Week 2

Pardon the delay, but waited till we got back home so I could finish this on the computer rather than my IPhone!

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On Sunday morning, we woke already tied to the dock, back in Galveston, Texas.  This was the boys weekly “turn around day”, and the plan was for them to show us what they do weekly.  Just before 10, armed with our old and new Sea Pass cards, our In-Transit cards, and our passports, we worked our way off the ship, down the gangway, and through Immigration.  We were the happy people in the group, as we knew in a couple of hours, we’d be joining the Liberty again!

Once through Immigration, we met up with Kenny who told us Chris had taken off to make the long walk to a store he needed to get something from and he’d join us soon, so the 3 of us headed off to The Strand.  This is a tourist area just a couple of blocks from the port, and where the boys spend most Sundays.

Once Chris met us, it was off to their first weekly stop…a store that sells everything, including drinks!  Apparently, to sell booze on Sunday before 11 AM, you’ve also got to provide food, so a piece of a cut up hot dog was provided. Then it was to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the Mimosas.

 

After that, we headed off to their “brunch” place, a taco “stand” with about 50 beers on tap, and a very eclectic menu of gourmet type tacos.  We had some great ones, and it would be great if I had any photographic evidence, but we ate everything before I thought of it!!!  Tell me we haven’t done that before!

After lunch, we headed off to their “after-lunch Bar” with their favorite bartender Sophie, but alas, she was at a baby shower and not working!  Oh well, perhaps next Sunday.  Then it was time to walk back to the ship.

We said goodbye to the boys (they go on via a crew entrance), and with our In-Transit cards and our new Sea Pass cards already in hand, we got to skip the lines, and in not much time at all, we were back in the R Bar starting week 2 the same way as week 1!

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After another boat drill, the boys joined us on our balcony for sail-away, and then dinner in the Windjammer.  A brief stop in the casino, and then it was time for bed…we were all pooped!

Day 2 dawned sunny and warm, and on this sea day, our plan was lunch for 4 in one of the Liberty’s specialty restaurants, Sabor, Modern Mexican! We met Kenny and Chris at the restaurant at 12:30, and as usual, we were served too much food!  We didn’t eat it all, but we did our best!!

After a brief stop in the casino, Chris went off to work the ice show, Kenny retired to their cabin for some R&R, and Susie and I went to the Ice Show.   A great show, more so because it’s on a cruise ship!!

After the show, it was time to shower and dress for the Captain’s Champagne Reception on the Royal Promenade. Some free champagne, an hour spent people watching (and some is sooo good), and listening to the Captain speak.  You must admit, we did clean up well!

 

Then it was time for Chris to hit the hay, while Susie, Kenny, and I headed to Vintages Wine Bar for something a little better quality than the cheap Royal Champagne!

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We had several glasses of wine, had a nice talk with Julia who we’d met earlier in the Jewelry Shop on the Promenade, and with Remy, who works in Vintages. There are a lot of nice people who work on the Liberty, if you just take the time to meet them!!  We enjoy meeting these crew folks from all around the world. learning a bit about them and where they’re from, and hearing their experiences!

After 3 glasses on wine each (I think it was three???), a profitable visit to the casino, a couple of pieces of pizza at Sorrentos, it was time for bed, ending day 2.

 

Day 3 was Cozumel again. As you may recall, this was our only duplicate port, and since we’d had an incredible day there at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort just 4 days earlier, and since the boys had a busy day with a tech run and two performances of In the Air, Susie and I decided to stay on the ship and let them go their own way.

We started with a lazy morning, headed up to the pool deck and the adult Solarium, with our books, and a couple of Pina Coladas!  We read, we sipped, and we dozed a bit. The Liberty was quiet, with the majority of folks wandering the streets of Cozumel.  It was nice!!!

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Because the ship was so empty, just after they opened at 1, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets for lunch!!!  Great burgers!!!

 

That night, performances of In the Air, after which the boys came to unwind in our cabin.  A nice day.

