Mr D went over some basic trip details about safety, behavior, group attitude, and other items.
Plan for thr day:
Leave grch and stop for lunch at chick fil a.
Make a stop at the Gilmore Car museum for a couple hours.
Head to the hotel for the night near Detroit.
More details to come after team meeting tonight.
24 students and 4 leaders are setting out on this trip to discover the joys and adventures of travel and transportation.
Follow along on the trip as the details are revealed to the students one day at a time.
Pray for health and safety as we enjoy the time together.
First pic is our fleet of four black minivans. Seemed like we were a motorcade or something. The best van had the idea that we should choose a random traveler and put two vans in front and teo behind to see what might transpire and how special we could make them feel.Didn't happen but we might have other ideas as we get more adventurous.
Made about a 90 min stop at the Gilmore Car Museum where kids did a walk through the two buildings that are open in the winter. Pretty amazing collection - many one of a kind vehicles. I added a few pictures including a $20 million Dusenberg race car, the first type of camper that had electric trailer brakes, the car from Driving Miss Daisy, and a ”try to start a model t” simulator that the kids worked on. It takes a ridiculous number of moves - ask the children :)
It would have been nice if the other 6 or 7 buildings had been open but those areas are unheated and closed. Perhaps a chance for you to go this summeron your own.
Now some free time at the hotel and pool before supper. All kids still healthy and happy.
More info after the meeting tonight.
We met a bit early so people can get to bed on time and maybe watch a football game for a bit.
Tomorrow morning we arise early for the opening of the hotel breakfast at 6:00 with just 15 min for eating and into the vans, ready to leave at 6:15am to head to the detroit airport. this should be an interesting first morning after perhaps more relaxed sleep/wake cycles during Christmas break.
Delta flight from detroit to Miami at 8:40am.
pick up vehicles, stop for quick lunch, continue to Everglade City for an airboat trip through the mangrove swamps.
After the ride, we head toward the 10,000 islands to our hotel.
We will drop our stuff and go to Naples for supper, run a few food errands, and back to the hotel.
Sounds like fun! Pics tomorrow!
Made it out of the hotel, to the airport, and through security with no problems except Mr D losing his phone and not realizing for a while. Thanks to an athletic youth who ran from our gate (farthest one possible -A75...look up the airport map) to ask at security about it. It was found wedged in a seat in the waiting area after the run which is how things go sometimes. All good:)
sleep was aided by the lack of a close football game last night.
Some Kids found out that they make noises while sleeping - information that they perhaps didnt know about themselves before. It’sa journey of self-discovery already.
Next stop, Miami!
Went in 5 airboats on a low and high speed winding trip through natural mangrove channels. Weather is awesome. Some kids and adults probably already flirted with sunburn. I’ll add pics a few at a time since the upload time is slow. I'll get some from the kids later tonight.
Checked in at our hotel (Port of the Islands Resort) and then went in to Naples for supper. Had some chicken, pulled pork, ribs, wraps, rice, potatoes, and other stuff. Then back to the hotel for some free time before our meeting tonight. One more post today with tomorrow's plan.
***It turns out that adding videos is not possible using this application which is so sad...the upload part says "photos and video" but I never tried a video before the trip. I'll share some videos with the kids somehow and they can share them with you.
Discussion tonight about being a Light both collectively and individually. Kids related several examples where they saw this in one another.
Plan for tomorrow is
- Sleep in a bit - breakfast from 8-10 at the hotel
- We are taking 2 large pontoon boats and a deck boat from the marina here at the resort for a day excursion through the area known as 10,000 islands. If you zoom in on the region of the near-shore Gulf by the red dot of our location, you will see why that’s the name.
- we dont know exactly what we will find or do - you wil have to wait like we will: beaches, swimming, relaxing, sports, and nature encounters are all possible
When we get back we will head to Marco Island for supper and a sunset.
I dIdnt have cell service for much of the day and we were busy for much of the rest so you get everything all in one long post.
Today we had some relaxing time in the morning. basketball, pool, frisbee, walks, Case caught some grouper off the bank, cards were played, Katie led the way in helping take down the hotel’s Christmas tree, the usual stuff.
