San Juan, Puerto Rico – Day 4 / Oasis of the Seas Cruise

Day 4 (our 3rd full day) on our Oasis of the Seas cruise, we pulled into the port in San Juan Puerto Rico.

We had just started working on getting off the boat for our excursion on shore and suddenly things came to a halt. Suddenly no one was being let off of the ship any longer. What is going on? It took a while, but finally the departing of the ship continued again. Alot of peope missed their shore excursions because of the delay.

Our group was supposed to do a tour of old town San Juan. But where did we end up? The Mall of San Juan. Who wants to go to San Juan to and go to the mall. What is going on? We went with the flow. We had lunch at a restaurant where we ate outside. We had a slight view of the airport, and a view of something very exciting to me. I’m a huge Fast and Furious fan. The grand finale of Fast Five was filmed on a bridge in San Juan. We crossed that bridge to get to the mall, and there was a view of that bridge from where we ate outside at the mall. That was pretty darned exciting for me.

After we finished our meal at the mall, we were told that we were going to be able to take a quick tour through old San Juan. We drove around old San Juan and were taken to the oldest cemetery in San Juan that is called “Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery”. Actually, it was a beautiful cemetery. We got out there and took some photos and then were loaded back onto our bus. At this time, it was about time to head back to the ship.

We were like “what happened”. Why did we end up at all mall and why was our trip through old San Juan so short? Well, eventually we were given our answer. There was protesting going on in old San Juan when we arrived. As we had just starting departing from the ship, San Juan authorities were concerned for our safety, so told the ship to stop us from leaving the ship. Once they let us leave the ship, of course alot of people missed their adventure that they paid for. Since our excursion was supposed to be a tour of Old San Juan, and that was where the protesting was going on, we were taken to the mall until things kind of settled down. When things settled down, what time was left, we were able to take a quick trip through Old San Juan.

Here are a few photos from today.

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Last night’s towel animal – Stingray

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Passed this Dole barge as we were heading into San Juan

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San Juan skyline and mountains in the background

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Closer view of San Juan and mountains

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As we were nearing San Juan port, this “Pilot” zoomed past

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View of San Juan as we came from in between the 2 docked ships

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Alot of my photos were taken from a moving bus today. Thought this interesting the way the people in this apartment stored their bicycles.

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Was definitely surprised that we were in San Juan and going to a mall

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When we were having an outdoor lunch at the mall, you could watch the airport traffic landing and taking off

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I just thought it was so cool to see the bridge that was in the grand finale’ of Fast Five

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Heading back into downtown San Juan. Nice shot of cloud / sun over San Juan.

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Driving past the capital of San Juan

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This is the only place that we got out after leaving the mall. Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery.

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Heading back to the ship

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Captured San Juan at night as we were pulling out of port

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Tonight’s tower animal – think it’s an elephant

Labadee, Haiti – Day 3 / Oasis of the Seas Cruise

Day 2 (or our first full day), we spent the entire day cruising on the ocean. Did a little exploring of the ship. Had some great food. Went to a great concert. Great day with family and new friends.

On Day 3 (2nd full day), was sound asleep and a slight jarring of the ship woke me up. Mom and Teresa were still sound asleep. I peeked through the curtains and low and behold. Land. And even better, mountains. Of course I grabbed my camera right quick and out onto the balcony I went. As the ship was pulling up to the dock, captured some photos. Wanted to get some photos from the top of the ship, so threw on some clothes and took off. There were some people leaving the ship as soon as we docked. I guess they had early morning reservations for some adventure.

Went back to the room and we all got ready and went and had breakfast. I was amazed with those breakfast spreads. Their chefs / cooks are amazing. Which reminds me of the employees on the ship. All employees wear name tags and what country they are from. I don’t recall seeing any ship employee from the United States. It was interesting looking at their name tags and seeing all the different countries that they were from.

So, after breakfast, our group met and we left the ship for our shore excursion on the private beach resort. 3 of the gals had purchased a zip line package. The rest of us were just going to play it by ear.

We first took off on a tram ride across the resort area. The tram consisted of a tram pulled by a blue tractor. It’s not a huge area, so the ride didn’t take all that long. Between the beach on the outer side of the island, and the beach on the lagoon side, there is a pretty good sized shopping area where the locals sell their wares. Hear that they pressure you big time through here, so we decided that we probably wouldn’t shop in this section.

After the ride, people were lining up for lunch. The ship personnel put together a great spread in a couple of locations. After lunch, most everyone took to the shade. Not me. I was ready to explore and take photos. I wanted to get to the other side of the island without having to go through the pressurized shopping area. I found a path. I first found a walkway up a hill. Once at the top, it seemed like many years ago it may have been an old bath house. Took a few photos and continued on the main trail. Passed a more private beach where people probably paid a pretty good price to be on a beach that wasn’t as crowded. Kept on walking and eventually arrived at a very popular beach in the lagoon. My goal was to get some ship photos from across the lagoon. I loved taking photos of that ship. I was always enthralled at the size. After getting my photos there, headed back and met up with the others.