We awoke the next morning, already at anchor in Grand Cayman.  There’s no pier there, so this was our only tender port of the cruise.  The water was the most incredible color blue, and we sat on our balcony watching the tenders come and go, while waiting for the boys to finish a meeting.   A short tender ride, and we were walking the streets of Grand Cayman, heading to the boys favorite lunch spot!

 

Tell me those drinks, and that background doesn’t look magical!

Then, another stop at another outdoor bar, on the way back to the port.  I’d call this more of a “dive bar”, but good drinks, great setting, and a fun atmosphere!

 

Back on the ship, the boys joined us for a small Sail-Away party on our balcony and a little champagne.  

 

I think that this was the most beautiful port we stopped at during our two weeks on the Liberty, and reminded me a lot of our several visits to Bermuda.

 

That night, while Chris was doing some Dance Captain stuff, Susie and I joined Kenny in the Star Lounge and enjoyed 4 of his fellow singers in a presentation called the Jazz Set.  Really mislabeled, as I’d call it more American Standards, we enjoyed listening to his 4 very talented friends.

 

Then we met up with Chris and after discussing where to go to have a bite, it was decided to give Johnny Rockets another shot!  Good burgers all around!  On the way out, we paused to take a photo in front of one of the art pieces on Deck 12.  A little bit of Chris’ home town of Reno, Nevada on the Liberty of the Seas!

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Our stop the next day was Falmouth, Jamaica, in a port that was created a number of years ago by Royal Caribbean for the Oasis Class ships, that were really too big to fit in other ports on the island.  Created to resemble a 15th or 16th century town, the port is full of shopping opportunities, because that, it seems, is what most folks do on a cruise.  However, we had other plans!  Our first stop, the Jamaican Beef Patty stand for a round of patties for all!  Then it was off to Margaritaville, with their potent drinks, some of their delicious food, and the pool with a swim up bar!

 

The water was cool, the sun was hot…it was a great way to spend the afternoon, before heading back to the Liberty of the Seas!

That night, it was time for Kenny to do one of his other jobs on the ship, and that was the 70’s Set on the Royal Promenade during the ship’s 70 Disco Party themed night!  Because Mom and Dad wanted to have a good view of the action, we got there about an hour and a half early, and sat at a table outside of the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Having not eaten since Margaritaville, we passed the time by having a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Promenade for dinner, along with a couple of drinks from the R Bar.  As we were waiting there, who should come along but our personal photographer Jennifer.  We called her that, because she was the only one who’d taken pictures of us on our second week, and she obliged us again and took 3 wonderful pictures, that were the only ones we bought that week!

 

We had a lovely conversation with her and discovered that although her name tag said Columbia, she was really from Venezuela, but had escaped the problems there, and called Chile home.  She would be signing off the ship after a couple of more months and told us it would be winter when she got home…a season she hasn’t seen for some time!  Another great member of the crew we were happy to get to meet!

Then, what we came for…our baby (he really is our baby….being the youngest of our 3 kids!) on the flying bridge, above a couple of thousand passengers and crew, performing with his partner about 15 minutes of songs from way before he was born!

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So much fun!!!

After Kenny changed, we met the boys down at the Schooner Bar, had a couple of drinks, and then went into the casino for a little One Armed Bandit action!  Tonight, Lady Luck was on our side, and we had a really great run on a Wheel of Fortune machine!

 

Following our stop in Jamaica, we had two sea days, our last two days of the cruise as we traveled over 1,000 miles back to the Liberty’s home port of Galveston, Texas.  

After sleeping in a bit, Susie and I had a cappuccino at the Promenade Cafe, then selected a table near Sorrento’s Pizza and waited for the Move It, Move It Parade!  Kenny joined us and we played cards for a bit, till the participants started to arrive for the big Dreamworks Cast parade all along the promenade, that Chris, as Dance Captain, coordinates.  The parade lasts about 15 minutes, and is supposed to end with Chris shooting off a confetti gun, but just before the parade started, one of the Dreamworks characters picked the gun up, and dumped all the confetti out!  

