Monday, June 30, 2008

Honeymoon Part Three....The Finale

For the last day of our trip we decided to go to Cocoa Beach.
Just before we reached Cocoa Beach, we went through Port Canaveral. Disney Cruise Line makes its home in Port Canaveral, as well as Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. As we were driving, we could see one of the Carnival ships docked. I was trying to get a picture of it from the road, so Michael got off of the interstate and got me closer so that I could get a good picture of the ship.

I was quite impressed with the size of the ship, it was huge.

We got into Cocoa Beach just a few minutes after leaving Port Canaveral. We began looking for a hotel. Since we had left this day open we didn't have reservations. We were hoping to find a hotel with an ocean view. Much to our surprise, there were hotels with views of the ocean, but no access to it. You had to walk or drive to the main pier to access the beach. The hotel we ended up getting had beach access, but we couldn't get one with a view.
We checked into our room and headed to the beach.
It was crowded, the most crowded of our whole trip. It was the weekend and hot, so I guess that accounted for alot of that.

A few minutes after arriving on the beach, we saw the cruise ship go sailing by. It was really neat to see it sailing so close to where we were.

The Kennedy Space Center is just 20 mins. from Cocoa Beach and they advertise it well. This astronaut display was in the lobby of our hotel. In the gift shop were lots of NASA t-shirts and memorabilia.

The next morning we got up and headed to the beach for a little while before packing up and heading to Orlando for our flight home.

We went through Port Canaveral again, this time we could see three boats docked in the port.

In the picture you can see two of them, the Disney and the Royal Caribean.

We got to Orlando with plenty of time before our flight was to leave. We checked our bags, I did a little shopping, had a snack, watched the planes coming and going and Michael did some reading. I made Michael pose with Mickey at the airport.
Finally it was time to board the plane. We didn't have a non stop flight this time. We had to go into Atlanta. The flight was pleasant, we reached Atlanta in about an hour. I watched another plane land on the runway beside us, as we were landing. That was rather cool.
Oh my goodness is that a big airport. We sat on the runway waiting to taxi into the terminal for about 20 minutes. In that time, from where we were sitting I watched 16 planes take off.
I took this picture from the window of the plane while we were sitting on the runway. We could see the terminal that we needed to go to, but couldn't because there were several other planes lined up trying to get into the terminal also.
Once we got off the plane, we had to find our boarding gate. Which wasn't an easy task, because they kept changing it. Four times they changed it. We went from gate 3 to gate 25 to gate 8 and then finally gate 11. We were exhausted. We had carry on bags, that were quite heavy, and not alot of time to be at the correct gate. By the time we boarded our plane.....we were pooped. We arrived in Nashville around 11pm. Our limo driver was waiting for us, we retrieved our luggage and headed for home. It was around midnight when we got there. It was sure a sight for sore eyes.
That was our trip, I have enjoyed sharing it with you.
Be sure to check back for life with the newlyweds.........

Monday, June 23, 2008

Honeymoon Part Two

The second part of our honeymoon trip was spent in Daytona.

We decided to take a more scenic route than the interstate.
So we drove along the coast to Daytona.
It was a very pleasant drive with views of the ocean, hotels and houses.
The hotels aren't right on the water, so there are a number of spots to pull off the road and access the beach.
These were great, Michael could have his cigarette and I could walk down to the water. Usually no one was there but us, it was like having our own private beach.

We reached Daytona and found our hotel, The Plaza Resort And Spa, which is just down from the main street pier. Our room was an ocean front room with a balcony.
I love sitting on the balcony, especially at night, listening to the waves.
Because it was turtle nesting season, there were no lights at night near the beach. One night we walked down to the water to see if we could find any turtle tracks or turtles. Of course, we did not.

One of my favorite things about the beach is watching the sun rise over the water. It was the perfect beginning to the day, every day we were there. Rather it was seen from the beach itself or the balcony of our room, it was spectacular.

