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Carmen Sandiego

I have recently been called Carmen Sandiego, and I am starting to believe that is a valid nickname. After the bow tie tour, I thought it was pretty impressive that I had been to 8 cities in 14 days. Little did I know, I would go on an unexpected tour of 10 cities in 17 days.
I started in Kansas City where my farewell celebration included a little daycation with Gabe. After movies, shopping, and pampering, we went to see my uncles perform at a local dive. I then went to visit my good friends the Dixons. You may remember them from previous posts, but I met them on board the ship, and someday, I am going to be just like Carolyn. They introduced me to their daughter and son-in-law, and we spent the evening dining and watching the final world series game.
The next morning, I had to be at the airport at 5:00am for my flights to get on the Jewel. The plan was for me to fly from Kansas City to Philadelphia, and from Philly to NYC. I would be in NYC at noon, and the ship would not leave until 4:00pm, so I had plenty of time to make it and get settled in. We all know it wouldn't make since for things to go as planned since I was involved, and this is where the crazy adventures began.
I flew from Kansas City to Philadelphia with no problems. Once in Philly, it began to snow and the airline cancelled my flight to New York. I immediately headed for the customer service counter and explained that I needed to be in New York to make it on the ship before 4:00pm. The only way to get me there, would be to fly me to Washington DC, then from DC to NYC. I would arrive in NYC at 3:00pm, and if I booked it to the ship, I would make it in time. I decided to take my chances, since that seemed to be my only option.
I boarded the flight from Philly to DC and three hours later, we were still sitting on the runway waiting to take off. The pilot pulled back into the airport and said the fight was not cancelled, but they were going to give us all a lunch break then reload the plane to take off. At this point I had missed my connecting flight in DC to NYC, so there was really no point in me getting on that plane again, and it was now impossible for me to make it to NYC in time to catch the ship. My corporate bosses advised me to get my luggage and skip NYC altogether. I just needed to book a flight to Orlando so I could meet up with the ship in Florida. When I asked for my luggage, they came back 30 minutes later to inform me my bags were missing. After much discussion, they explained to me that my best option was to go ahead and go to NYC since that was my original destination, and hopefully my bags would meet up with me there. The next available flight to NYC was 11:00pm. I took it.
Shortly after I drug all of my belongings to my new terminal, they announced that all flights after 8:00pm had been cancelled. I once again went to visit my friends at the customer service counter. They put me on standby on a 6:00pm flight. That flight was my last hope out of Philadelphia. I went to the terminal to wait and met Bob, who asked if I would like to join him for dinner. We went to the airport bar and grill just down the hall from our gate. The place was packed with tired travelers who had all been stuck in the airport all day. As we shared stories of where we were trying to go and why we were traveling, Bob kept informing our fellow travelers that we were on our first date, and could use some privacy to get to know each other. He asked many of the cheesy first date questions, and even bought my dinner.
It became time to get on the flight that had been delayed a few hours, but they assured us it would be taking off. I nervously waited for the standby list to be called as I watched all of my new friends board the plane one by one. Finally, they announced my name, and when I entered the plane, cheers erupted from all the people I had met throughout the day that were excited to see I made the cut! We waited on the runway for over an hour before the plane finally took off and landed in NYC at 11:00pm, and the day was complete when I saw my bags waiting for me at the airport!
The next morning I was back at the airport by 7:00am to get on my flights to Florida. This time my itinerary was from NYC to DC, and DC to Orlando. The weather was clear, and my flight to DC went off without a hitch. I had a four hour layover and I would be in Orlando by the afternoon, or so I thought. I boarded my flight to Orlando on time and we exited the gate onto the runway when air traffic control stopped the plane because something was leaking out of it! We waited on the runway for two hours while they tried to fix the leak and finally determined the plane was not safe to fly. We pulled back into the airport. Once again, I was given a new flight that left two hours later, and I finally arrived to Orlando at 8:00pm.
My friend Gabby, who I lived with on the ship my first contract, picked me up from the airport. She took me out to dinner and dropped me off at the hotel where I crashed for the night. The next morning, a shuttle took me to Port Canaveral, Florida to board the Jewel. I met the Perspectives team on the Jewel, grabbed some dinner, and even got to catch the Monday Night Football Chiefs game!
The next few days were spent learning all about the Perspectives Photography Studio (PPS.) I got to see the operations of the studio and learn about the programs and products offered. I even got to jump in and do some photography sessions and sales presentations. PPS is a new project that I have been assigned to take charge of on my ship. Basically I will be offering private photography sessions to guests. Weddings, vow renewals, senior sessions, and family beach sessions will all come to me. I will be in charge of the shooting, editing, and sales of each session. It is kind of like having my own photography studio in Hawaii, and I get full creative control of the sessions I shoot.After spending a week on the Jewel, I spent a week on the Gem. The Jewel and the Gem are the only two Norwegian ships that currently house PPS. I got to spend a week on both ships so I could see the daily operations and soak up as much information as possible for when I start the studio here in Hawaii. I also had a blast experiencing life on international ships, and seeing the different ports in the Bahamas. I realized how much I loved Hawaii, the people I work with, and the ship I am on.
I got off the Gem at 9:00am Sunday, and I left New York at 9:00pm that night. Unfortunately I had all of my luggage with me, so I had to go straight to the airport and spent the whole day exploring every corner of JFK. My flight was six hours to Vegas. When I got to Vegas, it was only midnight and my next flight was in six more hours. That was not long enough to get my bags and crash in a hotel, so I pulled an all-nighter in the airport cuddling with my bags. They can’t hold bags for more than six hours, and my flights were 6.5 hours apart, so I was forced to pick them up and recheck them. From Las Vegas I flew to LAX. There was a three hour layover in LAX then I was Hawaii bound. Lucky for me and my lack of sleep, my flight to Hawaii was practically empty, and I had a whole row to myself. The stewardess even gave me three pillows and two blankets to make the ride as comfortable as possible. I slept the entire way there and woke up in the land of sunshine and beaches!
