We can move at last

Yabba Dabba Doo! After a few hiccups such as the wrong links sent, the complete drive chain has finally arrived. What a drama this has been.

At first 'they' send the wrong link to 'close' the chain.
 Just a recap: First it was too loose and this is a major part of the reason why the bus broke down just after Rob had driven it some 4,500km over 4 days and it broke down literally on the bottom of our very long driveway. We initially thought this was better than the diff playing up. It took a long time to find out how to get it fixed. Eventually we found out that the chain has to be hand made over in America. It was quite a blow but at least it can be replaced....eventually. In the meantime we got the buss pulled up to the top of the driveway but it has had to stay in the way of our regular cars and it was quite an eyesore. It also meant that there would be a considerable delay. However there were things we could do whilst we waited, which we have written about up until now.

Our drive chain is known as a Morse chain.

We booked the mechanic once again to come and install the chain. Then Rob is in a position to move the bus to the other side of the house closer to the garage. Now he is in the process of erecting some framework and tarp covering to enable him to work in all weather and to keep the roof dry when painting it and installing the solar panels.

The bus up on timbers and over next to the garage.

I am just happy to have the bus out of the way and make it 'friendlier' when first approaching the house instead of carefully picking your way through all the debris and clutter that seems to surround the bus just to get into the house!

Setting up the frame work before the tarps go on.
The tarp is up.

Forgiveness - letting go

I am deaf and from time to time I get to read the stories of other deaf people. Many I can relate to even though we obviously have different experiences and personalities. Some have wonderful support of friends and families and others struggle for acceptance.

This week I read of one lady's relationship struggle with her father. At the end was a wonderful quote that has touched a deep chord in me. You can read her story here.

I had a toxic relationship in my teenage years (that has nothing to do with my disability).   

Forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. A lesson I learnt  by the grace of God, is that I can forgive without needing the person to seek forgiveness.

Forgiveness has freed me and allowed me to move on with my life. Maybe one day I can introduce Jesus to him and help set him free in a way he has never experienced.

If you would like to understand more about forgiveness, then feel free to contact me or better still go to a church near you and ask them to explain it to you. 

Progress is slow

Well it has been quite a while since I posted about the bus conversion. Good grief, I just took a look back and it is worst than I thought. The last post about the actual bus conversion was way back in May and about the making the doors.

Part of the hold up has been family related with a son and his family moving in with us whilst they moved interstate and look for a new house in Sydney. It meant looking after their 2 little girls full time and so much bus work was slowed right down. We also had to wait for supplies to come in especially the drive chain from America.

It has been a delight to look after my 2 little grand children for some 4 weeks.

So while waiting for the drive chain there is obviously still much that could be done. Now most of it is boring but necessary. Sanding and rust proofing lots of areas and in improving the structural  strength in some areas.

A spot of rust that needs removing
A major time factor has been Rob's research of alternative energy sources for the bus. We want to make the motorhome as self sufficient as possible. We have looked into solar panels and the various ways to store and charge the batteries. This has been quite a steep learning curve. We learnt about longer lasting lithium batteries from a guy at the Sydney Super Show and we were keen to learn more. This required a lot of research and finally making contact with people who knew what they were talking about and were willing to share such knowledge with us.

From here we needed to work out the various lights and power points we will need. This will help us decide just how many batteries and solar panels we need. We now have electricity wires running all around the bus.  We rather hope we can do without requiring a generator at all if possible.

We  installed windows including the little window in the kitchen which I have deliberately kept rather small so that I could maximize the storage in and around the kitchen.

The little kitchen window.
So whilst nothing exciting has been written about or photographed, things are still happening in the background!

Stubborn computers

Two computers are sitting on a desk in a brightly lit sitting room surrounded by the noise of a typical family and they won’t, can’t and refuse to talk to each other, yet they are side by side. 2 1/2 inches apart – only a very small space between them.
Image: ttcshelbyville

One has a file that is needed by the other, but ne’er the twain shall meet as they seem locked in stubborn distance and are unable to communicate with each other.