It is easy to tell which pictures were taken from the balcony, because I couldn't get a shot without the trees being in it.

I like watching the beach come to life. Before the sun peaks up from the horizon there are only a few people on the beach. The early morning runners or walkers and the few of us waiting for the sunrise. As daylight begins to break, you can see a few more people.

The balconies of the hotels begin to have occupants and hotel staff members are busy setting up the rental umbrellas and chairs along the beach.

Soon you can see the life guards taking their place in their watch tower chairs.

Out on the water you can see the boats begin to sail by.

By noon, the parasailers are on the water and the beach is alive with people.

The beach was really wonderful and we enjoyed it very much. We did find that Daytona is a very different place than St. Augustine. In St. Augustine, we felt safe walking around the streets of the area day or night. Daytona, was a different story. You had to keep your guard up. We were approached by pan handlers and rude pushy condo salesmen. One morning, I decided to walk to one of the shops that we had visited the day before. It was only about two blocks from our hotel. It was around 11am or so, on the main street, plenty of people around, and this man kept following me. If I slowed down, he slowed down, if I walked faster, he walked faster. I stopped at one point pretending to look at something in a shop window.....he stopped. I was beginning to get a little scared, so I quickly went into a shop and walked right up to a group of people inside, like I was meeting them. I asked them for directions. He finally walked on up the street. I didn't go anywhere without Michael after that.

While we were there we visited Ponce Inlet and the Ponce De Leon Lighthouse.

It was a very special treat for me. This made the fourth time that I have visited Daytona.

My other visits had only been for a day at the beach and even though I knew of the lighthouse, I had not even seen it until my third trip there. Even then I wasn't able to go inside the lighthouse because they were doing renovations. So this time, I was going to climb that lighthouse or else.........

There are alot of stairs to climb to reach the top, but it was sooooo worth it.
Seeing the view from the top of the beach lined with hotels, the jetty, and New Smyrna Beach across the water is awesome to me.

I do love it.....

The tickets are all day tickets so we climed the lighthouse, then left to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the water and returned to tour the rest of the lighthouse museum buildings.

After the lighthouse, we spent the rest of the day down at the beach.

From the jetty we watched a group of surfers. Some of them were pretty good.

There were several jellyfish swimming along the rocks of the jetty. It was kind of hard to get a picture of them. They would come up only for a few seconds and then back down into the water.

Michael knew that I wanted to see the lighthouse at night, so he made sure that we drove back at night to see it all illuminated.
It was truly beautiful. The picture does not do it justice.
Our time in Daytona was nice, we enjoyed it very much. It isn't a place I care to visit with the kids, but it has good points too.
Our last day of our trip we left open. We made no reservations. We decided to just play it by ear to see what we felt at the time that we wanted to do.
So be sure and check back to see where we ended up and for the final chapter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Honeymoon...Part One

This post is the first part of Our Honeymoon Trip.

Lindsey says that I have a story for every picture and I suppose that I do. I hope you enjoy reading about our trip as much as I enjoy blogging about it.
The first night as Mr. & Mrs. Bratcher was spent in Nashville. We stayed at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. Upon checking in we found that we had been upgraded to the Honeymoon Suite, where there was chocolate covered strawberries and chilled champagne awaiting us.

What a great room it was and a nice thing for the hotel to do. Terri, the lady from Federal Grove, had packed us a nice little basket of goodies from the wedding, so we didn't have to leave our room for dinner. Of course, I liked the pretty white basket that she had packed our goodies in and didn't want to just leave it there, so it had to travel with us.
The next day it was off to the airport for our flight into Orlando.

As you can see, I am fascinated with flying. I love looking out as we are flying over things, like the Gulf Coast........ Being above the clouds is just awesome to me. Layers of white fluffy clouds are just beautiful, not to mention getting to see other planes flying by as you enjoy the view. I love it!

