Friday, October 30, 2009

Hair Raising

Crazy hair day is the only time during red ribbon week that my boys will dress up. Garrett has stalled on his much needed hair cut just so he would have something to work with.

Both boys got up early for school so that we could work on their do's!

Not to be left out Brynne did what she could to go a little crazy. Unfortunately she chose my stash of necklaces that I had just untangled from the last time she had decided to get a little fancy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clearwater, Really?

Our last excursion was in Clearwater Florida. We got off the ship at 8am and didn't start to fly home until 3pm. We went to church and then headed over to the beach.

We had gotten spoiled by the carribbean blue waters, the water here looked rather murkey. The sand was another story altogether though. I have NEVER seen such fine white sand!!

I loved that there were chairs and umbrellas lining the beach for public use and quite literally TONS of garabage cans. It was spotless! Now that's my kind of beach!

It was a great relaxing day for winding up our fun vacation!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Its a Jungle Out There

Belize lived up to all of my wild imaginations of what a jungle should be, and then some!
From the natives hanging like caged animals to the fence surrounding the port when we arrived, to the way they stalked their prey (us) on our way to meet our guide. Our 45 minute drive through the heart of Belize City and then out through the lush greenery to Jaguar Paw was an eye opening experience to say the least. We were thrilled when we arrived at the resort in the heart of the jungle. I almost expected to see Tarzan swinging through the trees at any moment!
We saw crazy trees with needles for bark and cute little frogs. We were swarmed by mosquitos and were on the look out for jaguars!!
We hiked through the jungle for about 20 minutes.

We stopped at an entrance into one of the cave systems that lie in and through the mountains. The limestone formations were amazing!
We continued a little further and climbed up to where we would begin our rappel.

The view was spectacular!
The drop was just over 185 feet.
At the bottom was an opening in one of the cave systems.

From here we would be climbing onto inner tubes and floating with the current in the river through the cave system. We saw some large groups come through, linked together.

We played in the water while we waited for our tubes to arrive from the resort.

We had a great time exploring, and were completely taken in by the beauty of the area.
Or guide Clarence was so much fun and full of information about the area and the history of the people.

There was an opening in the caves right at Jaguar Paw, where we reluctantly ended out tour.
We would love to have had more time in this tropical wonderland!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I've Got A Feelin'...

That tonight's gonna be a good, good night!
Wednesday evening we were on a roll of good times and good luck!
Jeff had been checking out the happenings on the ship and ended up entering in the ship's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" competition. He won. Twice. I was just finishing up reading a book by the pool when they began teaching a "Thriller" dance class. Since I already knew the moves from our performance earlier this year I ended up helping teach the class!

From there I raced back to my room to shower before meeting Jeff at the theater to watch an entertainer the ship had brought onboard for the week. When I found Jeff he was sitting on the front row and almost immediately he had volunteered me to the entertainer as an assistant. He had me trying to stand on a board balancing on a large PVC tube. The plan was for me to show how difficult it really is to balance there before he got up to do his stunt, Unfortunately for him I have way too many years of gymnastics under my belt to look like a complete fool up there! We had fun bantering back and forth and I ended up staying on stage for about 10 minutes of his show.
Here is our guy showing us how to work the unicycle

Next we hit the Karaoke Lounge. Jeff rocked the house and even brought up the blow up guitar when he sang Aerosmith's Walk This Way.
After much prodding from Jeff and some pleading with some sweet gals I had met at the pool I actually got up and gave it a whirl! I had never done it before! I decided if we had enough sass, attitude and fun up there, that no one would notice how horrible my singing was. I sang Shania Twain's Man I Feel Like a Woman! It was actually a ton of fun and my backup dancers were great moral support. Our friend from the ship PJ even came up and worked it out on the blow up guitar! We got a standing ovation!!
After a few more songs Jeff and I went over to Medusa's Lounge for some dancing! The theme was Disco and nobody was dancing. They were actually playing some great tunes, so Jeff and I took over the dance floor! Several others joined us after a bit. When we finally needed a break and stepped off the dance floor, we got our second standing ovation of the night! I couldn't believe it, the place was packed and they were all cheering for us, it was hilarious!
After a nice little breather they had a disco dance competion. I sent Jeff out onto the floor. He shook his groove thing and the crowd went wild! He was the undisputed winner and was given a trophy of the ship for his prize.
When you're on, you're on. By the time we headed back up to our room we were feeling like we were all that and a bag of chips! At least for tonight.

