Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 30, 2012

The Long Way Home

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:46 pm
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The last full day of our cruise was a day at sea.  The ship departed Mexico Wednesday night around 10 pm, and all day Thursday was spent sailing back to Miami.  It was a day spent relaxing in the sun.

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I tried to take pictures of the sparkly water around me.  This is the shot that came out best:
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The previous night, we also found the last of the “towel animals” that cabin stewards often make.  Our towel creations were questionable as to what animal they were supposed to be, but they still amused us.  We found this fellow Wednesday night:
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I made a few modifications with one of my souvenir cups.
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I called him “Nessie.”

After our last dinner on board, our waiter for the week, Marlon, kindly posed for a picture with the girls.
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We pulled into Port in Miami early Friday morning.
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We had breakfast on the ship, then waited for debarkation.  The process of getting off the ship, claiming luggage and going through customs seemed to go rather smoothly.  It was the rest of our day that was not!

We considered looking into an excursion to pass the time before our 3:30 flight home, but none of the offerings seemed all that interesting to all four of us, and there was a concern about being back to the airport on time.   So, we prepared ourselves for waiting around in the airport for a long time.  In addition to the long wait in the airport, we had a long layover scheduled in Chicago and we were not scheduled to arrive back at our local airport until 12:40 am.

That day was made to feel even longer when we missed our flight, despite being in the airport about 5 hours ahead of time.  The gate printed on our boarding pass did not match the actual gate our flight left from.  While I realize now that it was apparently our responsibility to keep checking on gate numbers once we arrived at the airport, I was very disappointed in the customer service we received at the time we realized our error.  We were quite rudely re-directed to rebooking, where we were just barely booked on the next plane out, leaving 2 hours later.

Arrival in Chicago involved chasing all over the airport to find which gate our connection departed from, and then finding that flight was delayed an hour.

By the time we walked into our home in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I believe it was about 2:30am.  That was definitely  the long way home.  I swear I am not making this up, but as I drove the last half mile to our house, this song was on the radio:

With the exception of this very long day Friday (and into Saturday morning), this was a top-notch vacation for me.  How wonderful not to cook, clean, drive or make a more difficult decision than “what should I choose from the buffet?”  How awesome to experience the beauty of Key West and to spend time swimming in Mexico with one of the most intelligent mammals.  How perfect to have a vacation that contented each member of this family and hopefully created memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you, Carnival Imagination!

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April 25, 2012

Off the Florida Keys…

… there’s a place called Cozumel.  Okay, I paraphrase.   That’s from the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo”, yet another song that invaded my head during the cruise.  And Cozumel is waaaaayyyyyy off the keys.  435 miles to be exact, but I’ve been using lyrics for my post titles this week in keeping with my cruise soundtrack idea and I didn’t have a song that exactly fit our visit to Mexico, so I tweaked!

It was a cloudy but warm day when we arrived at Puerto Maya, the Cozumel port where our ship docked.
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I thought this picture of the ship in port gave a nice perspective of the size of the ship since you can see people disembarking in the shot.

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We met our guides who took us to one of the highlights of this trip for me, swimming with a dolphin at Chankannaub Park.  Hubby wasn’t interested in participating in this activity, so lucky for me he was able to stand on the dock and take plenty of pictures.  I’ve put a sampling of this wonderful experience into a slideshow for you:

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The girls and I were absolutely delighted with “Frida” our 17-year-old female dolphin who entertained us and swam with us for about an hour.  If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to have this experience, don’t hesitate!  Do it!

After our swim with Frida and her trainer, we had time to explore Chankannaub Park.  It seemed relatively quiet, perhaps due to the cloudy skies, but I was able to wander around peacefully and take some more photos.

Tropical flowers:
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a very noisy bird I’d love some help identifying:
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And a lovely beach I could have easily been convinced to spend some time relaxing on if rain showers didn’t seem to be threatening:
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After our delightful visit to Chankannaub, we did some souvenir (and tequila!) shopping in Puerta Maya before our return to the ship.  Meghan even tried bargaining down a few prices on some of her purchases!

Cozumel was the last stop before our return to Miami after a full day at sea on Thursday.  I’m sure I’ll be back later this week to wrap up our trip.

Don’t forget to work on your Favorites Photo Hunt!

