Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

I almost hugged the man at the crape restaurant I ate dinner at last night when he brought me my drink with...ice. I don't understand what other countries have against ice but they seriously seem to hate it. How can you hate something so nice and refreshing?

Moving on. Nothing too exciting has happened to me. Last night when I got home from work, I thought I had been locked out of my hotel. That was interesting. The taxi driver wasn't sure where my hotel was. He got me to the main square in town which is all that he really needs to do so I had to walk a couple of blocks to the hotel. No problem - I've spent all my evenings wandering around town looking at stuff and taking really dark pictures (seriously if my camera tells me one more of my pictures is underexposed it's getting crushed. It's not like I can make light out of cobblestones and potatoes).

Anyway, so I walk up to my hotel like I have everyother night except the front door is closed. Weird, it's never been closed before. Okay, try the handle. It's not budging. Try the door that is always closed, not budging either. Try previously always open door again with all my girth because honestly, what am I going to do if I can't get into the hotel? Call them on my phone with the phone number for the hotel I don't have? Cue random man running across the street to help me. Where did you come from random man? (I can't even get strangers to smile at me on the street much less help the stupid American open a door). I look across the street and see other man with tripod set up across the street with camera pointed at the hotel. Man running to save me has tried unsuccessfully to open door.

Cue two womens voices on the other side of the door and the door shaking a little. Give strange man a face that says, I really hope you know what's going on because I just want to get inside and change out of my uniform and get some dinner. Then there was a "click" and the door open to reveal two laughing women. They leave. I say thanks (dekuji) to the man that didn't fix it but tried and probably caused the issue in the first place and moved on. Am I still wondering if the whole snafu was caught on the camera? Absolutely. Will I ever know? Nope said mysterious men with camera were gone by the time I had changed and left for dinner (5 minutes max). Good times when you only know 4 Czech words and you're in a small Czech town so they don't really care to know English like you would if there were actually tourists.

Ano?

Before I begin this post just one work comment, my stupid computer makes me very inefficient. It is the slowest thing known to man. If I could, I would bring in my 4 year old Mac from home because I guarantee it would do things faster than my 2 year old PC. I think I'm just going to start emailing the IT people once a week asking for a computer upgrade. It should be time, right? I can promise at least a few people here in the Czech think I am crazy because all I do all day is tell my computer how much I hate it. I glare at, I even try talking nice to it. Does any of that change the fact I wait 15 minutes for a 1 page word file to open? No! And don't think it's because my server is half way around the world. I deal with this at home too. I came to the Czech prepared, with all the files I knew I would be using on my own hard drive to prevent the transcontinental document opening. I can only imagine the hours I could spend waiting for that. Wow. I'm done now.

On to some Czech adventures? Honestly, nothing really exciting has happened. Monday morning my Taxi to take me to the plant arrived on time and got me there on time. I met the engineer I'm supposed to be helping and gave him the slew of parts I brought. (I'm really hoping to leave some here so my luggage won't be so heavy. Dragging it up the thousand year old flight of stairs my first night in the hotel was not fun.) We started working on the machine and made some improvements, decided to let the machine run the rest of the day so I went and worked in the office until the Taxi came back to take me to the hotel.

After changing out of my uniform, I went walking around town to find a place to eat. It feels so late when I get back to the hotel even though it's only 6 at night. It's dark and none of the shops are open in the town by then (luckily the restaurants are). Hopefully I'll get back before 6 one night so I can do a little bit of shopping.

Monday night I dined at a sports bar in the main town square. I had some really good pizza. In fact, all the food I have had here has been good. I was really worried when I read online that they have a hearty diet. In my mind that means meat, meat and more meat. So far it hasn't been that bad. At the sports bar I got to watch some weird hand ball sport. It kind of reminded me of water polo but on a court instead of in a pool. Anyone know what I'm talking about? After that they changed to snowboarding so at least I could tell what was going on. I did get a lot of stares in the restaurant. I'm figuring since it's not a big town, they don't see people eating at restaurants alone often or maybe I had something on my face. Who knows.

