Finally! After Two Months on Land, I’m Heading Back to Sea

Day -1, 2023 East Coast Voyage

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, Montreal, Canada

I was already on my flight this morning as the sun rose, heading for a Dallas connection from Fort Smith, Ark., to Montreal, Canada. Tomorrow I will board Holland America’s Zaandam for a 13-day sail up the Saint Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean, and then south to Fort Lauderdale.

My hotel is just a few blocks from the cruise port, but I will need to contend with the blocked streets from the marathon that will pass through the area tomorrow morning.

Of the eight ports, three are new to me – Quebec City; Norfolk, Va.; and Port Canaveral, Fla. Originally Charleston, S.C., was on the itinerary, but several months ago Holland America substituted Port Canaveral (to my disappointment). And just this week, I received notice that “due to scheduled maintenance,” we will now get to Port Canaveral a day early and have an overnight. I’m looking forward to an extended visit with friends in the area.

At the end of this cruise in Fort Lauderdale, I will stay on board for the 73-day Grant South America and Antarctica. More on that later.

Meanwhile, I thought I would blog during the two months I was on shore, but I think I needed a break after the port-intensive cruises earlier this summer. I spent the time with my sister Eloise in Fort Smith, minus a couple of side trips. My other sister, Elaine, surprised me by bringing her grandson, Ben, to Dallas where I went for a few days of appointments (doctors, dentists, hair, etc.). He is now five, and I hadn’t seen him in person for more than a year.

My other trip was to Kansas City for a “significant” high school reunion. It was lots of fun to see so many classmates. I can’t believe I failed to get much in the way of photographs. During the tour of our high school, I did get a shot of the senior letterman paddle I donated a few years back, realizing the museum didn’t have a single paddle from the women’s teams. I think my year might have been the first one in which women actually lettered – mine was for tennis.

Jo’s Senior Letterman paddle (center)

I’ve written before about Hot Springs, Ark., one of my favorite spots, and we detoured there after Eloise had a doctor’s appointment in Arkansas. The buildings along Bathhouse Row are looking better every year.

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs

When I was growing up, we moved every couple of years, and it’s now a joke in our family that we can’t visit cities we’ve lived in without driving by our old houses. In Little Rock we checked off two – the one I lived in as a young child and another when I was in junior high (now known as middle school). I was surprised to see a mess in front of our Kansas City home (high school for me), but perhaps they are getting it back in shape.

The Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark., is a wonderful excursion and only a bit more than an hour from Fort Smith, so we drove up for the Freda Kahlo exhibit. I always love the Chihuly glass art in the pond there.

Crystal Bridges

Otherwise, I mostly made lists and packed for these upcoming cruises. I won’t be back until May, as at the end of the South America cruise I will jump to the Zuiderdam for the holidays and the 2024 Grand World Voyage. Oh yeah, and I enjoyed coffee every morning from my sister’s wonderful screened porch.