 

 

Night 6 of the cruise was our second Formal Night of the week, and since we’d cleaned up so nicely on our previous Formal Night, we decided to do it again and journey, once again to Giovanni’s for a wonderful Italian meal!  Thanks to Alex the host, and our favorite waiter Melvyn, it was another memorable night, with great food, wine, and laughs!  

As day 7 of the cruise was a busy one for the boys (a tech run of Saturday Night Fever in the morning followed by two shows of SNF that evening), following dinner, we let them head off to their cabin, while Mom and I headed back to see our friends at the Schooner bar, and have an “after dinner”  Martini or two!

 

This has really been our go to bar this week of the cruise, being the place we’ve stopped most for daytime Mai Tai’s or nighttime Martinis, with bartenders Antonio, and Francisco and waiters Alexander and Fernanda.  You know us, we like feeling like we’ve got a home, and when folks know your name, and you enjoy the conversation with them, well, that’s what makes us feel like home.  So when Antonio would say, “Susan, Frank, the usual?” we were happy!

 

After a couple of drinks, and listing to Phil at the piano bar, we decided to head back into the casino, and see if the night before had been a fluke, or if our luck was indeed on the upswing.  Well, if Lady Luck was on our side the night before, she was in our laps tonight!  Just saying…..

 

A nice way to end what had been a wonderful day!!

So, that brings us to day 7 of our cruise and our last sea day before Galveston.  This was a full day for our boys, as they prepared for tonight’s 2 shows of Saturday Night Fever, and therefore an alone day for us!  It was time to drag those 3 suitcases that had been stored under the bed in cabin 7344 for 2 weeks out, and to empty the closet and the drawers, and to prepare to leave a place that had been our home for the past 14 days.  It was a sad day because we’d had a wonderful time, and tomorrow would be the last day with Our Boys for some time, but all 4 of us knew it was also time to get back to the real world.  

So drag out those suitcases we did, and Susie packed, while I brought her the items she asked for.   In short order, we were packed and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch.  We relaxed on our balcony that afternoon, reading and honestly napping, and a little after 5, we met Kenny outside the Platinum Theater as he let us in before the doors opened for the last time.  We love watching these two on stage, seeing them both do something they love.  Hope you do too!

 

 

A little after 9:30 the next morning, we were off the ship, through Immigration, and out into a cold and damp Galveston!  The week before on turn around day, it had been sunny and in the 70s, today it was hovering right around 50!  Yikes…not the Caribbean anymore!  Our plan today was simple…once we met up with the boys, they were going to roll our suitcases to one of their Sunday hangouts while Susie and I Ubered to pick up our rental car.  That done, we drove over to the local Walmart so that they could do probably the most extensive shopping they’ll do during their time on the ship, spending close to $300!  Then we had a marvelous lunch at a place on the Galveston Sea Wall called, My Spot.  It was our last Family Meal….

 

Then it was time for Susie and I to drop the boys back at the pier, and to make our way to George Bush International Airport in Houston for our flight home to Philadelphia.  We finally arrived back on Pennlyn Place and home in Ocean City about 1:30AM, ending what had been a wonderful two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine with Our Boys!  And so ends the story of week two of Sue and Frank’s Excellent Adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, with the Fox Boys!

A couple of postscripts…

One thing Susie loved was some of the art that was featured around the ship.  Here are some of her favorites that she captured via her IPhone camera.

 

Last, but not least, even though we were in the Caribbean, we’re never really far away from our Jersey Shore home at heart, as you can see from this picture of our cabin door!