When I arrived to the ship I checked in and retook my safety test. I got a 100% on the test! I then unpacked, took pictures of the Captain in the atrium, and grabbed dinner with Victoria at the Italian restaurant on board. I was officially back in action.
If you recall from last contract, our team was down to very few members and I was working all of the hours possible. This contract has been very different. The team is now fully staffed and I have had quite a bit of time off. That has been fabulous for my sleeping and adventuring, but not so nice to my pocket book. Most of my time at work has been spent training the new members of the team. I am teaching them all the ins and outs of what we do here, but sometimes I miss being right behind the camera.
Luckily, I have already had the opportunity to do some private shoots off the ship since I have been back. One was a sunset wedding in Maui. It was great to work with the couple and their family. I also got to spend a day with a family on the beach in Kauai. I am loving these new creative challenges, and can’t wait to get the studio up and running.
One Monday, Victoria and I went to Iao Valley on Maui. We made fun of a flash flood warning sign as we walked in, but less than fifteen minutes later, we got to experience one ourselves! It didn’t last long and we were back to hiking and exploring the trails in the park. Thank goodness we didn't run into any falling rocks like the sign I saw indicated.That next week, I packed my days with one adventure after the other since Victoria and Aimee were both leaving for vacation. I made another trip to Haleakala for the sunrise. Doing this overnight trek always makes for a long sleepy day, but the views make it so worth it. This time I went with a group of the photographers. We had a lot of fun experimenting with our cameras and light as we were waiting for the sun to rise!By the time we saw the sunrise we were pretty sleepy, but it is always worth the view. And the view of the island on the way back down the mountain is pretty incredible too.Tuesday, Victoria and I hiked to a lagoon that has become a regular Tuesday destination because it is in the backyard of a homemade ice cream spot. The ladies at the ice cream shop now recognize me and have even created a frequent visitor card for me!
I woke up early the next morning to get off the ship and do some exploring in Kona with Victoria. We grabbed breakfast on the beach and hiked around for a while before taking it to the ocean and renting jet skis! It was so fun to ramp over the ocean waves. I almost threw Victoria off the jet ski a few times, but she forgave me, and the fits of laughter during the ride were in full force.
Friday, we pulled an all-nighter to say goodbye to Victoria and see the lunar eclipse. Although it was pretty, and something many people never see in their lifetime, I am not sure the orange dot I saw in the sky was worth the lack of sleep I got. Especially because Victoria and I had such a big day ahead of us!
Saturday was the day Victoria left for vacation, and she went out with a bang, or maybe I should say a splash. We dove into the pool at Sea Life Park on Oahu and swam with dolphins! We had both had that on our bucket lists and decided it would be the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of Victoria’s vacation. When we arrived at the park, the desk explained that they had tried to contact us the night before to ask us to move our session time. They usually book sessions of 15-20 people and some morning sessions were not full. We had not gotten their phone call since we were out at sea, but they assured us we could keep our normal session time. We went to the dolphin discovery center for our session to find out that everyone else in our session had moved to an earlier time, and we had the entire pool to ourselves! Each adventure involves 30 minutes of pool time. In a group of 15-20, 30 minutes is only enough to get a kiss and one dolphin pull and the session is over. Since Victoria and I were the only ones there, we had completed that and still had 20 minutes left, so they let us do some fun extra things. First we got to pet the dolphins and feed them. We got to teach them tricks and command them to do jumps and flips. Normally there is only one dolphin in the pool during a session, but they sent us out to the middle of the pool and released five dolphins to swim under and around us. It was such an amazing experience, and one I will never forget.
This last week I have spent recovering from the craziness of the week before. I am happy to admit that my alma mater Pitt State won the MIAA Division II National Championship! I was cheering loud and clear from Hawaii, and even made my fellow coworkers do the banana dance in celebration with me. Last night, I rented bikes with friends and went to grab some late night sushi. We only had three bikes for five people, but we managed to make it work. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride, but it got us there faster than walking!
This week is the Christmas cruise. I am certainly jealous of all of the families spending time together on board, and miss my family at this time of year more than ever, but duty calls. On Christmas eve, three of the photographers and I met up for sushi for dinner. We then joined a group of friends and went to the Christmas Spectacular show on board which included a variety of light shows, singing, dancing and performing by several of the staff on board. Two of my friends on board sang "Oh Holy Night," and it gave the entire crowd goosebumps. After the show we went to Christmas Eve service, then called it a night to rest up before the busy day ahead of us.
My Christmas day was not exactly peaceful. I started my day in the photo gallery where a man with a seeing eye dog was trying to find his way off the ship to let his dog relieve himself. Unfortunately they only made it as far as the photo gallery and I was left with the mess. That evening on my way to work, the seam on my dress ripped halfway up my backside and I had to hurry to sew the dress back onto myself to make it to work on time. Other than those two miniature catastrophes, the day went really well for being so busy. I was able to join friends for a Christmas lunch that included crab legs and marinated shrimp and plenty of dessert. There was no green bean casserole, but the seafood feast was a new and delicious take on Christmas dinner.
So this will probably be my last blog post of the year, and I am looking forward to what 2012 has in store for me. Updates to come soon!

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