my second summer in Santa Fe to my sister’s house in the Dallas area. It had been my home base for the past several years since I had sold my house to travel more.
The last time I was on a cruise ship was in March, 2020, when the coronavirus sent everyone on the World Cruise hustling to find flights home from Perth, Australia. As the pandemic lingered, we spent last summer planning our epic 2022 summer and fall cruise on the Volendam.
Alas, as if a pandemic weren’t’t enough, Russia invaded Ukraine, making refugees of millions of Ukranians. The Dutch government chartered the Volendam to temporarily house some refugees, so in early May Holland America canceled our 11 back-to-back cruises (two- to three-weeks each). That left sister Elaine and me in a bit of a bind, as she sold her house in March in preparation for our move onto the ship.
Plan B was to shift to another Holland America ship as the cruise line suggested, but none had such varied itineraries. Instead, they typically alternate between the same two or three routes. Fine for replacing one or two cruises, but not for as many as we had booked. It seemed too boring for the cost involved.
My sisters decided to camp this summer in their RV, but it is (a) too small for three, and (b) not my thing. I quickly reached out to the owner of the Santa Fe condo I have enjoyed for two years, and it was suddenly available, at least for June and July. So I packed up almost everything I own (more about that in a later blog) and drove west.
I couldn’t let the whole year go without cruising, so I booked 51 days on the ms Westerdam, sailing in October and November from Seattle to Hawaii, the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. I’m still waiting to hear whether some of the islands will be open to cruise ships by then. Given the uncertainty, the cruise fare was a bargain so I splurged on a balcony stateroom. If nothing else, I will enjoy days watching the sea go by.
Here in Santa Fe, I’ve unpacked my watercolor supplies and plan to make painting a major part of my summer. I feel rusty after going months without lifting a pen or brush. It reminds me of the first day of my 2018 Grand Asia cruise, when I vowed to fill a sketchbook instead of a photo album. It was tough to jump into a new sketchbook during the sailaway. So far, I’ve “delayed” painting by sorting my colors and deciding which ones should go in my palette for now.
I’m incredibly disappointed to be missing the dozens of European ports I researched in such depth. But I’m once again enjoying the hummingbirds here in the high desert. And as I’ve said more than once, I’m learning to plan in pencil, not pen.
40 thoughts on “And Not an Ocean in Sight”
Glad you are back to blogging Jo. We were on the Asia cruise with you and enjoyed your blog since. Happy Summer in Santa Fe. I look forward to hearing about your other adventures on the high sea
Enjoy your months in Santa Fe, an artist’s delight just viewing others work in so many venues. It is our favorite capitol city. We were looking forward to Svalbard also but will see you onboard 23GWV hopefully. Meanwhile We look forward to your posts from the Westerdam.
We too had to change our plans. Sorry we will not see you on the ship, but I am sure we will keep sailing. Enjoy Santa Fe.
We will miss you and Boris, Sonia! Will you be on the world cruise?
So glad you’re back to painting! I’ve just built an art studio in the spot my carport stands. Enclosed it with windows and it’s SO inspiring! Hope you find lots of creativity and energy in NM! It is a special place!!! Hope you can get back to.creative growth. Have a great summer!!!!!!
Pam, an art studio sounds delightful! I hope your creativity flourishes there.
So glad to see another blog from you! What a shame that you couldn’t go on your, what sounded like, fabulous trip…. But, sounds like you lucked out with being able to go back to NM for a couple months at least. I’ll be looking forward to your subsequent blogs and paintings.
Linda R. (fellow ’20WC castaway!)
I have wondered several times where you were. Glad you are okay and sorry such a wonderful trip got nixed. We have booked and canceled no fewer than 4 major trips/cruises since the pandemic began. In August, we hope to spend 24 days on the Nieiw Statendam round trip Boston to Candace, Greenland and Iceland. I look forward to your next adventure and your wonderful writing and painting.