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Monday, October 15, 2018

It’s Over!

img_1002-1Monday dawned sunny, but colder, and as we woke this last morning in Lake Tahoe, the Wedding Weekend was officially over.  We’d spent most of Sunday saying goodbye to folks.  Starting about 9:30 in the morning when our friends Denise, Chris, Patti, and Meade headed out, continuing a couple of hours later when our oldest Billy headed back to North Carolina, and ending that night when our daughter Krissi and future Son-in -Law Mike, along with several other New Yorkers who were on the Jet Blue red eye to JFK , said their goodbyes.  Most of us headed to bed early, and after another visit from Mr. Bear, we hunkered down for the best sleep we’d had in several days.  Susie and I knew we had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us, so we were up, had the car packed, and we were on the road, after saying goodbye to the boys and David and Lexi, a little after 9:30.  Grandma and Aunt Kim slept in that morning, so unfortunately, we didn’t get to say goodbye to them in person. 

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Our trip out of Tahoe Vista was very picturesque, as we traveled around the lake and back into Nevada from California.

One would think that between two major cities in Nevada like Reno and Las Vegas, there would be a 4-6 lane Interstate Highway, but the reality is the route is US 95, and for most of the distance between these two cities, it’s a 2 lane road.  It’s a quiet, lonely trip, and what you pass along the way is interesting.  One of the first things you pass heading south towards Las Vegas is the US Army Hawthorne Ammo Depot.  Covering 147,000 acres or 226 sq. mi, the depot is where the US stockpiles ammunition to be used after the first 30 days of a conflict.  The depot has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers, most of which are underground, so there is not a heck of a lot left to see, beyond the entrance sign.

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Susie and I agreed, that this road has a certain Route 66 feel to it, as many of the buildings you pass, and the towns you go through, are leftovers from the days of active mining in the area.  You’re traveling along at the 70 MPH speed limit, when suddenly the speed drops to 50, then 45, then 35, and then 25, and they are serious.  Not this time, but when we did this drive the other direction last year, we did see folks run afoul of the law, when they thought the 25 MPH speed limit was just a suggestion.  Some of these towns still seem to be making a go of it, but others are just abandoned buildings, rusted-out cars and trucks, and visible remnants of mining activity.  Take a look.

As I said, it’s about 7-8 hours from Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas, and the road just keeps going on and on.  As it’s a 2 lane road, there’s always the fun of trying to pass a slow moving truck, or a truck pulling a travel trailer.  

One of the last things you pass of interest, as you get near Las Vegas is the Creech Air Force Base in Clark County.  On first look, you’d assume that it’s no longer an active Air Force base, as you see no planes as you drive by.  But when we researched it last year, you discover that Creech is the main headquarters for all the remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions around the world!  Drones that are currently flying in  Afghanistan and Iraq, are piloted from Creech.  We certainly do live in a video game world!

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Not a great picture, but that is Creech’s Entrance Gate!

img_0997-1And then, before you know it, we were in fabulous Las Vegas!  We had one free night at the Rio Hotel and Casino, a Caesar’s property we’ve stayed at lots of times.  We were tired and hungry, and shortly after checking in, we were down at Guy Fieri’s restaurant, El Burro Borracho, which I believe means the drunken donkey!  We’d eaten here a couple of years ago, and were in the mood for some good Mexican food. Their table side Guacamole and their Margaritas are second to none!  The food was good too, but sorry, no before pictures!

After dinner, we headed into the casino.  The Rio has a lot of old machines that you no longer see in many casinos, and we headed to a couple that have disappeared from Atlantic City!  We had very good luck at a Top Dollar machine, hitting the bonus 20 times and racking up Tier Credits equivalent to putting $1500 through the machine, and all we contributed was a 100 dollar bill.  It was a successful stay in the casino.  Even though we didn’t walk away with money, we played for close to 90 minutes, and for us, that’s almost as good as winning!

Then we slept like dead people!!

Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

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Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

Plans went back and forth and so did start times, but eventually around noon, 2 car loads of Fox/D’Elias headed up the mountain to Virginia City.  Perched on the Eastern Slopes of Mount Davidson at 6200 feet, Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, with numerous mines opening. At the city’s peak of population in the mid-1870s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878, and the city itself declined as a result. Today, the population of Virginia City is about 855, and that of Storey County, which is the County Seat of at about 4,000.

