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25 Additional Random Things

I keep thinking about my previous list of Random Things, and reading other people’s lists, and I wanted to have another go at it.

  1. Back in the day, I was sure I was going to write the next great American novel someday. I guess I still have time, but it seems much more of a pipe dream at this point in my life.
  2. Sometimes I think I want four or five kids, because I love having large family gatherings—and it’s what I’m used to. But I’m not sure I want to be pregnant that many times!
  3. I knew the night I met my husband that we would get married. It was love at first sight.
  4. Someday I will live in my dream house—a ranch with enough space for everything, a great party kitchen with professional appliances, and a hot tub. There’s more, but that’s the gist.
  5. We’ve been on two cruises and I love them. LOVE THEM LOVE THEM LOVE THEM! I would go on a cruise every other month if I could afford it.
  6. I would love to live by family for the rest of my life, but I just don’t think we can live in the cold anymore.
  7. I hope that I can be a good parent. Everyone assures me I will be, but I just don’t feel it yet.
  8. I could eat an entire box of Krispy Kreme Original donuts if given the opportunity. Especially if they were Hot & Fresh.
  9. My favorite salad is mixed greens with Craisins, toasted pecans, feta cheese, and Amish Dressing (a sweet mustard dressing).
  10. Sometimes I want to sell everything and just start over.
  11. I am a PC person (we have three), but would be willing to give a Mac a try if they weren’t so damn expensive.
  12. I’ve always wanted to see Jimmy Buffet in concert and he’s coming here in August. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
  13. I really want to travel around the world—one of my top places is Fiji, where we initially wanted to go for our honeymoon but never quite made it.
  14. I love music from the 50s and 60s. I guess it’s from growing up listening to it via my parents!
  15. I have never had a broken bone.
  16. I have been to the emergency room four times that I can remember: 1) when I jammed scissors into my hand when I was about seven or eight, 2) when I fell off my bike in high school, 3) when I sliced the tip of my finger off in college when working at Glen’s, and 4) when I fell down the stairs last year and twisted both my ankles.
  17. I love organization—storage containers/bins/baskets, shelving, labellers… Maybe because I’m a packrat as well?
  18. I hate my legs so rarely wear skirts or dresses unless they are ankle length. I hate shorts, too, but had to wear them in North Carolina to survive the summers.
  19. I miss reading. I couldn’t even tell you the last “real” book I read (real meaning NOT baby-related help books).
  20. I cannot believe our thermostat is set at 60 for a Michigan winter—and our heating bill is still $300.
  21. I just figured out that my numerology life path number is 5, which “suggests that you entered this plane with a highly progressive mindset, with the attitude and skills to make the world a better place.” Interesting.
  22. Someday I hope to have a job I truly enjoy. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Heaven, maybe?
  23. I know I complain too much and am trying to get better about that. Or at least tell the same amount of “good” stories so people don’t think my life is ALL bad.
  24. I love love love my car, a 2001 Toyota Highlander purchased brand new a week before we got married. I would buy the same exact car in an instant, but the new Highlanders are NOT the same.
  25. I have a personalized license plate that says TRAVCTY. It was strange living in NC and having people know what it meant!
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Day 8 – Sea Day

Our last sea day on our way home—how sad. Although having said that, we both agreed that eight days is almost too long (or at least it felt that way). So we agree that seven days is probably the prime cruising time.

First things first—we slept in, since we were up late the night before. Unfortunately, last night I started feeling sick after I finished journaling and tried to go to sleep—I only had three drinks, but I think I mixed too many liquors trying to decide what sounded good. And Tom had drunk a little too much so he finally slept in as well. He made it up in time to attend the debarkation meeting at 11.

We decided it was finally time to play mini golf—since that was one of the few “entertainment” things I actually wanted to do on the ship. Unfortunately, we chose the wrong day—a sea day is NOT the day to play mini golf, since it’s on the top deck and windy as hell. So we only played the three holes that were most sheltered from the wind. I also wanted to go down the waterslide, but Tom assured me it was NOTHING special and could really be avoided.

We just sort of hung around all day, running into friends and chatting, hitting up the wifi, and I think we even got in another nap—then right before dinner we had a little farewell get-together with some of our Cruise Critic friends. Then it was off to our last dinner, which interestingly was my most favorite meal of the whole week (not including the supper club dinner earlier in the week). Tom and I both had the New England Lobster and Crab Cake (Served with Herb Salad and Roasted Pepper Remoulade) which was really good, then I had the Caesar Salad (which was the same salad I’d been getting all week, but it just tasted better tonight) and Tom had the Heart of Iceberg Lettuce Salad Garnished with Florida Orange and Grapefruit Segments. For the main course, then I had the Neptune Platter (Fried Large Black Tiger Prawns, Calamari Rings and Breaded Fish Filet Served with Fried Potatoes and Roasted Bell Pepper Remoulade) which just hit the spot and was very good. Tom had the Tender Roasted Prime Rib of American Beef au Jus and a Baked Potato wit Traditional Toppings. Dessert was a Grand Marnier Souffle Served with Orange Vanilla Sauce which everyone just went gaga over, and while it was yummy, I am not a huge custard fan, so I let Tom finish it for me.

