Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Honeymoon

The alarm went off at the Magnolia Hotel at 4:30 in the morning.  Having showered the night before, Tara and I threw on clothes and headed down to the Lobby to checkout and wait for the 5:00 shuttle to the airport.  The same guy that had checked us in the night before was still there to check us out.
The two legs of the flight were uneventful, and we arrived in Tampa at 11:30 where we got our luggage and took a cab to the Port of Tampa to board the Carnival Legend.  The check-in process to actually get on the ship was incredibly long and took around an hour and a half.  I just wanted to get to our cabin and take a nap.
Finally we were on board and we made our way to our cabin where our luggage waited for us.  I had paid the extra cash for the “Balcony Stateroom” (Well worth it–at least once).  The cabin was nice and so was the balcony.  We headed up to the cafeteria for a late lunch then back to the cabin where we took a nap–sort of.
At an inconvenient time, the bell rang for the mandatory muster drill (grab the life jackets from your cabin and go down to the lifeboat that you would get on in the event of a Titanic).  After the drill, the ship set out.
The formal dining for dinner on the cruise was something we particularly enjoyed.  We were assigned one table for the week (shared with another newlywed couple from Arkansas), and therefore, had the same servers each night.  They were all very friendly, and each night, at some point between the main course and dessert, the maitre’d  got on the PA system and announced: “Showtime” to which the servers all danced to a variety of music from traditional french to modern hip hop.  Also each evening, there was a show to go to.  Some where musicals with dancing, one was a balance act, a comedian, and a juggler.  They were all alot of fun.
Monday was a day at sea which we spent running laps around the deck (which didn’t last long because it was so hot), exercising in the fitness room, and lounging by one of the saltwater pools.  We also went on the waterslide, which was also saltwater and caused for some discomfort at the end of the slide.
Tuesday was at Grand Cayman–A long sliver of an island that you can see across.  We had continental breakfast delivered to our cabin which we enjoyed on the balcony while we watched 3 other cruise lines come from the distance and anchor next to us.  This was nice, but it was so hot that by the end we were eating as fast as we could to get out of the heat.
We did a snorkel cruise excursion that day.  After a short bus ride driven by a jolly black man that sang hymns a played harmonica the whole way, we boarded another, much smaller, boat that would take us snorkeling. We went out to the barrier reef, which was fun, but it was difficult to avoid the 90 other snorkelers, and the choral was pretty damaged.  We then went to “Sting Ray City”  where the guides lured in a bunch of sting ray with some bait.  The guides would dive down and catch a sting ray, which didn’t seem to mind one bit, in their arms and bring them to the surface so we could pet them.  I also dove down the 12 feet or so on my own to pet a loose one.
Once we got back from the snorkel cruise, we walked up the street aways perusing the shops.  We came to a stand in which a Rastafarian-esque man was selling cocunuts which he chopped the top off so you could stick a straw into it and drink the milk.  For $4 we bought a cocunut and went down by the ocean to sit and drink the milk and ate Rum cake that I had purchased.  It was outstanding.  When we finished the milk, we took the cocunut back to the man and he cut 2 “spoons” off of it and then cut it in half so we could eat the “meat”.  Thus we walked back towards the ship each with a cocunut half eating the meat.  You should have seen the stares we got from the other tourists who had not ventured far enough from the ships to find the cocunut man.  With some amusement, we both admited that, although the snorkeling had been fun, the highlight of the day had definitely been the $4 cocunut.
Wednesday was Cozumel–a little Mexican island about 60 miles off the mainland.  We had decided not to do an excursion here so we got off the ship with intentions of just walking around and seeing what we could find to do.  After leaving the “tourist zone” we were called over by a few Mexicans in a stand who offered a compelling deal.  For $90 we could get a 3 hour taxi tour of the island.  This was quite a bargain–back in “tourist zone” it was $100 just for a taxi to the mayan ruins.  Having not prepared for something like this, we had $100 in travelers checks and $40 in cash.  The guys hesitated about the travelers checks, but, anxious to make a sale, accepted them.  Before we knew it, we were in a taxi zipping to the far side of the island still wondering if we had enough money for everything.
