No, this isn’t about the movie by the same day or visits from the cardinal; this is how many days before we leave on our trip! There are only maybe a couple of things left to do, some last minute decisions that are based on something that hasn’t happened yet, like how we’re going to dress that day – we have no idea of what the weather’s going to be like right now.
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It’s almost a kind of quiet time; we started this journey back in March, when there were a million things to do and think about and there was a great sense of urgency to get things done on time and in full. Things were hectic trying to find a flight that wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg or gouge us too badly – but we got it done. So, all we’re really doing now is waiting for the next 28 days to go by.
We had some extra work to do, like getting our oldest daughter ready for this trip – kids! Can’t kill ’em, can’t sell ’em! I think we were both feeling like airline reservation staff as we checked for available flights for our daughter and our youngest son and his family; watching the way ticket prices were yo-yoing up and down for them was scary… but that got taken care of as well – but not without some drama, of course.
We both said, earlier in the process, that before we knew it, we’d be inside the 30-day window and, yeah, that happened; I can remember when we had triple-digit days remaining before we left. The excitement has ebbed and flowed getting to this point and, of course, there were many days when we wished for our travel date to magically come up, like that was really gonna happen. But now that we’re inside that 30-day window, it’s kinda like just hurry up and wait. I know we’re both going over things in our minds to make sure we’ve dotted all of the things that needed to be dotted and crossing stuff that has to be crossed and, right now, I think we have it all covered.
Our oldest son was kinda getting on our case about how we arranged our trip, pointing out other less expensive ways to do things… after we already handled it, of course. Early on, we could have saved a ton of money if we had chosen to fly out of Atlantic City to Fort Lauderdale… but that’s not where the ship’s leaving from and we both don’t like being late or want to risk missing the boat so our original decision to go to Miami made more sense to us, especially when we heard that he was kinda scrambling a little himself to arrange transportation for those folks in our happy group who are flying into Fort Lauderdale – better him than us!
We had an iffy moment with our travel documents for the cruise. When I went on my first cruise, the cruise line sent me the necessary documents by mail; sailing with Carnival is continuing to prove to be a very different experience. Even though we paid our trip off way before the cutoff date, we couldn’t access our travel documents before the cutoff date – something with the group thing versus individual thing. Then, the day before the cutoff date, voila! Travel documents! Right up until I discovered their availability, I had been wondering when we’d get them in the mail – then found out that we wouldn’t. Our travel documents were prepared in a PDF file and had to be printed… except both of our printers were low or out of ink!
Fortunately, we were able to print them and a phone call to Carnival revealed that, no, they don’t mail travel documents and, basically, if you don’t have a printer, you’re hosed. Even better, it then occurred to us that if you don’t have access to a computer, you can’t complete the Fun Pass information – and that has to be done in full before you’re allowed to access your travel documents! Our oldest son, who’s sailed with Carnival before, kinda neglected to tell us that before the fact; I’m thinking he forgot, to be honest. He sent out a couple of notifications to the people on the list to tell them about the Fun Pass and reminding everyone they need to have this on hand at boarding, along with their passport.
We sat around for a moment wondering how many in our group don’t have a computer. When I asked Carnival how people are supposed to get their documents without a computer or printer, all they could tell me was to go to the library. In a way, the way they do this makes sense – cuts down on mailing costs and documents that could get lost or delayed in the mail. There are places you can go, like the UPS Store and Kinko’s to have your documents printed… if you happen to have a USB drive on hand – and how many people going with us has one of them? We have about three or four of them…
And it’s not as if you can’t check in at the dock; I mean, there are probably people going on this cruise who didn’t bother with going to Carnival’s website and doing the Fun Pass thing; it’ll probably take them a lot longer to board the ship having to do all of this at the counter… if they can do it at all. It’s not a problem we have so we didn’t bother to check on this. We printed our daughter’s documents for her since she was here visiting with us (and have an extra copy just in case she loses the ones we gave her) but, other than that, if no one else has theirs, it’ll suck to be them, huh?
I’ve always said the part of the trip that’s the most fun isn’t what you do once you get to your destination – it’s getting there. Given all of the stuff we’ve been doing before the fact, we can finally settle down to getting our heads squared away to imagine what the day will have in store for us, beginning at getting picked up at 3am to go to the airport. I’m not looking forward to having to deal with the TSA. I understand their purpose and they are, on the whole, an ineffective joke; I can tell you a few stories of my run-ins with them that would prove that. The only good thing about going through the airport checkpoint is that I’ll be in a wheelchair; I can’t walk fast enough through the airport anymore so moving me from point A to point B in a chair is the easiest thing to do.
That and it’ll get us on the plane ahead of the rush. My first experience with this a couple of years ago was, at most, embarrassing since I’d been used to just sitting and waiting to board like everyone else. I can remember quite a few people staring daggers into me as I was wheeled onto the aircraft ahead of a gaggle of people and, in a way, it kinda pissed me off; wasn’t my fault I had a stroke nor was it my fault it affected me the way it did. The good thing about this trip is I won’t wind up being a pack mule as we go from the TSA checkpoint to the boarding gate; last time, I had all of our carry-on stuff piled all over me, including my laptop and all it’s gear – it’s not going this trip so the load will be thankfully lighter.
