Dragonfly
Hey y'all... I'm back! Of course you may not have noticed I was gone, what with my inconsistent posting of blogs and all. Bear with me; I'm really trying.

You might remember a few brief mentions of a cruise in past posts? Yes? Well, last Friday, we all got up well before the sun decided to host its daily summer BBQ of human flesh and headed to the airport for the start of this year's Family Reunion, Ocean-Style!

Once there, I tore through the terminal (as fast as my pre-pre-morning sleepy legs could take me) to find the nearest Starbucks. I might have drawn stares as Mr. Clean and the boys tried to keep up. What, you're surprised? It was either coffee or a famous Dragonfly-Got-Up-Too-Damn-Early-Meltdown. I chose the coffee. I thought it'd be better than being tossed out by security.

A minor rant... WTF is up with the wafting plethora of smells that should NOT exist at 5:00AM - namely, SEAFOOD and BBQ?? I don't know of one person with WONKY enough constitution to eat stuff like that. At. The. Airport. First thing in the morning.

Even worse - the Starbucks shared a space WITH the BBQ place! I stood behind a line of twenty other like-minded people, all of us with our hands over our noses. Okay, maybe it was just ME with my hand over my nose... Whatever. At least I wasn't gagging. Much. There were, however, four trash cans within the one little space. Not that I spent every moment in line counting them or memorizing their location or anything like that.

Iced Hazelnut Mocha in hand, I agreed to walk like a normal person as we headed to our gate. Amazingly, we found it rather quickly considering it was still WAY too early for me to focus on actual WORDS or NUMBERS yet. While the boys entertained themselves with the rest of the family already there, I proceded to nibble on a blueberry scone. While still trying not to gag as the scent of grilling FISH floated by every few moments.

Yes, Pappadeaux's was OPEN at 5:00AM. Serving FISH. And GUMBO. And... retch. retch. gag. Good Lord, you'd have to be downright JUNEBUG CRAZY to eat things like that so damn early. If I hadn't still been half-asleep, and if my stomach hadn't been hosting carnival rides, I'd have walked over JUST so I could report if anyone was actually in there eating. Personally, I think the employees were in the middle of a bet. I think they were just cooking up as many foul things possible to see how many people they could make hurl.

Luckily, before that very thing happened to me, the heavens smiled down and they let us on the plane which, Thank You Lord, did NOT smell like food of any kind.

Now, I have to tell you... I'm not best friends with the flying thing. At. All. God did not give me wings for a reason. Therefore, flying is FOREIGN to me. It's unsettling. I've been on TWO trips, which involved planes - Jamaica and Scotland. I deal okay but honestly? I'm just not a very happy camper during flights. I don't like looking out the window. I don't like mysterious sounds or movements.

All that said - I ended up sitting next to Shaggy, who offered the following bits of conversation over the course of two hours:
  • "How old is this plane? This plane looks too old to be flying."
  • "Are you SURE the cockpit door is steel? And that no one can get in there?"
  • "What is that noise? It that noise normal? It sounds like something BROKE."
  • "Why do we keep tilting sideways? Are the pilots allowed to drink and fly?"
  • "Do you hear a little siren every time the flight attendent says something over the speakers? Is something wrong and they're not telling us?"
  • "Does that seam in the wing look right to you? It looks bigger now than it did when we were on the ground."
I have NEVER been so happy to be back on solid ground in my entire life and vowed right then and there on the gate ramp that I would NEVER EVER EVER fly next to that boy again. (of course, I ended up right next to him on the flight home anyhow)

So. Hello, Miami! Dude, it's HOT in Miami. Holy COW... I thought Texas was hot and humid. Miami made Texas feel like Spring. It took a full TWO SECONDS before my hair went limp and frizzy all at the same time.

Once arrived, our little bit of the family -- 8 adults and two kids -- descended upon the airport taxi line with a cart-full of luggage. One crazy van ride and $80 later, we finally saw our destination... a flipping HUGE cruise ship. I never had a clue they were that big until we got up close and personal with ours.

Long line. Check-in. Long line. Smile for the photo! (Are you kidding me?) Long line. Ramp. Finally, the ship itself. Hey!! There's more of our family -- Cousin Bubbles, Mr. Bubbles, her brother and his fiance, and a couple of Aunts & Uncles. After a load of Hello! How are you? What's up? You look GREAT! we headed off to our stateroom.

I totally wish I'd snapped a picture of our stateroom. In case you have not cruised before... a stateroom should be correctly named a walk-in closet with beds and a miniature bathroom. Heh. I thought it was CUTE. Then.

We got situated and then headed up to Deck 11 for lunch. Holy Moly was there some FOOD there. My appetite having returned, I wandered for an HOUR through the buffet, finally deciding on some grilled Wahoo (the fish, not my BFF) and a little piece of chicken w/ teriyaki sauce, rice, salad, and fruit. After I ate and pronounced myself Stuffed-To-The-Gills, a girl walked by and I overheard her say, to her friend, "Did you see the tacos over there? I have to go back for one of those." And then I fell out of my chair because even though my stomach was crying, "Please! No more!" I wanted one of those tacos. Right. Then. (And I just realized... I never did get one of those darn tacos!)

Then, because lunches like that require it, we headed to our room for a nap. I got a whopping thirty minutes in before the alarm bells went off and we had to don pretty-pretty life vests and then trek up to the lifeboat deck for a safety drill. Whooo boy was that fun. I'm all about the safety. I'm not all about standing in the sweltering Miami heat, packed into lines like sardines with fifty other humans, for thirty minutes. It would have taken only a few minutes but they had to tell us what to do in FIFTY different languages. Because, you KNOW, if they didn't... some poor fool from the tiny little corner of Scotland that still speaks only Gaelic would NOT figure out how to properly wear his life vest.

Afterwards, a bunch of us headed up to the top decks to watch as the dolphins escorted the ship out of port. Well, the boys saw dolphins. I never actually saw one but I DID see quite a few sea turtles. Totally cool, since I've never seen any in their natural habitat.

Up until that point, I had been very concerned with whether or not my recent introduction to sea-sickness would rear its ugly head. Digression: I regularly sailed with my Dad from the time I was 18 months old until I was in my mid-teens with nary a gag EVER. When I hit 30? Lord Have Mercy. Digression Over. I'm happy to report that as the ship headed out to sea, I didn't feel even a TWINGE of illness. (except for the moments I chose to look DOWN from the top deck but that's to be expected when you suffer from vertigo)

That evening, the whole group - all 27 of us - got together for dinner in the ship's main dining room. Unfortunately, the dining room wasn't quite prepared, so we didn't get to sit as together as we'd wanted to (or as we'd been told we'd be able to). The head waiter assured us they'd work on the situation for the next two dinners, though, and he seemed a nice-enough guy so all was good.

After dinner, we went to see a stand-up comedian in the theatre. Very funny. Lots of cruise humor. And then the 4:00AM wake-up caught up with Doodlebug and I. We were comatose in the cabin a few minutes later. Mr. Clean apparently took that time to go gambling in the casino, turning $0.50 into $44.00 (Go Mr. Clean!) while Shaggy checked out the Teen Nightclub.

Okay, that's it for today. More tomorrow!

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