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. We made some changes on the machine that really seemed to fix the issues I came out to correct so I'm glad this visit was successful for at least one thing. There were some other people from my company visiting the plant yesterday too so I got to share my hotel with them back to town. They're all the annoying staff type people so I tried not to say much to them. They tried to convince me to go to dinner with them but I successfully declined. I doubt I will be so lucky tonight. The one good things is they go home on Thursday so I won't have to deal with them much longer. It was nice to speak English with people and not worry if I was using a word they understood.

Last night I took another nice long walk around town and after thinking about going to a Chinese restaurant in the town square, I decided it would be a good night to try the hotel restaurant in the basement. I'm glad I did. It was really good. I ended up having a ginocci with broccoli and cheese. I'm pretty sure that's not Czech food, but judging from the cafeteria at the plant all Czech food is a different combination of the following, meat (chicken, pork or beef), carb (rice, pasta or these really good potato dumpling things) and brown sauce. I'm not kidding about the sauce either, that's what the plant people call it "brown sauce." Maybe it has a real name in Czech. It tastes pretty good but there's not a lot of variety there. Hopefully someone can tell me the real name of the potato things because those are seriously so good. I would like to know how to make them.

Now that I've fixed the problem I came to fix, I'm getting really excited to go explore Prague on Friday. It will be nice to take pictures in the daylight.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wheel of Fortune

I found out last Tuesday that I was heading to the Czech Republic for a week for work on Saturday. I’m planning on updating as much as possible to keep everyone updated on the fun.

12/5/2009

Today all I had to do was get to the airport and get on my flight to Paris, sleep on my flight to Paris and get on the right plane to Prague. I accomplished two of the last three things listed. That’s pretty good. Which one did I miss? The sleeping one of course. I was even super prepared with drugs to take, ear plugs, my sleeping app on my iPhone. None of it worked. Even after I turned off the overhead light for the nice French lady next to me when she fell asleep (it was really bright, you would have done it too.) I was no where near sleep. Needless to say when I finally arrived in Prague at 3 PM the next day, I was exhausted. So exhausted that I made it to 7:30 that night, and decided instead of finding somewhere to eat, I would just go to bed. I doesn’t help that it was dark at 4:00 so I didn’t really want to venture out into a strange foreign city in the dark.

So yes, my first night in the Czech Republic and I went to bed at 7:30. Don’t worry, I woke up at 3:00 ready to go. What do you do in the Czech Republic at 3:00 in the morning when you can’t sleep. I don’t know what you do, but I watch the Czech version of Wheel of Fortune. At least that’s what it kind of looked like. I don’t really know, it was all in Czech. But there was a wheel they were spinning and it looked like they were guessing letters to add to the blanks on the screen. A few major differences, no Vanna (doesn’t she just make the show? Is Vanna still on wheel? I haven’t watched it since I was at least 10, anyway.) You don’t have to buy vowels (or at least what I would consider vowels) because I swear 60% of the Czech words are made up of vowels. No one would win anything if they had to pay for them. The last and most entertaining difference, the studio audience looked like they were forced to be there at gun point. I’m not kidding and maybe they were but the kind of clapped when something good happened and that was it. No smiles, even the contestants weren’t in the mood to smile. Except when the host made a lame joke, you have to suck up to the host. (Yes the entire show was in Czech but you don’t have to speak a language to know when the game show host is being a jerk to be funny.) Thank goodness I fell back asleep after one episode.

So far it’s been an interesting adventure and I haven’t really even left my hotel room. I can’t wait for more fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Update?

Sorry I’ve been so bad at blogging lately. I’ve been busy copying and pasting things at work. Kidding, but we have been pretty busy at the Bracken house.

Aside from our new master bedroom and people making me mad at work (sorry if I tend to vent on this blog…it seems like a good place to blow off steam), I have a lot to update you on.

This year was our first Halloween with a house (and a puppy) so I was even more excited for one of my favorite holidays. We decided to throw a Halloween party on Halloween Eve just to celebrate. It was a total blast and I’m so grateful to all our friends that came up (dressed in costumes none the less) and had a good time with us. I didn’t take pictures because I suck at taking pictures when I’m trying to play hostess but I promise it was good times.

