Week One

B3807AE6-2C43-4A6F-AEC1-A23F5441D203.jpeg

As I said before we started, we are doing without internet on the ship, so there will not be a detailed blow by blow description of our travels, but I’ve been taking some notes on my phone, and depending on how good the internet is in Galveston on turn around day, I hope to post some brief notes about our first week of two on the Liberty of the Seas!!

So, we’re on week one of a two week cruise around the Western Caribbean with our boys. The first two days of the cruise were sea days, the first of which was cold and rainy!   No view of Caribbean weather, so it was an inside the ship day!  The second sea day, however, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the temperature was in the 70s…beautiful!
This was also an alone day for us, as the boys had two performances of In The Air, and had a lot of prep to do during the day.  After breakfast in the Windjammer, we spent a lovely couple of hours by the Solarium pool, reading, people watching, and enjoying a couple of Pina Coladas! A little time in the casino, a little shopping,  some nap/reading time on our cabin’s balcony, and before we knew it, it was time to get ready to meet the boys to get in the theater and see 2 great performances of In The Air!
After 2 sea days, we spent today in Roatan, Honduras at Captain Jack’s Bar, perched over the water, just outside of the port!  With our Bartender Babe making incredible drinks, and their kitchen making excellent Conch Fritters, Onion Rings,  Calamari, and Plantain Chips, it was a wonderful relaxing day spent with 2 of our 6 favorite kids!  Great family time, talking about dreams and the future, it was an incredible day!  No need for zip lines, monkey farms, or swimming with dolphins! After a hug, we told Babe we’d see her in 6 months when we’re back. She said she’d be looking for us!!
C9847C94-12B9-4443-A327-448C52CB3192
Today we are in Mexico…Costa Maya to be exact. Susie and I were last here 2 and a 1/2 years ago, and had a wonderful beach day with the boys.  This year, however, the boys have to work, so different plans are called for. Tonight they do two performances of Saturday Night Fever (6 and 8:45 PM), and on days like this, they also have a “tech run” in the morning, so a busy day for them. We’ve decided that we’re just going to get off the ship and hang around the dock area.  As I write this, Susie and I are waiting for the boys in our cabin, and preparing for the 1/2 mile walk down the pier from  the ship to the land!!!  Yes, a full 1/2 mile of pier between the ship and Costa Maya!  It’s a definite knee brace day!
There were 4 cruise ships in Costa Maya today, so the pier was crowded. The boys took us to a favorite burrito place and we had a couple of great ones, before heading back to the ship.  The walk was long, but we stopped a couple of times to look at the incredibly blue water!  Back on the ship, we said bye to the boys, and both groups went to relax.
Right now, Susie and I are sitting in the Platinum Theater waiting for the start of the first performance of Saturday Night Fever. Our night ahead?? Two performances of SNF, a drink or two, and then meeting up with the boys after the shows.  Nothing better than seeing Kenny and Chris on stage!!  This is the 7th and 8th time we’ve seen this production of SNF, and I tell you it just keeps getting better, and we’re not of that opinion because 2 of the cast members are part of our family!!! The audience LOVED the show, meanwhile we shed a tear or two of joy, watching our kids doing what they love!!!  Life is very good tonight!!
0544ED32-3C5D-439B-84A3-E3C94A73864E

Welcome to Cozemul , Mexico!  Port  #3 on this week’s cruise, and the only port we visit twice during our two weeks on the Liberty of the Seas.  We’ve just gotten back from a wonderful day at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort, where for a $65 Day Pass, we had an incredible day of food, drink, and pool life!  Thanks to Miguel and Santiago, we never wanted for ANYTHING!!!
We’re back on the ship now, sitting on our balcony having a rum and coke and watching our larger sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas leave the dock.  Our lines are being dropped now and we will soon follow her. Next stop…Galveston, Texas, after a sea day tomorrow!!  The end is near for most folks, but for us, just the beginning of week 2!!
Last night we had an incredible dinner in Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant.   Thanks to Manager Alex, waiter Marvyn,  and the magicians in the kitchen, it was a magnificent dinner, and we all loved it….and may have eaten too much!!!
Today is a sea day, and the last day of the cruise for most…but not us, as we start the adventure all over again!!!  Susie and I slept in a bit, then went to the Windjammer for breakfast, then spent an hour plus watching people trying to master the Flowrider!
Then we met up with Kenny outside Sorrento’s on the Promenade Deck to watch the Move it Parade,  orchestrated by our other son Chris!!!  Good job Chris..well, except when Shreck almost went flying, but all’s well that ends well!!
8849B1DA-3586-43EB-B0C3-E032B700F1A9
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of our drink package at various venues around the ship. Changed for the night, had a couple of glasses of wine at Vintages, and then finished up with a martini with our friend Silbert at the R Bar.