It was a challenge to bring the little white basket with us and not have to pay another $25.00 fee for an extra bag. It became my personal item carry on.
Anyway, we reached Orlando, retrieved our luggage and our rental car and were off to St. Augustine. The drive was nice, not really much to see along the way. We found our hotel quite easily. The Casa Monica Hotel is quite nice, right in the center of the historical downtown area.
The picture to the left is Casa Monica. Our room overlooked the pool area. Everyone there was really great.

There are alot of things to do in St. Augustine and we tried to see as many of them as we could without rushing through.

Here is a picture of St. George Street......lots and lots of shops. =) One of my favorite things to do while on vacation (something Michael discovered about me).
Here are the gates to the city, you can see in the picture the sign advertising the "Ghostly Experience", boy do they promote that. Everywhere we went they were trying to get you to go on one of their ghost tours. Even people on the streets would see me taking pictures and tell me that if my camera is a digital one that I shouldn't miss taking pictures at night near the cemetery. They say if you take pictures of the graves that you will see ghosts in the pictures with your digital camera. We, however, found other places to be at night, like watching dolphins playing in the bay and seeing the sunset aboard the cruise boat.

We visited and drank from The Fountain Of Youth. We found a Pirate there, he was setting up for a private party later that evening that was to have a firing of the cannon. He took the time to pose for a picture and to show us how the cannon worked and just how far it had the capability of shooting.

We saw the oldest school house in the U.S. and the oldest house and the oldest drug store. I was getting ready to take Michael's picture in front of the school house, when this gentleman walked up and posed with Michael. He said, " I'll be the guy in the picture that everyone says, who's that guy?" His friends were saying what are you doing? It was so funny.

We visited Castillo de San Marcos. It was a neat place to visit. It is over 300 years old and built from Coquina. ("co-KEEN-a") a natural limestone composed of broken shells. You can see the fragments of shells inside the rock. Many of the structures in St. Augustine are made from this stuff.

We found a star fish at the beach. I never knew that they could be purple. Of course, after we got him home and dried him out, he lost his color.
We did however manage to kill Michael's cell phone at the beach. We were walking along the beach, in our street clothes, talking and not paying attention to the waters edge, when we found ourselves in a bit of deep water. Almost waist deep in fact. Just a few steps and we were back in calf deep water, but the cell phone didn't survive. The girls in his office said I did it on purpose. Me.....I wouldn't do such a thing, or would I? =) Hmmmmmm.........

Another place we visited was Flager College.

It was built as The Ponce De Leon Hotel. A very elite hotel and the first major structure in the U. S. to be built from poured concrete. Some of the most beautiful Tiffany glass windows you could imagine. It is absolutely beautiful. I'm trying to talk Lindsey into attending this college. It's only around 2,000 students, very close to the beach, a beautiful historic campus, a wonderful and safe place to live and I would have a very good reason to visit St. Augustine often. =)

The Casa Monica sits right across the street from Flager College and the Lightner Musuem, which is another huge structure built by Mr. Flager. It was The Hotal Alcazar, Henry Flager must have loved building extravagant hotels. When the hotel closed, Lightner bought the building to house his antique collection and then opened the museum. be that rich. It has some really beautiful and interesting things inside.

A few of my favorite things in the museum were the 1860's Bentwood cradle and the display of Tiffany Glass Windows. They were just beautiful.

The shrunken head was neat also and the first x-ray machine was interesting. I couldn't get a good picture of it, but it was big and worked off of static electricity.

Being the Lighthousegal that I am, we couldn't visit a city with a lighthouse and not go there.

So, of course we climbed to the top. It was alot of stairs and I admit, I had to go slowly and rest every couple of flights, but the view was worth the climb.

We had the gentleman at the top snap this picture. Don't we make a cute couple! I think so anyway.

Michael, being quite the history buff, enjoyed reading about the history of the lighthouse.

I was glad to see him enjoy being there.

I found this plaque there and thought it was nice and how very true it is.

I thought it would be a good way to end Part One of my Honeymoon Story. I hope you will return for the next chapter.