Thursday, September 18, 2014

From squirrel-y to rachet to jacked up…in no time

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I got to fluff hay this morning…not too excited when I found out I was going to use the big blue cab tractor.   I know it has A/C and I stay out of the sun better and its not that I just don’t like it… its just that I really love my little blue open cab tractor.  But Charlie was using it so I just do as I am told.  As I moved the big blue one across the road to the hay field I noticed the steering was a bit loose….I asked Adam about it and he said it is just that way and that they tried to fix it but it wasn’t better…in other words it was okay to drive and I should “get at it”. 

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I proceeded to fluff…noticing the steering but getting used to it and trying not to let it get to me.  It was a little squirrel-y…kind of like me, a bit crazy, all over the place, sort of hyper, slightly crooked, but trying to stay in a semi-straight line.  Then it started getting harder to turn and harder to get back on track and harder to stay straight. It was really getting on my last nerve and I was beginning to get really ticked and it was making it hard for me to keep my mind straight. I can only imagine how it looked to the cars going by on the road…I am sure they were wondering who the heck Pug had fluffing and what the heck that person was drinking…it was that bad…

 I tried to call my honey to see if he was mad at me and that was why he had me driving this rachet tractor, but I could not get him on the phone…probably a good thing since I was not a happy farmer.  So I did the next best thing and called Adam, who actually got me going on this tractor to start with.    Because by now, I had graduated from rachet to full blown jacked up.  This was ridiculous and I felt quite sure this was not just a squirrel-y problem but we were dealing with some major steering malfunction.  I asked Adam exactly how hard is this tractor supposed to be to drive???  He said it sounded like a steering oil problem and I agreed telling him I would check it out and let him know.

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Well there is no “I” in team but there is an “I” in Charlie….. and Charlie is on my hay fluffing team so I flagged him down to help me check the steering oil…there are a few places to put various kinds of fluids so I wanted to be sure to do it correctly.  We checked and it was empty…I used my bottle and Charlie’s bottle because that is what team members do for each other.  I called Adam and told him it was all good but that we would need more oil for future fill ups and we were both fluffing again.  Yay for happy endings…Yay for having a good team…Yay for steering oil.  And I could no longer be jealous of Charlie getting to drive my favorite tractor because he helped me keep mine

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So just like that we were both back to fluffing again and I could not believe the difference that steering oil made in my tractor,  It made the turning so much easier, the getting back on track a breeze, and staying in a straight line was, well it was easy as cake (that’s what my Kels always says).  It immediately made me think of Jesus and how He does that for me, all day every day…He is like my steering oil…as long as I have Him and lots of Him I seem to cruise on pretty smooth, things seem to go easy and my life is just….. better.  But as soon as I get too low on Jesus or too far away from Him I start to show signs of weakness, chaos, and just plain old boat loads of yucky stuff.   And I would not have had to fight the tractor so much if I would not have waited so long to make that call or get Charlie to help me check the oil level…just like I would not have to struggle so much on my own if I would just admit sometimes that I need a fill-up of Jesus and let my heart get so full of Him that while there will be things that make life difficult, make paths crooked, and make it hard to stay on course…I won’t let them get me to the point that I cannot think straight.  That is what Jesus wants us to let Him do for us.

I would love to say The End and we all lived happily ever after…but NOPE that was not the case.  Before long my steering was doing the same thing so I checked it again and sure enough it was empty which means I probably have a leak…it happens…to the best of us…  So what does that tell you……it just means that sometimes we are all a little leaky, and some of us may need more Jesus than others and on a more regular basis.  While its really okay to be a bit squirrel-y at times there is no need to be ratchet or jacked up….we ALL need Jesus….in different doses and in different ways…and for different reasons but He is the same Jesus for us all.  So don’t wait too late to check your Jesus levels and fill up…He is there, ready and waiting…His grace is sufficient and the only thing there is ever more than enough of…and it sure does not hurt to ask for help sometimes from people on your team as well as people that are not on your team…you may be surprised at where you can actually get the best help and you could be helping someone else in return…

As for happy endings…I got a call from my other hay team member Mickey who asked me if I wanted Charlie’s tractor because he was going to help move hay…all I could think was thank you Jesus…You are so good to me! I was going to get to drive my favorite tractor for a couple hours and as I climbed up in Mickey’s truck so he could take me to that little blue open cab tractor…I was indeed a happy farmer.  Patience is a virtue…not one of my strong points but I am getting better with it…I am still learning more about tractors and I am still learning more about Jesus…its all good.

