Arriving in Lauderale - The Journey Begins

Chicago Travel Blog

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View of the top of a couple cruise ships in Port Everglades from our hotel window.

View photos from today.

Today we left for the 2008 KT and Friends cruise to the southern Caribbean! Despite my best plans, somehow I managed to stay busy until 2:30 or so in the morning. This miscalculation left me approximately two and a half hours of sleep before having to arise to be ready in time to catch the van to the airport. There is nothing like a little sleep deprivation to get a trip off on the right foot. :)

The van from Midway arrived promptly at 7AM. It was to say the least, a bumpy ride to the airport. I think the driver found every pothole Chicago has to offer! All I could think was, "who needs Starbucks to be jolted into reality when all you really need is a Chicago driver bent on making his scheduled stops on time!"  ;)

Not surprisingly, we arrived at the airport in plenty of time before our scheduled flight. This turned out to be good since security was busy. So there are no complaints about the bumpy, pothole-riddled ride from me - now. LOL There are many things I like about flying from Midway including that it has been my experience that TSA is fairly watchful and attempts to alleviate these types of situations by opening additional lines. Such was the case today so we moved through security with a fair amount of ease.

I must say here that I’m not entirely convinced the new Southwest boarding system is an improvement over the previous system. It seems, at least at Midway, there is actually LESS seating in the waiting area now than before. Hopefully, given time, the process and space situation will improve.

Our flight was at capacity, but uneventful. The crew was very entertaining and we were even treated to a very nice rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by one of the flight attendants. We took off about a half hour late for reasons of which I am still unsure. No matter. I’m on vacation and my main focus at this point is just to have a GREAT time, re-energize and reconnect with God and with my friends. It has been a few years since I have been this excited. This is going to be a fantastic week.

We arrived to sunshine and warmth in Ft. Lauderdale. Ah yes, this is what green leaves and grass looks like. 

My husband, Dave, made arrangements with a friend, Sharon, to meet us at the airport (thanks Sharon!) and took us to our hotel located near both the airport and cruise ship port. There is some discrepancy from what we were told prior to our trip and what the front desk told us about the points that were to be applied my account for our stay. I'll need to check on this and update this blog when I have the time.

After our check-in, Sharon drove us to a mall for lunch at Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A is one of Dave's favorite restaurants. Since Chicago has no Chick-fil-A restaurants close by so we make it a point to stop in whenever we are near one. Over lunch I discovered that Sharon and I were both in Chorale at Taylor University. In keeping with the Florida theme, I can say, "It's a small world, after all!"

During our "excursion" to the mall, I was happy to connect with two friends from Louisville, Ronye and Joyce, via phone. It was so great to hear familiar voices again!!! We made tentative plans for what else but shopping. :)

Back at the hotel, we were happy for the most part with our accommodations at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Hotel. Our room was on the fifth floor. Dave had hoped for a room higher in the building especially given that we were not a late check-in. But otherwise, our room was spacious and comfortable. I would note that there were soap or toothpaste spatters near the top of the mirror. But those were high up in the corner. A ladder would be required to clean that far up the mirror. This begs the question, how did they get there?? Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that question. LOL But all that aside, we were pleased.

All day I kept having the feeling that I'd forgotten something. It reminded me of the scene from Home Alone where the parents are on the plane trying to figure out just what they forgot back at the house (their precocious child, Kevin, as it turns out). But, aside from forgetting to pack tissue paper for Gayle and Dave’s wedding presents and breaking the frames on one pair of sunglasses, I can't find anything else we forgot to bring. All in all, I think we made the trip from Chicago in good shape.

While I had wanted to go shopping with Joyce and Ronye, I discovered as the day progressed that lack of sleep last night was beginning to take its toll. But adrenaline is useful in times such as these. While Dave ran a couple of errands for me including a much needed venti latte, I repacked my bags for boarding the ship tomorrow.

Before leaving the hotel for dinner at Bimini Boatyard, Joyce and Ronye stopped by our room with cupcakes from “Chocolate Cake” Carolyn. She is so sweet (pun intended) to think of us! While Dave and I were dating, he assigned identifying names to my friends so he could remember them. Since Carolyn makes absolutely delectable chocolate cake, Dave dubbed her “Chocolate Cake” Carolyn.

But, I digress...

The restaurant is a very short walk from the hotel which was really nice after a long travel day. But despite having reservations for over two weeks, we had to wait at least ten minutes for our table. It might have been longer but I will give the benefit of the doubt since I was becoming slap happy from lack of sleep. The wait was worth it though as we were seating in a private room. We were told after we were served our drinks and bread that the room had actually been reserved for another group. Our waitress persevered and continued to take excellent care of our group. I’m not sure how they resolved the conflict with the other group, but we were not asked to move and dinner went smoothly. Everyone agreed that the food was excellent.

Thirteen of us gathered for the pre-cruise celebration dinner. (Click here for photos.) This number included "land based" friends Holly and Starr. The remainder of the group consisted of James, Ronye, Joyce, Barb, Beth, Deborah, Gayle, Dave, my husband Dave and me.

I was happy to be seated by the groom-to-be, Dave (not to be confused with my husband). He is a sweet, warm and engaging man. He seems to be crazy (the good kind!) for Gayle and she for him. She is visibly so happy and seemingly carefree. I pray that she stays this happy for the rest of her life.

After dinner we gathered in Joyce and Ronye’s room for a blessings shower. Some presents were given after which we prayed over the bride and groom. It’s an unofficial Southeast Christian tradition of sorts that I found very touching.

By the time the blessings shower was over I was definitely ready for sleep. Being so tired I probably could have cheerfully slept on concrete and not noticed. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that the bedding in our hotel was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept in. It was as if I was sleeping on a cloud that gently enveloped me. My only regret is that this hotel has so many amenities to offer, there is no possible way in a one night stay that I could utilize all of them.

Copyright © 2008 by Beth J. Ruths.
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View of the top of a couple cruise…
View of the top of a couple cruis…
Chicago
photo by: mahoney