Tonight, a late dinner and room service ala Chris and Kenny!  Burgers with Sriracha Peanut Butter, etc.  a fitting way to end week one of our latest adventure!!!
See you next week, when we sail to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica!!

One and done!

So, it’s 7:57 Central Daylight Daylight time, and day 1 is coming to a close. We left Ocean City a little after 8 this morning, headed down the AC Expressway, and about 9:30 arrived at the place we parked our CRV for 2 weeks. A quick shuttle to Philly International, an easy trip through TSA Security (even though Susie’s metal rivet shirt was not “TSA Security friendly”), and before we knew it we were on the plane, heading to Houston.

After a 3 and a 1/2 hour flight, we were at George Bush International Airport, and ASAP here come our bags down the conveyer belt!  About 5 minutes later, Jackie our Lyft driver showed up in a brand new Acura MDX, and we were off on our hour plus ride to Galveston!  Nice car, nice lady, pleasant drive!

As I type this on my iPhone, Susie and I are in our PJs sitting in our room at the Harbor House Hotel, right next to the cruise terminal.  We’re relaxed, having just cone back from a wonderful dinner at Willie G’s Steak and Seafood, just across the pier!

We started with two wonderful Martinis…with these glasses, how could they be anything but wonderful???

464C6169-58A5-4B3E-999C-1D94FF9FABCF

Don’t we look happy??

E10DE415-9027-44D1-B03E-3172A4316D64

We started with a wonderful Gulf Shrimp Cocktail!  7 Shrimp!!!  Then a wonderful entree Shrimp Platter!!  And dessert??  How bout a couple of Mai Tai’s???  It was a good night!!

 

 

 

 

LOS

fullsizeoutput_453a

DSC_0286By the time you read this, Susie and I will be winging our way to Houston, Texas, with our eventual destination the Port of Galveston, where on Sunday the 17th, we will rondezous with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, have a couple of Texas Ice Teas upon boarding, and then meet up with Our Boys!   Our Boys (ie…youngest child Kenny and his husband Chris) have been on the Liberty since mid-January, and we are looking forward to spending the next 2 weeks with them in the Caribbean!

 

 

Kenny is one of the 6 Lead Entertainers aboard the Liberty, and Chris is a Lead Dancer/Aerialist and the Dance Captain of the company.  The contract the boys are currently on, started with rehearsals at the Royal Caribbean Studio in Miami, Florida back in November of 2018, and they will be on the ship through early November of 2019.  The main shows they do are Saturday Night Fever, the Musical and a Cirque de Sole type show called In The Air.  

fullsizeoutput_458a

In SNF, Kenny is Father Frank, the Priest brother of the main character Tony.  In addition, both Kenny and Chris play many other small parts, and of course, Chris is prominently featured in all the dance numbers.  Chris is also Kenny’s understudy in the show.  Based on the movie Saturday Night Fever, there are lots of great dance numbers and the very familiar music of the Bee Gees!  This is the third contract the boys have done on the Liberty, and our third cruise with them, so we know what to expect, but we are still excited to see them on stage, and honestly, 2 weeks in the Caribbean is much better than traveling through a blizzard to Janesville, Wisconsin in December to see Kenny perform!

 

 

IMG_2048The other show, In The Air, is comprised of a number of different scenes, all revolving around music, and featuring spectacular dancing and flying sequences.  Kenny is the host of the show and starts it, as well as being featured in several numbers, and the grand finale.  Chris is both a dancer and an aerialist in the show, flying high above the stage on rings, swings, and even just long banners of cloth!  Oh Boy!

Watch Kenny open the show!

 

 

 

 

 

This is a video of one of Chris’ Flying numbers, shot in rehearsal 

Kenny also does a 70’s Set on the Promenade Deck during the big, ship-wide 70’s Party!

 

 

 

 

But the real fun times we’ll have with Our Boys are the times we sit around having a drink, or the places in the ports we relax, and even just hanging out on our balcony!  

 

 

It’s fun to be on the ship, but it’s more fun to be with Our Boys, and to enjoy whatever they have planned for us!  Now, they are working, so that means that sometimes Mom and Dad have to amuse themselves.  Perhaps we’ll take another Martini Making Class!

 

 

 

 

Whatever we do, we know it will be fun and we will have 14 days of great family time!  As we have on past cruises, we have opted not to get Internet service on the ship, so please don’t look for an ongoing commentary here about what we’re doing and where we’re going.  During the course of the cruise, we will make 3 stops in Mexico, one in Honduras, one in the Cayman Islands, and one in Jamaica.  On our return, I would expect that we will be sharing some details of our exploits, but till then, just imagine we’re having 14 glorious days in the Caribbean!