After dinner we went back to the room to start packing, as our luggage had to be out in the hallway by midnight, and we had plans to see the last show, Carnival Legends. Now, if you haven’t heard of this show, it’s made up of Carnival guests who won karaoke contests throughout the week—singing parts like Madonna, Garth Brooks, Britney Spears, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, and Frank Sinatra. We actually knew two people ibn the show—the Britney, who had done it before on another cruise and had such a fun time she wanted to do it again…and Elton, one of our friends who was completely drunk during karaoke and we goaded him into singing, and then we got him to agree to do the Legends show. Needless to say he hated us since he didn’t realize he was agreeing to a full-fledged performance on the main stage for the entire ship! So, our whole group was there to support him, sitting in the front row! It was an absolute riot!!

After the show, we sat and chatted and said some goodbyes, then we decided to hit the dance club one last time. On the way through the casino, I sat down with $1 at the penny slots and tripled my money in a few minutes—woohoo! I was still down overall for the week, but not by much. We didn’t stay too long at the dance club because we were exhausted…and they were playing sucky music. So it was back to the cabin to finish packing the odds and ends and then hitting the sheets.

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Day 7 – Belize

Another early early morning due to an excursion, ugh. We were looking forward to it, of course, but man I hate early mornings, especially after late nights. Thank heavens for room service.

We were able to get on an earlier tender than we had hoped, so were off about 8am along with our new friends John and Erica (the couple from California that we met on the beach after ziplining), headed for our cave tubing excursion. We were a bit hungry so Tom and John went off to find us some food—and came back with a delicious assortment including two croissants, a piece of johnnycake (not cornbread, almost a biscuit), and a cinnamon roll…for a total of $2!

There were three guys running the cave-tubing show, and they were all a hoot. On the 35-45 minute drive to the caves, we got some comedy and local flavor along with a few history lessons. Oh, and a taste of a local beverage—cashew wine (jokingly called the poor man’s whiskey). It was interesting, but nothing I needed (or wanted) to bring home with me. They always asked if there were any questions, so I asked if there were restrooms, and they said no, they had “quicklies”—you want to quickly go in and quickly come out. And when someone asked if there were snakes, he said oh yes, Belize has something like 58 varieties of snakes, 35 of which are poisonous. “Just kidding, just kidding.” The whole 40 minutes was like that, it was really fun.

Once we got to the caves, we were handed headlamps, tubes, and life jackets, and were led down the trail toward the river. They said it was going to be about a 30-minute walk, so we were all surprised when we hit the river after no more than five minutes. Yeah, that was just the starting point—we had to cross the river to get to the trail. They also wanted us to get wet so we’d get the feel for the water and wouldn’t be surprised later. We were all a little shocked at how cold it was—on the bus, someone had asked what the water temperature was and he said it was “refreshing” and when pressed, said between 72 and 78 degrees. MY ASS. That water was nowhere near 72-78 degrees, LOL. Maybe 70 at the tops, I’m guessing. But we all got in and some even jumped off a high rock formation.

Then it was back on the trail, where we got an unexpected surprise about 15 minutes in…the guides told the women to drop their tubes, and they would carry them the rest of the way! (I had read in their reviews that they did that, but I didn’t realize it was an all-the-time thing.) At first I was like “I can carry my own damn tube” but as the trail got a bit rougher, I was glad I didn’t have to worry about it—especially with my ankles. As it was, I was barely taking in the surroundings—I was more concerned with watching my every step, as the trail we were on was all dirt, big rocks, and roots. And a stupid kid in front of me kept shuffling her feet and kicking stones into my path. GRRR. I finally made a break for it when there was room to pass. Anyway, the guides all looked like the Michelin man—each carrying like five or six tubes, and flying over the trails with ease. They would stop us to point out interesting trees like the one that produces the avocado and one that helps prevent the onset of a poisonous snake bite if you chew the bark.

