To say I am lucky is putting it mildly. I don't have loads of cash or dozens of friends or an astonishing collection of ab muscles. But as I get older I realize none of that is what makes a person happy-though money sure as shit helps grease the wheels that makes the whole thing turn.
What is really vital-and forgive me for pontificating, I did just have a birthday-though I JUST NOW REALIZED I did not have cake. What was I even talking about? Oh, things that make for a good life. Health-being disease and pain-free is my biggest blessing. Even more, so that Matt and the kids are also all in excellent health. Having a handful of friends who are happy to spend time with me is my next biggest hooray. Having a car and enough disposable income to operate it and go many places, having the Internet to keep up with so much, having a library with books, having clean water with simply a twist of the tap. Cold air pushed in by a noisy box right behind the house, a phone and a camera, Dollar General just up the road where I can buy all kinds of stuff without having to drive all the way into town. These are all things I am deeply grateful for! Things I don't want to take for granted.
But the 'thing' I love most in the world is going away somewhere. And then coming home-as much as I gripe at times about our ruralness and the bane that is The Chicken House Smell, I do love the house and coming down the driveway and seeing it pop up at the end-that purple and white and green structure glimpsed behind the trees. The mint that is taking over the front yard, the sprawl of flowers and the endless need to mow again soon, the waggy dogs and the birds nesting in the chimney.
This trip was a little different. Chandler is driving now, so she was in charge of getting herself and Ben around. She dropped us off at the airport Sunday morning-it was not busy at all in Huntsville, but Atlanta was FULL and crazy by the time we got over there.
Our flight left at 8, so we got there around 6. Getting through security was fast, but so confusing I don't think I could name off each step. There was the barefoot x-ray while our carry on was being scanned. There was a metal detector, loads of people asking questions about what we had with us. To avoid the most hassle, we did not bring the laptop and we packed all our liquids in the checked bag.
We had to show our passport about 9 times and our boarding passes a few times as well.
Atlanta was busy, busy, busy! People running, shoving, yelling! Lots of stress and movement, my calm was a little dented.
We got off the plane at G and our departure gate was in terminal B, all the way at the far end. We had to ride the plane train! That was like being in some kind of death race, men were using their rolling bags to whack people out of the way, we missed the first train because we were unprepared to push and yell. The second train, we hopped on as people were hopping off and secured ourselves near a big pole. As our stop neared, we negotiated standing space with another couple who had further to go on the terrifying joltmobile. We discussed our exit strategy with them and they helped get us out the door as more folks squeezed on. I hope they got off without incident.
I got my hair done mermaid for the trip.
I love it so much, I am going to get it done mermaid from now on, for a while.
It feels like what my hair should look like. It absolutely should look like a peacock under that grey/red/brown facade that is my natural color. I have always thought my hair color was so boring! Now, it's super exciting, but only if I choose to let it show.
Crossing the last bit of US-Key West.
Cuba comes up fast and takes about 12 minutes to fly across.
We had lots of weather this trip, coming and going.
We arrived at Cayman and went through Immigration and Customs and one other section for declarations. We had nothing to declare but got to use the 'something to declare' line anyway because it was faster. Other people with things to declare had dogs and one looked just like Murphy with a tail.
We met up with Phil, who is taller than I remember every time. Even if he goes into the next room and comes back, he seems taller than I remember. I am sure that's a mental issue.
He took us to the condo and we dropped off our stuff. Then we went to his mom's for lunch, where Jacki was already-she did not know we were coming.
Phil went in ahead of us and we waited a minute and went over to knock. We walked in and J saw us and just stared. Like her brain could not slot us in-we were not the first people Phil had flown in to surprise her, their 20th anniversary was the week before and he had brought in her bridesmaids to celebrate.
I *think* we went out for dinner for ours. hahaha!
These are Phil's favorite fruit, which happened to be growing in a nearby yard, so he just walked over and picked them off the tree and we ate them standing in the shade.
They taste a little like passion fruit, the kind that grows here. Or like mayapple.
We stayed in a condo across from where Jacki works and right on Seven Mile Beach. We swam every day!
We sometimes walked over to Camana Bay and hung out a while in the hammocks out on their little island where people leave their boats.
We also went to the movies over there. On our birthday, I went with J and several other ladies to see Girls Trip, which left the more delicate of us scarred. hahahaha!
Up on the observation tower
The blue roofs in the upper left mark our condo.
They had just finished a walkover ramp to the shopping area, it was about a 5-minute walk!
View from the hammock!
We all went to Rum Point to swim and watch the sunset.
First, we played tourists at a little cement critter park a local man created and allows people to wander through.
Then we sat and enjoyed ourselves at the beach while before heading out to swim.
The area at Rum Point is unlike any other we have been to.
The first time we swam here, there were HUGE tuna!
The next morning, Phil ran us to Cemetery Beach and then came back to get us 3 hours later.
We got out after an hour to dry off and reapply sunscreen.
While we waited the 20 minutes for it to take effect, we drank some juice from our little cooler and watched the lizards and wild chickens.
Check out the bottom chicken, she's laying on one side with her leg stretched out, like a movie star pose.
Thursday was a long day!
We caught a plane to Cayman Brac, one of the sister islands and from there we got another plane to Little Cayman.
The smallest international airport in the world.
We had to drink all of our water before going through security!
Headed out to gate number one
It's about 35 minutes from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac and then 7 minutes between the Brac and Little Cayman.
Little Cayman has 125 residents. The local school has 3 students.
Lots and lots of ponds on the island.
there was a geocache
Cayman pussy willow
Point of Sand
Phil's flippers are HUGE.
We had jerked lionfish sliders
Then back to lounge a while!
We left here to go to the store and get sunscreen and some drinks.
I went for a hike with Phil and J!
Everyone usually rents kayaks to get to Owen Island, but it's only 3/10 mile. I decided we could swim it.
So Phil, Matt and I did. J was holding down the fort watching our stuff back at the hammocks. There was one other family on the whole island, but who knows what they might have gotten up to!
We made it! And with that accomplishment, we also managed to walk on all 4 of the Cayman Islands in one day!
The current was REALLY strong, I was not sure I was going to get there. With flippers, it felt like I was swimming barefoot, every stroke barely getting me anywhere.
The swim BACK was totally different as the current was with us and we were swept as much as swam.
Loads of turtle grass
The hammocks needed more laying in.
I needed more ginger beer!
We topped up the rental car at the single gas pump.
The man we got it from said to just top it off and Phil said is the pump by the airport and he said no, it's by the store. This is a pic of the airport from the store. hahahaha!
Back to the Brac, but we did not have to deplane this time.
And back to Grand Cayman!
Batman thought our plane was very little.
Friday, we hung out hiding from the heat while Jacki and Phil were at work.
That evening, we all went swimming at Spott's and saw sea turtles!
Saturday, we packed and messed around at the condo, finished the season of Orange is the New Black.
That evening, Phil and Jacki came over and we had yummy yummy fries covered in gyro toppings while we watched the sunset from the beach.
They had to head home, we did a little more packing and set our alarm.
Sunday, we went swimming a final time in the sea, had showers and walked over to Cimboco for breakfast. Then we finished our packing and Phil and J drove us to the airport.
The trip home was uneventful, security and customs took a while on both ends of the flight.
In Atlanta, we were so ready to sit still a while that we ended up snacking on what was in my carry on bag instead of our planned dinner out.
Back in Huntsville, Chandler arrived and picked us up out front and I drove us home. The week of suddenly being in charge of everything and having to do all the driving had worn the kid out!
The house was a wreck, the yard was a foot tall and there was no food. I'm glad I got home when we did! hahaha