Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Day in Paradise...St. Thomas

Our next stop was in St. Thomas. The hottest island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. No, seriously...we melted off the ship to get to that island! Not thinking about the heat, Steve got off the ship in a dark T-shirt. After about 10 minutes of that, we began our search for a lighter color shirt for him to keep off a little bit of heat.
After shopping with Alan and Manda most of the morning, we had to split off for our various excursions, but not without taking in a little bit of the local wildlife. Steve wandered right up to this giant iguana, thinking it was some sort of statue, but when it moved, it scared the crud right out of poor Steve-O. I seriously can't remember the last time I have seen Steve move so fast or jump so high, and he got no sympathy from us...we were laughing too hard!

After our "iguana encounter" we stumbled upon this funny little photo spot. It was almost like you stepped into a box to have your picture taken. The sea creatures certainly aren't realistic (I don't even know if that's the look they were going for) but it turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of us.
Alan and Amanda went off to their excursion of the Coral Gardens, while Steve and I met Kirk and Teresa for the "BOSS" adventure! This really was the primary reason we went on this cruise. Steve and I had gotten hooked on the Travel Channel and found this great excursion and honestly based our cruise choice on which ship would take us there.
(the view from our little boat)
We boarded a small charter boat that would take us to the small island where we were going to go underwater. While on the boat, I was chosen to be the "model" on how to use the scooter. BOSS (Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter) is basically a jet ski with a bubble on it that is pumped full of oxygen for you to put your head in. It works like turning a bowl upside down and putting it underwater...some physics law that I don't understand will not fill the bowl full of water. We were divided into 4 groups, and ours went first.
It was truly amazing!! You only freak out for a minute before your brain tells your body that you can still breathe, even though you are underwater. Trained scuba divers took us down and we were to follow them around. The first thing we saw was a stingray!! So awesome!! We got down about 8 feet and puttered around after the divers for about 20 minutes. The divers had a bottle full of food for the fish that they would squeeze and fish would swarm you! They would swim so close to you that they sometimes brushed against you, which really freaked me out! But at least our diver got some great shots of Steve and I in our BOSS helmets. I'm the one with the fish tail right over my face, and Steve is hiding right behind that striped fish.
I thought I would be so disappointed when our turn on the scooters was over, but we had the next hour or so to snorkel while the rest of our group went on the scooters. I think we preferred snorkeling over the scooters. It was so relaxing to just float in the ocean, watching the fish swim and hear nothing but your own breathing.
We had been told that we "had" to ride the tram up to Paradise Point. Unfortunately, none of our friends wanted to join us. So, Steve and I took the ride and loved it! The scenery was amazing...especially once you got to the top. There was a great little bar up there where we ordered Pina Coladas and the best beer battered cheese fries we have ever had.
Tonight was the one night we were sorry that we had booked early dining. Our meal was served at 6pm and we didn't get back on the ship until almost 7. But of course, only an idiot would go hungry on a cruise! It gave Steve and Alan a chance to try out the sushi bar before we headed to the Panini Grill on the back of the ship. We turned in early tonight...the combination of sun and water wore us right out. But we enjoyed the perfect end to a perfect day...Room Service...grilled cheese, PB&J's and cookies & milk on the balcony.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nassau, Bahamas

Our first stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. Unfortunately, we were only scheduled to be there for 5 hours. This worked out for me, because I woke up that morning sick as could be! But I had been looking forward to cruising for 10 months, and dang it, I was going to the Bahamas!! So, doped up on Tylenol, we headed off the ship.
It had been advertised that we were traveling on Carnival's largest "megaliner". But when we pulled up next to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, we felt like we were sailing on a dingy! Now, THAT is one massive ship! The good news for us was, in talking to some of the people on it, they said it was TOO big and they would never sail on it again.
Our first stop was a recommendation from our new friend, Karla, from the wing place in Orlando. She told us for $10 we HAD to go on a horse and buggy tour. They loaded us all into one little buggy, (I am literally sitting in Amanda's lap here) took a few pictures, and then told us it was illegal to have so many people in a buggy.
So, Steve and I got into our own buggy and went away on our tour. It lasted about 20 minutes, and was kind of fun, we just could barely hear our tour guide. Any time I would catch something he said, I would have to turn to tell Steve, and then miss the next part. Probably wouldn't do it again, but I wouldn't say it was a total waste either.