At about 25 minutes we hit a fork in the path and they told us that the cruise ship excursions took the path to the right—and they only got to go through one cave. If we wanted to walk about another six minutes, we would be able to tube through two caves. Of course, we opted for the additional six minutes. When we finally reached the destination/starting point, we were split up into groups of about nine and we all kerplunked into the river and were tethered in a human chain—you tucked your feet under the armpits of the person in front of you.

It was actually a little chilly going down river—you were not in the sun at all (because you were underground in the caves) and your butt was in the water! The guides would point out neat things, and keep us moving in slower water or steer us in the right direction if we started to get off course, but the most important thing they did was yell BUTTS UP at us when the river got too shallow (it varied from 28 FEET to 4 INCHES) so when they yelled BUTTS UP, it meant get your butt up out of the water, at least higher than the tube bottom, otherwise you would scrape your butt on the rocks. There were a few times we did hit bottom—you could hear the rocks scraping on the tube—but we never got fully stuck. Butts up was hard because you had to pretty much lay flat on top of the tube, which sort of unlocked your feet a little from the person in front of you, but you had to keep hold of them so you didn’t come unattached…meanwhile trying to hold your head up out of the water—unless you wanted a cold, wet head. Oh, and the head lamps didn’t do much to help us see into the vast darkness, but were actually more for the guides to see where we were and to keep track of us.

Of course the guides were just as much of a riot as they were on the bus, and they made the whole trip worthwhile. They definitely appeared to love their jobs and take pride in what they did. On the way back to town we stopped at a place to get snacks and t-shirts, and I actually had an orange Fanta out of a glass bottle (we also both got shirts). The strangest yet neatest thing about this trip? You didn’t pay until you were done—and satisfied! Which, we have to say, we were COMPLETELY satisfied. In addition to getting a better excursion for about half of what Carnival was charging, I am sure we got much more personality and personalized service as well. Definitely worth the money and we would recommend Cave-Tubing.com to anyone.

Once back in town, we only had a short amount of time to do some shopping. We dreamily priced Hearts-On-Fire solitaire earrings and a necklace at Diamonds International. When we were done choking on the prices, we searched for some affordable souvenirs but nothing hit the spot so we just went back to the ship where we did our usual quick lunch and then relaxed on the balcony while the ship left port (it was a neat, meandering course, as we had to wind around the protected barrier reefs).

Soon it was time for dinner… and another few starters for me, LOL. I had to have the Thai Beef Salad (Sliced Prime Beef, Onions and Peppers, Marinated with Oriental Dressing) and the Crepes Filled with Spinach and Ricotta Cheese (Parmesan and Cold Pressed Olive Oil Dressing, Cucumber Confit). I also wanted the Lasagna Bolognese which sounded DIVINE (Baked Casserole with Layers of Pasta, Lean Ground Beef, Tomatoes, Spinach and Mozzarella, Served on a Lake of Pomodoro Sauce). About half our table thought the same thing—except when it arrived, it was NOT nearly as good as we had hoped. It wasn’t horrible tasting, but it was all ground meat with barely any tomatoes or sauce—just very strange. (Many thanks to Earl, our headwaiter, who told me ahead of time I didn’t want it for my main course, and to try it as a starter instead. He rocks.) Tom also had the Crepes for a starter. We both had the Mixed Garden and Field Greens Salad.

For our main course, Tom had Coq au Vin de Chambertin—Supreme of Chicken Marinated and Cooked in Red Burgundy Wine Garnished with Silver Onions, Mushrooms and Wine Dough Crisps. I had the Blackened Fillet of Tilapia, Topped with Shrimp and Seafood, Served over Jambalya Rice. Tom said his was good, and mine was okay—the best part was actually the seafood topping and the unmentioned very-thinly-sliced fried okra strips.

I was off my game again, and forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu, but I had some Apple and Nuts wrapped in Phyllo thing, with vanilla sauce and ice cream, which was probably my most favorite dessert so far (aside from the vanilla ice cream in the buffet line). Tom had some chocolate chocolaty chocolate fudge cake thing, which was just a little rich and chocolaty.

After dinner we took photos with our friends, we walked through the casino on the way back to our room, and I proceeded to lose another $5—but I had fun doing it:

Then it was back to the room to change and relax a bit while waiting for our late-dinner-seating friends to finish eating. Everyone was having fun drinking and chatting, except me (the alcohol just wasn’t going down well). Then it was off to the Lido Deck for the Midnight Mexican Buffet—and a live band. It was quite fun—we were just hanging out and chatting with all our new friends. Everyone (except me) was getting a little drunk, and they were all a riot. I actually called it a night before everyone else, because what little alcohol I had had wasn’t settling well and I just wanted to go to bed. And I was thrilled to know I could sleep in as late as I wanted the following morning, as it was out last sea day and we didn’t have to be anywhere!

