Grand Plans and Grand Anse

Now that we’re approaching 70 in the next couple of years, Alan has started daydreaming about retirement possibilities. In particular, he developed a cherished fantasy about living in a little shack on a beach somewhere on a Southern Caribbean island during our first winter of “freedom.” That would suit me just fine, because I love to write and can keep myself occupied endlessly, but I had trouble picturing Alan content just puttering around a straw hut, hiking the shoreline, and chasing sea gulls for three months (without getting bored), so I thought it would be worth checking out prospects. About that time, I found an incredible deal for an inside cabin on the 5-star ship, Celebrity Summit, heading to the Southern Caribbean for 12 days, stopping at 11 ports, for only $579, which is $48 a day. (Okay, so add $15 per day for tips, but that’s still only $63 per day for room, transportation, and all you care to eat, which seems like a phenomenal deal for a vacation no matter how you cut it!) It was just what the doctor needed, so it’s just what the doctor’s wife ordered, and away we went!Our plan was to hop off the ship at each port and wander about, checking out the ambience, finding a close beach, and swimming all afternoon. In the process, I thought we’d get a good rest and give Alan a chance to find “the perfect island” for a three-month venture.Our dreams were fulfilled! Every day was gloriously warm, as was the water, and  every island had beaches every bit as beautiful as the ads! We were 100% happy! However, I also hadn’t been wrong about Alan’s capacity for rest. After a couple of days, he decided maybe two months would be enough on a Caribbean Island. After a couple more days, he thought probably one month would be long enough. And, about halfway through our trip, he thought a couple of weeks would do. By then, we had arrived at Grenada and discovered Grand Anse Beach, a two-mile stretch of silky sand and turquoise waters. (Since returning home, I learned that this beach was voted the Caribbean’s #1 beach by USA Today, 2018.)  We were so enthralled that I stopped at one of the hotels to find out how much it would cost for a room for a couple of weeks. $1,000 per day. No kidding! 😦  We started considering. The only real grass huts were in folk parks, not on beaches, and the mosquitoes would be an issue even if we could find one to rent. The food on the ship had been first class! We enjoyed open-air, gourmet breakfasts with beautiful ocean views each day.Each evening for dinner, attentive waiters doted on us, making sure we had everything we wanted from the menu, and that each dish was “just right!” The food alone would have cost us more than what we paid for our entire cruise, and it was always such a treat! As Alan’s mother used to say, “If I don’t have to cook it, and I don’t have to clean it up, I’m going to enjoy it!” In fact, life on a cruise ship is extremely cushy! After considering our options, Alan and I decided that maybe two weeks on a cruise each winter would be just about perfect! Our cruise ship could deliver us to fantastic ports, provide for our meals (so I would never have to cook), ensure us clean, freshly made up rooms each day (our cabin steward was a joy),and if we ever got tired of relaxing, reading, and enjoying the ship’s amenities, we could always hop off the ship and go exploring. Considering that we aren’t big on night life, and most Caribbean Islands aren’t big on day life (Culture? Yes, but not like Europe or Asia), island hopping affords ample opportunities to enjoy unique experiences and enjoy each country’s natural beauty without ever getting “island fever” (aka bored). Sound like a plan? We think so! By the way, are you dreaming about your sunset years yet? Do you have big plans or dreams? What do you think would be “just perfect”? May I encourage you to test out your theories a little before making any big decisions? It’s possible that what we think is going to be the greatest and best won’t turn out to be as good as something else . . . possibly something we already have! In my life, the very greatest and best is knowing and loving God, and I can do that at home or abroad. I don’t have to travel anywhere to know that being his child and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus as my Lord and Savior is better than anything else the world has to offer. Hands down!Jesus is the true gateway to every joy in life, not only while we’re young, but when we retire, and even—and especially—after we die! Have you got plans for your post-retirement years? If not, please explore life with Jesus. I think you’ll discover that it beats all the other options!!!

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

(All photos taken in the Southern Caribbean on our trip a couple of weeks ago, February, 2019.)



Sea Days Can be Perfectly Splendid

Foggy Morning Sapphire PrincessI’ve heard people say they think sea days on a ship would be boring and confining, but I’d like to offer a little counterpoint. Sapphire Princess in Nagasaki Cruise ships are like small towns—a world unto themselves—so life is mostly what you make of it. Planning our day Sapphire Princess Alan and I have grown to love sea days. (Don’t tell me it’s just ’cause we’re old!)Pastries International Cafe Sapphire Princess On the Princess Sapphire’s Southeastern Asia cruise, we had trouble sleeping through the night at first (being 13 time zones from home), Sapphire Princess Early Morning Breakfast so our days started with coffee and pastries from the International Café
(open 24-hours) sometime between 2-5 am. First Breakfast of pastries Sapphire Princess After our first breakfast, Checking the menu Alan always had to check the menu to see what was going to be for dinner, Skywalkers Nightclub Sapphire Princess and then we’d zip up to the Skywalkers Nightclub on the 18th floor, which was completely empty that early and gave us ethereal views of the sun waking up.Tea in the Skywalkers Lounge Sapphire Princess We’d sip tea and share “devotions,” reading our Bibles aloud and praying. Breakfast. Horizon Buffet Sapphire Princess By 7 am, it was time for our second breakfast, which was often a meal we enjoyed with other guests in the International Dining Room  or a quick buffet-style breakfast at the Horizon Court. The Full English Breakfast (No matter where you eat, you can still get the “Full English”
+ a zillion other items every day). Foggy Morning Walk Sapphire Princess After breakfast, we usually took an hour walk around the deck
(which had an exact 0.33-mile course) Swimming laps Sapphire Princess followed by swimming laps in one of their several gorgeous swimming pools… Workout Area Sapphire Princess although if the weather was at all inclement, I preferred a good workout in the exercise room, View of Exercise Room Sapphire Princess followed by time in the dry sauna and then a soak in their steam sauna. Towels Sapphire Princess To me, that was the height of luxury! Buffet Lunch By then, we’d worked up an appetite for lunch and a nap! 🙂  Lecture on Cooking. Sapphire Princess Some days we listened to live lectures Cirque du Soleil Sapphire Princess or watched performances Big Screen Movie Theater at their “Movies Under the Stars” poolside theater. Decor on the Sapphire Princess We also spent time reading and writing. In fact, Alan read so much that he finally started borrowing books from their library! Fancy Dinners Sapphire Princess After a leisurely afternoon, we’d dress up and find our way to our very own table, Lobster Dinner Sapphire Princesswhere we always enjoyed an outstanding dinner. Shows well attended Sapphire Princess Every evening there were multiple options for live performances Watching movie at night Sapphire Princess as well as new release movies shown “under the stars.” Chinese Acrobats Sapphire Princess Usually we could find something interesting, but if not, Chess anyone? Sapphire Princess there were always moonlight walks, hot tubbing, games, Captain's Gala Sapphire Princess meeting new people, or just being together. Fruit Creations Sapphire Princess For us, every day was a phenomenal day, Food Fun Sapphire Princess but I also think that of the basic elements for a happy life Fun Food! are available to anyone who lives in any small community. Fascinating Fruits If we have shelter, food, friendship, and opportunities for spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional growth …isn’t that enough? Great wait staff Sapphire Princess I often hear of people thinking that being a Christian would be boring and confining, but I don’t. I think it’s even better than being on a cruise!Sunset Leaving Hong Kong Harbor Sapphire Princess“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).