Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted; Vacation, Had To Get Away

How about a little bit of Go-Go's to start this overdue post? I've been meaning to blog about our recent family vacation but I never feel like I have enough time to sit and dedicate myself to a super long post. I finally decided to do a bit at a time and even if it takes me a week to get through writing this, at least I'll finally finish it.

At the beginning of August, after moving into our new house and emptying our savings, we went on a family cruise to the Bahamas. Cuz, that's how we roll. It actually involved more than the cruise. Melissa, my sis-in-law, and I have been trying for two summers to find a weekend when our two families could spend a weekend at Lake George. The calendar Gods finally aligned and it ended up being the weekend before our family cruise. And just to make things more chaotic, we threw in a side trip to see a Tigers game in Detroit. We all met up Friday evening before the game to have dinner at the Elwood Bar and Grill just outside Comerica Park. We had heard family stories about $2 beers and wanted to check out the place. I'm not sure the rumor is true - my beer was $4 - but the food was good and view was awesome and the company was spectacular. Here's a semi group shot.

I'm bad about paying attention to baseball games. So when Seeger wasn't hanging out with cousin Ben, he and I ate popcorn together.

Nicklas DOES pay attention to baseball games. He stopped long enough to sorta smile at the camera. He loves going to Tigers games.

After the game Friday night, the group made the two drive to the Lake. We arrived pretty late that night but I think everyone enjoyed waking up and putting on their bathing suits right away on Saturday. The kids spent the entire day in the water. They stopped long enough to eat and take a pontoon ride. Matt and Melissa were excited to go on their first booze cruise. The kids liked driving the boat with Uncle John.

Here's my brother with his dog, Spots.

Aunt Kathy and Seeger.

The kids even went swimming AFTER their pontoon ride. My boys have never spent so much time in the Lake. Luckily it's more fun to swim with cousins. It's a proven fact, one I've verified with my own cousins.

We had a wonderful time together and decided that the cousins needs to spend more time together at Lake George. Afterall, it's one of the happiest places in the world.

Matt and his family left the Lake Sunday afternoon. Matt and Melissa were working part of the week before driving to Florida for the cruise. The Polack and I were planning on spending Sunday night at the Lake and leaving for Florida early Monday morning but when we realized we had left one of our suitcases in Bloomington, we made the trip back and slept in our own beds that night. We got up really early Monday morning to start our drive. We weren't out of Indiana yet before Nicklas started to feel car sick so just outside Louisville, we found a Huddle House that was open for breakfast at 5am.

We made it to Bob and Patty's, cousins of the Polack, late Monday night. Tom and Bobbie were already there and so was Aunt Judy. On Tuesday, we slept in, went shopping, went swimming, and ate an awesome meal of BBQ ribs. I thought I had a picture of the family dinner but I can't find it. Boo. It was a nice relaxing day. I didn't get to play Blokus but Seeger made me take a photo of the design he made with the game pieces.

Since the very beginning of the trip planning for the family cruise, I told the Polack that I wanted to take the boys to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's the reason we drove to Florida a few days early. We were able to spend two days at Universal Orlando. Here are the boys, entering the City Walk.

We got to the park pretty early because I knew the Harry Potter lines are really long. Really, really long. I thought it would be best to get there as soon as possible, hoping to avoid some of the people traffic. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea. We had to wait for about 50 minutes to ride the Forbidden Journey (the ride inside the castle). Luckily, that was our longest wait. After the castle, we rode Flight of the Hippogriff, the smaller Happy Potter roller coaster. Here's a photo of the boys waiting for the ride.

It was pretty crowded in the Harry Potter land so we opted to skip the 30 minute line for butterbeers and we headed to the rest of the park. On the way out, I took some photos of Hogsmeade. Universal did an amazing job in creating the Wizarding World. I definitely understand why this is such a popular attraction.

Here are some more photos of our day at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The boys at Jurrasic Park.

Here we are in Dr. Suessland. I love this park of the park. It's very Suessical and fun for younger kids. I still made the boys visit, even if they don't appreciate it.

Outside the Marvel Comic area.

Nicklas loves roller coasters so he was excited about riding the Hulk. By late afternoon, the line was only 5-10 minutes long so he rode it about 10 times. Here he is after conquering the coaster.

Later that day, we decided to head back to Hogsmeade to see if it had calmed down some. The butterbeer line was short so we got one to share. The Polack and Nicklas thought it was too sweet but Seeger and I loved it.

