“kelsey, is it 5:30?”
“hm. yes…OH! whoopsies!” we had planned to wake up at 5 a.m. to get packed and off to marta, but clearly that was not the case.
“well, let’s get a move on then!” my dad and i hopped to it all, quickly scrambling to get everything together. makeup would have to wait until later, as we really were running quite behind.
out the condo we shot, over to the parking deck, and through the marta gates. as we fumbled down the stairs in the most graceful of ways, i heard the screeching brakes of the approaching train.
“dad, we really should make this train.” that was enough to get him moving, alright. we swept through the train doors and threw ourselves into the seats.
“just in time!” i rejoiced, smirking at my dad. if you know anything about ‘ole milo, it’s that he really likes to be early and really hates being right on time. oh, and if you were wondering, being late with him isn’t even an option.
“yeah, great. we’ll call this weekend the just-in-time tour. jit tour!”
“that’s it! that’s the theme for the weekend!” all he could do was shake his head.
a short ride later we found ourselves in the long, windy check-in line for southwest. “yikes,” i thought to myself. the line was moving, at least, thanks to the many kiosk attendants. soon enough our bags were checked, the boarding passes were printed and in hand, and then came the sea of people awaiting security.
everyone around us was muttering, “i’ve lived in atlanta all my life and have never seen the security line so backed up.” i won’t lie; that line was looonnnnggg. and with only 50 minutes until departure, i was starting to feel the pressure. but! i kept a cool façade for milo’s sake.
“don’t forget! this is the just-in-time tour!” i’m not so sure he was amused this time…
by the grace of God we had somehow ended up in the quicker line, so we were in, through, and out in about 20 minutes. in a dash we were put back together, down the escalator, aboard the plane train, up the escalator, and deposited at gate c20 just as they were boarding our zone. how do we do it? it must be a gift. milo probably wouldn’t say the same, though. but hey! we made it!
the plane ride was uneventful and pleasant in seats 20d and 20e. the kids all around us piped down eventually, and we were able to grab a few winks of sleep and hold some good conversation before touching down in fabulous los angeles.
let me say one thing really quickly: i don’t typically dress up for flights, but knowing that we’d be in l.a. and even more so that i would be with my stylish cousins, it was an occasion to indulge. my day 1 outfit was courtesy of target (dress and vest) and michael kors (accessories!). and i truly cannot get enough of my heart-shaped sunglasses. i fit right in, yes?
off the plane we were, and there was my aunt cindy to retrieve us. although i’d just seen her in birmingham for the thanksgiving holiday last year, it felt like it’d been much longer. our family always seems to pick right up where we left off, though, so we were a chatty trio upon arrival.
my aunt cindy is the youngest of her siblings milo and craig. she has lived in san pedro all her life and now enjoys her days with uncle jeff and her three daughters sara, ali, and kate. they’re like the sisters i never had growing up, and it’s just such a joy to be around them all! at least i think so.
on the way back to aunt cindy’s house, my dad and i insisted that we stop at in’n’out, especially considering our lack of breakfast. oh darn! well, if we have to eat in’n’out, i guess it’s not the worst thing.
p.s. in case you aren’t picking up what i’m putting down, my family loves in’n’out. if we could only get one on the east coast…
we took our lunches home and had just enough time to eat and run errands before we were meeting at uncle craig’s. there was some pre-gaming to be done! eventually we were all together at his house, all 12 of us! it was another good group: uncle craig and aunt janie, erin and shawn, brian, uncle jeff and aunt cindy, sara, ali, kate, milo, and me. wait. did i even mention the reason for the occasion? well, ha! we were celebrating uncle craig and aunt janie’s 60th birthdays. it’s become a new tradition, as of milo’s surprise weekend in vegas last year, and their daughter erin was helping continue it by planning a mexican getaway via cruise. i know! fun!
a few shots of fireball later we were loaded up and out the door. how convenient that we were leaving out of long beach, just a few miles away. gosh, isn’t california the greatest? after shuffling through customs, we were bombarded at our first photo station. everyone had warned me about the photographers. wait, why did i have to be warned? because this cruise was my first cruise! and it was my first international trip! how exciting that you’re along for the ride!
then, there we were: the gangplank. the cruise was officially beginning! and i think we were all pretty excited. as we stood there, my dad and i seriously could not get over how beautiful the weather was. i’m talking no humidity, 72, and a refreshing breeze in the air. i could have just sat in the sun out there for three days and been in heaven.
i stepped aboard the carnival imagination, and the air was electric. i actually felt like i was in a las vegas casino with all the decor and energy. kids in bathing suits were running about, already having jumped in the pool. tourists were snapping pictures left and right. it actually was quite a bit to take in all at once. we also took some classic cruise photos at the main staircase. i mean, we were tourists, too.
first things first, the rooms! the elevator switfly took us down to the main deck, and we found our bags waiting just outside the doors for our arrival. i swung the door open and was actually pleasantly surprised. i had expected our quarters to be quite cramped, but the accommodations were plenty spacious. i suppose it helps that i kept the overpacking to a minimum, with the exception of the shoes. i always pack too many pairs of shoes.
we put everything in its place and met up on the lido deck, as some exploring was in order. the music was already at full blast on the dance floor, and folks all around were already enjoying the libations. we had just enough time for a couple laps around the pool before we were called to our muster stations. our mustard stations? no, muster, as in, muster some gumption! no, i’m kidding. in all seriousness, the muster station is the spot where we were to gather in the event of an emergency. we got the life vest demonstration from one of the crew members and then were dismissed. aye aye, captain!
we figured drinks on the deck was a fine thing as any, so we claimed some tables and chairs for the crew. ha, see what i did there? i called our large group a crew, you know, because we’re on a ship. are those crickets i’m hearing? alright, then. upward and onward!
it was such a wonderful way to begin the cruise – cocktails in the sun with the family. ah, life is grand!
i will say this one thing, though. i had been excited for a grand send-off, a bon voyage moment, but the ship didn’t even blow its horn as we departed! a tad anti-climactic if you ask me.
we spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun, went back to our rooms to freshen up an hour or so later, and then met for our first dinner at 8:15 in the spirit dining room. now, before i came out here, people were just raving about all the food you get to eat. and how fabulous that it’s all included! well, that is part of the deal now, isn’t it? anyway! we were quickly seated at table 325 and introduced to our waiter alex. his accent was strong, but he spoke kindly and warmly, welcoming us all.
alex took our drink orders and then passed out menus. i was impressed with how much they were offering. but, as we know, quantity doesn’t always mean quality. just saying! everyone had also mentioned that you could order as many appetizers and entrees and desserts as your stomach desired. the sky would be the limit! well then, with that kind of attitude, bon appetite!
to name just a few of the dishes, we enjoyed navy bean soup (quite nice), tuna (it looked delicious), alligator bites, shrimp cocktails (seemed a bit of a waste with all the garnish), braised short rib with grilled onions and corn casserole (so much meat! delicious corn!), salmon and rice patties (they were very oversalted), tiramisu, cherry pie a la mode, molten chocolate cake (that was quite rich and more pudding like, which was fine by me), and fig bread pudding (which was better without the sweet creme). pictures to come soon!
as we took the last bites of our desserts, the weight of my eyelids became almost unbearable. we excused ourselves from the table, and i parted ways with the group at the staircase to get some sleep. vacationing is hard work!