At about 11:30 sack lunches were distributed and we moseyed to Dock A where we saddled up two large and one small pontoon boat for a 4 hour tour.
Caleb did most of the captaining on Mrs DK’s boat, Mr C, Kirsten, and Ryann piloted one and Mr DK was the admiral in charge of the mini-pontoon.
We headed down the channel until we hit the 10,000 islands (Joey tried to count them but didn’t get very far). We cruised a little ways around the islands following GPS on the boats until we beached the boats at Panther Key. Boat renter recommended not swimming since some nice (his words) bull sharks are caught in that area. we went there because the beach is nice to pull up the boats and do some exploring - everything else is mangroves right to the water.
Taking his advice, we did some shell hunting, walking, frisbeeing, blue crab finding, Kaylee gathered a while family of empty horseshoe crab shells, mini crabs were pursued, a broken boogieboard was picked up and taken back to the resort for proper disposal, and some other stuff also happened.
On the way back some carrots and oranges made flights between the boats. I can’t speak for all the boats but the kids on my boat were great! They practiced eachothers names ($10 prize for each kid that can do first and last name for all travelers by Friday), some riddles were read and solved, Mrs C had some great conversation starters. I believe we did pretty much exactly what 12 people on a pontoon boat for a couple of hours should do: laugh, converse, relax, and throw food to/at other boats.
We headed to Marco Island for supper at Stonewalls. I’d recommend it if you are ever there. Awesome and very fast service despite there being 28 of us, great pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and crab cakes. We had a little free time after supper for kids to walk around Marco Island and do tourist things: Alvins Island, ice cream, beach sunset that we just missed but the sky was amazing, some more shell hunting, trust falls down from a bench for almost everyone, Micah bought more (some?) sunscreen, and some other stuff happened too - check your child’s instagram and you’ll probably find out more.
Plan for tomorrow:
- Be on the road at 6:45 am
- stop for breakfast on the way to Miami Beach
- Segway ride through Miami Beach area for a couple hours
- head south after, stopping at Costco for some groceries
- continue south to Key Largo to our desination place - 3 large condos for the night at the Mariner's Cove.
We took a lovely ride east across Florida into a beautiful sunrise. We braved morning Miami traffic and made our way to Miami Beach for our Segway ride. We cleaned the shop of machines so completely that a couple of the guides rode bicycles. It was a little chilly so we had to wear long-sleeved shirts with our shorts. Some of the locals had puffy winter coats on as they walked - it was 60 degrees after all.
After a short bit of practice (15 yards down and back and some messing around in an alley) we were off in two groups of 14. Perhaps we could have used a bit more practice since in our group, 7 people had a mishap of some kind which is a pretty bad percentage i think when the machine is designed to help you stay on it. Nothing really injured but pride.
We saw interesing architecture, lovely blue water at South Beach, lots of spiffy and expensive cars and yachts, a private island (only helicopter or boat access) near South Beach where Oprah has a place and condos start at $5 million, Ricky Martin's House from across the bay, some ships, and other stuff. We did get some dirty looks from locals as we behaved like a funeral procession - disobeying traffic signs/signals because once the leader went through...we all went through. It was fun, educational, and a beautiful day.
After that we headed south, stopped at Costco (4 carts full), filled up with gas, and kept heading south to Key Largo - our stopping place for now. We have three neighboring, lovely, 4-bedroom condos with great living space, a huge pool, a hot tub. We had a lovely supper and kids broke up to relax, swim, play games, or watch TV. More to come after our meeting tonight!
A game was played after devotions to test how much attention the student teams have paid during the trip thus far. 25 questions ranging from easy (what airline did we fly) to hard (what was the name of the beach we pontooned to). Winners - Jack V and Josh J - will receive their reward on Saturday so you'll be updated at that time.
- Beginning with breakfast open at 7:45, closed at 8:00AM.
- we head to Homestead Raceway to race awesome go-karts from 10 - Noon
- These are not the lame AJ's FunTrack kind...these ones have a top speed of over 40 miles an hour!