If it wasn’t for the fact that one file needs to pass from one to the other, it wouldn’t even matter just where they are in time and space – what links them, and makes that distance appear, is a common task that requires both to communicate. But “hurray” help is at hand.

Both are connected to the Internet. So they can send their file to the third party server. Which lives in California, on this occasion, and happens to be 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) away from where the two computers are sitting near London, 2 1/2 inches apart from each other.

So the file travels 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) as one computer uploads it to the server, and then 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) back again as the second computer downloads it from the third party location. Now, the task has been accomplished; the journey is at an end.

And the moral of the tale?

In this case, the shortest distance between two points which were 2 1/2 inches apart, turned out to be 10,912 MILES.

Who are you finding it difficult to communicate with?

Do you need to unlock a relationship in your life?

Just slight difference

I thought a bit of humour would not go astray.

A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from a Harley when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in the workshop.

The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his own bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage "Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?"

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the engine.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and said, "So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new.

So how come I make $65,000 a year, a pretty small salary and you get $300,000 when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic.
"Try doing it with the engine running..."

Find contentment now

I ran across this little gem about a statement made by the Dalai Lama.

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Sadly it is not until we are older that we see the wisdom in such words as this. Rob has commented that he is sorry that he missed so much of the first three kids lives as his work took him out of the house before the kids were up and frequently he wasn't home until bedtime, occasionaly even missing them altogether.

We can never go back and get those precious memory builders or bonding opportunities. We can only make adjustments as soon as we realize  that there is an imbalance and then set about creating the changes needed to fix it as best as we can.

Do not waste your time. Your priorities are different to everyone else, but do think about where and what you do and the impact of this on yourself and the ones you love. Make the changes sooner rather than later. You may not have as much money in the bank, you will be so much richer in the long run.

Stop right now and think of what you have and what is really important to you. Make the changes now before it is too late. Don't waste a moment that God has blessed you with.

Cruising the South Pacific Islands

We have just come back from a 10 night cruise of the South Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, Mystery Island, Lifou and Noumea on the Carnival Spirit sailing out of the magnificent Sydney Harbour, Australia.

This was my first cruising experience. Warm weather and colourful sea and corals beckon and so with the encouragement of our good friends, Chris & Carina, we set forth on our very first adventure on the high seas.

I like the idea of the inclusion of all meals, the activities on board and the opportunity to see some South Pacific Islands.

With a little trepidation and a lot of excitement, we were set to sail leaving Sydney in the midst of the fantastic Vivid Light Show. Many buildings around Circular Quay were used as backdrops but none came close to the dramatic shapes as to be seen on the iconic Sydney Opera House. What a send off!

We purposely chose a inner room down low on the ship as Rob is one of those unfortunate people that is inclined to get sea sick on a lake! (By the way, he is the one who repeatedly asked over the years to go on a cruise!). When we arrived we were "upgraded" to a window cabin right at the back of the ship. I guess they thought they were doing us a favour. The room was certainly roomy with 2 singles clamped together to make a king size bed, a lounge, a chair and a separate closed off ensuite, which is something I really appreciate.

I have mucked up the bed with an afternoon nap, but you get the gist.

Every night, a daily activities guide for the following day along with 2 chocolates and a cute towel animal will be placed on our bed. I certainly love how the stewards change our bedsheets and make up our bed daily. The cabin stewards were tremendous... always smiling and greeting us by name and making inquiries re our health, comfort and enjoyment.

The ship has many kinds of activities, mostly geared at families and younger adults (under 35) including gym, sports, trivia and bingo, karaoke, and the casino. I was disappointed that all the 'lectures' were aimed at selling you something, whether it be nutrition or art. There were sadly not much activities aimed at the older people (apparently they reckon that at 50+ I am classed as old!) nor were there any crafts activities planned. We found we were at a bit of a loss as what to do during the 'sea' days. Sure I can relax and read a book, but I don't spend my money on a cruise to read which I can happily do at home! Neither of us are gamblers in any form so that the casino and bingo are not appealing to us.

