Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have my days...

You know there are those days when I just want to come home. I miss my family and friends. The website that has given me the most comfort during these rocky transitions has got to be THE WEATHER CHANNEL!!! Holy cow Charlottians! You know there are places on earth where it isn't 98-105 every day in July & August. In fact it was a balmy 72 last Saturday.

In all seriousness, this is all still a work in progress. I have to help Amanda with her transition. I remember when the 2nd and 3rd months rolled by and some of the new wore off and lonliness set in. That is when I went about the task of making friends. Jenny was an absolute god-send when it came to getting my butt out of the apartment. Amanda is getting to know my small but very valuable group of friends that I/we have made. We hang out at the Miller's house about every Sunday and watch movies, eat, shoot the junk, and mostly play with their 6 month old. I think it is neat that we have friends that in the short time that we have known them are wanting to come to our wedding and be apart of our special day.

So wedding planning and counseling are abound this weekend. I think this is where I get my "Wife Instruction Manual." Correct me if I am wrong, but in a 4 hour class they are going to teach me everything I need to know about how to be a good husband. I cannot believe more people don't take this class, there would certainly be much less divorce.*

Since the cruise things have been back to the status quo. We have gone out a few times and danced, drank, and were merry. Amanda continues her job hunt, she has decided to expand outside the educational field. Please wish /pray her luck.

*okay, so did anyone pick up on the sarcasm, that is paraphrased on how important the letter made this class sound to the future of our marraige.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cruise Wrap Up

All said and done, we had a fabulous time! Thank you to Aunt Claire for this fabulous wedding present. I highly suggest this cruise to anyone, maybe a 7 day version without St. John, but it was fun. I cannot wait to go on another one.

Cruise Day Ten

Waking up at 5:30am to disembark started the day off on a wonderful note. We had our luggage sent down the night before and they were to call us by color to get off the ship. This was to ensure a nice orderly departure. My cold had gotten worse as Amandas seemed to improve as the day wore on. We got off the boat, loaded the 700lbs of luggage into the van and headed back to Aunt Claire's house. We ate some lunch, said our goodbyes, to the airport we go.

We had some time and got through security quickly. Ate a little dinner and got some Tylenol Cold. My sinus' were so stopped up that I knew what was coming on the plane. I was right. The relief I felt as we got to cruising altitude was reversed 10 fold as we came down. My ears had long popped and I just wanted to stick a pen in my ear and pop my ear drumbs to relieve the pressure. So glad to be home though, oh, damn.... I forgot.

We boarded the orange line at about 9:45pm. Transferred to the Red line at the same time that lalapalooza was letting out. So there is Amand and I, me sick with sinus crap, each holding 70lbs of bags, with thousands of stoners asking if we had any pot. This days was just getting better. Amanda fought hard on the train first and scored us some seats. She kicked ass! it was crowded all the way up to Loyola, I guess all the students went to the show that day.

In bed at 1:00am. Never to take the train from home to Midway again!

(Note: We traveled by boat, car, plane, and train in one day!)

Cruise Day Nine

So, Amanda and I are coming down with colds. We didn't really do much. I suppose the highlight of this day was swing and salsa dacing on the ship. We took some lessons from the dancers on board. This day was very much overkill, we weren't hungry, we weren't entertainable... well, we thought.

The best show was last. There was a juggler/comedian who has us laughing up a storm. He juggled a kid, all kinds of things, and was just plain funny. After the show, all that could be said was "Get me off this boat!"

Cruise Day Eight

So we wake up in time to watch us dock up in Boston. We ate a little breakfast before going through the most absurd security line. They had everyone go to the back of the ship to have their passport checked before they could go ashore. The Homeland Security looked at it for a hot second and a memeber of the ship's crew would put a smile on your sea pass card. If I were planning on entering illegally on a cruise ship, I think I might bring a sharpie and foil this entire check up.

We took a neat little tour of Boston and Cambridge. We saw the Old North Church, the freedom trail, and where John Kerry lives. The highlight for me was walking on Harvard's campus. I thought I would feel something really cool, instead I felt dumb and inadequate. I then looked back on my wasted potential as I passed MIT's campus, okay, so that was really dramatic. My favorite part of cambridge was seeing the offices of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe a.k.a. the home of Click & Clack from NPR's Car Talk. We went shopping a little and had lunch (on Carmax's dime) at Cheer's!

We had our second formal dinner night so I put on my suit. Food was great. This was also the night that the Beatle Maniacs performed on the ship. They were incredible. I have never been a big Beatles fan (I think it has something to do with David's love for them, same thing with the Tarheels, only, I like the Beatles now!) but seeing this cover band live was so much fun. They came out as 60's Beatles, then Sgt. Peppers, then as late 70's. Much fun was had.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cruise Day Seven

So back out at sea after the day in Halifax. The day was long. Amanda read during the early part of the morning and I set out to the gym. I went swimming, worked on the elliptical machine and then went to a steam room. I have never done that before but I seemed a little pointless. I supposed that you sweat out something and are supposed to feel refreshed. I got up and left when the naked guy came in and sat next to me, seemed like a good queue to leave.

