Shirley (in blue) and me battling gale-force winds on Prince Edward Island.
“We need to go on a vacation.” Milo, my husband, sounded like the proverbial squeaky wheel. “I think we should take a cruise and visit China.” O.K. I thought, I can understand the need to get away from being held hostage in our home…but…China?
I looked at various travel catalogues and decided the price was not realistic and the thought of being caught mid-ocean with another emergency episode was not at all appealing, at least to my way of thinking.
“Fly back from Singapore.” My son, Paul, suggested. I countered, “The cost is exorbitant, and, how would I get Milo into the toilet facilities en route?”
After a lot of decision-making and knowing that a vacation for Milo would do him a lot of good, I compromised. We decided to board one of Holland America’s ships and view the fall colors on the east coast of the U.S.A. and Canada. My friend, Shirley, decided to join us.
Our new adventure was to start at the end of September 2011; I should have known better; the newspaper headlines warned the readers about the hurricanes forming.
We finally made it to New York from California after touching down in Cleveland, Ohio for refueling due to storms. We were three hours late getting to our destination but Holland America’s agent was still waiting for us; however, the transfer agent kept insisting that we were already at the hotel. It took us over an hour to convince him that we were not apparitions.
The following day, we boarded the ship; the cabin was large and adequate for the disabled. Milo fell out of bed the night of boarding; it was to be the first of three falls. A few nights later, the ship heaved and its roll barely discernible but my husband lost his balance and decided to inspect the shower floor; bruising ran the length of his arm and attention was rife. There is no doubt that Milo loves being in the lime-light so in Gloucester he decided that he needed yet more attention. His scooter fell over – with him still on it as he tried to escape from his caregiver; he didn’t see the curbing ahead. Cars screeched to a halt and people emerged from the shadows to help; Milo was unscathed.
By then we were getting more attention than I am used to. In the cabin that night the curtains kept opening and shutting and the lights were going on and off. Finally the telephone rang at 1 a.m. “Do you need help, Mrs. Sieve?” I could hear a kind voice querying “you dialed the emergency number.” The convenience gadgets next to Milo’s bed had all been pushed; explanations were in order. Milo, engineer that he is, wanted to know what the buttons were for; obviously, we both found out.
The U.S.A’s east coast is stunning. However, it was hurricane season and the storms seemed to be following us; we missed Sydney all together due to gale-force winds but managed to port in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s a quaint town filled with tourists and hopeful shop owners; here, I bought a ‘fascinator’ creation that I placed on my head that evening. I did get some peculiar looks, but I figured that if the English royals could get away with wearing strange-looking objects on their heads, then so could I. Looking back on the photo taken that night, the piece of art on my head looked something like a feather duster; it obviously has a dual purpose.
When the ship reached Saguenay, Canada, the autumn colors were still avoiding us but we did see one pathetic tree with a few leaves clinging to it and they were changing color; the storms had all but stripped the coastal trees bare.
But before we knew it, our vacation was at an end; ten days of violent storms and unfortunate incidences, but there were was much laughter and good company; food was excellent too.
We arrived at Quebec City Airport at 7 a.m. fully expecting to board within a short time but unfortunately United Air was on strike; the pilots and attendants wanted to spend their Canadian Thanksgiving at home. The desk clerk scrambled to help us wend our way home. Kindly, Canadian Air held up the flight to Ottawa for us and we painfully made our way up the ramp to board; the other passengers were not amused. As we flew inland I gazed out of the window and there below us, in miniature, were the elusive colors, their hues practically blinding us with their brilliance.
By the time we were ready to join the flight to Chicago from Ottawa, Milo’s shoes had adhered to his feet and the poor man’s ankles, although encased in strangle-tight stockings, were hanging over the shoes. Thankfully, the powers-that-be swabbed his shoes to make sure we were bomb-free but for security reasons I was put through a screen booth; I bet that was not a pretty sight to the on-looker.
Did I mention the toilet adventures on board the planes? I don’t know much about the so-called mile-high experiences of passengers, but I do know that it’s extremely difficult to get two people into one of those facilities. I pushed Milo into the tiny compartment and hoped for the best. Periodically I would open the door to check him; our performance was viewed with great interest and I was happy to relieve the boredom of others.
As I look back on that particular adventure, it’s something like child-birth; one remembers how painful it was but one also hopes that the memory of intense pain will ease. And I am more than sure that my memory will prove to be short.
Travel makes a wise man better, but a fool worse. Scottish proverb.