I am thankful for steering oil and I am blessed beyond measure by Jesus…..

Monday, June 16, 2014

No hands...its how I roll....

I did a new thing today…anyone who knows me understands that I am not good with change…that whole “old dog, no new tricks” thing is my motto…well it used to be anyway.  I was needed in the field…to roll…I have done this before…the easy version (in good old black, rich, soil) and the hard version (in the green grass).  After my last rolling of the green grass I hoped, wished, and prayed for a solution to the hardships of not being able to see where to go or where I had been...little did I know my prayers would be answered...I learned a long time ago to be careful what you pray for and when praying be specific....

I did not know which it would be when I talked to my Van on the phone and he was meeting me in the field to “set me up”.  He knew better than to mention the fact that there would be technology involved on the phone…he chose to break it to me in person. I am not tech-savvy…or tech-happy...or tech-anything…what I am is anti-tech…I have learned to like my i-pod, i-pad, and i-phone…I use the term “like” very loosely…they all still make me cuss and want to throw them at least once a day.


Upon my arrival to the field I recognized the tractor, the roller, and the @#$%&*? green grass.  I knew this was not going to be fun.  When rolling in the green grass, it is VERY difficult to see where to go next as well as where you have already been.  Upon arrival I also noticed Van’s slight grin…as he said “I know you don’t like this technology stuff but I set it up for you just in case you want to try it”.  He gave me the “just hear me out” look just as I was giving him the “what the world????” look.

I learned long ago to trust my Van in all things, especially when it comes to anything to do with work.  Van is one of the most patient people I know and that comes in very handy when teaching Kellee anything about work…and I prefer that Van is the one to show me…no offense to my sweet honey but we have to live together…

Van’s approach is always hands on so I got in the drivers seat and we were off.  The technology part of this was that there is a computer in the cab with me that will show me where I have already been and where to go next…as if that is not enough it also helps with straight rows (a long time problem with me…very strange considering my border-line OCD).  How does it help you ask?????  Well IT STEERS ITSELF!!!! Yes, a tractor that steers it self.  I have seen it all….well almost anyway.  I asked Van why he even needed me and he says “somebody’s got to turn the tractor at the end of the rows”. Yes, this hash tag immediately came into my head #icanbereplacedbyamonkey.  If this just don’t beat all I have ever seen.  After a few rounds and some intense but very patient instructions…I was on my own.


There I was driving with no hands.  This opened up a whole new world for me.  I can now eat and drink at the same time, I can practice my wicked dance moves, I can sing, with arm gestures and literally “raise the roof”, I can text………..just kidding…no texting and driving even if I am not the one steering…but the new possibilities are endless…well almost anyway.  I was so nervous about all this “new” that it took me a while to feel confident enough to turn on my i-pod.  And you know that life is just too short to tractor with no music…so in no time I was jamming to my favorite beats and looking at all those straight rows was really good for my psyche-y.


Not to make it sound too easy, there were still buttons to push, I had to slow the tractor down to turn, watch the roller and not turn too sharp, make the turn, get back on the right track, speed back up, and all this is done with buttons…what would my Grandaddy think of this..probably not much and I would probably agree but we must keep up with the times (I say this with a frown on my face and some sarcasm in my voice).


I will admit it felt like I was driving a transformer…how cool it would have been to turn into a giant robot and start killing aliens and blowing up buildings and….. oh my…completely lost my train of thought there…not an alien in sight…just some sweet mama cows and no buildings just some fence rows.  I imagined my transformer to be a good mixture of Octimus Prime and Bumblebee…just enough bad butt to get the job done but enough humor and flare to get it done with style and a bit of attitude…

Speaking of fence rows…as I was rolling down what I felt like was a very straight line I noticed the fence beside me…it kept getting closer and closer and I was wondering what this new smarty pants tractor computer was going to do about it…and then I realized that it was not going to “do” anything… it was going to smash into and take down the fence row…so I acted quickly and grabbed the wheel which automatically puts the tractor back in manual steering mode and for a few brief moments I was actually smarter than that computer…few and brief are the key words here…

That whole steering wheel thing took a while to get used to…as I bumped along my first instinct after a huge bump was to grab the steering wheel…but that is when the tractor computer just says “hey, go ahead and do it yourself and see if you can do it any better than me”…rude tractor computers “ain’t nobody got time for that!!”