The show tonight was a love themed show. They sang a bunch of different love songs and had some dancing. I really enjoyed it though Amanda walked out after 3 songs to finish Harry Potter. I don’t think that it was that bad, but I think Harry was that damn good.

Tonight was the night of the midnight buffet. I was the only man left standing in our party at midnight (actually, I was the only man in our party). The food was amazing but not worth standing in line for 45 minutes to get. In retrospect, the stomach ache I gained and sleep, was not a very good deal.

the last two days I will have to post later, because I haven't written them yet

Cruise Day Six

Day Six: Halifax Nova Scotia

Woops! So the Atlantic Time Zone nailed us. We were to meet @9:30am for our Sea Kayaking tour. As we were killing time in the shops at 9:15 (EST) Amanda’s aunt Claire asked why we weren’t on our trip. SHIT!!!! $160 bucks lost. Royal Caribean did nothing to help us out. We spent more money on tickets to the hop-on/hop-off trolley tour. It was cool because if you saw something you wanted to explore further, you could get off and check it out at your own pace, then just hop on the next one 20 minutes later.

This place is stunning, clean, much bigger than I thought, and kinda interesting. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. There were some cool parts and some boring parts, but the view was always attractive. We got off at the pier, watched some decendents of the Waterford Crystal makers at Nova Scotia Crystal work their craft. There was a buried fort at the top of the hill, it had a big dry moat that they would use to keep from being attacked. Since no one ever bothered attacking Nova Scotia, they declared it useless. The coolest story was hearing about the great explosion. It was the largest explosion before Hiroshima. Two boats, one the Mont Blanc, collided in the narrowest part of the harbour and the munitions on board ignited. Hundreds of builings were leveled and many people who were watching the ships on fire lost their vision, mostly kids. The town is full of old people wearing eye patches.

Nova Scotia means “New Scotland” in Latin.

Cruise Day Five

Day 5: Saint John, NB, Canada

Welcome to Canada eh! Saint John is new to the tourism game and it shows. Not a stunning place from the dock. (I don’t think any place but Bar Harbor is attractive from their docks .ed)

We were off on a little tour as we docked the boat. Amanda could not get over the dirt on the buildings. We got to go into “the oldest public market” in Canada. The roof is the upside down hull of the ship because the only people in the early 1900’s that were capable of building large things were ship builders. We saw some French & Indian War towers and forts. The coolest thing Saint John had to offer was the reversing falls. The Bay of Fundy has 20-28ft high tides. So there is a 14 foot drop off at low tide where the river dumps into the bay. At high tide, the bay rises above the falls and actually forces the river backwards. We arrived at the peak of high tide and the power of the two bodies of water colliding was awe inspiring.

That night Amanda and I were to meet up after her nap. I went to the casino to play a little Texas Hold’em and we were to meet up for Trivia 15 minutes before dinner. Well, as I sat down for dinner and Reatha asked where Amanda was. I turned flush, ran up two stories to catch the last questions of trivia. Amanda has a great sense of humor and put her team name down as “flying solo.”

The wedding is still on!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cruise Day Four

Bar Harbor, Maine: (BA ha Ba)

This was the coolest day of the trip thus far. I must start by saying that when we left port in Portland a light fog had set in, by the end of the evening you could barely see anything in front of your face. I was thinking titanic too! When we dropped anchor in Bar Harbor, you couldn’t see land at all. We parallel parked the boat in the middle of the ocean and went to port by tender. These are small life-boat sized crafts to ferry us to Bar Harbor because our ship was just a touch too big, okay, so the biggest boat there is about 75 feet long.

You could only see land from about 100 yards away and the ship had disappeared behind us. We took a walking tour from a gentleman in a top hat. It reminded me a lot of Key West. Sounds odd but I think of Key West as a town that had its “hay day” at and a little past the turn of the century. Bar Harbor was once the summer home of the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Astors, and the Biltmores. All the rich gentry in American industry called this their summer home. It was fun to hear all the stories behind this island. The oddest part is that the biggest houses are known as cottages, where in the Carolinas a cottage is just a place to put crap in the mountains. We got to see the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass, gorgeous!

We settled in for lunch where we all got some seafood and enjoyed the local blueberry pie. Amanda’s Mom and Aunt went to meet their next tour excursion they were taking and Amanda and I shopped and got back to the ship early. Our first early morning led to sleep deprivation; we took some power naps that remedied the situation. Dinner was fantastic as we all made it back to tell stories of our day.