Happy to hear from you again!! I will continue to look forward to your blogs. Stay healthy and well. 🤗🤗
Hope you are going well, Rosemary! do you have any cruising planned?
good to hear from you. I know you will settle into a productive routine in NM and I’m hoping you share your art work via blog posts. I enjoy your pencil work very much, and the addition of color is a bonus. We’re gong to try another summer in Reno, hoping the AC holds out here!
Enjoy your Reno summer, Linnea!
We were going to be on the June 12 cruise too. See you in January.
I was looking forward to seeing you and Suzie this summer. I guess January will come soon enough….
Come join us on the 2023 HAL Grand Africa Voyage. After having this cruise cancelled in 2020 & 2021 and opting out the 2022 version, we booked the 2023 with our fingers crossed. We feel comfortable with 2023 and the end of the pandemic. Happy to hear from you after a long hiatus.
Actually, I am booked on the 2023 HAL Grand Africa, but I think I might cancel it. If I stay on the Zuiderdam till late July, not sure when I’ll be ready to get back aboard. Plus we do a lot of Africa on the 2023 World. But it would be fun to sail with you two!
It was so good to see your latest blog post. That is too bad about your Volendam cruises (but you had a premonition. . .I just reread one of your earlier posts where you mentioned a dream that HAL had sold the Volendam and canceled your cruises). I am looking forward to my Zaandam Montreal to FLL cruise this October. And then I am booked on 3 cruises on the Nieuw Statendam August 2023 to October 2023. And I have asked my TA to book me on the 2024 World Cruise. I was waitlisted for the 2023 WC and finally decided to give up and do the Fall 2023 cruises and try for the 2024. I really like that itinerary. Hope I can get on that one. Enjoy your time in Santa Fe. It has been many years since I was there but loved it and remember it well.
I’ jealous that you have so many cruises booked. I’ll see you on the 2024 World!
Welcome back, Writer on Deck (I believe you watch birds from your Santa Fe deck!).
HAHAHA! Yes, I am enjoying the birds, Daisy. But missing the cats — thanks so much for taking them in!
We’re hoping that you budget a day or so to visit us in Gig Harbor before your cruise sets sail from Seattle!
Jim, I’ll email you. As currently scheduled I get in the evening of Sept. 30 and board the ship on Oct. 2. I would love to see you and Jan!
IT is good to hear from you. WE have also had multiple cancellation. BUmmer……
I recently had a book published THE WORLD IS YOUR STUDIO by Deborah McMahon Osterholtz It is on Amazon I think you will like it. I have also done a talk with USK TAlks on Utube Urban Scketchers USK TALKS FRANKLIN MCMAHON and 5 minute drawing University of Lisbon. THese are lecture series that have developed from covid. IT has help unite urban skectcher around the world.Many of the lectures are great. I have also done a talk for Lake Forest History Center. All my talks are available on line. ENjoy!
Jo I was so glad to see your blog show up today! I had just been wondering what you were up to. You are correct about making plans in pencil these days. I think I am on plan “U” or “V” by now for the next year!! Santa Fe certainly is a nice place to be “stuck” for a couple months!
So sorry for the disruptions in cruising. Yes, it has been an interesting time dealing all the Covid restrictions. In November, Robert and I did take a Columbia Snake River cruise on the American Cruise line , two one week cruises back to back. Really nice as I was able to teach a watercolor class while on board. The people were fantastic and a lot of fun. Each class had about 24 participants. Now, I am preparing materials to do a similar cruise from New Orleans to Memphis and back. These two back to back cruise will happen in late November and early December. Then in January. Robert and I are taking Holland on two back to backs between Hawaii and San Diego. No teaching this time. But maybe something after that will involve teaching.
Glad all this was not now as about a month ago when getting out of bed I did something to my back and have been in terrible pain until this last Tuesday when I finally got a shot. What a difference that made . . . I can actually get around without any pain!!!!! In fact, today in my front yard garden, I pulled all the dead daffodil leaves and stems and miracle flowers leaves out of my front garden and trimmed back my rose bush and Goats Beard! It felt so good to actually accomplish something without pain!
