"To label any human being as inferior based on their health, their appearance, their size, their choices in food or physical activity or any other arbitrary measure that is nobody's business but their own is bigotry." ~ Fat Heffalump

2/12/13

I Have Returned

I'm back! You may have been wondering where I've been since I got home a week ago. Well, we came home to broken internet. The modem said we had online access, and even told us we were online, but it lied. It wasn't until Thursday that we could get someone out to fix it. Turned out when, a couple weeks before we left, a car wreck had knocked down a pole down the road from us, they didn't attach the phone lines correctly and managed to cross lines. The technician thinks that may have caused a power surge in the modem which burnt something out. He rewired the lines and gave us a new modem.

In addition, since arriving home I've been extremely busy! I didn't have a single day where I got to stay home until yesterday! This is the first chance I've had to sit down and blog.

I had a wonderful vacation. Our flights went without a hitch. The weather was perfect. Everything went so smoothly. It was so nice and warm and colorful in the east Caribbean and the ship was great! We took the Carnival Dream cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

We boarded the ship in Cape Canaveral. We headed straight for Nassau in the Bahamas. We spent the day exploring the ship. It is HUGE. About a 5th of a mile long. I got lots of exercise while living on it. There was lots to do with pools, bars, shows, and whatnot, and the food! The food was awesome! The best I've had on a cruise ship. Plenty of fresh veggies and fruits and healthy food. I am quite pleased with it. Everything we were served was outstanding in quality, flavor, and presentation. The buffet had a wonderful variation to choose from and the dining room meals were awesome! I was in food heaven. I got cheesecake for dessert every single day too. And it was awesome cheesecake! I enjoyed every single bite I ate on that ship. I also enjoyed not having to cook a single thing for over a week! It has been very very hard for me to go back to cooking meals again.

Our ship (with the red and blue smoke stack) from the highest point in Nassau.



In Nassau we took a ride in a horse drawn carriage. Our driver gave us a little tour of the town. He was very informative and quite a character.



After that we walked up the hill to the highest place on the island where there's a fort and a water tower. We stopped at a little museum on the way and got some history of the place.

Of everything we saw in Nassau, though, this had the biggest impact on me. It's called the Queen's Staircase.

Doug, me, Sue, and Dan in The Queens Staircase

It's a canyon carved out of the solid stone by slaves, with a fountain and staircase at the end. Hundreds of slaves were worked to death to make this canyon for a governor who was afraid of being invaded. He ordered the canyon made to provide a means of escape should that ever happen.  It never did. You can still see the chisel marks in the walls. It was very humbling to walk the length of this place and climb the stairs. Slavery is a horrible horrible thing.

When Britain took ownership of the Bahamas, Queen Victoria freed the slaves. In honor of her, they built a fountain and a staircase at the end. Thus, the name.

After Nassau we went to St. Thomas, which is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. We didn't stay long for we boarded a boat to go to the island of St. John for our shore excursion. St. John has one of the US National parks on it- The Virgin Islands National Park. One I never thought I'd ever actually get to visit, so this was awesome!



Our tour took us through the park to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world where we snorkeled and enjoyed the sun for awhile. The water is absolutely gorgeous. My sister-in-law, Sue, took this panorama picture of the beach. Yes, I got to swim in that water and it was wonderful.

Click on me to enlarge.

The small island you see there is protected. We aren't even allowed to touch it. I snorkeled for about an hour around it though. I saw so many beautiful fish of every color and shape you can imagine.

After St. Thomas, we went to St. Maarten which is an island divided in two. Two separate countries. One side owned by the Dutch, the other side owned by the French. We didn't have a shore excursion reserved for this island. We thought we'd try winging it. Worked out great. Right off the ship we found a taxi that took us on a very very nice tour of the island. We stopped at a few different places along the way. One of those places was a beach that hubby and his brother wanted to visit in the worst way, so I was glad we got to go there.