Reatha, Claire, Amanda, and I settled into the card room for a few hours after dinner and played some card games. We laughed so hard that other people inquired what game we were playing and if we could teach it to them. It was just good company. After the teenagers aboard all decided to meet in the card room, we left for the night.

Cruise Day Three

Portland Maine:

Day three arrived with us sleeping in again! We ate a little breakfast before my first every off ship excursion. I am glad it was one of my favorite pass-time experiences.

We took a bus to Freeport, Maine, home of L.L. Bean!!! They have a huge store with everything they sell and more in the catalog. You can try on everything right there. I enjoyed it, I didn’t buy anything there but it is because I am so lucky and need nothing. Amanda got a rain jacket that had a fleece lining, even when it is 85, if it rains, the poor girl can still freeze. We went to all kinds of outlets right there, enjoyed some Ben & Jerry’s. We headed back and got some scenic places in maine.

As we went back to the ship, Amanda and I thought that Maine was a lovely place if we needed to get away from the city. I think if (most likely when) we get tired of the urban lifestyle, and the suburbs call our name, it won’t be generic suburbs. I would love to go to a small town with some charm, a little character.

On the ship we ate and went to see the “show.” It was a crappy techno-broadway revue. I was not happy hearing Oklahoma to rap and disco. They have two more shots at being good so I must go see the singers and dancers again. Amanda retired to Harry Potter and some sleep. I went to see a comedy show for adults that was very good and then I watched the last little bit of the ship’s own American Idol competition. I don’t think I will win this one folks, apparently you need talent!

Cruise Day Two

So day two of the cruise came and went very uneventful. I thought today would be different than it was. We were all day at sea and sailing at about 20 knots. This brisk pace made sure that everything you did you were aware of the ship’s motion. I didn’t get seasick but I thought that would be the case. Amanda and I ate an early lunch after sleeping in a bit. We then met her family in the lounge for some “name that tune trivia. Out of 36 answers, we were able to ascertain 31 of them. This was tops of about 20 teams. It was advantageous to have the multi generation team.

Amanda went sunbathing while I explored the ship. I participated in a Texas Hold’em tournament in the casino. I felt like my Aunt Annie, I was wearing seersucker pants, a polo shirt, and I went all in on a 7/2 off suit….. and won!!! I showed my cards to the guy who folded me his chips. The next hand I got a rocking deal and went all in before the turn… poor guy got played and I gladly eliminated him from the tournament and became the short-lived chip leader. I was owned in about 10 hands and finished 7th of about 11 or 12. Not bad for a “malady” in a casino.

After a formal dinner and some lovely photos that Amanda and I took,(insert formal photo here)

We went to a horrible comedy show. The guy was so proud that he didn’t cuss during his show, he should worry about being funny during his show. The funny thing is he was drinking and smoking in the adult lounge later that night.

Cruise Day One

So day one of the cruise has come and gone.

It all began at Amanda’s Aunt Claire’s home where we made sure all the bags were packed and tagged. We enjoyed a little lunch and a short little jaunt to Baltimore. We paid our 7 thousand dollars to park and unloaded the luggage on to airport style little carts.

We strolled through the “Diet Coke” of airport security. We boarded and found our room. The ship is huge!!!

The room, not so much! At least we have a balcony!

We started out by strolling around the ship. The first thing we found was a ping pong table and we played in the wind. The tough part is of course that the ball is very light and it doesn’t always go the way you want it to.

We then changed for dinner, had way too much food, and set out to discover more of the ship. Tomorrow is a formal dinner, we shall see how that goes. As the ship entered the storm of the century, we decided to lay low and go to a bar. They were doing music trivia from the 50s and 60s. The name that tune style game had a possible 38 correct answers of which we got 20. If you took our age as a handicap… I am pretty sure we won!

After that, we explored a little more and found a karaoke bar. We sat down and had a couple cokes. I decided that it would be a good idea to sing!! Yeah, oddly, I was right!. I sang Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” and the crowd was kinda feeling it. I think because I didn’t actually have to sing much of the song and most of it is really fast Canadian Rap, no one realized how bad I am really am. I managed to get some people really clapping and smiling and that is what matters. It helped that I followed a guy singing Elvis’ “I can’t help falling in love with you.” I was able to kick start the evening again.

Amanda and I roamed around the ship some more, I even scored a few compliments while we went about our second round of ping pong. Amanda owns me! Cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Home & Safe

This is the Captain speaking, welcome home from the Grandeur of the Seas. Amanda and I made it home, safe but not well. We both have colds, I have some kind of sinus issue that was made worse by the plane ride home. I have typed up all but the last few days of the trip and starting tomorrow, I plan on posting one or two per day. The internet on the ship was not MAC friendly... bastards!

Amanda has a job interview on Wednesday, another principal just called to set up one, and she just scored a part time job with my alma mater the GAP! Things are looking up, we may be able to eat and have cable next month!!! Keep Amanda in your prayers for the job interviews please.

til tomorrow!