Friday, July 31, 2009

The Rest of the Cruise (Days 4-7)

Day 4: Wednesday

This day started with our adventures in Mazatlan. This time we were able to walk directly off the ship and take a quick taxi to the city entrance area. We found a van driver for the whole day and off we went! He started taking us on the tours of the Mazatlan homes and talking to us about some of the famous islands, statues, etc. On our way to the "Golden Zone" for shopping, we stopped to watch the local cliff divers. I caught a video of one guy jumping into the waves. The water is really shallow and they jump in a pool where waves are crashing between large, jagged rocks. Our guide told us people have died before! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video:
video
Next, we asked to go shopping in the "Golden Zone" so our driver took us there (we think...we're not sure because he took us to one of his buddy's stores that was along a strip...we guess he takes us there because there's something in it for him). Regardless, it wasn't GREAT shopping, but I did find a cute floppy sun hat (see later pictures) and three pieces of green pottery vases to put in my living room for only $22! :) YAY!

After shopping, we asked to be taken to the beach. Our driver dropped us off at a random seafood/mexican restaurant by a beach. We're pretty sure he gets to eat and drink free here if he brings tourists. We thought it was funny that he just took us places and didn't ask us where we wanted to go in particular. It wasn't the prettiest beach or the best restaurant, but we had a little fun.

Dave and Trevor rented jet skis for a half hour to drive out on the ocean past the waves. I went out with Trevor for a few minutes. We had a very fast jet ski! It was fun but it's very different riding a jet ski on the ocean as compared to a lake--much more bouncy and you get salt water everywhere and nothing is dry to wipe your face on! It burns a little! But it was fun. After 5 minutes or so, Trevor drove me back toward the shore to let me off (so he could race Dave and play around--I was kind of a wimp haha). We got a little too close and all of a sudden we see Cole and Shawn yelling something like "WAVE!!!!". A little too late, I turned around to see a HUGE wave coming at us. The jet ski was parallel to the shore, so it tipped both of us off the side into the wave. I thought for SURE it was going to roll over and smack me in the head so I put my arms up as protection. Fortunately we were all okay. I found out later that they engineer jet skis to be VERY hard to roll over. So, I was safer than I thought after all because it just tipped us off and turned back upright. I laughed about it a few minutes later. Kind of an adventure! :) This pic os of Dave and Trev coming back to shore after their 30 minutes was up:
We took this as we were leaving the beach. But it's in front of the restaurant we ate at. They really did have fantastic shrimp. This pic is to kind of show off my new swimsuit I got made this year :)
After the beach we were all pretty tired and glad to return to the boat. I do have to say, though, that the driving in these Mexican cities was CRAZY!! I swear we were about to hit something or someone or a car or whatever at all times! Sometimes I had to close my eyes and just trust our driver! Haha

