Living in a Hallmark Christmas Movie Town

 

City Hall

Ever since their “Christmas in July” presentation this year, the Hallmark channels have truly been the place to go for feel-good holiday movies.  While there are other places like Lifetime that are jumping on the bandwagon, Hallmark is far and away the biggest producer of Christmas movies, as they celebrate 10 years in the holiday fold this year with an incredible number of new movies, while filling the rest of the 24 hours with repeats of the hundreds of movies they’ve got from preceding years!  

If you’re a fan (and I freely admit that Susie and I love watching them, and there are now 5 or 6 of them on our DVR), you realize that 90% of them follow a very strict format.  #1 – They all take place in a darling little town, where the Christmas season is a throwback to what we remember (or wished we remembered) from our childhood.  #2 – One person is a resident and one a visitor from the “Big City”.    #3 – As the movie goes on, the two main characters get closer and closer, till there is a “dilemma” (as Susie calls it) between the two main characters, which is always worked out in the end.  #4 – They kiss, and the movie fades to black.  While the movies have a cast of typical Hallmark Characters, in many ways the town that is the background for the movie, is as much of a character as the actors.  

Well, I’m happy to say that we now live in a town, that in many ways, could be a cast member in any number of Hallmark Christmas movies!  Ocean City, New Jersey is a typical small town, that turns into a major summer destination from June through August when it takes on the personality of “Americas Greatest Family Resort”.  As the summer season ends, we revert to a small town, that takes on Christmas big time (just like a Hallmark movie).  

Ocean City was very lucky, that for more than 45 years, Mark Soifer was Ocean City’s Public Relations Director, head cheerleader and idea guru.  As a summer resort, part of his job was to expand the season, for the benefit of the city’s merchants.  Out of that desire was born the phrase, “Shoulder Season”, and ways to expand the summer one weekend at a time, throughout the year.  I’m sure that the way Ocean City celebrates Christmas is in no small measure a by-product of Mr. Soifer’s efforts.  See, just like the town cheerleader that most Hallmark Movies have, we in Ocean City had one too, till he retired a few years ago.

First of all, the town is decorated from public buildings like the Welcome Center to City Hall, right up to the boardwalk and the Music Pier.

There are also lots of private homes decorated, like our representatives on Pennlyn Place!

img_2178

Just look at the above flyer with just a small sampling on what Ocean City has to offer this Holiday Season.  From this coming weekend’s Earlier than the Bird (when you’re invited to shop dressed in your PJs…and many folks do), to “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue”, when among other things, Santa appears on the roof of City Hall and is “helped” down by the Ocean City Fire Department, our little town Christmas Parade, right through the City’s First Night New Year’s Eve Celebration!  

Don’t forget the all important Breakfast with Santa, at restaurants all over town, or the weekly carriage rides through town!  Yes, from the weekend before Thanksgiving, right up through the celebration of New Year’s Day, we live in a Hallmark Christmas town!  Throw in a little snow once in a while, and it’s perfect!

From our Hallmark Christmas Town to yours, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…..

 

A Tale of Two Tables

 

img_2063

It was just about two years ago, in November of 2017, that a huge change happened in our lives.  It was on November 9th of that year, that we sold our Mineola house, a place that had been home to the D’Elia Family for 31 years, and we officially became full time residents of Ocean City, NJ.  It was a major change in the life of two people who had never known anyplace else but Long Island as home (Susie and I), and an emotional issue with leaving a home that our 3 children had grown up in….including for our 3 children!  I don’t think I’ve written about this before, so here’s brief recap to set up today’s story.

As often times happens, the anticipation of doing something causes you to put it off, and then once you’ve done it, you realize how stupid you were for dragging your feet.  That was our case when we faced the prospect of selling our house!  Our anticipation was that it would take months, and that it would be a painful process involving realtors, and all kinds of folks traipsing through our house.  Our reality was that one of the people that had told us they were interested in the house, came by with their family one afternoon and before we went to bed that night, they made an offer, and we accepted!  Never put the house on the market, never dealt with one realtor, never experienced one bit of pain, but afterwards wondered why we’d waited so long to do it!

