Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Wow… it’s been several months, very long and very challenging months.. happy to have the start of a new year upon us!

Since I last posted… Acadia National Park reopened!  The government still has some major issues to resolve.. but, whatever… I wrapped up my last (allegedly) of five full seasons in Bar Harbor, and New England, moved back to Plant City, started in my new role as the Operations Manager in Tampa, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my thirtieth birthday!  Whew!

The season in Tampa started mid-November, although I felt like I had been on the go from mid-August!  It’s been a challenging few months moving into my new role, constantly learning and adjusting… it’s been a mix of highs and lows as I learn to manage people, and it’s amazing to think that there is still more to learn!  Crazy, right?  Extremely thankful that the season in Tampa is seasonal… for one, I know the itch to travel is going to hit soon!

Richard has been traveling a lot for work, so it feels like we have switched roles..  He headed to Virginia with his father for Thanksgiving (to go hunting, of course) and spent time with Grandma Jane and other family, while I headed over to Mom’s for a relaxing week, and Alex joined us for a lovely meal at home.

After much traveling for work, Richard was finally home a few days before Christmas, and we headed back over to Mom’s and crashed at her place for a few days.  It was quite nice to relax, celebrate Christmas, eat delicious foods and not have to clean up!  We didn’t do any decorating this year… mainly because Richard was out of town and I am not a fan of going into the attic, but I knew I didn’t want to have to clean up either!  Mom got a fabulous black Christmas tree this year, and decorated with white and silver, it was gorgeous!  At work, the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas helped us to celebrate the holidays too, we decorated the terminal and the team wore fun hats… the ship gave us a delicious cake too!

A most fabulous end to 2013 was my fabulous dirty thirty birthday party!  (this deserves a post of its’ own!) ….and I am waiting on the pics from Alex too!

What a week!  No, make that three weeks, it has been.

Life this fall has been ever so busy…. which I guess is better than the alternative… lol

I had the awesome opportunity to participate in Royal Caribbean’s Train the Trainer on board the Majesty of the Seas from September 9 thru 13.. what a beautiful ship!  Royal Caribbean hosted a week long training seminar that concentrated on the Oz Principle, Living Above the Line and Thinking Outside the Box.  It was a great week, and I am excited to share what I learned with the rest of the team at home… I hope they benefit as much as I did.

I won’t bore you with the details of the training… but here are some great pics of the trip!

We joined the vessel Monday in Miami, after an early morning and several really long hours on a flight, I finally made it.

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Tuesday we were in Nassau, Bahamas, and got to enjoy an afternoon stroll around town and a great tour of Atlantis!  Some of the girls and I headed back on board and had dinner at Johnny Rockets… I haven’t eaten there in years!

Wednesday was CocoCay, Bahamas, RCCL’s private island… we hung out on the beach and soaked in the sun, it was beautiful…

Thursday was Key West.. I hadn’t been there since Richard and I were dating!  We had lunch at Sloppy Joe’s – YUM!

Friday was back to Miami, and back to Bar Harbor.. a great week, and I am definitely recharged for the fall!

What a trip!

A short three day journey into Baltimore was lots of fun, and I left wishing I had been able to spend more time there.  Arriving early Wednesday morning, I had a chance to explore the Inner Harbor area, and found the Seven Foot Knoll Light at Pier 5… very cool!

The RCCL Grandeur of the Seas was returning from their 45 day dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, after the unfortunate incident that occurred on May 27, read this if you missed the original story.  The last time I was on Grandeur, it was in Tampa, and it was my first year as the Port Agent!  Time flies!!

Wednesday afternoon was spent at the terminal, participating in a refresh training offered by the head office.  We headed out to dinner at Sullivan’s, http://sullivanssteakhouse.com, which was a fabulous steakhouse downtown.

Thursday morning I checked out of my hotel and headed back to the pier.  We were preparing to meet and embark approximately 1600 travel agents for a one night cruise to nowhere, which was sponsored by RCCL.  It was a neat opportunity to give the travel agents a chance to check out the repaired and recently revitalized vessel…. lucky me, I was invited to saill away with them!  What a great night!  Lots of events happening on board, live music and entertainment.

Friday morning was back to the pier, and we geared up for a full day of check-in, it was the first cruise since the fire, and everyone was ready for travel!  This was the ad running in the local area to welcome back the Grandeur.  🙂

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As usual, this last month has been fairly hectic and I am slacking again on sharing with the world the most recent excitement in our lives.

