We approached Miami at about 7:00 AM, in time for our 8:00 AM scheduled docking. The moon was still out, and some early planes were taking to the air.
As we approached Miami, Danielle McKee raised the flag thanks to her very generous donation to the Students of Service during the auction. She is behind the big white structure while CNN producer/cameraman/reporter Charles Tsai films her for a CNN special.
It was really touching to hear the choir (and most everyone watching) singing the Star Spangled Banner as we approached the United States of America.
Scott again played his bagpipes as we approached the dock. This was the last performance of the trip.
There were some interesting sights, and some were hidden, requiring a good zoom. Here is an innocent-enough view of the corner of Miami. But do you see a little blip between the two lamps on the right?
This "blip" was this guy, David Hall, holding up a sign saying "Welcome home, Jen." I'm sure Jen Hall was proud that her dad was the first to welcome us back home.
Then a small boat came very close to us, but closer inspection revealed that...
...there was another sign for a student. I wonder if Andie was at the railing to see this?
As expected, many excited parents lined their own railing to see our return.
Here's our parking space, just in front of Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas, a ship we sailed on about 5 years earlier. We loved that gorgeous, gigantic ship!
As we sped away in a taxicab with 6 large bags and our 8 carry-ons, we longingly watched the others leaving. This was a very hard day.
It was interesting that we could actually see the ship from the plane as it took off. Here is our ship (in the white rectangle) in its parking space. This was home for 14 weeks, the S.S. Universe Explorer, the Great White Mother.
The view from the plane was quite attractive, as this photo shows.
We were met at the airport by neighbors Shirley and Andrew Crawford, Sharon Cicchelli, and Christy's friends Dianna Cicchelli and Jessica Whitcomb. These fine people waited patiently for our 2.5-hour overdue flight and helped us with our baggage. Here is Shirley waving hello, Lauren looking on, and Dianna giving Christy a hug (right). This was a very welcome sight even as I lifted two carry-ons up stairs from the small puddle-jumper from United Express. Don't they know about elevators?
We returned home to a very welcome, caring, and loving invitation by the Crawfords for dinner. Jim Crawford welcomes Lauren with a warm hug in the cold Pittsburgh night air as we get to the door.
As we arrive for Christmas Eve celebrations at my Mom's in Erie, PA, my sister Doreen, my mom, and my nephew's wife Amy welcome us there, too!
At my brother-in-law Larry's and sister-in-law Mikie's home, also in Erie, we received a very interesting gift from sister-in-law Stephanie and new brother-in-law Phil: a calendar of the year 2000 including photos from this web site! What a great idea!
The end of our trip: Reality really hit when we saw 18 inches of snow atop our car that was parked in Erie for 14 weeks.

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Photos copyright 1999, Dennis F. Galletta