Earlier this spring we had two friends from York, Pa. stay with us for a week. Robert and Randy did a lot of fishing ; while, Kathy and I did stamping of some of my garden flowers. Making cards out of them. This involves bringing in the flowers one wants to stamp and the pounding the heck out of them on watercolor paper once they are arranged as one wants them to be. It was something new and sort of interesting to do. I think I will do some more tomorrow.
Guess that is about it for now. Hope your cruises work out as planned with no more hickups! As ever Barbara Ebeling
How fun that you are teaching painting on cruises, Barbara! I’m sure you are a great teacher. And you are keeping busy. I wish I could be in Chicago for the Urban Sketchers Seminar in July — are you going to it? Say hi to Richard.
Your “might-have-been” itinerary reads almost as good as the real trip. Proof that dreams can be real. I’ve been wondering if you were at sea or adrift in the covid morass.
Procrastination is familiar to me. I haven’t written since (gasp!) October, having spent 5-6 months of that time caretaking a friend or in MO spelling my dad’s caretakers. At age 101, he left us, and I’m back in Dallas trying to catch up– drs appts, house maintenance, social obligations–before I return to the in-progress manuscripts. Or maybe it’s time for a new canvas/new stories. . . .
Mary, I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing. You have been such a dear daughter. I plan to be in Plano in September for a few days of doctor and hairdresser appointments — maybe we can get together for lunch! I’ll be in touch.
Pencils are wonderful…. and your cruise looks good too. Such a different pallet than I need here in the rain forest. Enjoy!!
Dear Joanne, so many of us are right there with you as frustrated cruisers! I am myself got to do a wonderful tour of 🇮🇹 ItalyDear Joanne, so many of us are right there with you as frustrated cruisers! I am myself got to do a wonderful tour of Italy, airplane then car travel in MaY. A dear friend remarried last fall and I attended their fairytale senior wedding. It turns out he owns a villa in Italy and she invited me so of course I said yes! Three days in Rome then off to Tuscany with Davytrips to Monltipulciano, Orvieto, Chianti in GraveAnd Florence. She also booked me as a surprise visit to the beautiful coast of Amalfi and we took the ferry boat, my only ship, out to Capri. Driving back north they dropped me at Lake Bracciano and I spent four relaxing days with two lovely old friends then flew home full of 🇮🇹 ItalyDriving back north they dropped me at Lake Bracciano and I spent four relaxing days with two lovely old friends then flew home full of Italy dreams. Dreams.
Week later I came down with the hard COVID-19 and I’m just now feeling better. I plan to celebrate my birthday in August on a cruise with a dear friend who will come out to FL from AZ where she lives.. Hope you all grab any chance of travel you can this summer but take your precautions!
Hi Jo…. While we are not on water, we can still “play” in water(colors)! It’s exciting to be setting up a new pallette and splashing around in paint again. Me too…I just finished painting a photo I took while in the LaBoca neighborhood of Buenos Aires…remembering the riot of colorful buildings. It was fun to reminesce while painting the scene. Hopefully GWV will depart in January…fingers crossed!
Monika — hope you have enjoyed time in the USVI — and maybe back in Wisconsin for summer? It will be great to see you in January — I am thinking positively!
Jo, it was so good to hear from you. I’ve missed your stories and art. But it stinks that you’ve missed so many cruising adventures. Are there any Santa Fe adventures that you could write about and paint?
I’ll plan to write some about Santa Fe again this summer. I just have to get back in the habit of regular writing….
It’s so nice to read your blog, once again. I tried to send you a pm about cruising but I’m thinking it doesn’t get back to you, (the donotreply) was the clue).
If you could reach out to me at email@example.com I’ll try again.
So nice to read your blog again. We missed cruising a lot but our recent April 2022 “jump back in” on the Koningsdam was very disappointing as well as huge hassles sailing internationally. So, we cancelled our 2023 World and bought a home on Snake River. Remodeling will fill out summer. Enjoy Santa Fe and sketch away. All the best.
I’m sorry the Koningsdam was a disappointment, Carol. But a home on Snake River sounds wonderful! Happy remodeling.
New to your interesting blog and looking forward to meeting you on the ms Westerdam!