The night they made their offer was a little less than 3 months before we went to closing, and our main job during those 3 months (besides a two week trip out to the West Coast to meet our prospective Son-in-Law Chris’ family), was figuring out how to empty the Mineola house.  We’d already taken the things we wanted to Ocean City, and all three of our kids had staked their claims on other items, and even some friends had taken a few items, but the sad Baby Boomer truth is, that we’re all looking to get rid of things, and NOBODY wants them!  Not our kids, not folks running tag sales, not even neighbors!  So, in the end, as the closing date got closer and closer, we had to pay somebody to empty out our house!

Now the clock wasn’t our friend, and as the closing date got closer, we got more and more desperate to just move on, and walk away from the Mineola House.  In the past two years, since Ocean City became our one and only home,  I can’t tell you how many times we have gone looking for something, only to realize that it was obviously one of those things we just left in the house, in haste, to be dealt with by the folks cleaning it out!  The list runs from things in the garage like snow brushes and shovels for the car, to snack tables, that we’d used for years, and that we have regretted leaving so many times since!  This, then, is the tale of those two tables!

These were well made, heavy oak snack tables, that we’d originally bought on one of our yearly trips to the Amish Country in and around Lancaster Pennsylvania.  We’d first bought one for my Mom as a Christmas present, and then added two more for our use on a subsequent trip.  We probably used them in the living room a couple of nights a week.  Sometimes they were the base for take-out food, or other times we used them when we had a meal we needed to use a knife and fork with (which necessitated sitting at a table, because you couldn’t do that with a plate on your lap!), and sometimes, just a base for Susie to write Christmas cards or such. 

We really don’t remember if we made a conscious decision to leave the snack tables, or it was just an oversight on our part, but we’ve missed them so many times over the past 2 years.  Wednesday, we spent the day righting that mistake, and along the way, we also took care of several other missions!

On our yearly trips to Amish Country, we always stopped at King’s Furniture.  It was place the kids loved to explore, and the place that Susie pined over a beautiful dining room set that ultimately came to live in our Mineola House (and one piece of which now lives in the den of our Ocean City House), so we knew exactly where we’d bought them!  Recently, I proposed to Susie that we spend a day, and make a great loop route through Pennsylvania, Delaware, and back to New Jersey, and in the process we hit King’s Furniture, then Total Wines in Delaware, and then Bagliani’s Italian Market in Hammonton, NJ before returning home.  And that’s exactly what we did on Wednesday!!

We left the house a little after 7:15 in the morning, and arrived at King’s Acres a little after 10.  The day was cold and clear, and the Amish countryside was as beautiful as always, and a little after 10:30 AM, we were back at the car, putting two lovely snack tables into the back seat!  Mission 1 accomplished and a wrong corrected that had been waiting 2 years to be made right!

Then we were off on the return part of our loop drive to Claymont, Delaware, and one of our multi-time a year visits to Total Wine & More!  It being mid-November, this trip would go down as our 2019 Holiday visit, and provide us with wine and spirits for Thanksgiving, Christmas and through to New Year, plus holiday gift items!  The prices are excellent, and there is no tax on liquor or wine in Delaware, so it’s a win/win!  

On the way home, we made a stop in Hammonton, NJ so that we could buy some of the great cheeses and sausages they have at Bagliani’s Italian Market!  A great end to a great day!

We left Ocean City about 7:20 in the morning and arrived back around 3:30.  In between, we traveled 257 miles, went through New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Delaware, drove briefly through Pennsylvania again, and back to New Jersey.  We replaced two tables that had slipped away from us two years ago, we stocked up on wine and liquor for the holidays, and stopped off at our favorite NJ Italian Market for some goodies!  All in all, a good day In Our Humble Opinion!

img_2062

November 10th, 2019

img_2180

Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! 

On November 10th, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines with a decree to raise “two battalions of Marines.”  Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia is regarded as the birthplace of the Corps, as many consider it the location where the first Marines enlisted.  The Continental Marines, like the Continental Navy, was disestablished following the close of the Revolutionary War in 1783, but was re-established on July 11th of 1798 by an act signed by President John Adams.  Prior to 1921, it was that July 11th date that was celebrated as the Marine’s birthday, but in 1921 it was suggested that the original date of November 10th be declared a “Marine Holiday”.  Commandant John Lejeune created Marine Corps order #47 which ordered, that from that time forward, November 10th would be officially celebrated as the US Marine Corps Birthday!  

