On December 30 I flew to Orlando. Jim and Aaron picked me up and we made the hour's drive to his home in Citrus Hills. It was great to catch up, as I hadn't seen Jim in over a year, and it had been almost 3 years since I'd seen Aaron.
On the 31st, we made a trip to Wal-Mart so I could pick up some additional consumable items for the cruise. Errands done, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and catching up. And drinking champagne. After all, it WAS New Year's Eve...... we also took a drive out to the beach to watch the last sunset of the year. Very pretty.
I got a great surprise - Jim managed to book the first short segment of the cruise - from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego - so he's joining me for the first 2 weeks! I'm so excited!!!! We used to cruise a lot together, but it's been a few years and I'm happy for the great company as I start my worldwide adventure.
Saturday night we picked up Jim's parents at their home nearby and we all went to the country club for a night of dinner and dancing. It was very festive and we all really enjoyed ourselves. We decided to go home a little early, so we could ring in the New Year in private.
We ended up staying up past 1:00 AM - so we slept in a bit Sunday morning. In the afternoon we went out to a place about 45 minutes away called The Villages. This is a huge housing and shopping development filled with golf courses, shops, restaurants, and a variety of types of living - condos, homes, senior communities, etc. And it seems nearly everyone owns and drives their own golf carts. Not all who have carts golf, but surely everyone who golfs has a cart. Many of the carts are customized - some look like old cars from the 50's - some are painted and decked out to reflect the owner's college alma mater, etc. I was JEALOUS! If this community could be sitting at the beach instead of inland, I'd move there in a heartbeat!
On Tuesday we had a leisurely lunch at the nearby Tiki Lounge at the club's community center, then returned to Jim's house to pack and get ready to leave. Jim and Aaron were returning to New York (Jim coming back the morning of the cruise) and I was going to rent a car at the airport and drive over to Treasure Island to visit with my cousin Nik for the evening and overnight.
Nik and I enjoyed a Mexican food meal at a great place called VIP, in Treasure Island, then returned to his place to spend the evening catching up on each other's lives. Early this morning, I left and took my time driving down to Ft. Lauderdale. I had a nice day and arrived at the airport to turn in my car about 2:30. I caught the HAL bus which took me and other ship passengers to the Renaissance Hotel to get checked in. Tonight we're having a cocktail party and dinner, hosted by our travel agency. I believe there's about 100 or more passengers that are served by this travel agency, and we will also have several of them on board as our hosts for the entire voyage. Very nice!
Tomorrow morning, Jim flies back to meet up with me at the cruise terminal, and the trip officially begins!!
I'm going to miss my Jackie boy while I'm gone......
This is Lorenzo, Jim and Aaron's Italian Greyhound. Isn't he adorable??
Last sunset of 2016...
Aaron, Jim, me
New Year's Eve dinner festivities
Jim's dad Jim.
Lorenzo is partying hearty!
Jim's front door. Love this!
Here's some of those cool "golf" carts....
Public bathrooms at the Villages...
This is sunset at my cousin Nik's place. He lives right on the Gulf at Treasure Island.
A little out of order.... our New Year's Eve dinner group photo.
Rainy sunset tonight at hotel.