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I had a furlough day today so I spent it running errands. I had Equi’s 6k mile service done, I went to the bank, the courthouse and to Target. I also picked up a few small Halloween decorations at Joanns. Then I came home, washed a load of clothes, straightened up the living room and decorated for Halloween. When Ron came home from work we went to town and had dinner. Busy day for an off day, but I found this fun little candle at Kohl’s. It was on sale and they also had a purple witch one that I may go back and get. I guess Fall is coming whether I like it or not so I better get ready.

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Someone got Pretty Pretty Princess for her birthday last week. We played a few times earlier and then she decided she would try on all the jewelry at one time.

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Knowing we were going on vacation and would be gone for almost two weeks, Ron and I didn’t do any grocery shopping. We just ate pretty much everything we had, so today it was time to restock. When I got off work, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on everything–lunchmeat, bread, milk, snacks, vegetables, etc. It’s so nice to have food again and not have to eat peanut butter and jelly everyday for lunch. I used coupons and kind of mapped out what I planned to buy. As a result, with things on sale and using coupons, I saved just under $35. I got tons of food, and some more expensive things like shampoo and body wash, for $112. That’s way more than I usually spend at the grocery store, but I tend to go once a week and just pick up a few things that we need. This is the first time I’ve really done any actual food shopping, expect for right after we got married. If all goes well, I shouldn’t need to go to the grocery store for a few weeks. We’ll see.

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I feel like I went away in summer and came back to fall. Yesterday I was sweating in Charleston and now today it’s cooler and rainy. Apparently it has been raining off and on here for days. I’m glad I was able to trade that for sun and warmth. And fall isn’t that bad. There’s the pumpkin patch and Howl-O-Scream. The real thing I don’t like about fall is that it leads to winter. I’m not much on cold weather. At least winter brings spring which leads to summer. See how that works?

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The vacation is over; we’re home. I’m so glad that we went on this trip. It was absolutely amazing. We had no problems traveling, the cruise was awesome, the places were beautiful and wonderful and it felt like a long break. It didn’t go by too fast, like some vacations do. On the way down, we spent the night in Florence, SC before heading to Miami where we spent a night and caught the ship the following morning. Our cruise took us to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos. Then on the way home we spent two nights in Charleston before coming home today. In total, we were gone 12 days and 11 nights. We arrived home earlier today and visited my parents. Tomorrow is my mother’s 50th birthday so I picked her some handmade gifts in Puerto Rico. Also, I try to get my parents Harley Davidson shirts from some of the islands so we had gotten them shirts from the store in St. Thomas. Then when we got home it was time to unpack and give Ron’s family their presents. We also had stuff for ourselves. Everywhere we go, we get a Christmas ornament so we picked up ornaments in Miami, Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, Grand Turk, San Juan and Charleston. We also got an ornament that’s a replica of the cruise ship. We also purchased some other random souvenirs including t-shirts from our stops, candy and photos taken by Carnival. Everything is unpacked now and it’s back to work tomorrow. I feel really blessed to have been able to take this vacation and I’m grateful that we had safe travels. God is good. Now it’s time to pay off this one and start planning another one 🙂

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Tomorrow we head home, but today we saw Charleston! We walked along the waterfront and down to Battery Park, we walked along King and Meeting Streets, we walked through the market and we visited Rainbow Row. Having been to Charleston before, we had a pretty good idea of where everything was and what we wanted to see and do in our limited time here. Something new, which we didn’t do last time, was take a horse drawn carriage. It’s probably not like your thinking. It isn’t a two-person romantic carriage ride through the streets. These two little mules hauled about 16 people in one carriage through the streets as a tour guide shared stories about the homes, history and people of the area. The architecture in Charleston is amazing. When Ron and I finally build a home, I want it to look like some of these. It’s all about porches, gas lanterns, shutters and doors. Also, they have their own unique look. The first people who came to Charleston were accustomed to brick as a signifier or wealth, or actually a lack there of. So what they did when they built their homes, they used brick, but then put a layer of stucco over it. In the stucco, they carved lines so the homes look like they are made out of stone. With a lot of them, if you look on the sides, you can see brick, but the front looks like stone. The older homes have a limestone appearance, while the newer homes or those that have been renovated, have been painted bright colors Carribean-style. An interesting note is that the Civil War was started here in Charleston by a group of wealthy men who believed it wouldn’t be anywhere near the deathly war it turned out to be. Because of this, it’s said Charleston was “punished” and fell into disarray. A home in the 1960’s on the waterfront could be purchased for $65,000. Now, those same homes are worth millions. Unfortunately, they are usually passed down through the generations and while the older generations are passing, the younger ones can’t afford to live in these massive historic homes. The tour guide said the value is in the architecture, but because the structures are so old, they end up being money pits needing massive amounts of upkeep and restoration. We saw a house today that has original Tiffany stained glass windows, installed by Mr. Tiffany himself. The windows, not suprisingly, are covered with bullet proof glass and are worth more than the house itself. It was interesting to see that so many of the homes are up for sale, whereas not many were when we came here almost five years ago. I guess that just goes to show that the economy affects everyone.