So after a while when I finally felt like I had the hang of it… the weather got bad and I had to stop…but I only left one small strip and the ends of my rows were a little ugly but the center of the field was beautiful…


So I was not happy about the technology part but with patience (my Van) and persistence ( this Smith girl ain’t gonna let anything beat her) I prevailed, learned something new, and didn’t tear anything up (thank you Jesus).  This “old dog” can hunt Open-mouthed smile.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Country Music Cruise 2014

It has been a while since my last blog…I was having major technical difficulties but my multi-talented I.T.  guy has got me back online and back to blogging…

My last blog was about our 2014 cruise…it was about the ship, the food, the islands, and the fun…this blog is about the entertainment…and it was outstanding!

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The comedian Jon Reep was hilarious…we have heard most of his jokes before but he surprised us with some new ones…and we actually saw one of his shows from the front row….(close enough that I could have spit on him if I wanted to…but I didn’t want to)…a usual no-no for us while watching comedians (the sitting up close-not the spitting)…we took the risk and it was worth it…he is very funny…even more so up close and personal. He also was the bingo number caller and made that really fun too…I think he did some other games but that is the only one we watched…


Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers…I am sure you have heard of them…listening to their music brought back a lot of childhood memories for me..all good ones. Their first concert was a gospel sing along with The Roys.  It was great…we felt like we had been to church.  We all sang Amazing Grace together and it was awesome.  And they always open all their concerts with the Star Spangled Banner…it was quite patriotic and spritual at the same time….

When we got to this first concert I knew it would be good because I saw a bass, a fiddle, and a banjo…and we were not disappointed…they sang some of our favorites…and some we had never heard…”It rained in Heaven on Crucifixion Day” was a beautiful song that I had never heard.

I was not expecting to hear my favorite Gatlin song at this concert since it was a gospel sing…but then I heard the music and Larry Gatlin began to say…some may not consider this a gospel song…but just ask the Baptist preacher that gets my tithing check each Sunday and he will say it is definitely a gospel song…and they busted out with All the Gold in California…reminded me of my cousin Jeff, who is now a preacher…we taped ourselves singing this song one summer at my Granny’s house at Suwannee River…I wrote the words down so we could sing it correctly….many years later while singing Christmas carols to my great-grandmother,  Mommer Avant, we were wondering what to sing and Jeff busts out with “who knows All the Gold in California?”  he looked at me and I lost it…could not stop laughing so I had to lip sing Silent Night…great memories…

All in all the Gatlin Brothers gave a great show the gospel sing as well as their other concert…full of humor, they sounded great, told really cool stories about themselves and other great country music artists…Larry was very good friends with Johnny Cash and said he called him J.R. and he called Larry “pilgrim” and told of how he sang to Mrs. June Carter Cash on her death bed and how he was a paul bearer at Johnny Cash’ funeral.

I saw Larry around the ship quite a bit. Mostly around the buffet lines…in the mornings he was walking around looking like a deer caught in head lights, bed head and slightly dazed and confused…in other words he looked just like us!! I also saw him one time sitting off to himself.  He was jotting down notes and singing to himself…concentrating a lot on something…later at the George Jones tribute he sang a song that he said he had just written…I wonder if I saw him writing it??

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Vince Gill…need I say more…he is a legend…great musician, great song writer, great singer, and seems to be one of the nicest people ever…we followed he and his band back on the ship in San Juan…did not recognize him at first until I heard him talk and then knew it was him…very kind and considerate.  He and Pug went to walk through security at the same time and he motioned for Pug to go ahead and Pug declined and said…no you go ahead…two southern gentlemen…makes my heart happy…

He was sick and it was obvious because his voice was deeper than usual…but he still sang like an angel as far as I am concerned…singing all my favorites…as usual I was afraid he might not sing my most favorite but he started telling the story of how when he met his now wife Amy Grant…he said he met her and then went home and wrote a song about her…told his friend/musician about her smile and then wrote “When You Come Around”…my favorite line is the beginning…”Face of an angel, pretty eyes that shine, I lie awake at night wishing you were mine”…it is so sweet to know he wrote that for his wife…makes me love the song even more…

He sang a lot of great songs and played the heck out of his guitar…his band was awesome…they have been together for a very long time…that says a lot about Vince Gill…his concert was amazing…but I knew it would be.

