Monday, January 29, 2007

1/14/07 Day at Sea

Thank you so much to everyone who has been stopping by to check out our vacation blog. I promise I will post one every few days so you can all catch up on what we were up to on our cruise. After a looonnnnggggggggg break (sorry, we have been busy chopping wood and cleaning up our house), I will be posting again. So, without further ado, here is day #2 of our trip. Enjoy!!!!

(Oh yeah, check out the blog below - I finally posted some pics from the cruise).

Today was a very relaxing day. Nothing too remarkable. We woke up at about 8:00am and waited for our breakfast in bed to be delivered. We ate cereal, juice and Shawn had some rolls with butter. We let the food settle and then headed up to the gym. Shawn hopped onto the bike and I started out on the elliptical machine. Once our reservation time for the treadmills came around, I jumped at the chance, however, two women wanted to work out together who did not have reservations. I gave up my time slot so they were able to workout together. I got back onto the elliptical machine and finished my cardio workout. After the cardio we lifted weights a bit and then went back to our room to shower and relax. By the time we were done with our showers it was lunch time. We went up to the buffet area to see what was being offered, but decided on pizza and hamburgers instead of the buffet. The pizza on the ship is pretty good. It is served at a place called "Prego's" which is located right next to the grill that serves hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

We finished lunch and headed back up to the room for a nap. We woke pretty late since we were still recovering from our full day of traveling. After waking up close to dinner time we decided that we would take a little bit of a tour around the ship to see what was going on. We got sick of touring pretty quickly and decided it was about time for dinner. Tonight was the formal night, but we are not ones to dress up in 'formal' clothing since it's a bit restricting and uncomfortable. So, we once again headed up to the buffet area. I don't know what it is but I am not one for a buffet. I do, however, like the fact that there is cut fruit and a salad bar always available.

After dinner we headed to a comedy show. I must say, this comedian was much better than the first one we saw at the start of the cruise. This guy was pretty funny, high energy, and all around entertaining. In fact, he was not just a comedian, he was also a magician. A good show if you ask me; Shawn and I enjoyed ourselves. After the comedy show we came back to the room to regroup and figure out what was going on next. We noticed on the ship schedule that there was another show in the theater at 10:30pm and waited for that to begin. The second show was of singer and dancers reenacting different musicals from Greece, and Fame to Mary Poppins. It was fairly entertaining. After the show we headed off to the room to relax and watch a bit of TV before retiring for the night. Tomorrow we are arriving in Ocho Rios which should be a good time. We have nothing planned, and decided we are simply going to wing it when we get off the boat. It should prove to be a good time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1/12/07 - 1/13/07 Traveling

(The morning we left - procrastinating).

e started our day in Placerville. Today was the day that we needed to pack, because of course we consciously decided to procrastinate until the bitter end. We spent about 2 hours gathering all of our belongings we wanted to take, finally got the car packed and headed to Fernley to drop off the dog at my mom's house. Approximately 4 hours later we arrived. It normally only takes about 2 1/2 hours to get there, but of course I hadn't stopped the mail yet (which we did on our way), and we had to turn around and go back to the house because I forgot all of our traveling money. Yikes!!! So now we were running late - but we did get there in just enough time to hang out for a couple of hours before my step-dad drove us to the airport. We arrived with about 20 minutes to spare before we boarded the plane.

We hopped on the plane (a wind-up plane if you ask me - too small), the first leg of our 3 legged plane adventure and headed towards San Francisco. If you are wondering why we were headed west versus east when we clearly had to go to Florida, your guess is as good as mine. Thus is the wonderment of the airline industry I guess. After a short 30-minute flight, we were in San Francisco. We then boarded our second flight from S.F. to Chicago, which was a much bigger plane, you know, the size that you actually feel safe flying in. Approximately 4 hours later we arrived in Chicago, only to have another short hour layover before boarding our third and final flight to Ft. Lauderdale, which took almost 3 hours. If you are keeping track, we have already traveled for over 20 hours to simply get to the ship, the Star Princess.

We finally arrive at the port after hailing a cab and see we the boat. After having sailed on a number of different cruise ships, 5 others to be exact, I am pretty sure this is the biggest cruise ship I have ever been on. Exciting!!! Not much about cruising excites me anymore since I have been on so many cruises, but I was impressed.

(The view from our balcony looking right)

After a short waiting period at the dock, we board the ship and are welcomed with many many many 'Welcome aboard the Star Princess' greetings. We find our room and deeply exhale as we have finally arrived at our next adventure. We open the door to our room and find that we are impressed with how the room is laid out and the size of the room. We see a queen bed, a sitting area, dressing area, two TV's, a decent sized bathroom with a bathtub, not just a stand up shower, and a nice sized deck with 4 reclining chairs and a table.