- we will have time trial races to determine seeding followed by a "slow" finals race
- There is a 25 lap Grand Final for the fastest drivers complete with victory ceremony.
A late lunch at Golden Corrall.
Back to the Condos for some R & R - bike riding, tennis, basketball, swimming, walks, fishing, or group games.
We'll eat a late supper after activities. Should be fun!
Note about Videos at the bottom of this description
We had a super time at Homestead Raceway doing some kart racing. We were a little intimidated when we drove up because we saw some carts going amazingly fast around a huge track. We later learned that the track was hosting the national championships this week and weekend and those drivers came from all over and were tearing around their track at up to 80 mph.
Our track was smaller and the carts slower than that although we still reached speeds over 40 mph on the straightaways. The handling was tricky and quite a few spinouts were had due to braking during cornering or in trying to avoid someone who had spun out ahead of you.
We had 27 drivers so we were broken up into three groups of 9 racers. We first had 15 minutes to go around in time-trial mode. Trying to get a feel for the car, the handling, and the best way around the course. The lap times of every lap for every driver were compiled by technology and each person's single fastest lap was published. The 9 slowest drivers were placed into the "C" finals. The next 9 were in the "B" and the 9 fastest drivers were in the "A" finals. Best lap times were in the low 21 second range for the time trials.
During the final time trial, two young men (about 10 years old or so) came over from the "big time" race next door and were watching us race. They had coverall racing suits and special shoes and everything. They casually mentioned that yesterday, after their race on the big course, they had come over to the track we were on and raced these carts for a while - creating lap times in the 19 second range. This information made several people (all the competitive ones) gather around and ask tips about path through curves, when to brake, and other racing tips. There are a couple pictures of those two youngsters holding a training session.
The finals was seeded by lap time, started in a starting grid position, and we all started on Green Flag for a 25 lap race to the checkered flag.
It was quite stressful to race for a fixed number of laps since one spinout (or 3 if you are Mr C) can put you way in the back - too far to catch up. Non-racers stood at the fence and cheered, jeered, and enjoyed the successes and spinouts of the racers.
Trophies were given to the top 3 in each of the finals races:
C: 3rd Joey; 2nd Jorden; 1st Trey. (it's funny how this happened - you'll have to ask Joey and Jorden or Trey how that worked out)
B: 3rd Josh J; 2nd Luke; 1st Kaylee.
Big Time A: 3rd Caleb; 2nd Jarrett; 1st - with the smoothest hairpin you'll see - Hunter . All of the racers in the A bracket got their lap times down into the low 20 second range thanks in part to small children from California who race karts instead of going to school.
Rest of the day is relax at the resort - pool, bikes, hot tub, naps, cards, and other stuff like that.
I have some videos of the racing and also of the airboat rides. I'm going to put them in a folder on Google that will give you access to them if you copy/paste this link into your browser:
Parents and students can't add or delete any but you should be able to view them. The videos are not professional quality.
A relaxing afternoon was had. Time in the pool and hot tub, some fishing, bike riding, basketball, and frisbee ended as kids cam back to #608 to hang out before dinner with some Uno, Euchre, and Screw Your Neighbor while the food was cooking.
Plan for tomorrow was shared with the kids earlier this afternoon. The kids had some choices and we had to confirm numbers with the activity center.
Some kids will be deep sea fishing on a head boat.
Some will be jet skiing.
Some will be parasailing.
There will be paddleboarding and kayaking also as options. Jack and Josh get to do two of the ”exciting” activities since they won the challenge last night.
The day doesnt have to start too early which the kids are excited about also.
Day 6 was a wild one. Kids had some choices about what to do so the group scattered to experience life today.
The early fishing group (10 kids + Mr DK) had some good fishing and some good seasickness since the weather was a little windy and the water rough. Some sea spray drenched them on the way out in the morning. The guys averaged about 10 fish per person with Trey catching the most and Mr DK caught the first. Luke reeled in a lovely 40+ inch barracuda (I'll post pics if Luke ever sends me any)!
The other groups were ready to jet ski, parasail, and do a little paddleboarding and kayaking.
