I Heart Hands on a Cruise

 

 

This week’s Photo Challenge on I Heart Faces is “Raise Your Hands.” It is not required to have a face in this week’s challenge.

I found that I had so many photos to choose from. Apparently, I like taking pictures of hands. I think they tell a story that is often hidden on a face. I snap a lot of candid, random shots of strangers. This is one I took a few years ago, when my husband took me on my first cruise for my 50th birthday.

We were enjoying our morning coffee out on our “private” balcony. But, as you know if you’ve ever been on a cruise, there is never any real privacy. All you have to do is peek around the partition and you can see and hear what your fellow cruisers are doing!

 

I Heart Faces is a photography sharing forum that focuses on the art of capturing faces and their various emotions. Each week, people from across the world enter their favorite face photos.

Click on the picture for a better view and click the button to check out lots of other interesting hands, or to enter a photo of your own

 

 

 

 

Six Words Saturday

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I’m So Ready For Another Cruise

There’s a new forum I’m interested in posting in called Six Words Saturday. You post something about yourself or your life, or whatever is on your mind using only six words. Not only is this an interesting little concept, but it works out well for me, because I only have time to type about six words.

I’m So Ready For Another Cruise

Plus I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the shorter a blog post is, the more likely folks are to read it and comment.

Yes, comment. I’m that shallow, y’all.

So here are my incredibly well thought-out six words. Are y’all ready?

I’m So Ready For Another Cruise

I am. Really.

And yes, I know it is Sunday right now. That’s because I’m working night shift and my Saturday started really late and before I could get it together it was Sunday already.

See? I’m So Ready For Another Cruise

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Six

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One, Part Two, Part ThreePart Four, and Part Five before reading Part Six. Part Five was part of the Spin Cycle’s Topic of the Week: Minding Your Manners. I’ve missed a few weeks since then. It’s amazing how time gets all away from you, when you work shift work.

This week’s Spin Cycle topic was Pets. I managed to re-post a blog story to take care of that one. Last week, Spirteskeeper, the keeper of the Spin Cycle, came up with an impossibly hard topic: Prom.

In thinking about it, maybe that’s why this cruise was so important to me. See, I never went to a prom. And I’m not going to lie to y’all and say it was because I way too mature for that sort of nonsense, or tell you that I was boycotting it because it was outrageously expensive, or claim to be dedicated to a vegetarian lifestyle, and therefore unable to be in the same room with a tray of ham sandwiches. Nah.

The cold stark truth of the matter is this: No one asked me. And back in the dark ages my high school days it wasn’t  socially acceptable for girls to ask boys out. Besides, I was dating a man who was much too old for me, what the hell was my mother thinking? a cool college guy. And he was too old to go to a high school prom with a baby, like me.

cruise 07 020 - CopyBut the cruise….ahhhh! would include a “Formal Night.” That was, I learned during my extensive research, a fancy dinner and lots of dancing! It would be like the prom I never got to go to. I figured it was the perfect excuse to shop for a sexy dress, strappy high heeled shoes and matching jewelry. I found the perfect outfit, in slimming classy black, and had it all packed away weeks in advance.

And I wasn’t about to let a little ol’ detail like missin’ a couple of flights keep me from wearing it!

The week before last, which I also missed, the Spin Cycle topic was Making Mountains out of Molehills.

Back when I was 49, I started thinking about going on a cruise. Everyone I knew, it seems, had already done it. And so I approached my husband with the idea, and he didn’t exactly say no was thrilled, so for a full year before my 50th birthday, I was in full scale pre-planning mode. I read everything I could get my hands on about cruising. I joined a discussion forum. I ordered travel books and was up-to-date on all the major cruise line’s ships and itineraries.

One thing I kept reading, over and over again, was something subtle like this:

51JT9rjKlqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_The first piece of advice: Get there early. A day early. Plan ahead, particularly if you’re flying during winter seasons (or even summer thunderstorm seasons). If you must fly to the port on the day of embarkation, try to catch the earliest possible flight. At the very least, leave a minimum of a four-hour window between arrival and cruise take-off time.”