(Shawn sleeping as soon as we got to the room - but at least you can see what the room looks like)

We sit on the couch in the sitting area and relax for a bit. Of course our deck was too inviting to stay inside, so we sat outside for a bit before going to the buffet.

(This was our wonderful balcony! We had 'lots of fun' on the balcony during our trip.....don't ask). :)

By this time we were hungry, thirsty and exhausted. We grabbed some fruit, cottage cheese, a bit of pasta for Shawn and some drinks. (The first thing we did when arriving was purchase the drink package that allows for unlimited soft drinks throughout the cruise. Shawn loves Coke, and I am a big fan of soda water and lemon).

After a snack, we inspected the room for bed bugs (which appears to be bug free) and retired for a short period of time for a nap. During our nap was the mandatory boat drill which we were determined to skip because of our exhaustion - and because we have sailed so many times we find it's pretty repetitive. So, I talked to the cabin steward and informed him that we were tired and would not be attending. He, of course, was opposed to us skipping the drill, but after some convincing, he made sure I knew where our muster station was and allowed us to nap.

Of course since you aren't allowed to bring your own luggage aboard, we had to wait about 4 hours for it to be delivered. During our nap the luggage deliveryman came by 3 times to deliver luggage (while we were napping of course). The first two times he gave us the wrong luggage, but in his defense another passenger had written our room number on her luggage. The third times a charm apparently because we finally got our luggage. So, while Shawn continued to nap, I unpacked, hung our dress clothes and proceeded to disinfect the room (I am a bit anal about this, but I bring bleach wipes to clean everything from light switches, TV remotes to all touchable surfaces in the bathroom). This process is a must for me - I have watched way too many 20/20 specials about germs in hotel rooms, so I disinfect everything (let's not talk about the bed we are sleeping in though please). Plus, it makes me feel at home because I can touch things with comfort.

About 6pm Shawn finally woke from his nap, or should I say good night's sleep? We showered, got dressed and went to our first dining room dinner. Shawn had a spring roll appetizer, creamy mushroom soup, salad with thousand island dressing, and a really good chicken and pasta dish. I ordered a beautifully sliced fruit appetizer, beef broth soup with wild rice and julienned vegetables, salad with thousand island on the side and grilled salmon with asparagus on a bed of cous cous. Both of our meals were wonderful, everything was cooked perfectly. The meal portions on this cruise are much bigger than I have experienced in the past. Plus, they have wonderful options for those that are watching their caloric intake.

After meeting Roy and Diane, our dining mates who were quite a bit older than us but great conversationalists and pleasant to be with for an hour or two, we headed off to the welcome show in the theater. The show consisted of singers, dancers, the ship director talking about onboard activities and finally a standup comedian. Nothing about this show was too notable, but was fun to attend nonetheless. By this time it was past 11pm, so we headed off to our room to relax, watch some episodes of 24 season 5 (gotta love Kiefer Sutherland) and go to sleep. We have nothing really planned for tomorrow, which is a day at sea except breakfast in bed and a workout at 10:30am. We will see how tomorrow pans out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And with a heavy heart.....

This morning my heart is heavy. So many things have happened in the last month, I can't even begin to describe. The one thing that weighs on my heart the most though is a family I have never met, but know deeply. The Graves family has been living in a hospital for the last 5 months. Their son, Noah Steven Graves has an undiagnosed medical problem which is taking his life. There has been months (5 to be exact) of unanswered questions, but better yet, 5 full months of faith. Adrienne and Jason have started a blog with information to follow what has been happening with can read about it here:

Over the last 5 months I have prayed for this family and have been deeply touched. This little guy has reached thousands of people. The amazing thing, and by the miracle of technology, Noah has transformed and reached many many lives all over the world. People from ALL continents on the earth have logged on to read about, pray for, and keep up to date with what is going on with Noah. I am sad to say though, that as of tomorrow, January 12, the Graves family will be taking Noah off of life support.

My heart is heavy because this guy and his amazing family have reached into the depths of my soul and touched places virtually untouched by anyone. I have seen an amazing example of unconditional love by Jason and especially Adrienne. They have been there, day by day, living in a hospital and forcefully pushing Dr's to try and find out what is going on with their little guy. They have ceaselessly prayed for Noah and have done everything humanly possible to give this little man a fighting chance.

I will pray for the Graves family as they have made an extremely tough decision. They know it's the right decision and have prayed extensively. As of tomorrow, they will be making the ultimate sacrifice and take Noah off of life support and laying little Noah at the Lord's feet. I pray God will be with them along the way and hold them in His loving arms second by second through this process.