And how, you may ask, do I know all this?  Well, I know this because Susie and I have the honor to be living on Pennlyn Place, bookended by two good friends who are Marines!  Notice I said, “are Marines”, not were Marines.  Even though neither of them are actively serving, the tradition is once a Marine, always a Marine!   We have been fortunate to be included in the annual celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday several times, and that’s where some of this knowledge has come from.

Our immediate neighbor on our left is 98 year old Doie Barnes.  In World War II, Doie was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, having told Susie that her job was to dispatch planes.  She also told Susie one time when she realized that Susie had been a Registered Nurse, that she always wanted to be a nurse, but that her Father said she had to be a secretary, and so she went to Secretarial School.    It was indeed a different time, which only to my mind makes Doie’s service in WWII more incredible!

On the other side of us, one house away, lives our good friends Patti and Meade Rudasill.  As a student at the University of Virginia, Meade was a member of the NAVY ROTC program, and applied for and was accepted for the Marine Option.  Between his Junior and Senior year of college, he went to OCS (Officer Candidate School) and also Jump School at Lakehurst Air Station.  After college, he attended Basic School, where unlike every other service, every Marine Officer goes for 6 months to learn how to be a Marine.  Then it was off to Engineer School, where he could apply his UVA Engineering Degree, but as he said to me, “It was Marine Corps specific and they hadn’t taught me about blowing up things at UVA.”  He was on active duty from 1979 to 1984, having assignments on both the East and West Coasts, and being deployed with the Marine Detachment on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga CV-60 to the Mediterranean.  During his entire Marine carrier, he did “interesting stuff”, to quote my friend.  He rose to the rank of Captain and was selected for Major in the reserves.  After his service in the Marine Corps, he went on to have a successful business career, including being the CEO of QVC, and I know he would say that without a doubt, much of what he learned as a Marine Corps Officer helped him in his business life!  

This years celebration for our Pennlyn Place group was held at Captain Bob’s in the far South End of Ocean City.  Organized by Doie’s Son-In-Law, Doc Anderson, the group included, in addition to Susie and I, Doie and Doc, Patti and Meade, and neighbors Dale Nicholas, Barbara Kichline, and Bob Byrne.  Not exactly a traditional Marine Corps Ball (there was no dancing), but we do our best to help Doie and Meade, as Marine Order #47 orders, “commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of it’s long and illustrious history.” 

One part of our celebration that is in keeping with tradition, is maintaining the cake cutting ceremony, as has been contained in the Marine Drill Manual since 1956.  To quote that manual, “By tradition, the first slice of cake is given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn hands it off to the youngest Marine present, symbolizing the old and experienced Marines passing their knowledge to the new generation of Marines.”  Doc always procures an appropriate cake, and using Meade’s sword, Doie always makes the first cut.  Then, as tradition, Doie will get the first piece of cake and pass it on to Meade, but Doie loves her sweets, so some years it’s a struggle for her to give it up, but there’s always another piece on its way!

Susie and I are proud to have these folks as friends and neighbors, and proud to be included in this annual celebration with them, and in this small way, thank them for their service!   Again, Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps, and to all who proudly have earned the name Marine, including our two favorite Marines, Doie Barnes and Meade Rudasill!

Our Marines!

Happy Birthday Marine!!  Semper Fi!

Family Life Changes

 

When our three kids were younger, we were very lucky that our immediate family lived minutes, not hours or days away!  Susie’s Mom and Dad were in Hempstead and later East Meadow. My Mom was in Bayside. Susie’s sister and family were in Huntington, and her brother and his wife in Merrick.  We, living in Mineola, were pretty much in the geographic center of our entire family.  A 20 to 30 minute drive, got us to any of their houses, so casual drop-ins were very easy to do.  

Then there were holidays.  The hardest thing to decide about most holidays was who was going to host, and what could the rest bring.  It seemed very normal and natural, and we never really realized how lucky we were.  Our oldest son Billy reminded us of this fact of his childhood recently, but now, as the title of this piece says, family life changes!

