Monday, August 16, 2010

Vacation of a Lifetime Wrapup

I know! I know! Enough already but I was looking through this entire series of posts and was laughing at all the memories so I decided I had to do a top ten. Or top 11 as the case may be. So here they are in no particular order. My favorite laughs of the cruise.
Davy Crockett the famous Pirate! With his Mom.
Free Diving and Free Stylin!
"I CAN"T HEAR YOU!!" Sorry I gave you a heart attack!
Andrew going nuts on the last night! Scary and hilarious.
Alli and her stripper pole! Such fun times on the back of the ship every night!Mitch helping Haley flash the entire ship within the first hour of our voyage!Sara and the Drunk Guy. Sara and CANADA! All our Idaho friends and the other people who we saw a lot! Most of which were too drunk to have any memories at all from the cruise.The "Private Eyes" Train Wreck. With body guard.
Mom as Art. and all the other fun we had with our outfits! See what I mean? Great, great laughs!Big Man on Little Horse. I adore him.
Prom Night. The tilt of the head makes this picture! Every cruise should have a girl in a choir dress dancing to"Busta Move!"And last but not least. Dead Lady. May she forever live in our memories.

Actually the fact remains that my favorite things about this cruise were ...This.
These people.

They were the ones I laughed with. Or at. Whichever.
They were the ones who made the unusual even more unique.They were the cheering crowd. They always are. They were the ones who made the spontaneous brilliant!

The thing I love about this group is that they can make a cruise a Vacation of a Lifetime. Absolutely. Without question. But they also help make my regular life pretty darn sweet.
Thank you people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Voal Day #9 The Finale

