Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 2017 Trip to Atlantis, Bahamas

Jeff gets asked to speak pretty often but normally we don't go with him. 
New York Life was having a special convention in the Bahamas at the Atlantis for two different groups and they ended up asking Jeff to speak at both of them. 

He asked if his family could come, they agreed, and we booked the trip. 

Then I found out it was finals week for Ashley! 

I felt like a horrible parent but we arranged it all and she took all her finals before she left. Taylor had to do school work on our trip and scan it and send it in to have his friend turn it in on time but in the end he pulled it off too. 

We ended up taking a red eye out with a layover in Ft. Lauderdale. 

Our plan was to be at the hotel at 9 in the morning and then be able to relax there and try and sleep. 
No such luck. Our plane was delayed which made us miss our connection (the plane we were supposed to take was pulling out as we pulled in) and then we were stuck in the airport for almost 6 extra hours. 

Here are the kids being silly. 

We were exhausted since our night's sleep consisted of a 4 hour often interrupted nap sitting up. So Jeff just found a corner and went to sleep. The kids are in the background sitting away from us.

Finally we arrived at the hotel.

We got in our room and dressed in swim stuff just to find out they were closing the pool. 

They close at 5:00 winter and summer and we just missed it. 

So we went to the beach for a few minutes. It was chilly but better than our beaches. 

In the 30 or so minutes that we were there we were hit up 3 times to get braids, twice to rent jet skis and were offered toy turtles, coconut drinks, more braids and bracelets for sale by multiple people. Ha ha.

Calling it a day.

Finally here after a lot of travel. 

The sun was setting so we headed out to find dinner. 

New York Life hooked us up with a suite and a room for the kids.  We were very comfortable and happy that we weren't all jammed in one room (which we would have been if we were paying)

We woke up the next morning to thunder, lighting, high winds and rain. 

This was Jeff's only free day and all our planned excursions called us to cancel. 

Their websites claimed that they never cancel no matter what the weather we knew it was bad. 

Jeff and I had brought rain coats and we braved the wind and the elements to bring back breakfast to our sleeping kids. We found Ashley an Oreo donut...that was new. On a whim Jeff tried a guava filled one and it ended up being all of our favorites. 

We also picked up a couple of these. Its a soda bottled by Coke but only sold in the Bahamas. We liked the last time we were here and then realized it was impossible to get in the states. 

By mid afternoon the rain had cleared even though the wind hadn't. 

We ended up taking a ferry into town to check out some shopping. 

These were the police officers that were manning the street and directing traffic. 

We met a lot of very friendly people in the straw market. 

They employed some high pressure sales but Jeff would respond with banter and a conversation to get to know them. They would give Jeff a hug goodbye...and some tried to slip in a squeeze to the bum here and there. ha ha.  

This is Pompey square where they used to sell slaves. Most of the island is inhabited by those former slaves and I was surprised to learn that they had only gained their independence in 1973. 

We found a local place to eat lunch instead of eating at a tourist spot. 


Back at the hotel we checked out The Dig which is one of their aquarium exhibits. 

They had a cool lobster exhibit that was basically like a lobster jungle gym where they would climb up the walls and on the ceiling. They were fun to watch. 

The eels were pretty crazy. We ended up coming back later when they were being fed and they were all out of their hiding spots.  

The next day the kids and I went on the rescheduled excursion while Jeff did his speaking thing. 

Here I am trying to get a picture of the kids...they aren't cooperating. 

On the ferry over to Blue Lagoon Island where were were going to swim with dolphins!

Ashley was really excited since the boys got to swim with dolphins years ago in Mexico but she couldn't since she wasn't old enough. Now she was going to get her chance. 

I don't have a lot of pictures of us swimming because we couldn't take our own but I have a couple. 

It was an awesome experience!!

We ended up spending an hour and a half in the water with them. We did things that I only think of trainers doing. 

We held on to their dorsal fins so they could pull us around, they pushed us from behind on our feet. We got to touch them, feed them, dance with them and more. 

Ashley was in heaven. 

Taylor is getting pushed from behind by a dolphin while he has to steer his way around the water. He said he felt like it was a jet ski pushing him. 

After we were done with the dolphins we got to enjoy the beach there until the last ferry back. 

Definitely the highlight of our trip. 

Between his meetings Jeff found some time to go outside and watch the fish being fed. 

Jeff making friends with all the employees there.

When we got back to the hotel we met up with Jeff and ate dinner, tried to watch a movie but walked out when it wasn't the best and ended up at the video arcade. 

Ashley and I watched until they were done. I was laughing because Jeff was playing a racing game with Taylor and he had to stand up to be able to push the gas pedal. 

Walking back to our room. (The property is huge!)

The next day the winds finally stopped and it was a beautiful day. 

We all got up early and went with Jeff to breakfast and to hear him speak. 

We realized that this was one of the first times that the kids had been able to hear him give his talk. It was nice to be there to support him. 

After he was done we all changed and prepared to finally spend an afternoon enjoying the property. 

After we had been at the pool for an hour Jeff was called away to take a group picture. 

Checking out the shark encounter...

Watching them being fed. 

We got vouchers for our meals during the convention part of the trip. We didn't come close to spending the amount we were allotted so the last day we spend some of it on virgin pina coladas, mango and strawberry drinks. Yum.

That night we had our final dinner.

The entertainment was junkanoo dancers with drums, horns and whistles blowing as they danced through the room. 

The next morning we said goodbye to the Atlantis.

This time we were flying to Orlando and knew ahead of time that our layover would keep us there 5 1/2 hours so we took a car over to Gatorland to get out of the airport for a couple of hours. 

We saw lots of gators...

and a few other animals as well. 

We took the train around the property and found out that one of the first names for the place was "Snake Village" they changed it when they realized that the name was keeping people away. 

They had albino animals...

Including 3 of the only known dozen albino alligators in the world!

We walked along the swamp walk for a bit...

Then we got back in time to see the alligator wrestling show. 

I wouldn't want his job!

On our way out we stopped in the aviary and fed the parakeets. 


Our plane ended up being delayed so we didn't get home until 1:30 in the morning. 

In the end we had lots of travel time, changes of plans, crazy weather and it wasn't really relaxing but we were grateful for the family time together and the opportunity to be there. 

Jeff ended up doing what New York life was hoping and I can't even count how many agents came up to us and told us how much they were inspired by Jeff's talk. Great job Jeff. Mission accomplished!