Life has indeed changed, and Susie and I are at the center of those changes.   We were both born geographically on Long Island…Susie in Amityville, and me in Jackson Heights, in the New York City Borough of Queens.  Our entire married life, we lived in Nassau County…first Port Washington, then New Hyde Park, and from 1986 to 2017, in the same house in Mineola.  Over time, Susie retired (June of 2013), I retired (January, 2016), and then we moved out of the Mineola house (November, 2017).  We not only moved out of Mineola, we moved off Long Island and out of New York State, and made the house we’d owned at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey since 2005 our forever home! 

Changes happened in our three children’s lives too.  First, they are all married!  Krissi and her husband Mike live in Astoria, in the NYC borough of Queens.  Krissi’s twin brother Kenny and his husband Chris have just finished  up a year long contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, but before that, they were in Los Angelos, and who knows exactly where they will end up.  Oldest son Bill and his wife Lori made the move a couple of years ago off of Long Island down to Raleigh, North Carolina, along with our Grandchildren Layla and Henry, and just bought a brand new house as their family has grown with the addition of our newest Grandchild, Annabelle, 6 months ago.  So, like many American families, our family is now spread out, and we no longer have the luxury of living 20 to 30 minutes from each other.

On a recent weekend, however, we made the effort and were rewarded by spending some family time with two thirds of our children, their spouses, and our three Grandkids!  Susie and I took the 8+ hour drive from Ocean City to Raleigh on Thursday morning.  Krissi and her husband Mike flew down from New York after work on Friday, and it was a weekend of family, fun, and babysitting!  Just the best!!

From Russia (and elsewhere) with love!

Anyone who knows us, knows that the two of us like nothing better than walking into a bar or restaurant, and feel like we are with friends.  We love that feeling you get when the person behind the bar looks up, smiles, and says “Hello Sue and Frank”!  While lots of people will constantly try new places, we love going back to places where we are known quantities, and where we can be with friends.  People like our long time bartender friend Ralph at the Eden Lounge at Harrahs AC, or Dennis, the bartender at St. James in Mineola, that we spent so many “Nail Nights” with!  Or our friend Sue Waniak, who befriended us at Charlies when she was a waitress, and has now turned into a genuine family friend, as has the rest of the Waniak clan!  We’re still doing it, like on our weekly visits to Angelo’s in AC and our favorite bartender/waiter Michael!

 

Based on our history, is there any reason to think we would have done otherwise during our recent 2 week cruise with Kenny and Chris on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas?  Ha Ha…I don’t think so!  So this is a tale of 5 young ladies, who enhanced our cruise via their friendship!  Some on the Liberty and some off.

The R Bar

This is the 4th cruise we have taken on the Liberty of the Seas, thanks to contracts the boys have gotten to perform on the ship.  The first time was out of Bayonne, New Jersey when we sailed to Bermuda, and the next 3 cruises were out of Galveston, Texas, heading to the Western Caribbean.  To say we are familiar with the ship would be more than true, and as such, we realize that when folks board on deck 4, and want a drink, the first place they see is Boleros Bar, just next to the gangway.  However, as seasoned travelers on the Liberty, we know that just one deck up, in exactly the same place, is a nice, quieter bar called the R Bar!  This is our favorite place to hang on embarkation day till the cabins are ready.  This is our standard MO, and one we followed this year, and there we waited for my cousins Jeanne and Walt to join us, while taking advantage of our drink package!

That first day, Joey was behind the bar, and he was both welcoming and easy to be with, and so the R Bar went to the top of our list of possible hang-outs during our 14 days on the ship.  Then we met the girls!  Neither Susie nor I have a clear memory of first meeting them, but we’re pretty sure we met Irena first.

Irena is a Russian young lady in her mid 30s.  Her command of the English language wasn’t the best, but then my Russian is non existent, so no complaints here.  She soon learned our names and what our drink of choice was, and she was always very welcoming when we walked into the R Bar.  The first week, when my cousins were with us, she always wanted to know where Jeanne and Walter were if we went in alone.  Soon she wanted to know where Kenny and Chris where if we showed up without them!  During our two weeks with Irena, we learned that she had studied to be a Criminal Lawyer in Russia, and upon completion of her studies, had practiced for exactly one month, as she didn’t like being involved with people who were “trying to hurt others”.  We also found out that before she signed on the Liberty, she had almost no command of English.  