On the Dutch side of St. Maarten, there is an airport right off the beach. Planes fly over this beach regularly. It's St. Maartens biggest tourist attraction. You can stand on the beach and get knocked down by the jet wash as a plane flies over to land on the runway if you want. Planes land about every 15 minutes or so. In this picture, we're standing in front of the schedule.



A few minutes later, I decided I wasn't in the mood to get knocked down, so I stayed a safe distance away as a jet came over us.



Sue took this pic. I love the sign.



There's a bar on the beach. We sat and had a beer while we watched the planes land too.

I took this picture when we visited another beach briefly on the tour. It is on the French side of the island. The water is so pretty!



Then our tour guide took us to an open market where we shopped for awhile. Then we headed back to the ship. As we pulled out of the harbor, some clouds had moved in and a beautiful rainbow appeared. It was a great way to end our visit to St. Maarten.



We had two days at sea on our return home. It was very relaxing and fun. I did take knitting with me. I worked on the sweater I've decided to make for my son-in-law. I put aside time every day to work on it. I really enjoyed sitting on the deck knitting. I got a goodly amount done too. Here's the project at it's current level of doneness.


I am at the point where I start the main fairisle part. It has a problem. I got gauge on my swatch, but I'm not getting it in the sweater. It's supposed to be 47 inches around at this point. It's 42. Sigh. I hate it when that happens. So I stopped work on it while I waited for daughter to measure Franks chest. Turns out, it's gonna fit him just fine as is. If it was 47 inches, it would be way too big, so I shall continue on. I'm going to go up a needle size because I tend to knit a little tighter in fairisle.

You may notice I'm doing this in the round. It's one of those patterns with steeks. Yeeks! I have never actually knit a sweater this way. Thought I'd give it a try. You never know, I might like it.

We spent 3 days in Cape Canaveral after returning to port. We went to Sea World first where we saw shows performed by dolphins, whales and sea lions, and all kinds of wonderful sea animals. Enjoyed it very much.

This dolphin posed for my camera.

On the second day we went to Disney Epcot center. I didn't take my camera with me and it's just as well because I was very disappointed in it. I've been there before, when the girls were little and it  has changed quite a bit since then. It used to be very educational but now it's just a bunch of gift shops and restaurants. There are a few rides, but they were horribly lame. I will probably never go back and I wouldn't recommend it. The one highlight was lunch. We ate at an English pub. I had the cottage pie and a pint of ale. Both were very very good.

On the third day we went to Kennedy Space Center. We'd made reservations for a tour of one of the launch pads. What an amazing place. It was very very educational. We met one of the astronauts, J.O. Crieghton, who flew one of the space shuttle 3 times (I think it was the Discovery?).

Copyright 2013 Linda Jo Park, all rights reserved.

He gave a fascinating presentation on his experiences and the process he went through to board the shuttle craft. He is such a nice man. He shook my hand and I didn't wanna wash it after that. I felt like a fan girl.  I shook hands with a real life astronaut who flew in one of the space shuttles! Wow!

After that we boarded the bus for our tour. They took us out to Launch Pad 38.

Launch pad 38

We got to get out of the bus and walk up close to it. This is underneath where all that steam and smoke comes out. The bricks are holding up pretty good despite the heat they are subjected to.



These bricks show signs of melting.



One of the things we heard over and over while we were there was that NASA is not done and over with.  I guess, with the ending of the Shuttle program, people have acquired the idea that NASA is ended too. Not true! They are busily working on their next projects. They are building new heavy payload rockets for both passengers and cargo.

Used rocket lot. ;-)
They are making plans to send astronauts to Mars. They are also making money helping out the private sector and other countries working on space projects. I was quite surprised to find out they are renting out their launch pads to those who have stuff to launch. The pads are already built and perfected so why not use them? I think that is a fantastic idea!

Fire Star orchids blooming at the Kennedy Center.

All in all, it was a fascinating tour. I highly recommend it!

I hope you've enjoyed this essay on my vacation.

Live long and prosper. \\//

1 comment:

GrandmaMarilyn said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation.