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Thread: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

  1. #1

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    Red face I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Yes, I said it. I LOVE Negril and I LOVE the people and I LOVE the Vibe of the long beach and the bay. However, I have been drawn to the Ocho Rios side of the island for a while and have finally made the leap.

    If you go to the Negril portion of this website and look me up by name, you will find my last trip report and that tells you a lot about me and my prior travels. You will note, there is no trip report from last year.

    I am ashamed to admit it, but I spent my hard earned travel dollars in the Dominican Republic last year. My best friend's daughter had a wedding and my travel agent was just dying to get us out of Jamaica, so we went elsewhere. I won't spare you with tons of details, but I will tell you we will not return to the Dominican for a multitude of reasons….the main being you can't drink the water (I had severe stomach issues), and the DR just doesn't have the wonderful feeling of Negril.

    We chose to go to Ocho Rios this year because I knew that if we went to Negril this year after spending last year in the DR that we would never go elsewhere. You see, I want to LOVE the entire island of Jamaica. I believe it is possible.
    This year we are flying first class with a layover in Charlotte, NC. The cost of this flight was almost the same as a coach non stop flight. We thought it would fun to see how the other side lives. We are flying US Air this time. We are hopeful the meal time flights and drinks with being first on and first off the plane will be worth the hassle. Unfortunately, in order to arrive in Jamaica at a reasonable time, our flight leaves MSP at 5 am, which means we have to leave home at 2:00 am. My parents are taking us to the airport and picking us up and taking care of my little dog while we are gone. I am so thankful to them. It is so wonderful to be dropped and picked up at the curb.

    In the end, we decide the layover is not worth the upgrade to first class. US Air does not provide meal service if you flight is under 3 hours (both legs were like 2:50), they don't offer us drink service before we take off and the stewardess simply sneers at me when I ask for champagne. In lieu of champagne, I settle for white wine which is served in a plastic cup. And, there is no movie or some sort of in flight entertainment. Over all, I am pretty disappointed with our flights.

    One advantage we do find is that there is plenty of room in 1st class for our carry on baggage. This is the first year we carry on in lieu of checking bags and we are thrilled with the fact that there is no baggage to wait for.
    Club Mobay
    This is a service I cannot and will not EVER again do without. We arrive into MBJ at around 2 pm on Saturday and this place is PACKED. We are met at the end of our gate by a rep from Club Mobay holding a sign with our name on it. She wisks us past what seemed like 1000's of people and we stand in line for about 15 minutes before we see our immigration officer. The CM rep apologizes for this delay, which just makes me giggle. One guy walks up and demands to be able to purchase the service NOW and is told he must pre purchase. He was NOT happy. For some reason, his unhappiness makes me giggle (you could tell this guy was not a nice person). Because of our carry on bags, there is no bags to claim (YAHOO). And we do the 2nd leg of customs with literally no wait at all.

    The CM rep takes us over to the Couples Lounge and it is busy. The Couples rep comes over and say "Welcome Home" and decides he is going to take my bags and put them in a pile of other bags. I tell him I will be happy to keep my bags. We have come to far together for me to lose site of them now. Honestly, the Couples lounge was pure chaos and I don't think I was over reacting.

    The CM lounge is right next door to the Couples lounge and because Couples only offers beer, we decide to go over to the CM lounge and have a rum punch (HEAVEN) while we wait for our transfer.

    We waited for about 15 minutes and our driver grabs us and another couple for the drive over to Ocho Rios.

    The couple we are with are ADORABLE. Late 20's/early 30's, she is pregnant (obviously so) and from Oregon. This is their first trip to Jamaica and they will be staying at Couples Tower Isle. They are vegetarians and seem a little concerned about what they are going to eat and having been to Swept Away in the past, we tell them they have no concerns as Couples caters to your every need.

    We stop half way to our destination at a roadside stand, get a couple of drinks (I have the Red Stripe Light with Lime and really kind of like it, even thought I am not much of a beer drinker), and we buy our driver a juice. Hubby and I split a patty, which was just okay.

    By the time we get to Couples Sans Souci, we are a little drunk. Remember we flew First Class and of course took advantage of the free cocktails (there was not much else to take advantage of…lol), we fast tracked thru immigration, had rum punch at the lounge and then 2 beers on the way to the resort with only half a patty each.

    CSS checks us in quickly, takes us right to our room (E10) which is a Penthouse Suite. We decide in lieu of unpacking, we have to go and get something to eat. It is now about 5 pm and we have been traveling all day, drinking all day and not eating all day.

    We head down to Bella Vista and we have the egg roll, salad, the Surf and Turf (steak and shrimp) and dessert. The food is good. They continue to keep our wine glasses full. There is a live 3 piece reggae band playing in the background and we are sitting steps away from the ocean. We are beyond happy, but also exhausted. We collapse into bed to the sounds of the live music coming from the Balloon Bar and sleep well.

    Tomorrow we unpack, take a look at our new home for the next week and decide if CSS will satisfy us. If not, I have a plan…….I will simply go to the front desk and kick and scream and throw a fit until they agree to transfer us to Negril.

  2. #2

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Day 2. Will we like it here?

    I think we were asleep last night by 9:30 pm, so I wake up around 5:30 am. I do a quick search of the Couples.com message board and confirm that we were indeed given a Penthouse Suite. Past vacations (not in Jamaica) have taught me to always confirm that I have been given the room I paid for.

    Our bed is king sized and nice and firm. We have a Tempurpedic mattress at home and both feel like this mattress is comparable in firmness. The bedroom has a nice sized closet with a safe, a flat screened tv and a dresser. The bedding is adequate and we have been given multiple large pillows with 2 additional pillows in the closet. The bedroom has its very own air conditioner.

    There is a separate living room with tv and it's own air conditioner and a small kitchen with fridge and mini bar. We can see the Martini Bar and the Mineral Pool and fitness center from our large balcony. We can also see our neighbors and they can see us as there is not much of a divider. We both do not like the lack of privacy on the balcony. Seems like it could be remedied pretty easily with a bit of lattice.

    I am disappointmented with the bathroom. I guess when I purchased the Penthouse Suite, I expected a better bathroom. Don't get me wrong. It is clean and adequate, but extremely tiny. A single sink, stool and tub and shower and that is it. The good news is the towels are plentiful and very nice. I have long hair and packed my own conditioner. The shampoo does a good job and smells very nice. The hairdryer is pretty standard and with my long hair it takes a pretty long time to dry.

    Around 9 am, I head to the fitness center for a run on the treadmill. The fitness center literally sits right on the ocean. While on the treadmill I face a mirror that has the reflection of the sea in it. Air conditioning works great in the fitness center. I get done with my run and head up to the smoothie bar where they are just getting ready to set up. I think it was around 10 am. It would be nice if they were set up a little sooner, but not a big deal.

    After my run, I finish unpacking and shower and we get down to the beach and find all of the little huts taken but there are still multiple chairs w/cushions available. We lather on the sunscreen and park ourselves for the day.

    My first step into the water is almost emotional. It always is when I know that I have come to the right place. All I can do is just stand there and breath. This place is magnificent and I am so thankful to God that I can be here to take it all in.

    After a little swim, I head back to my chair where hubby and I both take naps as the gentle breeze cools us while the sound of the ocean relaxes and calms us.

    Today I am not drinking alcohol. I am also avoiding dairy. Why? I have hired Carolyn Barret to pick us up at 6 am tomorrow morning and take us for a run. I am training for a marathon and have a 10 mile run scheduled. She has agreed to map out a run for me that is safe, not real hilly and hopefully somewhat shaded. After the run, we are going swimming and then out for Jerk at a her favorite road side stand. I arranged all of this with Carolyn about 1 month ago and she told me she used to do marathons and if she can, she will even run with me. So, today, is all about hydrating, keeping any stomach issues in check (hence no dairy) and getting to bed early. Dear sweet husband of mine is supporting me….thought he thinks I am a bit crazy.

    We hit the martini bar before dinner. (OK- ALMOST no alcohol). Hubby isn't much of a martini drinker. I suggest a Manhattan - its a mans martini, right? I have the Flirtini. I love the Flirtini and he hates the Manhattan and promptly orders a flirtini. Suzette is hosting and Andrew is tending bar. Andrew opens up a can of Lychee with a big dull knife and almost gives me a heart attack.

    We had dinner at Bella Vista again. It is once again very good. The Appleton Rum Cheesecake is to DIE FOR.

    Gotta get up early tomorrow for my run. More to come.

  3. #3

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Very nice!! So glad I came across your report! Please continue!

  4. #4

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Day 3, the day of the 10 mile run in Jamaica.

    We get up at 5 am, drink a full bottle of water with Hammer Electrolytes, eat a Cliff Bar and a banana. I apply body glide to all of the appropriate nooks and crannies. Then, pack the bag. Change of clothes, swim suit, sun screen, pair of sandals, cash, Hammer Heed (think powdered Gatorade only much better) to put in the bottles of water that Carolyn is bringing us.

    We get down to the front desk at 5:55 am and tell the clerk we have a driver coming at 6 am to take us for a 10 mile run. At 6:05 am the front desk clerk offers to call. I tell him "No problem Mon, we are on Jamaica time. If she is not here by 6:30, we will call her". At 6:10, he talks me into calling her. He dials the number I provide him. Carolyn answers on the first ring. "Good Morning Carolyn, this is Joleen". "Joleen, who?" "Joleen- the runner at CSS". "Huh?". "You were supposed to pick us up at 6 am for a 10 mile run. Remember, you were going to map out a run for me, bring water and maybe even run with me if your knee could handle it?". "Did you make a down payment?". "Yes, I did….$100 via Paypal." SILENCE.
    "Oh my gosh. There you are. I am so sorry. Can we resched…….". "NO, we cannot reschedule. Please refund the money.". and I hung up the phone and started to cry.

    Front desk clerk- "Please don't cry. I can have a driver here for you in no time." I politely decline. I don't explain that Carolyn was supposed to plan out the safe, dog free, no hill, slightly shaded run. She was supposed to take us to a someplace really cool to swim after. She was supposed to bring me water. She was even going to run with me. Then, we were going someplace local for lunch. I don't explain that if I don't do this run today, I will not likely run again on this trip. This was my strategy to keep me preparing for the marathon during vacation.

    Front desk clerk- "You could run around our pond. It is 1/3 of a mile". Me- "You want me to run 10 miles - 1/3 of a mile at a time around the pond?".

    Hubby tells me that we need to go for a walk and figure things out. (God bless him….he always keeps me from losing it). We walk down to the pond. We run around the pond 6 or 7 times and actually got in a little over 2 miles. This place is really beautiful. There are turtles and birds and it is really lovely. When we are done (ok bored), we go and investigate the nude beach (before anyone is there). The "nudies" got it pretty good. I try to convince Hubby we should make a visit later in the day. I hear they have Bocci Ball. He says- "NAKED Bocci Ball? I will pass". Makes me laugh.

    We head back to the room, shower and change and head down to the beach. By the time we get down to the beach, it is 8 am and we have our picks of chairs (remember we have been out and about since 6 am). We chose our favorite spot and go for breakfast. Today, they have brown stew chicken and dumplings on the buffet with boiled banana. I am in heaven. I LOVE Brown Stew Chicken and Dumplings. Flavor is fantastic and the dumplings are good and chewy.

    Anyhow, back to the beach chairs. Richard and Christopher from watersports are raking the beach and Richard strikes up a conversation with us. We end up booking a private snorkeling trip with them for later in the day.

    As the morning goes on, we meet Conroy- he is our beach waiter. He gives us a stick with a blue flag on it and instructs us anytime we need anything, we should waive it and he will bring us whatever we need. Later in the day (after our snorkeling) things slowed down a bit on the beach and he visited with us. He told us he was a trainee. Trainee's wear black pants and white shirts. Once they are no longer on parole, they are allowed to wear the polo shorts and shirts. Conroy really likes it here. He says it is a good job and he hopes he makes it on permanently.