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Jo Dee Messina…a great singer…never been a favorite of mine but she put on a great show.  She is very energetic and was all over the stage…her band was really good too.  She told some personal stories that made the show even more enjoyable…my favorite song she sang was the Christian song…Lord, I Need You…and she has got some pipes and sang the heck out of it…she did one of the best versions of Natural Woman, and ended with Don’t Stop Believing.  She was really talented…She wrote a song about motherhood called “Me”…you should definitely listen to it…it is great.

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We only saw the Roys at the gospel concert and they were very good!  I would compare them to Ricky Scaggs and Alison Kraus…yes they were THAT GOOD.  And I am sure they can sing Bluegrass like nobody’s business but I could listen to them sing gospel all day long….”Will the Circle be Unbroken?”….was great. 

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Kenny Rogers…over 50 years singing and he has still got it!!! I am a big fan from way back…I had the LP records and watched all his movies and thought he was fantastic…and I still do…everyone asked me…how does he look?  Well we got to see him up close and he looked really good…it is obvious he has had some work done but he looked normal…last time I saw him on t.v. he did not look so good…I think he had just had some work done and was still swollen or had some bad botox

…anyway his voice was beautiful and he sang ALL his great songs and there are a lot of them…he is also what I call a true entertainer…he made them turn the house lights up so he could see his audience…talked about how he didn’t get to do that very often and made it known that the artists would actually like to see who they are singing to.  So we sang along to every song and of course my favorite is…The Gambler…I just about lost it when he started…”On a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere”…loved each and every note he sang…he sounded just as good as he did 50 years ago…can you tell I am a big fan :)

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Bryan White…I have to say my favorite song he ever sang was “From This Moment” with Shania Twain…I have never really listened to him much…his voice actually sounded a little strained but he was pleasant to hear…he seems to be a really nice and down to earth guy.  I really enjoyed hearing him talk about his wife and kids and he did a guitar seminar with Wade Hayes that was very good…it is obvious how much he loves to play guitar and it was fun to see him doing what was obviously one of his favorite things.

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Restless Heart….I LOVE them… always have…we played two of their songs at our wedding as we came up on horse back….so they have a special place in my heart.  This band has also been together for a very long time and it was obvious…they were amazing and again such true entertainers because they interacted a lot with each other and with the audience …It was the first time seeing them live and I would surely go and see them again.

We were kind of bummed when we found out that Restless Heart was only doing a concert late at night in one of the bars…then we found out that Ronnie Milsap was not going to make it because he was sick…they announced that T. Graham Brown was going to replace him and while I was excited, my sweet honey was not…it turned out that Restless Heart actually replaced him on the big stage instead of T. and it worked out great because I think it was best to have Restless Heart on the big stage and T. in the smaller place. We were sorry to miss Ronnie Milsap but I had seen him before and had not seen either of the other two singers…IT’S ALL GOOD!!


T. Graham Brown…oh my gosh…I have loved him forever!!!  Yes, even back when he was a raging alcoholic…I love his style of music…oh the soul this man puts in his songs…he sounds just as good now as he did way back when…he has since turned his life around and is a Christian, helping many missions and building churches…his concert was in a smaller bar and it was packed…what I loved was the fact that all the other acts were talking earlier (i am an eavesdropper and i totally admit it) about how they were going to see him sing…and we saw them in the bar jamming and singing just like regular people…standing  because it was standing room only and enjoying every minute of it…as we left I heard Any Griggs say…that was soothing like a pacifier to a baby…I looked at him and said “what a great way to put it”… and he just smiled at me…T. sings many good songs and he sang most of them and to my good luck just before he ended he sang my favorite…”If You Could Only See Me Now”…my night was made…many times over…probably one of my most favorite concerts while on the ship.

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I have no idea who this is with T. Graham but I liked the picture.

