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Friday, April 23, 2010

Winded

Lately, I seem to be encountering the kind of adventures I’m not too keen on repeating.  Today was one I should have thought to be more likely since I work directly across from Trauth Dairy where they process, well, dairy products, and have some nice chemicals in there for reasons I’m sure someone with dairy processing experience can explain.  Anyway, yes, since I work right across from the “dairy” as we call it, we knew it was there, but apparently it felt ignored because it stood up and screamed, “Look at me” really loudly this morning.

Our building is on the corner of two busy streets in Newport.  So, sometimes, there are little fender benders that we can see from the office.  The fire/police departments are a block away, so when they are dispatched, we can hear ‘em going.  When a siren stops nearby, we get nosey and peek out the window to see what’s going on.  A little after eleven this morning we heard the siren stop close by, so I got up to have a little look see.  As I stood up I smelled Windex, but it didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t be smelling Windex.  My next breath felt like fire ripping down my throat, through my chest and into my lungs.  At that moment I managed to look out the window and see that the siren had stopped real close.  Like, right in front of the dairy…..where all the fun chemicals are.  Turns out I wasn’t smelling Windex, it was ammonia, and it was getting stronger by the second.  Oh, crap.

Shelter in place was not an option for us because the stuff was coming straight into our building.  I can’t walk past a Yankee Candle store in the mall without coughing, so that strong ammonia smell was making me cough like an old pack a day smoker.  We had to evacuate.  Fantastic.  I gathered up all my stuff because I had a slight feeling we might not be making a return trip to our office today.  When I set foot outside, the smell was so strong, it almost knocked me on my ass, and my eyes burned.  We were only a few minutes into this whole thing and my chest hurt.  I can’t imagine what the people IN the dairy felt like. 

We got into one of my coworker’s vehicles because we really weren’t sure where they were sending us.  At this point two things were on my mind (besides trying to even out my breathing so that I didn’t have a panic attack on top of everything).  One of my worries was my coworker who is pregnant.  I mean, you’re not supposed to change a litter box when you're pregnant because of the ammonia.  I was pretty sure a leak from a plant was worse than the litter box.  The other concern was that there was a school next to the dairy……and they appeared to be staying put.  Since we were in a car, our boss asked us to take preggers (I’m not using her name because I don’t have permission…..just go with me here) home.  He didn’t want her to be in the area any longer than necessary.  After we left, the rest of my coworkers were told to shelter in place at the city building.  Our boss told us to stay put where we were (which was at my coworker’s house).  In a short amount of time HAZMAT told them that we weren’t going to be allowed back in the building, so we were sent home.

I’ve never smelled something so strong it still feels like it’s coating my throat.  My boss ended up getting sick from coughing so hard, so he visited a doctor, and my pregnant friend called her doctor to check on what she should do.  Both were told that the ammonia exposure wasn’t going to really cause long term problems because it was limited.  Of course, it could take a few days for the symptoms to clear up.  Knowing this, I’m trying not to worry about the way my throat still feels like it’s coated with muck, and I’m still coughing pretty hard.  I just have to be patient, but it was still pretty scary (and darn uncomfortable).  From what I hear, the school was able to lift their shelter in place order and get the kids home with no harm to them.  There was an injury to a worker at the dairy, but thank God, he’s going to be ok.

That would be the end of the story, but when I was reading a story online about the leak, I made the mistake of reading the comments.  See, the building I work in is the County Administration Building.  This building is new and wasn’t a well liked idea by some people in the county.  You know how it goes…..there are some anti-government people who just will take any excuse to bad mouth the government or it’s employees (because we’re all the spawn of Satan and completely responsible for everything wrong in the world today….oops, our bad).  I was reading this article.  It’s located on nky.com which is a site that carries local news for my area.  In my own words, the comments went something like this:  someone was worried about the location of the school and if the kids were safe; someone else responded that they saw in the article that the children were safe, it was the government employees who were in danger; then someone responded that the government employees ARE the danger and a bunch of crybabies. 