There was one last thing that I wanted to do. There was a pathway near the spa that took you to an outcropping of rocks called “Dragons Breath”. As I was walking towards the outcropping, saw a ship employee unlocking the gate. What timing. If I had gone earlier, I would have thought it was a place you weren’t allowed to visit because of the locked gate and wouldn’t have seen this. Walked out on the outcropping and the mountain and beach views were great. The ocean water was hitting the rocks and creating a spray. But, why is this called Dragons Breath? When you go out towards the tiny gazebo like structure, there is a hole in the rocks. When the water hits the rocks and recedes, it sounds like there is “breathing” sound coming out of the hole. It was very cool.

Okay, time to meet up with family and friends and head back to the ship. Tomorrow? San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Went a little photo crazy on this one.

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Our first full day on the water. No land in sight. Sun reflecting on the water.

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And then looking in the other direction. Our room was on 6th floor above the lifeboats.

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Liked coming into the room in the evenings with beds turned down and an animal made out of a towel

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Arriving in Labadee, Haiti. My first view of land.

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View in the other direction

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Being greeted by people on jet skis

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Looks like some little homemade boat

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Decided to see what things looked like from the top of the ship

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Mountain / bay view

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As soon as the doors opened, a slight few people taking off for a day of adventure

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Nice view from other side of ship

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As we were leaving the ship, zoomed in on people already enjoying one of the beaches

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Pretty / clear / rocky water

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Looking back at that awesome ship

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Wendy, Tammy, and Kat posing for a photo before going to do their practice run prior to the official zip line run

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Welcome to Labadee

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Gives you an idea of what you will be seeing today

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Musicians greeted us as we entered. Mary Jo showing off her dancing skills.

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Mary Jo, June, Teresa, mom, and myself. You see the tractor to the right that pulls the tram.

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That’s where the gals will be going, on top of that mountain, for their zip line adventure

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On the tram, going through the area with shopping shacks

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While the others were standing in line for lunch, I ran out to take some photos of the outer beach

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And while I was taking some beach photos, here came some zip-liners

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Fruit sculpture

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Great little spot for shopping

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This has me baffled

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Heading up to what ended up being like an old bath-house area with slight views

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This was the best view that I got up at the old bath-house

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One of the beaches

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Another beach view

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One of my best ship photos from one of the beaches

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Heading to Dragons Lookout Point

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See that gazebo in the background? That is approximately where you hear the dragons breath.

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View of the outer beach from the path to Dragons Breath

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This was the best photo that I could get of the water crashing against the rocks

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We’re back on the ship. Ready to capture photos from our departure.

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Continuing our departure from Labadee

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As we sailed around the bend, another mountain range in the background

Cocoa Beach, FL – Day 1 / Oasis of the Seas Cruise

I took my first cruise ever, back in February. It was on Oasis of the Seas. I was told that Oasis of the Seas used to be the largest ship on the ocean, but now it’s the 2nd largest.

Of course there are all kinds of family’s and groups on the cruises, but we were with the Music City Cruise Show. “We” being me, mom and my sister Teresa. Some of mom and Teresa’s friends that they meet up with at Michael English concerts were also on the cruise.

We started out our day waking up at Hampton Inn in Cocoa Beach. Yesterday there was supposed to be a launch of SpaceX from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was delayed until Sunday morning. We went out onto the beach with alot of other people for the 9:39AM launch. Unfortunately it was a cloudy morning. I was watching for the launch to occur at the 2 launch pads that you could see from Cocoa Beach. But, it launched west of those launch pads and I wasn’t able to get a photo. By the time I honed in on the rocket, it went up behind the clouds. Oh well.

Later in the day we headed for Port Canaveral and started the boarding process. I figured with all of those people that it was going to take forever to board the ship. Let me tell you. Those people sure have things together. It didn’t take all that long to go from start, to boarding the ship. Of course never being on a ship, I was amazed at how large it was. Once on the ship, our room was ready, so that was good. Had a room with a balcony.

I took a few photos before dinner. Most of them were from our balcony. When we did start leaving the port, I did go out to the front of the ship with alot of other people. But, by the time that I got out there, I pretty much had to turn around and go back to the room to get to dinner on time.

Here are a few photos from today. A couple from the beach during the launch, and the rest are from the port.

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On Cocoa Beach for 9:39AM launch. This photo just doesn’t do justice of showing the amount of people that were out on the beach.

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Watching the launch pads for the launch. Woops! Wrong launch pad. 

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Of course the first thing I did when we got to our room was grab my camera and went out on the balcony to take pictures. A couple of other cruise ships off in the distance.

