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tales from the worst blogger ever

Well, if there was an award for people who are really bad at blogging, I would win all of the categories. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I am here to say that I have gone seven months without blogging, and this ultra long blog post is about to fill in the gap I have created. If you are looking for a new book to read, I am about to write one. Enjoy what is coming at you in this account of the last seven months of my life!
I last left off in November, just before Thanksgiving. I will say that I can live to tell the story of surviving a black friday sale! I have never even thought of venturing outside of my house on a black friday. For those of you who know me, you know I love people, the more the merrier. However, my love of people does not extend to the thought of being surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands, of elbow throwing, sale hungry, turkey stuffed people. No sale is worth that scary mess. Thanksgiving 2012 I was convinced to go brave the crowds in the name of a TV, XBox, and USB drives. I think it is the thrill of knowing people die evey year in these sales that got my adrenaline pumping as we entered the Kauai Walmart. The crazy thing is, we just got lucky. We just so happened to show up at the right time and bump into the right people that allowed us to bypass ticketing, skip lines, and had us in and out with all of our merchandise in less than thirty minutes! The people leaving at the same time as us had been standing in lines for more than four hours. I don't know how it happened, but if you want a Thanksgiving miracle, there it is.
In honor of saving so much money on black friday, I decided to spend some at Dave and Busters. Scott and I went for some fun, games, and the ridiculous photo booth you can see above.
Upon leaving Dave and Busters. we passed this lovely Italian restaurant that should probably reconsider the order they display their signs. Haha. It made for a good laugh on our walk back to the ship in Honolulu.

The following week was the final week of my contract. Scott and I took a day to explore Maui. We ate in Lahaina and went to the aquarium before finishing our day at Krispy Kreme! Wicked, the musical was in Honolulu, and I won lottery tickets to see it the day I left Hawaii! Along with Audrey, Mark, Jonathan, and Theo we went for my first Wicked experience! It was fantastic, and a perfect way to end the contract!
 My first adventure on the mainland was a long awaited sisters only trip. I grabbed the twins and we headed out for three days of fun, no parents allowed! We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. Playing in the water park in the middle of winter made it extra fun, and allowed us to brush up on all those skills the girls had learned in swim lessons last summer. We also ate at the T-Rex restaurant, and made hot cocoa in the hotel room!
Our next adventures took us to Crown Center. We ate at Fritz's train station restaurant, went to Kaleidoscope, toured the Hallmark Visitors Center, and climbed through Crayola land. The following day we visited the new Sealife Aquarium and Legoland. The girls loved all of the sea life, and were excited to attend the 4D movie theatre. I was most fascinated by the Lego replica of Kansas City. Above, on the left, is our view of Union Station from our hotel room during the day and night. The right shows the Lego version of the famous building.
 
 We headed back home and the next day turned right around to meet up with family for Silver Dollar City's Christmas festival. It was freezing. Thank goodness Aunt Lisa had an abundant supply of hot hands. Despite the frigid temperatures, we still managed to ride our favorite rides and squeeze in some quality family time.