Crybabies, seriously.  Listen up whoever the hell you are, you get a few minutes worth of breathing in ammonia and tell me it doesn’t hurt.  I’m sorry you don’t like the current county administration, but that doesn’t mean that we are “crybabies” because we evacuated our building due to an ammonia leak.  Last time I checked it wasn’t such a good idea to breathe that stuff.  I’m thinking that’s why they called the HAZMAT people to the scene.  Hate the administration if you must, but don’t act like you wouldn’t have felt the need to get somewhere safe if you were in our position.  Geeze, we are people too.  How would you like it if I called you names because I didn’t like the business you worked for.  Honestly, it’s not like we left the building to go chase the ice-cream truck.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Survivor

Survivor looks like fun…..from my bedroom.  I’d never survive on that show.  Don’t get me wrong, I can be soooo stubborn when I want to be, and for a million bucks, I can certainly attempt to look out for my own best interests in such a manipulative game, but let’s face it, my stint on Survivor would be short lived.  For example, I could make it to the island.  Imagine Kimmy Attic Dweller helping set up camp and morphing into Kimmy Island Dweller.  Y’all know exactly what would happen the second one of the island’s natives showed up…..and by native, I’m not talking about whatever native people may live there.  I’m talking about native critters…..creepy, crawly, multi-colored, little critters.  I can’t even kill the tiny spiders that sometimes show up here in the attic without tears (ok, I can’t ever kill the spiders period), so there’s absolutely no chance I’d be able to take on a spider as big as my cat. 

Then, there are those pesky storms.  In those tropical areas, those storms get downright nasty.  I don’t cope well with the spring storms that come to this area.  I’d probably dig a hole in the sand and bury myself in it just to try and get away from the fear a massive island storm would cause (well, I’d hide in my freshly dug hole provided I didn’t find any of those critters mentioned above).  I don’t do well with hunger either.  Ask anyone who knows me, I get crabby when my belly is empty.  Not that I couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds while on the “Survivor Diet”, but it wouldn’t be pretty.  Oh, and sometimes when I get too hot I get quite close to passing out.  Physically, I’m not destined for the Olympics anytime soon, but I have surprised myself in the past with what I can accomplish, and I love puzzles, so I might actually be able to stand on my own two feet in the challenges…..if I’m not hiding in a hole or running from critters.

If I can manage to survive the “nature” part, and the “physical” part of the game, I’ve still got to contend with the mental/social part of the game.  I know I’m the good girl.  I tend to be sweet and a good listener.  I like to make people happy when I can, so I’d be easy enough to get along with.  There’s just one problem…..that personality would probably scream TARGET to those who would be looking for someone easy to manipulate.  I’m not stupid, I’ve watched a lot of this show over the years, so I wouldn’t be as easy to manipulate as people may assume I would be.  However, because I’ve watched so much of this show, I’d probably have a hard time trusting anyone.  The mental wars those people wage on each other are brutal. 

The strange thing about Survivor is that you need to assemble alliances, but you can’t ever trust them.  You’ve got to be shrewd enough to see who might be willing to side with you, and cunning enough to make sure things go your way.  You can be all sweet and innocent on the outside, but you have to be a manipulative backstabber without drawing attention to yourself.  Then, you have to look at a jury of your peers and tell them why your game of lies and deceit was more clever than the person sitting next to you, but you’ve also got to convince them that you weren’t such a horrible person while playing that game that they should yank a million right out from under your nose.

Frankly, it looks exhausting.  It’s fun to watch, but I’ll stick with playing the lottery.  At the end of the day, I still won’t be a millionaire.  However, I won’t have used every last ounce of physical/mental/emotional energy I have TRYING to win a million dollars.  Nope, Attic Dweller, is sticking to the attic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iPad

Ok, so it’s no secret that I’m a gadget geek.  If you know me…well, you know that, and if you don’t…..well, reread some of the old posts on this blog, I’ve probably mentioned it there a time or ten.  The problem with my gadget geekery is that I’m typically behind on getting my hands on them.  I’m still working on getting my iphone (not due for an upgrade until August….come on August!!)  I want new “toys” the second I hear about them, but since I’m not a recent lottery winner, I actually have to save up to get them.  That’s not such a big deal, people save up for things all the time…..I’ve got no problem saving up for something I really want (ahem, Donny and Marie/Vegas anyone?).   Sometimes though, my head messes with me……

See, last night I was sleeping peacefully in my attic room.  I was lying comfortably in my bed, cooled by a fan, it was a good night.  As it usually does, my dream factory kicked in.  It was fantastic.  I went to the store, bought an ipad and basically used it for everything.  I used if for things that I don’t even think the ipad was capable of.  I’m serious, if my dream had gone on long enough, I think that ipad I possessed would have eventually figured out how to solve global warming and bring about world peace.  It was great.  I used that sucker for everything and enjoyed every minute of it.  I bought one for everyone I knew simply because I thought it was the greatest thing ever.  I don’t know what the best part was…..the fact that I had an ipad or the fact that in dreamland I have enough cash to go out and buy expensive electronics for everyone I know. 