And as I read all that, I was thinking, “Yeah, right. Overkill, that’s what that is. They are really making a mountain out of a molehill!”

See, I was convinced that the cruise advice forums and the travel books were all in ca-hoots with the hotels, y’all. It was a big ole plot to get people to spend some more money. I thought it was real clever of them, how they used fear to get folks to book extra nights, in hotels in strange cities.

But Iwasn’t fallin’ for it. No siree. I was smarter than the average cookie. I just knew that nothing would go wrong. We would fly on down to the port, board the ship in plenty of time, and sail away into the sunset. Smooth as silk. With extra cash in our pockets, unlike all the gullible fools that had gotten suckered into spending an extra night.

Little did I know. In reality, the molehill was not just a mountain. It was a nightmare.

First, our early flight, that would have gotten us to the port in the minimum four hour window, got canceled. Then, in spite of inadvertently becoming security risks, we managed to get ourselves booked onto another flight. Then, THAT flight got canceled and it became a free-for-all in the Wilmington airport for a ticket. Our next problem was getting to Raleigh in time to catch still another flight, that would barely get us into the wrong port in time to catch a cab to the right port, all in time to catch the cruise ship, which we had been dangerously close to missing all day.

But then, if y’all read Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five, you already know all this.

But I’m southern, so bear with me.

The Spin Cycle topic the week before the Molehills topic, was “Mistakes.” Boy-howdy, did I ever mess up by not finishing this story that week. Because….When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Six of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

So where were we? Oh, yeah.

300px-MiamiInternationalAirportFront.JPGIn Part Five of this saga, I had managed to stave off a hissy-fit in the Miami airport, only to begin screaming at pleading with an innocent Jamaicancab driver, who calmly agreed to “do his best” to get us to the Port of Ft. Lauderdale. In 35 minutes.

If there was ever a ride to rival “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”, this was it. That cab driver was not fooling around, y’all. He was intent on keeping his promise. He drove like a man on a mission.

A “give your poor passengers in the backseat a nervous breakdown” kind of mission.

As the taxi wove in and out of traffic, passing everything else on the road like the first Cape Canaveral rocket launch, I managed to sneak a peek at the speedometer. It said 97 miles per hour. I clutched my purse and my laptop and closed my eyes. And I silently prayed.

“Dear Jesus, please just let us get there alive. I swear I don’t care anymore if we make it to the cruise. I really don’t care (much) about wearing that new dress (or the cute little black sandals with the darling rhinestone accents). You know what’s best for us, Dear Jesus, and I trust you. Must be, there’s a real good reason why we’ve had so much trouble on this trip, so just please don’t let us perish in this here cab. Amen.”

My husband and I were holding hands. My knuckles were white from squeezing his fingers so hard. The two of us exchanged a look. We knew we were going to die.

But miracles still happen, I reckon, because we pulled into the Port of Ft.Lauderdale at 3:55 PM. My heart was about to stop, and I had the weak trembles. But we had made it.

cruise 07 005The cab driver drove us right up to the ship. Only it was the wrong one. The big letters painted on the side of it plainly read “CARNIVAL.”  And we were booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

He turned and flashed a brilliant smile at us, as if driving 97 mile an hour was an everyday occurrence. “Port of Fort Lauderdale, in thirty minutes, Ma’am,” he announced.

“No, no, no!” I barely managed to get out, as if I was talking in slow motion.

My husband set him straight. “We are going to need to find The Jewel of the Seas. It’s a Royal Caribbean ship.”

We looked around. There were four ships at the dock. A Carnival, a Norwegian, a Princess and a Disney.

It was almost four o’clock; the time after which, we had been told by several people, the ship would not allow us to board. We were so close. Had we come so far, only to miss it?

