Cruising the Open Seas

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.  ~Kate Chopin


Kyle finally got to swim with the dolphins! One of the many activities on his cruise trip with Aunt Nikki. 6/2015

Summer has arrived and has consumed all of my time.  Between Thrill of the Hunt and my scavenger hunt events, the garden, the bees, the chickens and the turkeys, and trying to wrangle in a 13-year-old to spend quality time with me, there’s little time to do anything else.  Personally, I wish I’d open my schedule for more leisurely reading and writing, and I will, but until then, busy, busy, busy.  Those are my days, which are clearly very different from Kyle’s.

Kyle seems to be enjoying his summer thus far.  He’s in the marching band, practicing one day a week.  He’s also trying his hand at the Tuba.  I’m glad he’s challenging himself and I’m very proud of that young boy, who still hasn’t shaken his attitude (partially).  However, that’s not all, besides fishing and mostly laying around playing video games, Kyle recently added some miles to his life experiences.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle and his Aunt Nikki set sail for Kyle’s first cruise.  Seriously?  Yes!  It was the annual Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun trip(Please note, I’m still not invited on these trips, which would make them even more adventurous and fun, just saying.  We could call it Kyle and the Aunts’ Week of Fun!)    I can’t believe the trip was nearly a month ago now.  To be honest, it started a few months back when Nicole and Kyle began discussing this year’s “Week of Fun” trip ideas.  Then, the anticipation grew even more when Kyle’s passport came in the mail.  What 13-year-old kid has a passport and has used it?  I’m sure some kids, obviously Kyle, but I never did until I reached my twenties.  He is blessed!  Then, the true excitement, when Nicole came home the weekend before departure to pick up the package, a.k.a. Kyle.

On Sunday, June 7th Nicole and Kyle drove to Baltimore, Maryland to jump aboard their cruise liner and set sail for a memorable week.


“Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun” … this year a cruise. 6/2015

Where did they go?  They went to the Bahamas, stopped off in Florida and visited NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, and they participated in activities on the cruise ship while at sea, including the hairy chest contest.  Nicole won!  Just kidding! (That totally made me laugh out loud!)

These were all firsts for Kyle, including the hairy chest contest!  I’m glad my sister was able to introduce him to new experiences.  Like what?  Kyle got to swim with the dolphins!  Did he love it?  You bet!  He also got to explore the Bahamas, something I’ve never even done.  In fact, whoever his tour guide was left an impression on Kyle that lasted long after his trip.  Unbeknownst to the tour guide, he knew how to speak Kyle.  Basically the language of Kyle is through statistics and numbers.  Nicole and Kyle came home on Sunday, June 14th.  I was in Arlington, Virginia on Friday administering to the Singles Scavenger Hunt, so I occupied Nicole’s house until my world traveler arrived, so I could bring our precious cargo back.  On the four hour ride home, Kyle kept rattling off trivia regarding the Bahamas.  “Aunt Heather, do you know how someone can become a citizen of the Bahamas?” (one is to purchase a house on the island) and “Aunt Heather, did you know they don’t pay taxes?” and “Aunt Heather they only lost eight people with the last hurricane, so it’s really not that dangerous.”  Yep for most of the ride, Kyle was simply spouting off facts and figures, mostly about the Bahamas and some regarding NASA.  That’s my Kyle!

Week of Fun Cruise 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper


Kyle insisted on meeting the captain of their cruise ship. Aunt Nikki, Kyle & the Captain. 6/2015

While sitting in Nicole’s living room, listening to the two reminisce about their trip, I was reminded just how much Kyle is like me.  Apparently, while waiting to take the elevator, they had to, well… wait.  Then, the elevator stopped at every level before arriving at their room.  Patience wasn’t strong with Kyle.  As the story goes, Kyle made my sister, who has an aversion to exercise, take the steps.  The agreement was, if it was more than two floors they’d take the elevator, if less the steps.  Now that’s my Kyle!  In general I usually take the steps, a habit Kyle has certainly picked up from me.  It’s that little extra effort that can make a world of difference to a person’s health.  While Nicole was commenting about the steps, I jumped into the conversation to defend Kyle, reminding Aunt Nikki that taking the steps was a wise choice considering all the food consumed.

Nicole said Kyle literally ate a burger a day, and treated himself to an ice-cream a day throughout the trip.  When bringing this fun fact to light,  Kyle gave me an ornery look as if saying “Ya Aunt Heather, I ate whatever I wanted and not healthy.”  I smiled and said, “Good for you buddy, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.  That’s what vacations are all about.  I’m glad you got some protein in your system and not all sweets.”  He seemed pleased with himself.

There’s no doubt Nicole and Kyle had a blast and created memories for a lifetime.  Like I’ve always told Kyle, I want him to take every opportunity to travel and see the world, explore every inch and enjoy life.