62DB0789-FB6D-4D61-91C1-FD8A20BD4C4CShe would often times squat next to our chairs and talk to us when the bar wasn’t busy.  We discovered that she had a sister and mother in Russia, and two nephews she was very proud of.  We also found out that she had a boyfriend on the ship (another bar server from the Philippines) and that she liked pocketbooks (an immediate connection with Susie…the Queen of Pocketbooks!).  We also found out that she and Shannelle were roommates!  Oh Boy…trouble!

Shannelle was another one of our R Bar friends who we got to know very well during our two weeks on the ship.  From Jamaica, Shannelle is in her first contract back from a Maternity Leave, and is the Mom of a little one year old boy named Xander.  Because of the itinerary the ship is on, she gets to see him every other week when the Liberty ports in Falmouth, Jamaica, and for this she was very happy.  She obviously loved seeing folks on the ship with young kids (especially those close to Xander’s age), and both Shannelle and Irena seemed to have a real rapport with some of the kids on the ship!  Shannelle is a young lady who knows how to have fun, and honestly, we never saw her without a big smile on her face!  She told us about her family in Jamaica, and of course about her son, and beamed all through it!  By the end of our two weeks, she was calling us Mom and Dad!  What a sweet, wonderful person, and how lucky were we to get to know her!

F7EFA9D0-2C37-4562-B0C8-60D578A63F04

The third lady at the bar was Kisa, the bar manager.  She is from Granada, and was at the end of her contract, and signed off when our two weeks were over on October 6th.  We didn’t get to know her as well as Irena and Shannelle, because she always worked the bar, but the night the girls had us join in singing Happy Birthday to her, cemented our relationship with her.  After that, there were hugs and hellos, and she worked very hard to make several special drinks for Susie! 

The last night of our two weeks on the Liberty were very sad.  We were sad to go and Irena and Shannelle were honestly sad to see us go (Kisa was sad, but since she was leaving, it was not to the same level as the other two), as we felt we were leaving friends!  

2D9610B8-F364-41AF-B319-FA237D582EDF

Just before our final hugs, Irena and Shannelle gave us a package, and told us not to open it till we were back in the room.  Two sweet young ladies that we were so happy to get to know, and become friends with!  Here’s the note they gave us…

441ACEA3-8BD5-49C0-9393-60091B2CA216

I’ve already mentioned Joey, but can’t forget Jay at the Casino Bar and Mo the first week at the Hoof and Claw, and the second week at the Schooner Bar.  All great folks that enhanced our stay on Royal’s Liberty of the Seas!

Captain Jack’s Roatan, Honduras

The forth young lady was not on the ship, but rather a “friend” from the island of Roatan, Honduras.  When we were on the cruise in 2016, the boys took us to a little shack called Captain Jack’s Ceviche Bar and Grill.  Hanging over the water, just outside the port, we had some great drinks and some very freshly cooked seafood, and loved every minute of it.  

9071EACA-64CB-4F61-A409-155C8B7EBD21

When we were back in March, the plan was to once again hit Captain Jack,s, but the boys told us that there had been improvements to the place since our last visit!  Boy, they were not kidding!!  It had doubled in size, the bar was bigger and in a new place, and it even had bathrooms!  Even better, it had a young lady holding court behind the bar named Babe, and it didn’t take us long to fall in love!!  We had a wonderful afternoon with great drinks, some delish “Babe Shots” and the best Coconut Shrimp and Conch Fritters in the world!  When we left, there were hugs and kisses all around and we told her we were looking forward to seeing her again when we returned in the end of September.

6EC3A167-668B-407C-9E77-7AB6D0EF0307

On its current itinerary, the ship visits Roatan about once a month, so the boys get to visit Babe and we get to hear stories.  On their last visit, they told her we’d be there the first week in October, and when she saw them that day, the first thing we heard from her was, “Where’s Mom and Dad??”  Both Susie and I got a bear hug that we weren’t sure was going to ever stop, and we knew immediately we were in for a glorious afternoon!  

8D2CE9F5-73D7-46D4-99D3-BC7BE71B740F

 

Her given name is Darcia Johnson, and when Susie told her that her maiden name was Johnson, Babe started calling her her “sister from another Mother!”.  We once again had a great time, again the best coconut shrimp, conch fritters, and fried plantains in the Caribbean, and many special “Babe Shots” (first a pink one, then a blue one, then a green one, then an orange one).  It was an afternoon to remember, and a Facebook friend we will always hold dear to our hearts!  Love you Babe and thanks for the hospitality!!