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Day 6 – Isla Roatan, Honduras

The morning started entirely too early, when our room service appeared at 6am. We were to meet our ShoreTrips tour guide at 8am on the pier, so there was no sleeping in. And I have to admit, not being a morning person in the least, there was a brief moment when I honestly wanted to say “Screw ziplining, I want to sleep in.” But man am I glad I didn’t.

Ziplining through the Honduran rainforest was, simply, amazing. It was hot and took some effort—but it was so worth the $57 per person. After our group got off the pier, we had to wait about 15 minutes for the van to come pick us up. Then it was off through tiny winding roads with crazy as hell drivers and pedestrians with a death wish. In about 10 minutes or so, we were on the other side of the island at the South Shore Ziplining Company (I think it was called). There were four guides with us, and they got us all belted, harnessed, cinched, and helmeted up, then there was a quick 3-minute safety brief and we were off!

Oh, they told us we were NOT to take pictures—we were to concentrate on keeping our hands in the positions they told us (so we would keep ourselves headed straight and so we could brake). But, as soon as they said we couldn’t take pictures, they said they would take them for us! So one guide had like four cameras on his arm and around his neck, and he just alternated using each of them for taking pictures throughout the morning. (So we all have to do an email exchange so we can make sure we get the pictures that are on everyone else’s cameras!)

I was the very first one off the platform, and it was sooooooo exhilarating! It went so quickly you had to remember to take time to look down and around (instead of just forward to the next platform)—with the lush greenery whizzing by on all sides. (Well, actually, I didn’t remember to look down until about the third platform.) Some platforms we all fit on, so they waited until we were all there before starting the next line. Others were smaller platforms, so they would start us on the next line while people were still coming in. Between a few of the platforms, we had to walk up flights of stairs (and when I say flights, I mean steps cut into the side of the mountain, braced with pieces of wood—and in a very few instances, real wooden stairs) or up mountain paths—with roots and rocks and trees and all.

The guides were absolutely wonderful, even though there was a bit of a language barrier between us (some more than others). You could tell they did this all day, every day—as they knew exactly what they were doing (a good thing when your life is on the line), when to stop for us to catch our breath, and when to stop for photo ops—and they seemed to move around and up and down like monkeys. We all moved along fairly quickly, and soon we were nearing the end. I didn’t count how many lines we did, but I’d guess it was at least eight or nine. The best one was at the highest point, looking out over the ocean, and it was our photo opportunity:

They also warned us it was the fastest line of them all. All morning long they had pretty much been telling us NOT to brake because we’d end up going too slow and then we’d have to drag ourselves to the platform (not fun, a few of us ended up having to do it) but on this one, they said feel free to brake ALL the way down otherwise you will come in TOO fast. I’m not sure if they didn’t trust me or what, but they sent me down with a guide. I honestly didn’t care why they did it, because it gave me a chance to just look around and not have to worry about keeping myself straight or braking or slamming into a tree at the end of the line. So, I got to go down sideways, and enjoyed a nice view of the ocean as my legs swished a few tiny tree branches on the looooong way down.

Everyone just had an ABSOLUTE blast and it could not have gone better…and everyone in our group was extremely thankful to Tom (and me) for setting it all up. I am sure Costa Rica would have been great as well, but we were very satisfied by the whole experience. I can easily see us doing this again and again, whenever and wherever we get the chance. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Afterwards, they said they could take us to the beach at no extra charge—except most of us didn’t have suits, as the beach hadn’t been on the itinerary. So after some discussion, it was decided those who wanted to get off at the beach would do so, and the rest would continue on to the ship. Of course, there were more language barriers to overcome, and unfortunately, we never really did—as we got to the beach, there were four of our group left in the van, and the driver just disappeared (although the van was still running so we were sure he would come back). Then the other couple decided they would just stay, so it was just me and Tom left in the van.

Neither of us had our suits and I didn’t want to go to the beach if I couldn’t go swimming, so I just wanted to go back to the ship so we could shower and/or change, then we could go back to the beach. I was also feeling kind of non-social so didn’t feel like hanging out at the beach with a group of people. But the driver didn’t come back. And didn’t come back. And didn’t come back. And we saw him wandering around. So Tom was like, “Well, I guess we’re staying.” So I was immediately crabby because I did NOT want to be there, it was NOT what I wanted to do, and I was seemingly being forced to do it anyway.

So I took of my shoes and socks (and ankle braces!) and stomped off to at least go stand in the ocean. After a few minutes it was so hot I said screw it, took off my t-shirt, flung it onto the beach, and waded out farther into the water and dove in. Everyone was like “What the—?” and before I knew it, Heidi was taking her t-shirt off and coming in as well. She said she never would have done it if I hadn’t, so she was glad. So we were out in our shorts and bras just having a good ol’ time. The water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature—just slightly cool but warm enough once you were in it for a bit.

