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The Bahamas
January 16-19, 2009

Several months ago, I got a phone call from an unknown number. I let it go to my voicemail then listened to the message. It said I was a guaranteed winner and call back to receive my prize. Now, since I do drop my business card in those sweepstakes buckets all the time, I was suspicious, but it was plausible. So I called back. They told me that I had made it to the finalists in a sweepstakes in Tampa, and if went down there that night, there would be a drawing and I was guaranteed to win *something*. The Grand Prize was some kind of luxury SUV (I don't remember which), and only one person would win that. The rest of the prizes were a flat-screen TV, a large sum of cash (again, I forget how much, but in the 4 digits) and a trip to the Bahamas. I asked several times and they assured me that I was guaranteed to win one of those 4 prizes. The guy on the phone asked me a few questions, one of them being how much money I made. I answered in the lowest category (I always do, whether I make that much or not, so no one will expect me to buy anything). He asked me if I would be comfortable telling the people in Tampa that I made more. He said I needed to claim I made $40,000 to qualify for the sweepstakes, but that no one would check, so if I was comfortable lying, I could qualify. So I said "sure" and he gave me directions. That should have tipped me off right there to what I was getting into, but it didn't. So, still suspicious, Zen Shooter and I got into his truck (in case I won the TV and needed cargo space) and drove town to Tampa. We made plans to meet up with some friends afterwards for dinner, for 2 reasons: 1) if it was all fake, at least I'd get to see my Tampa friends and 2) I just don't get to see my Tampa friends often enough.

So, we get down there and we are placed in a waiting room with several other couples. After a while, someone comes through a door and starts taking couples back through that door, one set of couples at a time. Eventually, it's our turn. They sit us at a round table with our names on it and we wait some more. Eventually, a guy comes up and stands in front of the screen in one corner of the room, and begins to talk. Turns out, this is not a sweepstakes event, but a vacation package sell. It's not quite a time-share, but that's the idea - they try to get people to buy into their service that provides vacation packages at steep discounts (if you discount the massive up-front payment and annual fees). The incentive for sitting through the presentation was that I would get a scratch-off card at the end that would tell me which of those four prizes I had won, but they cautioned me that the trip was the most common prize available, since, y'know, it's their business to sell vacations.

I sat there quiet but trying not to stir up trouble. I did sales before so I had some sympathy for the guy trying to do his job, but I wasn't going to buy anything even if I did have the money for it. Eventually he finished the presentation and each table of couples got their own personal salesperson to try and talk them into buying. Our guy kept dropping the initial buy-in price lower and lower until he finally asked "what would it take to get you to sign up today?" and I said "nothing". They then took us out of the room, down a hall, and into a storage room while the front-desk kid came in to say that they were totally out of scratch off cards, could I come back in a couple of days to pick it up? I told them I was from Orlando, and they offered to mail it to me. Feeling even more suspicious now than when I got the phone call, I gave them my address and left. I figured it was a scam, but hey, at least I got to go out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with some good friends!

So, I get home and I begin calling their office daily to inquire about the scratch-off card. About a week later, to my surprise, the card actually did arrive. I scratched it off and, sure enough, I had won a trip to the Bahamas. So I sent back the card like I was supposed to and, again, to my surprise, I received a form to fill out to request my vacation dates. Again, I sent it back, not expecting much, but about a month later, I received confirmation of my Bahamas trip for my birthday weekend.

So, on January 15th, the day before my 32nd birthday, my friend Rob and I drove down to Ft. Lauderdale, where we stayed overnight because we boarded the ship at the obnoxious hour of 6:30 AM the next morning. We then spent 4 days and 3 nights in a gorgeous hotel right on the beach. On the last day, we took the 5 hour ship ride back to Ft. Lauderdale, stayed another night there, and drove home the next day. All in all, it was a pretty good birthday!

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images. Please do not steal these images. If you wish to copy these images, show these images on your own website or link to mine, please ask permission first.


Day 1
Our Arrival

The Cruise
It was freakin' COLD on the ship!
The Hotel
This is the entrance to our hotel, the Island Seas Resort.
The Hotel
We stayed on the 3rd floor, the upper-left window in the central block was our bedroom.
The View
This is the main entrance to the hotel, which we could see from our bedroom balcony across the street.
The Hotel Room
We actually had a hotel suite, complete with full kitchen, living room & dining!
The Hotel Room
The dining room
The Hotel Room
The dining room/kitchen
The Hotel Room
The kitchen
The Hotel Room
Towards the bedroom
The Hotel Room
the bedroom
The Hotel Room
The bedroom
The View
The view from our kitchen/livingroom balcony of the canals.
The View
The view from our kitchen/livingroom balcony of the canals.
The View
The view from our kitchen/livingroom balcony of the canals.
The View
The view from our kitchen/livingroom balcony of the canals.
The Pool
This was the pool, about 100 yards from the beach.
The Castle
We can just barely see the Island's Castle from our balcony
Port Lucaya
Later we checked out the nearest marketplace, Port Lucaya...
Port Lucaya
which had this crazy hat stand!