Sue and Frank

South of the Border

img_1352-1If you’ve traveled up or down the East Coast of the United States on Interstate 95, and crossed the North Carolina/South Carolina border, you know about South of the Border!  Famous for it’s mascot Pedro, and for their advertising signs up and down I-95, it’s been a staple of our trips, as children, as parents when our 3 kids were young, and as retirees running away from the northern winters!  What you may not know is the history of this long time fixture at the North/South Carolina border.

Located in Dillon, South Carolina, like me, it was born in 1950 as South of the Border Depot. It was originally a beer stand adjacent to what was, at that time, one of the many dry counties in North Carolina.  Known as the halfway point between Florida and New York in the early days, as the years went on, the business was expanded with Mexican trinkets, and then added a cocktail lounge, gas station and souvenir shop and, and in 1954, a motel.  In 1962 they added a firework’s store, capitalizing on the fact that fireworks sales were illegal in North Carolina!  By the mid 60s, South of the Border had a barber shop, drug store, a variety store, a post office an outdoor go-cart track and other outdoor recreational facilities including a miniature golf course. 

In 1964 it was announced that the route for the under construction Interstate 95 would pass right by South of the Border, and its place in Americana History was assured.  From as far away as 200 miles, you see billboards alongside I-95, many featuring the South of the Border mascot, Pedro.  

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While many have called the SOB mascot Pedro culturally offensive, politically incorrect or racist, South of the Border has dismissed the criticism , saying that Pedro is a light-hearted joke. An interesting fact….today all South of the Border employees  are referred to as Pedro.  

As you approach the 350-acre compound along the east side of I-95, the first thing that you see in the distance is the 200-foot observation tower with the sombrero shaped observation deck .  

img_0031

As you come upon the site, the miniature golf course, truck stop, 300-room motel, multiple souvenir shops, campground, multiple restaurants, amusement rides, and Fireworks stores come into view.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unfortunately, in recent years South of the Border has fallen on hard times, as less and less families travel via car, and many, more modern facilities have opened along I-95.  Every time we’ve driven by in recent years, the place has looked very empty, as opposed to the times we visited in the late 80s and early 90s when Billy, Krissi, and Kenny were little kids.  Times change, and perhaps in the near future, South of the Border, mascot Pedro, and the roadside billboards will go the way of Berma Shave signs….just a memory of a time when we all were younger.  

PS – In 2016, shortly after I retired, we made our first retiree winter trip down to Florida. On the second day of our trip, we passed the North/South Carolina border, and South of the Border.  In that blog, I told the story of a much earlier trip to Florida, with three little kids, and of our adventure at SOB.  Check it out….

https://wordpress.com/post/rnewadventures.com/44

 

Sunsets

Well, after a glorious five plus weeks away, we are back in the frozen north.  Although we had a great time down south, for the first couple of weeks, winter followed us!  Visiting Billy and Lori and our Grandkids in Raleigh, North Carolina, Susie and I woke one morning to a temperature of 17 degrees!!  A couple of days later in Charleston, South Carolina, we woke one morning to find the temperature at 37 degrees!  Even later that week, during our stay in Savannah, Georgia, the morning temperature was 47 degrees!  Then came Florida!

img_1150-1We had 3 weeks in a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico in Indian Rocks Beach, a wonderful place we stumbled on last year, that’s located just south of Clearwater.  We looked out the sliding doors of the living room, and there was the Gulf and a beautiful beach!  Unfortunately, for almost the entire first week, we sat on the couch in the living room, looking out at the beach, with the heat on and blankets across our laps!  Oh boy…looks like we made the wrong choice coming the last Saturday in January!

img_1652-1

As I said, we literally stumbled on to Indian Rocks Beach last year during our swing through Florida, and the plan was hatched to return in the winter of 2019.  Unlike a lot of the towns up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida, IRB is made up mostly of homes and small condo buildings, feeling a lot more like a Florida beach town of old, rather than a modern interpretation.  Eventually, Mother Nature shined on us, and we had many lovely days with warm temperatures, and really got to enjoy the beach and pool!

For me, one of the real changes of staying on a Gulf Coast beach, was the fact that what looks like the “Ocean” was to the West, rather than the East!  Growing up on Long Island, and now living at the beach in Ocean City, the “Ocean” has always been generally to the east of us.  Now, here we are, still on the east coast, but on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the “ocean” is to the west!

One thing that I can not deny though, is that staying on the Gulf Coast, facing to the West, made for some great sunsets!  Be them via our iPhones or our Nikon digital SLR camera, the pictures are memorable!