During our ride back, Kyle mentioned that he could live in the Bahamas.  I’d visit him, but that’s about it.  That comment kind of surprised me, since Kyle doesn’t like being in the sun, and hates the heat, and really hates to sweat.  Who knows, maybe the Bahamas will be his favorite vacation spot.

On a somewhat side note, while driving home with Kyle I looked down to see he changed his iPhone cover.  What is it?  The NASA logo.  I guess he did have a great time and was very influenced by his experiences!  After pointing out the case and telling him it was nice (it really is), I told him about his Aunt Nikki’s childhood obsession about working for NASA.  He seemed intrigued, yet I’m sensing he picked up on this little known fact during their visit to Florida.


Kennedy Space Center. NASA 6/10/15

The annual tradition of Aunt Nikki’s and Kyle’s Week of Fun has been in existence since Kyle was a small tyke, growing in wow factor, mileage and expense year-over-year.  I hope it never stops and always continues for those two!  Personally, I love hearing the stories.  Wonder what next year will bring?



posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Hilton Head 10/14 – 10/16

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.   ~Anonymous

Hilton Head Heather Piper

Markelle, Tina, Me, Denise, Esme

I can’t believe this time last weekend I was walking on the sand and smelling the sea air at Hilton Head.  I went to Hilton Head with my good friend Markelle and a bunch of her friends, which I can say are now equally my friends.  We had a great time!  Yes, I went to the beach in October and it was perfect!  The weather was in the 80s, sunny, nice breeze with no crowds.  It was so nice to get away, even if it was just for the weekend.  I’m not much of a beach person, but I do like to hear the waves crashing, the smell of salt water, and the sound of sea gulls.  Something about looking out into the sea and not seeing an end.  Puts your life into perspective and refreshes you at the same time.  I flew into Charlotte and rode with Markelle to Hilton Head.  I love to fly.  I always take a book or two and read throughout my travels, this time was no exception.  It’s so relaxing to not be responsible for getting to my destination, just sit back and read.  This trip included Catching Fire and Mockingjay the second and third books from the Hunger Games trilogy.  On a side note, the hunger game books are really good!

Markelle Harden and Heather Piper at Hilton Head

Me and Markelle on our balcony at Hilton Head 10/14/11

Markelle was such a trooper.  She walked along the beach with me and Denise on Friday night, not to mention she got up around 6:00 am (I was up at 5:00 out of habit) on Saturday morning and walked seven miles with me before breakfast.  We even walked later on that day and some on Sunday.  My friend Tree and I always used walking and talking as a form of therapy.  Plus it’s a nice way to catch up on anything and everything.  All the ladies were so patient with me and my up ‘early habits’ and my ‘inability to sit still’ for long periods of time.  No one seemed to mind or had an issue with my desire to sit on the beach, by myself, and read while they splashed around in the water.  Easy going and fun people are the best!

Hilton Head Heather Piper

Hilton Head! View from our condo balcony.

It’s funny how much I talked about Kyle during the weekend, I’m sure everyone must feel like they know him by now.  I’m sure it got old, but no one let on.  Then again, all the other ladies talked about their kids too.  It was great swapping stories and listening to different perspectives, ideas, activities and other problems.  Those stories make me feel like I’m not the only one in the boat and I’m on the right track.  I missed my little man terribly though.  I called him on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  My sister came home to spend the weekend with him and he planned out the activities before Nicole even got there.  They went to the Fort Ligonier Days Parade, picked out pumpkins, went on a haunted hayride and went to church.  My sister told me that she asked him, “What do you think Aunt Heather is doing?”  Nicole said his response was, “Probably having the time of her life or missing pudd’in.”  That cracks me up!  Yes I did miss pudd’in but I missed Kyle more.  And you know what, I did have the time of my life.  It made me feel better when I realized how much everyone else missed their families too.  At least I’m not the only one with separation anxiety.

Markelle Harden on Hilton Head beach- Heather Piper

Markelle got up at 6 am with me and did 7 miles. What a friend!

Nicole sent me a picture of his Halloween costume, he’s going as a Spartan this year.  I was cracking up when I saw the picture.  It made me a little sad because I usually help out with the costume, but it was great that my sister had an opportunity to be a part of it.  When Kyle was little she used to pick out his costumes, then for a few years, I would make our costumes.  Nicole told me he took his shield with him and hid behind it during the haunted hayride while the ghouls tried to scare him. I guess he also made a friend with the lady behind them in line behind.  Kyle insisted that they all ride together so he could protect everyone with his shield.  I don’t know why he insists on going on those rides when I don’t think he’s ever even seen them.  He sits with his eyes shut the entire time.

Heather Piper on the beach at Hilton Head

I got up around 5 am, ready to go...

Ah, going away for the weekend.  It was a bittersweet time but, with my sister hanging with Kyle and spending quality time, it was more sweet.  Thank you Esme, Tina, Denise, and Markelle for being just simply fun!  We have to make this trip an annual event.  I love off season and hanging with you ladies!!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments
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