The Vaughan’s came to Bar Harbor!  Richard spent a whole week, count ’em… 7 WHOLE DAYS!  In the past, he has only had the opportunity to come up for the weekend, and we attempt to cram a month’s worth of catching up in some very short hours.  This time…. it was awesome!  My in-laws were also able to join us for a week’s worth of adventures… and seeing that it was over 4th of July holiday.. it was an booming week of fun!

Richard arrived from North Carolina.. where he had spent the weekend training at a church the company had just recently installed some equipment in.  It was a nice surprise.. as he arrived about 5 hours earlier than we had originally planned.  His parents were driving up from Florida, and made several stops along the way, with family and friends, and arrived early afternoon on Monday.

Our first night, we headed over to Stewman’s Lobster Pound, http://stewmanslobsterpound.com, for dinner.  My father-in-law dug into a full downeast lobster experience… clam chowder, lobster, mussels, corn, potatoes and blueberry pie!

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Richard’s Downeast Lobster Experience

With rain expected for Tuesday, we headed into Acadia National Park.. I don’t care what the weather is like, the Park is beautiful every time.  We hit Park Loop Road and saw all the highlights: Sieur de Monts Spring, the Abbe Museum, Park Loop Road, Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Bass Harbor Head Light, Sea Wall… the Jesup Path was amazing… Richard remembered walking it on one of his first visits to Bar Harbor… we headed back out to find it, and some wildlife along the way.

The next morning may have been the highlight of the whole trip… at least, for the boys.  As a Father’s Day gift, the boys hopped into an open cockpit biplane, http://acadiaairtours.com/biplane_flights, and took off for about 18 minutes of exhilarating fun!

We headed back into Acadia National Park with a box lunch in hand… and to Otter Cliffs, which is one of my new favorite locations.

And then we headed up to South Bubble and Balance Rock… one of my absolute favorite hikes!  It is sooooo gorgeous once you get up to the top, and the hike up isn’t so bad either.  Keeping in mind that it had been raining in Bar Harbor for what felt like days on end, it was quite a wet hike up, but totally worth the view from the top.

We rounded out the evening with a trip up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, and watched the sunset from the Blue Hill Overlook – it was spectacular!

July 4th!  One of my absolute favorite days in Bar Harbor…. simply because it is celebrated small town style.  What that means specifically…. good ole’ fashioned pancake breakfasts, a parade with more than 1,000 participants, lobstah races in the baseball fields, arts and crafts market, lobstah meals, ice cream, pies and other yummy desserts for sale, to raise money for local non-profits and other local groups.  We headed to Cherrystones for breakfast, and front row seats of the parade, it is always so much fun to see what the floats will look like every year!  After, we headed down to the ball park.. it was sooooo hot that day, and a Sno-Cone was in order!  While waiting for the fireworks over the Harbor later that evening, we headed to Pirate’s Cove for a little competitive putt-putt, http://www.piratescove.net/bar-harbor.  I lost.  Good news?  I got a free ice cream across the street at Udder Heaven, http://udderheaven.com!  The fireworks were awesome… best I have seen in 5 years, check it out here!

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Friday was back to work, and the in-laws were leaving the island.  What a fun week!

SO… after what feels like months of planning… Uncle Billy’s Super Secret 50th Birthday Bash went off without a hitch!  (well, maybe just some small hitches…)

Alex flew up on Tuesday night before the party, and we had some great plans…  Wednesday was a late morning sleeping in, and lots of rain, we took a drive thru Acadia National Park and bummed around town.

Thursday was an exciting day!  #46 on my bucket list was accomplished… ROCK CLIMBING!!  I have been driving by the Atlantic Climbing School for the last five seasons in Bar Harbor, just waiting on the opportunity (and someone who is willing) to go climbing!  It was absolutely exhilarating and exhausting..

Everyone else started to come into town on Friday…. I went off to work, and Alex went up to the airport to collect Mom.  Everyone else was driving in… arriving between 6:00 and 6:30pm.  My stomach had butterflies.. so excited!!!   The timing was close… Uncle Billy was under the impression he was coming up to the spend the weekend with Dad and I.. Aunt Heidi was in on the BIG secret…. everyone had met at Rupununi’s, http://www.rupununi.com, on the back deck… and hid away, waiting for Uncle Billy’s grand entrance!  You can watch the grand entrance by clicking on this link.  It was so awesome that everyone came together to celebrate Billy’s 50th birthday!  Later that night, we headed down to Cottage St. Pub, a hole in the wall in town, but a fabulous little pub!