For a moment, the cab driver looked confused. His brow furrowed. Suddenly, he whipped the cab around and we were headed back to the main gate. “We will go back and ask directions to this ship,” he said calmly.

There was a little road, that we had missed, that took us to another dock. And there, in all her splendor, sat the lovely Jewel of the Seas.

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I had tears in my eyes. I wanted to hug the cab driver. But there was no time for me to get sentimental. The baggage handlers were swarming all over us the minute we stopped.

“Are you sailing on the Jewel?” one of them asked.

No sooner had we said yes, then seven or eight men and women in Royal Caribbean uniforms were grabbing our camera bag, laptop case, a carry on,   four  suitcases and incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps and throwing it all onto a baggage transport cart.

All the while they were frantically waving toward the check in area. “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” they told us. “You need to hurry! Have your tickets and passports ready!”

I had my pocket book and my precious itinerary, which contained our tickets and passports. We took off, running. As we entered the huge check-in room, which was completely devoid of people, there was a lone woman standing behind one of many booths. We rushed over to her, panicked that we were a few minutes late. I immediately started spouting gibberish about canceled flights and wild cab rides, while waving my tickets feverishly in her face.

She looked amused. Then smiled. A beautiful smile. “Relax!” she said. “You made it!”

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About an hour later, we were standing on the deck of the ship, having that much anticipated “froo froo” drink, during what is known as “the Sailaway”. Sailaway is a party that the cruise line throws, as the ship sails out of the port, to get you all liquored up and in the mood to spend some more money start the cruise on a festive note.

Well, after the ordeal we  survived to get there, it took more than a few drinks and a couple of days before we even started to relax.  I would love go on another cruise, y’all. But, next time,  I think we’ll plan on spending a week in Fort Lauderdale before the cruise….just in case.

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Three

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One and The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Two before reading Part Three. This is for this week’s  Spin Cycle topic, Quirks.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Three of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

Now, I had managed to live 50 years, without ever going on a cruise. Kinda like I think I might be the last living native Wilmingtonian, I think I might have been the last living woman, born before 1960, that had never been on a cruise. My mom, for example, has been on so many cruises that she’s on first name basis with the cabin attendants on Norwegian’s  Cruise Line.

100_0171The weird thing about all the cruises my mom has been on, is; she has no pictures. None. I’m not kidding. She and her husband, Bob (lovingly referred to as old fart stepdad number three) only bring back the solemn looking, 8 by 10  “pose”on Formal Night, that the ship’s photographers try to force on you complimentary shoot when you’re all dressed up for dinner.

I asked them about this. I said, “Mom, why don’t y’all take a camera and get some pictures of your trip?”

To which she replied, “Oh, Sweeeeeeetie. We don’t have time for all that mess! We’re too busy “doin’ stuff”  to fool with takin’ pictures!”

Well. I figure I must have a quirk about this. Let’s call it a camera addiction. I have to take pictures at birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, when the flowers bloom, when frinds come over, when the dog looks cute, when the cat looks annoyed, after Jeff cuts the grass and whenever we put our “dressy” clothes on, y’all. I wasn’t about to go on my first ever cruise and not take hundreds of pictures! How was I going to bore entertain all my internet friends ad nauseum for many enjoyable years to come, without a pictorial diary of each and every day’s activity?

Unlike my mom,  I’m too busy takin’ pictures to enjoy what I’m “doin'”, I guess. Needless to say, our camera was the most crucial part of our trip. Without it, well, we might as well have just stayed home.

After we survived the longest cab ride in the history of the world with that Dragon character, and woke Klinton up, surprising him with the news that he was going with us to Raleigh, I hurried into the kitchen to make a sandwich and a glass of diet coke. My stomach was growlin’, and I was feelin’ weakish, y’ all. After all, it was almost noon. By this time, I had planned to be relaxin’ on the deck of our cruise ship, enjoyin’ a nice buffet and comparin’ toe nail polish with my new internet friends.

