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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment August 17, 2017

4/4/2017 12:18:00 PM
Sisters Bridge Club cruises the Caribbean
Members of the Sisters Bridge Club took their card-playing skills onto the high seas aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Members of the Sisters Bridge Club took their card-playing skills onto the high seas aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. photo provided

By Craig Eisenbeis

The Sisters Bridge Club is quite literally expanding its horizons. Last month, the local group of card-players took their card-playing skills to the Caribbean on the club's first-ever bridge cruise.

Although the Sisters Bridge Club has been around for decades, it was on life support until a few years ago, when membership suddenly exploded into the vibrant group that it is today. The Club's current organizer, Susan Sandberg, is a frequent cruiser and thought it would be fun to combine two of her favorite pastimes; and, last month, 14 of the club's members took her up on the deal.

Starting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the group boarded Holland America's cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam for the club's inaugural week-long cruise in the Caribbean. Ports of call included Grand Turk Island, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten. Due to bad weather, a scheduled stop at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas had to be skipped on the last day of the trip - but that just meant an opportunity to play more bridge.

Bridge is a popular card game that evolved from the centuries-old English game of whist. It was immensely popular during the last century, but its popularity declined with the advent of electronic entertainment. However, its long-recognized ability to enhance cognitive skills has the game making something of a comeback.

Fourteen players signed up for the cruise, including former Sisters Bridge Club members who now live in Portland, Roseburg, Mexico, and Alaska. It was expected that having an odd number of playing pairs (seven) would be a bit of an inconvenience, since one pair would have to sit out during play. As it turned out, that issue was serendipitously resolved early on in the voyage.

Club member Warren Spady, a resident of Eagle Crest - who also happens to be the sculptor who created the Oregon-Oregon State platypus Civil War trophy -explained how the problem resolved itself. "There was this man who saw us playing and came up to ask if he could join us," Spady said. "He was a 60-year-old man from Argentina with a young trophy wife who was learning bridge. They were a very nice couple." That brought the number of bridge players to 16 for an even number of four tables.

Nancy Loring is another club member from Sisters who made the trip. "I've been on a lot of cruises, but not a bridge cruise," she said. "We played a lot of bridge. It was great."

June Eidenberger of Sisters also made the trip. "Susan (Sandberg) asked if I wanted to go; and, with all the snow, it seemed like a good time to leave Sisters," she said. "That big old fort at Puerto Rico was pretty interesting."

While Eidenberger was singing the praises of Puerto Rico, Sandberg chimed in, adding, "Don't forget, we went to the Bacardi Rum factory, too. They gave us free rum drinks. That was pretty fun!"

Sandberg not only organized the event, but she also made sure that everything went smoothly for everyone. One early problem ended up leading to an even better experience for the seagoing bridge players. "They couldn't find us a place to play because of a big convention on board, so they finally gave us the Captain's Crow's Nest. It's a space with windows all around and a 180 degree view above the ship's bridge."

Sandberg told a little story that was mentioned by other cruisers, as well:

"We always met for dinner, and our group filled two large oval tables," she said. "Our dinners were always accompanied by lots of laughter, which has been a characteristic of our group. As you know, anyone can have as much food as they want, and they can order multiples of any item on the menu. One night, one of the ladies could not make up her mind about which dessert she wanted, so she ordered three different ones. There were four different ones on the menu that night; so, the waiter also brought her the fourth one, just in case. We all got a big laugh out of that. I won't give you her name because what happens in the Caribbean stays in the Caribbean...

"One of the most fun things was that we were able to open the doors between the cabins on the balconies and create one long balcony. We could go from cabin to cabin without going in the hall. And, we had some great cocktail parties out on that deck."

Sandberg was disappointed when the stop in the Bahamas had to be cancelled due to a storm, "...but," she said, "we did what any bridge club would do. We found a vacant room, stole some card tables and played bridge all afternoon."

Everyone had so much fun on the adventure that the bridge club is already talking about another cruise for next winter. Sandberg said that the leading contender at this point is a 10-day Princess Cruise to the Mexican Riviera in February of 2018.

Bridge players who would be interested in joining the group are invited to contact Susan Sandberg at 541-549-9419. And, for those who would like to become bridge players, Sandberg will be offering bridge lessons at The Pines Clubhouse on Thursday mornings starting next week on April 13. Classes will start at 9:30 a.m. and probably go until about 11:30 a.m. The Sisters bridge group plays in The Pines Clubhouse every Thursday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., except holidays.

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