The first stop was an open air mexican restaraunt right on the beach.  It was fairly quiet–there were only about 3 other small groups there.  After learning how many pesos are in a dollar and confirming that they did not take cards, we decided to split a seafood dish between the two of us for about $18.  Everything was outstanding.  Towards the end of the meal, the mariachi band that had been circuilating stopped by our table and asked if we would like them to play for us.  We requested  love song and they began to play.  About halfway through the song, I realized that they would be expecting a tip. I had only twenties (and the travelers checks), and also feared that if I gave them money, we’d end up short on our cab fare.  Thus as the song ended, we clapped and thanked them, and I did nothing, hoping they’d just walk away.  They did not walk away, but rather, asked if we’d like another song, so we accepted.  The second song was also very good.  As it concluded, they all just stood there.  Finally I reached for my wallet.  They all nodded eagerly.  “Do you guys have change for a twenty?”  I asked awkwardly.  Fortunately they did, and I was able to tip them, and they went away happily.
Back in the cab, we drove further up the coast (all fairly vacant, and absolutely beautiful), then turned inland towards the Mayan ruins.  It was supposed to cost 7.50 a person to get into the ruins.  For whatever reason, it only ended up costing $3 each.  We spent an hour there walking around looking at the ruins and iguanas.  These ruins are not nearly as impressive as the mainland ones, but they were neat nonetheless.
After the ruins, the driver took us through downtown back to the ship.  We were already over our 3 hours, so he was driving as fast as he could.  The ride through downtown was crazy.  Tons of Mexicans on bicycles and mopeds swarmed the streets and kept pulling out in front of us.  The driver had installed a siren in his taxi which he kept using to ward them off.  We arrived back at the port, paid the driver with the travelers checks and a little extra cash, and emerged from the adventure with and extra $5.  You’d be surprised the bartering capability one acheives when one really only has x amount of cash.  We went to a little “trinkets” stand on the way back and I talked the guy down from $10 for a bracelet for Tara.
Back in tourist zone, we went to Fat Tuesday (wich took credit cards) and bought Daiquiris and sat on the cool rope swing seats and drank them while looking out at the ocean and the ship.  We aknowledge that they weren’t as good as authentic Mexican margarritas would have been, but they hit the spot anyway.
Thursday was Belize which is a small country in Central America.  We did a jungle mountainbiking excursion at an eco park.  First we were able to spend some time at the pool they had there, then we got lunch which was rice and beans with a side of fried banana.  I can’t say I’ve ever had fried banana before, nor can I say that I’ll have it again, but it was interesting to have once.
The mountainbiking was a 45 minute easy ride through the jungle with a tour guide.  One thing that we had both neglected to realize was that the jungle would have mosquitos.  More mosquitos than I had ever seen in my life.  Each time we stopped for the guide to talk, they swarmed us.  Tara was swarmed particularly bad and consequently, also had the most skin showing.  One guy in the group did actually have insect repelant which he was kind enough to pass around.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the deet stuff and did not work the best.  Tare emerged from the jungle looking like she had chicken pocks.
That being said, the jungle ride was a blast and it was amazing to be in a real jungle, let alone riding a bike through it.  Even Tara enjoyed it, although we will definitely bring bug spray if we ever make it back.
Friday was Isle Roatan, a small Honduran island.  Having yet to do a beach day, we did the beach excursion, which bussed us to the other side of the island to the exact type of beach you’d see as a desktop background.  The whitest sand and the palm trees coming right up to the beach.  We rented snorkel equipment and experienced snorkelling right off the beach that was far better than the snorkel cruise at Grand Cayman.  Towards the end of the our time with the equipment, I dove down to swim amongst the corrall.  Some 15 feet down was a short underwater tunnel in the chorrall.  “I need to swim through that”  I thought as I excitedly headed for the surface for air.  As it turned out, Tara was right above me trying to get water out of her mask and frantically kicking to stay afloat.  Not seeing her, I came up right under her and she kicked me in the face.  This did not hurt me, but rather, popped off my mask breaking the strap thing that holds it to your head.  Angered that we may have to pay for the damaged equipment, but still eager to swim through the tunnel, I held the mask to my face as I dove down and accomplished the feat.  Somewhere above me, Tara saw me emerge from the tunnel and shook her head…
We returned the equipment (the broken strap went unoticed by the bored teen employee), and decided to buy 3 handwoven hammocks from a guy there selling them.  2 for Becky and Bryce, and 1 for us.  We also had to buy some honduran coffee from the gift shop to get cash change from our travelers checks for the hammocks.  Back on the beach with our purchases, we saw a woman walking topless along the beach.  It was terrible, and by terrible I mean awesome.
Saturday was our final day and it was a day at sea for the return voyage.  We lounged by the pool and got pina coladas which were delicious.  Dinner was kind of sad that night, enjoying one last “Showtime” and saying goodbye to the servers. 
Sunday we were back in Tampa and debarked and returned home.

