Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cruising to age 40

Trevor's high school buddies wanted to plan an epic 40th birthday celebration for all their 40th birthdays happening in 2016.  Dave took the lead and conducted surveys etc regarding trip destination, cost, timing.  Sadly, we couldn't get the whole Boise Boys group together, but did finally get 3 couples to commit and book a trip.  Dave & Kellie, Nate & Christy, and Us... (plus Ivy!).  I was still nursing and couldn't possibly leave this pipsqueak at home. She's such a good baby, we gladly had her tag along!  

Destination? Cruising out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean! No better way to travel!

We got in on a Sunday night and couldn't board the ship until Monday late afternoon. So after connecting in the am, we took some uber rides over to the Florida Everglades.  It's a national park and so unique and awesome! An entire ecosystem like no other in the world.  We went on an airboat ride as we toured the wetlands. 

 We saw dozens of these friends creeping alongside the boat!  Yikes!!

And even got to hold a baby alligator!  

We hopped on the ship as soon as we could.  Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas.  It was a fantastic, gorgeous ship!  

Bon Voyage!!

Having only done Disney Cruises in the past, we were amazed at the lack of children (of any age) on the boat.  You really had to be looking for kids to spot them...and infants?? We maybe saw 1 other?  So Ivy was just a huge hit wherever we were!  Everyone absolutely LOVED her.  
 It was such a special time for Trevor and I to be one-on-one with Ivy at this age.  Most thought she was our only child (and we loved the shocked looks on their faces when we told them we left 4 at home! Ha!).  We truly just doted and enjoyed her.  She's chill, patient, happy!!  
 Our first day was at Sea.  It wasn't super warm with the wind from the boat moving, so we found a sheltered area from the wind and just sat there and baked in that glorious sun!!

The ship had a "Flow Rider" which was a super awesome man-made created surf.  We tried the wake board and managed's so much harder than it looks! I actually enjoyed watching the instructors take turns...they were incredible!  

 Once you lose your balance, you wipe out and get swooped up to the top! (Prepare for wedgies and don't get up until you've done a full swimsuit check! haha).  

Formal night on the 2nd night!  Again, Ivy...just melted everyone (and me too!)

On the 3rd day we were in port at Royal Caribbean's privately owned beach and property in Labadee, Haiti.  Unfortunately, the weather looked ominous.  But we journeyed off the ship anyway. How could we not when this was the view from the top deck?  

The first part of the day wasn't bad...not much sun, but definitely warm.  

We cozied up on the beach for awhile and let Ivy play in the sand.   

It started to sprinkle and then downpour at lunch time, so we huddled under the pavilion to eat.  It subsided after awhile and we got to walk around at the shops.  A total tourist trap...remember this is owned by Royal Carribean.  So it didn't feel truly authentic (but I wouldn't really want to be traveling with an infant in Haiti anyway!), but it was interesting.  

The 3 Boise Boys: Trevor, Dave, Nate...missing those guys who couldn't come.  

It looked like it was really going to come down, so we suddenly made a mad dash back to the ship. I love, love this pic!  (Seeing all the rain and gray clouds makes me feel cold...but it was not cold! That made the rain was so warm! I love the Caribbean humidity and heat!  

A few games that night (Nate and Christy sacked out). We were on an official 4 meals a day routine. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Late Dinner.  Glorious!  

Next day was in Falmouth, Jamaica!  Another gloomy, wet day...darn!
We split up because the other couples booked a tubing excursion that we couldn't do with Ivy (and we didn't feel comfortable leaving her on the ship in daycare).  So we decided to do the Dunns River Falls hike.  Spectacular sets of water falls! You walk down the stairs to the bottom and then take a guided tour to the top.  It was very cool (even if it was pouring rain!)  

 At first they wouldn't let us take Ivy with us and wanted us to leave her with a random Jamaican lady at the info center. Um...really?? No.  We begged to pack her in with us and the guide agreed as long as we stayed at the front of the group. Done!  
 Loved stealing Carson's GoPro for the trip!  Perfect for a wet waterfall hike! 

Jamaica nickle and dimes you for tips! We had to tip the bus driver, the bus driver tour guide, the helper that led us from the bus to the entrance of the water falls, and the water fall hike guide!  It was really nuts!  But we did have a lot of helpers!  

The next part of our excursion was a sky ride up the side of one of the largest mountains in Jamaica.  It was a wet ride to the top.  

But at the top...the rain let up!  We were really the only ones there. Usually there are 4-5 ships in port, but there was only 2 that we had the place to ourselves.  These musicians really wanted to play for Ivy (more tips).  

The bobsled ride was at the top so we couldn't pass that up!  Not really a bobsled in anyway other than shape...ha!....but it still was a blast!
Pic with Ivy...she couldn't go, so we took turns.

The ride down was much rain!

And quite the view! Gorgeous country!  (But have to admit, I did feel unsafe and extra cautious.  We just stuck with the cruise guides. I wouldn't have ever ventured out on our own here).  

Back on the ship and headed back to Florida!

But not before another cruising day at Sea!  

Happy Baby!!  The cruise captain found the sun and we enjoyed that day so much!  
 Finally got to try out the rock climbing wall.  

 Catch some reading mixed with good food.  Always food. Always.

Our final night...we had a glorious sunset!  

But my hair was doing this while taking pics in the wind!  

The next day there was a delay in getting off the ship.  Most people waited in the theaters...but we headed to the top deck to sit in the sun for another hour.  Pool to ourselves (too bad our swimsuits were already packed and loaded).  We had the best time with our friends!! Goodbyes are always hard...we go years between seeing these guys but sure treasure their friendship! We are determined to go on another '40' trip when Christy and I turn 40 (2018).  

As luck would have it, we had a 2 hour layover in Denver. So we convinced Trevor's sister to meet us at the airport so she could meet Ivy and we could meet baby Georgia! These sweet cousins finally meet!!  

Plus our other niece and nephew; Ellie and Beckett.  Love these kiddos and don't see them nearly enough!!

But after a week (including travel), I was ready to be back to my big kids.  And boy oh boy were they missing their baby sister!  They couldn't get their hands on her fast enough!!!  
 Can't thank my mom enough for managing this crew!!!  They kinda like her!!


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