    Christopher and Richard come and get us around 1 pm for our private snorkeling excursion. The 4 of us head out. They had the boat equipped with a cheese and fruit plate and a 6 pack of Red Stripe.

    Hubby explains he is not much of a swimmer and has never been snorkeling. I, on the other hand, am pretty sure I am descended from Mermaids (Mermaids Body of Evidence- watch it!) and am just fine. As we motor towards the snorkel site, Christopher points out all of the hotels and names them. I gotta tell ya- I was not impressed with Sandals beach. CSS has a 1 million times better beach then either of the Sandals properties.

    Anyhow, we stop around the reef and Christopher takes a great deal of time to walk Hubby thru the process, how to snorkel, how to breathe, etc. Even has him use the tube before he gets in the water. Over the side we go and Christopher stays with hubby and is so patient and kind.

    IMHO- the snorkeling was just ok. I had much better snorkeling a few years ago near Booby Cay (Negril), but in any event, I did see a few cool fish. Honestly, I was just happy to be swimming in the sea.

    We decide to swim back to the boat where Richard is hanging out as Captain. He helps Glen and Christopher in the boat. I take off my life jacket and mask and snorkel and hand it to Christopher and then do a quick swim out and back 20 or 30 feet and then decide I need to show the boys I know how to do a somersault in the water…..so either part Mermaid or part kid- not sure.

    We get back to the beach and hang out a little longer (that was when we got to visit with Conroy).

    We managed to get reservations at Casanova on short notice tonight, so we head up to the room to get ready for dinner. On the way to the room, I pick a great big orange flower (think Hibiscus) and later put it in my hair. Prior to dinner, we hit the Martini bar for multiple Flirtini's and great conversation with Andrew and Suzette.

    Dinner at Casanova's was fabulous. Sunshine (the hostess) - is really a great big dose of sunshine and is just a fabulous lady. She made us feel really special.

    During dinner, I happen to see one of those little tiny tree frogs hanging out on a window on the building. Obviously have heard the little frogs, but never saw one, so was pretty excited. He was about as big as my thumb and pretty darn cute.

    We are in bed once again pretty early- getting up at 5 am, running 2 miles, snorkeling, lots of great sunshine and copious amount of Flirtini's and Red Wine with dinner have just plane done us in.

    The day started out very disappointing but turned into an absolutely magnificent day.

    By now, I can tell you, we are in love with this property and the people who work at this property. The employees are happy and go out of their way to make you feel important and special.

    Thanks for hanging with me as I document our trip. More to come tomorrow.

  5. #5

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Day 4
    We had some early morning rain and the seas are a bit rough today. No snorkeling or hobby cats. Water sports has deemed it a red flag day.

    Not only am I training for a marathon, but I also have a Half Ironman on the calendar so need to get a swim in today. Because of the "red flag", I decide to swim at the main pool. I pace it off and it appears to be a 25 yard pool. Before the bar opens, I do a bunch of laps and look to the hubby to critique my stroke. He doesn't swim, but I tell him what I want him to look for and he is happy to comply from his lounger.

    We do take part in movie trivia at the pool bar which is hosted by Milton from the entertainment group. A bit Kookie but fun anyways.

    We have lunch at Bella Vista and decide that we are in love with the french fries and ketchup. We are strictly Heinz ketchup people so we find it funny that we LOVE this ketchup. When I say LOVE, I mean we actually talk about drinking it….lol. Glen has the Sans Souci Burger and I have the Jerk Chicken with Cocoa Bread and Coleslaw. SO YUMMY.

    Dinner is also at Bella Vista and it is just ok. Our server introduces himself by name, shakes our hand and takes our order. Because I don't want him to get into trouble, I will not name him. But, I can tell you we didn't get our salads and our medium rare steaks came well done. We didn't wait around for dessert and finished the night at the beach bar.

    Again, early to bed….like 9 pm. I am hooked on Call the Midwife which is available via Netflix and I have great internet service in my room.