And there is still pleny more…

The Wedding

My last post was nearly 3 weeks ago.  I feel that I should give an update (And also to prove to Lynne that a married man can, in fact, xanga–albeit while is wife is not home…)

I had to reread my last post because I had no recollection of it.  I admit that I was very much in a haze, and I did wake up beside my new wife on a boat (and it was going fast…).  I greatly enjoyed the wedding day festivities regardless though.  I will attempt to describe the emotions I went through during that 24 hour period here since, from what I hear, they weren’t very evident on the outside, and those not yet married may be interested to know (though they’ll never fully understand until their own wedding).

Friday, August 7th
2:00 PM     I leave work.  The farewells were more touching that I had intended and this adds to my emotion on the way home.  However, I get home and the lengthy to do list with little time to do it replaces sadness with frustration.  I’m scrambling around, finishing packing for the honeymoon, printing important documents, running to the bank for traveler’s checks, and doing everything I can to keep from biting family members’ heads off.
5:00 PM     Everything is done.  I leave for the hotel (the Groomsmen and I will be staying there tonight).  I go to check in.  The girl can’t find my name for a bit…I’m struggling to control myself…she found it, finally!  Crisis averted.  She asks me what I’m in town for.  I tell her–she nearly explodes with delight.  I disclose to her how I was about to bite her head off back there.  She seems unamused…
5:30 PM     I grab a gin & tonic from the free cocktail hour and down it rapidly before it is time to leave for the rehearsal.  It helps significantly…
6:00 PM     Rehearsal.  We meet at the church, and Pastor Eric tells everyone what to do.  I almost cry the first time through the ceremony watching the wedding party from the stage during the processional, but I’m able to compose myself.
7:00 PM     Rehearsal Dinner.  This is at Spaghetti Works in Ralston.  My mother had reserved the party room there.  I distribute gifts for the groomsmen and ushers.  They are pocket knives from Cabela’s wrapped in pages cut from Maxim.  Everyone seems to enjoy them.  I buy Benjamin a beer which his drinks somewhat serepticiously until my dad finally sees him, but due to the occasion, allows him to finish it.  My father gives a nice toast which employs mine and his clutter in the garage as its anecdote.
9:00ish PM     We head back to the hotel.  Bridal party and ushers congregate in one of the rooms.  I’m relaxed.  We have a good time.  The girls retire first since they have to get up at 6 for hair.  The boys stay up to greet Nick, who characteristically roles in at…
12:15 AM     Nick arrives.  We go to bed.
2:00ish AM     I’m still struggling to find sleep.  Kyle, in the bed beside me, hears the “stroking” sound of his own foot fidgeting against the sheets and becomes suspicious that I think he is asleep and am masturbating.  He proceeds to roll over while violently flopping around to let me know that he is still awake.  I, that being the last thing on my mind that night, assume that he is irritated with my tossing and turning.
3:00  AM     I manage to get some sleep at some point.
8:30  AM     We get up around this time, shower and head down for breakfast.  I’m pretty emotionless at this point.  Excited and nervous, but not nearly as much as I probably should have been.
9:30  AM     We put the tuxes on and find ourselves in a minor wardrobe malfunction.  Garin and I have a different colored bow-tie than Kyle and Ben.  They are both blue, and I don’t care at this piont, so I ignore it.
9:45  AM     We go down to find the other’s.  The’ve already got their tuxes on and have gone to Cabela’s for camo disposable cameras.  Skyler has only just gotten out of the shower and is shaving.
9:50 AM     We find the others.  They all have the bow-tie that Garin and I don’t have.
9:55 AM     Back up to the room.  Skyler is now dressing, and is in the process of putting on a blue regular tie.
“Where the fuck did you get a regular tie?”  I demand, to which he shrugs.  I call Men’s Wearhouse.  We come to realize that Garin and I are the only ones with the correct bow-tie.  There’s virtually nothing they can do, but they do manage to dig up one more “incorrect” bow-tie so that we can give the correct bow-ties to the fathers and all match in the incorrect bow-ties.
11:00  AM  We arrive at the church, hang out, and attach the flowers.  The Men’s Wearhouse guy shows up with the additional incorrect bow-tie.  Tara’s uncle takes pictures of the guys.
11:45  AM  My dad shows up with Jason the ring bearer.  He has sprained his ankle ironically tripping over some clutter in the garage on the way to the car.  My mother frantically tries to dust off his tux jacket.  Garin quietly pulls a lint remover from his pocket to assist.
12:00 PM    Cherie the photographer arrives and immediately rushes me into “The Reveal”.  Basically, Tara comes in all prettied up and I get to see her while they snap photos of our reactions saving me from being all emotional up on the stage in front of everyone during the actual ceremony.  It turns out that I’m already pretty numb though.  Hopefully they got some good ones.
12:15 PM     The rest of the “formal” shots.  25 year old Gavin chats it up with cute photographer intern who is 18.
1:15 PM     Pictures are done now we wait.  Guests begin to arrive.  I’m forced to awkwardly mingle before the wedding.
2:00 PM     Ceremony starts.  I escort in the grandparents.  I had expected the walk up and down the aisle to escort in the parents and grandparents to be incredibly awkward, but I have become…comfortably numb.  Someone even cat calls me.  Oh yeah…
2:05 PM     The processional begins.  I watch them come in from the stage.  There is no emotion, no feeling.  It’s practicaly an out-of-body experience.  Tara comes in.  She’s crying.  I’m happy too–hopefully it shows.  Her dad passes her off to me.  I one-up him–who is most comfortable just shaking hands–by giving him a hug.  I’m still not sure why I did that…
Whenever     The ceremony proceeds.  I swear I was listening to the sermon, but I couldn’t recap one bit of it now.  I remember the readings, but only because we picked those out before.  We do the vows.  Tara’s crying more.  I’m almost wishing that I would cry too.  I normally would be in this sort of situation, but I truly am numb.  I keep focusing on bending my knees not wanting to pass out up there.  We do the unity candle, talk amongst ourselves while the song finishes.  Of course I can’t remember what we talked about there either.  The announcment of husband and wife, and the kiss.  I make sure to hold it out long enough for the inevitable “ow ow!” from somone in the congregation.  Thanks to whoever that was.  Then the recessional.  I dress it up a bit with a huge heel kick off the stage.  How I stuck the landing in my condition is beyond me.

