Installment 2 of our adventure away from the farm!
Last I left you we had made it all the way down the lane… only about 7 hours behind schedule. Luckily our momentum was fueled by making it into Kentucky within moments of leaving (it’s nice living next to the state border!). Gas and snacks were our first order of business as it should be with every family roadtrip.
We were all quite excited and chatted off and on for about twenty minutes before switching over to some Wretched Radio podcasts. Gunner was asleep within moments as is usually the case when he rides.
Kentucky flew by and Tennessee welcomed us with gusto. Jackson dozed off and on, Gunner slumbered steadily and I enjoyed playing co-pilot/navigator… my main job (as decided by me) was to echo Siri’s directions to my husband. The jury is out on how truly helpful this was to him but I prefer to think I was immensely helpful as Siri’s Australian accent was slightly annoying. Out of habit I messed around on my phone… Facebook, emails, reading articles… a little bit of everything withut accomplishing much of anything.
Tennessee flew by quicker than we all thought when we saw the Welcome to Georgia sign. Woohoo! Our sons’ first time in Georgia! We were ecstatic! Well, everyone except Gunner, he was still asleep.
And then it happened… a huge “Tennessee Welcomes You” sign popped back up. What? Did we turn around without me seeing it? What had my husband done? WE HAVE TO BE IN GEORGIA!! Some blame casting, assurances from my husband that all was well, and a fluttering of eyelids from Gunner that may have signaled a break in REM… and then we were back in Georgia. That was weird and I immediately opened our Google Maps to see how a psycho Tennessee/Georgia state line could have escaped my crazy thorough navigating.
Looking at my phone gave me a wonderful headache and all of a sudden the skies opened up dropped buckets of water directly on our windshield. For about 15 miles we could barely see and traffic crawled by ever so slowly. I looked at my Weather Channel App and sure enough it was raining in Atlanta… I then realized how ridiculous I was… I COULD SEE THE RAIN… OF COURSE IT WAS RAINING. I tried to close the app quick before my husband saw but it was too late… Sure enough he wasn’t planning on letting this silly moment pass… “Hey honey, could you check the weather app and see if it’s raining?”
Weather app says it’s raining… is it raining?
“Oh honey, I was just checking the weather forecast for Bahamas”… Not hehehe! I did check the weather for our destination and it didn’t look good…60% chance of rain pretty much our whole trip. Bah!
Pecans and peaches seemed to be all the rage and it just seemed the semi trucks in Georgia were bigger than any I had ever seen! At any moment I expected Optimus Prime to transform and save us from obvious alien machine takeover. Waffle Houses and Zaxby’s seem to be the epitome of fine dining in the south and mandatory every 10 miles on the interstate. I couldn’t believe we had made it all the way to Atlanta with such a late start but sure enough there we were. It is a beautiful city, especially at night.
We made it through Atlanta and stopped at a hotel on the south side. Booked full… very nice. We jumped back on the interstate and drove a few more miles. Another hotel… full. Grrrrr… I was tired, my husband was tired, and the boys were wide awake. We were all hungry which never bodes well for anyone. We found a Quality Inn with ONE ROOM LEFT! Woohoo, yes, we’ll take it! A nice military (I’m retired Air Force) discount and we had a room for the night. Off to find some food and Applebees sounded perfect. We ate until we could fit no more and the boys remarked that it was only the second time in their life that they had been to an Applebees… For some reason I felt guilty… should I be taking my kids to enjoy the fine dining of Applebees more often? Jackson loves their ribs and Gunner, our burger connoisseur, said their burgers are “da bomb.” That’s good right?
I texted our neighbor and our friends at the farm to let them know we were still alive and made it all the way to Atlanta. They texted back with the enthusiastic congratulations I was hoping for and we all rolled our fat selves into our hotel room beds. We only had 5 hours to drive the next day so I was looking forward to sleeping in as late as I wanted.
