Monday, December 31, 2012

Caribbean Vacation '12 Part II

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, we had visited Puerto Rico and Tortola, had formal night and gone to bed.

The next morning we woke bright and early in beautiful St. Maarten. St. Maarten is both a Dutch and French island. We stayed on the Dutch side of this island this time around. Last time we ventured to the French side of the island and, well, it was very....French. Not our style.

Chris actually had booked a diving trip on St. Maarten so from the pier we hopped in a cab that took us through town to the dive shop. He was excited and a little nervous. We got him all checked in and then I headed across the street to a little French cafe. I know...French cafe on the Dutch side of the island, whatever. The coffee on the ship absolutely sucked. They serve Seattle's Best Coffee, which I don't care for at all. It is so bitter. Anyway, I hit up the cafe for a real cup of coffee and a danish. I read in there and enjoyed my coffee for about an hour before I headed down to the beach.

St. Maarten is really beautiful, with the gorgeous white sand beaches (and lots of them), crystal blue water, amazing sunshine and the people (for the most part) are very friendly and welcoming. This beach was not at all crowded and the little bar next to the dive shop let me use this beach chair without having to rent it. So great!

As I was laying there soaking up the sun this woman came and asked if I wanted a beach massage with aloe. Uhm....hell yes! It was wonderful! She did a full body massage (she was really good) using fresh aloe right out of the leaves. My skin was so soft after that. Plus, I had gotten a couple of bug bites from somewhere and they healed up super quick after that and stopped itching. Bonus! Getting a massage on the beach in the Caribbean is pretty much my idea of vacation perfection.

After a few hours, Chris was back from his dive. He had a great time and saw lots of cool stuff. He is so glad he got certified to dive when we were in Jamaica a few years ago.

There he is (in the water) after the dive.

We hung out there a bit longer until our cab came back to pick us up (one of the great things about cabs in other countries, they will come back to get you whenever you ask them to!) We headed back over to the boardwalk near the pier to get some lunch at one of the many restaurants along there. We went to Captain Jack's (OF COURSE!!) and had a very lovely lunch and some beverages. It was time to get a little party on.

I had to get a Captain Jack's tank top...for those who might not know I LOVE the Pirate movies with Johnny Depp (except the fourth one which was just dumb). After lunch, some beverages and a little shopping it was time to head back to the ship. We had a nap and then went out for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Next morning we arrived in another new to us island, St. Kitts. We decided to take a half day taxi tour of the island, which turned out to be a really great way to see a lot of the island and learn some of the history. St. Kitts used to be a sugar cane island, but when the price of sugar changed the cane growers quit growing. The main industry on St. Kitts now is tourism.

St. Kitts is a very poor island in most places. I was so surprised at some of the "houses" that people actually lived in. Little more than falling down shacks. It is a beautiful island with a Volcano, so the soil and the beaches are volcanic. Here are some of the beautiful things we saw in St. Kitts.

Of course, we did a bit of shopping and eating after the tour, then back to the boat where we had a bottle of wine and a bowl of fresh fruit waiting for us. Lovely!

Another nap, some dinner and then to bed for tomorrow we awake in Guadalupe!

2012 Goals Review

Happy New Years Eve!

It is time to review the goals I set for 2012 and see how I did.

First up:

1. Complete my Bachelor of Science in Human Communication by the end of Fall Term 2012 (December), including a Certificate in Human Resources Management and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution.  - 99% complete!

I have one class to take Winter term to complete the final requirement for my HR Certificate, but otherwise, I have successfully achieved this goal! It was a daunting goal, which took a great deal of hard work and focus, but I did it!!

2. Lose 20 pounds. Uh...yes n no. 

This year was an up and down year for me. I did lose weight, and then would gain a bit back, and then lose a bit more and then gain a bit back. Overall, I think I am just about the same as where I started the year which seems like a lot of wasted energy. 

3. Complete the Helvetia Half Marathon on June 9th, 2012 in Hillsboro, Oregon. 13.1 miles. DONE!!

My original goal was to run the half, but my school load in Winter term made that a more difficult than I would have thought. I ended up training to walk it. Woohoo! 