The "Huge" Heel Kick

The “Huge” Heel Kick

Skip some…

3:00 PM    I start to “come to” as we get into the limo.  We head to the park for photos.  There’s a group of people LARPing there as well.  (That’s where you play fight mideaval style with foam weapons)  Ben and I think Kyle head over to them and ask to borrow a couple weapons.  The kindly oblige to a roar of cheers from the wedding party.  The wedding party then engages in a series of duals while Cherie is taking pictures of Tara and me.  I was really hoping to fight, but for an unknown reason, Isaac took the weapons back early.

Tuxedo LARPing

Tuxedo LARPing

5:00 PM     We arrive at the reception and get introduced.  It’s pretty much all fun and games from there.
10:00 PM     Tara and I depart in the luxury sedan for the Magnolia hotel in downtown Omaha.  We will head from the hotel to the airport the next morning for a 6:30 am flight to Tampa.
10:20 PM     We arrive at the hotel.  I realize that I left Tara’s ID in my tux pocket which is with my family.  I call them and they head out to give it to us.
10:35 PM     Tara realizes that she does not have her birth control…
11:50 PM     We gratefully take an envelope from an Embassy Suites employee after waiting in front of the hotel for half an hour.  Tara’s mom and uncles had paid the kid to make the delivery when on his way home from his shift.  I call Tara’s mom to tell her that we got it and am easily able to hear through the phone a roar of cheers coming from her aunts and uncles and cousins who have all figured out by now what “medicine” really is.
The night ends at some point after that…

I’ll tell more later.