Of course, when my alarm woke me up, it was a bit disappointing to be back in my attic bed, staring at my cat, with no ipad in sight.  Look, the closest I’ve come to the ipad has been seeing it on news clips when it was first coming out.  I don’t even know anyone who has one….well, I think someone I follow on twitter might have one, but I don’t KNOW them.  Don’t be deceived.  Life is not all about the “things” I can get…..but boy do I want one of those ipads.  Do you have one?  Anyone know someone who has one?  Is it wonderful?  Did you ever think you’d read an entire blog post about someone’s strange electronic device dreams?  This is how my mind words sometimes people, scary, huh?  Go do something silly….enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Where’s the Breakfast Buffet?

After a cruise vacation, the real world smacks me in the face a little harder than other vacations.  There was no breakfast buffet when I woke up this morning.  I was back in the attic….and it was hot.  Oh, and I got to see the news for the first time in a week.  Did y’all know there is a volcano erupting in Iceland?  Yep, apparently it’s causing all sorts of trouble with air travel.  Who knew? 

I left my room quite a mess.  I remember thinking as I was packing before vacation that I didn’t feel like cleaning up the mess that my packing was creating at that time.  Well, I didn’t feel like it any more now than I did then, but today, I didn’t have a choice.  It’s a good thing that I took today off work to “recover” from my vacation.  I got up, started my laundry, and started cleaning up after myself.  I’ve also been catching up on some of the shows I missed while I was gone.  Hey, give me a break, I’m openly an entertainment junkie, I HAD to record my favorite shows.  Today has felt like a Sunday all day, so I had to keep reminding myself that it was indeed Monday.  I have to work tomorrow.  Talk about back to the real world.  It’s going to be quite an adjustment going from doing a whole lot of nothing to customer service.

So, one adventure down, on to the next one.  Time to return my focus to saving up for Las Vegas.  I can’t wait for that trip.

Disembark

Wouldn’t you know it, it was raining in Miami today.  At least that wasn’t going to stop us from getting off the ship. It wasn’t storming, so we still had a prayer that our plane would take off on time once we got to the airport.  The process of getting off the ship is slow, but relatively painless.  When you’re cruising, you put your luggage outside your room on the last night of the cruise, and it’s taken to the secure holding area so customs can have a look at it in the morning.  We chose to take advantage of the luggage express program offered by Carnival, so they were going to take care of getting our bags to the airport too.

When you use luggage express customs wants to see you separately from other passengers.  Apparently something about the fact that you’re not escorting your baggage to the airport makes them want to look a little closer.  This, coupled with the fact that we boarded the ship in St. Thomas instead of Miami, got us an express trip to a personal meeting with a customs agent.  Mom, Angie, and I got to go together because we live in the same house and have the same last name.  Our agent was a nice guy.  He looked at each of our passports and asked us some questions.  It was easy, “why didn’t you board in Miami?” and “what was your flight number to St. Thomas?”  The one that none of us had an answer for was, “What was your original flight number?”  We stood there, none of us knew this one.  Apparently we tried to forget all aspects of that first miserable flight.  Lucky for us, I tend to hold on to papers, and I still had my boarding pass with me.  So, Mr.. Customs was satisfied…..one hurdle cleared.

The shuttle to the airport was pretty calm….even waiting at the airport was sort of boring.  I mean, there were no delays to get us fired up.  We even got to watch them load the luggage onto the plane.  The flight home would have been uneventful except for one little detail…..two little words….panic attack. 

On every other flight I had taken I was either in a window seat, or the seat right next to that.  I like looking out the window to see what’s going on.  On this flight, however, I was in the third seat, on the aisle.  I didn’t think much of it until we were rolling towards the runway.  I felt a little strange not being able to watch where we were going, but I didn’t think much of it…..until takeoff.  Something about not being able to see what was going on as that plane left the ground just did not sit well.  I couldn’t catch my breath, my chest was tight, and as much as I tried to calm myself down, I ended up shaking and in tears.  IT.  WAS.  HORRIBLE.  After ten or fifteen minutes I managed to pull myself together, and the good news was the only passengers who seemed to notice my little “episode” were mom and Kendra.  Every time we hit a pocket of turbulence I could feel myself start to panic again, but the only time I had a full on attack was right at takeoff.  Lesson learned.  Clearly Kimmy needs to be near a window on an airplane.