One thing for sure is that the ship is very ornamental to the point of being superlative. It is almost as though they couldn't make up their mind which them to go with and so decided to include everything  including real and fake lead lighting everywhere, art deco, art nouveau, postmodern even to Egyptian styling in the glitzy grand theatre.

Glass lifts in the Spirit Atrium

I loved the stairs and fountain in the Fountain Lobby

Entry to the shopping arcade.
The days in port were the highlights. They were wonderful and full of activities and tours were available at 3 of the 4 islands. Sightseeing, snorkeling and visiting markets being our favourite. We were blessed with glorious weather.

Thankfully cannibalism has been done away with

We watched them prepare a hangi meal and we get to taste it too! Yum.

Tchou Tchoo Train is a great to explore Vanuatu

On board there are plenty of water activities, including 2 water slides. A special mention has to be made of the Green Thunder, which is the world's steepest and fastest waterslide at sea. Rob and I had a go at both. You step into the ‘Green Thunder’ then with a audible countdown, the floor drops away and you plummet ten metres, almost vertically, through a semi-translucent green slide before looping and splashing down on a lower deck. The Green Thunder sure is scary, however it is very short and you haven't time to panic! I even did it twice.
Michelle exiting the Green Thunder

The other waterslide

The children of all ages certainly appeared to well catered for with many activities and kids clubs for various ages, even though we still saw lots of kids around the ship at all times of the day.

Rob at the kids' water park
One of the open pool areas including spa
Two main pools and spas were open to the kids. However there was an kid free area, ‘Serenity’, complete with a pool, spa, double hammocks, sun lounges and cocktail bar. It was so popular that we tried to go there about 4 times, with only once finding a space for us. It was not a peaceful place to be though with music blaring and people trying to talk over the music. I guess I am one of the minority that like music free areas for quiet conversations which were few and hard to find.
The very popular Adults only pool & spa retreat

The all you can eat, casual bistro style dining is quite American oriented, even with the 'oriental' food bar, and seemed more like take away after a day or two. It is not running 24/7 but there is a Pizza bar that is 24/7. It was quite popular. The cuisine at the very large Empire Restaurant is superb as is the service. The staff also did a mini song or dance most evenings adding to the fun atmosphere. We chose to sit in the same area as we became quite attached to our waitress and waiter and requested their area each time. In addition, there is an excellent restaurant, The Nouveau, which you pay extra for and the food is just sublime. It is a very reasonable price of $35 pp for a 3 course meal. I highly recommend this restaurant for at least one meal on your trip.

La Playa Bistro Dining area
This is just a tiny selection of choice for afternoon tea

We found more things to do at nights. Most evenings there was some sort of show in the main auditorium, The Pharoah's Palace. The quality of the performers were very high both the regular show band and performers as well as the imports. The shows were rather short being just 45-60 minute duration. No photos were allowed of the shows for copyright reasons.

Entry to the Pharaoh's Palace
The grand stage in the Pharaoh's Palace

From there you could move on to the ever running Casino, the Piano bar, the nightclub and the Adult Comedy Club. I did like listening to Andy on the piano at the Piano Bar when it wasn't too crowded.

They are a couple of party nights. The one we attended, the Caribbean Beach Party, was crowded into the Lido Deck, which offers very little dance area Between the pool and the stage. There was not enough room for everyone who wanted to join the dances. It would have been fun had there been room to move. We knew not to bother attending the others because of the over crowding. Unfortunately we encountered the same problem in the Spirit Atrium, where once again there was not enough room for the dances especially when they had the 'dance lessons'.

The Atrium.

Bean Bag Toss in the Atrium - and they wanted to run dance classes in this little space too!

We are glad we went on the cruise. I only wished we had known that the the Carnival Spirit is not the one we should have gone on. I found it impossible to get any information about the on board activities and theme nights before we set sail. The music, trivia, activities and such, I feel were aimed at people under 35, both singles and families.

I guess you can say that cruising is not our thing. We will stick with the wide open spaces of Australia that a motorhome or caravan gives us. We can come and go as we please and still get the ports and activities that we like and even stay longer than a day if we so desire. When we are too old to drive a motorhome safely, then we might very well try cruising again!