Oh the daily grind in winter. Dark grey. Clouds. Chills. Light grey. Snow. Brrrrrr. Blue grey. Forecast of clouds with a chance of more clouds with a chance of grey or rain. Cold hands. Grey. Rinse. Repeat. Grey clouds. Snow brushes. Shoveling. Melting snow turns into mud. Rain. Brown. Yuk.
"Wait," I interrupted my friend as she was speaking about her plans of escape. "Vacation in the middle of winter, you say?!"
"Why not?" my friend laughed at me as if I had three heads.
"Hmmmmmmmm." And thirty seconds go by. Ohhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyy . . . this is brilliant!!! This is beyond brilliant! Scratch that grey, broken record to a stop . . .
"Oh, my lovely neighbors, how I love you . . . but we are going to crash your winter vacation this year!!! Pack your bags, boys! We are getting out of here!"
And so on Friday the 13th in January (no bad luck was to be found that day!), in the dead of winter, our family, along with three other families, started on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. We were on our way to find a pretty boat . . . I mean a ship . . . and leave the grey behind and start our search for the colors of the Caribbean. Queue the theme song for the "Pirates of the Caribbean!" But we had to get to the airport first.
After the sun went down and the sky fell dark, we flew out of Arnold Palmer Airport, (which was a surprisingly easy experience). It wasn't long after we were up in the air that the view out my window caught my attention. The waning full moon, the stars in the clear sky, and the lights from the towns below. The stars seemed to stay in place as the lights from the Earth flowed beneath the wings. The moon would sneak up beside us as the plane would bank and make its turns. And then the moon would disappear again back by the tail of the plane. It was all so pretty flying in the night sky.
My first attempt to photograph what I saw was a total failure. I tried again and again. My husband and son sat right next to me, amused at watching me trying to get the shot. Over and over again, I would set the camera's timer, press the lens tight against the window and quickly shove as much fabric against the exposed window in order to block out the glare from the plane's cabin, hold my breath and wait for the shutter to click. Sometimes the shutter stayed open for a second or longer in order to drag the lights below. Other times, it would be a shorter exposure. Many times the glare still came through and I finally made my son take his coat off so that I could try to be more successful in covering the window. To my family's amusement, I must have done this at least 45 times . . . these two are my favorite.
Half way into our flight I looked over and noticed that my friends' daughter was still wide awake. As her parents were falling asleep in the shadows, her little face was lit up by the entertaining show on the computer screen. She was such a good, little traveler.
After landing the late evening in Ft. Lauderdale, we slept in a hotel and dreamed of sea shells dancing in our heads.
On Saturday, January 14, we boarded the Holland America Eurodam. It was our first cruise. And as we stepped on board we were amazed by the sights and beauty of this this giant floating hotel. We went to our respective cabins and unpacked and then went through our first muster drill.
After the muster drill, we were informed that the best view as we pulled out of port was on the Lido deck. And off we all went. We watched two other ships leave port ahead of us before it was our turn to start our voyage. We watched in awe as these giant, floating vessels were maneuvered out of port. It was fascinating to all, young and old!
Little Eve was a true adventurer on our vacation. After the ship next to us left, she decided it was time to go and explore what else was going on. And she and her dad were off and running.
As the Eurodam left port and got into deeper waters, the ship's speed increased. I have never been on a vessel that caused such a wake and, like many of my fellow passengers, was hypnotized by the blue green water that was flowing from the back of the ship.
As we pulled further and further away from Ft. Lauderdale, the sun got lower and lower and our first sunset on our first cruise did not disappoint.
If this was what the first 24 hours looked like, I knew that the rest of our adventure was going to be amazing!
Next stop . . . Half Moon Cay, Bahamas!
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