So we said our goodbyes to the People of the Pearl! Goodbye Washy Washy! Goodbye Happy Happy! Goodbye Julie the Cruise Director who was a bit of a disappointment. We got off the ship and headed to another boat. We had a few hours to kill so we asked our taxi driver who picked us up to take us to see an alligator! It is amazing to see signs along the freeway warning you to stay in your car if you have car trouble! So different!This is an airboat and basically blows you across the surface of the wetlands of Florida. The water is not very deep so you kind of have to skim the surface. It is cool because even after the fan is shut off you skim across the surface and if you have a cool driver he turns and you kind of feel like a skipping rock. Only without the skipping. Which would then make us just a rock which really just ruins the whole analogy. Anyways... Our guide was really great. I am going to call him Bert because I think that was his name and if it wasn't it should have been. Bert was very informative and very entertaining. Bert told us many stories of horror and death. Enough that when he told us to stay away from the edge of the boat we believed him. Here is Jenn clinging to Andrew. Andrew and I were smart enough to sit on the inside of the boat. Bert then blew the whole instill them with fear thing when he jumped out of the boat to talk to us for a while. Actually he said that alligators are attracted by splashing so if we fell out we should just sit there quietly while he finished the tour and came back and got us. I know he told us a funny story here. But I will not share it at this time. Because it was 7 months ago. And I can't remember it. I just remember laughing. Unusual for this vacation. The airboat fan is really really loud so they gave us stylish earplugs of our very own to wear. At this point I think Bert was talking but I obviously wasn't listening to him after he JUMPED OUT OF THE BOAT! Those earplugs were pretty though! I wish I had put on my orange shirt so I could just have told you that my earring holes were tired so I just stuck my earrings in my ear instead. (What do you call the hole for your earrings anyway? and Do they get tired? Just some of the questions that came to me while writing this) So Bert eventually climbs back in the boat and reminds us not to splash or dangle our fleshy hands over the side. He said NOW we are going to where the animals hang out. We saw some beautiful birds. This blue one with the bright colors was amazing. That black circle in the middle of the picture is a turtle. I really should get a job as a wildlife photographer! There is a crane. That white thing up there at the left that looks like a bird.
Oh Jenn got a better shot. See. Told you it was a bird.
Here is Tricia. Her smile says. Nice birds but show me the ALLIGATORS!
Nobody can deny Tricia. Here is an alligator. It was amazing to see a real alligator in the wild folks. I tell you what, I did not dangle my hand overboard at this point. Then he told us her name. It was Emma. Hello. Emma is not a scary name. It should have been Killer or Jaws or something! At this point I started throwing rocks and splashing like crazy.
You can see how mad she got. I am pretty sure she was about to rush the boat! Here is another Gator. See the snout in the upper middle of the picture (National Geographic this isn't). For my story I am going to name him Razor. His name was probably really Carlton. The Everglades are beautiful and so different from what I see here at home. Although I think my 5 animals are more active than theirs. The tour ended after a while and we headed back to shore. We made our way over to the Alligator show. Ranger Jim-Bob brought out this cute little guy for us. Mom got to touch him. So did Alli. I didn't. Ranger Bob-Jim then introduced us to this guy Titan (probably Milton). Titan was out there in front of us for the whole show and he didn't move a muscle. He didn't twitch, blink, anything. I honestly thought he was a statue. Then Ranger Billy-Ray started in and riled him all up! Then he moved. They move quickly. He taught us the proper way to wrestle an alligator. He said you sneak up from behind it because they have only peripheral vision. Then you jump on it's back and clamp the jaw shut because the muscles to open the mouth are very weak. He proved this by holding it closed with his chin. My boys thought he was kissing the alligator. Admittedly that would have been a more impressive feat. He also proceeded to stick his hand in the alligators mouth. Those jaws snap pretty fast and very hard. I am so glad that I didn't dangle my hand!
Another interesting fact. If you close an alligators eyes it basically goes into sleep mode. It goes completely limp. He closed the eyes and he could then flap the legs around. It was a strange thing. Still not recommended as a fighting technique. After the show we had the chance to hold a medium sized gator. Only Brandon and Dave did it though. I think Andrew was scared.
Dave looks good with an alligator. We took the time to go around the grounds and observe the alligators in their "natural habitat". they had just dropped breakfast in (chickens). It was entertaining to watch them fight over their food. They don't really chew their food. It is more like rip, swallow. We headed over to the Gift shop and you WOULD NOT BELIEVE what they had for sale there. They had coon skin hats! We were so disappointed that Mitch was not there to mock! We would have bought one but we were feeling quite broke by this time!
So after our tour we had our driver take us to Wendy's for lunch. Then we had him take us to a Walgreens for snacks and supplies for our flight. Our poor taxi driver. He became like part of the family. Tricia and Brandon talked Spanish to him and we learned all about him and his family and I think Tricia taught him the first discussion. He eventually dropped us off at the airport and we said our tearful goodbyes to our taxi driver. We still had a LONG wait at the airport. Mitch and Haley had left earlier that morning and we said goodbye to Sara as she caught her earlier flight. B. Rad was staying for the Super Bowl but the rest of us got ready to head home, after throwing lots of stuff away because our baggage was over the limit (if anyone is looking for a really tacky cowboy vest there is one in a garbage can in the Miami airport along with a bunch of Diet Coke!) We finally settled in for our long wait in our boarding area.
Alli bought a bunch of cards and we played games while we waited. We went and found a table and spread our luggage out around our area. We ate our Walgreen's snacks and some of us laughed and talked and laughed some more. Others went to their quiet, happy place and waited for this trip with their in-laws to be over. We flew to Houston (it was good to be back) and then boarded our flight to SLC. I have to mention that poor Andrew had the worst luck on every flight. This flight all of us were a bit nauseated by a horrible smell and started complaining about it after we landed. Andrew and Jenn informed us that the source of the odor was the lady seated next to Andrew on the plane! Poor Andrew. But it sure made for a funny story for the rest of us.

Nate and Paul brought a few vehicles and picked all of us up and we all headed home at last. We were exhausted but thrilled to be home.