It's been a summer full of fun for the Family Bond, that's for sure. And if Summer 2010 was an ice cream sundae, well, then the Bond Family Cruise would definitely be the cherry on top.
It all started with a bus full of Bonds heading from Hollywood, MD to Bayonne, NJ. We joined the crazy bunch in Baltimore. I'll admit I wasn't looking forward to hours on the road. I really don't enjoy road trips and I thought it would be a nightmare with the kids, but it was great. Jake & Lila hung out in the back of the bus with their cousins and had a fantastic time. There were movies to watch and snacks to munch on. There was even a bathroom on the bus. No stops necessary! (Although we did make one pit stop to stretch our legs.
Once we got to the port, there were lines to wait in, papers to fill out, etc. The process was dull in comparison to the bus ride, but once we were aboard, everything was new and exciting again.
The first order of business was to check out our luxury accommodations. OK, things were a little cozy, but we had a great veranda - large enough for a lounge chair. As for sleeping arrangements, the big bed was for Mommy & Daddy, of course. The chair in the corner unfolded into a comfy bed for Lila. Jake's bed was the most fun. It folded down from the ceiling and had to be accessed by a ladder. What more could a boy want?!
The day we left was a hot & steamy which made me appreciate the hot but relatively dry Texas summers. We had an incredible view of NYC from our veranda. Lady Liberty waved goodbye as we left.
We were escorted out of the harbor by a gang of jet skiers. I was surprised how far they followed us.
They turned around just before we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Once under the bridge, we were officially at sea. Duke & the kiddos took off to explore the boat. I stayed back to unpack the bags and get everything stowed so we could move around the room without tripping over things. The room was small, but had plenty of nooks & crannies. I was shocked at how easy it was to find a place for everything - especially considering how much stuff we had.
We spent the first day at sea which was far from boring. Jake developed some ping pong skills thanks to some fine coaching from his cousin Walker.
There was plenty of space for Delila to practice her gymnastics. Cousin Julia helped her keep her form just right on a rocking boat.
That evening was the first of two formal dining evenings. So after a little sporting around, and some splashing in an incredibly chilly pool full of sea water, it was back to the room to get all dolled up for dinner.
The whole 'formal dinner' thing was kind of sprung on me at the last minute. I had assumed we'd skip those nights and eat in one of the more casual dining venues the boat had to offer. But, two days before we left Texas I learned the whole family would be eating in the main dining room for every night. So, I scrambled around to find something appropriate for everyone to wear. Who knew you could find formal wear at Target?! All said and done, I think we were a pretty handsome family. And no, the hat wasn't really part of my ensemble. Duke's sister, Susan, had a little treat for all the Bond Girls. She brought a whole haberdashery with her - comprised entirely of hats from Mama Susie's collection. The hat I'm wearing is Lila's hat.
The up and coming generation of Bond Girls represented the family quite nicely that evening.
The next morning found us pulling into Portland, Maine. This little osprey was patiently waiting for his breakfast and kept us entertained while we were getting ready for ours. His nest was so colorful - full of bits & pieces of brightly hued twine. The weather for the day was supposed to be in the low 70s. Instead, it was in the high 80s with plenty of humidity. We spent a little bit of time walking through the tourist shops and then decided to make the trek down to the water to search for shells and sea glass. We didn't find much of either, but it was fun to be on the sand again.
That brings us to Wednesday. This was our day to visit Bar Harbor, which meant loading onto tenders at 7:00 in the morning. That sounds like an early start, but considering that the sun was rising around 4:15 AM...well, let's just say we'd already been up for quite a while. We were excited that we got to ride the tender with The Cousins .
The town was quaint and the day was gorgeous. We spent some time wandering through the shops, and then bought some snacks for a quick picnic in the park while we were waiting for the tide to got out. The best part about the picnic had to be eating flavored honey straws. We tried blackberry, blueberry, apple, and a host of others. They were all pretty good.
We were waiting for low tide so we could get out to Bar Island. Bar Island is part of Acadia National Park and is accessible by foot/car during low tide. We were headed out there to search for sea glass and shells again. I'd read it was great place for glass hunting. It wasn't. But it was a great place for skipping stones and finding sea creatures.
While we may not have found the bounty of smooth frosty glass promised by my resources, Duke and Jake did make a great rock tower. We didn't have a ton of time on the Island, but we didn't need much. It's pretty small. You have to keep an eye on your watch...and the tide when you're out there. If you don't, you just might find yourself looking for a good place to camp for the night. The locals love to tell stories about the stupid tourists that get stranded out there every summer. You know...because the land bridge disappears when the tide comes in. Well, I'm happy to report that didn't happen to us.
Once safely back in town, Jake and Lila headed off with The Cousins while Duke and I enjoyed some local cuisine. OK, I enjoyed a local beer, Duke enjoyed a lobster roll. (I still haven't managed to develop a taste for that stuff.) Then it was back to the tenders. We raced the fog back to our boat and enjoyed another evening of food and fun with the family. Over night, we'd be sailing to foreign ports.