Since we weren't there for long, we didn't book any excursions in Bahamas. Instead we went to the infamous Straw Market, which is a glorified Tijuana. They sell everything there from watches and belts, to knock-off designer purses and T-shirts. Of course, they specialize in "straw items" so we had to barter some cute flip-flop purses for the girls and had them embroider their names on them for us. We also scored some pretty cool coconut shell turtles and then went off in search of a drug store because by this time, my Tylenol was wearing right off! I remember coming here with my family when I was little and always drinking Bahamas Goombay Punch from a can. When I saw it at the drugstore, we just had to get some! However, it was not NEARLY as good as I remembered...what I wouldn't have given to trade it for a Diet Coke. It was like drinking pure corn syrup! Steve was a trooper and downed the whole can, but I didn't feel well enough to fake it. Sorry, babe! We stopped at a little restaurant for some lunch where we ordered Conch Chowder (which Steve really liked) and Bahamian Fried Chicken, which was no different than American fried chicken...just really dry. At that point, we were ready to call it a day and headed back to the ship.
Nassau, Bahamas is known for its Atlantis Resort. It is a huge beach resort with fancy aquariums and water parks, but just to walk through was over $100 per person. So we passed on that, but stopped for one quick photo.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day was a blur for me. The medication I took made me feel better, but it also knocked me out for the afternoon. So, while I napped, Steve went wandering the ship and woke me up in time to get ready for our first formal night. I got all dressed up in my new formal dress that I won on E-Bay, got my hair all curled up, and insisted that we have pictures taken before dinner. (But, they did NOT turn out cute at all, and for $24 a piece, I was NOT about to bring one home as a just take my word for it...We looked HOT!) I made it to the table, and wouldn't you know it, it was prime rib and lobster night. I ordered my prime rib, still not feeling great, and tried to smile while we waited for our food. Our sweet little Maria, our assistant waitress, came around with the bread basket and that was all it took for me. I looked at Steve with tears in my eyes, told him I was sorry, and ran for my room. My formal night ended in my room, with my poor Steve, eating dinner dateless. He did return and report (later, when it was safe to talk about food) that it was the BEST lobster he had ever had, but even better was the shrimp that came with it. I was disappointed, but hoped to get better FAST! So, after a little more Tylenol, we went out to Karaoke and hit the sack pretty early, glad there was a sea day ahead of us to give me some time to rest!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A week on "The Dream"

I will never forget the squealing reaction from our rented Grand Marquis as we caught our first glimpse of the Dream. Even from far away, the ship was massive!! It is the newest in the Carnival fleet, taking it's first sailing in September last year. Steve and Alan dropped us off with our luggage while they went to return our "pimp wagon". I'm sure it wasn't long, but the anticipation to get on the ship seemed like they were gone forever!
This was our 3rd cruise and Steve and I have never stayed in a room with a balcony. This ship offered something other ship on the water has was called a Cove Balcony. We figured we would try it out since we wouldn't really know the difference. They sell these rooms for substantially less than the other balcony rooms, saying that they are more enclosed. We fell in love with it the second we walked in. (I think our friends did too!)
The room was absolutely perfect. We loved to sit out on the balcony and watch the waves crash into the ship. There were many nights we just listened to the sound of the waves. We LOVED being close to the water instead of up on the 8th and 9th floor in the "more premium" balconies. We met our neighbors as we set sail. A cute little Spanish, salsa-dancing, couple from LA. We never learned their names, but if they heard us come out, they would pop their heads over to say hello. We met our room steward, Johnnie, right away since there were no electrical plugs near the bed for Steve's C-PAP machine. Luckily, he loaned us an extension cord, otherwise it would have been a VERY, LONG week!
We were able to do a "room tour" of the Olsen's balcony room on the 8th floor. Their balcony seemed the same size, but it was enclosed in glass. You were able to see everyone else on their balconies and it overlooked one of three hot tubs on the 5th floor deck. We were thrilled with our balcony since it sat just under the lifeboats giving us shade and it was much more private than the ones upstairs.
Steve sat out on the balcony early one morning and swore he saw birds diving into the water. After watching them for a while, he remembered how far we were from land and realized there was no possible way there would be birds clear out here. He took a second look and found they were not birds, but flying fish!!

Islands of Adventure!

