18th Anniversary of our First Date!

In 1986 I was a junior in high school when I saw a picture of a missionary’s daughter in the Philippines in a missions slide-show on a Sunday night at church. (and thought she was cute) After getting her parents permission to write to her (she went back to the Philippines a few weeks ahead of her parents for the start of school), I sent her a letter. We were soon pen pals. Once I found out that she would be heading to the same college as me in a few years (MBI) I got out a calendar and figured out what the date would be of her first Friday evening as a Freshman in college… (before the days of computer calendars!) and asked her on a date for September 7th, 1990, four years in advance! Our first date included a limo ride to Navy Pier, but I could only afford one way, so I left my car at the planetarium and took a cab back to school in the afternoon. After the dinner cruise from Navy Pier (when Navy Pier was only a freight yard and the dinner cruise ship was ALL that was there!) we walked along the Lake Shore to the planetarium where we just “happened” to discover my car and therefore our ride back to the dorms.

We’ve done the same date every September 7th, ever since, and this year was the 18th time we’ve done it. While we usually go on the Spirit of Chicago or the Odyssey Cruise ships, this year we tried one we’ve seen there for years called the Anita Dee II.

But as we headed downtown, things were looking bad for a cruise!


It was POURING RAIN our whole drive downtown!


We’ve only had bad weather once in the past 17th years, so we figured that the odds had caught up to us. The one time before the weather was bad the ship never left the dock because the waves were too sever, and at one point the boat was rocking so much that the giant roast that a chef was cutting meat from ended up on the floor! Other than the time our ship crushed a small boat into the dock, most years have been uneventful from disasters, so we figured we were due for a rainy cruise after 17 years of clear sailing.


But, by the time we got downtown the rain let up, and things began to dry up. We saw a wedding party taking photos in a soaked park across from Navy Pier. But we should have known the weather would be bad, after all, “Steve Said It Would Be Like This.”


We cracked up when we saw this advertisement while walking the wet pier hoping for a dry cruise. When I stopped to take a picture of this ad, Sara said, “Oh, I know what you are going to do with that!” I said, “Put it on my blog when I write about the rain?” and she said, “Oh, no, I thought you were going to……………..” So I did:


It wouldn’t be the first time Steve Tanner was right about something relating to disasters. :)


We had fun at the Pier before docking time. (Don’t tell Sara I posted this pic, she is out and I didn’t have time for my usual “pre-blog wife photo approval process!”)


I often include pictures of the local wildlife – sorry, this is the best I could do.


The reflections on the water are always beautiful


Probably the first disappointment with the City Lights Cruises is that they don’t do a nice photo as you board, but the next guy in line was nice enough to take a picture of us while we held up the line. Their marketing is a little sneaky, I bought some advance tickets that said they were the full cost except for a docking fee and two drinks – ha – a surprise extra $60 after you think you’ve paid for the whole dinner and think all you have to do is buy two drinks, and since we drink Coke and not booze, we thought it wouldn’t be too bad. Oops, they charge your for two alcoholic drinks even if all you want is a Coke. It also didn’t have assigned tables like the others and the food was about as cheap as possible.


But in the end you are there for time together and to enjoy the view, so it wasn’t too bad overall – but definitely a step down from the other dinner cruises. (but also less expensive – as they say, you get what you pay for)


Ironically, when we arrived we were first in line, so we decided we didn’t need to be first, and went for a walk. When we got back the line was looooooooooong! We were wondering if this many people could actually FIT on the ship – and then learned that it is first come, first serve to seats, and feared we would be standing all night, but once we got on board, I ventured out of the line (which was heading for the bar) and found that the front of the ship was empty, and got to have it to ourselves for quite awhile, and later only a few couples came up there. So we ended up having a really nice time despite the fact that there were definitely NOT enough life boats for all the people on board!


Photography on these cruises is always hard, you have to really over expose to get a picture, but they still look nice if you don’t enlarge too much. It was a wonderful break from work and the usual pace of life, but I confess, I did check my e-mail at one moment when I was alone, and the funniest thing happened:


Yes, my iPhone said that I had 2 billion, 147 million, 483 thousand and 646 unread messages. Now, it definitely FEELS that way at times, but this was too funny. I grabbed my digital camera and took a picture of the iPhone screen. Since the odds of reading over two billion e-mails on a date was slim, I put the phone away – having learned my lesson – and after the cruise I peeked again and the number was back its usual high number, but in perspective, I get almost no e-mail now. I still haven’t figured it out – could that have been the total number of unread e-mails of everyone on earth at the moment?

The other surprise – not sure whether it was good or not – was the discovery after boarding that the cruise was THREE hours, not two as we expected. (Like the others) After a call to the babysitter to make sure she knew, we settled in for a long relaxing time afloat, but it was long. Toward the end we managed a spot on the couches on one level and slumped back to relax and enjoy the last hour or so, when we saw an equally bored looking Filipino family next to us. As I returned from getting my drink and was squeezing by I dropped a little Tagalog (language of the Philippines) as I often like to do to see their surprise when a white boy speaks a language most Americans don’t know. I’m not fluent, but I can say enough for the beginning of a friendly conversation, such as Iki Nagagalok akong makilala kayo. (my spelling of ‘Nice to meet you’) Though I started with just a ‘thank you’ as I passed by to my seat. (Salamat Po) Adding “Po” at the end is a sign of respect, which they always appreciate.


The next thing I know we were having a very enjoyable conversation and the last hour flew by.


Hindi ko alam kung papaano ko po kayo mapapasalamatan sa inyong kabutihan.

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Karl Bastian is the founder of Kidology.org, the creator of ToyboxTales.com, and the author of OrderoftheAncient.com. His personal website is Kidologist.com He is Big Kid with a passion for equipping and encouraging those who minister to children.


  1. Karl and Sara, Congratulations on your 18 years together. Glad to read about your Lake Michigan cruise experience. We just celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary on Sept 3rd. Having a whole weekend with all four of our grown children and their mates was such a treat for us. All I can say to you two is that if you keep doing this annual cruise, you will be bringing your children and their children on this cruise with you in the years to come. May it be so. However, you might want to reconsider your options. So with the cost of living increases and general inflation you could be in for a surprise. I just wanted to warn you so you so you could be looking for other drink options (Ha). May your marriage have that problem. We spent nearly $1,000 to our weekend with the kids and grandkids. It was not a cheap date. But it was worth it. Congratulations to you both, Barney and Sharon Kinard

  2. Karl and Sara, I had a lot of fun with Luke Thursday and Friday. Thanks for trusting me with your little man. :-)

    ALso, I about died laughing at the Steve Tanner sign. Too funny!!

    Great pics too.


  3. Warmest congratulations, Karl and Sara. Just goes to show that romance is not dead after all.
    And I think you might have gotten God’s i-phone by mistake. The 2 billion plus messages must be prayer requests. ;-)

  4. Congrtats…but it’s guys like you who make the rest of us look bad.

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