Friday, March 9, 2012

Western Caribbean Cruise - Texas Real Estate...and the cruise begins!


Our bags are packed, and we're ready to leave for the port. Woohoo! Harry and I have never been on a cruise together, so this is a “first” for us.

Playing a little catch-up, here are a couple of things we did between the last post (Wednesday) and now:

If you live by the water, you have a dock for
your boat(s). Of course.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
On Thursday, we went to look at houses in Kingwood (a very nice suburb), just for grins. These were houses I saw on the internet but thought they were too cheap to be true. But, guess what? They are absolutely fabulous! And they're 1/2 – no, 1/3 – the cost of houses in my neighborhood back home [Note: This was before the housing bubble burst...]. Or even less than that. Unbelievable. And these homes are in beautiful neighborhoods, with large lots, all the amenities, and nice touches – terrazzo, granite, stainless steel, bathrooms the size of...Texas, polished wood galore, closets you could live in comfortably. Ridiculous, palatial square footage AND backyards with flagstone patios, built-in BBQ's, and perfectly placed vegetation. Makes you want to cry. Or buy, whichever.

Cathy and I ran a bunch of errands and delivered “flat rate box” packages to the 24x7 post office, and then we went to Cathy and Fred's church to help set up for the Sunday school class Christmas dinner, which was that evening. All of this pitching in and poking around made me feel very “at home” and part of things, so you know I loved it! The dinner was BBQ, of course. Delicious!

There's a place called Harwin where there are the most amazing bargains to be had. That's where Cathy and I went on Friday to go shopping. Wow! Marvelous shops, incredible prices, the biggest costume jewelry shop I've ever seen. Okay, so I picked up a couple of things that I really, truly needed and couldn't live without. We might have to send out some more of those “flat rate” boxes, as my bags are in danger of being overweight for the flight home already (and we haven't even purchased cruise souvenirs yet).

Cathy's neighbors and friends knew we were coming for a visit, and so we went around the neighborhood to say hello. They would have been hurt otherwise, and they are universally charming, friendly, and hospitable.

For dinner, we ordered pizza, which we ate at the dining room table following mimosas. We used the good silver and had a nice salad in Cathy's special burl wood bowls from Alaska. Oh! And, naturally, we also used the good china. Why not?

NCL's Norwegian Dream
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
After dinner we had some “Blue Bell” (Fred is very serious about his ice cream. It must be Blue Bell brand, and there must be lots of it. Also, it's called “Blue Bell,” not “ice cream.” Makes you smile, yes?) with pumpkin squares. We drank herb tea and listened to classical music until 2 a.m. Bad idea. The 2 a.m. part, I mean, not the music part. That's three super-late nights in a row. Oh, well. We're on vacation!

And so we're up to date, and off we go to the port of Houston and the ship. So exciting! The last time I was on a cruise was a trans-Atlantic crossing with my mom and brother when I was 11 years old. That was some time ago. And this ship is so much bigger. Back then, there was a Great Divide between regular passengers and “first class.” I remember sneaking into the first class sections so I could see how the “other half” lives. And first class was way, way nicer than “our” class, may I just say. But now I'm all grown up (kind of), and nobody is going to stop me from exploring. I feel liberated.

The Gulf of Mexico from our window.
Harry's napping while I'm unpacking. One of the nice things
about cruising is that you're going to a bunch of places, but
you'll only have to unpack once.
Photo by Chris.
We left Houston, passed Galveston, and sailed into the Gulf of Mexico. Within 4 hours of arriving on board, we had already eaten twice. The first meal was kind of a snack/salad/pizza buffet, and the second meal was the “Bon Voyage” BBQ on deck, complete with a pretty good calypso band. Just hearing the calypso music puts you in a relaxed mood in this party atmosphere. I don't know if I can eat dinner later, though, and I'm positive I don't need it!

Our cabin is really nice, with a queen-sized bed, sitting area with loveseat, chair, table, television, and picture window. It is on the “port” side. I don't know what that means yet, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. There are a lot of oil rigs out there, and we are sailing between them. The waters are a little choppy (not bad). It has been unseasonably cold in Houston these past few days.

It's kind of an eerie feeling, sailing off toward the Caribbean. And thrilling. It's very cold on deck tonight, but I hear it'll be warmer tomorrow, when we're closer to Cozumel. Bon Voyage!

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