Then the others started heading into the water, and the guys yelled out to us (we were probably 30 yards farther out) some comment about going topless, so I took off my bra and waved it over my head. Again, much laughter from the group—and cameras were coming out of pockets. Heidi quickly followed suit, and then another girl joined in the fray as well. It was hilarious! I can’t wait to see the pics of the three of us waving our bras over our heads!

While we were there, we struck up some conversation with the people in the cabana next to ours—a bunch of really nice people overall, but there was one couple from California that we really clicked with, so we chatted with them quite a bit. Tom said he had actually seen them the night before at the Disco (after I had gone back to the room to preserve my ankles). We were talking about shore excursions for Belize, and ended up inviting them to go cave tubing with us—and we were all really looking forward to it.

A few drinks, a bit of sun, and two hours later, it was back on the van. Some of the guys wanted to buy some rum, so the guide said he would take us to the grocery store—which ended up to be about a 30-minute round trip. (I thought it was somewhat asinine to want to buy alcohol here, when we had been at other ports where alcohol was more easily accessible—plus you could buy it pretty cheaply on the ship, but oh well, what can you do? Apparently we had no say in anything once we booked the trip, LOL.) At least we got a good view of the ship from where we were—and we got to experience even MORE crazy driving (some of us just shut our eyes). Then they dropped us off back at the pier and some went one way to go shopping and we went back to the ship, perusing a few of the booths that were set up in between. There were lots of neat wood bowl sets and intricately hand-carved jewelry box-type things for pretty cheap prices, but we really don’t need any of that, so I bought two tiny carved keychains.

Then it was back on the ship to get out of the wet clothes and grab lunch. Then it was back to the room to shower and watch us debark. As I type, we are on our way to Belize… I wish I had time for a nap, but unfortunately, dinner is in an hour and Tom’s alarm is going off in 10 minutes. So I may just close my eyes for a quick few minutes.

Which I did, and woke up in a frenzy because I had slept for what I thought was way more than 10 minutes, and Tom hadn’t woken me up, so I was thinking we had either missed dinner or were going to be late. Except we weren’t—I had been looking at the time on the laptop, which is not the real time. You see, Daylight Savings took place while we were on the ship but we were instructed to NOT change our time until we were headed away from Belize Wednesday night—apparently it would be easier to just keep the original time as long as possible. We also had to deal with time differences in Roatan today, double- and triple-checking the time to make sure we got back to the boat in time. So anyway, the laptop doesn’t know we weren’t supposed to make the time change, so it changed automatically, so when I awoke with a start and thought it was 5:15 it was only 4:15. I know, damn, I could have slept longer. It’s amazing how tired you feel once you stop moving.

It was our last formal night, so it was dress blues again for Tom and a new dress for me, bought especially for the cruise. We had more photos taken on the way to dinner, just in case we ended up with a good one (although we blew our wad on photos earlier in the week, with the other formal photos). Our dinner table was sparse, as one couple was at the supper club and we aren’t sure where another was, so there were only six of us. Moments after we sat down I realized we hadn’t brought the camera—on the way out of the room I asked if we were going to need it and we both thought no. Duh. I’ve only been taking it to dinner EVERY night to take pictures of the menus (so I can describe the meals) and the actual meals themselves. Oh well.

So for starters, I couldn’t decide between the three soup offerings, so I had a Corn Chowder, a Lobster Bisque, and a Chilled Bing Cherry soup. The best was the Lobster Bisque. Tom had something with shrimp and crawfish in it (yummy). For salads, I went basic with a Caesar and Tom had something with green beans and cherry tomatoes. For dinner, he had grouper and I had Chateaubriand, which was amazingly good. The dessert special for the evening was Baked Alaska, which we both had—then we finished up with a hot chocolate (me) and an espresso (Tom).

After dinner we stopped in the casino and I lost another $2 (getting up to a $5 gain during the process). I just had a $10 left so decided to quit there. I’ve lost track along the way, but I think I am down about $4—not too bad in the grand scheme of things. Then it was back up to the room to get out of the dress duds and relax for a bit before our friends got out of their late dinner and we headed to the comedy show at 10:30. We went downstairs to hang out around the piano bar while I surfed the net a bit and posted to the blog. Jennie (my coworker who is watching Maggie) sent pics of her daughter playing with Maggie—and although we LOVED them, it made us miss her!!

