|The Grand Celebration!|
For my birthday, Jack always outdoes himself (it makes my gift giving skills look pathetic but I've accepted it and moved on since Jack never complains about getting socks for any of his special days, heehee). But, for this past birthday, Jack really, really outdid himself--he surprised me with tickets for a weekend Bahama cruise! He apologized that it was a combined anniversary/Christmas/birthday gift all rolled into one but I shushed him before he could get the words out. I'd occasionally catch myself daydreaming about doing something really elaborate for our tenth anniversary (has it really been a decade already?!) but I'd always brush it off. I didn't imagine it'd be possible, seeing as we are literally swarming with little children, farm chores, and work. Despite it all, Jack managed to pull it off. He booked the flights, bought the cruise package, and brought his parents out to watch the children while we were away because, though we would've loved to take the children with us, as Jack said, "Sorry, kids. We can't afford to take you with us." He always was one for honesty...maybe next time!
|Jack running off without me at the airport.|
|Cruisin' above the cloud cover.|
|You know you're in the tropics when a Bird of Paradise is growing in the ground!|
The trip was mostly uneventful, though we enjoyed the company of a hilarious flight attendant and a few other travelers who were friendly enough, and we arrived in West Palm Beach without any trouble (other than my ears feeling like they were blocked from all of the constant pressure changes. I happily accepted muffled hearing for some Florida sunshine) We snagged an Uber and made our way to the port where the cruise ship was docked. Thankfully, the cruise line let us check in a tad early and we were admitted into the area where we were waiting to board. We must have looked like easy targets, still sleepy and probably because we spoke English, and were pulled aside and sucked into listening to a travel presentation in exchange for what they touted as a delicious lunch buffet. Over a meal of crusty tuna sandwiches (which I passed on) and stale cookies. We listened to the dude giving the presentation, tried not to laugh as he kept reassuring us that they were not a timeshare company and ended up leaving with a voucher to use on the ship without having made what they insisted was a great travel investment. Yes, you only live once, buddy, but right now, our kids are our blue Italian lake and we have a house to fix up, cars that need new tires, and animals to purchase. Better luck next time!
|Jack relaxing on one of the upper deck's odd wicker egg thingys.|
Again, we tried not to giggle through the entire presentation, should we strike an iceberg in the middle of the Bahamas and go down. I'm fairly confident we could have swam back to Florida if needed.
|Panama Jack, eh?|
The ship took off about 5:30pm and slowly churned it's way to Freeport. I'd taken some motion sickness medicine earlier in anticipation of the boat rocking but mercifully, the sailing was calm, so the ship was pretty steady. However, someone was having trouble figuring out how to balance the ship and the entire trip there, we were pretty heavily tilted. It made for a few good laughs and calf muscle work outs, depending on which direction you were headed.
|About to whoop me in checkers.|
There was still enough to do on the floating hotel to keep us busy. We went on a lot of strolls around to people watch, we probably drained their self-serve ice cream a time or two, and watched the ship slowly move away from land. Thank goodness for technology, too. We were able to briefly Skype with the kids even though it made my teary waterworks want to start all over again. It was nice to see them having a good time being spoiled at the hands of Grandma and Grandpa.
|Saying hello to the kids...technology is amazing!|
The rest of the time, I think we spent eating. It's hard to say no when you get to enjoy an entire weekend of not cooking or cleaning up the dishes. It was definitely a plus to eat...
...and eat, even if the ship made it hard to keep the salt and pepper from tumbling over. Besides, I already practically look like a beached manitee. Pregnancy is great for not worrying too much about my figure.
Since we hadn't stayed up late (I'm pretty sure we were zonked out by 9pm the first night...vacationing is hard work!) we were awake pretty early and were able to get off the ship before the exit was crowded with people. We were met by a colorful band of locals who played some very festive music and if you weren't fast enough, would swallow you up, forcing you to dance and enjoy their entertainment. We managed to sprint through without being caught.I'm pregnant, not an invalid!). They picked us up nice and early and drove us to their private beach.
|Powerline after powerline was snapped in half.|
The bus dropped us off at a remote, quiet beach that had been well-maintained and had already been repaired since the hurricane. Off the shore was a jagged line of rocks, around which was some of the world's second largest coral reef.
|Right before some random girl jumped in the hot tub to flirt with Jack, haha!|
We spent the second night on the ship traveling back to Florida in a lot of the same way as the first--eating, walking around, people watching. Despite the cool night, we jumped in the jacuzzi since it was finally open but we had an awfully hard time getting out. We grabbed a couple of towels and dried off as fast as possible.
|A private game of bean bag toss.|
We had docked early the following morning and though we were in no hurry to get off, there really was no way we were going to get off early, even if we tried. The cruise ship limited how many people could get off at a time so that customs wasn't overwhelmed, especially with the number of foreigners who were on their ship. That strategy only resulted in a backup at customs anyway and a bunch of grumpy travelers. So, we played a few games, ate a bit more and when it was our turn, got right off and flashed our passports--the key to the fast lane.
|That was one cool tree!|
|That was one assertive squirrel!|
|Fly away, Mother Goose! Save yourself!|
We waded in the water but didn't bother swimming. It was pretty chilly, windy, and had a large population of man-o-war jellyfish floating around the area. I've never been stung by a jellyfish and I'd like to keep it that way.
After all that walking, we figured we'd be famished, so we headed back near the hotel to find another restaurant. We chose a nice Italian one near a colorful, dancing fountain and were seated. Between being served by two different waiters, Jack giving them two different orders because he changed his mind, and figuring out we had zero appetite and that we were only really thirsty, we sheepishly took two bites of food, asked for a box and paid. I hope they weren't too offended by our bad manners...sorry! It really wasn't your food!
HUGE and beautifully lit and warm. I could have floated in there for days. We could only stand the jacuzzi for a few minutes before we felt like boiled lobsters. Then, we sat around and dried off, holding hands and talking and talking. I can see why people retire to Florida.
|Best hotel swimming pool ever.|
...for our own wintery paradise.
|Looks exactly the same as I left it.|
One of the best things about traveling is coming back. While it's nice to see new places, I for one always appreciate the familiarity of home. There were hugs all around, I was relieved that Henry hadn't permanently disowned me since he was the only one who didn't really understand why we'd abandoned him, we handed out souvenirs, ate lunch and without meaning to, crashed for a looong nap. I set an alarm for half an hour, only to wake up two hours later, blissfully rested and ready to get back to the daily routine.
|Getting a good rest is hard when Henry wants to climb on you.|
Jack's parents were able to stay for a couple extra days after we returned, so true to our nature, we worked on a few projects that require extra help. I asked Jack and his dad to do some work on the banister in the great room and they did a fantastic job. Now the rest of the sanding, staining, and painting can be done--hooray!
|Of course, Henry was willing to help, too.|
But, along with us returning, it eventually meant Grandma and Grandpa had to leave, which always makes Henry sad. He hates goodbyes, even when we're just dropping the girls off at school or Jack's leaving for work.
Undeniably, there were some very refreshing, relaxing, and enjoyable parts of the trip--it's nice not to have to constantly be on the lookout to see if your kids are drowning or having to clean up messes or being able to hold hands because we aren't holding kids or being able to sleep in without someone bursting into our room--but being home, having everyone happy and our kids seeing our commitment to marriage, along with the chance to celebrate our milestone, makes coming back to diaper duty and breaking up fights so much easier. Who could've imagined what life would be like when we got married a decade ago? I for one couldn't have imagined such bliss?! Here's to seeing what the next decade brings (and the one after that, then after that, and after that...)!
|It's good to be back!|