Fancy dinners and entertainment

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 22nd, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

There were several dining options on the ship, but we tried to go to the main dining room as much as possible (every dinner, most breakfast and lunch). It was like going to a fancy restaurant with impeccable service for every meal, and ordering whatever you wanted. This shot is from our last night’s dessert, and includes apple strudel, key lime pie, and pear mousse with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce.

Fancy dinners

We had the same dinner servers every night but one. Andy from Indonesia (right) was our waiter and Rosalio from the Philippines (left) was our assistant waiter. They were fantastic, and I hold Andy personally responsible for any weight I gained. He just kept pushing more food on us. For example, one night I ordered the prime rib (excellent), and he took it upon himself to order an extra lobster tail and shrimp entree so he could give me lobster and shrimp “on the side” of it. I frequently ended up with two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts.

Our servers

We saw lots of shows on the ship, but I didn’t photograph many of them. I did get a shot of an aerial performance from the last night. This was done in the Centrum, a central atrium reaching from deck 4 up to deck 8. It started off seeming like a cool show, but after the first song finished there was no second song. The entire show was only 6 minutes long.

Aerial show

Here’s another of the aerial performers.

Aerial pose

All in all, the cruise was a great time for Jen and I to get away together. That said, I don’t think we’ll be going on another cruise any time soon for two main reasons. First, we both had motion sickness problems and side effects from treatments for those problems. Secondly, we didn’t get to really see Bermuda. In the future, I think we’ll choose to fly to our destination so we get more time there to do the things we want to do there. That said, I’ll miss the dining room on the ship.

Previous day

A kayak workout

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 21st, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our last day in Bermuda we got up early to go kayaking. I took advantage of being up early to get a shot of the sun coming up over the Great Sound.

Sunrise in Bermuda

We hopped on a boat and got a bit of a tour before arriving at our destination for kayaking. They were glass-bottom kayaks, which turned out to be a gimmick. You don’t need a window in the bottom of a kayak because you can see down all around you.

Kayaking

Tropical Storm Fay did a lot of damage. We saw a bunch of wrecked boats like this one as we paddled around.

Storm damage

As if that wasn’t enough, Bermuda got hit by a much bigger hurricane less than a week later. Thankfully, we were home by then. We hope Bermuda can get a break for a while to recover.

Here’s Jen in the back of our kayak. We didn’t see too much sea life, but we did see a couple of sea turtles swim by us. Most of the time, though, we were just covering a lot of water. It was a really good workout, which was fun but not what we expected.

Kayaker

We got someone to take a picture of us, but it came out blurry thanks to all the water covering the lens. Sorry about that.

Blurry couple

Our kayak tour ran long, meaning we were running late to get back to the cruise ship before it departed Bermuda. So, our boat ride back was at top speed. Jen got a little wind-blown.

Wind-blown

That afternoon we took a bit of a nap and relaxed after the early and exhausting morning. Fortunately, a cruise ship is a great place to relax (as long as it isn’t rocking too much).

Previous day

Attempts in adventures

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 20th, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

The next day was our one and only full day in Bermuda. We really wanted to go on the Hidden Gems excursion, but this Norwegian ship that was in Bermuda at the same time as us had booked all the spots on it. So, the woman running the tour put us on the wait list. Sadly, everyone showed up for the tour so we did not get to go. :(

Our nemesis

Since we didn’t get on the tour, we made one of our own. For the morning, we wandered around the Royal Navy Dockyard area. Here’s Jen in front of the historic Commissioner’s house.

Our own tour

In the afternoon, we thought we’d check out the part of the Hidden Gems tour we were most excited about - Tom Moore’s Jungle. So, we hopped on a ferry to head out to St. George’s, then we hopped on a bus to get to the trail head. We rode one bus for a while, then hopped off to catch the bus that would take us where we wanted to go. We waited, and waited. Eventually, we asked a different bus driver where the bus we wanted was, and she said it was not running because the road we needed to go down was closed due to fallen trees from the storm. So, after wasting several hours, we hopped on a bus to go back to St. George’s and find a beach.

After a 20 minute walk, we finally managed to find a beach to relax on - Tobacco Bay beach. It’s a tiny beach on some water that’s protected by rocks, keeping it very calm. A perfect place for people (and fish) to swim.

Tobacco Bay

A quick selfie of the two of us as we waded around the water.

Together

Jen was befriended by a bunch of fish as she waded into the water.