While we were sitting at the piano bar, who do we see walk in but the couple from the beach! I went in to say hi and chat for a few minutes, except it was so loud it was difficult so we said we would see them later at the comedy show. Our other friends then met us outside the bar, where we visited for a bit, then went to the show. The comedian was excellent—much better than the first one earlier this week.

After the show, it was off to the dining room for the midnight Gala Buffet—where the chefs go all out to create these masterpieces…of mostly crap you’d never want to eat, LOL. It was all beautiful and creative and amazing…but after the hour-long photo session (during which we just gabbed away with the couple from the beach), when we all got to eat, most of it we determined was completely inedible. Lots of gelatinous ooze, weird flavors we couldn’t tell were either fishy or fruity (seriously), a plate of sushi-looking items but with that strange jelly holding it all together, etc. In the end, we had a big plate of REJECTED items, and we ended up not eating much at all. By the time we were done eating and ready to go to bed, it was about 1:30am, so it was off to bed as we had to be up at 6am to get ready for our cave-tubing excursion!

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Day 5 – Sea Day

This was supposed to be our Costa Rica day, but instead was another sea day on our way to Isla Roatan, Honduras. The seasick pills make you tired, and I could barely drag myself out of bed when Tom got back from the gym around 9:30. I showered while he was up eating breakfast, and then it was off to meet at the Bacchus dining room, where we were both participating in the On Deck for the Cure one mile walk around the ship.

We had both “donated” $10 to participate, and received a t-shirt and bracelet. I was really surprised at the turnout—there were probably 200 people! The cool part was seeing part of the ship (Gatsby’s Gardens) which we never even knew was there! At the end of our three laps around Deck 3, we got pink lemonade, and then it was immediately off to the Phantom lounge to meet for the Galley Tour! We ran into our friends there, so went through the tour with them. I was tempted to buy the cookbook because it had the recipe for the coconut cake in there, but it looked fairly simple—white cake mix with coconut flavoring, and buttercream frosting with coconut flavoring and real coconut in it. I am sure google will turn up a similar recipe for free, as opposed to the $15 cookbook! They also had the towel-animal instruction booklet for sale, which I was tempted to get—but seriously, when am I EVER going to make towel animals?

Then it was up to Horatio’s (the lido buffet) for a quick lunch, and then back to the room for a nap (for Tom) and journaling (for me). On the way we ran into more of our Cruise Critic group, so chatted in a hallway for a bit with them. And then once we started moving again, we ran into yet another couple so stopped to chat with them. Finally back in the room, a nap sounded very good, but if I don’t keep up with the journal, I will never remember everything. Besides, what better excuse to sit on the balcony and watch the ocean go by? The balcony is shaded but you get a good breeze. Who knows…I may even take a nap out here if the mood strikes!

And a nap I did take, albeit a somewhat short one, or at least it felt that way. Unfortunately, the chaise isn’t terribly comfortable to nap on, but I refuse to be inside the cabin when there is a balcony just sitting there! Tom was totally crashed, and finally dragged his butt out of bed to get ready for dinner.

For starters, I couldn’t decide between the Vine Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes and Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella (Marinated with Basil Leaves and Virgin Olive Oil) and the South Western Style Egg Roll (with Marinated Baby Lettuce and Sweet & Sour Salsa). Tom wanted the Cream of Fresh Garden Broccoli (Enhanced with Aged Wisconsin Cheddar) and I convinced him he also wanted to try the Penne, Tossed in a Tomato Cream with Vodka (and Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese) which was a dinner option but also available as a side. It was worth convincing him, LOL.

You know, some nights there is one obvious choice for your main course. And then there are nights like tonight when I seriously wanted everything—or to at least taste everything. We had the penne as a starter so that was one less dish I had to order. Then I finally decided on the Pan Fried Fillet of Red Snapper (with Crispy Fried Vegetables, Black Olives, Cauliflower, and Grilled Tomato, with a Lemon and Caper Sauce and then the Oven Roasted Tom Turkey (with Sage and Onion Stuffing, Orange Glazed yams, Sautéed Scallions, Roasted Cauliflower, and Cranberry Relish) that someone else at the table also wanted to sample. (I also wanted to try the Veal Parmigiana and the Vegetarian Lasagna but refrained.) Tom went with the Grilled Filet Mignon of the Finest Aged American Beef (with Sautéed Young Root Vegetables, Potato Gratin, and a Red Burgundy Wine Sauce). Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as good as the steaks (and filet) we had had at the fine dining restaurant earlier in the week, so that was a bit of a disappointment. (I had predicted that would happen, so I avoided that selection.)

