December Doings

Our house building is still proceeding at a rapid pace! The garage floor and porch were poured on November 30, and we had the garage door installed December 1.

A “wrap-around” apron will be poured later

Things are shaping up nicely outside.

And inside, after the cabinets were installed,

the interior doors were hung.

On Sunday December 3, the children opened the worship service at Stephens Valley Church singing Joy To The World – in costumes celebrating the Nativity. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Jim has been working on hanging shiplap in the sunroom.

Its looking good! The panorama shot here distorts the walls…

Finally, the front porch columns were put in on December 5 – the trim will go on them later, and we will paint them to match the window color.

The soffits were trimmed, and gutters installed.

Here is our building site – with Acey out front. She has been serving as our construction office as well as kitchen and living quarters!

On December 8, we moved Acey into the detached garage.

Good thing she fit!

And we headed to the airport to fly to Fort Lauderdale. On the 9th, we met up with Chris, Chuck and Rob to take the Brightline train to Miami!

Rob, Linda, Jim & Chris – Chuck was in a different car…

Before long, we were on board the Carnival Horizon and it was time for a beer!

Ted, Linda, Chuck & Rob
Amanda, Chris, Linda & Jim

We left the port of Miami as the sun set and saw Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas also heading out nearby.

We had a tasty dinner in the dining room – here’s Linda’s brothers Ted & Rob.

December 10 was our first full day on board and was a Sea Day. 11 of us had planned this cruise together and it was fun to be with family without all the cooking and cleaning up – and seeing different places as well! Eve and Linda made some door decorations, but the magnets were not strong enough to stay on the door, so we hung them next to our doors! (The arrows let you see all 7 of them!)

Other folks had fun decorations and we saw these messages:

Before dinner, since we all dressed up for a “formal night”, we took some photos by the tree in the dining room – here’s our little family.

And the ladies looked lovely.

Nancy & Ted
Amanda & Eve

During “showtime” at dinner, Tom and Rob accompanied the singer “rollin’ on the river”.

The newlyweds – Tom & Missy married in July 2021 – this is her first cruise!
Brotherly love…

After dinner, we had a group photo taken on the stairs.

This was reminiscent of our 2005 “Mag cruise” when Linda’s parents treated us all to a cruise on the Carnival Miracle! A crew of lucky 13 😊.

In 2023, we had a similar cast of cruisers but Steve chose not to go – and Missy joined us!

The 11th was another Sea Day and we had brunch in the dining room!

We had another group photo opportunity and donned our cruise shirts that Ted and Amanda designed for the cruise!


A similar re-creation of the “Mag Cruise” photo from 2005!

The 4 Magnuson siblings; we lost Laura in 1991 ☹

The Magnusons – Nancy, Ted, Tom and Missy

Rob & Ted

The Compsons

The Santiagos

Wandering around the ship, they had a festive Christmas display by the Piano Bar.

On December 12, we had our first port of call; Aruba. Approaching the island, the water was a beautiful blue!

And we saw a rainbow as we pulled into the port!

The Magnusons (minus Ted) did an ATV excursion.

Not birds – lots of cairns here!

They saw the Natural Bridge

They stopped in at a little church

Rob took some great photos of the ATV adventure!

Ted joined the Compsons for some snorkeling. We sailed out past our ship…

A beautiful day to snorkel!

There was a sunken German ship, the Antilla, from WWII – at the first site.

Linda spotted 2 sea turtles.

At the second snorkel site, there was not as much to see – but there was some coral.

And some fish

After snorkeling, it was time for refreshments as we headed back to the Horizon.

Eve and Amanda took a bus tour of Aruba

and went out on a semi-submarine. They were able to see the reef and the shipwreck.

They spotted this large iguana while they were out and about!

On the 13th, we stopped at Bonaire. Tom & Missy walked around the port area. 

Missy is drinking an iced Americano!

Rob visited a few bars to sample local brews. Ted & Nancy signed up for snorkeling, but it ended up being a different excursion than the one the Compsons chose. As we waited to go with our group to the excursion boat, we saw this little critter scurrying around!

 We walked from our ship to board the Lady Bellaïs  – she was a beauty!

The snorkeling at Bonaire was great!

Jim saw a scuba diver.

Linda had trouble with her snorkel – it may be time for a new one! It was another beautiful day in the Caribbean with our family!

The crew fixed a delicious hot lunch, and we sailed back toward our ship.

As we walked back to the Horizon, this huge iguana was almost hidden in a tree!

Eve & Amanda went on a glass bottom boat!

They were able to see a reef also – without getting wet!

Soon it was time to leave the island paradise to head to our next port.

Jim and Linda enjoyed listening to Rokstedy (Mark Sandiford) sing and play in the Piano Bar after 9pm. Eve & AJ came one night, and Rob came another night!

We had 2 stops in the Dominican Republic; the first port was La Romana on the 14th.

Tom & Missy, Eve and Amanda walked around the port area and spent some time at a beach.

The rest of us took a bus to see Altos de Chavón – a re-creation of a 16th-century Mediterranean–style village, located atop the Chavón River – and saw the Cave of Wonders.

Our first stop was at Altos de Chavón and it looked like a very lush tropical paradise as we walked toward the village.   

The amphitheater was impressive and looked to be quite old but was designed in 1976 and had its inaugural concert in 1982.

Concerts are held there frequently, and it seats about 5,000.

The trees were blowing in the wind as we came to this fountain.