Swimming friends

There really were a lot of fish around. This came from me just sticking my camera in the water and clicking. They clearly weren’t afraid of us.

Lots of fish

This fish gave me a dirty look when I tried to take a picture of it by Jen’s legs.

Watching you

It was serene looking out from the beach as the sun started to go down.

View from the beach

It’s really nice as a photographer to be married to such a gorgeous model.

Gorgeous model

She’s too beautiful for me to pick just one of these. I had to show you two.

Beautiful

On the ferry ride back to the dockyard, I got another picture of our cruise ship. This one’s from the other side and a bit farther away to give a better perspective.

Our ship part 2

And to close out the busy day, we got a new towel animal - an elephant.

Towel elephant

Previous day

Rough seas

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 19th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Things took a turn for the worse during our second night on board. Tropical Storm Fay (soon to become Hurricane Fay) was headed right for Bermuda a little ahead of us. While we didn’t sail through the storm, it did mean we had 10-15 foot waves tossing our ship around.

We woke up Sunday morning to this and headed to breakfast. The dining room was crazy, as the carts of food kept rolling around and toppling over. There were barf bags strategically placed all over the ship. Jen’s Zumba class was cancelled. I was feeling queasy, so I headed to our room to lie down. Jen said she felt OK, so she went to the fitness center. She tried the elliptical machine, but it was too crazy with the boat rocking. She tried the treadmill, but she could see the ocean which made her queasy too. So she headed down to the room to lie down as well.

She lasted about 10 minutes before she lost her breakfast. We then spent much of the day lying down in our room (though we did leave to get a light lunch around noon). We probably napped for 4 hours that day, but it wasn’t peaceful sleeping.

Later in the afternoon things started to calm down. We were originally supposed to get into Bermuda at 3:00 that afternoon, but they closed the port due to the storm. We did end up getting into port around 6:00. We were scheduled to eat dinner on the ship at 7:00, so we didn’t really have any time to do anything that day. We did hop off the ship both to set foot on solid ground and to technically be in Bermuda. We took advantage of the opportunity to get a picture with our ship.

Our ship

We were only off the ship for about 15 minutes, but it felt good none-the-less. We were happy we didn’t have anything else scheduled that day, as all excursions had been cancelled due to storm damage. Bermuda got hit very hard by the storm, which we’d learn about more as our stay continued.

Previous day

Cruise day 2

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 18th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our second day on the cruise went very well. We got up early so Jen could take a Zumba class on the pool deck. We played some cards. I played in the Adult Table Tennis Tournament and took home the bronze medal (they did actually give out medals). And all along our sea sickness patches kept working.

That night was a formal night, and also the night assigned to be our anniversary celebration. The wait staff sang to us and brought us an extra dessert with a candle. It was lots of fun.

Here we are after dinner. Excuse our odd color from all the neon lights around us.

Formal night

We then went to the big show of the night - a Motown group that sang lots of fun old songs.

Our room steward would sometimes leave us these fun towel animals after he made the room up for the evening. I believe this is a floppy-eared dog.

Towel animal

Our second day at sea was a good one, and we were looking forward to getting to Bermuda the next afternoon.

Previous day

Cruise to Bermuda

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on October 17th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Jen and I did not take our usual anniversary trip last year due to the move. So, this year we decided to make our trip a big one. We decided to go on a cruise for the first time. Here we are atop the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas ready to leave the port of Baltimore and head to Bermuda.

Cruising

It’s a six night cruise, with a couple days at sea, a couple days in Bermuda, and a couple days at sea to get home. Note that there are no kids in this picture - the girls stayed with Grams while we got away (thanks again Grams!).

This was my first cruise, and Jen’s first since she was a preteen. So, we don’t have a lot of experience with cruise ships. That said, the ship had a lot to offer. Here’s Jen on deck 10, overlooking the main pool on deck 9.

Fancy ship

The ship had a second pool with a retractable glass roof called the Solarium. This pool was adults-only, making it a nice calm place to relax. Jen’s checking her email with the last bit of connectivity before we left port.

Solarium

Our stateroom was tiny. I had to use my fisheye ultra-wide angle lens to get a picture of it. But its size didn’t bother us. The tiny bathroom was a bit more challenging (think airplane bathroom with a shower the size of a garbage can tacked on).

Tiny room

A couple hours after we left port, we both started feeling the effects of the motion. Fortunately, Jen had gotten four sea sickness scopolamine patches from her doctor, each lasting three days. That meant she had enough for the both of us. So, we both stuck them on, and they helped a lot with the motion sickness. Unfortunately, we also got many of the side effects (dry mouth, blurry vision and dilated pupils, and bloodshot eyes), but that was better than feeling sick.