This was also the first meal I forgot to take pictures of everything BEFORE we started eating…and I just realized I forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu. So, I had apple pie a la mode and Tom had the aforementioned Chocolate Melting Cake. I had more hot chocolate because it’s SOOO good and Tom had an espresso. (If you order it in the dining room it’s free—elsewhere on the ship you have to pay like $5 for it.)

We wandered through the casino and I managed to zip through my first $1 in record time (damn nickel slots) so a 1c slot opened up and I was there in a flash. I managed to turn my $1 into $5, and then proceeded to lose it all. I have been trying to keep track overall, and I think I’m still up by at least $1 overall.

Back at our room, we had a stingray towel (very cute). Then it was off to wander the ship a bit, and we ended up back in the casino. I think I blew through another $5, so now I am back to $4 in the hole. Still not too bad, though. Around 9:30 we headed off to Karaoke, at which one of our friends was trying out for the Legends show at the end of the cruise (she was trying out for Britney Spears). Audience voting (i.e. screaming and applause) determines the winner, so we all had to be there for her. Unfortunately, the auditions weren’t until 10:30 so we went to the piano bar to meet some other friends and ended up just sitting outside the bar so we could hear the music but still hear each other—and stay out of the smoke. At 10:30 we all went back to karaoke and got there just in time to see our friend perform. And we voted, and she won. The other Britney Spears wasn’t too thrilled. Oh well.

Then everyone wanted to go to Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab again for Disco Night. So off we went. Unfortunately, it was going to be pretty boring for me since I was not planning on dancing. The 80s night really wreaked havoc on my ankles and I didn’t want to go through that again—so I left Tom down there with our group (and a DW—designated walker) and headed back up to the room, leaving him instructions to not come home too late since we have to be up at oh dark thirty to go ziplining (and as I type, it’s 1am and he’s not back yet, LOL).

It’s hard to believe we still have three full days left before we get back to Fort Lauderdale…and real life. We are NOT looking forward to it at all, other than we miss our animals and our own laundry facilities!

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Day 4 – Panama

I slept in while Tom went to the gym (are you sensing a trend here?). Well, let me backtrack. Our room phone rang at about 7am and I was so dead asleep I didn’t know what it even was, then I thought it was Tom’s alarm. By the time I realized it was the phone, Tom was answering it. Of course I could only hear his side of the conversation, but I couldn’t tell who was on the phone or what was going on.

Long story short, one of the guys in our group, who was part of the group excursion we bought tickets for when Costa Rica fell through, was calling us to tell us he had decided to do the Carnival-sponsored trip instead, he just felt more comfortable, yada yada yada, and Tom somehow convinced him to stay with our group. I mean, HELLO? Was he planning on screwing us out of the money since we had already purchased the tickets? And why call us at 7am? You never call ANYONE on a ship at that ungodly hour. So anyway, we were both pissed—both at being woken up and at him being an asshat. (He has not been our favorite person thus far.)

We both fell back to sleep for a bit, then Tom went to the gym. I got up and showered after he came back and we went up for a late breakfast. Again, nothing much interested me, so I just had a bagel with cream cheese, a few pieces of bacon, and a banana. Tom ate his usual oatmeal with some granola he brought from the room. As I was in line getting my food, Earl (our dinner waiter)s came up behind me and said he missed us last night and I laughed and told him we had eaten at Nick & Nora’s, but that we would surely see him tonight!

The ship was pretty empty since we were docked in Panama. We had not planned any excursions and really had no strong desire to go into town (we were warned it wasn’t a place you really wanted to just walk around). We lazed about a bit, confirmed our ziplining reservations, and then decided we might as well at least walk through the port in Panama. And that was more than enough, LOL.

It was hot and humid and there were tons of people milling about. We walked through some of the local shops in the immediate vicinity of the port, but all of them had the same touristy crap—think Mackinac Island, LOL, except the employees aren’t trying to make deals with you to get you to buy something. We wandered through a grocery store, where we saw quite a few ship employees buying necessities. (We had been looking for some cold sore medicine for me, but there was nothing.) Outside there was a lady with a monkey who was offering to take pictures for $1, but we just felt too badly for the poor little monkey who was all dressed up that we said no thank you. We did stop by a coffee shop and I got a fruit smoothie and Tom got some coffee drink. I was expecting a nice fresh fruit smoothie but was severely disappointed—she took out a carton, unscrewed it, and dumped some anemic-looking pink sludge into the blender with about a gallon of ice. Yuck. Tom said his coffee wasn’t bad (not exactly a ringing endorsement).

The only thing we bought aside from the two mediocre (at best) beverages at that shop was…more alcohol at the duty free store. The prices were better than what was on the ship (for some things we already bought) so we took pictures of the prices so we could get a refund (which Tom did later on that evening—$17 back for two bottles of Appletons Rum). Needless to say the hour we spent in Panama, just to say we visited Panama, was plenty.