We got landed on time in sunny weather.  We found our luggage pretty easily.  Dad was right there waiting to shuttle us home straight out of baggage claim.  Vacation’s over.  Back to the real world.

Sea Day

It was nice to sleep in today.  We’ve been getting up early all week to make sure we got to see everything on the islands that we wanted to see.  Today though, we’re just sailing the open waters, so, we slept in.  I tell ya what, those cabins are so dark that when I thought I was waking up about 8, I was surprised to see it was almost 9:30.  I enjoyed not having to rush around to be somewhere.  We ate breakfast, shopped a little, then headed to the Lido deck to bask in the sun one more time. 

All together it was a lazy day full of shopping on board, lounging around, and just relaxing…..hoping that the day would last longer than it possibly could.  Being on a cruise ship is different from other vacations.  You don’t have a lot of contact with the outside world.  Your community is your fellow passengers, and your news source is a television that gets limited channels.  It’s nice to completely get away from everything familiar….even just for a few days.  The last day at sea is both my favorite and least favorite day.  It’s great to be able to just do a lot of nothing all day, but it means the vacation is almost over.  Well, at least the seas were smooth today…..and we’ll actually get to see Miami tomorrow.

Grand Turk

I knew the least about this island on our Cruise itinerary.  Aside from Eastern Caribbean, I had no idea where it was.  We docked at Grand Turk later than usual, meaning I was actually out of bed before we arrived.  It was going on eleven in the morning when we began approaching this flat little island.  Honestly, I didn’t even think it was the island we were going to because it looked like some of the flatter areas of Kentucky were picked up, stripped of their more charming qualities, and plopped in the middle of the Caribbean.  Folks, I did not hold out much hope that I’d actually enjoy this stop.  I thought that this was the first place on this vacation that I would tell you not to visit.

I was wrong.  Somewhere between when I was eating breakfast on deck and when I went inside to get my things together for when we were able to leave the ship we pulled up to a gorgeous Caribbean island…..or, should I say, part of an island.  Right off of the dock was water so blue it would make they sky jealous.  You could see right to the bottom of the ocean even at the deeper parts around the pier.  The beach was in sight of the ship which was a change from our other ports.  Even the shops that we walked through right at the end of the pier were beautiful. 

We decided that since we didn’t have to pay a taxi an unnecessary amount of money to take us on a wild ride to the beach that we would suit up and hit the water.  The beach was very pretty, but once you got near the water it was rocky.  The good news was that  you could see the rocks you were walking on in the water.  The bad news was that it wasn’t exactly a comfortable or easy walk to deeper water.  Some of the rocks felt like they were carpeted too which was a bit unnerving.  Kendra and I decided to let Angie and Cal explore the deeper waters on her own, and we headed back to the beach chairs to lay out in the sun with mom…..under palm trees.  This was island paradise. 

I’m not sure how long I was laying out (napping), but we did still want to do some shopping before we had to go back to the boat.  Then, bags in hand, we headed back to the Glory.  We had heard that this area was sometimes a good place to see humpback whales moving back from the south to have their babies.  So, after we dropped our bags off in the cabin we headed to the upper decks to look around.  We didn’t see any whales, but we got a good look at the island.  Once you get past the pretty little shopping/beach area, there isn’t much to the island.  There are houses….actually some very big houses, but it seemed that the best part of the island was right where the cruise ships docked. 

We picked some deck chairs right at the back of the ship so we could watch as we pulled away from the last port of this vacation.  The weather was perfect all day….it was like a Hollywood director actually set the scene for Grand Turk……and I have to say, if you’ve got the opportunity to visit Grand Turk for a day, you won’t be disappointed.

The seas are rough (again), but at least it’s not stormy.  Angie went to bed early tonight (it was either that or be sick all evening).  Mom, Cal, and I saw a show in the Amber Palace that was called “Just Rock”.  The music was classic rock tunes through the decades, so it was good music, but their male lead needed to learn how to lip sync better.  I mean seriously, he wasn’t even close, but I’ll be darned if he wasn’t giving it his all.

Tomorrow is our last day….a day at sea, so I hope that the seas are kinder to us than they were today. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Lot at Once

Ok, so this morning it became necessary to purchase an internet plan while on board the ship.  I know what you’re thinking, but no, it’s not because I simply couldn’t go a week without getting online.  They have this great service on board that allows you to arrange to have your luggage tagged and taken to the airport for you, so you don’t have to go through the baggage check lines.  Well, in order to do that we had to have our printed out flight information.  Somewhere in the shuffle of the first few days of this vacation, we lost our return flight information, so we headed to the internet cafe to print it off.  Since I had written a blog each night and saved it to my computer I figured I’d go ahead and buy the plan to post them, I’d be able to put up a quick status on Facebook to let those at home know we’re still on the ship, and we could print what we needed.  It was cheaper to buy a plan than to pay by the minute, so here you go, many posts for your reading pleasure……boy has it been an adventure so far.