Because this was Dublin’s first Halloween I had the fun of picking and making him a costume. I decided to make him a shark costume since he’s already quite vicious and intimidating. We even took him with us to the ward’s trunk or treat on Halloween to practice being calm around children (his favorite!). He did pretty well and most people could actually tell what he was.

He also did really good with the doorbell on Halloween. I think Halloween should be once a month simply so our dog can practice the things he really struggles with. It would really help me out. Think about it and get back to me.

A couple weekends ago our Young Women’s got a new presidency (yay!). I’m really going to miss (some) of the old leaders, I was the only one that got to stay in my position. One of our teachers (one of my favorites) moved into a counselor roll but all the other leaders were gone. I’m super excited for the new ones. Already they appear to be much more organized and task oriented than the last bunch so I might not end up stabbing my paper to death during our planning meetings. The girls were pretty disappointed since they’ve had the same leaders FOREVER but it really is going to be good for them.

Last weekend was pretty normal for us. Friday night my family came up with my Grandma and Aunt so they could see our house (neither had seen it yet). It was really fun to get to see and talk with everyone. Saturday I went tutoring the went down and saw the wonderful Marci to get my hair done. Goodbye awkward blonde roots.

Saturday night was quite the adventure. Our neighbor (who I hadn’t met until she came over and invited us) was having a birthday party. We felt like we should go since we (really me) need to work on getting to know our neighbors better. We went, unfortunately we were the only ones that went so it was us, our neighbors and their parents. Good times.

In other news, tonight Ben and Jake are coming up to record vocals for our latest EP. I’m super excited to get it done. It’s going to me my new favorite, there are some really great songs that are going on it. I even like the song I wrote (I usually don’t really like my songs but the get put on the cds anyway) so look forward to that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's essential...

So I never knew until today that I was so special. I had no idea I was the only person in my office that can do something essential to day to day life at the plant. What is my special power you might ask? I can copy and paste. Seems like a pretty regular skill but the only logical conclusion I could make after a co-worker emailed me asking to update a poster file with the new graphs another co-worker had emailed us a week ago when I was on vacation. I mean the graphs were just as close to him in his email. I was on vacation when we received them and thus knew, if he wanted it done before this week, he should have just done it himself. So that’s how I learned today I’m the only one in the office that can copy and paste because if he had that power, he would have just done it himself, right?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Modern Oasis

So I know since Shad and I don't have kids yet, it seems kind of ridiculous to pick our master bedroom for an overhaul (didn't Shad just paint that builder white room orange and golden yellow a few short months ago?). We have an entire house to ourselves to escape to from the outside world but the long and short of it is that my once daring move to paint the walls orange and yellow turned out to be a huge mistake that I loathed everytime I entered our room. And I have to sleep in that room every night so it's kind of a big deal. With the method to my madness justified lets move on to a description.

Okay so I took interior design in high school from Dotty and I'll be the first one to admit the only thing I learned in that class was to not leave harsh corners and I can guarantee you, there are almost no harsh corners in our house. Other than that, most of the interior decorating ideas I get come from magazines and blogs. My latest blog obsession is younghouselove.com . I'll just warn you. Don't click over unless you want to devote a good amount of time devouring their tutorials, before and afters and my favorite MOOD BOARDS. They are to die for.

So the mood boards that they post don't just happen, people request help for their design dilemas. They're ever so popular. They typically sell out minutes after they post new ones every week. A couple months ago I was one of the lucky ones to snag a board. You can see my custom mood board here.

I think I'm done rambling now...I'll just let the pictures speak the rest.

Before



After



Monday, November 2, 2009

Looooong Beach

I have a lot to cover so forgive me for slacking last week.

I guess I’ll start with my trip to Long Beach. My company sent me to the Society of Women Engineers Conference this year and it was a total blast. I had been before a few times in college and I was super excited to see it from a professional perspective instead of the desperate college student please give me a job perspective. The professional side did not disappoint.

We opted to stay at the Queen Mary Hotel. This alone was an adventure. For those of you that don’t know, the Queen Mary is a luxury cruise liner built in the 1920’s and cruised around the world for a few decades. After being retired, the city of Long Beach, CA purchased the ship, made it into a hotel and permanently docked it at the Long Beach Port.