I’m just not looking forward to having to undress for the TSA and I’m kinda hoping that BWI has the new body scanners in place – some controversy around them if you’ve been following the stories – but I’d rather have them looking at me as if I’m naked than to have to take off my shoes and stuff and I hope they enjoy the show. One of our main concerns was travelling with our medications; between the two of us, we take a lot of them so we have to figure out the best way to take the quantity necessary along with us. Our doctor put me on Loveza and those capsules are really big, as are the bottles they’re in – that’s right, I said bottles as in more than one. Some of my medications are Class V and Class II drugs – pain medications – and we were concerned that the TSA would somehow make them vanish if they weren’t in the bottles given to us and all properly labeled.
Just for me alone, I take 13 pills/capsules every day, nine in the morning, four at night, so I need to have sixty-five of them. That’s a lot of medication to be moving all at once – and that’s not counting the really strong pain medication I’ll take just in case. We thought about each of us having one of those pill organizers you can find in the dollar store… but the Loveza capsules may not fit and we know that the law requires the regulated and serious drugs – like my oxycotin – to be in their original containers with the label intact.
But we’ll figure it out eventually – it’s just a matter of what’ll be easier for us to do, even if we have to pack all of our meds in their original bottles – then hope they don’t get damaged en route.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with my baby getting a swimsuit for the cruise. She had one hell of a time finding one and spent a couple of days scouring the Internet until she finally found one that made her happy and until she did, I felt really bad. For us guys, getting a suit is easy – all we have to know is what our waist size is. For the ladies, well, it’s not all that easy. I had to take her measurements (that was fun, heh, heh) then it was a question of finding stuff that would fit. One of the things we both learned is that there’s really no one standard for sizing women; what one place calls a medium is a petite somewhere else and other crazy stuff.
Like I said, for us guys, no matter what our body type is, if we know our waist size, we’re good; the gals have to be concerned with things we never give any thought to, like how their hips play into suit selection. What we both found irritating is that all of the swimsuit models we saw online were, um, skinny and perfect for the suit they were modeling. Given that women are different sizes with their breasts, waist and hips, you’d think there would be more “mix and match” types of suits so that a gal could pick a top and a bottom that fit her the way she needs it to but, no! We saw a nice one we both liked but the sizing of the suit was insane because when we compared their sizing chart to the measurements taken, well, that suit wasn’t going to fit well somewhere. It was just a major headache for my baby and I was happy to learn she did find something she’d be happy with.
One of the things left undecided at this point is how we’re going to dress to start the trip. Of course, we have no idea what the weather’s going to be like that day and I realized that we’d be leaving home before the sun came up and by the time it got into the sky good, we’d be in Miami, where we can assume the temperatures will be in the 70’s somewhere. It took us both back to our trip to Antigua which was in January. Going to the airport very early that morning, we had to dress warmly – it was damned cold with the possibility of snow. Now, imagine being dressed for a cold, East Cost wintry morning before sunrise… then four hours later being in the sultry heat of Antigua – you can see how interesting that can be.
Personally, before we even got out of Antigua’s airport, I was ready to strip naked because I was sweating like a fiend…
Travel tips suggest that you dress for the location you’ll be at, which makes sense – but I’m thinking I really don’t want to be in shorts and a T-shirt leaving here in early November if it’s cold, windy, or even raining that day and, of course, we really won’t know what kind of weather we’ll be walking into once we get to Miami; for all we know, it could be in the 60’s there and raining or whatever! So that decision probably won’t be completely made until a day or two before we leave.
I have to keep telling myself that this really is the fun part. My thoughts have been on all the chaos before getting on the plane and the chaos that’ll take place once we get off – the two hour flight will be rather boring by comparison but we’ll have our toys to keep us occupied during that part. We’ll have our iRiver MP3 players for our favorite music and our iPod Touches to read all the books we uploaded to them – and they also have music and we can even watch movies on them – I have “Avatar” on mine if push comes to shove.
Jeez, just the stuff we have to carry onto the plane requires some thinking. I’ll have my best camera with me, my iRiver (I actually have two of them), my iPod, batteries for the iRiver, the alternate power source for the iPod, my Bose QC3 headphone (love those) and, oh, yeah, my fanny pack. But my baby is the Mistress of Packing; she’s already figured out how to bring all this stuff on board with us without a lot of clutter. We decided to take one bag for the both of us and I got out of her way when she packed the bag so it could be weighed; just amazes me that she got all of our stuff into that bag with plenty of room to spare – and it only weights 46 pounds!
I’ve never packed for a trip this far in advance of it but I don’t argue with the Mistress of Packing because it’s really easier to do it now and just add the last-minute stuff than it is to do it close to departure and risk leaving something behind. That reminds me; I need to get the power strip for our electronics out and into the bag…
See ya later!