4am… Up bright eye and bushy tailed… why does this keep happening? I tried to go back to sleep but there was NO WAY! I laid there giddy with excitement. At exactly 6:33am I finally got up and went down to the continental breakfast for some coffee and donuts (hopefully).
Coffee in hand (no donuts… what the what?!) I walked back into our room and kinda tried to be quiet. You know that kind of quiet where you want to wake others up but don’t want them to know that you woke them up on purpose? If you can make them think they woke up completely on their own then you get extra points of awesomeness! I opened the curtains just a bit and the sun burst forth into the room like a rampaging bull intent on waking my entire family up.
My husband did the Dracula seeing sunlight face and Jackson let out a “MOM!!!” in only a way a 16 year old can say “MOM!!!” Gunner continued in his slumber… how does an eleven year old sleep so much?
Everyone got up and we were on the road by 8am… not bad! We continued on in our adventure and made it into Florida. Sooooo exciting! Another state my sons had never been in. We had to make it down to Cape Canaveral and we were making excellent time, woohoo!
We stopped and ate at a Dennys (a must for the Conways on a roadtrip) and later stopped for a snack at a Dairy Queen along the way… it was kinda a Dairy Queen mixed with a flea market… weird but interesting. We made it to the Radisson by the port and checked into our room. VERY NICE! Once again, we were all super hungry so we headed down to the hotel restaurant. Gunner enjoyed his pink lemonade in a “fancy glass” and we all ate while chatting about getting on the ship tomorrow morning.
I wanted to get an umbrella and some ponchos due to the weather report of “total and utter destruction of vacation due to rain” so we ran to the nearest Wal-Mart. Let’s see… we got some refillable water bottles to make sure we stayed hydrated, an umbrella (we decided not to do ponchos… who knows why), a duffel bag (I had some gift boxes of soaps that were to be given away to our homeschool group of sailors as raffle prize type things and I had neglected to plan a way to take them onto the ship… they were just stacked in the Mazda and were quite large), ginger root supplements to help with possible sea sickness, and light sweatshirts because it was mentioned that the theater and some inside places on the ship are kept quite cool.
We got back to the hotel… Kevin and the boys relaxed in the room soaking up some WiFi while I headed down to the hot tub to socialize and relax my achy muscles. There were a TON of homeschool families staying at this same hotel who were heading out the next day on the epic “2015 Not Back to School Homeschool Cruise” so I played a little game of “homeschooler or not a homeschooler” as people passed by. This game is harder than it looks because homeschoolers are starting to look more and more like normal people!
The sun was setting but the air was thick with humid warmth so I decided to head up and talk my sons into coming down for a dip in the pool. We met a few of the homeschool families and were even able to match up a face with the name for the fabulous Mazie Middleton, our travel planner lady! I have to take a moment to give absolute crazy great props to this woman for her patience, knowledge, and impressive enthusiasm as she fielded question after question from homeschool families over the past year leading up to this cruise. I’m totally going to plug her business information here because she was THAT GREAT! Any other cruises we do will be booked through this woman for sure.
Travel through Mazie! https://www.facebook.com/Mazies-Travel-This-Rock-An-Affiliate-of-Cruises-Tours-Unlimited-140956949311130/timeline/
We swam, I chatted, and the boys got bored so it was back up to the room to try to get some sleep before heading to the ship in the morning. I last remember seeing 1:32am on the clock before I dozed off…
4:08am… I kid you not. I am up bright eyed and bushy tailed! What is wrong with me? Surely my body needs more sleep than this. I lay there tossing and turning for an hour or two before finally getting up, owning the fact that there will be no more sleep this morning. I head down to the pool to sit and enjoy the dense warmth that only Florida can give. The humidity… wow! As I sit, enjoying the suffocating Florida air, I see several cats stroll around the rock ledges of the pool. Awwww reminds me of home… minus the rock ledges of the pool and air that is almost impossible to breathe unless you are equipped with a set of gills. I have my phone and am looking over Facebook when I see a mother in our cruise group post that she needed a few things from Walgreens… ooh, chance to meet new person and something to do… “I’m by the pool, let’s go!” I reply to her message.
