by Caren Crane
Regulars here in the Lair know I am a devotee of autumn. I love the crisp air, colorful leaves and "settling in" that happens as the Earth prepares for winter. I also enjoy winter and have made a complete and total fool of myself during the Winter Olympics. (Anyone care to discuss curling? I'm now an expert! I could hardly get this post done for the women's gold medal final. Canada broke my heart!) Okay, gold medalist Apolo Ohno was just here as your daily eye candy. *g*
This year, though, it has been colder and snowier than usual, even here in the (normally) sunny South. I find myself looking forward to the budding trees and warm breezes of spring. I am also getting an itch to travel, much like my friends up north tell me they get when winter drags on too long. My friend Elizabeth says that by March everyone in Chicago is beating a path to the travel agent, begging for tickets to "anywhere the sun is shining" and this year, I can relate.
My husband is at home these days and, despite his curmudgeonly tendencies, has begun to pick up some phone calls he would previously have ignored. I came home a couple of weeks ago to be told by my beloved that we had won a cruise. Huh? Yes, indeed, I had heard correctly. My man said we won a cruise. I have no idea how we (or actually, he) won this cruise, but I took his word for it since he assured me it was real. Then I went to fix dinner or something and promptly forgot about it. Until last week, when the information about our cruise came in the mail. It is real!
We have been on a cruise once before and it was a lovely vacation. We enjoyed many things about cruising during that first trip and also learned some things to avoid - like anything alcoholic, since it costs a fortune to drink onboard! We feel better about this second cruise, armed with knowledge about how to avoid tack-on fees. This cruise is technically free, except for the unavoidable port fees since the trip is to the Bahamas and, apparently, a fuel surcharge of some sort. Hm.
Normally, we would avoid the Bahamas due to the excess of badly-handled tourism there and the likelihood of being hassled and/or pick-pocketed by locals. But did I mention the cruise is free? I have fretted about this "free" trip, knowing it will actually cost us hundreds of dollars to: a) get to the port in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; b) park our car at the port (or take a cab, if we fly or go by train); c) pay the port fees and fuel surcharges; and, d) cover the "incidentals" that always come up. (This picture is me at home, facing the reality of the money we will have spent - so sad!) The money is a real worry for us this year, but vacation - that singular, glorious chance to get away from all our cold, wintry worries for a few days - beckons like a sun-soaked siren.
The prolonged cold weather has made our so-called "free" trip more tempting with every gray, passing day. I know the sun is shining in the Bahamas and, despite the inevitable hassles, surcharges, delays and mix-ups, a patch of warm, welcoming sand is waiting for me. I think it's time to work on trip details. Maybe something around my birthday in May?
Are you longing for spring (or autumn, if you're in the Southern hemisphere)? Have a vacation planned, in mind, or at least in your dreams? If you could get away today, where would you go?