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I will admit my favorite concerts were the jam sessions with all the not-so-big acts….no Vince, Kenny, or Jo Dee jammed but that is okay because these other people completely rocked the ship!!! They would get up to the mike and start yelling out names to come sing and play various instruments…it was so dang awesome.  Bryan White on the drums, Andy Griggs and Wade Hayes on the guitars, Restless Heart and Jamie O’neal singing…it was so dang cool. And they would just pick random songs to sing…the first of which was ZZ Tops Sharp Dressed Man and they killed it in the best way possible.  Ty Herndon sang a version of  "Crazy" that would have made Patsy Cline very proud and I do believe she would have "swooned"…they always seem to have fun but when its more laid back and natural like this was…they just seemed to be extra happy…it was my favorite times and I can just imagine how it is when they get together at each others houses and jam…what I would not give to be there.  oh yeah and someone played the harmonica…YOU HAD ME AT HARMONICA….. big fan….whoooge fan of the harmonica…

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Jamie O’Neal had a beautiful voice and her husband plays in her band which I thought was cool.  I knew a lot of her songs but just did not know her…She is a sweetheart and really fun to be around…and this girl can belt it out let me tell you…they had to turn her mike down a few times…she got pipes…

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Andy Griggs…again I knew some of his songs but not him…I am a huge fan now…he is just cool, his concert alone was in the small bar, just he and his guitar…he was really really real…he told a lot of stories and sang some Hank jr. and Waylon Jennings…he seemed more old country to me which is what I like…he also had some of that soul like T. Graham Brown has. He was one of the ones I would see around the ship and he was always happy and having a good time…he is kind of gruff and loud and boisterous…in a good way…and very funny…like I said I am a fan…

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Wade Hayes…I did not know his story at all…he was diagnosed with like stage 4 cancer a while back and not given much time to live…and here he is…and he is very humble, and grateful, and thanked God for nothing less than a miracle.  And he can play the guitar better than anyone I have ever seen, writes, and sings.  He is nothing less than a dreamy tall drink of water…when I think country music this is what I think of…he has a really deep beautiful tone to his voice and has some really great songs…I just fell in love with him…we saw him after the cruise waiting on a ride and I told Pug I wanted to take him home with us…but instead of being all stalker like I just told him that I hoped and prayed God continued to bless him as He had been blessing him…and he smiled that big ol country boy smile, tipped his black hat and said “thank you ma’am”…….I almost died…

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Anita Cochran was very talented…she played guitar and had a beautiful voice. She also played a singer in the original Dukes of Hazzard movie.  She and Ty Herndon were really good friends and sang and interacted so well together.  I really enjoyed hearing her sing…she was very laid back and humble and I am surprised she is not a bigger star…she was really good. 

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Ty Herndon….I had heard many of his songs but had never seen him or any of his videos.  He is really fun to watch.  He grooves and dances when he sings even for a white boy…and I am all about a cute guy who can sing and dance and groove and STILL sound good…he has a beautiful voice that reminded me of Steve Wariner.  He traveled with a few people…one of which was his mother and a guy who looked as though he could have been his brother. He always seemed to be having fun whether performing or just hanging out.  He is one of my new favorites..I loved his singing and the way he engaged the crowd..he knows how to work it.

Jett Williams, daughter of Hank Sr. was on the cruise….we never heard her sing but we did hear her tell her story about her Dad…she was born five days after he died and he had put her in his will and made it known that he wanted to claim her as his own…but she somehow ended up in the system and in foster care until her adulthood and did not find out who her father was until her early 20’s…very interesting story.  She works to keep her fathers music alive and sings his songs and they have even found some songs he wrote but never recorded. 

We did go to the pictionary game on the big stage.  It was Ty Herndon, Jamie O’Neal, and Andy Griggs…they were against 3 ladies from the audience…it was hilarious and we thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed so hard…really funny and entertaining….really showed the personalities of these singers and made me like them all the more.

I grew up listening to country music…old school country music…and in high school I loved it too…but the music they call country now is not what I call country music…not all that booty shaking, rapping, hard rock sounding stuff.  I am all about Hank Sr. and Jr. Waylon, Willie, Charlie Daniels, so for me this cruise had the best singers…Not only did they sound good with a full band…they sang “naked” just them and a guitar and a mike....I am assuming this is how they all got started and why they were so natural sounding in these small clubs…they sang from their hearts about their lives and they sounded clear and toned and it was very refreshing.