She comes on down, thankful for a friendly face with wheels. We head towards Walgreens. I need to look for another option for ginger root as I neglected to look closer at the bottle I had purchased the night before at Wal-Mart… capsules of ginger root powder… capsules made from gelatin… gelatin is mammal bone based and therefore these ginger root supplements are obviously trying to kill me (I am highly allergic to ingesting mammal products… I get t carry an epi-pen and everything, woohoo!). I was hoping to find a compressed tablet of ginger root powder at Walgreens but no such luck. Looks like I would have to open each capsule and dump in a glass of water to chug it down… pure powdered ginger root is a bit strong but hey, the face I made brought laughter from my family so it was almost worth it. I did grab a can of Lysol to take on the cruise to totally disinfect my room each day as my family and I carried every germ, virus, plague, and bacteria into our cabin from the ship at large. I tend to be a bit of a “people” germaphobe… oddly enough animal germs don’t bother me but people germs… ewwwwww! I had heard the stories of cruise ship sickness and I was bound and determined that my family would not fall prey.
We found a Starbucks after our Walgreens trip and coffee was consumed. Yummy! We got back to the hotel and sat and talked by the pool for a good long while. Kevin came down and reminded me it was time to pack up and catch the shuttle to the ship… time had flown as I chatted with this sweet new friend. We packed everything up and still had some time to kill so we ran over to Subway to get some drinks and subsequently a couple subs… my family can really throw down some food!
Mazie had arranged for those of us with vehicles to safely stow them with the hotel’s protection for the duration of the cruise and catch shuttles to the port free of charge! She also scored an amazing price on the hotel for the night, only $100 and a mere 5 minute drive from the port!
We loaded the shuttle at about 10:30am and within minutes we were gazing on our ship, the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas. It was huge! We grabbed our bags and headed in through Royal Caribbean customs. Birth certificates for everyone… check. Marriage certificate for Kevin and I to show my name change… check. Driver’s Licenses/permits for us 16 and older… check. That’s it… we were through! Soooooooooo easy!!
Waiting to board the ship!
We checked our three big duffel bags and they assured us they would make their way to our room on the ship. We waited for about 10 minutes for boarding and walking up the ramp onto the ship was so exciting! The ship was huge and quite beautiful. We settled on deck 4 in the centrum with its glass elevators, coffee shop, couches, and view of the beautiful ocean. Our room would not be ready until 1:30pm so the boys and I looked around the ship while Kevin relaxed by the big seaside windows.
Royal Caribbean has many great free drinks on the ship to include lemonade, apple and orange juice, water, regular coffee, and tea (hot and cold) but they also have “drink packages” you can get which include other kinds of drinks. I checked out the drink packages and we decided to go ahead and get the $22 per day drink package for Kevin, Jackson, and I after we saw that the coffee shop was a Starbucks and the ship had a ton of different fun soda pop flavors. This package would get us each unlimited pop, coffee (Starbucks fufu ones), non-alcoholoc cocktails/bar drinks, milkshakes, and bottles of water. Gunner is not a soda drinker and he was ecstatic with the fact that here was free unlimited lemonade so he didn’t want a drink package.
Chillin’ on deck 4
There were 11 decks to our ship and the top one included a rock climbing wall and trampolines… OH MY! Even though there were thousands of people boarding the ship it didn’t seem crowded at all. Where were all the people going? Perhaps up to deck 10 with the two pools, 4 hot tubs, and huge movie screen? Maybe the Solarium with the indoor pool and hot tubs? Windjammer café perhaps for lunch with more food than you could ever imagine from every continent? Who knows but I can confirm that very few were hanging around us in the centrum. Was it my crazy “I am so excited I could throw up” vibe that I was giving off?
I gazed out the windows hoping to see some dolphins or seals but saw instead a dark cloud moving ever so slowly towards our ship. I put my phone on airplane mode, sat back, and relaxed…And so it begins…
Sail on young man, sail on…