Days 57-58 – March 26-27 Thursday and Friday San Diego and Home!
After over 2 weeks at sea, the California coastline was a very welcome sight, and the Captain has assured us that, unlike Hawaii, California is going to let us dock and debark. Apparently the Port of San Diego has taken up the task of aiding the many cruise ships stuck at sea debark their passengers – the ships come in to port, the passengers get off, the ships refuel and obtain provisions and then proceed off shore with the crew, presumably to wait out the virus. The sail into San Diego harbor is beautiful and interesting. What a welcome sight!
Coronado Island blocks and protects the city of San Diego, and one must sail around it to the west and north to reach the city. At the tip of Coronado is Naval Air Station North Island, and we pass several runways and hangers.
Docked at the Navy base is the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz -class carrier, just back from the mid-east.
As we come into the pier we are greeted by the entire crew of the Westerdam. They apparently have dropped off their passengers and are about to head off shore. It was a very enthusiastic greeting. Virtually all of our passengers were on deck to receive and return the greeting.
After our arrival, we were summoned by groups to the main theater for Immigration and Customs inspection. After going everywhere together with our fellow passengers, it was a little strange to see us divided into “U.S.” and “Other” to line up for Immigration inspection. Everyone but the passengers had on masks and gloves – something I suspect we need to get accustomed to. We expected a health inspection, at least taking temperatures, but there was none. We breezed through inspection with a sigh of relief and went to pack for tomorrow’s debarkation.
Friday – the last day on board. After breakfast we waited for our group to be called to get off the ship. At about 9 we were called, got off the gangway, down the ramp to the luggage building, found our luggage and waited for our bus to the airport. A short ride to the airport revealed to us how empty the city and highways were – everyone staying home. The airport was almost empty – eerie! We linked up with Dan and Zaga for brief visit, and then they took off for their noon flight to Austin. Ours was scheduled for 4 pm. I have been in in hundreds of airports, but being in this one, with almost no people was very strange. There had been rumors that perhaps all flights would be cancelled, so we were happy to see our plane there, and as a Marine, happy to see Marine Corps Boot Camp in the background. Much better view from here than it was when I spent 3 months on the other side of the fence listening to the planes take off – still a vivid memory.
We boarded our flight with about 10 other passengers and we were off to Dallas – once again Marine Corps Boot Camp in the background.
In Dallas our son, John met us at Love Field after we walked through an empty terminal. Soon we were back in our apartment to a changed world.
This trip will certainly be remembered as one of the most unusual we have ever taken – the first half, the month of February in New Zealand, was absolutely wonderful – laid back and relaxed and interesting. The second half, on board the ship was just a little strange. It is amazing how uncertainty can rob you of your peace.
Remember, in life’s journeys, it’s not where you go, or how you get there that counts.
It’s who is by your side.