Wednesday, November 29, 2006

----- A Few Areas On ------
The Navigator Of the Seas

Well, my friends, this is your first view of some of the ship's offerings. The Solarium was beautiful with its hot tub and classic pool. This area was for adults only. Judy and I spent some time relaxing in this area.

Sam, who is 6 months old, was not allowed in the Solarium. He is ready to go to the main pool area with its four hot tubs. Grandma is posing like Esther Williams and is also ready for a poolside adventure.

Wait! What is that sign? "No diapers allowed!"
However, Sam was able to ride the pool sculptures, but his heart was heavy because of his desire to go into the water.

Mom Dodson had everthing under control. Sarah and Sam go to the top deck and enjoy some playtime in the Adventure Ocean area. Sam seems contented here and quickly forgets about being banished from the pool area.

Jeff used the Shipshape Fitness Center often. (Deck 12) One could participate in other sports activities such as golf. (Deck 13)

There was a full sized basketball court on the ship. (Deck 13)

Here is the climbing wall. (Deck 13) This is not a photo of Jeff, but he did scale the wall twice.

We, on the other hand, enjoyed shopping in the Royal Promonade (Deck 5). Shopping and drinking "Seattle's Best" coffee were great.

What can one say about the shows at the Metropolis Theater? (Decks 3 and 4) They were, indeed, super preformances.

Now some of us went to the casino to lose money. (Deck 4)

Here are Shirley and Judy at the Casino Royale. Not certain if they are winning or losing, but I am sure that they are having a great time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cruise Food!

While Edwin was taking care of us in our stateroom, these two fantastic men helped us navigate through the great gourmet meals that were presented. The gentleman on the left in the photo is Tankut who was our waiter. Tankut is from Turkey and has been working on the cruise line for six years. Angel is the shorter of the two and was our assistant waiter. He is from Nicaragua and was so attentive. I do not know how many times I thanked Angel and his response was always "It is my pleasure."

The food on a cruise ship is legendary. A person who has not had the cruise experience could not believe the quality and quantity of the food. Superb food was available 24 hours a day. The Windjammer presented great buffet meals, the Dining Room was always a relaxing experience with such wonderful elegant offerings, and the Cafe Promenade was the place to go for sandwiches and desserts. There were other speciality restaurants that we did not sample.

I am embarrassed to tell you that we missed the midnight buffet with the exquisite ice carvings. We were too tired to venture out after a day at the beach. Life is rough for the retirees on a cruise! I thought you would enjoy seeing the following photos, especially the ones of Sam in his formal attire. There were two nights on the ship where formal attire was required in the dining room.

Here is a sampling of the food. My favorite was the lobster. I had three servings of this crustacean. The cruise folks estimate that most guests gain a pound of day on the ship. I did not disappoint them!

If you are a dessert person, you can probably taste these delights through your monitor.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Boarding and Edwin

As you can see Sam was so excited to get on the ship. As Mom, Dad, and Grandma Shirley wheeled up the gangway, Sam had visions of the good times to come.

The good wife was so thrilled to see our stateroom (6220). She was not disappointed. How wonderful! Everything was so clean, bright, and organized. The balcony allowed us a constant view of the ocean.

We left Miami and headed toward the island of Puerto Rico. Sarah and Jeff are relaxing on their balcony. San Juan was the first port of call.

We can not say enought good things about the staff and crew of the Navigator of the Seas. Below is a person who became an immediate friend. Edwin is from the Philippines and was our cabin attendant. He was so helpful and efficient.

For you folks who have been on cruises in the past, you know the cabin attendants always make animals each evening out of the towels. Edwin was no exception. Each evening we were eager to see what Edwin left on our bed. Chocolates were, of course, always an evening gift. Here are some of Edwins creations.

An elephant!

A Sea Gull!

A Stingray!

A Monkey!

A Dog!

A Swan!

Day One- Miami!

We arrived in Miami on Friday and checked into the Miami Marriott on Biscayne Bay. This hotel was great and was located minutes from the Port of Miami.

