Our Harrowing Drive to Raleigh, Being Chased by a Dragon

This week’s Spin Cycle is our favorite posts. Mine was actually one of a series, called The Ordeal of a Lifetime. I really enjoyed writing about the cruise we took for my 50th birthday. Getting there was definitely NOT half of the fun. But, it’s makes a pretty darn funny story when I retell it, y’all.

I chose this third part installment, because it was one of the most looked at blogs, according to my blog stats. Sadly, my most popular blog of all time is Red Toes for Ruby Tuesday, which is basically a picture of my feet, and can’t in any way be attributed to my writing skills.

Another thing I have to add about this series: the whole thing was originally written for different Spin Cycles. My hat has to go off to Sprite’s Keeper, Jen, for coming up with such challenging and inspiring topics every week.

Please 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’:


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.


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?

Part Five: Another Cab Cab Driver Takes Us For a Wild Ride

Part Six: Did We Break The Sound Barrier?

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Two

Please read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One before reading Part Two. This was for the Spin cycle topic, Survival.

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 Two of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.


Again, the loud speaker, with another announcement: “Attention passengers….”

(About 60 passengers who were sitting in the waiting area immediately got up and started to form a line.)

“….we are sorry to inform you…”

(About 30 more folks jumped up and started running over to the back of the line. Meanwhile, we were still standing off to the side trying to comprehend what was happening.)

“….that this flight has been canceled….”

OH GOD!! By now the line is 40 feet long and we are lucky to get into the tail end of it, along with a few stragglers.

“…..Unfortunately, the plane is in need of a repair, and due to the holiday, our mechanic is having to catch a flight from Philadelphia, which will arrive at  3 pm. If you need to reach your destination today, please form a line at our service desk and the first our service representatives will help you.”

OH GOD!!! Jeff is hissing at me, “CALL KLINTON!

Klintons phone is ringing and I get his voicemail. “KLINTON” I yell, as if he can hear me. “ANSWER YOUR PHONE! WE’RE AT THE AIRPORT AND WE MIGHT NEED YOU! CALL ME BACK!”

Jeff rolled his eyes at me. “Great! Where’s Klinton and where’s our car?”

“He’ll call back,” I assured him. “Anyways, maybe they can find us another flight,” I added, hopefully.

Things did seem to be moving along pretty quickly. Folks ahead of us were being given new flight assignments, it seems, and I overheard one couple (who were also going on a cruise, and yes, I was shamelessly eavesdropping) being offered a voucher for a taxi trip to the airport in Raleigh –  to catch a flight from there. While we were waiting, I continued to dial Klinton’s cell phone and each time I got his voice mail.

After what seemed like hours, it was our turn to step up to the desk. I breathlessly explained to the weary employee that we were going on our first cruise, to celebrate my birthday and anniversary, and we needed to get a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, ASAP. She looked and looked at her computer. Finally, she said, “I have a flight that arrives in Ft. Lauderdale  at 4 pm! What time does your ship sail?”

When I said 5 pm, she frowned. “That might not be enough time to get you onto the ship. Let me call your cruise line and see if they can help.”

She spent the next several minutes conferring with Royal Caribbean over the phone. Apparently, there’s this rule, y’all, that you must be on your ship exactly one hour prior to sailing, no exceptions. No amount of pleading could convince them to bend this rule.

I was trying to come up with a solution. “How about a flight to our first port, Key West, and we board the ship tomorrow?” I asked. We were informed by the cruise rep that they do not allow guests to board in Key West. They would, however, allow us to board in Cozumel, on day THREE of our five day cruise.

Well for cryin’ out loud, what good was that? We were so upset, y’all.

The airport employee continued to search. Then she said, “Well…..I do have a flight out of Raleigh that lands in Miami at 3 pm. From there, you could get a cab to take you to Ft. Lauderdale.”

We blinked. Miami? “How far away is Miami from Ft. Lauderdale?” I asked.

“About 30 miles,” she replied. “But, you’d have to get your own transportation to the Raleigh airport, because I have no taxi vouchers left, and that flight leaves in two hours.”

I turned to Jeff. “Can you drive us to Raleigh in two hours?”

His chest puffed out. If there’s one thing my husband is proud of, it’s his driving skills. “I can get us there is an hour and a half,” he said proudly, “but we need to go right now!”

The relieved airport lady was already printing our tickets. “You’ll need to retrieve your bags,” she reminded us, as we dashed off.

We had to wait a couple of minutes to get our luggage. As we were hauling  all 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 out the door, onto the sidewalk, I was still trying to call Klinton. If we could not locate his whereabouts, we would have no vehicle to drive to Raleigh!