It was really cool walking around and seeing these “celebrities” inter acting with their fans.  Maybe it is just their job but everyone we saw were pleasant and letting people take pictures and signing autographs.  I am not one for pictures or autographs…but I did my fair share of eavesdropping on their conversations which was very interesting to me…once while hearing Mrs. Nancy Jones (widow of George) telling a joke…I laughed to myself and she was looking right at me…she waved at me, laughed and said “hey baby”…this lady was a sweetheart and had a great laugh…she is a class act…George knew what he was doing when he married her…

There was a George Jones tribute concert that was amazing…these singers sang all his songs to his wife Mrs. Nancy…it was very moving and they showed pictures up on the back of the stage…it was equivalent to the tribute shows I have seen on television…but better because I was actually there.

This was the first Country Music Cruise and they are already booking for the next one…I am just not sure they will ever have this caliber of talent in this quantity ever again…so we have not yet booked again…this one will be really hard to beat…now if George Strait ever does one…I will probably be on it…

My only complaint was that sometimes there would be two singers singing at the same time in different places so we had to choose who we wanted to see the most.....we were never disappointed...even when we had to stand because of limited space...This cruise was more expensive than our usual ones but considering the entertainment it was worth it...I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys country music...especially "old school".

It has been a while since I have even listened to country music but this cruise made me remember why I loved it so much and makes me want to listen to it again....well at least to some of it... ; )

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Yee Haw on the high seas……

We tried something a little different this year for our cold weather cruise…we decided to leave out of port we had never been out of and take a different kind of cruise…we went on the Holland America Eurodam out of Port Everglades and went on a Country Music Cruise…this is the cruise part…there will be another blog for the Country Music part…

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Fort Lauderdale was nice but my heart belongs to Daytona Beach Shores…there is no other beach for me…and it was a little expensive for my taste.  It was fun to walk on the beach and people watch, our supper at Chipotle was delicious, our stay at the Best Western Express was clean, comfortable and luckily short, but by far the best 2 things about Ft. Lauderdale was the Krispy Kreme and the port at night.  The marina was filled with boats and cruise ships and was all lit up…it was beautiful and a nice surprise.

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The sunset as we sailed away from Port Everglades was breathtaking…the Krispy Kreme doughnuts that morning and this sunset was a great way to start a cruise.

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The ship was very clean and the service was great.  They run a top notch hotel on the high seas.  Our room was plenty big and of course (my sweet honey insists) we had a balcony.  I do not require a balcony BUT a balcony usually means we get a bath tub…that I require…I love a bath :)
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After a day at sea (not my sweet honeys favorite at all) on Monday we parked at the port in Grand Turk on Tuesday.  We have never been to Grand Turk and it did not disappoint…the water was absolutely gorgeous…that is my favorite thing about a cruise…it is crystal clear where it is shallow and out in the ocean it looks like blue Hawaiian Punch.

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Did I say I am well loved….my sweet honey even poses for me…he has to or I will not let him take any bathing suit pictures…the resorts on this island were really pretty…and there were hundreds of chairs…which made us wonder if they were ever all filled since only 2 ships could port here at once…it looked like a deserted island even when our ship was there…which was nice…I am not a big fan of crowds…
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Our favorite excursion is always a catamaran…we sailed to a white sandy beach where the water was so beautiful and clear (and looked like pool water) and the weather was perfect.

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Pug loves to snorkel and did see a few fish on this trip…the guide was feeding the fish and these snapper were getting so close that people could just reach out and touch them.  I have been known to snorkel and even swim but did I say that I was well loved…my sweet honey told me I did not have too if I did not want … I love to swim but the whole mask fogging up and making me claustrophobic thing is sometimes too much…but I was cheering him on and keeping my eye on him just in case I had to bulldog a shark or something…I ain’t scared…

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As we were sailing back to the ship, they were line dancing on the front of the catamaran…I am not as apt to dance without my people with me so I watched from the back but as you see I was definitely doing some toe tapping and some slight booty shaking on the side…its in me and it has to come out…sometimes…there just was NOT enough room on the front of that boat for me to properly “get down on it”…another time…another time…

