This is it! The last afternoon of the trip. Well, technically the flight home will be the last afternoon, but I think you’ll all understand if I don’t include a cramped multi-stop flight from hell from the farthest SE to the furthest NW states in the continent as part of my vacation…
We got back from our Waverunner trips (having missed the “official” lunch buffet) and headed over to the snorkeling equipment booth We had brought our own snorkeling equipment along for the trip to save money, but we were still required to rent a safety vest. “No snorkeling without a safety vest.” You could swim all you want without one, but as soon as you put on a mask or flippers, you were automatically a danger to yourself. The vests were basically what you would get if your plane went down over water. Fun.
After slathering on a bunch more sunscreen, we headed down to the beach to try and find a couple beach chairs to camp out at. That, in itself, was a difficult task. It seemed pretty much everyone on the ship had come over to the island for the express purpose of keeping us from getting some beach chairs. After walking around for a bit, we finally found a couple chairs we could throw our stuff on. After getting all our equipment on (including our fun safety vests 🙂 ) we finally hit the water.
There were a couple of small reefs right off the beach, and from experience we knew those were the best places to go snorkeling. We headed out and took turns with our single underwater camera getting shots of various denizens of the deep. Unlike our first experiences snorkeling (in Hawaii) there was no one around telling us not to stand on the reefs, to look out for sea urchins, to watch out for stinging jellyfish, or anything else. Admittedly this was not a snorkeling excursion (as we were supposed to have earlier), but the lack of safety information was disconcerting. I guess if we were poisoned by a particularly nasty sea urchin, we’d always have our safety vests to save us 🙂 .
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of color down under the water. It was a little murky, and the fish selection was a little drab. There were really only about 6-7 different types of fish, so when we found something unique, we hung around it for awhile.
It wasn’t ALL about the fish, however. Once we go out farther from the beach the murkiness cleared up a bit, and it turns out there was quite a bit of color, even in the plantlife and other critters. I decided to take a bit of video and follow a fish around a bit. As you can see, the waves threw us around quite a bit.
About midway through our snorkeling, a very large flock of birds decided it was time to descend on the area. It was getting late in the day, and I’m pretty sure they knew we’d all be heading back to the ship soon. This, of course, meant they would have their pick of any of the food refuse, etc. that was left behind by us all. Not too dumb…
There was one particularly elusive blue fish (no I don’t know what it was) that was huge, and definitely stood out due to it’s color. Unfortunately, it was also very shy. It seemed every time we tried to get it’s picture, it turned away. I finally tried to get some video of it, but even that was hard.
Well, it was getting late, and we figured it was time to head back to the ship. Apparently we were right – ours was the last shuttle. What we THOUGHT was going to be the last shuttle was next to us, but instead of hauling people, the crew was hauling all the trash that accumulated over the day back to the ship. Can’t let the birds have ALL the leftovers.
But, before we left, Polly had to take care of one more chore. It was a very important part of the trip, so I’m glad she remembered it.
I guess we could have hidden in a cabana or something and “missed” that last shuttle, stayed on the island, and had a longer vacation. Unfortunately, they keep track of everybody going on and off the ship, and they would have found us eventually.
Well, that’s it. The last of our fun off the ship. That evening they had another comedy/musical revue in the onboard theater. It was also good, but by now we were already dreading the flight home the next day. And it turned out to be quite a nightmare getting back home.
We got up fairly early and caught a limo to the Fort Lauderdale airport (flying in and out of Fort Lauderdale was a lot cheaper than Miami). It was nice not to have to worry about a death defying cabby taking us back. We’d seen how they drove in Miami when we spent our first day there. Horns were a vital necessity. We figured a nice limo ride would be a lot more comfortable, and we were right. He took us right to the curb and we spent the next couple hours waiting for our plane.
Shortly after taking off from Fort Lauderdale, our plane started descending again. It turned out there was a potential fire in one of the landing gear wells, at least according to the idiot lights up in the pilot’s cabin. We had to make an unscheduled landing in Tampa. Since it was going to take some time for the plane to be checked out, they singled out the passengers going to Seattle (four of us total) as we were going to have very little time in Kansas City to make our connecting flight. They figured we’d miss our connection, so they sent us into the terminal to schedule a different route. This route would take us through Chicago instead of Kansas City.
Well, when we got to Chicago, our connecting flight was delayed. As a result, we wouldn’t be getting home until 11pm or so. It also turned out that the original connecting flight out of Kansas City ended up being delayed as well. If we had stayed on the original plane we would have gotten home several hours before we actually did! Bummer. And none of this was helped by the fact that Polly had peaked in a flu that had begun a day or two earlier. She was freezing the entire way home, and since H1N1 the airlines don’t carry blankets any more (at least SouthWest didn’t). I bundled her up the best I could and we finally made it home. After a couple days of further relaxation I went in to work the following Monday. However, I ended up leaving work early with the same flu, and was off sick most of the week. NOT the way I wanted to extend my vacation. 🙂
Well, that’s the whole story. The bottom line is that the trip got better each day, right up until we got sick. Kind of like “Well, other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Getting sick was just our karma’s method of evening itself out after a wonderful trip.
Have Fun and Ride Safe,