Jeff rushed over to the only cab parked outside the airport and started throwing in our stuff. We climbed in and told the cab driver we were in a HUGE hurry and needed to get to our address as quickly as possible.

images5The cab driver was all smiles. “Yes, yes,” he assured us, in a Scandinavian accent. “My name is Dddragon, and I get you there, quick like! I live here long time. I know short cut!”

Now we live about two miles from the airport, y’all. We could ‘ve walked home, if not for the 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. There really isn’t a short cut to our house, but there was, as it turns out, a much longer way to get there.

Dragon was happily chatting on, in broken english, about all the wonderful short cuts he knew about, when he passed the turn that would have taken us home in a couple of minutes. Jeff opened his mouth, tried to point out the turn, and mutely closed his mouth, helplessly.

“Where is he going?” I whispered.

Jeff shrugged.

“Excuse me, Dragon,” I said cautiously from the back seat. “Are you sure you know the way to our neighborhood?”

“Oh yes, yes,” he said, as he nodded emphatically. “I go there all the time. I know short cut. Good short cut.”

“Well, we’re in a big hurry,” I tried to explain. “We have to be at the airport in Raleigh to catch a plane, in less than two hours!”

Dragon turned around and smiled at me. “Oh, no problem, lady,” he said. “I drive you to Raliegh! I get you there, no problem!”

Thinking that we weren’t even sure where our car was, because we still had not reached Klinton, I asked, “How much?”

“Oh,” he said, still smiling. “Only two hundred and fifty dollars!”

“No thanks,” Jeff said quickly, rolling his eyes at me. “We’ll drive ourselves.”

“If we ever get home,” I thought.

Fifteen long minutes later, we pulled up in front of our house. Both of us were in major Panic Mode. Thank God our car was sitting in the driveway, since we still had not managed to speak to  Klinton. Jeff told me to go inside, find Klinton, and tell him he was going with us to Raleigh, while he got our things out of the cab, and paid the driver.

So while he was unloading 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 out of cab and into our car, I ran to my front door.

I didn’t have the keys.

I began ringing the door bell and pounding on the door. And shouting, “KLINTON!!”

n25000219_34032230_2891After a couple more precious minutes slipped by, the door opened and there stood my half asleep, bewildered son.

“What are you doing here? I thought you would be on your ship, by now, ” he said.


“Whaaaat?” Klinton was clearly befuddled.

“HURRY UP!” I yelled franticaly. “We have to be in Raleigh to catch a plane in ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES! You have to go with us to bring the car back!”

Was this even possible? I had no idea. But we were about to find out.

To be continued…

Part Three: Our Harrowing Drive to Raleigh, (Being Chased by a Dragon)

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.


Scenic Sunday Paradise


This is my third week of posting for Scenic Sunday. Scenic Sunday is a photo meme of the scenery. It can be landscapes, buildings, flowers, or anything you feel is a scenery photo. This meme is held every Weekend. To join, just post your scenery shots on your blog and link back to Scenic Sunday. Please visit every body’s photos and comment. You won’t believe all the beautiful scenery you’ll find.

We stumbled across paradise when we were looking for the beach at Xel Ha, a eco-waterpark in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. On a cruise, celebrating my 50th birthday and our 7th anniversary, my husband and I took thousands of pictures of the local scenery. Every where we looked, the beauty of this place was overwhelming.

I wish I could say we took time to sit in these chairs and enjoy the view, but we were on a mission that day to see and photograph and record every single inch of the park. I guess I’m glad we did, or I wouldn’t have so many beautiful pictures to share!


Play this meme, y’all.

Shadows In Paradise

shadow-shot-sunday-logo1This photo is for Shadow Shot Sunday. It was made on a perfect, warm November day in Mexico, near the port of Playa Del Carmen, at a surreal place called Xel-Ha, pronounced “Shell Ha”.

Xel-Ha is described as an ecological nature park, but in reality, it is pretty much paradise on earth, y’all.  It has a river and lagoons that you can snorkel in, ride a tube or a canoe in, or you can swim with dolphins. There are nature trails, bridges, tropical plants, hammocks to relax in, beaches so beautiful they will take your breath away, and underground water caves, also known as cenotes.

On top of all that, your admission price includes all the food you can eat and all the alcohol you can drink, and there is a different bar or restaurant around every corner. Now that’s my idea of hospitality!


Xel Ha Hammocks


This is for Wordless Wednesday, Sunday’s Edition, and also Shadow Shot Sunday.

We made this picture in a nature/water park called Xel Ha (“shell ha”) that is located near Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  We were on a cruise at the time. I wish I could say we laid around in these hammocks, just relaxing, but the truth of the matter is – we mostly walked all over the park taking as many pictures as we could. I wanted to capture the warmth and the beauty of the place, so I could enjoy it later, on cold winter days. Like today.