484BAA4A-E6D1-44D7-A2E2-154F0144E12F

Patrick’s Bar – The Strand, Galveston, Texas

The fifth young lady is someone we have heard about for years from the boys.  As I mentioned, this is the third contract they have done on the Liberty, and the second with it porting in Galveston full time.  Way back in 2016, they wandered into a bar on The Strand on one of their Sunday turn -around days to get a beer.  They got a beer, and so much more!  They met a friend!

We have heard about Sophie for over 3 years, and although we’d never met her, we felt like we knew her.  Her boyfriend Carl (a Galveston Fire Fighter) would hang out at the bar on Sundays whenever he wasn’t on shift, and the boys loved hanging with them just before they returned to the ship.  There were lots of sad eyes when their contract ended just before Christmas in 2016 and they were forced to say goodbye to Sophie!

3A9478BF-8689-4266-BD88-6EF1C6B4C821

Last February, when the boys returned to the Liberty, on one of their first Sunday turn-around days, they once again wandered into Patricks, and suddenly almost 3 years of separation faded away!  Sophie and Patrick’s was always their last stop before heading back to the Liberty for another week.  Sunday is their only day in the United States, their only day off in Texas, and there are always things to do like shopping, picking up mail, and of course having a cocktail or two.  One thing they didn’t miss was a visit with Sophie if she was working!

Susie and I tried to meet her last March when we went on the ship, but she wasn’t working the Sunday we were in port. This time she was, and we finally got to meet this lovely young lady.  She is everything Kenny and Chris told us about her, and someone who is no longer just a bartender, but someone who has become a good friend (hmmm…does that sound familiar?)!  So much so, that when the boys sign off the ship early next month, and travel back to Nevada, they are going to meet up with Sophie and Carl in Las Vegas and celebrate Kenny and Sophie’s birthdays together! So thanks Sophie for taking care of Our Boys on a lot of Sundays, and for being a good friend to our two wandering minstrels!  

So there you have it, our tale of 5 young ladies who were a big part of the enjoyment we had during and just after our two weeks on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas!  Susie and I always love getting to know people and getting to cross that bridge from server to friend, and I suspect we will continue to make friends in bars and restaurants wherever we go.  It’s just who we are!!!

Week #2

Kind of like I did last week, I’m basically going to post a bunch of pictures of Week 2 of our cruise, and briefly talk about them.  Too much to do, too much to see, too much to remember, so, if there wasn’t a picture, we may not remember it happened!  

As I briefly noted at the end of week one, after saying goodbye to Jeanne and Walt on Saturday night, turnaround day in Galveston on Sunday September 29th, also happened to be our 40th Wedding Anniversary!  We started with Mimosas at one of the boys Sunday hang-outs, Brewchachos, and then it was off to Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boys treated us to a wonderful Anniversary Lunch!

After a beautiful Sail-A-Way, Chris had to get ready for the first parade of the week, and we visited Sorrento’s pizza on the Royal Promenade and found a good place to watch Chris perform from!

After parade, the boys joined us on a trip to the casino and a little gambling!

Monday was an alone day for Mom and Dad, as the boys had a tech run, and then 2 performances of In The Air that night.  We spent the day wandering the ship, including lunch at Giovanni’s Table, and one of our favorite non- participation spots, watching the flow rider.

This was also the night of the Captain’s Cocktail Party, so a dress-up night, but this week, since we’d already participated in the Captain’s party the week before, we decided to give up a glass of cheap champagne, for a drink in the R Bar!  A good decision on our part! Then it was time for the first show of In The Air!

The following brief video will show you one of the highlights of seeing our youngest perform.  Mom always get’s thrown a kiss from her baby!

We went to both shows, and once again there was pizza between, and a trip to the casino after!