Suddenly, I heard screaming from the living room. My very Yankee husband was screaming a very Yankee expletive that proper, southern-born gals from North Carolina also frequently say after they’ve been married to a Yankee for a while would never dream of typing, much less sayin’:

F**K!”

I dropped the bread and rushed into the living room.

“What’s wrong now?” I cried.

F**K… F**K… F**K!!!” was his answer.

I LEFT THE GOD DAMNED CAMERA BAG IN THE GOD DAMNED F**KING CAB!!” he screamed.

Poor Klinton came running out of his room, half dressed. “What’s going on?” he wanted to know.

“Jeff left our camera in the cab,” I explained, trying to remain calm. Going on this trip without our camera? Not an option.

Jeff already had the phone book out. “I’m calling the cab company!” he said.

The cab company’s receptionist was organized and efficient. She said she knew right where Dragon was, and promised to page him and have him call us back immediately.

“Here,” Jeff said, handing the phone to me. “When Dragon calls, tell him to turn around and bring our camera back! To save time, I’ll take the car and get it filled up with gas!”

Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was Dragon.

“Yes, yes, Ma’am. I have camera!” he said, triumphantly. “I bring back to you! As soon as I get back from driving another paying fare to Raleigh! I bring camera later today!”

At this point, I think my head almost exploded.

NOOOOO!!!!” I screamed into the phone said firmly.”Listen to me! WE have to go to Raleigh!! We have to leave NOW! We CAN’T WAIT!! WE NEED our camera!! You HAVE to bring it to us!!”

“OK, no problem,” he said. “I meet you at airport in Raleigh and give you camera.”

“NO! NO!” I was panicked. “We can’t meet you in Raleigh! We’ll be on too tight of a schedule! You need to bring our camera NOW!”

“I bring camera to Raleigh.” Then, unbelievably, he hung up on me.

I stared at the phone in my hand, as the call ended. I was thinking that I was going to make it my life’s work to have this Dragon fired. At that moment, Klinton, bless his heart, came out of his room and sensed that I was about to snap.

dscf4055“Mom,” he said, soothingly, taking the phone from me. “Calm down. Just  get ready to go. Let me handle this.  I’ll talk to the cab driver. You have his cell number in your cell phone now. His name’s Dragon, right? We’re all going to Raleigh. I’ll have him meet us on the road, somewhere between here and there.”

Mutely, I handed the phone to him. As I made myself a glass of diet coke on ice, I overheard Klinton talking to Dragon.

“Hello? This is Ginger’s son, Klinton. Yeah. We’re driving to Raleigh, too. Can we meet up somewhere and pick up our camera? Where are you right now? Which mile marker? OK. Call me back.”

dscf3896Soon, Jeff had returned and we were on the road. Klinton, in the back seat, was enjoying his role of mediator, in constant contact with Dragon. Jeff , in race car driver mode, was staring at the road, steely-eyed, while he gripped the wheel and drove down I-40 at 85 miles per hour. I was sipping my diet coke and chewing my nails,  hoping that we didn’t get pulled over for speeding, hoping were going to make it to the airport in time, hoping this was all just a bad dream.

Dragon claimed to be only a few miles behind us. Klinton made arrangements with him to meet up at a large rest area on I-40. We pulled into the rest area and waited. And waited. And waited.

We had about 40 minutes to complete our drive into Raleigh, find a place to park at the airport, get our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary into the airport, through security, and somehow onto the plane.

We waited for so long that we each had time to make a dash to the restrooms, one at a time. As we waited, Jeff kept threatening to leave, and Klinton kept promising that Dragon was almost there.

Then, Jeff said, “I think I see him!”

Sure enough, it was the taxi driven by Dragon, turning into the rest area. His window was rolled down and dangling out of his hand, looking for all the world like Michael Jackson’s baby, was our precious camera bag!

“He’s not gonna stop!” I cried. Jeff got out of our car, and stood alongside, waiting. Dragon drove by, barely slowing down, and tossed the camera bag at Jeff.  In his front seat, I could see a very flabbergasted and harried looking female passenger.