As we were sailing through the beautiful blue waters to Grand Turk I saw many white buoys.  As soon as I saw them I nudged my sweet honey and pointed and he immediately said “those are your Daddy’s”.  My Daddy always said ALL the white ones were his.  He had been known to check quite a few but he always baited them back whether he found something or not.
I wished I had some chicken necks to put in those traps…I used to get aggravated with him because he used chicken necks…I am not sure why but as a child,  that was my favorite piece…probably because when he fried it there was a lot of crunchy part on the outside and that first bite in the crook of the neck was so good.  And it could also be the fact that my Mama was a bone gnawer and loved the boniest pieces of chicken…the back being her favorite…like Mama like daughter. 
Speaking of fried chicken…my Daddy always fried the very best…he would cut up and fry the whole thing…the back always had the tail on it…or at least the part of the chicken that the tail feathers were connected to…it was a joke between me and my Daddy to see who could get it first and then secretly place it on the others plate.  I many times found it in my tea, in my potatoes, or even in my napkin…and he did too…..I know it sounds really weird but to me it was fun…good times…
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Wednesday we sailed into San Juan.  We have flown there before and sailed out of the port but never toured there.  Unfortunately there was no catamaran or beach excursions so we decided to just walk around a bit.  Lots of history but not much excitement and I have to admit I did not want to venture far…we just walked along the water both ways and returned back to the ship.  Seeing the mountains out back behind that gorgeous water was definitely a plus.

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We did get a picture of a big dang seahorse…and we did get a picture of Pug’s finger and the big dang seahorse :) As we went to get back on the ship we saw a big black bus limo…we knew that Vince Gill was getting on the ship in San Juan so we joked that it was him…so of course we waited to see…we ARE tourists AND fans…we watched as a variety of people got off the bus…looking like they could definitely be band members but after seeing no Vince we followed them to security.

While in line I heard a really tall man speak and as soon as I heard it I knew…IT WAS VINCE.  I quietly told Pug that it was him and he said where and I tried to motion in his direction without pointing.  Mr. Gill had done a great job of blending in with his odd glasses, t-shirt, and beachy shorts.  He has also aged (very well I might add), gotten gray haired, grew a small beard (he later said to hide his holiday chin), and yes, he had gained weight.  But his voice was the same…there was no disguising that.
I had to go through the security checkpoint because I had a small bag but Pug could just walk on through…with Vince…Vince Gill actually looked right at my sweet honey and said and motioned go ahead and my sweet honey said oh no, YOU go. Such gentlemen…no doubt Vinces’ mama was as great as my sweet honeys.  Finally I got through and I had to walk right by Vince…I actually had to turn by body as not to rub against him as I went by while he was getting his ship card.  He and his band members were very nice and expected no special treatment whatsoever…just nice regular people…I LOVE country people…

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That night the ship had a b-b-que on the deck.  The food was quite good…we had grilled steaks, ribs, chicken and fish…all the fixins with beans, cole slaw, baked taters and fruit.  They really did a good job to make us country folk feel at home…even had their Asian crew members wearing cowboy hats and bandanas. The one serving our food was even yelling “yeehaw”…he was cute…Pug had to ask him if he had ever ridden a horse and told him it was part of our jobs…not sure if he was impressed or not but he did continue his smiling and yeehawing as we walked off.

My favorite thing about San Juan was that dinner…not the food but the view.  We sat on the front of the ship out under the stars with the view of the beautifully lit up San Juan all at a 180 degrees view…that and the reflection of it in that ocean was stunning to say the least. Unfortunately this picture does not do it the proper justice…

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Our next stop on Thursday was St. Maarten.  We have been here before and it was very pretty. Lots of good shopping if you like jewelry, diamonds, gems, watches, Tiffany & Co., cameras….not my kind of shopping…I am a typical tourist…I like the cheap necklaces, hand made stuff, refrigerator magnets…those kinds of things…we did not have much time and since we had to take a water taxi to shop it limited our shopping time even more…but we did get to walk the streets of St. Maarten and it was nice. Another place, good to people watch.