Chuck, Ted and Jim climbed up the tower next to the church.

The buildings had Christmas lights strung all over – must have been pretty at night!

The view from the tower!

Rumor has it that Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley at St. Stanislaus Church.

the Chavón River

Our next stop, the Cave of Wonders; “Cueva de las Maravillas”, an ancient cave that was discovered by explorers in 1926. As we approached the cave entrance, there were lots of vines and roots!

This was a very large cave!

We were surprised that this cave was warm and humid – quite different from other caves we have been in that are quite cool!  Lots of “holes” and of course stalactites and stalagmites.

Lots of beauty here!

A unique feature of this cave was the hundreds of pictograms and petroglyphs on the stone walls – left by the Taíno Indian tribe. They “refresh” the images periodically so they can be seen.

Near the cave was an enclosure full of iguanas!

Chris got on the deck early on the 15th and saw there had been a towel animal explosion! He got photos for those of us that missed it.

Our room Steward left a towel animal in our room each time he cleaned up!

Amber Cove was our last port of call.

The waves were a bit rough, so we did not get to snorkel there. Ted got a nice shot of this sculpture on shore!

Tom & Missy had a spa treatment for their feet – the fish like cleaning their feet!

Eve and Amanda went to the beach.

Amanda walked the beach, looking for little treasures!

Sky Bar? Great idea!

Back on board, there was a beer trivia contest! Jim was in a three-way tie for the prize, but didn’t win ☹

Tom & Missy shared a big sushi boat appetizer at dinner!

And it was another “dress up” night – and another group photo opportunity!

Our last dinner on board on the 16th; we will miss our entertaining server “Sexy K”!

Due to the weather and rough seas, the Port of Miami was closed the morning of the 17th when we were to debark!

The local pilot was unable to board the Horizon until 10:45am – this usually happens in the wee hours of the morning!

All passengers are usually off the ship by 9:30. We did not get off until after 1:30! We missed our scheduled train to Fort Lauderdale but caught a later one. Our flight wasn’t until 7, so that worked out OK. We had a connecting flight thru Tampa and should have been in Nashville by 10:30. We got thru security, had dinner and went to our gate. The flight was delayed, and we learned there had been a bomb threat at the airport! YIKES!

We finally left Fort Lauderdale and got to Tampa just after 11pm, what a day! We got a room at the Airport Marriott to get a few hours’ sleep and a shower. We caught a flight to Nashville at 6am! It was wonderful to be safely back from our trip!

Herman missed out on snorkeling and tried on our gear! 

Jim continued his work on the sunroom, hanging the shiplap.

Marc had helped with the cabinets and doors, and we asked him put up the trim on the doors and windows – and the baseboards. He got all that done in 4 days!

Meanwhile, Jim finished the sunroom!

And worked more on the electrical wiring.

Driving thru our little town of Pegram at night, the decorations on the power poles shine bright!

We celebrated Christmas at Eve’s in Springfield – Amanda and Andrew came from Clarksville, and Chuck drove up from Baton Rouge! (Andrew took the photo)

After Christmas, Eve visited us at Acey for some bean soup made with the Christmas ham.

On the 28th, we packed up to head south for a bit. The freezing temperatures are a bit of a problem with our 200+ foot hose to bring water to Acey. When temps go below freezing, we fill up the freshwater tank, disconnect the hose and blow it out so it doesn’t freeze. We’ll be back soon to finish the house! We left Tennessee with 99,096 miles on Acey and 125,164 on Thor.

We drove thru Tennessee, Alabama and finally Florida!

Here’s a Happy New Year message for YOU!


19 thoughts on “December Doings”

    1. We had a lot of fun on the cruise – hope you have a great year; it was so good to talk to you the other day!

  1. Both Bill and I so enjoyed seeing the house coming along beautifully and enjoyed all the cruise pictures. We were bummed that we were not able to join everyone, because of my new knee issues, but thankfully lived vicariously through you all!!! What fun and great family vacation. Love to all

    1. It would have been great to have you guys along; maybe next time?! Hope we get to see you this year!

  2. Thank you for all of the pictures! It was fun getting to see what everyone was up to during the trip. I LOVED cruising and we’re excited for all of the family to do another one soon! We need Bill and Charlene to come next time!

    1. So glad you and Tom were able to go – with you just moving to ND and starting a new job! It was a great cruise with fun posts of call – and a great FIRST cruise for you 🙂

  3. Linda, thank you for posting. You captured some great details. I especially liked The underwater pictures.

    1. Our underwater cameras are fun to use – I got a great shot of that fish! We had some good times together!

  4. Looks like a great trip. Haven’t seen Ted in what, 50 years? Looking good. Loved the 2 pics that had Uncle Boo and Auntie Weezie. Jim, you’re doing a great job and the house looks great. Linda, thanks for the post. This was fun to go through.

    Two things: looks like our company will finally be sold, possibly closing first two weeks in February. So the only email I have will be I think that’s the one you use but just in case.

    Bless you all and have a happy and blessed 2024.

    1. Thanks for keeping up with our blog Robb! We had a busy month and glad we are in Florida for a spell – its been quite cold in TN and snowing today!! We look forward to getting the house finished once it warms up a bit.

  5. I went on the trip… so glad you posted what everyone did– I can see what I missed! We all had a wonderful time and was as active as we wanted to be. I guess we found the natural habitat for Iguanas!!
    Thanks for the memories! Blessings in Florida.

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