The first day was a good day, but there was much more to come...

Farm field trip

Posted in Field trips, Molly, School on October 9th, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly’s class took their first field trip of second grade to the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club’s Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum. It’s a non-functioning farm that they use to teach about what it was like on a farm before electricity. I went along.

It was an action-packed day with 10 groups and 10 stations. Each station got 8 minutes to present what they wanted to show, so there was no time for goofing off. Fortunately, large groups of second graders never goof off...

Our first stop was the blacksmith, who made a mini horseshoe for us.

Farm Field Trip

We then processed corn stalks, learned about grains, checked out where they milked cows, learned about making brooms, made some rope, and learned about bees (sorry, no pictures).

Next, Molly used the corn sheller to remove all the kernels from this ear of corn, leaving her with only a cob.

Corn sheller

She took those kernels and put them in the grain mill to make cornmeal.

After that, we headed into the farmhouse to see how they did laundry, cooked, and lived without electricity.

The kids had a good time and learned a good bit, but it was an exhausting pace. I think all the parents breathed a sigh of relief when the kids got back on the bus to head back to school.

Final day in Alabama

Posted in Family visits, Trip on October 3rd, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our final day in Alabama was not quite as busy as Saturday. We went to church in the morning. In fact, I even got to play guitar and sing there. Uncle J was supposed to lead a children's worship time, but he was sick and lacking much of a voice. So, he brought me along for a little help. He played banjo and harmonica while I played guitar, and we both sang. The kids seemed to enjoy it.

After church, we went out to eat with Great Uncle Ted and Great Aunt Jeannie. Then we headed back to the house to pack up and head to the airport.

As they always do, the girls made sure to study the safety information for our airplane.

Safety first

Safety comes first, but silly comes second.

Silly second

First Auburn visit

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on October 2nd, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

On Saturday, we headed to Auburn for the first time in 8 years. Our first stop was the Auburn Wesley Foundation, where Jen and I spent much of our time during college. Here we are with David, the director there that also happened to marry us.

Auburn Wesley Foundation

The church next to the Wesley Foundation, Auburn United Methodist Church, is where Jen and I got married. We wanted to show the girls inside, but it was locked up. So, we got a picture on the front steps.

Auburn United Methodist Church
read more »

Headed to Alabama

Posted in Family visits, Trip on October 1st, 2014 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We took advantage of having Rosh Hashanah off of school to head to Alabama. The girls have wanted to go to an Auburn game for a while, and we decided this would be the year. So, we planned to go down to Alabama to see Jen's family, and all of us would go to the game on Saturday.

We flew into Birmingham Thursday night. Friday morning Emmie had school, but the rest of us adventured to AirWalk for some trampoline fun. Leah got the hang of the big jump into the foam pit very quickly.

AirWalk in Birmingham

Everyone got in on the jumping action, even G’Mom.

Everyone jumping

Molly and Jen did some synchronized jumping.

Synchronized jumping

We headed back to the house for lunch, and the kids got in a little porch play before lunch.

Pre-lunch porch play

JJ doesn’t need to look at me to throw toys at this photographer. Duck!

Without looking

Emmie was in for a surprise when she got off the bus to such fanfare.

Bus stop welcome

And we were in for a surprise when Emmie told us she’d lost a tooth at school that day.

Lost tooth

We then headed over to visit with Grandma Dot.

Visiting Dot

Molly had plenty of stories to tell Grandma Dot.

Great granddaughter stories

Leah must have told Grandma Dot something shocking to elicit this face. Either that or she’s become a vampire in her old age and is about to take a bite out of Leah.

Shocking

The girls then put on an impromptu dance show for Grandma Dot.

Dance demonstration

That evening, we had an Auburn parade. Both Jen and G’Mom had made new Auburn outfits for all four kids. So, they showed them off, accessorizing them with megaphones. JJ might need a lesson in how to use a megaphone.

Auburn parade

Here are the Auburn clothes Jen made. She made JJ’s shirt, Emmie’s dress, Molly’s skirt, and Leah’s dress.

Auburn clothes

G’Mom also made the kids Auburn clothes. She made all 3 girls’ dresses, as well as JJ’s shorts.

Outfit number 2

Then it was early to bed, as we had to get up early the next day to head to Auburn for the game.