4. Exercise at least 20 minutes 183 days of the year. No

5. Complete 3960 exercise minutes during the year. No

I completely failed when it came to tracking my exercise minutes this year, but I can guarantee that I didn't exercise 183 days. I don't know why, but constant tracking just didn't jive with me this year. 

Overall, I feel pretty good about the goals I did achieve. Getting done with school was a HUGE goal, and really it was my main focus. Completing the half marathon was another big goal, and despite not running it, I am really proud of myself for doing it. On the health and fitness front, well 2012 was much like my life in general, some days I do much better than others  when it comes to eating well and exercising. 

Tomorrow is a new day and a new year and there are new goals to work toward! 

How did your goals or resolutions for 2012 pan out? 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Caribbean Vacation '12 Part I

I'm baaack!

It has been a great couple of weeks, and I will tell you all about it, but really, as far as our vacation goes this is all that you really need to know:

Ahh...bliss! This was on the beach in St. Marten. I am drinking a blended mojito and soaking up the sun. Ahmazing!

We'll rewind a bit to the beginning. We left on Thursday the 13th of December and drove to Sacramento. It was an easy drive in the dark and because the sky was clear we saw tons of shooting stars due to the meteor shower that was going on. It was great.

We stayed in a dive of a Super 8 in Sacramento. It was fabulous. The walls were so thin we got to hear the couple in the next room enjoying themselves very early in the morning. Personally, I think she was faking, but whatever.

Early in the morning we headed off to the airport and started what ended up being a long day of flying. First stop Dallas Fort-Worth airport where we had a long layover that turned into a longer layover. It was okay though, because we stopped at the Reata Grill in Terminal D and enjoyed a bottle of wine, some amazing guacamole and a delicious lunch. Onward to Puerto Rico! We didn't end up getting to our hotel in Puerto Rico until about 1:30 AM Puerto Rico time, which was about 2 hours behind schedule.

We stayed at The Best Western at the airport, literally inside the airport. It was SO quiet! We slept well and were ready for our first day of vacation. We grabbed a cab and dropped our luggage off at the ship and then grabbed another cab and made our way to Old San Juan, where we spent the day walking around the town.

Old San Juan is basically surrounded by this fort and fortified rock wall. It goes all the way around the town. It is very amazing to see and to think how long it has been there and in what kind of conditions it had to be built. No backhoes or cranes to move the rocks, just people and horses.

Within part of the fort is a cemetery. It was really beautiful. After walking all around town and stopping for a delicious lunch, plus a bit of shopping, we headed back to the ship to get checked in. Then we took a nap. This is a theme.

The view from our balcony as the sun sets in Puerto Rico.

The next morning we woke to find ourselves in beautiful Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

This was a new island for us. We decided to take a short taxi tour of the island that ended up delivering us to a lovely beach, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing.


After a day of relaxing we did a bit o shopping back in the town and went to Pusser's for lunch.

Ah...jerk chicken with "rice and peas." Such a simple meal but so delicious. After lunch we went back to the ship and took a nap.

That evening was the first formal night aboard the ship so we got dressed up and went to a lovely dinner. Unfortunately, we will still full from our late lunch of jerk chicken, but it was fun to get dressed up.

Somehow we didn't really get any good pictures of us dressed up on the first night. The first couple days of vacation were great and fun!

The next installment of vacation coming soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Good Morning Friends...

I did not sleep well last night. I couldn't get comfortable. I was too hot. My eyes were dry and itchy. My brain wouldn't shut off. Rinse and repeat. 

I dozed in and out fitfully for most of the night. 

Around four in the morning I got up and walked around the house and went back to bed. Sometimes this helps "re-set" my brain. It worked! I fell asleep! Only to be woken up less than an hour later by this beautiful girl swatting my nose with her paw to tell me she wanted out.

That is sort of what it is like...she gets right up in my face and swats at my nose to wake me up. Rude. 