  6. #6

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Wow, sorry you didnt get to run.I like that you didn't let it ruin your trip.

  7. #7

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    What a great trip report!

  8. #8

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    happy I found this trip report --- glad you didn't reschedule - how rude of her to "forget"

  9. #9

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    Day 5
    Ok. I have a confession to make. I am not actually at CSS right now (though I would love to be). Hubby and I got back on Saturday and I am reliving my trip one day at a time. You see- I live in Wisconsin and we have had a brutally horrible winter. In fact, while we were gone, we got about 18-24 inches of snow and the high temperature today was a balmy 9 degrees. I am looking forward a high of 3 degrees tomorrow.

    Tonight, I want to tell you about the Repeaters Dinner and the Beach Party.

    The Beach Party is pretty cool. It takes place sort of in front of the Watersports building. The employees of CSS do an amazing job of transforming the beach into a …..well sort of a Hawaiian Lua.

    Just off of the beach bar, we enter and there is a couple of large prints of Bob Marley and the resort photographers are there to take your picture. We enter the table area and are a little confused as to where to sit. Hubby points to a table with 2 other couples at it and we walk over and ask if we can sit with them. We quickly become acquainted with Bart and Nonnie and Cel and Morgan (Please forgive me if I misspelled or even stated their names wrong). Bart and Nonnie have been to CSS 7 times and Bart states every time he walks into the lobby he feels like he is at home. Nonnie is just lovely and real talker. She keeps us all entertained. Cel and Morgan are pretty quiet, but still delightful.

    They announce dinner is ready and Nonnie (the 7 timer takes off for the meat station). I try to go for salad but people are starting their own lines and well- after collecting a few tomatoes, I finally decide to head back to the table. Hint- don't go to dish up right away. Wait for the masses to get ahead of you and then go in for dinner. They have plenty of food and I promise CSS is not going to run out of it.

    Table service is fantastic. They take our drink order, keep our wine glasses full and even bring us Rum Creme for our coffees after we hit the dessert table. The food is very good. I really enjoyed the Jerk Pork, hubby likes the Jerk Chicken and they have Cocoa Bread which I am addicted to and wish I could get in the states. We tried the Curried Goat and decide that it tastes just like the Curried Goat we had at a road side stand that was supposed to be the BEST IN NEGRIL. It still tastes like old lamb with a bunch of curry powder on it. Blech.

    The entertainment was cute. Some younger gals came out and did a dance……think Dance recital (for those of you who are Dance Moms and Dads).

    The next night (I think) was the Repeaters Dinner.
    You see, if you have been to a Couples Resort before there is PERKS. This was our second visit and we received a $100 resort certificate, 2 water bottles (they are pretty cool) and an invitation to the Repeaters Dinner.

    The Repeater's Dinner is held on Wed night at Sans Souci and is held at the main pool. I can't even begin to tell you how amazed I am again at the transformation. Again- tables with white linens, napkins and nice chairs. We are one of the first ones in the door and are greeted personally by Mr. Peter Batagglia, the General Manager of CSS. He shakes our hands, thanks us for coming and hands us a raffle ticket. We are guided to our table and seated with……Bart and Nonnie and Cel and Morgan!! We are destined to be friends with these lovely people.

    The waiter comes to take our drink orders and I follow suit with Nonnie and order Champagne as does the other 2 ladies at the table (I wouldn't have recognized the option had Nonnie not started it). We spend a few moments chatting and then Mr. Peter Batagglia sits down with us and tells us he will be having dinner with us. There is a manager of some sort or another at every table and this is the night they thank their repeat guests.

    Mr. Batagglia gives a very nice speech thanking everyone and the table service begins. We were served salad and soup. Then, when those courses were done, we where instructed to head to the buffet where they had mashed potatoes, steak kabobs and grilled lobster. AMAZING FOOD!! Dessert was some kind of amazing custard with a crispy fried banana stuck in the top and coffee (of course they brought us Rum Creme for our coffee).

