We spent hours just watching the changing moods of the sea. I can see why it has inspired so much writing, songs, and poetry.

Lunch in Montpelier on the way to Barcelona to begin the cruise. Yes, I am having moules frites, a favorite. The weather was perfect.

We stopped at the Island of Madeira, a paradise that we would like to visit again, for a week or two.

My hometown newspaper, back in Webster Groves, MO, publishes people holding up issues of their paper, all over the world. I sent another one from France, which they published. I guess this was too risque for them.

VOYAGER OF THE SEAS:
MY FIRST CRUISE

November, 2009

As long as we were going to Barcelona, from which the cruise departed, why not fly to Paris instead, and take a week driving through France? So that's what we did. This whole trip was so important, so mind-blowing, that I am going to wait and describe it in more (and better) detail at a future date.

Well, OK, here's a hint. In 2007, I first met Linda, but I was not ready to be with another person. My wife Ruth had died earlier that same year, after a six-year cancer journey, with me as caretaker. I was exhausted, working on recouping my health. Not only did I have no interest in meeting another woman, I wasn't sure that it would ever happen. The possibility seemed so remote as to be almost repugnant.

I went to San Antonio to build a labyrinth at a church there. That was where Linda and I first met. There was some internal recognition, some little inkling, that sounded in my mind like this: "At another time, under other circumstances, I would pursue this new friendship." We kept in touch for a couple of years, writing emails and seeing each other when I was in town.

Linda took the first step, inviting me to join her on a repositioning cruise from Barcelona to Galveston. To my surprise, I said yes. Meanwhile, let me explain my theory about time, that it is not linear. All time exists at once, we just experience it in a linear way. Alan Watts once used the illustration of seeing a cat pass by, behind a fence, through a gap in the boards. At one point, the head had already passed by, and was now in the past. The midsection was visible, in the present, and the tail, yet to be seen, was still in the future. But, of course, the cat existed in its entirety. Similarly, from a high cliff, I once saw some people in a canoe going down a winding river. I saw where they had been, and where they were going -- their past and future -- because I had a higher vantage point than they did. They were stuck in linearity.

Whew. All of this is to say, in meeting Linda, I believe we remembered the future. We remembered the happy years we will live together in linear time. Or maybe it was a recollection from past lives, or ESP, or just darn good luck. I know France, and enjoyed showing it to Linda. To my relief and pleasure, she loved France. Due to a train strike, we had an exciting time getting to Barcelona, but we arrived around midnight.

The next day we boarded the Voyager of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. I was astounded by its size and luxury. You know, staterooms aren't very big. We boarded the ship as friends, and disembarked as a couple. To hear about our honeymoon, see the article on the Queen Mary 2. We became groupies for Ian West, the piano player who performed every night from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m... His talent and personality and rapport with the audience made him the best we had ever heard. While sitting there for those hours, we played a card game called Phase 10. There was a small area in the nearby hallway in which we occasionally danced.

By the time we arrived in Galveston, I was totally hooked on cruises. It is so genteel, so easy, so romantic. I knew I would be on many more cruises. I began to read up on the history of cruising. Now, I have arrived at the decision to write a book about our cruise experiences, by the same name as this website: Retired: Gone Cruising. After that, more books? Well, certainly one about our around-the-world cruise, as soon as we figure out how to pay for it. If only shipboard satellite internet connections were faster, and less expensive -- then cruising would be just about perfect.