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, 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???
Don’t we look happy??
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!!
By 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.
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!
The 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
If 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.
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 .
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.
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….
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!
We 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!
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!
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!