The Consolation Potato

Bevin was having trouble letting go of vacation, so we tried out a new BBQ place near work.

She chose the food and picked it up on the way home. Here’s the side I got:

Yes, that’s a sweet potato with toasted marshmallow.

I didn’t even know this was a THING. It may not be cruise level decadence, but I’ll take it, and I’ll probably go back!

Also the BBQ was tasty, but it’s Texas so that’s kind of a given.

Today I went to Costco and bought vegetables. Time to get back to eating normally. (I did get sweet potatoes though, so hmmm…)

Cruising Musing

I’ve gathered up some remaining pictures from the cruise, taken by both Bevin and Brian.

Apparently they both took the same picture from different angles while we were departing. We were standing on the highest available outdoor deck of the ship, available only to suite guests. Has a great view, but a bit windy.

Also very similar pictures looking back at Miami from the top of the stairs up to the suite bar deck.

We didn’t really take a lot of pictures while we were out and about in St. Maarten or St. Thomas. We were having fun poking around and we weren’t really thinking about blogging at the time. Sorry about that. Bevin did manage to capture this shot though, which is actually pretty emblematic of the general state of things.

Bevin took a couple of panorama shots! Click to enlarge for the full experience.

St. Thomas out the window of the suite lounge
St. Thomas from the starboard bridge wing. Downtown is way off to the right, over the island and across a bay.
St. Maarten from the starboard bridge wing.
Another St. Maarten 360 from the starboard bridge wing.
Sea day, sitting in the suite lounge.
At port in Miami, soon as we got on the ship.

I took this video at the ice show, you can see the projection mapping moving. It was actually pretty cool how they used the effects on the floor as part of the show, and the skaters were able to do some impressive tricks on such a small rink!

I also took a video of the ship rotating while we were docking at Coco Cay. Look at the island in the background to get an idea of how quickly we were spinning. Truly impressive how fast and how smooth such an enormous ship can maneuver.

A slightly longer view of our rotation, showcasing the speed.

Looking out the window on a sea day.
Another out-the-window on a sea day shot. Iced tea had been had.
Bevin taking random photos on sea days again…

Some have been curious about where our room is. Follow the red arrows. (Click to enlarge)

Bevin, exploring Central Park.
Central Park from the other end, and at night!
The poor creature that Bevin absolutely destroyed moments later.

We actually didn’t take pictures of most of the places we ate. One place I sort of wish we’d done so at was the Wonderland restaurant. Themed after Alice in Wonderland, it’s designed to be an experience of imagination, and there were some pretty creative dishes, however we were having more fun just enjoying it, so unfortunately we don’t have any pictures for you. If you’re curious, the web is full of pictures. They weren’t ours, but they’ll be close. (I found this one as a top result)

I will say that the deviled eggs served on a birds nest, under a glass cover filled with smoke was probably my favorite.

Bevin taking pictures as we’re preparing to leave.
Bevin taking last pictures as we prepare to leave.

Despite the TSA’s best efforts we managed to get home with our luggage.

Wristband is off, guess vacation is over…

Judgement Day

So of all the things about cruising we expected to blog about, urinals was NOT one of them.

However…

The hamster judges you.

The hamster judges you.

So, it turns out this is a bit of a theme. This lead to one of the strangest scavenger hunts ever…

That dog has the look of someone about to cause trouble.
That’s just hurtful.
One fears getting pecked.

Turns out it’s not just animals either…

It was nice to find one wasn’t overtly hurtful..

The only one that seemed positive… Until you read the background.

We actually actively avoided this one… Especially since everyone who used in failed to see the black blob as a dog on first look…

It’s.. Just awkward?

At the airport we found an entirely different sort of animals/bathrooms relationship.

The poor dog looks… Troubled.

So there’s your tour of the urinals of Symphony of the Sea. Betcha didn’t see that coming.

Let’s end this on a happier note. Towel animals!

When they started appearing in the garden area we were quite pleased.
This one took us a little puzzling about before we figured it out.
They slowly began taking over the stairs.
The full menagerie.

Still hanging out in the airport awaiting our flights, which are tragically late in the day due to cancelations several months ago as airlines re-planned their routes…

Bevin and Julian and already plotting their next cruise…

The End of (cruise) Days

We finally got let off the ship! We think they held us onboard until there was no lightning risk.