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It took almost five years but we finally made it back to Sticky Fingers in Charleston. The food is amazing and Charleston is one of my absolute favorite cities. It’s friendly and walkable, there’s lots to see and do and the architecture is amazing. There’s lots of porches, gas lanterns and wooden shutters. I recommended everyone take the time to visit. All the hotels in the downtown area were either booked or uber-expensive, but we’re only about six miles away. There’s plenty of options just outside downtown so you don’t have to shell out $250 a night to experience the city. I think we’re going to do some more sightseeing tomorrow before heading home Monday and back to work Tuesday. Debarking the ship this morning was a breeze, but I have to admit I miss my nightly towel animals. Hotels should really start doing that.

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Perhaps it’s the child in me, but I really love the towel animals that cruise stewards make and leave on the bed every night. Tonight’s towel creation is two penguins in a pod. Last night, we had a monkey hanging from the ceiling, which is still there actually. We’ve also had a swan, an elephant, a frog, a pig and a dinosaur. I think the steward, Freddie, has realized how much I love my towel animals because a lot of times they will rework the previous night’s animal into something  new, but I still have the frog, pig, dinosaur and monkey, in addition to the new penguins. Sadly, I have to leave my little towel friends tomorrow, but I bought the book on a previous cruise so maybe I can recreate some of them. I’m going to miss the turndown service and twice a day room cleanings. I’m sure Ron will miss the mints on the pillow as well. Although I don’t see any tonight. I’m sure they are around here somewhere. Tomorrow morning we debark, after what has been an amazing vacation, and begin our journey home. The good news is we can take our time, since we don’t have to be home until Monday in order to go to work Tuesday. I’m glad we took this trip; it was such a great vacation, and I pray we, and everyone else, makes it home safely.

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Today, Ron and I visited Grand Turk. and the world famous Govenor’s Beach. It was absolutely amazing. You could snorkel around some coral to see different fish. I have to admit, I don’t see well usually, so snorkeling wasn’t for me. The stupid mask would fog up and then I really couldn’t see anything. And it’s brutal on your hair. The rubber strap get stuck and pulls on it. Ron, however, really enjoyed it. While I only saw one fish, he saw a whole bunch of various colored ones. Lying on the beach was nice. The people there played music, mostly songs played in my Zumba class so I had to resist the urge to groove, and had a bar with sodas and other drinks. A woman was also grilling up food, but we never ate anything. After leaving the beach, we did a little shopping before heading back to the ship. Today was our last port day, now we have a day at sea tomorrow before we arrive back in Miami on Saturday. Our vacation is far from over though; we don’t have to be back to work until Tuesday!

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Today, Ron and I visited San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were in both the old and new parts of the city and I have to say, I absolutely love it. It’s warm, there are neat little streets and markets, it’s just amazing. Now, I have to admit this is my first time traveling somewhere that doesn’t have English as the primary language. Everything, from street signs to maps, are in Spanish in Puerto Rico. Which is interesting and difficult, at first, but then you find yourself taking on a Spanish accent and saying things like “Navidad” and “Calle.” I won’t really go into why we were trying to say Christmas except that Ron and I collect Christmas ornaments from everywhere we travel to. Poor lady had no idea what we were looking for and we didn’t remember “Navidad” until it was far too late. I’m really glad we got to experience a bit of what Puerto Rico has to offer. We toured the city and the Bacardi Distillery, which gave us a broader glimpse of the area as we traveled by bus to the factory. And our driver was amazing. She was full of good information and little trivia about Puerto Rico. Also, I love that you can be stopped at a red light and someone will come to your car selling donuts and bottled water. That’s something we should definitely start doing in the states. Forgot the drive-thru, all you have to do is obey traffic laws to buy a snack. Tomorrow we head to Grand Turk, but I definitely want to come back to Puerto Rico and spend more time here exploring all it has to offer.