The trip up is a winding switchback 2 lane road, with pull-offs so that you can let the crazy drivers go past you.  I had 2 today!  First a black BMW I pulled over for, then a black motorcycle that came out of nowhere, and passed me on a curve with a car coming in the opposite direction!  Around the next bend, I saw the two of them up ahead of me, looking like a chase seen in a James Bond movie!   Yikes!! 

 We were scheduled to meet at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, and when we drove up, David had reserved us a place right out front (or so he said). It’s a fun place, very reminiscent of the old western bar we’ve read about, or seen in movies and tv.  Take a look!

There were slot machines, beer, free popcorn, and a banjo player.  It was fun! 

The rest of Virginia City is made up of bars, restaurants and stores.  With its wooden sidewalk, it’s a fun place to walk around, explore, and shop. The day was beautifully sunny up there, and much warmer than any of us had expected. Fall has definitely arrived to the Reno area of Nevada. 

We thought we were going to eat lunch up there, but plans changed again, and we were headed to the Western Village Casino, and their Mexican restaurant.  So down the mountain we went, and headed in our new direction!  Unfortunately,  the Mexican restaurant wasn’t open yet, so we had to gamble. “Had to” I say!  Everybody seemed to be having luck. David and his Mom were playing and split a $300 purse.  Aunt Kim took $237 out of a Quick Hits machine.  Susie had the Quick Hits machine she was playing up to $200 and change.  I was playing the Quick Hits machine next to her and just holding my own! By “holding my own” I really mean I was feeding $20 bills into it. Well, until I wasn’t.  

Just before I was about to give up on this machine, I won the free game jackpot, which gives you a number of spins for free. I think I got 10, and although I kept getting spins that raised the multiplier on winning spins higher and higher, I never won anything to multiply!  By the 10th and last spin, which it proudly spells out THIS IS YOUR LAST SPIN, I had the multiplier level up to 8, but a total of like 12 dollars in winnings.  I was sure my 10th and final spin would be a bust, but I was wrong.  Rather that a bust, I got 7 Quick Hits, which when multiplied, translated to a hand-pay of $1608!  As they say, all’s well that ends well!

 

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Then we were off for some Mexican food.  A couple of small (ha ha!) drinks, some food and we were out of there!  We had to get home, change, and return for the Reno version off Kenny and Chris’ Batchelor Party, planned and orchestrated by sister Michelle!!

For the Batchelor Party, we Ubered over to a beautiful new bar in the Arts District called Rum, Sugar, Lime.   From what everyone told us, just a couple of years ago, this had been one of the worst areas in Reno, but it has been turned into a meca of hip bars and cute little bistros.  What a perfect place to wander the night away!

Here’s a look at Rum, Sugar, Lime as the attendees gathered. 

Then it was off to Noble Pizza for dinner, and some very good pizza, after which it was time for the mature folks to head off, and leave the youngins to their fun.  Lexi, David, Aunt Kim, Susie and I Ubered home, telling the boys and their friends to have fun and be safe.  No calls for Bail Money, so we hope all went well!

Here is a pic from Noble Pizza and after we left.

Thursday is a busy day, with last minute details that have to get done before Saturday’s magic day.  We all have our lists of tasks, but then tomorrow, we’ll once again get together at Lexi and David’s for one last party before we all head up to Lake Tahoe.  Lots of family and friends arriving tomorrow, and we’re looking forward to that too!  Kenny will be happy that his twin sister Krissi and her fiancee Mike will be here, as those two are about as close as two people can be!  Born 2 minutes apart, and getting married 8 months apart (Mike and Krissi tie the knot next June)!

As David and I have said multiple times the last few days, “Who’s luckier than us?”

Things are heating up, with the wedding just days away, so please understand if there are no updates till after the fact!

Sue & Frank…the Proud Proud Parents