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20th Anniversary Celebration Vacation

My Friend Debbie      This past year we reached a major milestone in our marriage as my husband, Ricky, and I have been married since May 28, 1988! Time flies by when you're living life through many ups and downs, good times and bad times, and four kids later! We decided to "tie the knot" just a couple of years after high school. We were both going to college and working to pay the bills. We had just moved from our parents' homes into our very own home that we were fortunate enough to buy on our own! Ricky was working for a construction company and being the accountant that he was (majoring in Accounting and Finance at the time) it only made sense to him to buy a home, instead of renting. I didn't know that was possible, but he made it happen.

     We struggled to keep up with everything, including taking care of a home and yard, paying our mortgage, bills, food, his college expenses, keeping up with our studies, and learning how to be a married couple. Three years later, we finally got through college, at least Ricky finished, when I got pregnant with our first son, Ryan. I finished my schooling two years later.

My Friend Debbie      I loved being a SAHM (Stay-at-home-Mom) and we had another son, Jacob, when Ryan was four years old. I enjoyed helping and participating in their preschool when they had special activities. I helped in Ryan's elementary school when he was in 1st grade, until it was time to move in 2000. We were growing out of our home and we decided to buy another home, but we ended up living with my parents for a year instead of two months because our house wasn't going to be ready for a LONG time! (Why does that always seem to happen?)

     After we "settled" in at my parents' home, I decided to home school Ryan while Jacob went to preschool. OH! And, I got pregnant with our 3rd son, Tyler! Can you believe he was born just 1 week after we finally moved into our new, much larger home! Can you say stress?!! At least it was a "good stress." Did we want a little girl? Of course, but Zoey LuMei came along through adoption and by the grace of God He blessed us with a sweet little girl from China 6 years after Tyler! Okay, not always sweet, but for the most part. . .and yes, she thinks she runs the house.

My Friend Debbie      For our 20th Anniversary, we decided to celebrate a little bigger than usual and take a Cruise Vacation with Holland America. We also invited another couple to go with us who are good friends of ours. They just happened to be celebrating their 20th anniversary as well. Why not just go all out and make it a 10-day cruise!

     It was not easy leaving our children behind, especially since Zoey was only 2! I also knew the amount of homework my Mom would have to help with, as well as taking care of the house, meals, and sibling rivalry! But, thanks to Grandma Sybil and help from Grandma Shirley and our babysitter, Sarah, they were all well cared for! I did worry a little bit, but I knew they were in good hands.

My Friend Debbie      We left the day after this past Thanksgiving and flew to Ft. Lauderdale. The next morning we all boarded our ship the Zuiderdam for a fabulous cruise of the Caribbean! We were supposed to hop on to Half Moon Cay in Bahamas first, but that didn't happen. The waves were too rough and the wind was very strong, so we weren't able to take the Tender boats (lifeboats) over to the island. It didn't look like a lot of waves, just winds. When the tender boat went over with the crew to test it out, they almost didn't make it back. We sailed past the island and sadly waved goodbye.

     The next day we went to the top of South America to a quaint little island called Aruba! This time we did get to get off the ship only three days later! (I think I kissed the dry land; well, I thought about it.) We all took a bus to the other side of the island to "de Palms Island" to snorkel and see the amazing coral and fish. We did some shopping and had to make a stop at "Del Sol" to buy some fun, glow-in-the-dark T-shirts, hats, nail polish, and jewelry.

My Friend Debbie      Then we cruised on to Curacao. It's a volcanic island owned by the Dutch with Caribbean-colored homes of all assorted bright colors! It had a floating bridge for shoppers to walk over and we took a bus to a beach that was covered with small pieces of coral from storms that had washed it ashore. We snorkeled some more in between the cove of rocks and coral and saw some unique-looking fish and a few eels. But, I do have to say that the sights were gorgeous, the sun was warm, and the sand was smooth between our toes.

     Our next stop was the Panama Canal! That was a really interesting experience to see how they raised our huge ship up to higher water in between the three locks we had to pass through. We ended up in Gatun Lake which is in between the other locks on the Pacific side. We took a Tender Boat over to the shore and then a 1 1/2 hour bumpy bus ride to the Chagres River.

     Panama was a very poor area with lots of trash on the ground and fences and bars around the homes and stores. All the people loved to wave to us on the bus. We came to the river and got into dug-out canoes with motors on them that could seat up to eight to ten people. We went down the Chagres River for about 40 minutes with the Embera Indians and, believe it or not, we never saw any snakes or Caimens (crocs)!

My Friend Debbie      We were let off at the authentic Embera Indian Village where we were greeted with drums. They were wearing their hand-made brightly colored cloths. The Indians were extremely friendly and had beautiful crafts that they made for us to buy. They performed a native dance with drums and fed us fried Tilapia fish and fried Plaintain served in a purse shaped banana leaf. We took pictures of them and their beautiful children in their brightly colored cloths. They reminded me of Zoey, so I had to buy her a skirt to wear too. We took photos of their homes on stilts and their very simple, native surroundings.

     We came back to the ship and went on to Costa Rica the next morning. There we went on a zipline about 200 feet high and 1,000 feet across on the longest part over rocky, river rapids! There were about eight sections to go over, Okay, so I didn't go over, but Ricky and our friends did. I did my favorite activity which was horseback riding through the Rain Forest!

My Friend Debbie I saw howler monkeys, sloths, poisonous ants, and poison dart frogs in bright colors of red, orange, and blue. Also, huge spiders, one of which, of course, had to land on my leg, since I was wearing shorts instead of jeans because I was supposed to go on the zipline. Anyway, we had great weather, no rain or bugs in the rain forest, not even snakes! Believe it or not!

     We did some shopping in each port and had lots of awesome entertainment on the ship. After our delectable dinner and dessert each night we would make our way to one of the Broadway musicals with the most talented singers and dancers I had ever seen!

My Friend Debbie During the week, we also enjoyed the Comedian, and the Barry Manilow look-alike who did fabulous impressions of other famous singers, such as Elvis and Johnny Cash! We loved going to the Lounge to watch the Karaoke which had turned into "American Idol" with the D.J., Entertainment Coordinator, and the Cruise Director playing as Simon, Paula, and Randy! It was hilarious! There was a "Name that Tune" game, and my highlight was dancing. We learned different dances like the Cha-Cha and the Hustle from the Zuiderdam dancers!

     We had such a great trip, but I was glad to be back home and on dry land again! I hope we go again soon, but not too soon! It was such a fun way to CELEBRATE 20 years of a wonderful marriage!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Suzanne Newton

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