As Jeff jumped back into the car and we raced out of the parking lot, Klinton, always the optimist, said, “Well, at least now you have your camera back.”

But…..would we make it to Raleigh in time to catch out flight? Would we survive the stress? Would we ever get a bite of food? Would we be further harrassed by the airport security?

To be continued….

Part Four: Can a Can of Pringles and a Bloody Mary Be Classified As a Gourmet Meal?

A Red Margarita for Ruby Tuesday

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My Ruby Tuesday picture this week is a Red Strawberry Margarita. This photo was taken at Xel Ha, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico; a natural waterpark that we visited while on a cruise to the western Caribbean, aboard Royal Caribbean’s  Jewel of the Sea. Your admission ticket includes all the food you can eat, and all the booze you can drink, and they have several restaurants, bars and buffets set up all over the park.

I think y’all can probably tell from the expression on my face, that I thought this was a wonderful concept. And yes, I had two plates of food in front of me, and, yes, I ordered another margarita.

rubyslippers-copy1Ruby Tuesday is a photo sharing concept, or meme, if you will, y’all. Every Tuesday, you post one of your own  photos that contains something red. It can be a whole lotta red, or a little bit of red. I liked the eclectic collection of pictures I saw over at  Work of the Poet, so I decided to play. And I really, really like the cute little red Dorothy shoes in the Ruby Tuesday button (left). Ain’t they just too cute? If you click on them, you can look at lots of other folks’ Ruby Tuesday photos.

Watery Wednesday – Floating Downstream

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I’ve posted pictures before of the natural waterpark, Xel Ha, near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We spent a day here, while on a Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Sea. This is one of my favorite photographs from that day. We floated downstream in a double inner tube and also snorkled in this river. It was an amazing color, with a great number of brightly colored fish.

There is even a big ole scientific explanation for all this beauty, y’all. This is from their website:

The Yucatan Peninsula possesses several geographic idiosyncrasies which disallow the formation of superficial rivers. Continental water flux is regulated by a complex system of underground waterways traveling to and fro between the peninsula and the sea –Xel-Ha represents one of this system’s most important outlets.

From the depths of underground caves, through the mangrove forest, cool freshwater flows into the Xel-Ha Inlet, where it mixes with the warmer seawater. This River, two-thirds of a mile long before reaching the Inlet, is one of the best visual examples of halocline and thermocline phenomena in the world.

Xel-Ha River is an excellent place to snorkel, simultaneously harbouring a number of freshwater and marine fish. There are several platforms along the way to pause and bask in the astonishing surroundings. For those who prefer a more relaxed voyage downstream, enjoying the beautiful natural scenarios from above the water, single and double inner tubes are available at no cost at the River’s starting point.

It wasn’t as relaxing as it looks, actually. We had to “paddle” with our hands and feet, the whole way, to keep from being swept back upstream, or pushed into the spikey plants along the shore!

waterywed2b1This photo is for Watery Wednesday. Be sure and visit all the other Watery Wednesday shots form around the world, by clicking here.

Blue Monday equals Blue Seas

downloadThis pretty little bluejay means that it’s Blue Monday, y’all. This is my second week of participating in this photo meme, hosted by Smiling Sally.

It’s easy to do, and pretty self-explanatory. Post a photograph of something blue, go to Blue Monday, and add your blog. Then sit back and wait for the comments to roll in! Oh yeah, and it helps if you spread some bloggy love by commenting on all the other lovely blue pictures.

If you want to see some other blue pictures, click on over to her site and you’ll be amazed.

Blue is my favorite color, so I have lots of Blue Photos to share. This is another one from my first, and only cruise. We went to the Western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s ship, Jewel of the Sea. This shot was taken from the beach at Xel Ha, a natural waterpark in Playa de Carmen. I love the varying blue colors of the sea and sky.

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