I let her out and went back to bed. I fell asleep again for another hour and then Chris got up. Grrrrr. 

I got up and made coffee and lunch and then went back to bed. I ended up falling into a deep, dreamless sleep and didn't get up until almost TEN! Whoa. That is late. 

I now feel a bit groggy and out of it, but I have lots to do today so need to get a move and groove on. 

First up: Exercise. I have worked out three days in a row and am going to make today day number four!

After getting a workout in and getting cleaned up, I'll have some food (pretty slim pickin's around here this week) and then it is time to tackle the packing. 

So far not much progress has been made with the packing. It is hard to pack for over a week where you will need lots of casual clothes and swimwear, but you will also need nicer clothes and even formal wear. It wouldn't be such a big deal if the airlines didn't charge a trillion dollars for luggage these days. Seriously, I already paid a trillion dollars for the airfare and now if I want to actually have clothing to wear at my destination you want to charge me for that, too?? Dumb. Who allowed this? 

I figure those things will take up most of the rest of my day, which has already gotten away from me due to sleeping in so late. 

I don't have any plans to celebrate 12.12.12, but I do think the date is cool. :-)

Do you have any plans for 12.12.12?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Travel Preparations

When we get ready to go on a trip there are many logistics that must be handled.

When are we leaving? How are we getting there? Where are we staying? When are we coming back? Who is watching the cats and house? What are we going to do there? What are we going to bring?

As we prepare to hit the road in our old Suburban for a drive over the potentially snowy mountain passes and put another 600-700 miles on the 215k+ miles it already has on it, part of our travel preparation included taking care of a few "maintenance" items.

First exciting...fill up the gas tank! Woohoo!

Our Suburban is a 1996 and it literally has a 44 gallon tank. Do the math on that... $3+ per gallon X 44 gallons = $132. Luckily I had a bit of gas in the beastie already, but it still wasn't a cheap visit to the Fred Meyer Fuel Station.

Yes, that says 31 gallons for $98.50. The good news? Gas prices have dropped from nearly $4 a gallon a few weeks ago to only $3.17 a gallon. When you buy 30+ gallons...those pennies add up! The bad news? We will have to fill up again to make it home.

The combination of huge gas tank and lots of miles is one of the reasons we don't drive the Suburban on many long trips anymore. We find that with gas prices what they are renting a cheap economy car for a weekend or few days is actually less money. This trip though, due to the length of days and the potential weather, we are using the 'burb.

Next on the list of to-do oil change! This is some exciting stuff, I know! Trust me, I was thrilled at the many opportunities my errands provided me to play jewel star and peruse facebook and twitter.

I stopped in at the local Pennzoil 10 Minute Oil Change and the nice technicians there changed the oil (using a high mileage-heavier weight motor oil), checked the air filter, brake fluid, transmission fluid, wiper fluid, radiator fluid and made sure there was plenty of air in all the tires. There was a bit of a wait (more jewel star opportunity for me!), I guess other people are getting prepared for traveling, too!

One nice thing about the Pennzoil here in Medford is that with every oil change you get a free car wash at Crater Car Wash right next door!

That was the next item on my list: run the 'burb through the car wash. There is nothing worse (okay there is lots of stuff worse) than heading out for a road trip in a dirty car. I figured I was was free..the 'burb was dirty...might as well.

Here are some fun pictures:

A full tank of gas, a fresh bunch of oil, and a clean burbie...we are ready to go! At least as far as the transportation is concerned.

How much is gas in  your neck of the woods? Do you change the oil and wash the car yourself?

I wash MY car myself, but the 'burb is hugemongous and it goes through the el machino car wash. can find reviews of all of these businesses plus many other reviews on my Yelp page.

Some of my Holiday Favorite Things

Favorite Christmas Songs

Favorite Christmas Movies




Favorite Christmas Foods

Egg Nog...I like mine with a splash o scotch.
Iced sugar cookies...only at Christmas!

7 Layer Bars...only at Christmas!
What are some of your Holiday Favorite Things?