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We did another catamaran in St. Maarten.  The snorkeling was not as good as it has been before but the catamaran was nice and the weather was great.  We parked in Mullet Bay and swam to Mullet Beach and walked and tried not to stare at topless women…I actually enjoyed watching the older gentlemen from our ship…they were trying to be so nonchalant about it but it was really obvious.  But hey…whatever makes them happy…life is short…enjoy it while you can…

Our catamaran crew was serving beer and rum punch…they even made a tray and let it float in the water where people were floating around on noodles…no diet coke though…they had canned beer but NO canned diet coke…only flat diet coke from a two liter bottle with four pieces of ice…may have to fill out a complaint card…so far the complaint list was very short :)

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We saw two really gorgeous yachts in the port at St. Maarten…this was one of them…that door that is open at the back contained not one but two very nice sporty speed boats…I could smell the money$$…I will admit I would not mind being part of the cleaning crew on this little boat…

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This was a Country Music cruise so of course we packed  jeans, boots, and Pug’s hat…not our usual cruise attire.  But now y’all know that we can dang sure do the country thang right!!!

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When people hear us talk they automatically ask if we are from Alabama, I guess I am so used to our twang that it is normal to me…it was also funny at the people that would see Pug’s cool boots (black alligator from Mexico) they always asked if we were from Texas…cause I guess only Texans have cool boots and when he told them we lived and worked on a cattle farm in Florida they were so surprised…people don’t think there are cows in Florida…go figure…personally I think that is where all the pretty and happy cows come from :)

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I am not sure why Pug got behind this plant for his picture but I don’t ask questions often and just took the picture…it makes me think of Artie Johnson wearing the safari hat in the bushes from that old show Laugh In…and that makes me laugh :)

On another side note…they played free movies on the t.v. …… Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit, Next of Kin, Coal Miner’s Daughter…can you see a theme here… my sweet honey was channel surfing he came across Dirty Dancing (not sure how this one got in the theme)….unbeknowest to me…my honey has never seen this movie…he is so deprived…not only did we watch the second half of it…he let me quote the lines before they said them on the movie…he was quite impressed…did I say I was well-loved…” Nobody puts Baby in a corner! “

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We got our nightly towel animals and always looked forward to what was next…although the turkey kind of cracked me up…maybe it was supposed to be a peacock which I am sure are on these tropical islands somewhere…I understand the stingray, lobster, and pig, but the elephant was kind of strange too…I think they are venturing out from just the cruise type animals…

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…..but I have to say that this mouth breather monkey really creeped me out…as soon as we got a picture I took him apart…I was not going to be able to sleep a wink with THAT looking at me…too much creepy…and I do have boundaries…

This cruise was by far the best as far as entertainment…I am going to do a Country Music blog on that part of the cruise soon…all in all I would highly recommend it to everyone…like I said it was clean, great service, really good food, they seem to try hard to make everything just right.  We found many neat gifts on our bed each night…two water bottle jugs, two led flashlights, two airplane carry on size duffle bags, two sets of coasters, two pocket knives and two white baseball caps…everything had the Country Music Cruise logo on it.
This was the very first of this kind of cruise and I am pretty sure there will be many more.  They are already getting people to book one for 2015.  I saw where they had a Jazz and a Malt Shop cruise and……..a Soul Train Cruise…I would probably like that but I doubt I could talk my sweet honey into that one…I am well-loved but he, too, has his boundaries.  My sweet honey prefers more ports to visit…me personally…I do not mind the at-sea days because to sit out on that deck, in that sun, and stare out at all that beautiful blue water…well, it is really one of my favorite ways to relax…I cannot get enough of that…

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Normally we don’t purchase any of the pictures taken by the cruise photographer but my sweet honey looked so good in his hat…we just had to.  They also make a video of stuff on the cruise, activities, parties, and just candid things…and they show clips of this video on the t.v. throughout the trip.  We were flipping through the channels and noticed that they videoed us as we were about to board the ship….they stop you for that first (of many) picture…so there we are on the video posing and looking cute and then Pug realizes he has his Gator hat on and reaches up, grabs it, and tosses it to the side, all the while still smiling and then the photographer snaps the picture…so that is on the video…Pug said we are NOT buying that video for our 4 seconds of fame…haha…I had to agree but I do hope someone that does splurge and buys it …sees us …..remembers us …and says hey that’s that nice couple from Alabama or was it Texas…whatever…they sure talked funny but were really nice…:) :)

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We started our trip with a beautiful sunset as we left Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday afternoon.  This gorgeous sunrise is what we saw as we were getting ready to get off the ship Sunday morning…what a beautiful way for God to say welcome home…did I already say I was well-loved...