The next day was a day we’d been waiting for since we were on the ship last March.  The port of call was Roatan, Honduras, and our excursion was a trip to Captain Jack’s and a visit to one of the sweetest women, Babe!  A haunt of the boys every visit to Roatan, we’d met Babe in March and fallen in love!  When they were last there, the boys had told her we’d be with them on their next stop, and we both got a huge hug from her and a wonderful greeting!  It was a fun day with incredible drinks, some colorful shots Babe gifted us, and the best Coconut Shrimp, Fried Plantains, and Conch Fritters in the Caribbean!!  We were joined by Kenny and Chris fellow cast members Martha (from Scotland) and Lee (from Ireland), and a great time was had by all! “Chaars…Bonkers!”

Going on one of these cruises with the boys are a blend of together time and alone time.  They are, obviously, working while we’re there, so although we love spending time with them, they’ve got shows and other duties to take care of when we’re on the ship, so Mom and Dad get to explore and enjoy some alone time too!  We head to the Windjammer buffet for meals, watch crew member drills, hit the pool and hot tub, and marvel and some of the outfits fellow passengers cram in their luggage!

But then, there are the shows!  Nothing better than watching “Our Boys” on the stage, doing what they love and what they’re very good at! They both come alive up there, and just watching them makes us happy and confirms that they are exactly where they belong!  A couple of highlights from Saturday Night Fever…look for Kenny’s Mommy kiss at the end of the second video!

541A23D7-E075-4062-8EC1-641E30D2AD7E

We awoke in Cozumel to find our huge sister ship,  Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, tied up across the pier from us, and knew that it would be a busy day in Cozumel as it’s 6000+ passengers would be joining our 4000+, as well passengers from the several other ships in port.  Not to worry though, we were going to have a “Kenny and Chris Day in Cozumel”, following them as they visited some of their favorite non-tourist locations!  There were Margaritas and Beers at a favorite stop, incredible burritos at a locals only little hole-in-the wall place, and then some more Margaritas and Pina Coladas before heading back to the ship!

That night was the second Formal Night of the week, and the four of us put our best foot forward, as we dined in the Main Dining Room, visited our friends in the R Bar (where Lee and Martha and Martha’s Mom and Aunt joined us), and concluded the night in the casino where bartender Jay kept us all well supplied!!

Getting back to the cabin, we found something we’d been dreading since we signed on almost two weeks before…LUGGAGE TAGS to be used when leaving the cruise on Sunday!

AE1FDCD3-80F0-42C9-A8CB-DE0994999551

Saturday morning, Susie spent some time packing, and when she felt she had it well under control, we met up with Kenny in Vintages Wine Bar for some late morning champagne and to wait the start of the last Parade of the week, and watch “Admiral” Fox put the troops through their paces!!

28CC198E-D8D0-4B9E-9848-69D8C29CC3BB

After Chris got changed, it was together time for D’Elia/Fox Family Time!

Our first stop was Olive or Twist, the lounge at the top of the ship.  Great drinks, and great views!

That night, we once again dined with Nelson at Chops Grill, were we were surprised with a lovely Anniversary serenade.

F12C9184-EA51-4D31-993B-7C92CD1EBC32

After a nice meal, it was time for our last trip to the R Bar, and to say goodbye to 3 ladies that had become good friends over the past two weeks!  A sad night for us, but we were very happy to have met and got to know Irena, Shannelle, and Kisa during our time on the Liberty! 

DC930995-32A3-4375-93D8-E6BBA0473073

Getting off the ship the next morning was a breeze, as was picking up our rental car at Enterprise, and way before they expected to see us, we rendezvoused with the boys on the Strand, and were off to Walmart for their last supply trip of the year!

Then, it was a last lunch with the boys at The Spot on Galveston Beach…

12669C32-0829-4A79-8E0C-0EA0741A222F

before visiting with their bartender friend Sophie at Patricks Bar, before we dropped them off back at the Liberty, and Susie and I began our drive to Houston.

3A9478BF-8689-4266-BD88-6EF1C6B4C821

Our flight was scheduled out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport just before noon on Monday, and we spent a relaxing night at a Homewood Suites just outside the airport.  After two weeks of wonderful meals, in specialty restaurants, the main dining room, and even Sorrento’s Pizza on the Promenade Deck, this was our last meal of the trip…

Then it was time to wing our way back to Philadelphia International Airport, get the Honda, and drive down the Atlantic City Expressway to home!  A great two plus weeks away, but, It’s Good to Be Home!!