Aaron, my mom, and I drove down to Blacksburg last week for my sister's graduation! It was a pretty long drive but it was a pretty good couple of days.
Michelle Obama and Mark Warner spoke at the commencement in the Virginia Tech football stadium. (I didn't bring the camera to this one- sorry!)
The Architecture and Urban Studies college convocation was short and sweet- only about an hour and a half. My mom got on Skype during this one so my dad (in Korea) could see Nat walk and get her diploma.
*Note: We are now a family of college grads! My parents, siblings, and in-laws on the Brayley side have all completed (at least) a Bachelor's Degree! Hooray!*
We got back from our Caribbean cruise about a week ago. We loved it! It was so nice to be on a vacation where we didn't have to worry about work, dishes, cooking, cleaning, or anything else unpleasant!
We spent the first two days at sea, on our ship, the Carnival Pride. Super relaxing. There were lots of fun shows, good food, and comfortable lounge chairs for us to enjoy!
Our first port day was on the island of Grand Turk, in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They have this great area called the Cruise Center, where they have beach (including beach chairs- both in the sun and shade), shops, restaurants, and swimming pools all there for the cruise passengers who come there. We had to meet for our excursion soon after getting off the ship, but we had some time to shop and enjoy the beach after our excursion. We went clear bottom kayaking for our excursion that day. We got on a little bus that took us to the other side of the island where we kayaked in a mangrove lagoon. (Mangroves are plants that grow right in the salt water, eventually creating new land.) We could see right through the bottom of our kayaks as we paddled around. We stopped on the beach for a few minutes while our guide told us a little bit about the history of the island. We also got to hold some sea creatures, and he cut a conch out of its shell and let people try it. The sea cucumber peed while I held it- eww. But it was a really fun day!
Our second port day was at a private island in the Bahamas- Half Moon Cay. It's owned by Holland America, which owns or is owned by Carnival Cruise Line (I'm not sure who owns who, but they're connected somehow). It's a beautiful little island. We didn't do an excursion that day- we wanted to just enjoy the beach. Because the cruise line owns the island, and ours was the only ship there that day, we pretty much had the run of the island. Our dining staff even set up a cookout-type lunch for us, since we were in port from about 9am-5pm, so we didn't have to worry about getting food for ourselves for lunch! Aaron and I were both already sunburned by this point so we both ended up swimming with shirts on over our swimsuits to minimize any more burning, but we still had a blast! I just couldn't get over how clear and beautiful the water was!
Our third day on land was the worst day for me. We were in Freeport, Bahamas. All there really is near the dock is some souvenir shopping. But that wasn't a big deal because we were going snorkeling! So we took a bus to the other side of the island to get on a little catamaran to go out to the coral reef. This is when it got bad for me. I had gotten used to the movement of the sea on the big ship, but I was feeling pretty queasy on the little catamaran- I lost my breakfast over the side of the boat on our way to the reef. "Feeding the fishes!" as our guide said! Once we got in the water to snorkel, I felt fine and Aaron and I had a blast swimming around and looking at the fish and the seascape. Unfortunately both Aaron and I started feeling a little queasy as soon as we got back on the boat again. We didn't "feed the fishes" again, but it wasn't a fun ride back to the dock. We got back to the pier, bought a keychain or two, and got back on our ship before we set sail again at 2pm. We promptly fell asleep until it was time for dinner. So yeah, the snorkeling was good, but the rest of that port day was not so awesome for us.
One more day at sea, relaxing, eating, watching shows, listening to comedians.
And then, unfortunately, it was over. And we had to turn our phones back on and return to real life. But it was a great experience and I would definitely do it again!