Our last ride of the night was the big Harry Potter coaster, Dragon Challenge. Nicklas rode it three or four times. It was a great coaster. We also did some shopping in Honeyduke's and Ollivander's. I had told the boys they could pick out one souvenier. Nicklas chose to buy a wand from Ollivander's. Even though it's Narcissa Malfoy's wand, it's still really, really cool. Seeger chose to buy some dinosaur's figurines from Jurrasic Park. It was a great day!

The next day, we decided to check out the other park, Universal Studio's. The park was a lot less crowded and we easily did everything it had to offer. Seeger doesn't like big rides but he definitely enjoyed the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster. He rode it at least 15 times. We would talk him in to riding other rides by rewarding him with the Woody coaster.

Mike was cast in the Disaster! ride.

I didn't take nearly as many photos at Universal Studio's. We really enjoyed the ET ride and Men in Black. The boys loved the Simpson's and laughed several times. I liked the Mummy coaster. Seeger was a little freaked out by Twister. We had to keep reassuring him that it was all special effects. It sure brought up a lot of weather related questions.

We had been to Universal Studio's before so we were familiar with most of the rides. However, we hadn't ridden the new coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The Polack went to ride it with Nicklas while Seeger and I waited.

Here's a photo I took of the coaster. I definitely didn't feel like I needed to ride it. But as usual, the Polack talked me in to it so Nicklas got to ride it again, this time with me, while the Polack stayed with Seeger. It was super awesome. You get to choose which music you want to hear as your riding the coaster. They film you the whole time so you can buy a video of yourself on the ride. I'm sure my video was pretty entertaining as I was jamming to No Doubt the whole time.
By the time we returned to Bob and Patty's that night, the cousins had arrived. The kids where so excited to be together again. The next day, we headed to Cocoa Beach to watch a NASA rocket launch before boarding the cruise ship. We went to the beach but unfortunately, we didn't let the kids go swimming. They really wanted to get in the water but we only had a little bit of time and we didn't want them sandy and wet before boarding the cruise.

We let them put their feet in the water. It was torture not letting them get completely wet. I felt awful about it.

We waited and waited for the launch but it kept getting delayed. Finally, we left for Port Canaveral. On the way, we saw the rocket so everyone pulled off to the side of the road to watch. Mike took this photo from the car.

Finally it was cruise time! Here's a photo as we're arriving to our rooms.

Our first meal on the ship was lunch. We were hungry!

Nicklas said those french fries were the best he ever had.

Here are the cousins with Patty, checking out the ship.

Nicklas loved being in the top bunk.

Here's the Polack in our tiny room!

The cabin is great for family time, but not so much for couple time. At least I got some kisses from the boys.

The second day of the cruise, we were headed to Nassau. Tropical Storm Emily messed with some of our plans so we didn't get there as soon as we were supposed to. The ship did a pretty good job of entertaining us. So did Ben! Here's a photo from Bingo time.

We finally made it to Nassau. I loved walking arond and seeing the old Bahaman architecture. It was overcast most of the day and it rained some but luckily, we never got wet.

Here's the straw market. A little too close crowded for my comfort.

Here are the kids as we are heading back to the ship. Our ship is the first one in the photo. We chose Royal Caribbean and we have a rock climbing wall. The other ship is Carnival and they had a water slide.

In front of the straw market.

Some random shots...

Here is a photo of the kids, hanging out in Bob and Patty's room.

Nicklas and Anna did an awesome job on the rock climbing wall. Anna made it all the way to the top to ring the bell.

Goofy cousins.

Swimming at one of the pools. I have another photo of the boys posing in front of the pool but I like this one better.

Here is a photo of Nassau as we are departing from port.

The obligatory towel animal. The boys loved this. We were hoping for more but only received one during the cruise.

We were supposed to go to Coco Cay on our third day of the cruise but unfortunately, the storm prevented that from happening. We were very disappointed about not getting to spend time at the beach. We still had fun on the ship, especially at dinner. The kids loved being able to order anything and everything off the menu. I loved multiple desserts!

I tried escargots for the first time. I enjoyed it but I think I'd love anything with that much butter on it.

More photo's from dinner...

That's it for my photos. Whew, this WAS a long post. I still don't have a camera so all photos were taken with my iPhone. I definitely didn't take as many photos as I would have with a camera. I also didn't get any group shots with the rest of the family. We didn't all do everything together all of the time - which is the nice thing about a cruise - but we definitely did lots of things together. I wish I would have captured more of those moments. There were 14 of us on the cruise and it was great to spend so much time together. It was a wonderful vacation and we're looking forward to the next time we can spend time with the Turner family.

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