Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Three Months of Amazing

The adventures of the last 3 months have made me very neglectful on this blog. How does one condense all of the things that have been going on in our lives? 

In March, after 8 months of planning, payments, and prep, Eric and I went on our first cruise! The first for both of us.  It was an "Osmond Brothers Fan Appreciation Cruise," leaving from Fort Lauderdale, FL, with 6 days and 5 nights aboard the Celebrity Constellation. There were stops in Cozumel, Mexico and Key West, Florida, plus daily activities with the Osmond Brothers (Merrill, Jay, and Jimmy) and our group of 110 people.

We had SO MUCH FUN!!

The bonus was that we made some incredible friends from around the world. We met people it felt like we'd known forever. We're excited to nurture these friendships for many years. And, after the cruise was over, we zipped home for 2 days, then flew to Vegas for another week to see the Osmond Brothers in concert there. Many people from the cruise were in Vegas too, which made it feel like an extended vacation!

After combing through my hundreds of pictures, I picked out just a few to share here. Of course, there is no way to ever duplicate the fun feeling and excitement of each day. These two back to back trips are experiences we will never forget.

After 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, we finally boarded our beautiful ship! Celebrity Cruise Lines definitely set a high standard for any and all future cruises we take.

It was SO nice to have a stateroom with a balcony. It was a small room, but with creative storage that made it feel bigger than it was. Being able to step out on the balcony and enjoy the beauty of the ocean was truly wonderful.

On our first evening on the ship there was a reception where we saw the Osmond Brothers and got a feel for the fun adventures ahead!  Above, me with Jimmy, Merrill, and Jay Osmond. All superb performers, but even more important--impressive gentlemen.

Tuesday was our day at sea. The Osmond Brothers held a private concert just for our group and that evening was Formal Night. We dressed in our best and had a fancy dinner with lobster, frogs legs, steak, and a treasure trove of desserts. Above is Eric and me with the 2 wonderful couples we became close friends with: Gary and Julie from the UK on the left and Rick and Julia from Scotland on the right.

The Osmond Brothers are troopers when it comes to picture opportunities with everyone. L-R Merrill, me, Eric, Jimmy, Jay. Such a fun, fun evening!
Wednesday we stopped in Cozumel, Mexico. Here's a panoramic shot of Eric and others outside on the back of the ship.

In Cozumel we spent the day at XCaret, an ecological park in Playa del Carmen. It was an 8 hour shore excursion that gave us only 5 hours at the park, but we made the most of it (despite harrowing ferry rides to and from!)  The lunch was excellent and the beach was beautiful. In retrospect we probably should have chosen something different that day, but we were new at this. This is still one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip as we were heading out of the park for the day.

Thursday was another day at sea, with a concert for the entire ship. That evening there was a karaoke contest, which Eric got to participate in. He was also chosen to sing a duet with Merrill Osmond, someone he has admired for many years. That night our group was treated to an ice cream social with "casual pictures" taken of all of us with the brothers.  L-R Jay, Eric, me, Jimmy, Merrill. By this time we had all become pretty comfortable with each other, which was awesome.

Friday was our day in Key West. We loved Key West!! We rode the Conch Train with our group for a couple of hours and then got to tour around on our own.

Friday evening was our last reception with the Osmond Brothers. They sat at a table and sang songs "off the cuff" while signing everyone's pictures from Formal Night and Casual Night. It was sad to think of that amazing week coming to an end. Above are pictures Eric and I took with Jimmy Osmond.

Saturday mid-morning, back at the hotel in Fort Lauderdale. We made it through customs and easily found our shuttle from the port. Believe me when I tell you I ended up crashing into bed at 3pm, I was SO tired! We went downstairs around 8 and had a little pizza in the restaurant, then back to bed. Happy, weary, and yes, HAPPY travelers!

The next day was Sunday, Easter Sunday actually, and our last full day in Florida. It was nice to be together, just us. We took a trolley to the beach, ate an incredible lunch Drunken Taco...then headed back to the hotel for more rest and packing up for our departure the next day.

Two days after we arrived home, we headed to Vegas! A fun event called Carnivale was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. We ate snacks, bonded with friends, and played silly games. Eric won a raffle, which was very cool--"a phone call with Merrill." He was on Cloud 9!

On Sunday we went to church with a group of new friends, then lunch at Cheesecake Factory at Caesar's Palace.  Agatha, in purple is from Holland and a translator for the LDS Church. Debbie, in blue and black, became a close friend and we will be staying with her and her husband in Utah next week. We're pretty excited!

A very yummy lunch and fun chatting was a great way to bond with new friends.

One great thing about the concerts on the ship was the lighting. It was perfect for pictures!

We've been on a high ever since we came home. I can't believe we've already been home for nearly 2 months! Next week, though, we head off to Utah! It will be Eric's first time there, so we will be meeting up with some of our new friends from our trips and doing the "tourist thing." It will be so fun!

In the midst of our homecoming, we decided to sell our cute little RV, the Winnebago Chalet. Talk about amazing timing. The same day we told the place where it was stored, they had made the decision to close. AND, only 2 days after making our intention to sell public on Facebook, we had a done deal!!

Jennifer, the Chalet's new owner and her friend, Lisa, rolled out of here on Monday morning.
The RV was bought by a girl (yes, we are still girls) I went to high school with in California. How amazing is that? She and a friend flew up here last Saturday evening and stayed with us for 2 nights. Eric and I got the RV all spic and span, giving her a lot of the items we had bought for it. After church on Sunday, I made us all dinner while Eric took her through the RV systems. The next morning they were on their way!

We love our Chalet, but we just weren't using it enough to make it worth it. And yes, we discovered we enjoyed cruising a lot more than camping. As our neighbor observed Monday afternoon..."Yeah, I didn't really see you as Winnebago people." True, we weren't Winnebago people. But it was a fun chapter of adventure and experimentation. We are also happy to see that chapter come to a close and feel like we've simplified our lives a little in the process.

Well, how's that for condensing? Have I left out a lot of details? YOU BET. But this is a blog, not a book.

I will say this...we have been ABUNDANTLY blessed lately. The Lord and His timing have worked miracles in our home and in our marriage. "Fantastic" is getting even better.  We are truly, truly grateful.

P.S.  Want to see my picture nice and big? Click on one and there you go!

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