Catching Up – September 2013

Sorry about dropping off of the face of the earth.  I guess I just needed a break from blogging.  Here’s what I have been up to the past few months!:

Here’s what happened in September:

Stood up as Matron of Honor in a very good friend‘s wedding!  Tadd was also a groomsman.  It was a lovely, simple affair, and a beautiful day spent with some of my favorite people.

The very next day, we headed to Miami to go on a Caribbean cruise with some friends.  We sailed on the Carnival Breeze (great ship, by the way!) and stopped in Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, and Nassau.

October through December update coming up next!

 

Looking back 9 years…

Today I am celebrating 9 years of marriage to my perfect match!  I saw this little “Share Your Wedding Details” meme on my cousin’s blog a few weeks ago.  It was designed for a link party that has since closed.  So although I cannot participate in the link party, I still thought it would be appropriate to share today.

Share Your Wedding Details

Location (church/outdoors/destination):  Since we got married in the middle of summer in Florida, I didn’t want to chance any weather-related issues by having any major part of the day be held outside.  We also had a lot of out of town guests.  So to keep things simple and stress-free, we did the whole shebang, ceremony and reception indoors at the Hilton Orlando North.  Not a super unique or scenic location, but I think we did a good job making it our own.  We were lucky enough to have decent weather during our formal portraits, so we opted to have those taken outdoors at a nearby park (Crane’s Roost Park, if you’re local).
Colors: Plum and silver were the main colors, but I had my florist make the flowers (daisies!) as colorful as possible.  I loved how the pink, yellow, red, and orange gerber daisies popped off of the deep purple of the bridesmaids’ dresses.  I wanted a very colorful wedding, and that’s just what I got.
 
Bridal Party: I would say we had a medium-sized party.  We each had one honor attendant and three additional attendants.  We also had 1 junior groomsman and 2 junior bridesmaids.   The group consisted of all three of our siblings, three of my cousins, and several close friends.
First Dance Song: Nightingale by Saves The Day. Still sometimes gets me misty-eyed when I hear it…
Ceilings don’t exist and there are no floors beneath me,
If I were king of this night, would you become my queen?
And I hope, your majesty, that you like your position
I’ll do everything I can to keep you by my side
And I’ll stare off through the darkness to find us a kingdom
Just kiss me before I go…
Honeymoon:  We flew to San Diego and cruised the Pacific Coast of Mexico for a week on Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas.  We visited Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerta Vallarta.  This was our first trip to Mexico (and Tadd’s first time on the Pacific Coast, period!) and we were totally smitten!
What would you do different? I would schedule the honeymoon to be a few days later after all the hullabaloo had died down.  We had a VERY late night the night of the wedding, followed by a VERY early morning when the town car arrived to take us to the airport to fly to San Diego.  Of course, we took a nap after the muster drill and ended up sleeping straight through until morning, missing our first dinner/evening on the cruise ship.  There are a few other small things I might change, but that would be the one thing that sticks out most in my mind.

Exciting news!

Tadd and I made a decision on what we want to do to celebrate our 10 year anniversary next year.  We booked a 10-night British Isles cruise!  I know it’s way far in advance to be super excited yet, or even to really be able to do much real planning, but I just wanted to share!

LGW_LEH_JER_ORK_WDE_DUB_LPL_GLA_HLY_LGW

Day 1 – Harwich, England

Day 2 – Paris (Le Havre), France

Day 3 – St. Peter Port, Channel Isl

Day 4 – Cork (Cobh), Ireland

Day 5 -Waterford (Dunmore E.), Ireland

Day 6 – Dublin, Ireland

Day 7 – Liverpool, England

Day 8 – Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland

Day 9 – Holyhead, Wales

Day 10 – At Sea

Day 11 – Harwich, England

From the History Geek Files: Fort San Lorenzo

This week marks the 2 year anniversary of a really fun vacation that Tadd and I took with some really great people.  Back in April 2011 (about a month before I started this blog!), a group of 12 of us sailed for 8 nights on the Carnival Freedom, stopping at Cozumel, Mexico; Limon, Costa Rica; and Colon, Panama.

I really loved this particular itinerary because it wasn’t your normal Caribbean island hopping cruise.  Not that there is anything wrong with Caribbean island hopping (we will be doing just that later on this year).  It’s just that the ports of call for this cruise were more focused on adventures in the rain forest, interacting with some incredible wildlife, and learning about different cultures.  Something totally different, exotic, and FUN!

One of my favorite moments on the trip was our stop in Panama.  We took a tour that had multiple stops.  We got to see the Panama Canal, took a brief hike through the rainforest, but the best part was after the hike.  We were taken to a small, secluded, driftwood-laden beach on the banks of the Chagres River.