Okay now that we all know what we’re talking about, let’s think about what I just told you. A luxury cruise liner…from 1920. The luxuries of 1920 are nowhere near the luxuries of today. It was like staying at your grandma’s house. Sure it’s clean, but it still kind of smells funny because it’s old and nothing works quite right. Another wonderful feature was the colony of ants that lived in the bathroom. Every morning I battled with them. Several lost their lives. Neither one of us won. Another funny thing about the ship was that after talking to the other ladies staying there, none of our rooms were even remotely similar. Okay they all had a bed and scary extension cords for wiring (is that up to code?) but other than that, completely different. Bathrooms were in different spots, there were desks in weird places, some had sitting rooms, some nothing. I guess standardization wasn’t invented before 1920.

Now for my favorite part about the Queen Mary, it’s supposedly haunted and other than being a hotel, it’s kind of a tourist attraction. So what do you do with a haunted tourist attraction in the middle of October? That’s right, you turn it into a haunted house. And not just one haunted house, several haunted houses. That overtake half of the levels on the ship and allow people to scream at the top of their lungs outside your guests windows until 3 AM.

In summary, all of my previous observations about cruise ships were validated regardless of the decade the ship was manufactured in and whether you are actually sailing on said ship or just enjoying your time. I’m so glad this time around it was my company footing the bill because I would have seriously been mad if I was paying $300 a night to not sleep and get attacked by ants.

Other than the Queen Mary from Hell (Good name for next year’s haunted house?), Long Beach was fun. The conference was wonderful, I collected lots of great swag at the career fair, and learned a lot in our sessions, actually got to meet a few ladies from other locations (I even met one I talk on the phone with on a weekly basis but have never met because she’s in South Carolina. She’s a delight in person by the way J). I’m glad I only opted to go to a few of the networking opportunities though. It was fun playing Jenga in the Irish pub across the street with the other ladies and it was great to have lunch with the company big wigs that were in town but for the most part, I like exploring alone.

I found a Z Gallerie and picked up some great pieces for the master bedroom makeover I’m undertaking this week and I had some awesome meals (see giant pot pie picture below) while people watching the drinkers at the bar. I even got to meet up with my Sister and brother in-law to play at the lake and eat some delicious frozen yogurt. It was a fantastic week and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do You Smell?

During my trip to Long Beach last week I came to a realization, I hate people that wear perfume and cologne. It seemed like at every turn my nose was greeted with a new scent. So many different strong smells is quite jarring if you think about it. I certainly did this week.

I guess I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to people wearing scents around me. My workplace isn’t exactly conducive to waking up in the morning and feeling like you need to look fab-u-lous. If fact it’s really funny to see a new female engineer start. In the beginning she shows up, hair all blow dried and down and with a full face of makeup. Then slowly but surely, the hair turns into a wet ponytail and you’re lucky if you get mascara and eye liner. I can poke fun at this because that is exactly what happened to me. Every time I look at the picture on my badge, I chuckle to myself about the energy I had to spend time on looking so good under my hair net and safety glasses.

Sorry back to smells, the point of that story was to show even the ladies at work don’t take the time to wear perfume. My shampoo and hand lotion (which is usually only slightly scented and if you, like me, use the Huggies lotion, smells like babies.) is good enough. I can’t remember the last time I actually put perfume on. I don’t even know where my perfume is. I don’t think I even need to say the male engineers don’t bother with smelly stuff. We’re lucky they wear matching socks most days.

It really made me feel bad for people that are allergic to that type of stuff. Seriously, how would they leave the house in Long Beach?

Maybe I’m just a scent Nazi. After marrying Shad I refused to buy him his Old Spice body wash (do you think he’ll be embarrassed that everyone that reads our blog now knows he uses body wash instead of a bar of soap?) because it smelled like old men to me and I hated how it made our bathroom and bedroom smell like old men…everyday.
So did this post distract you from the fact it tells you nothing about my trip to Long Beach except for the fact it smells (good?) there? Nice. There are two reasons for this:

1) I left my camera (and thus pictures of Long Beach) in Cali with my sister so they could take a picture of themselves at UCLA for her in-law’s Christmas card this year (I don’t know).