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Ship across the waterway

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NASA Kennedy Space Center launch pads

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A couple of ships leaving right before our departure

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I don’t know what the silver boat type thing is

 

 

 

Asheville, NC – North Carolina Arboretum

Headed to the arboretum today for our monthly visit. Took a walk, and checked out the gardens to see if there was anything blooming. There were a few blooms. It was unusually warm for February. We were walking around in t-shirts.

We started off to left of the exhibit center and took off on Natural Garden Trail. It’s an easy 3/4 of a mile trail. It’s also a Kids in Parks Track Trail. After hitting the trail, there is a left hand turn that goes slightly downhill. It takes you to a small pond. Nothing much happening at the pond today. Just sitting water. Headed back up the hill and continued on the trail. It was just a nice walk. Trail then met up with Running Cedar Road. We took this road to the right and up the hill to the gardens outside of the education center. It was probably a 2/10 of a mile walk up the hill. If you’re out of shape, this can be a huffer / puffer portion of the trail.

After taking the steps up into the gardens, we walked around the Plants of Promise Garden. There were a few little blooms. We then headed down past the education center and into the Bonsai Gardens. Most of the bonsai were put up for the season. We then headed down and walked through the Forest Meadow. We met back up with Natural Garden Trail and got back on it. Took it to the left and back up to the exhibit center. We probably walked a couple of miles around the arboretum today.

Here is a map of the arboretum trails. http://www.ncarboretum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Map_Guide_2014.pdf

Here are a few photos from today.

Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC

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Walk down the steps / around the corner from exhibit center to get to Natural Gardens Trail trailhead

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If you want to check out the pond, you’ll quickly come upon this left hand turn

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Nothing happening at the pond today. Just a pond.

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You’ll see these tepee looking structures along several trails in the arboretum

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The fence row as you are walking by Forest Meadow

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Nice trail through the woods. Way down below on left is Bent Creek (not shown).

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Meeting up with Running Cedar Road. That’s the little huffer / puffer hill that you see in the background.

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When you are just about to the end of Running Cedar Road, you get a slight view of some mountains in the background

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Heading up into Plants of Promise garden outside of education center

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These next 4 photos are a few little blooms from the garden today

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I don’t recall ever seeing a little bat house in the Forest Meadow before

Asheville, NC – Biltmore Estate

Since I would be leaving for a cruise in a week, and be gone 2 weekends, Steve and I headed over to Biltmore for a visit today. Took another trail today that we’ve never took a walk on.

As usual, we parked in the conservatory parking lot. Walked up the steps outside the conservatory and walked over to the right and crossed the road over into the azalea gardens. We quickly came to a 4 way intersection. We beared towards the left and took the little gravel trail continuing through a garden. You then come out to the one way road that goes through the estate. Cross the road here and you quickly walk through very tall bamboo on the trail. You will then come to a fork. If you go to the left, that will take you on Rhododendron Trail (that we will take on a later date).

Our destination today was Woodland Trail, to  the right. This is a 1/2 mile long, moderate trail. You cross a bridge and head up into the woods. Nothing spectacular. Just a nice walk. Because the leaves were off the trees at the time of this walk, we could see the lake peeking through the trees about 3/10 of a mile into the trail. The trail ends at the vehicle bridge that goes over Bass Pond. We walked across the bridge and continued only probably 1/10 of a mile along the road to the cut-off that takes you across the bridge that goes over the dam at Bass Pond. After crossing the bridge, we walked down the hill on the left to the waterfall. Not alot of water. The way the sun was shining, there were rainbows in the mist. Took lots of photos to try to get a good rainbow photo, but none of the photos turned out too well. We then walked through the bamboo back behind us to the creek. Not alot of water flow there. Headed back up to the waterfall and up the hill and walked back to the conservatory on the trail beside of the lake. This was a pretty easy walk. Probably somewhere between 1 and 1.5 miles.

Here are a few photos from today.

Biltmore Estate Address: 1 Lodge St., Asheville, NC

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For our walk today, not long after entering azalea gardens, took this left off of paved trail onto a graveled trail

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Was a little surprised to see a little color in the garden today

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A little more color

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Just crossed the road and entering the bamboo area at the beginning of Woodland Trail

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To continue on Woodland Trail, at the fork, go right and cross this bridge

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Heading up into the woods

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Heading down out of the woods. Can see Bass Pond peeking through the trees in the background.

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Got a few photos of the bridge. Woodland Trail comes out at this bridge. 

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View of Bass Pond and the meadow from the bridge

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Finished our short walk along the road and are cutting across the bridge over the dam

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View of Bass Pond from the bridge

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Down at the waterfall

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My best photo of the little rainbow

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View of the boat house as we are walking along the pond back to the conservatory

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Zooming in on the bridge that is now across the pond

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