Then it was back to the ship, and we decided to hit the pool for the first time (we just aren’t sit-by-the-pool-and-sun-ourselves type of people). We went up to the Adults Only pool and sat in the pool for maybe 15 minutes (were surprised it was saltwater, although now it seems obvious), then laid in the sun and read for maybe 15 minutes, at which point Tom left because he was getting burned. I left shortly thereafter—not because I was getting too much sun, but because it was just too hot and bright. Also, I didn’t want to get too red—I have been tanning for a few months and have no tan lines, but 15 minutes in the equatorial sun usually leaves tan lines you can NEVER get rid of. On the way back to the room I decided to grab some fries, then ran across our friends by another pool, so stopped to chat with them for a few.

Back in the room, it was naptime for Tom while I sat on the balcony and read. We were on the port side, so I had a view of the city. The port had a bunch of pastel buildings in a row, but beyond that it was sad and pathetic. The nap monster eventually overtook me, and it was nice napping on the balcony with the sun and the breeze…

We relaxed until dinner, and we were pulling out of port on our way to dinner. Unfortunately, there were some high winds, so the ship was ROCKING. It was extremely noticeable, and it was fun watching people walk—they all sidestepped at the same moments when the ship shifted. But it wasn’t fun dealing with the after effects. We were all kind of iffy (oogy) at dinner, and I am sure it was just the power of suggestion, but we all started getting headaches and drinking alcohol was the farthest thing from our minds.

For starters, I couldn’t decide between the Fried Mozzarella on Mixed Greens Served with Mannara Sauce and the Cream of Sun-ripened Tomatoes Enhanced with a Touch of Gin so I had both, followed by the Greek Farmer Salad (Iceberg Lettuce, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions, Black Olives and Feta Cheese Tossed with Vinaigrette), and Assorted Seafood, Newburg Style (Black Tiger Prawns, Ocean Scallops and Fish Fillets, Tossed with a Creamy Lobster Sauce, Served with Saffron Pilaf Rice). I have to say I was less than thrilled with the Newburg, but didn’t want to get anything else, even after our head waiter assured me he would bring me anything else. Well, since I had already had two pieces of bread, two appetizers, and a salad, it wasn’t critical to me I have a full dinner (especially since I wanted dessert). And oh, what a dessert—it was coconut cake! Ironically, it was the Diet option, but it was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed it…with some strawberry ice cream and hot chocolate.

Tom had the Duet of Mussels and Shrimps Provencale Sauteed in Virgin Olive Oil, with Tomatoes, Herbs and Garlic for his starter, followed by the Greek Farmer Salad as well, followed by the main course of Tenderloin of Beef Wellington, a Filet of Beef Topped with Mushroom Mousse, Delicately Wrapped in Puff Pastry, Ginger Carrot Puree and Butters Broccoli Florets.

This was entertainment night in the dining room, so after the main course and while waiting for dessert, everyone was invited to join the conga line. Only two people from our table joined in. Again, since the ship was still rocking, you could see everyone kind of hop from side to side as the ship tilted. For dessert, I was geeked about the Coconut Cake (my new favorite obsession), which was actually the Diet Coconut Sponge Cake with a Low Calorie Cream Dessert Prepared with a Sugar Substitute. It was quite yummy. Tom couldn’t decide between the Bitter and Blanc (Warm, Dark and White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce) and Tiramisu (A Delicious Creamy Combination of Contrasting Flavors of Mascarpone Cheese with Coffee and Sweet Chocolate). I am not a bread pudding fan, but the Bitter and Blanc was DELICIOUS and definitely won top honors at our table.

After dinner we went back to the room and hung out for a bit, got changed, and decided to run our “errands”—Tom went to get the refund on the alcohol and I went to print out our excursion vouchers. We went to pick up our formal pictures we had ordered earlier in the week but they weren’t ready yet. Then we strolled through the casino and I quickly lost my $4—so much for always doubling my money. By that time, Tom was feeling a little woozy, so he went back up to the room and I just hung around downstairs for a bit. I went back up to the room to catch up on my journaling, and after a bit, Tom was feeling better and I was feeling oogy. I took a seasick pill JUST IN CASE and then it was off to meet our friends for some DVD Movie Trivia—which we almost won, dang it. Afterwards, we had planned on doing something, but I really just wanted to go back and go to bed, and Tom was raring to go (somehow, we always seem to be on opposite OOGY schedules). So we went back to the room, and I read for a bit and then we both went to bed.