The Cactus Patch
Volume 17       December 2014      Number 12

The Golden Ticket
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On 6 Nov. we heard Nick Wilkinson speak in Fresno.  As well as presenting an interesting talk on Baja he also brought a lot of interesting sale plants.  Fred was back at the brag table which was loaded. (See plant on back cover.)

On the 11 we went with John to Milt’s Coffee Shop for their 50th anniversary.  They gave us free T-shirts.

Then we went to the BCSS meeting where, of course, I was the main speaker.  Anne presented the brag table and Polly also spoke.

Sad news: my mother, Alice, was weakening and we had to put her into care as we were no longer able to give her the help she needed. She passed away on 1st December.

Last June I mentioned that we received a “golden ticket” on our 50th anniversary.  It was a check to be used for a cruise!  At first we looked at cruises down to Baja, but were not too happy as we have already been to Catalina and Ensenada (although not by boat).  Our son John informed us that Caribbean cruises are cheaper, even though they require flying to Florida.  He booked us through price line and on 14 Nov. we set off.  He drove us down to LAX with a stop at Claim Jumpers in Stevenson Ranch for a late lunch/early supper.  We were disappointed to find they no longer serve Range Rattlers (Jalapenos stuffed with cheese and shrimp).

At LAX we were given a perfunctory run through security as “elderly” and let on the flight as “pre-boarding”.  We managed to avoid luggage fees by putting everything in our “hand” luggage. Despite warnings that everything costs (and the fact that it was a late night flight), they did serve us free soft drinks and light snacks.

In the morning we flew into Tampa which is wet and green: lots of mangroves and palms.  After deplaning we asked for a bus into town and were told to take a taxi as the bus does not go to the docks.  Being stubborn, we took the bus into town where it connects with a trolley line that does go to the docks!  Incidentally, the bus passed a cemetery which had beautiful old oaks festooned with Tillandsia. (By this we knew we were back in the South.)

Unfortunately, we were too early for the first trolley, so we found a Starbucks and had breakfast.  Eventually the trolley came and we rode it to the end of the line and back to the dock. By then it was time to go aboard our Carnival Paradise ship.  It was a bit of a mob scene with long lines, but eventually we made it to our cabin with its portholes (a minor expense).  It was very late by the time we found where we could get lunch (a start on almost continual feasting) and settled for a Reuben sandwich.  That evening we had our first dinner with three other couples: Ruth Ann (my sister is Ruth Anne) and Bill (I have a cousin Bill); Debby (I have a niece named Debby) and Michael (our older grandson’s name); and Ruth Ann and Tom (Polly’s father was Tom).  For once I was able to remember people’s names!

After dinner we went to a piano bar which was circular with fake keys all around.  The real piano was in the middle of the circle.  We were supposed to sing along with Mark, but we didn’t know most of the songs he chose, so eventually turned in.   I will continue with the cruise next month.

Nick Wilkinson


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