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What an awesome vacation we had!

We, some friends of ours, my wife Sue and myself, landed in Miami late Saturday night (Aug. 18th) picked up our rental car and drove to Orlando that night and got to our luxurious time share resort at 5:00am (EST).

That was the worst part of the trip, not that we were tired but that we got lost in Orlando looking for the resort.

We could have gotten there an hour earlier.

We spent the first day relaxing by the pool, buying groceries, checking out all the stuff at this huge resort, and eating at my favourite Florida restaurant "Darryl's". I love my babyback ribs!

Monday we went to Disney/MGM and had a great first day! The Rockin' Rollercoaster was awesome! It was the first thing we went on!

Then we went on the Tower of Terror, and found out that now they don't just drop you once, you go up and down like a yo-yo.

Our friend Wayne was pretty green after getting off that one!

Also at MGM Bear met Bear (In the Big Blue House) and I got drenched beyond belief during the Backlot tram ride tour.

It's not in anyway you'd expect to get wet during the tour, but that's another story.

Everyone laughed so hard they thought they'd wet their our own pants!

I ended up drying off in an hour.

The weather was from 92 F to 96 F the whole trip.

On Tuesday we went to Epcot, which is always a great place but it was really crowded there that day.

That's when having a Fast Pass comes in handy! If you don't know what they are, find out, they're terrific!

At one part of the day we were sitting under a patio umbrella at this outpost near the World Showcase Lagoon having ice cream (it's the best place at WDW for ice cream, trust me) when all of a sudden this thunder and lightning storm hits!

It was all around us and even above us at one point, and then it rained!

Not your typical BC type rain but a torrential downpour!

So here we are huddled under this umbrella with just these big boulders on one side keeping the sideways falling rain from drenching us, while lightning flashes around us.

Thankfully, the storm of the century lasted a mere hour and forty-five minutes and that was the last bit of bad weather we had.

Wednesday was the day we were to go to Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure, but we were feeling rather tired and decided to hit the Outlet Mall for a few hours and then rest up back at the resort.

Thursday was spent at the Magic Kingdom and we took full advantage of our Fast Passes to see all the rides that were new to us.

I especially liked the Extra Terrorestrial Alien Encounter, not because it scared me but because of how it freaked Sue out!

We all agreed that our favourite ride by far would have to be Splash Mountain.

On Friday we went to WDW's Animal Kingdom, and it was the perfect way to end the week.

We got there early and there were less people so we went on DINOSAUR! right away and then again a second time.

The 3-D movie "It's Tough to Be A Bug!" was hands down the coolest of the 3-D movies that Disney has. I jumped off my seat at one point.

Our friend Margaret won't soon forget the Kali River Rapids Raft Ride, she got soaked from head to toe, but was the first to get back in line for another go.

The Kilamanjaro Safaris was really cool and a bit emotional for me as I reflected on how my Dad always wanted to go to Africa on safari.

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom at the close of the day for one last ride on Splash Mountain and we got the photo to prove it!

On Saturday we got up early and headed back to Miami for the second part of our trip ... the cruise.

We headed to the Miami Port and saw two huge ships sitting there.

The bigger of the two was Royal Carribean's top ship and the other one was ours!

We entered a huge warehouse and actually stood in line for about an hour, which wasn't very pleasant, but then it was Bon Voyage.

We had a nice stateroom, but our friends, Wayne and Marg had a gorgeous room with a balcony.

So we spent a lot of time in their room.

Less than an hour into the cruise dolphins came along side of our boat and swam along side us!

Whatever you have heard about cruising is all true.

There were about 3400 people on board, and yet the ship is so huge that you can always find a quiet spot.

The food is fabulous, and the entertainment is as good, if not better, than you would get in Las Vegas.

The only thing we didn't like was that people smoked everywhere, except the dining room and the big lounge where they had all of the shows. But other than that we had a fantastic time.

After a leisurely day at sea, we headed for Cozumel Mexico.

When we got off the boat, our friend Wayne was instantly surrounded by short Mexicans (he is quite tall). He was great to have around because he speaks Spanish and got us great deals and special service from the locals.

We ended up renting a car.

We drove all over the island, and much of it is still untouched.

We found a great spot to go snorkeling (I came across a barracuda), and then another beach with huge waves that we swam in.

The water was soooo warm and the weather was hot and humid.

Everyone else ended up getting sunburned from driving around in our VW convertible Bug. Cozumel was our port of adventures.

After another excellent day at sea we awoke the next morning to the most beautiful port we've ever seen ... Georgetown on Grand Cayman Island.

We got onboard a tender (a boat that takes you to shore) and walk five minutes down the road to a dive area.

The second our masks entered the clear blue water we saw that it was teeming with fish.

Fish of all sorts and sizes and brilliant colours hungrily crunching on the coral of the reefs.

We saw cuttlefish (they call them reef squid) and even sea turtles, they are an endangered species and heavily protected in that area.

The Cayman Islands are part of the British West Indies and very rich (Grand Cayman has 864 international banks) so everything is a little pricey, but if I had a million dollars he'd move there tomorrow, it's just that beautiful!

Sue especially enjoyed the free samples of rum cake that the stores offered.

Grand Cayman was our favourite port.

The next port was Ocho Rios on the northwest of Jamaica, Mon!

Our ship's cruise director suggested that we take one of the guided tours for safety reasons, (What! Jamaica isn't safe!) but we were feeling brave and set out on our own.

We walked through the town towards the Jamaica Grand Hotel (about a 15 minute walk) and about a dozen people offered us various services; taxi, hair braiding (I was free) sightseeing, and two guys offered us drugs.

It was a little uneasy but not too bad.

For $10.00 US each we had the run of the hotel's recreational area; swimming pools, beach chairs, showers, hammocks, etc and we had a very peaceful and relaxing afternoon.

On the way back to the ship we found a guarded walkway back to the port (it figures) and so we had no incidents with the locals on the return trip.

Jamaica was our most relaxing port.

The next day we had a pleasant day at sea and then on Saturday we were back in Miami.

We stayed at a hotel near the airport and very early Sunday Sept. 2nd we were back at the Miami airport for the fourth and final time.

We arrived at Bear's Mom's home at 12:30pm to a highly emotional reunion with our boys and eventually after many stories, hugs, and kisses later than evening managed to go to bed.

Paradise was officially over!