Walking across ship on our way to disembark onto a private island!
Julian got us a cabana!
View from the cabana.
Bevin found the hammock right away!

It was nice because the passing storm had created cloud cover so we got a couple hours of not getting totally blasted by the sun.

She graduated to a floaty.

There are fish in the lagoon, of several varieties. Also baby crabs. And we saw a jellyfish, as well as a rather large stingray!

Once she found out you could peer at the fishes she took to the deep water.

We actually ended up floating out past the lifeguard on the far side of the floating cabanas. No pictures exist, because water, but there are some artificial reefs they’ve made out of concrete blocks. Bunches of fish!

Lounging in the shade. The sun is mighty and terrifying.
It’s a long walk to the boat, but it doesn’t LOOK like it because the boat is so big!
We didn’t do the water park. Two of the slides are vertical drop, you stand in the tube and the floor drops out. I wanted to try… 😂
The water from the pier. There are fishes!

It was really fun to see actual tropical fish in actual tropical water.

The color of the water is just amazing. Phone doesn’t do it justice.
Beautiful clear calm ocean. Thanks Bahamas!
Mesmerized by the dual ripple wakes we leave.
Bevin appears slightly toasted. Floating with the fishes for so long!

We went back to the steakhouse on board because it was so good the first time. All the food we had was amazing, and the staff are fantastic.

A more sensible slab of meat tonight.
According to the statistics we have sailed more than 1/10th of the distance around the equator.
Waiting in the room for our call to disembark.
Cruise ports aren’t always in the nicest neighborhoods.
Miami Skyline is impressive though.
Bev is ready to travel.

And now we’re at the airport. Due to flight changes and such all of us had our flights moved back from our original times, so now we have about 6 hours at the airport. Wheee?

Bahamas ahoy

Spent yesterday transiting from St. Thomas to the Bahamas and Royal Caribbean private island Coco Cay.

Sailing away from St. Thomas
Goodbye St. Thomas!
Didn’t take Bevin long to find her soft serve
We went to the ice show. Not AS impressive as the water show, but they had drones!
A very pretty night at sea
Playing with the astrophotography setting on my phone.
Further “night sight”. Probably would be better if it weren’t hand-held.
Walking through the ship to get to the front and watch the docking.
Coco Cay ahoy!
We seem to be approaching rather fast there captain…
Spin the ship, reverse thrust!

It’s actually really impressive how precise this GIANT ship can control itself. Watching them parallel park is a thing of beauty. Not a tugboat in sight.

Waiting to disembark, ugly little rain clouds in the neighborhood.
Waiting to get off still.

They should let us off the ship any time now!

Adventures at sea. And also islands.

Really it’s not that adventurous… We haven’t encountered any pirates, and our ship detoured to avoid a tropical storm, so we haven’t even had any weather other than heat and humidity. And a nice 20kt breeze as the ship sails along, all but imperceptibly motionless from the inside.

There are advantages to being on the world’s largest cruise ship.

Enjoying the breeze and the screaming from the water slides.
The deck was nice until the sun took it over.
“Central Park” was a bit cooler.
The upstairs suite lounge offers a great view, as well as great AC and all the ice water you need.
Not a ship in sight on any horizon.
Central Park at night is pretty lovely.

After a few days at sea we arrived at St. Maarten. Our room is on the 17th floor. That dock is waaaaay down there.

The view of the ship from the dock is impressive though.

We walked all the way around the bay to “downtown”. Unfortunately it’s really been devastated by weather damage from years back and the economic downturn more recently. Lots of closed shops and hotels, not very much rebuilding going on. Beautiful beach though, and a great view back to the ship.

We didn’t explore beyond the local city. On the way back though we stopped at the cheese shop, this being the Dutch half of the island, and bought some amazing Brie and Stroopwafles.

Arriving back to the ship we found our towel animal collection had grown.

A penguin doesn’t usually find himself in cacti, but he seems happy enough.

Went to the steakhouse for dinner, which was amazingly good. Bevin got a steak the size of her head, or perhaps larger.

A quick night’s sailing brought to St. Thomas. Back in the US!

Walked the mile or so to downtown and poked around. Very Pirates of the Caribbean in it’s architecture, and definitely in better shape that St. Maarten was, but lots of shops closed up as well. Hard when tourism is such a big part of your economy and it’s been gone so long.