Take a look at some of our favorites!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We loved our time in Indian Rocks Beach…so much that we’ll be back next February for the whole month!  Let’s hope Mother Nature is nice to us!

Family

So, a vacation is great, but a vacation that you can share with Family is even better!!

Susie and I were very lucky this year to get to spend some time away from the winter of 2019, and get a preview of the Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature wasn’t that cooperative, and the beginning of our Spring preview was more like Winter Light, but then “summer” arrived, and everything was wonderful.  Even more so since we got to share it with family!

First up was Susie’s cousin Debbie, who formerly lived in Massachusetts, but who since recently retiring has moved to near Orlando, Florida.  She works at Universal Studios, so perhaps a WDW/Universal pass swap is in our future!  Her friend Janice was visiting her from the frozen north of The Baked Bean State, and the two of them journeyed over and spent a nice day with us in Indian Rocks Beach.  The temps were a little cool, but warm enough to spend a couple of hours around our pool, and to have a great dinner under the sky!

Then a couple of days later, my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt spent a couple of days with us.  Jeanne is the daughter of my Mom’s middle brother Bill, and when we were kids she grew up in Chicago, while I was in New York.  After years apart, we saw them at our wedding in 1979, and then again just a couple of years ago, when we had lunch between their Connecticut home and our Long Island home.  That meeting re-kindled our relationship, and we have stayed in touch since.  They are true snowbirds, having a home in Barefoot Bay, Florida, as well as Connecticut, and after our time here in IRB, we will spend some time with them there before heading back to the Frozen North!!!

 

Finally a visit from our beloved daughter Krissi and her fiancé Michael, who we love like our own son!  The older of our twins, Krissi and Mike were running away for a couple of days from the New York cold!  They are to be married in June of this year, and they are spending a long President’s Day Weekend with us.

What’s better than family???  In my humble opinion, nothing!  Family and/or friends that are like family, is what makes life go round!  I hope you all have relationships like this, and get to enjoy spending time with folks you love!!

Although our time in Indian Rocks Beach is coming to an end, our Florida Adventure continues for another week plus.  Stay tuned!! 

Snowbirds

img_1745

Wikipedia defines Snowbirds as, “”a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Many “snowbirds” are from either the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Canada.”

So, basically it’s somebody who runs away from winter and desires to have an early preview of Spring or Summer. Is that us????

Well, right after I retired in 2016, we headed to Florida to partake in some Spring Training Baseball, and to use my Disney Retiree benefits at Walt Disney World.  Were we Snowbirds???  Unknown.

Then in 2017 we were part of the Kenny and Chris journey to the West Coast.  We started in Atlantic City, had a stop off in Walt Disney World, and continued to New Orleans and Boser City, Louisiana.   Were we Snowbirds???  Not quite.

Then last year, in February of 2018, we traveled down the Gulf Coast of Florida, journeyed down to Key West, spent time with my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and then spent 5 days in Walt Disney World.  Snowbirds??  Who knows.

But, this year, we had a plan.  We started with our children and grandchildren in Raleigh, North Carolina, they journeyed south through Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, before we entered the Sunshine State, and what we hoped was a preview of Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on our side, and although we were heading south, we woke up to temps in the teens, 30s, and then the 40s.  It was not till we were in Florida that the thermometer hit the 50s, but it still wasn’t WARM!  

img_1150-1Our plan this year was 3 weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, which we’d fallen in love with last year.  We rented a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico, and were expecting gorgeous weather and warm temps.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was laughing her ass off at us! The first week we were here, it was cold and the foggy!  Come on now….we’re in Florida!!!  WTF!!!!  But not to be dismayed, we did other stuff.  We went to Walmart, Publix, and got the stuff we needed for the condo.  We visited Total Wines and More, so at least we could drown our sorrows!  

Then the sun came out and life was good!!  Temps in the 70s, sunny blue skies, and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico!!

So, as I write this, we have been in our condo for a week and a half, about halfway through our stay.  Susie’s cousin Debbie and her friend Janice have already visited us, and we had a great afternoon by the pool, and then a wonderful night at Crabby Bills!

Tomorrow, we’re expecting our cousins Jeanne and Walt.  We’ve got lots of plans for things to do with them, and we are looking forward to hours of talking and just having fun together!  

img_1327-1

We went in the pool last night after dinner.

Next week, our daughter Krissi and her fiancé Mike will join us.  Again, lots of fun things planned, as well as enjoying the beach, sun, and warm temperatures!  

So, are we Snowbirds??  Well, we’ve already rented a place a couple of blocks down the beach for ALL of February next year.  I’d say, yes, we are Snowbirds!!  What do you think???

Next year’s condo!!