Can you blame us?

(okay so just a few side notes. I have no idea how to get these lines to go away under everything. Secondly the dancing pics were from the last night when we had the lounge to ourselves but decided we needed a few pictures there)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wild Adventures...or Not!

One of the many cheesy photos taken as you get off the ship at each port

For our time in Cozumel I booked us a tour with Wild Adventures. It was called the ATV Jungle tour with Mayan ruins and snorkel at a Marine Reserve. I read several reviews and looked at photos and decided it sounded good. I was actually on the elliptical machine on the 10th floor of the ship as we arrived in Cozumel. I was struck by how evenly all the trees and shrubs were in height and that there were absolutely no rises in topography there. A few years ago a hurricane came through Cozumel and stayed for 3 days. The locals say that most of the sand from the beaches was lost and all of the trees were leveled. That is why everything looks so flat there, its only had a few years to grow back! So our "jungle" was really grove of trees and the muddy ride promised turned out to be completely manufactured!! It was a cement pool filled with dirt and watered regularly with a sprinkler system!!

Just getting going on the tour. Nice goggles eh?!

The Mayan Ruins were a bit of a stretch too. The first place we visited was a sink hole. They explained how they were used by the Mayans but this one is too new to have been around then. The stories of how they were used were pretty fascinating though.
The other thing we saw was a cave that could possibly have been around and used by the Mayans for shelter during severe weather. Here is what the back side of it looked like. You never would have seen in from the outside though.
While we were back there we came across this iguana that the guides have named Samantha.

Here we are looking up through a hole in the roof of the cave. Our guide climbed outside and was looking down into the hole.
The paths we rode on were pretty bumpy from rocks and roots of all the trees. We were filthy dirty by the time we finished. The riding itself was pretty fun but it almost seemed like the whole thing was just a little too contrived.

We learned that the entire island is now a wildlife reserve since the hurricane came through. So our snorkel at the Marine reserve meant that we were snorkeling on the beach, any beach in Cozumel! It started pouring rain while we were getting into the water but the ocean was so warm it felt better to be in than out of it. I actually held a little sea horse we found out there! They have been my favorite sea creatures since I learned this summer that the males carry the babies! Besides it is so cool to watch them swim, curling and uncurling their tails.

This is about how "wild" our tours were in Cozumel. A little misguided but still a very fun day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aye, Aye Captain!

Grand Cayman Island
I think it's always best to know exactly who is in charge.
For example this iguana is definitely the boss of this particular block of real estate here on the lovely island of Grand Cayman.
We were not in charge of the details of our diving experience here. I did however hire this company to take us out on our first and second open water dives for our scuba certification.
Our dive master Martin was in charge of deciding the location and responsible for passing off various skills in the ocean.
Jeff was responsible for footing the bill for our private excursion.

I was in charge of planning, communication with our guides, and keeping us organized, and prepared for things. What I didn't plan on was Martin, who I called Squidward but just in my head, bringing squid on our dive to feed to a Moray Eel. I was amazed as he played with it like a snake charmer. When the eel suddenly went after Jeff I was shocked. He bit into Jeff's hand and then let it go and then came after me! I tried to scream and get the attention of our dive master who was supposed to be in charge, but he was just looking on almost in amusement. The eel was snapping at my abdomen where my weight belt strap was flapping around. Jeff kicked him away from me just in time, I could not get away fast enough. I'm going to have to say that the eel was the boss of this little bit of the ocean! Eventually Jeffs hand stopped bleeding and we finished up our skills and wrapped up the diving portion of our day.

Next Martin took us over to Sting Ray City. This was the number one rated activity on the island and I was really looking forward to it. Apparently so was everyone else visiting the island! There were so many boats of people out there.

Martin's squid came in handy here. He let us feed the squid to the sting rays here. Jeff had no fear of these big sea creatures!

They made me a little nervous at first.

I knew that I needed to let them be completely in charge of our interaction, but I just didn't expect them to act so much like house cats, just coming up and rubbing on your legs and begging for a little attention.

I finally got a little more comfortable and relaxed a bit and gave them the attention they wanted.
It was such an incredible experience to swim with these amazing creatures, and a little humbling as I realized we were totally at their mercy.
Just because you're wearing the captains hat doesn't mean you're in charge. I was definitely not the boss of anything today!