I headed back to Kansas City for Christmas, and just a few days later, Emily rolled into town ready for a cross country road trip. Now let's get this straight, two female drivers, who don't drive often because they live on cruise ships, want to drive from Kansas City to Charlotte, NC in the dead of winter. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but we gave ourselves several days to make the trip so we could stop all along the way and the trip was a total success!
Our first stop on the journey was St. Louis. I have spent half of my life in Missouri, and this was the first time I have ever actually visited St. Louis. We had so much fun and dined at the best Peruvian restaurant. It was the first Peruvian restaurant I have ever been to, but after the delicious explosion of flavors, it won't be the last. After our dinner we found out about an authentic speak easy nearby which made for an interesting evening. We had a great view of the arch from our hotel room, and traveled to the top before leaving the city.
Our next point of interest caused an hour detour, but was definitely worth it. When we saw signs for Santa Claus, Indiana, we couldn't resist. The entire town in Christmas themed. Streets like Mistletoe Toe Lane and Holly Drive made up this holiday wonderland. We continued our day and stopped in Lexington, KY that night. It just so happens to be the hometown of Jonathan, and he was home for the holidays. We met up with him and had a nice little tour guide for our one night appearance in the city.
I almost drove us right off the highway the next day when I became entranced by the Knoxville, TN Sunsphere. Everyone knows my favorite color is sparkly, and this was the biggest sparkly thing I had ever seen. We had to investigate. Turns out it was part of the Worlds Fair in Knoxville and you can still travel to the top to see out over the city. This was our last stop before heading to our final destination.
We made it to Charlotte, NC just in time for the new year. As the balloons fell, we raised a glass to what 2013 had in store for us! Little did we know, it would take us both half way around the world. We spent the rest of our time in Charlotte exploring the downtown area, visiting museums, and listening to live music throughout the city. Charlotte is a really fun little big town, and the weather was a lot more bearable than what I returned to in the Midwest.
My last few days of vacation were spent on daycations with friends, seeing my uncles perform, and packing for my next contract. I gathered my things and headed back for five more months of palm trees and sunshine.
My first few weeks back included a lot of hanging out, playing games, geocaching and exploring. Josh, Devinn, and I ventured off to the lighthouse above one day and found a small BBQ shack on the way back. It was the best BBQ I have ever found in the islands. They just don't do BBQ like they do in Kansas City, but this came real close. Bo, Taylor, and I began hosting regular game nights. We were serious farkle players for a while, but when the competition got too intense, Bo taught us how to play Monopoly deal. It is a new version of the old classic that is played with cards. Games go fast so you don't have to commit to 4 hours of playtime. With Valentine's day quickly approaching, I volunteered to help plan the crew party. We decided on the theme "We fell in love in a hopeless place." For anyone that has ever worked on cruise ships, that song, and it's theme could not be more true for our lives. The party was successful, the decorations were great, and everyone had a good time!
There are a surprising number of birthdays in February and March, so my weeks were packed with one celebration after another. Whether it was dinners, exploration days, or nights on the town, everyone was able to celebrate their birthday in style and I am so glad I could be there for the occasions.
After seeing the opportunity in a magazine, I couldn't stop thinking about going power gliding. It is basically like hang gliding, only the glider is equipped with a motor so you can soar at speeds of 80-90mph. James and I took off one Friday morning to see Kauai from a different point of view. The experience was awesome and we were incredibly lucky to see so many whales, dolphins, turtle, stingrays and more as we soared over the ocean and coast. We even got to log an hour of flight time for piloting the power gliders!
The next week, James, Felix, Kyle, Alex and I headed up the side of the mountain to check out the lavender farm. What we thought would be a quick detour on our way to lunch, turned into a 5 hour photo shoot of exploring and shenanigans. We had such a blast and all left with six pack abs from the non-stop laughter that came with our afternoon at the lavender farm.
My parental unit finally graced me with their presence in Hawaii. Their first day on the islands we took off on the road to Hana. The curvy little road makes driving through the ozarks seem like a straight shot. It takes hours just to make it the 45 miles of curves, turns, and 50+ one lane bridges, but the views and hikes make it worth every minute. Where else in the world will you find rainbow bark trees, countless waterfalls, and coastlines that are too beautiful for pictures to truly capture? This was a great day, and a wonderful welcome to the islands.
The next day, Ray went on a biking excursion while Mom and I got pedicures at the spa. We all met up for lunch, along with Jonathan and Mark at Mama's Fish House. I know I have raved about this restaurant before, but I will say it again. The view they offer is phenomenal, and the food is equally as incredible as the view. Every plate comes out looking so delightful you don't want to eat it and mess up the presentation. I got the chocolate mousse black pearl for dessert, and had to take a picture before devouring every last bite.

My parents spent the rest of the week hiking the volcano, exploring Kona, taking surf lessons, attending the luau, and going on kayaking and waterfall hiking excursions. It was great showing them everything I have been doing out in Hawaii and letting them experience the life I brag about.
Everyone left and the ship sailed over to Pearl Harbor for a dry dock and two weeks of renovations. We were tasked with assisting where needed throughout the dry dock process and found ourselves doing everything from demolition, to tech, to housekeeping, and even assisting down in the engine room. When the ship came back together, we were given a new photo gallery location that has helped with sales and given the studio a great new display for promoting our services.
During dry dock we were given a few days off. Ryan, Josh and I took full advantage of the opportunity. We rented a hotel room in Waikiki and relaxed to the max. One night we embarked on a sunset sail right off the beach in Waikiki. Another evening, we attended a luau. In between, you could find us lounging on the beach, all day everyday!
After dry dock we made a trend of going "glamping" on overnights. "Glamping" is a glamorous form of camping. I am not into the sleep on the ground with the critters and wake up with a sore back form of camping, but I do like the idea of sleeping under the stars. As a compromise, we would rent a pick-up truck, fill the bed of the truck with an air mattress, pillows and blankets, and enjoy a super cozy night with the sound of waves rolling in on the beach and a beautiful view of the night sky and crisp air of the evening breeze.
When we weren't "glamping," I spent my last few weeks in Hawaii hanging out with friends. I was able to capture some super awesome photo shoots that allowed me to challenge my creativity. I saw one last Haleakala sunrise, and explored the black sand beach and lava fields in Hilo. I ate way too much poke and took in all of the sunshine I could bear. These last few weeks proved to be my last in Hawaii, as I was asked to take an assistant manager position on board one of the other ships in our fleet. I will be embarking on the Norwegian Jade, and taking my adventures exactly half way around the world from Hawaii to see the Mediterranean. I am excited to see the new possibilities in Europe. I will fill more of my blog with the fun packed vacation I am currently on, but I think my fingers might fall off if I type anymore, and I am sure your eyes are burning from staring at a computer screen this long if you have managed to conquer this post in one sitting. I vow to not let this seven month blog happen again, and I will return soon with a vacation summary.

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