Sunday, June 19, 2011

Charleston Bound

Our ship sets sail in the late afternoon. We have a two nights and a day to play on board. Late night laser tag is a last minute addition to activities. The kids & I decide to check it out. We play a couple of rounds. Then Donny & I do some exploring and finally figure out most of the ins and outs of the ship. One deck has really puzzled us. We could not discern how to get to it and finally we do. It is public but you have to wander a kind of maze to find it. A few days earlier, I have also discovered the adults only sunning deck. It is quiet and small. There are padded lounge chairs and a shower to cool off. Plus a hot tub but I skip that. Donny has occasionally joined me because some of the chairs are under a canopy. Upon occasion the rest of the gang stops here too, it's very restive. And to sweeten the pot, we find a stateroom hallway short cut to the cafeterias and to our rooms. We're all set.

We are told to have a member of our group attend one of Hennie's Debarkation chat during the last day and so we do. His most revealing point is to remind us that no Cuban cigars can be brought into the country. No one has mentioned this until now. While we were in Nassau avoiding the rain shower, I have bought a cigar for occasional neighbor Tommy at Donny's suggestion. Tommy defriended me on Facebook after I dropped the F-bomb in discussing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. That caused quite a thread that lasted almost a day before Tommy up and hit the defriend button. A peace offering suggested Donny. Now Hennie says to smoke the cigars or give them to him, but do not attempt to take them through customs. I only have one cigar. I'm going to chance it. But I've already decided that Tommy doesn't deserve all this attention. I'll give it to Marty's Dad for his 60th birthday coming up in August.

What would a cruise be without fabulous food. And ours is no exception, we have wined and dined from morning until night in gastronomic splendor. True to tradition our last night dessert is Baked Alaska and it is the perfect end to our tasty tour. We take in the early tribute to the Beatles show and so miss the Baked Alaska parade and instead get treated to a farewell sing by our wait staff.

Donny & I decide to wander into the casino which we have skirted throughout the cruise. I lose money at Black Jack and get fussed at by the dealer for my mixed hand signals. It's an artist thing. Lewis & Lauren stay and actually do pretty well by the end of the evening. Donny & I drift to the coin slot machines and find ourselves almost $20 richer with only a few dollars investment. We quit while we are ahead.

 Next morning we're in port and shuffled off the ship by decks, just like in school. It's been a great cruise with awesome company. The Feeney's are fun to travel with. Everyone is ready to get on home but we all want to shop one more time at the Market before we go. The Sweetgrass baskets have made an impression on me. I think we need some. But there are so many quality merchants selling these handmade beauties. We talk to several ladies collecting prices and information. And then we meet Debra. She is the one. Her baskets are not as large as some although she'll make anything you ask and is already training both her grandchildren in the art. But her weave is the thing. It is tiny and tight. We strike a deal with her and then have a time finding an ATM that will give us enough cash but we finally do and three baskets later pack ourselves and the kids into the car and turn toward the Outer Banks.

For the best sweetgrass basket you will ever own contact. Debra Green, 1476 Palmetto Fort Drive, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29466. 843-800-2638 or 843-336-5160