First adventure was making sure the 6 guys who were going to jet ski could get their Florida boater safety certification. Micah actually brought his certificate from Michigan so he took a nap in a hammock while the other 5 took a test. 3 of the five were listening and looked through the booklet to take the open book 25 question quiz. 2 were took a booklet but didn't look at it. After being reminded - they used the book and changed a few answers. It took 19 out of 25 to get certified. Sawyer got 24 for the win. 2 guys got 20 for the barely good enough. The other two were solidly 24 and 23. All got certified so all could drive the machines.
We were scheduled to parasail at 11:30 and 12:30 and then jet ski at 1:00. Do to windy conditions, we could not parasail right away so some kids played ping pong, some slept on the beach chairs, some went paddleboarding or kayaking - waiting patiently...I was very proud of them. After a second wind delay, we decided to just have the jet skiers go first. They loaded up onto a shuttle boat to go a little ways down the shore where the jet skis are permitted. There were 4 machines and 6 riders so they took turns and went up and down and around the large bay and near some of the islands for their 90 minute excursion. The guide estimated that they covered over 30 miles on their machines.
Soon after they left, we got the all clear from the coast guard so the six ladies went out for their parasailing. There are a couple pictures that they sent me but I'd bet that their pics from up in the air look a lot like the ones I took. Ryann even FaceTimed her dad from up in the sky!
When they came in, we had a litttle more wait until Josh and Jack V came back before the final 6 of us could fly to the sky. Shelly and I went first because Shelly said she'd chicken out if she had to wait. Inspired by Ryann, I FaceTimed my 13 year old daughter back in Michigan from up in the sky also. Pretty amazing technology! Jorden and Jacob went next (video of their takeoff and landing will be in the Google Folder) and Jack V and Josh J went last. Then we headed back to shore and then across the highway to the condos where kids watched some NFL playoffs, went to the pool, rode bikes no-handed for 40 minutes straight (Caleb), finished two pesky 100-piece puzzles, and other activities.
About 2/3 of the kids did something today that they had never done before!
We had delicious tacos for dinner and decided to have our meeting before kids dispersed again. Having the pool and hot tub open until 9:00 has been very nice here. Joey learned why all pools say "no running" on a sign somewhere near the pool.
Remember that more pictures and the videos that I have are in the Google folder - link at the end of the Day 5 post.
Plan for Sunday 1/13:
- we will eat breakfast at 8:30
- we will head into Homestead Florida to go to church at Life Pointe Church for 10:30 service.
- lunch will be in Homestead at Shivers BBQ
- we will relax at the resort the rest of the day and do laundry because it's needed.
- leftovers for supper.
- Sunday night will be our last night in Key Largo before we move on...
Breakfast was egg casserole dishes (ham, sausage, vegetable, cheese), bacon (I fried 8 lbs of bacon), and muffins and fruit. Delicious.
We headed north once again to Homestead to go to church at Life Pointe Church. The people were very friendly and interested in why a bunch of Michigan HS students were visiting them. We got blamed by the pastor for bringing the cold (60s) weather the last couple of mornings. Church was energetic, loud, and encouraging. It wasn't the first choice of worship style that all of the kids would prefer but it was a great worship experience and the people there were great.
After church we went to a local BBQ place called Shiver's. Another place I'd recommend. The service was excellent, the food was plentiful and delicious.
Back at condo central for the afternoon - it took about 3 minutes after we stopped for kids to be heading to the pool.
Kids had a good afternoon playing in and laying by the pool. A couple lefties played catch. Some small lizards were seen. Football and college basketball were enjoyed. Some cards were played. Naps were enjoyed. Souvenir T-shirts were purchased.
Supper was leftovers. Kids were informed that tonight is our last night in Key Largo so rather we put all the remaining food out in hopes that we would waste as little as possible. Tacos, sandwiches, salad, bread, ice cream, pickles, M&Ms, and veggie straws all counted as supper. No one went hungry.
After supper, we had a meeting about how to leave these condos in a good state (neat and how we found them) and how to pack (do laundry and pack everything compactly and neatly for travel).
Breakfast at 8:00. Fully packed vans rolling at 8:45.