When You Ask For An Adventure……

…….sometimes you get more of an adventure than you bargained for. 

Have you ever seen that episode of I Love Lucy where she and the gang were going on a cruise?  You know, the one where Lucy somehow misses the boat and has to take a helicopter out to meet the boat.  Well, I wish catching a chopper to meet the ship had been an option over these past few days because let me tell you, catching a ship once it’s left the port is not an easy task.

So, once and for all, YES, we missed the ship…..and YES, I’m serious.  In fact, as I’m writing this, it’s Monday night, and we’re  still not on that ship.  We’re  in St. Thomas…..and as of right now it looks like we’ll be able to make the ship on Wednesday when it docks here.  Before I explain what our plan is for the next few days, let me explain how we got here. 

It all started out easy enough yesterday morning.  We left the house on time (for the most part).  Checking the bags at the airport was simple, and security was a breeze.  We got down to our gate, and settled in for what we expected to be an hour or so wait before we could start boarding out plane.  The way things worked out was that Mom, Angie, Cal, and I were all leaving about 9:30 on an American Airlines flight from NKY/Cincinnati airport to Miami.  Kendra had booked everything at a different time so she was leaving about a half hour ahead of us on Delta.  We were going to meet up at the Miami airport and take a shuttle to the Port of Miami to catch the Carnival Glory.

We were texting Kendra right up until she boarded the plane and was on her way.  It was about that time we heard an announcement that our flight was going to be delayed by about 45 minutes.  We figured, oh well, no big deal, since we’ve got a little more time, let’s go grab a little bite to eat.  In the time it took us to eat our sandwiches, our flight was delayed several more times so that we we weren’t even scheduled to leave until 11:45. 

Kendra would be landing in Miami before we even left NKY.  So, we left a message for her to go ahead and catch the shuttle to the port.  After all, it was beginning to look like we wouldn’t land in time to make the last shuttle, so we’d have to take a taxi anyway.  There wasn’t any point in all of us trying to cram into the taxi when Kendra could just go on and take the shuttle. 

We thought we caught a break when they moved us to another gate and actually moved our flight time to around 11:20.  Turns out we were waiting on the plane and crew to get in from Chicago.  It was delayed due to some mechanical issue on the original plane.  Anyway, the plane did arrive, but there was no way we were making an 11:20 departure.  By the time we managed to leave the ground it was 12:15.  It was aggravating (to say the least), but still no reason to panic.  The flight was a little over two hours, and since the cruise departed Miami at 4:00, we still had plenty of time.

Well, “plenty of time” turned into “no way are we making the ship” before we had time to really process what was happening.  Our two hour flight to Miami turned into a three hour flight to Ft. Myers……and there was nothing we could do about it.  Mother Nature decided to mess with us a little and throw some nasty weather right over Miami.  So, even though we had started our initial descent into Miami, we were forced to land in good ole’ Ft. Myers instead.

Now, I don’t know how much you know about the locations of different cities in Florida, so let me give you a quick lesson.  Miami is on the Atlantic coast of Florida, and Ft. Myers sits on the Gulf.  That fact coupled with the fact that we landed in Ft. Myers at 3:40 led to Carnival Glory leaving port as scheduled at 4:00 without us on it……Kendra, however, was on board.

Will we ever make our ship?  Will Kendra make the most of her time on board the Glory on her own?  Check the next post when I’ll explain how we got from Ft. Myers to the beautiful island of St. Thomas…..before the ship.   

How to Get from Ft. Myers to St. Thomas in 24 Hours or Less

When I left off Cal, Mom, Angie, and myself were stranded in Ft. Myers, Florida, and Kendra was beginning a seven day cruise to the Caribbean with a bunch of strangers……

Now, we weren’t the only ones on the plane from NKY that missed that cruise.  We met another couple, and a woman who was supposed to meet her daughter in Miami to catch the Glory also.  We contacted Carnival just to see if the ship was still scheduled to leave on time (it was), and what to do since we were apparently going to miss the boat in Miami.  We were told that we wouldn’t be able to meet up with the ship until Wednesday when it would be in St. Thomas.  Just to give a reminder, we’re finding all this information out on Sunday.  So, our seven night cruise had suddenly been cut to a four night cruise…..we would be missing the first Port of Call in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas……oh, and Kendra was on her own.  With that information in hand, we had to put our cruise troubles aside for a moment and figure out how American (Eagle) Airlines was getting us to Miami.