Day 5: Thursday

Thursday our boat docked in Puerto Vallarta. The day started pretty similarly. We found a guy with a van who would drive us around for cheap. His name was Ricardo and this guy took us wherever WE wanted to go. :) We requested a trip to the jungle first, but on the way he showed us some really cool Vallarta houses. They had hand-laid cobblestone roads and houses were built on cliffs, like this picture looking up the hill:
And this picture looking down the hill:
I just love all the green trees, blue water, and red and white houses! It's so gorgeous there... I'd almost consider retiring there :) Haha. Almost. Trevor and I took the opportunity to get a gorgeous scenery shot (me wearing my new sunhat!):
After a VERY long drive down city streets and then through a poor town with chickens and a long dirt road, we made it to the touristy jungle area where they filmed the movie "Predator". There was a natural pool with a rope swing and a small natural slide on the rocks. I totally would have played there, but we decided to sign up to do the zipline course! :) Heidi and Jana couldn't do it because they're pregnant, and Shawn decided to sit out, but the rest of us went. Here's Heidi, Trevor, and Dave sippin on their 47th or so pina coladas:
After a fantastic time on some 1600 foot ziplines and a short, wonderful Mexican thunderstorm, we finally headed out of the jungle and into the market area for a bit more shopping. There was a very fun little strip of shops under the trees that I had to take a picture of because it looked very National-Geographic:
We shopped for a bit longer, but feeling very hungry we asked Ricardo to find us some great Mexican food! He brought us to his favorite no-name taco stand off the side of the road. And I'm not kidding. This was the BEST (and cheapest) food we had in Mexico!! There's something about the fresh-made corn tortillas, crisp cabbage, glass bottled Coke, and meat cooked in front of you that makes it amazing. Not to mention it was raining--I was in heaven!! The cheese in the quesadillas was SO good I asked Ricardo what kind it was (hoping I could buy it in the U.S.) and it's called Chihuahua cheese! Since being back home, I discovered Chihuahua cheese is a mild, off-white Mexican melting cheese. There's places near Chicago that sell it...but that's about it! :( I'm so sad. So if you know of anywhere that sells Chihuahua cheese, PLEASE let me know!!
We were sad to end our last day in Mexico, but we knew we'd have fun on the boat on the way back. That night at dinner was fun as we got in cheer wars with our surrounding tables. We were all cheering for our waiters because we love them, of course! We yelled "PAUL PAUL PAUL PAUL PAUL!" and waved our napkins like the riotous Mexican family at the next table over! They were a hoot and kept cheering for their waiter Joaquim. One guy kept shouting "Joaquim for President!!" Hahaha!
Before dinner that night, we also barely caught the sunset and Meg took a pretty great picture for us! :) Thanks!Day 6 (Friday): I rested a lot by watching a movie in our stateroom then spending a lot of time on the deck reading and tanning! That night was our second formal night so we had a fun dressing up again and then playing Boggle and Pictionary with everyone later.

Day 7 (Saturday): was a lot of the same, with the guys playing ping pong and volleyball, and the girls relaxing by the pool or watching on. We made sure to take advantage of a lot on the boat this time! We used the gym, arcade, casino, mini-golf course, game room, ping pong table, sports court, pool area, bar service (for Pina Coladas), variety shows, cafe promenade, the karaoki lounge, and a fun diner called Johnny Rockets!

While we were at Johnny Rockets enjoying some fries and onion rings, all the servers got up and started dancing to one of those famous disco songs (can't remember the name! ahh!) and I had the itch to dance too so I got up and learned their little routine as I went! IT WAS SO FUN! :)I'm sorry for the HUGE post! I thought I had fewer pictures and less to say! But I'm glad you got to experience a bit of our Mexican vacation! It was so much fun but I have to say I was SO glad to get back on the bus and the plane on Sunday to come home! I don't think I could have gone one more day eating that much food!! Problem is, I eat everything in front of me and they just kept bringing it! Whew! So good, but I'm glad to be back to sandwiches and homemade meals!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mexican Cruise Day 3

Day three of our cruise brought us to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! We went down to Deck 1 to board a tender that would take us into the harbour. Once there, we lathered up with sunscreen--it was HOT and STICKY--and headed out into the marketplace to find the people we had signed up with to go on our snorkeling excursion.

On our walk around the pier, there were lots of guys with signs yelling in poor English about their excursions. So, Dave being the crazy person that he is, decides to talk to one of these guys when he realizes they are offering a MUCH better price than we were going to pay. So we ended up saving $50 dollars per couple and got a private, glass-bottom boat for the 8 of us! Sounds wonderful, but we were all a bit nervous that we'd get back in the boat with all of our money gone! :) But our guide, David (Dah-veed), was really nice and we had a ton of fun!

