We're back home from our cruise to the Mexican Riviera. I've been home long enough now that my tan has almost completely disappeared and so have those extra five pounds I gained while enjoying myself a little too much on the cruise. Reality doesn't give you any time to adjust once you get home. I had this huge PTA project waiting for me when I got home. Staring at me. Finally got it done and it feels good! I was really good about getting all of the laundry washed and suitcases put away right after we got home but not as good with getting it folded and put away. Our floor has been covered with piles and piles of clean laundry for more than a week. I had all of it piled up nicely in the corner of my bedroom. Morgan came and got me and excitedly led me to my bedroom. Look Mom! I did it all by myself! Laundry thrown all over my bedroom floor. All by herself. And her doll.
And now with all of the laundry finally put away, all of the evidence of our cruise is now just in our memories and pictures (and Hadley's braids).
When our good friends, Anne and Christopher, approached us last fall with the idea of going on a cruise together and taking our our oldest kids as part of their Christmas, I was all for it! But then again, not sure when I've ever turned down a vacation offer. We knew the kids and the parents would have a great time together. And an even better time in the middle of January. A welcome break from the winter cold and snow. Shortly after we started making the plans, Gavin's parents sent out an email asking who would be interested in going on a cruise. Long story short . . . we all went together and everyone got along perfectly and had a wonderful time!
Our ship left out of San Diego and we decided to be brave and do a little road trip to San Diego. We left the cold and snow behind and drove for 9 hours. Watching movies. Listening to music. Playing on my iphone (totally caught up on my google reader). And just a little fighting, even with room to spread out in the car.
We stopped in Vegas for dinner. The kids were all so excited to see Las Vegas. Acting like it was their first time. I guess it has been awhile since they had been there. As we pulled on to the strip, Ryan was declaring his love for this city. Hadley commented that if we would've have flown we wouldn't have been able to see all of these big hotels and billboards. Ryan decided he wanted to live here when he grew up. All of that excitement lasted for about 2 minutes. Max. Then they started to notice some of the other highlights of Las Vegas. We told them to try to not look at the scantily clad women on the sides of cars and taxis and billboards. Jack put his head down and said he didn't know where to look anymore. We made it safely inside the Paris hotel and had a yummy dinner. Then back on the road to Barstow. Where we met up with the Jensens and spent the night.
We made it to San Diego the next morning with enough time to walk around Seaport Village and enjoy the sunshine. I was actually hot and wishing I wasn't wearing jeans and socks. It was a welcome change!
We even had time to catch up with Michelle! She is expecting her first baby in a few weeks and lives in San Diego. She is literally glowing, but then again we were all a little sweaty so not sure if it was the pregnancy or just the nice weather. Either way. She makes pregnancy look beautiful and I'm so excited for her to become a mama! (and to move back to SLC!)
We boarded our ship. Holland America Oosterdam. And found our rooms and hoped for the best with our boys. We put the 4 oldest boys in their own room. On their own floor. Luckily they did great besides a few food items thrown on the walls and the over-use of room service.
This was our first time to cruise with a private balcony and it may be worth the extra cost. We enjoyed being able to watch the ship depart from the ports from our own balcony and not have to fight the crowds for a view.
Leaving San Diego.
Our first night on the cruise. On our way to dinner. The food was so good on this cruise. My favorite. We ordered several entrees and desserts every night. Did I mention I gained 5 lbs.? That didn't just happen. It took some serious eating on my part!
Our traveling buddies . . . The Jensen Family.
We spent the first day at sea and I spent the first day sleeping. It felt so good to get caught up on sleep. I slept in and then woke up just in time to fall asleep on the top deck in a lounge chair. We all slept really well the entire trip. There's a real connection to that continuous rocking and deep sleep.
First stop -- Puerto Vallarta.
This is my favorite stop. I love the shopping. The boardwalk. The beaches. The rain forest. The mountains and beach. The food. And the people. It's just beautiful! We honeymooned here almost 15 years ago and have been back several times with the family.
Started the day with some shopping in the flea markets
and walking along the boardwalk. Posing by all of the various bronze sculptures along the way.
All of us
There is a restaurant on the top floor of that building at the top of the hill. El Panorama. We ate there 15 years ago on our honeymoon. Just in case you were wondering, this is what we looked like on that exact night, in that restaurant.
And then to the rain forest just in time for lunch and the zip line. Our driver told us there was nowhere to eat by the beach so we would want to eat in the rain forest. Weird but the only restaurant in the rain forest was outrageously priced and when we got to the beach there were plenty of spots for lunch. Quite certain he was getting a percentage of our sales for taking us there.
The brave group getting prepped for the zip line. I felt like my experience in Roatan was enough to justify skipping this adventure in the mosquito infested jungle.
We ended our day at a beach out of the city. The place where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love while filming The Night of the Iguana. Mismaloya Beach. And fall in love we did just in time for the sun to set and head back to the ship.