The decision was made by someone who had decision making power at American to bus us to Miami.  So, instead of taking to the air again for a short plane trip to Miami, we were looking at a two and a half our bus ride.  Let me tell you, there is nothing to look at on the road from Ft. Myers to Miami.  The ride was bumpy, and the lane changing by the bus driver was, um, scary…..but we made it to Miami in one piece.  Of course, there was nobody to meet us once we got to the Miami Airport, so we had to go asking around to figure out where we were supposed to go.  After all, by this time it’s almost 8:00p.m., we were tired, hungry, and frustrated.  Those of us who had missed the cruise decided to stick together (I guess we were hoping for power in numbers). 

American (Eagle) sent us to the American Airlines counter instead of taking care of their mess themselves.  All of us had developed the opinion that if they had dealt with whatever problem they had in Chicago more efficiently, we could have taken off in time and made our cruise.  So, we were fully expecting the airline to make sure we got where we were going, like they should have to begin with.  As bad as everything had gotten, American Airlines really came through for us.  We had an amazing agent named Tony.  We love Tony.  In fact, we’re considering building a statue to Tony.  He’s the man.  In a matter of just a few minutes he had printed out new tickets for an 11:50 flight to St. Thomas the next morning.  So, we were beginning to have faith that we’d eventually make it there.  Phew, that’s one load off….but we still had to fix the problem of being stuck in Miami, hungry (we had only had Altoids for dinner so far), and not really wanting to sleep in the American Airlines terminal. 

Well, Tony came through again.  Once he was told which hotel American Airlines decided to put us up in for the night, he printed off the vouchers for the room and dinner either at the airport or the hotel.  We also got vouchers for breakfast the next morning….and lunch….and not once did Tony ever ask for a credit card…..which is a good thing because that request would not have been received well.  So, we hopped on another shuttle, and headed for the Doubletree Hotel somewhere in Miami.  Once we got there, some of us went to the front desk to check in, and the rest of us went to get a table at the hotel restaurant.

Does the phrase, “table for six” sound complicated to you?  No?  Well, we didn’t think it was, but when the hostess at the restaurant heard those words, she looked at us like we were crazy.  She said, “we don’t have tables for six”…..which became obvious as we saw five people crammed in at one little square table.  The fifth person was on the corner, and her chair was so far away from the table that she might as well have been across the room. 

Well, as the hostess left us standing there, we decided to take matters into our own hands.  We moved to of those square tables together, and wouldn’t you know, six people fit there quite nicely.  I bet that table for five was jealous….but you know, we’re from Kentucky, and that’s how we roll.  We take matters into our own hands (especially since it was now 9:00 at night, we were hungry, tired, and MISSED OUR CRUISE!!!).  The service was horrible, but at least the food was good…..and we didn’t have to pay for it…even better.  As we were eating, one of our new friends got out his netbook and found a hotel in St. Thomas….we were booked before the meal came.  The hotel rooms at the Doubletree were nice and big….not that it mattered because we were going to be there for twelve hours….we were just happy we weren’t sleeping in the airport.

When we woke up Monday morning to see dark clouds over Miami, we were skeptical about how the day would go to say the least.  Our expectations didn’t get any better when we found out that the morning airline agents were, well, less than competent…..and there were only two of them.  It took us 45 minutes to get through the line to check our bags…..and we still hadn’t gone through security.  The line for security was twice as long as the line to check bags.  Oddly enough, we got through that line in less than half the time as the baggage check line (yay TSA). 

The best news of the day was that our flight to St. Thomas left the ground on time…..and arrived in St. Thomas on time….and at the end of it all, we still had all our luggage.  We gathered our bags and our group, and went to get a taxi to head to the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa.  At this point, I’ve pretty much decided that all drivers who shuttle people from the airports all have hopes of one day racing NASCAR because the ride from the airport to the resort was the scariest ride I’ve ever been on.  We wound through the hills and tiny streets of St. Thomas and got some spectacular views, but some of those views came while narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic.  I could have kissed the floor of the resort lobby, but that would have looked strange.  Besides, they had fruity water sitting right inside the door, so I went for a drink instead of making out with the linoleum. 

