We had to get up far too early on our last day, in order to gather in the theatre at 8am. We had breakfast on the back deck one last time, and watched the sun rise. We were already docked in Fort Lauderdale.
Since we had booked an excursion, we got to get off the boat a little earlier than the rest of the passengers. We found our luggage in a giant room in the embarkation building, and had to stop to talk to a customs agent on the way out. I was worried because we were slightly over the limit for alcohol (one person can only bring back two bottles). I handed the dude my slip and passport, and he asked, “Do you have any alcohol or tobacco?” I replied, “I have a 750 of Dominican rum.” He said, “Don’t drink it all before you leave the seaport!” Um, next time I’m bringing back an entire liquor store.
We got on the bus for our excursion and sat there for a long time, waiting for the rest of the passengers. Since our flight wasn’t til late afternoon, we were going to the Everglades, and then the bus would drop us off at the airport.
We drove about a half-hour to a private park in the Everglades, and parked right at the airboat dock. Riding an airboat is one of those things I’ve been dying to do forever, and we didn’t have the opportunity in Louisiana. I was excited.
The airboat was awesome. It was low to the water, noisy, and went way faster than we expected. We saw a ton of other wildlife, but it seemed like we’d been looking for a long time without seeing any alligators. I was starting to think we might not.
We got so close to some of the alligators, it was kind of scary. I felt like they were looking me right in the eye.
After our boat ride, we went down to see the alligator-wrangling demo. They also had a tiny baby named Bobber, who we took turns holding.
We watched a big redneck dude wrestle and pin an alligator, then pry her mouth open so we could see. I kind of felt bad for the animal, because she was hella crabby about it.
We hopped back on the bus, and it drove us to the Fort Lauderdale airport. Half of us got off; the rest were going on to Miami. We got there around 1pm (our flight was at 4:30), and figured we’d have plenty of time to have lunch in the airport and hang out. Oh, but we were dead wrong. The line snaked all over the check-in area and back down the main hallway. We stood there for over 2 hours, talking to the people around us, and reading standing up. We took turns going into shops for snacks and pop, and going to the bathroom. It sucked a lot.
After checking in, we then had to get in the line to drop our bags off. We left exit the building and lined up outside. After a bit, we noticed that half the bags in line didn’t have tags on them, which meant they hadn’t checked in yet. We and a bunch of other people were in the wrong line; we went back inside and took up spots at the end of another very long line. It was horrible, and the people working there looked miserable.
After another 45 minutes, we were able to leave our bags, and headed to the security check. We were close to being late for the flight, as was probably everyone else in that airport. Finally we got to the gate, boarded, and the plane seemed as if it would be only a little delayed. Wendy and I were punchy, so we passed the time making signs to hold up to the window, hoping passengers on other planes would see them. One of them was “HELP! There’s an alligator on our plane!!” We were laughing so hard that the flight attendant came over to see what the hell we were up to.
Our flight crew was Captain Bob and Johnny Payne; I’m pretty sure they were superheroes. Captain Bob introduced the flight attendants as ‘pretty girls’. We got to Atlanta on time, and had three hours before our connecting flight, so we took the train into downtown to find dinner. We wandered around for a few blocks, and every single business there was closed. The city seemed deserted. Because the train ride took so long, we decided to just get food at the airport; we headed back and went to Houlihan’s, where they made me a veggie burger and I considered napping on the table.
The flight to Minneapolis left on time, thankfully, and we got back to the cold close to midnight. The best part of all of that was that Matt stayed up waiting for me to get home. I missed him like crazy, which is exactly why he’s coming on the next cruise with us.
Stay tuned for Cruise II: THE REVENGE, when Wendy, Cindi, Jumi, Matt and I return to the Caribbean, and possibly even light the boat on fire again. We can hope.