This first video is of something I've never seen before in my life! On our long boat ride to the cove where we would go snorkeling, we kept seeing manta rays jumping out of the water! It looked like they were trying to fly! It made me laugh to think it was some odd sort of evolutionary flaw: manta rays becoming birds! :) So I had to get video to capture the amazingness. Also, Dave jumped in the water to try to see them all underwater so that's what all the yelling, splashing, and large floating body are all about! :) Listen hard to what he says at the end. It cracks me up!
video
Our next stop after a bit of snorkeling and the girls taking a quick break on the beach to get some sun was a beachside restaurant called "The Office". Our nice boat driver David left for two hours to let us eat and then came back to pick us up! How nice! All for 20 bucks a person! All day! Deal for real! This next pic is of the mariachi band that came to play for us under the blue umbrellas shading us from the hot sun on the beach! It was a pretty fun way to eat at an ourdoor restaurant.
And here's a video of them singing the chorus of "Hotel California" in Spanish with Meghan being a star on the bongos! She was AWESOME! :)
video
See? She was having way too much fun!
And then a special server came around with a plate full of liquors and beers and, of course, we declined... but he didn't leave before we took some fun pictures with the glass gun-shaped liquor holders! Here's Heidi enjoying herself a little too much :)
And a quick shot of me holding the alcoholic shotgun!
After dinner, David gave us a ride back to the dock where we shopped a bit in their market then got tendered back to our cruise ship. That night I caught a sunset picture as it fell behind a Mexican mountain in the background:
And Trev and I snapped a pretty cute picture of the two of us, so I had to include that, too, of course!
Day 3 in Cabo was really fun! Cabo was a very brown, rocky place with not a lot of green but it was soo fun to snorkel and eat at the best restaurant around! :) However, the cruise only got better from here!! I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mexican Cruise Days 1 and 2

Day 1: Sunday

After a ride to the airport, an hour-and-a-half flight, and a 30 minute bus ride we arrived at the dock where we finally boarded the ship... only about 5 hours before it was to depart. At 4:15 the boat had what they like to call a "compulsory mustering" where everyone has to put on their life-jackets and meet at designated gathering spots for a safety drill. We got Stephen, our stateroom attendant, to take these pictures for us and our friends:Huge fashion statement, I know: all orange and glowing!
Then, to pass the time before the ship departed, we napped a bit and then went exploring. We found an arcade that Trevor and I didn't know about, even though we sailed on the Mariner of the Seas last time! Here are Dave and Trevor playing air hockey. I think Trev won, but I can't quite remember.
Finally, as the ship started to pull out of LA, I snapped a few interesting shots. This first one is of our view off the 12th floor of the ship looking out over Los Angeles!
This Coast Guard boat escorted us out of the harbor. I couldn't believe the size of the gun on the front so I had to take a picture! I don't know what they'd have to use THAT for... but I'm glad I didn't have to know! :)
Tried to get an artistic shot of the lighthouse and a sailboat passing by.
Here's another attempt at an artistic picture using the reflections off the glass. You can see me straight ahead with my camera and Meg and Cole to the right standing together:
This next picture was taken the first day, but it pretty much sums up what we did on the boat... or at least what the guys did. I played a bit, but for me it was more of a spectator sport! :) Ping pong is also very difficult when it's windy, just in case you were curious.
Day 2: Monday and MY BIRTHDAY! July 20th.

That morning I got up and ate breakfast then went to one of the ship's yoga classes for my little birthday treat. It was nice and relaxing and helped me take my mind off the fact that my head was spinning from the motion of the boat. The girls spent most of the day laying on the deck tanning and reading. That night was our first Formal Night and we got all dressed up! I sort of pretended it was for my birthday that everyone was looking so nice :). We got pictures taken professionally, but Dave sneaked behind the photographer to take free pictures for us. I don't think the photographer was too happy about that! Oh well. Here's the end product:
And this picture I stole from Meghan's collection but it was just too good to not post! After dinner, when dessert finally came around, I was starting to feel bummed that they weren't going to do anything for my birthday. Then suddenly about 5 of the waiters (including our waiter Paul and his assistant Georgio) came around with a piece of cheesecake with a candle in it and a small piece of fondant on top that said "Happy Birthday!". They made everyone sing to me and it was really fun! Just the cherry on top of a wonderful 22nd birthday! Thanks, Meghan, for taking the picture:The first two days were great, but we were at sea! Stay tuned for more posts about our excursions on land in Mexico!! :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cruise Teaser: Towel Animals!

Well, we got back from our cruise yesterday afternoon and I crashed hard! I also took a lot of pictures from our adventures in the Mexican Riviera and I'll post those over the next few days. Today, though, I want to make a post about our funny towel animals that our stateroom attendant made for us. These little creatures are one of my favorite parts of the cruise! I'm not totally sure what all of them are... so I'll leave some up to interpretation and you can give me your thoughts! Haha! :)

Monday: Alf!Tuesday: Turkey?? What do you think?
Wednesday: A bat!
Thursday: A Trevor and a ???!
Friday: A monkey and another monkey!
Saturday: A blob? Or some kind of sea creature? What do you think?
Well I hope you enjoyed seeing our towel animals and be sure to look forward for more cruise posts to come!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Brother the Missionary!

