Sunday, May 11, 2008

Family History

Hey Family,

We have a family history class starting and I'm finally going get PAF and the other online geneology tools figured out...

I had an idea... we should start a blog about our ancestors and have a post about each one to add stories and such to. Does anyone know if this already exists somewhere either in digital or written form?

If it's just written, we should digitize the information to share more easily.

Just a thought...

Finishing the trip

I think I covered all the destinations... now I'll talk about the ship time.

I didn't realize when we booked this that the best part about a cruise is literally having to worry about nothing. They totally pamper you. Normally our vacations are in a time share and we fix meals to save money... but this means there are several "homemaking" type projects to do with dishes, cooking, etc.

On a cruise you literally eat whatever you want whenever you want and the food is outstanding. With Nicol's family, we took up an entire table for the formal dinner. I thought I wouldn't like the formal dinners, but given the food and the atmosphere, it was one of the highlights of the whole trip. Dad would have loved all the "dinner tricks" they did... Oh yeah, except I showed them the "pull the cork from the wine bottle one"... they had not seen that one. Here's a picture of our servers: Vernon and Clifford

Anyway, having a four course meal each night of excellent food rocked. We drank virgin daquiris and pina coladas every night to go with appetizer, soup/salad, entre, and desert. The portions were just right so we didn't finish each night so full it hurt... and some nights we ordered double appetizers or even entres if we wanted. Usually the standard dinner was enough... but things like chilled shrimp for the appetizer needed to be eaten twice just to be sure it was really as good as the first time.

There were lots of activities including great shows every night, pools, video games, shuffleboard, ping pong, and many on-board classes and crafts. But the kids' favorite was probably the rock wall. Here's a picture of Krista at the top:

This wasn't just our family... Nicol's parents paid for the tickets for the family (waaaay many thanks for that one) which included Trevor and his family and Nicol's parents. Here's a picture Trevor, Maryanne, Dad and Mom in the theater seats (the theatre where we had the evening entertainment was awesome).

Finally, we did not get home without a hitch. After we docked, I went to pick up the car from long term parking. Instead of driving between the lines, I must have been still thinking of waves because I bent down to pick something up ("I'm picking something up!") and hit the side of a concrete barrier, broke the radiator, and we ended up in LA two extra days to get that taken care of. Here's a picture of that:

The kids were very happy to miss a couple extra days of school and I am still getting compliments from them on my excellent driving skills (yes, girls only like guys with skills).

From the family this trip rated just behind Hawaii in all time great trips. I was a little surprised they didn't like Disney better... but this was a really terrific trip.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mazatalan and Puerto Vallarta

We left Cabo and sailed over night to Mazatlan. Our shore excursion there was a bus tour with stops along the way including by mom and dad's time share in the "Golden Zone" -- which looked very much like San Diego to me. The tour stopped near a historic lighthouse and we saw a cliff diver jump...

We also stopped at a neat little restaurant overlooking the harbor. We didn't eat there (too early at the stop) but it was definitely a place we'd like to return to in the historic section. The tour also went through some of the less attractive places in Mazatlan so the kids did get to see some of "real life" outside the US. One staple of Latin America is the Cathedrals with town squares across the street. Mazatlan is no exception. Here's a picture of the kids outside one very large cathedral:

The day after Mazatlan we hit Puerto Vallarta. Of all the cities, Puerto Vallarta I liked best. Puerto is far enough south to be in the tropical jungle area with much more natural vegetation. Unfortunately there were some fires nearby the day we visited so the air was a little smoky. Our shore excursion was a trip to a secluded beach for snorkeling, beach fun, and relaxation. As it turned out, the Snorkeling was awful (no visibility there) and our beach day was cut short (we ended up getting a refund for time lost). But we did have a good lunch and I found a new fun activity I need to do more on these trips: ocean kiyacking. It was a blast playing in the waves on those little boats.

Puerto Vallarta is very long and narrow situated right by the shoreline as the mountains become very steep leaving the beach. Here's a picture of part of the city:

There was a small animal show on the island and Katie got to hold a parakeet:

I'll finish up with pictures of the trip and the tales of the "incident" coming home...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Vacation Pictures

Here's a brief description and some pictures from our vacation.

We left on Friday with me doing work most of the way to LA. We stopped and visited a really great new customer in St. George and I had a bunch of calls to do. But Saturday we were up bright and early to hit Disneyland. Disney has been a favorite vacation site for some time. We always end the day with our "Mountain Tour" of rides which includes: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Matterhorn.

Cool thing happened... the Matterhorn broke while we were near the top of the ride. We were stopped and the workers had to come get us and walk us down through the inside of the mountain. It was surprisingly dirty and noisy... Disney definitely takes some control and work to keep moving... Great view though of an iconic ride that most won't ever see.

Here's a pic of the Thunder Mountain:

Sunday we left on the Cruise. I'll cover destinations here although we spent Sunday evening and Monday cruising on the ship.

Cabo San Lucas was our first port. Cabo is very unique situated right at the end of Baja California. There were more boats going in and out of Cabo harbor (mostly small water taxi's) than I have seen anywhere. Here's a shot of the harbor from the inland side taken from a restaurant patio. From here we took a glass-bottom water taxi tour around the area.

The water taxi ride was a highlight of the trip. The water near Cabo is beautiful and the effect of the cliffs near the water is unique. Cabo was surprisingly dry naturally (as in cactus plants everywhere dry). But the rock formations were really cool. Oh yeah, and we saw some sea lions playing around too. The rocky shot is literally the end of Baja california looking south out into the pacific ocean

Okay... this is getting to be too much of a pain to manage all these pictures in one post.... but that takes care of Disney and Cabo...

I'll add more about Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in another entry...