April 23, 2012

It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere…

That seems to be a theme around Key West, which was our first stop on our cruise.  Jimmy Buffett, I think, spent several years living in Key West.  His orginal  “Margaritavilla Cafe” is in Key West and the slogan “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” appears in many places.  Our stop in Key West was brief, but there was plenty of time to get a feel for the beauty and make some fun discoveries about this southernmost piece of the continental USA.  He actually originally recorded this song with Alan Jackson in Key West:

I even bought a sparkly t-shirt with that written on it.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Our boat docked early in Key West, and most folks had breakfast while in port, except for the person who fell victim to the southern version of a sea gull (not sure what their official name is):
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This person was silly enough to put her breakfast down at an outside table, then go back to the buffet for a beverage.  Those of us in view of the windows saw the gull help itself to pancakes, sausage and anything else on that plate!

While waiting for my family to be ready to go ashore in Key West, I took some pictures of the beautiful port.

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Once we were ashore, this was the first time I was able to get the full wide view of our ship.

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We spent some time scouring the shops for souvenirs,

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enjoying the tropical warmth and flowers,
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learning facts that were new to me,
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(Did you know that US Route 1 travels up the entire east coast of this country? I’ve travelled on it in Maine. I had no idea it continued all the way through the Keys!)

and visiting the southernmost point of the continental U.S.A.
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There were a lot of tourists standing in line here to have their picture taken with this monument; I opted not to, and instead stood on this jetty just around the corner:
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This house is the southernmost home in the USA (they make a big deal about this “southernmost” business in Key West!)
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There was some unusual “artwork” in Key West too:
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We made one more fun stop on this island:

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Yes that’s Sarah being a really good sport for her mom!
Since this post is already so photo-heavy, I thought I’d put a few of my favorites from the conservatory into a slideshow. Interestingly, the birds were more cooperative this day than the butterflies!

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I hope you enjoyed your visit to Key West!  I definitely did!

April 22, 2012

Cruise with me, baby…

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Where to begin, where to begin?  I’ve got so much to tell you about from the past week I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts into possible recognizable blog posts.

Should I just start at the beginning and work my way through the week?  That seems what a logical, sensible type of blogger would do.  I’m not often known for my logic and sensibilities however.

I could try to come up with a theme for each post – flowers, birds, etc – but I doubt I could be that organized.

I had this idea to try to create a very cool slideshow with all the music that has been playing through my head since Monday.  Even if I could do it, I imagine I wouldn’t be able to share it easily on this blog.

The part about the music playing through my head is real.  My sister and I had this joke or game between us while we were growing up called, “Lyrics for any occasion” because it seemed one of us could always come up with a song to suit almost any situation.  While four sleepy-eyed travellers sat in our local airport very early Monday morning awaiting our flight to the city where we would board our ship, I called this song up on YouTube on my phone just to try to amuse and wake up my daughters:

And so began my own game of “Lyrics for any occasion” for the duration of our cruise.  I wrote the songs down as they popped into my head on a piece of Carnival notepad paper, sure that I could work these songs into my blog posts to help give you the full picture of where my head was at for the week.  I don’t, however, wish to jam up your browsers with piles of YouTube videos when you try to read my blog.  Like I said, I’m still figuring out just how to present my posts.  Maybe I’ll pop a few particularly apropos videos at the end of my posts and scatter a few lines of lyrics throughout.

Hmm, my wordcount reads 341 at this point and I still haven’t shared a single picture. I should remedy that.  How about a look around our ship, the Carnival Imagination?  That seems like as good a place as any to get started.
This is “the Atruim”; it is what you see when you first board the ship and it is in the middle of everything, with elevators to take you everywhere:
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The Lido and Promenade decks where you’ll find the pool, bars, food, hot tubs, and music:
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The Serenity Lounge, where only folks over 21 are allowed – the place to go when you need to get away from all the “happy” children:
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The Dynasty Lounge, one of several places to relax and see a show:
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Lounge near the Spirit Dining Room, where we had dinner each night:
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(Hmmm… I think I know those people… 😉 )

Carnival Water Works, the on-board mini-waterpark:
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Our little stateroom, where we spent little time:
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In just about every place on this ship, it was always possible to get one of these:
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The drink of the day in the souvenir cup! I, er, lost count, *hic*, of how many of these I had  😉

It was a fabulous week of relaxing, eating but not cooking, traveling but not driving, exploring and discovering.  I’ve got much more to share with you, so I hope you’ll be back to read more during the week.