Last Wednesday, July 8th, Trevor and I went with my parents to drop off my brother at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) just a couple blocks away here in Provo. It was such a bittersweet (but more sweet than bitter) day. We are all so excited for Mike--now known as Elder Hopkins--and for the good choices he has made to get him to this point.

Here's the family picture by the entrance sign:My sweet hubby and my wonderful brother, smiling for a minute right before Mike left to enter the MTC:
To find out more about what Mike will be doing over the next two years in Boise, Idaho and for his address, check out his mission blog at http://elderhopkins.blogspot.com. I sure love my little bro... who's just not so little anymore!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Hike to Timp Caves

Last Sunday, the 5th of July, Trevor and I drove up to American Fork Canyon to hike up to the Timpanogos caves. When we arrived, we realized the cave tickets were all sold out and we missed the last tour. But, we decided to do the mile and a half hike anyway. From bottom to top, we climbed a whopping 1,000 feet up in elevation. I definitely had moments where I had to stop and breathe.

This picture was taken at a little tunnel in the rock at the 1/4 way point:We were getting high, and the scenery was getting beautiful!
See? There's the valley far in the distance:
We saw a plethora of wildlife on the trail including curious chipmunks, buzzing bees, and lightning-fast lizards! I caught this little buddy on film:
And after about an hour of hiking, WE MADE IT! Unfortunately, like I said, they had just finished the last tour and one ranger lady was locking up for the evening. Fortunately, she was nice enough to snap a photo:
Well, this time we really did it wrong, but we got lots of good advice from friendly rangers. Next time we'll be going early in the morning so the sun hasn't reached that side of the mountain yet (we went during the hottest part of the day--5:30--and the sun was beating on us the whole time) and we won't go during a holiday weekend. I'm really excited to see the caves next time! :) Woo hoo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Independence Day 2009 :)

For the fourth of July, Trevor and I celebrated in style. It started with a wonderful breakfast of fluffy pancakes and then a quick morning of checking for illegally parked cars near the Provo Parade. :) After checking cars, we walked over to join Meghan and Mical and their families watching the Provo parade. Apparently there were over 200,000 spectators this year. That's an insane amount for such a small-ish town!

From L to R: Caden, Cole, Ryan, and Pirate Trevor:
Pirate Alex and Pirate Trevor! :) Apparently the Pirate Island place was passing these hats out to the kids, but they were way too big to fit on the kids' heads!
After the parade, Trevor and I went back to our place for a bit to spend an hour or so together before he dropped me off at work. He went to Meghan's for hamburgers and hotdogs while I slaved away at the Buckle. But it was an interesting shift: I caught my first shoplifter! :) Woo hoo! That's an extra 100 buckeroos for me!

Well anyway, when I got off work at 7, Trevor picked me up and we joined the family at a park up in Springville Canyon so the guys could play homerun derby and the girls could chat. Here's Scarlett and Meghan, daughter and mom, having lots of fun :)
All the "kids" were out in the far field ready to catch the pop flys. It's funny because all the little kids just love to play with Trent! They tend to gather around him.
Here's my sweetie hitting the ball. I'm proud to say he was the winner of home run derby this year! :)Trevor and Maddi out catching balls. I was glad that Trev finally wore the new shirt I had bought him from Buckle.
After home run derby wore off and all the kids were soaked from playing in the nearby creek, we headed back to Meghan's house for some streetside fireworks. Everyone enjoyed playing with their sparklers. Here's little Scarlett again:I just had to take pictures of the typical "fountain" fireworks that are legal here in Utah. Fortunately, we got brave and Steve shot off a few big illegal ones that were pretty sweet!
Just another fireworks picture. I like the smoke in this one:
Overall it was a pretty fun day. I enjoyed the company of friends and family and I am glad to know I live in a country where I am completely free to choose to do whatever I want and to believe whatever I want. God Bless America! :)