About a year ago, Steve and I decided to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in a BIG way. We planned a Caribbean cruise! We had gone on a cruise for our honeymoon and couldn't wait to go again. We invited all our friends to join us, but ended up with 3 couples. Our good friends, Alan and Amanda Andersen joined us along with our neighbors, Kirk and Teresa Olsen. We decided to make the most of our very expensive airfare and spend a little time in Orlando before we got on the ship. Olsens chose to see Kennedy Space Center, while Andersens came with us to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. We had an absolute blast! We did get a little homesick for the kids when we met Popeye and Olive Oil (the girls' new favorite show) but it is more of an adult themed park, so all in all it was so great to not have kids with us!!
A big part of the park was themed after Marvel Comic Heroes. Not being a big comic fan, I didn't know most of them, but they had a small parade a few times a day when all the heroes came out on 4 wheelers and then went off in separate areas for pictures and autographs. Spidey was the only one I knew!
This park has some of the best rides of all time! Dudley-Do Right's Rip Saw Falls was just as fun as we remembered. It is a log ride on speed!! There isn't just one drop where you get soaked...there are about 10! And there are waterfalls everywhere, so by the time you get off, you are completely drenched!
The Incredible Hulk is just that...INCREDIBLE!! This one was one of our favorites on our trip here 10 years ago. They shoot you out of a dark tunnel at 60 miles an hour right into a barrel roll! It is no surprise that you reach the end completely out of breath, but so worth it! (If you still have your wallet and sunglasses in your pocket!)
Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges was a new one to us this trip. When we went before it was shut down for repairs. Once we were soaked from Dudley-Do Right's, we decided we might as well get all the wet rides out of the way. I thought you got wet at Rattlesnake Rapids at Lagoon??? That was NOTHING compared to how soaked we got on this ride. It was hilarious though. We wrung our clothes out most of the day.
And I think my all time favorite ride at the park is still The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. It is an interactive 3-D ride where you get caught up in a battle between Spidey and all his comic-book villains. The graphics are amazing and the ride is totally worth the wait.

The hours were cut short at the park that day due to some high school graduation bash, but I think we were pretty much ready to be done anyway. By the time we left, my socks were still wet inside my shoes and I was definitely ready to sit for a while! We headed back to our hotel for a while and then went off in search of some dinner. When we are out of town, Steve and I like to eat in places we can't get here. Sometimes we miss and wish we were at an Applebee's instead of the dives we find, but this time we totally scored. There were billboards for Hooter's everywhere, so the guys kept joking that they wanted wings. Manda and I called their bluff and agreed! No we didn't end up at Hooter's, instead we found a true hole in the wall called Flyers. I will admit now, I was nervous walking in to the place. And after talking to the waitress I was afraid to walk out. She told us it was NOT a good neighborhood and to be very careful walking to our car. She lived 2 blocks away and refused to walk to work it was that bad. However, the wings were AWESOME!! I think the best wings we have ever eaten. It's sad that there is only one and it has been weeks since we've eaten there yet we are still talking about it! She was able to give us some great tips and advice for our cruise and what to do and what not to do on the islands, which was very helpful. After dinner, we headed back to our hotel to try and get some sleep before we got on the ship the next day!!! So excited!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Little "Bo" Peep?

I really hate stupid people! I hate stupid people who make comments about my little boy looking like a "hippie" with his beautiful long curls or strangers who insist he is a girl. Surely no one in their right mind dresses their little girls in dinosaurs and skeleton bones?? And if one of my "daughters" had hair like this, don't you think I would doll her up in ribbons and bows?
I finally had enough. It nearly broke my heart, but my little boy could no longer be mistaken for a baby sister. It was time for his first hair cut!!

I gave my hairdresser, CoriAnn, specific instructions. Less bang, a little shorter, but still shaggy. (That's in, right?) Luckily, she knew just what to do and he did great!! Most of all, he still looks like my sweet Bode...just a little more "boyish".


Easter was definitely a different day this year. Surprisingly, it fell on the same day as General Conference. We started a tradition with the Vincent family to get together on Conference Sunday for breakfast, but changed it up a little this year. Instead of the traditional "Ziploc omelets" I made Grandma Terry's Ham and Cheese Croissaints. I actually think they were a bigger hit than the omelets! We rushed off for Conference and breakfast in our jammies to Aunt Valerie's house and came back much later in the afternoon for our egg hunt. No surprise, it was freezing, so luckily it didn't last too long! Of course the girls cried over who got the most eggs, while Bode was content to listen to the rattle of just one and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how to get the candy out!
No pictures of it, of course...but a funny Easter memory for this year. Bode has developed an obsession for Elmo! The girls never really cared for Sesame Street, but I guess Elmo is the male version of Dora since that was their big thing. So, the Easter bunny brought Bode a stuffed Elmo in his Easter basket (along with the Cadbury creme eggs seen here...a BIG HIT with the boy!!) As expected, Bode picked up and started walking just a few days before Easter. He was so thrilled with his Elmo that he refused to loosen his grip on the little red monster when he lost his footing and completely FACEPLANTED into the carpet. I tried (really hard) to hold back my motherly gasp and waited for the wail. Instead, he sat up, checked out Elmo and looked up to Steve and I with his big hazel eyes and said, "WOAH!!"