They do have iguanas though. Do not anger them.

Everything has been great. Great food and entertainment on the ship, great weather, and a ship that’s just under 1/3rd full means everything is very comfortable and not crowded feeling.

We’re hanging out in the lounge drinking iced tea and rehydrating. Boat should be departing in an hour or so. Another day at sea tomorrow!

Arrival, Departure

The art seems indicative of something… I wonder if we’re there…

Sweet Suite!

Allegedly we’re on a boat… It really doesn’t feel like a boat…

It’s a boat! With a central park!

It’s a really BIG boat!

Goodbye Miami! To the sea!

Bevin and Brian were lounging in the chairs behind us.

Bevin has ruined a lobster. RUINED. She got every last bit of meat on that poor thing.

What’s this then?

Lookin’ breezy

Something is afoot, Bevin’s not looking dressed for work!

Good news!

Precautionary tests completed!

Full of fruit.

Fancy drink and airport chairs in background…

Looks like it’s vacation time!

And we’re off! (Okay, so it’s just me that’s off)

Whirlwind work trip alert!

Went to Lenoir City, TN through the lovely Knoxville Airport. Funnily enough the airport, like the Burlington, VT airport, has rocking chairs throughout for your leisure.

Got lucky with this travel booking because while American Airlines is not where I have the fancy schmancy flight status, it apparently shares points with Alaska Airlines where I do have fancy schmancy flight status. Might be able to keep it after all.

One thing Tennessee has going for it I suppose is that it’s no less hot than Dallas. Okay maybe high 80s instead of low 90s but big whoop when hovering at these numbers. Portland me would have cared but Texas me does not.

One more serious good thing is that I went to Pho 99 and had delicious pho noodle soup. A great find. Speaking of food and beverage we’ve recently discovered the Starbucks Star Drink, which is their new kiwi-dragonfruit refresher. Very much a delicious thing.

Just landed in DFW. Out of the skyway and on to the freeway.

Handwichery!

We were recently linked to this YouTube video, describing re-creating a Disney menu item of the future past, The Handwich!

So when I came into the kitchen this morning and found this, I became extremely worried:

So, handwich. If you didn’t watch the video, I think you can guess. Sandwich, but in a cone shape, so it can be held in one hand. When this was discussed in our group chat, alternatives (such as our local Bread Zeppelin) were roundly poo-poo’d because they “weren’t Disney enough”. So Bevin decided to go all-in.

4 Handwiches on a plate
Of course 1 wasn’t enough.

So, for all your “oh my god we’re on vacation and I ate all that I’m going to dieeeeeee” pleasure, here we have 4 totally unique handwiches.

The bread is Japanese Hokkaido milk bread, so it’s quite soft and fluffy. As far as ingredients go, from left to right we have:

  • Egg, Bacon, Mushroom, Cheese
    A breakfast delight! Why have your scramble with toast when you could have it in the bread instead?
  • Mac’n’Cheese’n’Bacon
    The best Kraft has to offer, with delicious thick-cut bacon bits. Yes, it could be handmade mac’n’cheese, but the blue-box Kraft hits the nostalgia button better.
  • Garlic black-truffle Chicken Tika Masala
    Yeah, there’s no India exhibition in EPCOT. If there were, this would probably not be welcome there. It is, however, quite delicious.
  • Philly Cheese Steak (Roast Beef, green pepper, grilled onions, and cheese.)
    May not be quite as authentic as it possibly could be, since it uses American cheese instead of cheese whiz, but I outright refused to buy Cheese Whiz.

They all turned out quite good. Maybe not pure Disney, but definitely extravagant!

The method of construction could be optimized. Unfortunately wrapping from the bottom and lying them on a pan creates a flat side, as well as causes the dough to slump to the bottom of the cone, creating a rather large bready bit at the end of your sandwich experience. Because the bread is nice and fluffy and sweet it’s almost like a dessert bread at the end though. (Perhaps this could be incorporated into the design, hmmm..) Bevin’s already planning how to make a steel cone with the pointy end up to wrap the bread around and bake to prevent this problems though.

leftover bready bites
Sweet bread! No, actually it’s a sweet bread. Looks sweet too though!

In short, please be thoughtful when sending Bevin random crazy cooking YouTube videos, she just might be insane enough to do it.