The resort is beautiful, much like the island itself.  We have an ocean view room, which makes it a little easier to accept the fact that we’re not sailing on the Caribbean yet.  We have everything we need here, and all we have to do is wait for our ship to come in.

Since we missed Half Moon Cay

Yesterday our cruise ship would have been docked in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.  Since we were still in mass transportation hell, we couldn’t make that stop.  So, to make up for the island we missed, we added another island to our itinerary….St. John, one of St. Thomas’ neighbors here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We didn’t want to go exploring St. Thomas because we figured it might be nice to save that for when we finally meet up with Kendra. 

So, after breakfast this morning, we took a ferry to St. John…..ok, so it wasn’t a cruise ship, but we were finally on a boat.  St. John is smaller than St. Thomas, and unless you’re big into water sports, you won’t find much to do besides shopping.  There are a lot of shops that we spent a few hours going in and out of.  We were experiencing typical island weather….warm, muggy, with a change of rain showers.  So, as we were walking around we decided we were done shopping, and since we were about to melt, we figured it would be nice to go lay out by the pool back at the hotel. 

So, back to the ferry it was (wow, on a boat twice in one day).  Angie and I changed clothes and headed down to the pool.  We might not be able to lay out on the Lido deck to get a tan, but we were still going to enjoy the sunshine.  The deck chairs were all cushioned (how fancy), so we picked a couple right near the pool and got comfortable……right as the clouds blocked all the sunlight.  The day had been alternating between clouds and sun, so we decided to stay put, and wait for the sun to come back.  Once that decision was made, it didn’t take any time at all for me to fall asleep….those deck chairs were pretty darn comfortable.  Then, it rained.  Not hard, just a little shower, but Angie and I decided that since we were in our bathing suits already, we’d wait it out….and as soon as it started, it stopped.  Good thing we decided to stay put because I got another good hour of napping in.

We took a walk around the resort after dinner because there are iguanas around, and there were some in the group who wanted a picture.  I was not one of them.  In fact, I told them that if an iguana came out while we were walking, I’d be gone so fast they’d have to come looking for me later.  The walk got even better when we saw the sign that pointed us to where the land crabs liked to hang out.  Oh yeah, we were on a real safari.  Lucky for me, no critters appeared…..except the cats. There are nine or ten stray cats who decided to make this resort home.  They have feeding stations set up to feed the cats so they don’t go bothering the guests….and they’re really sweet cats….those kinds of critters I can handle.

We have made contact with Kendra today.  She was enjoying a “fun day at sea”.  They’re on their way here to St. Thomas, and they had no island stops today.  She seems to be enjoying herself, which is good.  She’s not going to know what to do when the rest of us rowdy people show up. 

I say “rowdy” because we have completely snapped this evening.  We got back to the room after 7 because it gets real dark real fast here, and everything closes down at night when the cruise ships leave port. So, television it was.  It’s too early to go to bed, so naturally we should start hitting each other with pillows.  Well, Angie and Cal were having a pillow fight.  I’ve been typing this blog minding my own business.  That is until, they turned on me.  I defended myself as best as I could, but once Angie pinned my feet down, I was helpless.  However, Angie ended up with me sitting on top of her when she managed to pull me off the bed.  I’ll bet that wasn’t pleasant for her, but hey, she let go of my feet. 

While we were dissolving into the silliness of a pillow fight, we heard a knock at our door.  Since we had already spoken to the other stranded cruisers about our plans for the morning we figured it wasn’t them.  We were right, it was some man claiming to be maintenance telling us to push the menu button on our remote control.  Thoughts of being the next leading story on 48 Hours Mystery were flashing through my head, so I was really glad Cal never opened the door for this guy.  Instead, we called the front desk to check if they had sent anyone up.  We got a call a few minutes later from the very man who had been at our door.  Yep, he’s a legitimate maintenance dude, who honestly was checking to make sure the On Demand feature was working on all the televisions.  He was probably offended that we didn’t open the door to see his nifty little “official ID”, but I’d rather offend Mr.. Maintenance Man than open the door to the St. Thomas Boogeyman.  This vacation has been rough enough so far, I don’t need any extra drama.

So, that’s where we stand right now.  It’s bedtime, we have to get up and make our way to the ship tomorrow.  I’d say it’s all downhill from here, but I’m not on that ship yet. 

