On Tuesday we drove down to Key Biscayne to visit our friends from early days in Monterey, John and Madeline. We stayed with them in their beautiful condo on Key Biscayne. It has a nearly 360 degree (buildings in the way, not mountains - ha) view, including this sunset that evening. The next day we went on a walk in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. John got a shot of Amelia and I with the Cape Florida Lighthouse in the background. Then I got one of John and Madeline. Don't worry, the lighthouse was not falling over - it's OK. Then they took us to Books & Books in Coral Gables, and to the old and elegent Biltmore Hotel & Resort. Here's a shot of the exterior and one of the dining rooms. There was rennovation going on and we took advantage of the signs to send a message. They have a very large swimming pool and here is another view of part of it. Back at the condo we relaxed and admired the views in various directions.
Thanksgiving morning we drove over to Pembroke Pines to see Amelia's Uncle Andrew and Aunt Elise. We were joined by Heather, their granddaughter (Amelia's cousin, once removed). Then we checked in at our hotel, changed clothes and headed back to their condo. We then went out for a late afternoon Thanksgiving dinner. The waiter was kind enough to take this picture of the five of us anticipating the feast. During our time with Andrew and Elise we had a wonderful visit and gleaned a bit of genealogy on the Hudson side of the family back through several branches.
Saturday we mosied back up to Cocoa Beach, stopping along the way at Chowder's Seafood Grill for a late lunch. We traded shots of each other on the deck. Here's my shot of Amelia and her shot of me.
Our stateroom had a different towel animal each day, such as this one and one day we found this one hanging around. Here's a shot of our stateroom. Early Sunday evening we all went out to see the Mike Super Magic Show. Along the way Evan took a few pictures. Here's Amelia and Laura, then Fiona, Laura, and Ian, and Evan and Laura. (note: All pictures with names Disney**...* were taken with Evan's camera.) At the venue, here's a picture of me and Ian, then I took another picture of Evan and Laura. During the performance a mystery was concocted with the participants being chosen if they caught a pair of fuzzy dice. Ian caught them and chose the murder weapon (knives). In the end, the mystery of how the deed was accomplished was found, and here are Ian and one of the other partcipants Linda holding the solution. After the show it was time for dinner. (note: one lapse of judgement was we didn't get our dinner time changed to 6:00 pm instead of 8:30 pm, at which time the kids were too exhausted after a day of activities, to say nothing of eating pizza and ice cream.) Anyway, there was some "entertainment" for the kids - here's Ian enjoying puzzles, as is Fiona. When Fiona asked for some ketchup for her french fries, the waiter made a Mickey Mouse of ketchup.
The next morning we docked at Nassau, Bahamas. Here is a shot of the lighthouse as we watched on deck while coming into port. Nassau was touted as a big shopping opportunity, but we must have looked in the wrong places (well, actually we weren't that interested in shopping anyway) since it looked pretty much like Nogales, Tijuana, or Juarez. The kids decided to stay onboard the ship in the "Oceaneers Lab" (a good choice), but the adults went on the "historic tour" of Nassau. Unfortunately, while Nassau has a couple of old forts, they were both excercises in futility (that is, if one wants a fort to be attacked) since they were never used for the intended purpose and so there isn't much interesting history. But, we took some pictures anyway. Here is a shot of the Disney Wonder as we walked off the dock. Our first stop on the tour was Ft. Fincastle. Evan, Laura, and I opted to walk up the old escape route, which was cut through limestone rock, which has weathered interestingly. Here's the Disney Wonder, just a canon shot away. Views in various directions include government buildings and a water tower, Here's one of Amelia and Laura discussing the possibility that the fort could have withstood the assault of determined pirates. Then it was off to Ft. Charlotte, where we took more pictures of each other. I got this shot with Cable Beach in the background. Finally, one more shot of the Disney Wonder with the Atlantis Resort and Casino in the background. Back on ship, it was water-time, with cooling off, and Ian taking a water slide. They both had long ago discovered that ice cream and pizza were just a few feet away from the pool.
Coming to the point of the whole trip, this day was Evan's birthday, and to celebrate his and Laura's earlier birthday, they went to the "fancy" restaurant onboard, the Palo. Here they were treated royally (so I hear, since I wasn't there), complete with birthday cake, and shown here with the birthday man.
Monday evening we pulled anchor (metaphorically speaking: all they really did was release the lines from the dock) and went back out to sea. Tuesday morning we docked at Castaway Cay, an island in the Bahamas that Disney owns. As soon as breakfast was over and we got ourselves together, we headed for the beach. Along the way, we had a nice view of this pirate ship and an old time pirate making friends (?). A little further on we saw the pirate ship juxtaposed with the Disney Wonder. We took a brief stop for Fiona and Pluto to exchange greetings and for Ian and Pluto as well. The beach was pristine (of course) and the water was fine. There was a buffet BBQ lunch at the beach, or one could go back onboard the ship. The omnivores did well, but the there wasn't a lot at the BBQ for the vegetarians. But, all survived. Back on board later in the afternoon, I enjoyed watching the workers touching up paint while I watched from our balcony. Nearing the time for getting back onboard I got a shot of people lining up. In the meantime, I went for an exploration of the ship's workings, finding the deck where the anchor chains and other lines come into the ship. Yes, those links are over a foot long. A little later they were firing up the propulsion and giving off a bit of smoke. Still later, at sea, Evan got this sunset photo. It was alledged that Disney is the only cruise ship to have fireworks, and we were treated to some late that evening. Here's four of the shots that I took: Shot one, shot two, shot three, shot four.
The last day on board was a day at sea. Much of the time was taken up with swimming (or watching swimming), Amelia and I went to the adult hot tub area early morning and enjoyed that. Fiona had a "big event". She got her hair done in cornrows while grammy watched. Here is the result.
We were docked the next morning by 8:30 or so (our baggage was picked up about 11pm the night before). We left the stateroom, never to return, had breakfast in the buffet, and proceeded to debark. First, we got Christmas pictures (well, by the Christmas tree) of The Maryland Frankes and the Oregon/Arizona Frankes. On the way out, we got a shot of Ian and Fiona with Capt. Henry. The luggage was all laid out nicely in the customs waiting hall according to blocks of staterooms and was easy to find. Customs was no problem. The Maryland crew picked up their car and headed to Disney World, and the Oregon/Arizona crew got their rental car and headed back to the Orlando airport. I got a few interesting photos from the airplane. Here's Cape San Blas and St. Joseph Bay, southeast of Panama City, Florida. A little further northwest we see St. Andrew Bay just opposite Panama City. Finally, a shot of Pensacola, Florida.
A good time was had by all.