Saturday morning came early…. plans had been altered many times over the weeks leading up to the Birthday Bash Weekend, but ultimately, we headed out on the 12noon Whale Watch with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, http://www.barharborwhales.com.  This was when the most major of the hitches occurred…. apparently, the Voltz’s are subject to motion sickness… quite a few of the folks on board experienced sickness… but, overall, I think we saw 9 whales, 2 lighthouses, seals, puffins, seagulls, otters, and it was very cool!  Aunt Debbie was contracted to provide some Team Voltz shirts, which we all wore while on the cruise!

And Saturday night was THE Big Event.  Hosted at CherrySTONES Restaurant, https://www.facebook.com/CherrystonesRestaurant, and the amazing cake was made by Morning Glory Bakery, http://www.morningglorybakery.com, the one of the highlights had to the gag gifts… no real/regular gifts were allowed, and everyone came thru!  Hilarious items such as a huge universal remote control, a bed pan, an old wind bag, hemorrhoid cream, a 50-count bag of marbles, and other hilarious items added to the laughter.

What a week!

Time has flown… but I finally got around to the breakdown of our week in Ireland, which flew by the way…

Friday:  after a LOOOOOOOOONG flight, we finally land in Dublin about 5:15am… I breeze thru EU Passport Control (with my awesome new Irish passport!) and gather all luggage while waiting for the Mom and Webster to pass through the US Passport Control line.  Frank, Anita, and Jackie land about 30 minutes after us… and we meet up with them at the luggage carousel.  Awesomeness!!  Now, the week can begin!!  We head to the Conrad Hilton, which was amazzzzzing, and just crashed.  Once refreshed, the rest of the day consisted of St. Stephen’s Green and a tour down Grafton St., and Temple Bar for an early meal.

Saturday:  There was definitely no early start to the day…. but we were lucky enough to have breakfast as part of our hotel package, and then went about exploring the more touristy bits of Dublin.  The most important item on everyone’s list was Trinity College, http://www.trinitycollege.edu, and the Book of Kells.  Guinness was also on the “must do” list, and we headed that way for a self guided tour of the brewery, and taste testing at the Sky Bar!  It was amazing to take in the city of Dublin from one of the tallest points.. it was Mom’s first time up, and she couldn’t get over how small Dublin is, once you see it from above.  After a hard day of sightseeing, we head off to Maynooth, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maynooth, and checked into our lovely little B&B, The Aaronbeg, http://www.aaronbeg.com.  The lady of the house is just so sweet, and the house is warm and inviting.  We hit the door running, over to the Avenue Cafe, http://www.avenuecafe.ie, for a spectacular dinner before the main event at The Roost, http://www.louisfitzgerald.com/roost…..drum roll please…. Mel’s Surprise Birthday Party!   Mel was soooo shocked, and we had a great time partying the night away.  Niamh had set up so we would have a corner of the bar, and only our group was allowed.  It worked out great, with quite a few guests, and lots of laughs!

Sunday:  After another morning of trying to get over the jet lag… we headed back in to Dublin, this time staying at the Kilmainham Hilton.  Sunday night’s plans were to meet at the Arlington Hotel Bar, for an evening of Irish music and dancing…  but before heading out to meet with the others, Mom, Mel, Jackie, Webster and I headed to the Clontarf Castle, http://www.clontarfcastle.ie, for dinner.  After closing down the Arlington, we headed out to find another location to drink the night away… which is surprisingly difficult to do on a Sunday night in Dublin!

Monday:  Morning started out somewhat early than the others, when he headed across the street to check out the old Kilmainham Gaol, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol, for a history lesson and tour.  Mel met us at the hotel and we were going to the second big event of the week… the fortune teller!  Always an interesting experience… and totally worth the wait, at the local pub of course, Boomers Bar.  🙂  After some sharing of fortunes, Frank and Anita were kind enough to drop Webster and I off at the train station, for our trip to Cork!  We checked in to another cozy B&B, the Auburn House, http://www.auburnguesthouse.com.  Once again, pleasantly surprised with the warm and inviting interior and yet another lovely couple running the place.  After much deliberation, we headed out to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, http://www.cathedral.cork.anglican.org, because I wanted to see what it looked like when all the lights were lighting it up from the outside.. we took a wander through the cemetery and I was in awe of the design of the place!  After moseying around for a bit, it was decided dinner and drinks were next on the to-do list, and we found Sin E, http://www.corkheritagepubs.com/pubs/sin-e, and then further down the road was The Fish Wife, https://www.facebook.com/thefishwifecork, and they delivered dinner across the street to the The Cork Arms, which is a tiny, fabulous little pub with such a cozy atmosphere!  (are you starting to build a picture??  everything in Europe is just cozy!)

