Taking Stock Part Three

Welcome to Part Three of our look back at the first six years of our retirement. Today you’ll get a great seat in the back of our car as we travel close to 10,000 miles across the United States, and enjoy the good life as we cruise on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with Our Boys! Enjoy!!!

OUR BIG ADVENTURE – Susie and I had been talking about this trip for literally years! It was going to be the culmination of years of assembling a bucket list of places we wanted to see in the Western United States, including some incredible National Parks! In many ways, it also was the “raison d’être” for starting this, Our New Adventure blog. We were going to document our trip in words and pictures, for anyone who wanted to ride along, but also as a way for us to remember where we went, what we saw, and who we met. In that regard, we did very well, generally posting words and pictures each day, when the experiences were still fresh in our minds. From the time we traveled over the George Washington Bridge Westbound to I-80 West on Sunday, August 21, 2016, till we returned to the GWB via I-80 East on Saturday, October 22nd, a total of 63 days passed (nine full weeks) and we’d driven a total of 9,773 miles in our 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited. During our trek across our great country, we drove through parts of 25 States, spent time in all 4 of our country’s time zones, visited 10 National Parks or National Monuments. We stayed in a cabin on the rim of the Grand Canyon where we enjoyed sunrise and sunset over the canyon. We stayed at the Yellowstone Lake Lodge in Yellowstone park, we marveled over the Badlands, became sad learning the history at the Battle of Little Big Horn Monument, and we found the carvings of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore as big a thrill to see in person as I’d always thought it would be. We rode the cog railway to the top of Pike’s Peak, saw a Rockies game at Coors Field, drove on parts of old Route 66, enjoyed the Spam Museum, set our clock by the eruption of Old Faithful, and wondered what was true about UFOs in Roswell, New Mexico. We had the Sonata’s oil changed at Terrible’s Lube in Las Vegas (our mechanic Mike on Long Island loved that name), visited many museums, big and small, including the Idaho Potato Museum, The Oregon Trail Museum, and a wonderful little local museum in a little town called Craig, Colorado! We stayed on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, had a wonderful day on the USS Lexington aircraft carrier in Corpus Christi, and even went on a two week cruise out of Galveston where we added the countries of Mexico, Honduras, and Jamaica to our list of destinations. Also, in 62 days of travel, we only had one day on which it rained all day…I’d have to say our travels we’re blessed!

Since I first read it in high school, I have always loved the John Steinbeck book Travels with Charlie, in which Mr. Steinbeck details his trip across America with his dog Charlie. Like Mr. Steinbeck’s trip, we will have memories forever of some of the things we saw, but sometimes it’s the little things you remember. Here’s a quote from our blog from Day 61 of our trip: “While sitting on the porch at Cracker Barrel in Virginia waiting for our table, we started talking to this gentleman. One thing led to another, and we discovered that we were both born in Physicians’ Hospital in Jackson Heights, NY a lifetime ago. Anyone who doesn’t believe we live in a small world, has never been out in it!” Exactly….a very small world!

I think I’m going to leave this part of the story, with this additional quote from our blog, this one on our last night on the road.

“Are we sad as I write this last Our Big Adventure post tonight at a hotel in Pennsylvania? You bet we are. We have so loved every day, have gotten such a kick out of driving the Sonata, with our New York license plates, in places like Las Vegas, or Yellowstone, or on Route 66, or last weekend in Galveston with Kenny and Chris in the back seat! Have so loved telling people what we have come to call, “Our Trip Story,” when they inquire what we are doing in Moab, Utah, or Corpus Christi, Texas, and now that’s all behind us.”

It was an incredible trip!

CRUISING – In the course of the past six years, Susie and I have spent six weeks on cruise ships. Both Susie and I had cruised before we were a couple, and as a couple we have a history with cruising, having been several times, including a week long cruise to Bermuda on our Honeymoon back in 1979! Now, we had added incentive! Youngest child Kenny, the actor, was working as one of the lead entertainers on Royal Caribbean Cruise ships! Kenny and his now husband Chris have done 4 contracts together on Royal. First as friends, then as boyfriends, then as fiances, and finally as a married couple, and Susie and I were fortunate enough to be with them at each level! We’ve been to Bermuda with them, to Roatan Honduras, Cozumell, Mexico, Falmouth, Jamaica, Costa Maya, Mexico, and Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. They’ve shown us their favorite spots in each port, and given us the insider’s tips. We’ve enjoyed wonderful burritos in a little hole-in-the-wall place in Cozumel that we wouldn’t have dared enter without them, and on our next visit, spent the day at a 5 star all inclusive resort! Returned several times to see wonderful people serving incredible food and drinks at a small bar/restaurant that literally hangs over the harbor in Roatan. In Costa Maya, the boys hustled us into a cab at the port, and after driving for 10 minutes, delivered us to the National Beach Club, which was like the set of every beach front movie set in the Caribbean you have ever seen. A white sandy beach with chairs and umbrellas set in groups, palm trees, crystal blue water, hammocks attached to poles in the water, tiki hut bungalows behind the beach, and an outside tiki bar! The place was run by somebody the boys had met…a young American named Evan. Evan took our first drink order, and for the rest of the day, we were waited on hand and foot, enjoying some incredible food and drink, and treated like visiting royalty by Evan, his wife and their staff! In Grand Cayman, we avoided the tourist places, and the boys took us for a wonderful lunch, overlooking the harbor with its incredible blue water filled with cruise ships. In short, we never took an excursion at any port. We had our own personal tour guides, saw the best things in each port, and were fortunate to get to spend time with some friends the boys had made along the way!!

Over these 6 weeks of cruising we’ve met and partied with Kenny and Chris’ ship family from around the world. We’ve seen the boys perform in Saturday Night Fever, seen Chris do aerial work in a Cirque Du Soleil type show, stood and watched ship’s parades with Kenny, first with Chris as Pinocchio and then on later cruises with him as the Admiral of the Fleet commanding the parade action. We’ve met wonderful ship’s staff from all around the world and gotten close to several. We’ve taken martini classes and pasta classes, eaten beautifully prepared and served meals, and have wandered the ship’s buffet. We’ve won (and lost) money in the ships casino, seen Kenny sing on the Royal Promenade for the 70’s Night, enjoyed jazz sets, played bingo, sat and watched the brave folks on the flow rider, and just had a great time. We’ve cruised alone and with my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt, and somehow we have befriended bar staffs from around the world! It’s been a great experience, all the more so because we were able to share it with Our Boys!

Everybody loves a Wedding, and tomorrow in Part Four, you are invited to two of them and then get to see what it’s like to take a sleeper train across America! See you then!!

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