For part 1, click here.
Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff.
I had been begging and pleading with my dad for years to let us go on another cruise. We went on one back when I was in highschool and I had a blast. You either love cruises or hate them, and I love them, I crave them (anyone want to go on a cruise with me, I’m totally in). My dad loves them, Jane is not a fan, so therefore my pleads were in vain. My sisters and I got to talking, and decided, you know what, we are adults, let’s just go on our own cruise. We found a great New Year’s cruise that left out of Manhattan (where my older sister lives), it was cheap, had a few great stops in the Caribbean, all was golden. I called my dad to tell him the good news. Now take into mind that my dad was in the Navy, has owned a sailboat my whole life and the majority of his adult life, and while he would never admit it, he would be absolutely thrilled to go on another cruise, but has been holding back his excitement due to my Jane’s decided lack of excitement for cruises (“they are so redneck.”) (which I have to admit, they kinda are, but I love ‘em). Upon hearing the news that my sisters and I were going on a cruise without him, my dad’s reaction was “what? wait. huh? oh. oh. OH. oh. hmm. oh. ok.” (translation: dang, that sounds really awesome, I want to go). Not 24 hours later I get a phone call from Jane. The conversation went something like this “Julie, dad told me you all were going on a cruise. Here is the deal. We will go on the cruise with you, BUT the conditions are that 1) it has to be a 5 star ship (um, great), 2) we will pay for it (yes please), 3) none of the port days will be in the Bahamas (fine with me, not my favorite part of the Caribbean) 4) we will pay for your plane tickets (this is bad how?) and 5) you all will need to pay for anything you spend on the ship (was planning on it anyways). Suffice it to say, it didn’t take a lot of convincing for my sisters and I to go with the nicer ship, nicer stops, parents are coming option.
The day of our flights out of D.C. arrived. Due to the weird logistics of one sister living in California, one in New York, and that they would be flying back to their respective cities straight after the cruise, and my parents and I living in the metro D.C. area, we were on two different flights. My sisters had a great, non-stop 10:00 am flight out of Reagan National airport, which is a good 7-8 minutes from my parent’s house, where they had been crashing since Christmas. My dad, Jane and I had a 6:00 am flight out of BWI, Baltimore-Washington Airport, aka a good hour away. Not only that, our flight had a layover in Tampa, which meant that my sisters who left 4 hours later than us actually go to our destination (Ft. Lauderdale) hours before us. Cue the start of a really great day.
We get to BWI at about 4:00 am. Despite my careful packing and pre-weighing my suitcase at home to ensure it was not overweight, alas it was 5 pounds overweight. I chose the option of pulling 5 pounds of junk out rather than paying the fee, so there I am at 4:00 am, in front of everyone else checking in for their flight, with my monster suitcase opened up for the whole world to see, frantically deciding what on earth I could easily pull out. I grabbed a few pairs of jeans (or jeggings in my case) and shoes and stuffed them in Jane’s suitcase, which was also going to be checked and had plenty of room in it.
I don’t want to air my family’s dirty laundry here, ok just a little bit, so I am going to leave out the details of what happened next, but Jane and I had a slight kerfluffle, to put it lightly, regarding my overpacked suitcase. So, skip to me sobbing crying while standing at the Southwest check-in counter, grappling on to a pair of hot pink pumps (which I of course did not wear) and my jeggings (which I of course wore, a staple in my wardrobe). So there I am running through BWI trying to allude Jane (my dad was out parking the car and was going to meet us at the gate) (and yes, I really was running from her), doing my best to get the message to her to just leave me alone, all the while sobbing, groping my hot pink pumps for dear life as I go through security. The day did not start out well.
We get to Ft. Lauderdale, and hop in a taxi to take us to our “hotel.” I use the word hotel lightly, more on that later. We got to FL a day before our cruise left to make sure we didn’t miss the boat (literally, I almost missed a cruise once because I flew out the same day. ALWAYS fly out a day before). This allowed us lots of time riding around in taxis through FL. There apparently is a large Haitian population in FL, and my sweet old father is so very proud of the fact that he speaks, or spoke French at one point in time (30 years ago) so with every single taxi driver he proudly exclaimed that “I speak French. J’ai étudié le français à L’Alliance Française en Washington, D.C.” (I studied French at the Alliance Francaise in Washington, D.C.). That’s really the extent of what he remembers, I know he wishes he remembered more as him and my mom met in Paris and the French language is very dear to all of us. Anyways, over the next day I heard “J’ai étudié le français à L’Alliance Française en Washington, D.C.” several, several times.
Ok, the “hotel.” Jane told my dad to book a cheap hotel in FL for that one night we were there, and he took that very, very literally. He booked the. cheapest. hotel. in. all. of. Fort Lauderdale, The Travel Lodge. The best I can describe it, is that when my sisters and I finally were allowed to enter our room, (we had to wait a good twenty minutes for them to finish cleaning it), there were two men in there raking, yes RAKING something out of the carpet. There were holes in the bedspreads from moths or bed bugs or who knows what. There were several missing ceiling tiles. There for sure in it’s day been at least three murders committed at The FL Travel Lodge (this is unconfirmed, just my suspicion). The place was just down right nar-sty, and not somewhere I wanted to say if I wanted to leave the hotel without bed bugs.
I spy nasty holes in the comforter…
And a hole in the ceiling where there obviously was a hidden camera…
It took a good 30 minutes of us calling around to find another hotel room, there were another 6 or so cruise ships leaving the next day and the whole city was sold out of hotel rooms. Thankfully we found a new place a good 25 minutes away, which unfortunately put us all in one room instead of two, but we were so thankful for that sanitary and non-CSI Days Inn.
My sisters and I happy to share a non bed bug infested bed.
The next morning my dad and sisters and I decided to walk to the Waffle House. Let me state for the record that I was not in favor of this idea. The motel front desk employee’s reaction to us asking if it was walkable was “uh, I wouldn’t recommend it.” But we had no car (got to the rental car place too late the day before, as my dad was trying to find a cheap rental car and therefore found the place as far away from the airport as possible), we were hungry, and against my protestations we embarked on the LOOONG (as in, like half a mile) walk to the Waffle House, aka God’s territory. What’s not to love about Waffle House, it was lovely, charming, it filled my belly and my soul. It made up for a truly previous crappy day.
I was not happy about having to walk…
Forcing my family to take a breather at a bus stop…
Victorious… If I can walk .2 miles to Waffle House, what CAN’T I do?
To be continued…