We then decided that it was time to eat. We walked to the Bayside Marketplace and ate at Los Ranchos. This is a Nicaraguan steakhouse specializing in marinated and grilled steaks and a selection of chicken and fresh seafood. What a surperb gourmet restaurant at reasonable prices! I had the Emerald Fish and it was outstanding. After our meal, we sipped Cuban coffee and watched the activites happening at the Bayside marina. I would urge you to eat at the Los Ranchos if you are in that "neck of the woods". This was only the start of a series of amazing dining experiences throughout our trip.

Below you see Judy and me standing under a one hundred year old Banyan Tree.

Several banyan trees were growing on the grounds of the marketplace. Native to India, the banyan trees were planted in South Florida in the 1800's. While this tree is over 75 feet tall, banyans can grow to 100 feet and live over 1000 years. You will note how the trees roots descend from the branches and, once they grow to the ground, they will form another trunk.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What a Thanksgiving!

We just returned from a seven day cruise in the Caribbean with Jeff, Sarah, and Sam. This trip was a gift from Sarah and Jeff and was certainly a wonderful experience. The photo above is of our ship, Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, and was taken last Tuesday in port of St. Thomas. The ship was unbelievable - but more about it later. You can take a tour of the ship by clicking on the link below.;jsessionid=00004GeyLQMC1sfsdqeJ3LRLXJ-:10ktmeu5p?br=R&shipClassCode=VY&shipCode=NV

We sailed from Miami on Saturday (18) and visited the ports of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Martens, Naussau, and back to Miami on Saturday the 25th. We have many stories to share through this blog.

Arriving yesterday in Miami we found we had a cell phone message. It was from our son-in-law, John, and he had some thrilling news! While we were in Nassau our third grandchild was born. She is Lucy Mae Meeker and she arrived on Friday. Mom (Rachael) and Lucy are doing well. We are so excited to meet her. I will post the photos of this gal as soon as I get them. Yes, another several entries for our blog!

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Bittersweet Moment

Yes, it is fall in Gilmer County. The bittersweet in our yard is fruiting. It is always a showy display with its yellow and orange berries. I remember as a kid hiking on ridge tops in the fall and seeing the berries of bittersweet. The bittersweet that I saw as a kid was different from the plant we have in our yard. The indigenous bittersweet that I experienced as a young lad is Celastrus scandens , also called “American bittersweet” or “false bittersweet.”

The American bittersweet is an innocuous vine that has ovate leaves and a smooth stem. It has berries appearing at the tips of the vines only. I have not seen the American bittersweet for many years. Would that be because I do not hike the ridge tops anymore?

The bittersweet seen in the photos is the plant growing in our yard, and is Celastrus orbiculatus. This is the oriental bittersweet that has round leaves and a stem that bears blunt thorns. The berries of oriental bittersweet grow along the vine and not just at the tips.
But the biggest distinction between the two is in terms of their environmental impact. For, while oriental bittersweet vines are considered an environmental menace by many, the American bittersweet plant is becoming so rare in some areas that it is now a protected species. It is the oriental bittersweet vines that threaten to kill your trees; while American bittersweet plants are themselves threatened.

I guess that if I did continue to hike the ridge tops in the fall I would not encounter the American bittersweet due to its scarcity.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Judy has finished our king sized quilt. She made this quilt by using the Stack –n-Whack method.

Stack-n-Whack is a way to create quilt blocks with unique kaleidoscope designs. These designs require a set of identical pieces cut from the same print fabric. All these pinwheels were created from the fabric below.

Rather than finding and cutting each piece individually, a quilter can cut and layer a number of large, identical print rectangles to make a stack.

Each triangle or wedge cut from the stack produces a block kit, a set of identical pieces that will create the kaleidoscope effect for one block.

It is amazing to think that the pinwheels in the kaleidoscope are all made from the same fabric.

The quilting was done by Shirl Badgett who with his wife Kathy live in Calhoun County. He is a marvelous long arm quilter.