Last Xanga Post as a Single Man

Less than 24 hours.  This is my last day at work, albeit a half day.  Yesterday I said goodbye to the production gals, which pretty much caused the reality of my departure to set in.  It was sad, but nice.  After work, the engineers and management all went out to Parker’s Smokehouse for eats and drinks for a going away deal for me.  Kind words were said, and there was plenty of reminiscing.  Now pretty much all that is left is packing up my stuff, a couple exit interviews, and a good number of goodbye’s.  Weird.
Lynne made the point that after Saturday, “The Andrew Chronicle” is no longer an appropriate title.  Therefore, I will be taking suggestions for a new, non-single, title for my xanga.
Speaking of Saturday, is that tomorrow?  Evidently it is.  What can I say?  I don’t even know what I think.  It’s all a haze–I’m just waiting to wake up a married man lying next to my beautiful wife on a boat in the Caribbean with the sun twinkling in the window.  No, she didn’t make me say that, but I’ll be interested to read this in 7 years.  I promise myself I will not be one of “those guys”.  The coworker that says: “Don’t do it!” or “There’s still time to get out of it” or “The spawn of Satan” in reference to his children, and finally: “You’ll see”.

So, in my final blog words as a single man, I have a few words of advice:

Never get married, move, and switch jobs all at the same time

Always RSVP on time

Just Fuckin’ go to Vegas!

Bachelor Party Complete

Saturday night was the bachelor party.  We started off the evening at Barrett’s with eats, drinks, and sand volleyball.  Then my parents came to pick Garin up, and the rest of us headed to our hotel, the Doubletree downtown, to check in and get picked up by the limo.  We then stocked up on booze and smoked a cigar on the way to Dave and Busters where we played games and did Jager Bombs (including Ben, whose military ID with difficult-to-read birthdate paid off for him).  At one point, Gavin dissappeared breifly, until we spotted him, taking a picture with a random Asian girl.
When it was time to go to the next bar, we cashed in our tickets to redeam them for prizes.  We wanted a couple shot glasses, but also wanted the ash tray to have in the limo with the cigars.  We did not have enough tickets for all of these items, but I took them up to Cassi anyway and tried to sweet talk her into giving us all of it.  She refused, so Gavin pulled out a one dollar bill.  She held firm, and eventually walked away leaving the ash tray on the counter.  Gavin proceeded to pocket it and we left the establishment.
Next stop was Crescent Moon, a German bar known for serving “the Glass Boot”.  Unfortunately, they only serve the boot until midnight, so we were a few minutes late.  I was done drinking by this time anyway.
As we came in, there were a group of girls singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” for karokee.  I started jammin out as we walked by, and they saw me, grabbed me, and before I knew it, I had a mic in my hand was was struggling figure out what verse we were on in my condition.  I lasted long enough to belt out one of the epic longer notes with one of the other girls, but I must not have impressed anybody because the mic was immediately taked from me, and I was nudged away.
We cruised around in the limo some more drinking and smoking until eventually returning back to the hotel where Gavin proceeded to campout in the bathroom while Ben and Bryce cracked open the Woodchuck and Kyle stupidly started on the Sutterhome Chardonnay (he would also be bowing the the proceline god later that evening).  We ended up cashing out close to 4.
We awoke the following morning with throbbing heads and churning stomachs eager to get the taste of booze and cigar smoke out of our mouths.  After brief reflection on the night before, we packed up and headed for the elevators.  Our room was on the 14th floor.  The elevator we got on began to vibrate somewhat violently during its decent, and made it to somewhere between 4 and 5 before jamming up completely.  A few curse words and are-you-kidding-me’s and we used the button in the elevator to call the front desk only to be put on hold before we could share our predicament.  After a few minutes of hold music, the phone just disconnected, so we tried again.  This time we got somebody else and he did talk to us.  He sent the “engineer” up, and within a few minutes, we were climbing out of the elevator down into the 4th floor elevator lobby from where we rode a different elevator the rest of the way down.  Gavin tried to rouse sympathy from the girl at the front desk as to get our hotel stay for free, but failed.  Bachelor party complete.