    Then, the managers were introduced and they handed out some raffle prizes. WE WON a $50 gift certificate to the gift shop!!

    After dinner, once again, we are a little drunk, extremely satisfied, a little sunburned and mostly just very happy. We head to bed and DREAM OF NOTHING.

  10. #10

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    Re: I am a Negril Aholic and My Name is Jamaica Joleen.

    We leave tomorrow.

    We start the day with a short run around the pond then back to the room to shower before our 80 minute couples massage.
    We check in at Charlie's Spa and are taken to the Hideaway. The Hideaway sort of hangs over the ocean and has open windows to sea. The breeze and the sound of the sea hitting the rocks below is amazing. We both enjoyed our massages and will definitely do it again. However, we decide we should have had the massage's early into the trip.

    After the massage, we head up to the photo shop to print our our boarding passes and to review the pictures. We actually find 3 pictures we like and purchase them. They have a special- 3 pictures and a silver Couples photo frame for $65. Not a great deal, but when you are middle age and little chubby you will pay whatever the asking price is for a good picture….lol.

    After picking out our photographs, we head over to the beach for our last day in the sun.

    Shortly after we get into the sun my neck where I am sun burned starts to itch and burn like crazy. I can't tell if I am sun burned or am having a reaction to the massage oils or a reaction to the massage oils combined with the sun screen or a little bit of everything. All I know is that I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE SUN NOW. We head back to the room and I get into the shower and when I come out hubby is there with Aloe gel from the gift shop. I apply to the itchy area and lay down. I feel bad but today I am going to have to stay out of the sun. After the shower and aloe application, the area starts to feel better.

    At this point, we finally decide to use our balcony. Our neighbors are not home and so for the 1st time this trip, we hang out on the balcony and enjoy the view, the sounds of the ocean and the breeze. There is a pair of doves that I think must be nesting in the Pine -like tree just to our left. One of them comes and hangs out in the gutter where there is a drain tube from the air conditioner. Apparently he/she loves the distilled water.

    We order nacho's from room service. They show up about 10 minutes after we order with a plate of corn chips sprinkled with fresh chopped peppers and onions and 3 little cups- one with warm cheese sauce, one with sour cream and and one with salsa. It was all very fresh and tasty.

    I tell the hubby that I think we should stay in tonight and pack and rest for our long travel day (I am kind of a nervous traveler), but he thinks we should take in the Friday Night Gala. We decide to just start with getting dressed for dinner (casual shorts tonight) and take in the sunset over at SSB. We have not yet seen a sunset on this trip and considering my love for Negril am a little surprised that I haven't even thought of it.

    Over at SSB, everyone has either left or put their clothes on….lol. The saxaphone player is there and the bar is still open, so of course we have a drink. Rum punch tastes pretty good. We sit down and take in the sunset and it is just as magnificent as I remember Negril's ….maybe even a little better in that you have some mountains (or foothills) in the background.

    After sunset we head over to the area where they have set up for the Gala and sure enough we run into Bart/Nonnie and Cel and Morgan and decide we should have dinner with them once again on this trip. Now, if you are impressed with the Beach Party or the Repeater's Dinner, the GALA is gonna blow your socks off. Seriously AMAZING. The best food we had on the entire trip. They had multiple food stations set up…..grilled cornish game hens, a whole roast pig, prime rib, stir fry, pasta, salad, sushi, cherries jubilee, an ice sculpture and other beautiful and decadent desserts. Of course our wine glasses were never empty and we once again had rum creme with our coffee.

    After dinner, we bid our new friends adieu and promise to try to connect on Facebook.

    We walk the beach and hike the stairs to our room one last time and turn in early, this time, not because we can, but because we have too. Our ride to the airport comes at 7:30 am tomorrow.

    I am so glad hubby was the voice of reason and took me to the Gala tonight. It was the best night we had with the best food and I didn't think the prior nights could be topped. If you visit CSS, make sure you are there to enjoy the Gala.

    Tomorrow I will tell you about our ride home and cover any ground I missed (there is a few things )

    Thanks again for following along.

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