We will be heading to the Miami Airport to drop off our vans. Once that has happened, we are taking the Miami Metro train to the Miami Mover down toward the bay where we will take a ride on the Miami Thriller. The Thriller is a large speedboat (we will all fit in one) that will take us on a low and high speed trip through the bay and out into the ocean. If the water is smooth enough, we will experience 40-50 mph breezes across the ocean.
We ended our discussion of tomorrow at that point even though that only takes us to about lunch time...
The groan from the kids was excellent. We figured it was fair since the other day we gave them a day-and-a-half worth of information so this time 1/2 day worth evens that out.
More to come tomorrow.
We are spending the last 4 night of our trip aboard a cruise ship: Carnival Victory.
We will have stops at Key West and Cozumel and return to Miami on Friday morning for our flight back to GR.
Shore excursions will happen at Key West and Cozumel.
Kids will have zero phone access while cruising. Limited while ashore depending on if your family has a plan for Mexico.
I'm having difficulty with the ship WIFI allowing me to upload pictures to this website and I'm being disallowed from accessing my Google Drive to upload pictures to that folder for you. When we get to Key West, I'll try again. Otherwise you'll have to wait until I can get back to school for all the pictures. Sorry about that but ship WIFI evidently isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'll keep trying - perhaps later at night when people are sleeping the WIFI will cooperate faster.
Should be FUN!
The boat arrived at the Key West Naval Base pier early. Kids got up, ate breakfast, and we met at 7:55 before disembarking at about 8:15. After a short tram ride from the pier to downtown, we walked a couple blocks to Sebago Watersports where we boarded the large catamaran and headed south to the reef about 6 miles out. Cloudy and cool (65˚) caused Captain Eric and crew Emily and Dominic to wear winter-type coats with their flip flops. We had swimming suits and towels because we are on a trip!
Arriving at the reef, we had about a 50-50 split of people who jumped over the side vs entering the water from the staircase. Although the surface was choppy and the sky overcast, the water was warm (mid 70s) and we didn't have to swim far before we started seeing fish. It was really quite beautiful. Kids saw many different kinds of reef fish and a few that we could identify: sea turtle, barracuda, 5 ft shark, rock grouper, grunts, and many others. Even though the sun wasn't shining - the view underwater was excellent and the company was good.
After about an hour on the reef we returned to port, walked back to downtown, and joined a lovely line to get a tram back to the ship. Sadly we didn't have time to walk to the "southernmost point" marker but that's a reason to come back sometime. I did get a picture of "mile 0" marker which is the southernmost point on Highway 1 (which goes all the way up to Maine).
Kids were great. Food back on the boat was good. Another group dancing activity and some hot tub time has already been had as we steam south and west toward our next stop - Cozumel.
Ship satellite WIFI doesn't have enough bandwidth to let me upload pics yet. I'll keep trying.
We had a lovely boat ride overnight with just enough gentle rocking to feel like babies being rocked to sleep. We got to sleep in a bit, eat breakfast and/or lunch and then disembark about 1:15 to go onto the island.
We took taxis from the pier to a beach club called Paradise Beach. For a small fee per person we got access to their beach, pool, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkeling equipment and an array of water "obstacles" and slides. The ocean was warm, the sun was warm, the pool was warm, the service was great, and we had a lovely day in Mexico. By about 5:00 we headed back to the port and all did some shopping in the little places along the wharf.
We were back on the ship by about 6:00 and went for a lovely dinner in the dining room. The food is excellent and plentiful on the boat. A couple pairs of guys took on the "Seafood Tower" which cost them a chunk of their ship "allowance" but it looked delicious - crab legs, lobster, shrimp, oysters. The rest of us suffered through baked tilapia, ziti, steak, roast chicken, before we had dessert.
Tonight will be more karaoke, trivia, movie, kids arcade, and cards. A few kids have dealt with minor seasickness discomfort but have snapped out of it pretty quickly.
Tomorrow is on the ship all day as we head back to arrive in Miami on Friday morning.
Made it safely back to port. Waiting to disembark. Flight to Det at 12:40
Through security ok and waiting for our 12:40 flight