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May 27, 2017
Our Fifth Lecture: Burnin’ Down the House


An audience gathers in the Cabaret Lounge for our fifth lecture

We had ended our last lecture on a cliffhanger, warning the audience that our house was about to be involved in a wildfire. Over the next two days, we heard condolences from numerous people about losing our house (our house survived the fire). We felt guilty they were going to resent finding out that our house didn’t actually burn to the ground.

Gail had also agonized over this presentation, as she would have a large speaking role. She spent days writing and re-writing her notes (she was up all night Friday night working on it), driving Russell crazy in the process.

We needn’t have worried. For our third and last lecture on building our mountain house on Saturday morning, May 27, we had our largest audience yet. They were relieved at our positive outcome, and told us they were on the edges of their seats during the presentation.

    
Our fifth lecture

This was Gail’s lecturing grand finale, and the end of our “Adventure of a Lifetime” series. (We have one more lecture tomorrow that Russell will give by himself.) To celebrate, Gail wanted to have a small invitation-only get-together with a dozen or so of the lecture attendees whom we have gotten to know very well.

Gail reserved the Casino Bar Lounge for 3:00 that afternoon, but not without some difficulty. It looked like the Princess Harmony Choir had that area reserved for their own after-concert party, but they ended up meeting somewhere else. Gail wanted to use up all of our free champagne bottles, but Sammi (the Cruise Director) told her that we couldn’t give out free alcohol in a venue that was trying to make money selling drinks. So Gail simply bought three more bottles from the bar, which made everyone happy.

We have met many, many wonderful people on this cruise. Our lectures reminded some of them of their own stories, which they were happy to share with us.

Ruth lost her mother in a middle-of-the-night house fire three years ago; her father escaped but succumbed shortly after. Our lecture on the Butte Fire was very emotional for her, but in a positive way.

Norman recalled having to jump out of a second-story window as a five-year-old into his father’s arms to escape a house fire. Now, Norman’s wife of 55 years recently passed away. His children, their spouses and one granddaughter were on this cruise for one reason: his wife loved cruising and asked to be buried at sea. So the family held a private ceremony aboard ship. Norman says that this is likely the last cruise he will ever take.

Joann was recognized as the most traveled cruiser. She has logged more than 160 cruises and 1,400 days at sea on Princess. She was on this ship’s previous cruise, a 111-day around-the-world trip. Two ports out, she slipped and broke a hip and wrist. She spent the next three weeks in a New Zealand hospital.

But Joann was not deterred. With a cane and wristband, she is back onboard for this cruise. Her son Wayne is now accompanying her to help. After this cruise, she will meet up with another son and continue cruising.

(Joann has spent her entire life traveling. She has lived in the trees of Africa with the monkeys. Gail wants to be her.)


Joann's write-up in the Princess Patter

Scott is a fellow genealogist like Gail. As the two of them got talking, they realized that they shared common ancestors. They compared the notes they had both broad onboard, and they have discovered they are distant cousins.

    
Gail and “Cousin” Scott compare family trees

We also had a chance to chat with Garry (the comedian/magician) and his wife Jeanine. Both are from Las Vegas (Jeanine was previous a showgirl); they met three years ago on a cruise.

Garry has been performing on various cruise ships for more than 20 years. He is established enough that he doesn’t need an agent, and he can negotiate additional perks (such as balcony cabins) with his contracts. Garry and Jeanine left ship midway through the cruise. They will fly home for one day, then go up to Alaska for a month with another cruise line. Following that, they will begin a multi-month cruise contract in Asia.


Gail with Jeanine and Garry

When we concluded our final joint lecture this morning, we thanked the audience for their ongoing support. At this afternoon’s gathering, we heard some unbelievably positive feedback. Pat said that our down-to-earth style had brought “humanity” back to her cruising experience. Margie told us that despite years of cruising, she could not remember a single lecture she had attended before. But she will remember ours.


A gathering of friends

 

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