Second stop -- Mazatlan
We spent the entire day on the beach. We were swarmed with vendors the moment we stepped on the beach and it didn't ever stop. Maybe because we were buying. But can you blame us when they have such great things to buy? Like . . .
this mask that Scott had to buy.
Wooden handmade goods. Monkeys in coconut trees. When would you NOT use this stuff?
Cute white, cotton cover ups
Personalized bracelets for all of the kids. Lupe spent the entire day with us making all kinds of bracelets. I was a little sad to say good bye to her when it was time to go. Felt like she was part of our family after all of the bonding and threading we did together. But we paid her three dollars for each bracelet and felt good about our contribution to her day.
Hadley's completed bracelet. I'm completely enjoying my time on the beach with a good nap. And the horses just kept getting closer and closer to us. Finally we lost our view of the water and asked them if they could move their horses down the beach just a few steps.
And Hadley was excited to get her hair braided again. She had it done 4 years ago in Mexico. It took about 45 minutes and 25 dollars. I'd pay this lady $25 (and airfare) to come to our house and get these braids OUT! Crazy, twisted, broken, frizzy hair. We're half way there. Hopefully tonight my girl will be braid-free.
This was my favorite part of the day. For obvious reasons. 60 minute massage on the beach. It literally took several days and hair washings to get all of that oil out of my hair. My hair looked wet even when dry. Let's just say I was looking good!
Hadley shared a room with us so we have lots of pictures of her on the ship. Jack and Ryan, not so much. They kind of did their own thing when we were on the ship. Basketball. Ping Pong. Eating panini's and soft serve ice cream in waffle cones. Chess. And watching DVDs in their room.
Third Stop -- Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas has been dubbed the Cozumel of Mexico's west coast. And I'd have to agree. This was the only stop where we had white sand, and crystal, blue water. We hired a water taxi (aka "Sex Machine") to take us around Cabo. We toured around the bay and saw lots of fish swimming in the glass bottom boat. Seals sunbathing on rocks. Pelicans all over the beach and rocks at Los Pelicanos Beach. We drove all around the Rocks of Los Arcos -- beautiful little sharp mountains that emerge out of the sea.
Ryan, Hadley, Sophia, Britton and Jack with our ship in the background.
My in laws. Jack and Lolly. I already know what you're thinking. Yes, I am one lucky girl! Love them! We had so much fun having them with us. They live 4 hours away and we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like so spending a week together was heaven for us and the kids!
Hadley loved taking pictures on the trip. She took my old camera and got some great pictures!
First stop of the tour -- Lover's Beach
This beach is beautiful and not very crowded. The only way to get to this hidden cove is by water taxi. It's out on the edge of the bay and you can see where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean from this beach.
Lover's Beach seems like the perfect place to get a picture of you and your lover. I am shocked by how few of pictures I took at this beach. Only a handful. I may not have gotten a picture with my love on this beach but I do have this gem. A picture of Gavin with his little bro, Scott. Who, by the way, made this trip so fun! He kept us laughing, really laughing. So glad he was able to join us all.
I also got a picture of Nan and Papa enjoying the shadier part of the beach. Reading and resting against the huge granite rock formations found on the beach.
Everyone walked and/or swam over to Pelican's Beach for some snorkeling. No pictures.
Next and last stop on the tour - - Medano Beach
where we had a yummy lunch with fajitas, chips and guac and pina coladas. Yum!
Saying good bye to Cabo San Lucas
Our second formal night on the ship. The Jensens and the Seals. The food was so yummy. Lobster and Filet mignon.
The last day was spent at sea and the perfect opportunity for a 5K. We joined "On Deck for the Cure". And walked in support of a cure for breast cancer. My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor (7 years) and they had her and 4 other breast cancer survivors lead us in the walk. It really was emotional for me to watch her go up in front and lead us all. So proud of her and her strength!
We spent the rest of the day eating and sleeping. Enjoying the last few moments of our vacation.
Back in San Diego and ready to drive back home. All happy faces.
We took our own sweet time getting home with a stop at Calico Ghost Town (right outside of Barstow). My bro-in-law, Scott was really excited about this stop. I guess it goes with being a geologist. The rest of us were just ready to get home.
We got our feel for Calico and got back on the road. Just in time for one more stop . . . Primm. The boys wanted to ride the Desperado coaster in Buffalo Bill's casino. This roller coaster used to hold the world record for tallest, fastest and steepest roller coaster. It has a 225 foot drop and speeds up to 95 mph. All justifying my reasons for wanting to stay in the car and take pictures.
And now the final remaining reminder of our trip is gone. Hadley's braids. That's what happens when it takes a few days to finish one blog post.
It was an amazing week! We made the best memories with our family and friends. And I'm guessing this is only the first of many vacations to come with the Jensens.