Our guide pointed to a teeny bit of what looked like ruins on the top of a cliff and stated that this would be where we were headed next.  You can see the cliff with the ruins behind us in the picture at the top of this post.  Didn’t look like much from the beach.  But this is what we saw when we got there:

This is Fort San Lorenzo, and it dates back to 1587.  However, as military forts throughout history often are, this one was destroyed and rebuilt a few times, most recently in the 1750s.  It was built by Spain to protect the Pacific/Atlantic trade route across the isthmus of Panama from pirates.  I was totally enamored with the fact that some of the cannons (which were, as you can see, haphazardly strewn about the “gun deck” which has now completely been overgrown with grass) still had the seal of the Spanish crown.  And these cannons were not roped off or encased in glass…They were just lying around in the open.  As a matter of fact, the entire site was completely open to the public.  Unlike Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine, which requires you to go through a ticket booth and purchase admission for a tour and even contains a gift shop, this has no gates or even anyone who appeared to be in a “park ranger” type role.  It was just raw history, there to be discovered by anyone who cared to check it out.  Aside from a few handrails and some signage, it didn’t look like it had been touched for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Between getting to be so close to some fascinating history, appreciating the impressive architecture of the fort, and those gorgeous views, I really felt like I was in a special place, and it’s something I have looked back on fondly over the two years since the trip.  If I am ever lucky enough to make it back to Panama, I would love to go back (and with a much better camera!).

For us history geeks, there really is nothing like a beautiful, old Spanish fort…

What I Did On My Winter Vacation…

It’s 2013 and I’m back!  Although I managed to conclude my 10-day vacation with a plague of sorts, so I have not been functioning as fully as I would like to be over the past couple of days.  It’s making the return to regular daily post-holiday and post-vacation life a little difficult.

I thought I would share just a little bit of what I did with my time off.  With a little star-alignment, serendipity, and good planning, I managed to secure 10 (TEN!) consecutive days off of work.  So from 4:30ish PM on Friday, December 28th through 7:30ish AM on Tuesday, January 8th, I was on VACATION!

My first three nights were spent at home, cleaning, packing, running pre-vacation errands, etc.  Saturday night, Tadd and I went down to Downtown Disney for a date night (and renewed our annual passes too!).  Got to eat at my favorite Raglan Road, and saw Les Mis (which instantly made me a HUGE Anne Hathaway fan, as you might have seen that night if you follow me on twitter).

NYE was spent at home with our traveling companions.  They spent the night, since we were heading to Fort Lauderdale in the morning.  It was a wild night, let me tell you.

Yeah, not really!  We were all in bed by around 1.  Up early the next morning to load the car and head off on a mini road trip!  We spent the next 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.  Fun place!  It’s right on the water, and has its own marina.  Being around marinas and boats made it very easy to quickly slip into vacation mode (which was the whole idea).  These helped too:

Our second day, we took an airboat ride into the Florida Everglades.  I have lived in Florida for over 22 years and had never been to the Everglades!  Now I can say I have, although we were only on the very outskirts.  We did see some gators, and a few other creatures.  The weather was beautiful and we had a blast.

The next morning, we drove a little further south to Miami, where our cruise ship awaited (and it was still decorated for Christmas too!).  The next four nights were spent on the Carnival Destiny.

We were supposed to stop in Key West, but due to one of the crew members having a medical emergency, we had to turn back to Miami the first night and ended up missing Key West.  But we got an extra day at sea, and they managed to get us almost twice the amount of time they had planned in Cozumel the next day.  While in Cozumel, Tadd and I got to return to one of our favorite places, the Mayan ruins at Tulum.  How gorgeous is this place?

That photo above is now my desktop background.  Ahhh…

All too soon, the cruise was over and it was back to the real world.  Unfortunately, it was in the drive back from Miami to Orlando that I realized I was sick.  So my transition back to reality was rather harsh.  Luckily, I had something to look forward to right away.  One of my Christmas gifts from my parents was a pair of tickets to see the traveling Broadway production of Mary Poppins.  We went last night, and although I was still slightly under the weather, I really enjoyed it.  Special effects on TV and at the movies are cool, but special effects during a Broadway production are SO much better.  Loved the costumes and sets too (the way they moved around and changed the Banks’ house from scene to scene was just amazing)!  And of course, the songs.  So many great ones.  I have had “Feed the Birds” stuck in my head all day.  Love it!  Even Tadd enjoyed himself more than he thought he would.

So that brings me pretty much up to date.  I plan on sharing more pics from my adventures soon, so stay tuned!