Tuesday:  Back to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, however, this time we were welcomed by an open door, and folks who were happy to share a bit of history with us.  It was so neat to see the inside of a cathedral with so much history!  After we tore ourselves away, we headed back to the B&B to hook up with Frank and Anita… and headed out to Blarney Castle, http://www.blarneycastle.ie!  What an incredible experience…. I was having so much fun imagining what the castle looked like in its day, and I wished I could step back in time, just to see its magnificence!  We climbed to the top of the castle… amidst winding staircases and stone walls to kiss the Blarney Stone, explored the Gardens, the Wishing Steps, the Rock Close and the Witch’s Kitchen.. all of it, amazing.  We headed back to Dublin that afternoon, and met up with Niamh and the kiddies.. I can’t believe how big the all kiddies are!

Wednesday:  We headed out for our final day in Ireland!  Trim Castle, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast/TrimCastle, was first on the list… Mel dropped Jackie, Webster and I off, and we headed in… what a view!  Again… I wished I could spend some time in the era, and see what Trim Castle really looked like in medieval times!  After what I think was two hours, and a very cool tour, we hooked up with Mom and Mel and wandered through the Town of Trim, and did a little shopping!  We headed up to Blanchardstown Centre, which is a mecca of shopping!!!  Really?  We just headed to Penneys!!!  What an awesome way to spend the day…. I got some really cool finds!  Dinner was in Dunshaughlin, at the Country Club Restaurant with EVERYONE, and then we headed back to Mel’s for dessert and drinks.

It was such a great week, although it passed much too quickly!  It was wonderful to have friends and family along, even if they did invite themselves….. it’s a free world, right Frankie??? 🙂  Can’t wait to plan my next trip, and I wonder where I will go… suggestions anyone??

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Jumping back in time, to fill you in on our awesome weekend cruise to celebrate my birthday (a few days early.)

Mom and I had a great time, out on Thursday, back on Monday – one stop in Cozumel, and it was soooooo relaxing.  I think all I did all week was sleep, eat, read my book(s), and chill.

The first night was an early night, as it always is after a full day of work, but we had a lovely sunset.

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The next day, we took easy… breakfast care of room service, lovely sunshine on the balcony… and then we headed up to the pool deck.  After scouting out some lounge chairs, we finally found two in the sun.  The second night on board was formal night in the dining room, so Mom and I dressed up, and headed out to the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception and then dinner.  It’s always so lovely to see everyone dressed up!

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Later that night we had another beautiful sunset….

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Saturday, we docked in Cozumel, Mexico…. we have definitely spent many a day here, and it was just as we remembered.  I think there was a little more construction done, and it seems as though the town is booming with tourism.  Mom and I took a taxi into town, wandered around some of the shops, and found a little hole in the wall for lunch, called “Woody’s Bar and Grill,” you would think it would be super American, but it was a great Mexican food at cheap rates!  Across the way, we found a little Mexican woman, who put henna tattoos on our feet and ankles…

We headed back to the ship, and up to the pool deck… and this time had no problems finding lounge chairs, and finished the afternoon out with people watching and book reading.

Sunday was our final day of relaxing, and enjoying the holiday decoration up around the ship.  The massive Christmas tree in the centrum was beautiful, and huge!  We hit the shops, but didn’t find anything more exciting than what we already had.  We were invited to a lovely dinner in Chops Grille, one of the two specialty restaurants on board.  The Hotel Director, John, and F&B Manager, Tony, treated us for my early birthday dinner – I had the filet and it was lovely.

Monday was my 29th birthday, and I had to work!  The Bridge surprised me with a lovely birthday cake and a chorus of off key singing at the end of the day.

Richard’s sister and family were at our house when I got home.  Kristin cooked a great meal, we (barely) managed to stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV.  What a great weekend!

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