St. Thomas (Again)

As I write this particular post I’m enjoying the rocking motion of the ship.  That’s right folks, I’m finally on board the Carnival Glory.  Before we went to bed Tuesday night, we decided that we’d meet in the lobby of the resort at 8:00 in the morning to catch a taxi that would take us to the port.  Our ship would be docking at 9, so we would be waiting.  After some initial worry that the taxi driver didn’t really know where he was going….we made it to the pier and were able to watch the Glory dock.  There was cheering, clapping, and jumping up and down from the eight of us who were standing there so happy to finally see the ship pull into port. 

Nothing else crazy happened that kept us from boarding the ship.  It went so smoothly, it was almost scary. We were told that after customs cleared the ship and passengers had a chance to disembark in St. Thomas, we would be able to board.  So, we sat on the pier with all our luggage.  One security man checked our names off the list (thank goodness we were on the list).  People stared as they walked by on their way to their tours of the island we had been on since Monday.  After we got through security, we were taken upstairs to check in, and when we came off the elevator, there was Kendra.  She was sitting on the steps waiting for us.  I guess she figured it was about time we showed up.

After we got settled and got food in our bellies (we skipped breakfast in order to get to the pier as early as possible), we got back off the ship in St. Thomas.  We caught a taxi to take a tour of the island.  I can’t tell you how terrifying it is to be rushing along the winding hills of St. Thomas when your taxi is a big tour truck with no doors (and I was on the end).  I was holding on to the handle in front of me like my life depended on it (which it did), and a time or two I had to grab onto mom to stop me from falling out when we took a curve too sharp.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure we were speeding the whole time, and apparently, red lights (and stop signs) are just suggestions around here.  I’m just glad I didn’t end up with leaves in my hair from the tree branches I kept dodging. 

The tour included stops where we took some amazing pictures of Charlotte Amalie and Magen’s Bay.  We got some t-shirts (4 for $10, oh yeah).  Then, we went to see Blackbeard.  After our tour where we learned about famous pirates, we walked through the shopping district back to the boat.  It was hot, and it felt like we were walking forever, but when we got back to the ship and saw where we walked from…..turns out, it wasn’t as far as I pictured in my mind.  We were back on the ship by 3 (we didn’t have to be back until 6, but we weren’t about to start tempting fate), and we got a bit of a tour from Kendra (who better to show you around than the person who had been here “wandering around” since Sunday). 

Then, the most amazing thing happened….the ship left port at 6:30, and when the boat started moving….we were on it….WOOHOO!!!  I highly recommend that if you’ve ever considered coming to St. Thomas, do it.  It’s quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  I loved that we got some extra time here, and I’m hoping to come back one day.  However, as much as I did love it here, I’m excited to be on the way to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I’ve always wanted to see Puerto Rico.  I hope it meets my expectations.  We’ll see tomorrow.  As for tonight, I think it’s time to hit the sack, I’m exhausted.  I hope I can get to sleep with the show that’s rocking in the lounge below us.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

I think I’ve said this about every port I’ve been to so far…..ok, so it’s just been St. Thomas and this one because, um, well, I missed Half Moon Cay, but San Juan is beautiful.  Even though we got rained on when we were eating breakfast this morning, it was a great day in Puerto Rico.  We didn’t have any big excursions planned today, so we decided to walk to Castillo San Cristobal.   We could see it from the ship, so we figured we weren’t going to pay a taxi to take us where we could walk.  We didn’t know if we were going to tour the place yet (we wanted to see the price), but we wanted to see it up close.

I wish I could say that our reason for wanting to go there had to do with wanting to learn more about the history of Old San Juan, but if I said that, I’d be lying.  Angie and I wanted to go see it because (now indulge me for a minute) part of the Wizards of Waverly Place movie was filmed there.  I’m a Disney addict….and love all things entertainment, so I figured this was the perfect place for me to go here.  This old fort was beautiful (I could have done without the iguana though….just glad he didn’t have any friends with me).  We were able to walk along the ramps used to haul cannons.  We went through the tunnels that run under the structures.  We had a lot of fun (and yes, we learned something too). 

We shopped a little then headed back to the ship.  We still had a few hours to walk around if we wanted, but we wanted to make sure nothing kept us from getting back on the ship by the time it was going to deport.  We suited up (swimsuits of course) and headed to the lido deck to get some sun.  Naturally, the sun was covered by clouds as soon as we found some chairs, but we ordered our daiquiris and sat there anyway.  Good thing we were in our swimsuits because it rained a little…..and we still kept sitting there. 

We departed San Juan right on time and being able to see the island as we pulled away was amazing.  The sun had finally come back out, and the colors of the buildings dazzled in the sunlight.  This is another stop I’d definitely recommend if you’re thinking about coming here……definitely do it.