Day 2
The Dolphin Experience

The Dolphin Experience
The first day there, we went to the Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
We got to see them play up close...
The Dolphin Experience
really up close!
The Dolphin Experience
Lucky for me, I brought a waterproof camera case!
The Dolphin Experience
Being playfully splashed by the dolphin.
The Dolphin Experience
The trainer called the dolphin over to start doing tricks.
The Dolphin Experience
First was just to introduce us.
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Next was to show us the blowhole.
The Dolphin Experience
We got to hear some of the sounds they make
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
And see how they pop up and swim backwards.
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Next was to show us dolphin teeth.
The Dolphin Experience
Smile for the camera!
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Talking through the blowhole
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Tail Splash!
The Dolphin Experience
Tail Splash!
The Dolphin Experience
Swiming around the square, tail-splashing
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Standing up on the tail.
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Showing off the tail
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Hi there!
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Playing Fetch with the cooler lid
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
Wave goodbye!
The Dolphin Experience
Another dolphin playfully jumps and follows another trainer with a cooler full of fish.
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
The Dolphin Experience
A dolphin jumping
The Dolphin Experience
The training grounds
The Dolphin Experience
Rob and I got our pictures taken with the dolphin. (yes, that's my ipod in a waterproof case on my arm - I'm a geek)
The Dolphin Experience
I got a dolphin kiss!
The Dolphin Experience
So did Rob!
Parrots
The path back to the office passed by a couple of parrots.
Parrots
They posed, so I took pictures
Parrots
Parrots
Parrots
Curly Tailed Lizard
A cute curly-tailed lizard was waiting when we got back!
Curly Tailed Lizard
Apparently curly tails are common for lizards here.
The Beach
When we got back to the hotel, we took a walk on the beach.
The Beach
Someone was flying a kite.
The Beach
The Beach
Rob walking on the beach.
The Beach
I found some interesting things to take pictures of.
The Beach
A Bahamian Sunset
The Beach
The Beach
We had dinner at a place called Bikini Bottom...
The Beach
with a canon on the roof and swings for barstools...
The Beach
and closing time is when everyone gets drunk!

Day 3
Jeep Tour

Jeep Tour
The next day, I got to drive a manual jeep around the island!
Jeep Tour
Rob took a picture of me taking pictures of more dolphins.
Dolphins
The dolphin training area.
dolphins
Dolphins
One is wearing a heart-monitor vest for research.
Dolphins
The trainer rewards the dolphin for excercizing with the vest on.
Dolphins
Jumping!
The Beach
Rob takes another picture of me taking pictures.
The Beach
Here's what I was taking pictures of
The Beach
And this
The Beach
So I take one of him taking pictures.
Tourguide
This was our Tourguide, Mr. T
The Canal
All the infrastructure was built by private company, organized by the owner of this house on the canal.
Off-Roading
We finally took the jeep off-road. What fun!
Owls Hole
We stopped at an underground cave called Owl's Hole
Owls Hole
and Rob took more pictures of me
Owls Hole
It was, literally, a hole in the ground...
Owls Hole
and hard to take pictures of
Jeep Tour
Back at the jeep, Rob steals another picture of me.
Jeep Tour
Off we go again!
 

Video while driving the jeep
 
Bens Cave
We stopped at another underground cave called Ben's Cave.
Bens Cave
We saw the "love vine" on the path to the cave, which wraps itself around other plants and strangles them to death.
Bens Cave
Down the staircase to the cave.
Bens Cave
Rob braves the rickety iron staircase.
Bens Cave
There was too much light difference to get really any good shots
Bens Cave
Bens Cave
Bens Cave
Bens Cave
What looks like a 2nd camera at my waist is actually the waterproof case for my DSLR.
The Swash
Driftwood On The Swash
The Swash
The Swash
We had to take a raft to the next destination
The Swash
The Swash
This is called a "swash", which is sort of like a swamp, but over coral instead of sand.
The Swash
A footbridge from the raft to the next beach.
Raccoons
The Welcome Wagon was waiting for us at the picnic tables at the beach where we had lunch.
Raccoons
They were very friendly...
Raccoons
Raccoons
Raccoons
and very bold.
Raccoons
Raccoons
This little guy stole my cheese wrapper off my plate while I took this picture.
Raccoons
Raccoons
More of these critters in the Wild Animals photography page.
The Beach
And now, on to the next beach!
The Beach
The Beach
The Beach
Here's where that waterproof case comes in handy!
The Beach
The Swash
Rob helps pull the raft back to the road.
Jeep Tour
And finally back to our jeeps to end the tour.
       

Day 4
Grand Bahamas Tour & Departure

Botanical Gardens
We started this tour at the Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Bahamian sculptures
Botanical Gardens
Coconut palm trees
Botanical Gardens
"Cat tail" plants
Botanical Gardens
The Beach
After the gardens, we stopped at another beach.
The Beach
A conch shell lying on a table.
The Beach
Rob takes pictures of the beach.
The Beach
A box of coconuts and a conch shell.
The Beach
Some buildings on the beach.
The Beach
The Market
We stopped at a market where they made conch salad and conch fritters.
The Market
A live conch in the shell.
The Market
This is what they look like out of the shell.
The Market
I couldn't bring myself to try one after seeing this.
The Market
A store called "Suma Dis & Dat".
The Market
Another marketplace that was partially abandoned after the last big hurricane.
The Market
Colorful doors.
The Market
A dress for sale.
The Market
A staircase leading up to a posh designer store that is now closed.
The Market
A glass blower who still sells his wares in the market.
The Market
Shipboard
And finally we depart the Bahamas.
Shipboard
I took a few photos from onboard the ship in the harbor.
Shipboard
More in the Landscapes page.
More pictures can be found in the Landscapes, the Birds, the Wild Animals, the Water Animals, the Sunsets, the Textures, the Architectures & Structures, and the Other Stuff pages of the Photography section.

The Inn Between © 2002