2) Because I don’t have pictures of Long Beach, I don’t really remember what I did there for 5 days. I’m not kidding. I have the worst memory ever when it comes to the question what did you do today or this weekend? Shad asks me that every night and I usually just say I was in meetings all day because I honestly can’t really remember what I did. I guess it’s a good coping mechanism to separate the stress of work from home but honestly that’s no excuse for not remembering what we did Saturday night on Monday morning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yosemi - me?

Shad and I just got back from Yosemite National Park on Monday. Neither of us had ever been (neither had our friends Jared and Jen that went with us) so it was way fun to wander and find what the park had to offer.
Being from Utah, I was surprised at how many lakes there were this late in the season (most of the waterfalls dry up in August).

What is it about a log in a lake that makes you want to climb on it?


I wasn't causing any trouble on the log, promise.

The trees in the park were so big. This one had been hit by lightening and split. Jen told us to get in the hole and look happy so we did.

This was probably my favorite stop of the trip. Tenaya Lake. We were driving to go to another lake but as we drove past this one and I saw the white sandy beaches I insisted we stopped. It ended up being a good time. The water wasn't even that bad so we got to play in it.

Day two, we found ourselves hiking around the valley in the main part of the park.


Here we are relaxing by a river. Notice the man in his boxers in the back ground getting ready for a swim. He wasn't even European. Ah the people you meet in national parks.

Nevada falls, one of the few that still has water this late in the year.
Day three was Giant Sequoia day. There are a few groves of Sequoias in the park, this is the biggest. The trees were so cool. It made the gross curvy road to get there that made both Jen and I sick worth it.

The wood from one Giant Sequoia is equal to 100 acres of forest. Too bad they're really fragile so when they fall over they literally shatter.
Here I am demonstrating how one of their pinecones is bigger than my head.

For our last night in the park we waited on a ridge to watch the sunset. So pretty.

Today I'm headed back to Cali to attend the Society of Women Engineers national conference in Long Beach. It's going to be a blast. I hope the house is in one piece when I get back.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sweater...

What is it about the cold that makes you want to curl up in a ball on the couch and not come out until it’s 80 degrees outside again? If I had had that choice this weekend, guarantee I would have done it.

Instead of laying on the couch, I was very productive. Friday night our friends Tosca and Ben had a little get together at their casa to celebrate finally being moved in. It’s a super adorable condo and I love both of them to death. Unfortunately for Shad, he got stuck at work late and didn’t make the departure cutoff so I went it alone. I’m sure he had a slamin’ Friday night at the house with our puppy though. I had a great time visiting with friends and hearing ridiculous stories from Ben and Ty about their antics while in the Green Peanuts together.

Saturday morning I got up and went tutoring and then returned home to watch some conference and get ready for craft day with Jen and Danielle. We had originally planned to do mosaics but that plan got nixed due to none of us finding something we wanted to mosaic and another opportunity came up that couldn’t be delayed. Instead we helped Jen get her Halloween costume together.

What is she being, you might ask? To which I have to respond that it’s amazing and there were lots of pictures taken but because it’s a surprise and the surprisee might glance at our blog before Halloween, you, my friend are going to have to wait. Jen’s sister is getting married on Halloween in Ohio and to celebrate the holiday in style, costumes are allowed and encouraged for the reception. Jen, looking for any excuse to get out of her bridesmaid dress early, decided to opt for a costume.

After craft day and priesthood session, Shad and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Bistro 258. If there was one thing I could change about Ogden, it would be the lack of delicious nicer restaurants. If we’re down in Salt Lake and get to have dinner, it’s almost too hard to decide. In Ogden I always have to make a choice do I want a nice dinner (which leaves us with one maybe two options) or an okay dinner. It’s a hard choice and part of me says at that point, just make dinner, which is good for our wallets but not as satisfying.

Sunday was couch day while we watched conference. Well, I watched conference, Shad slept through at least half of conference. It was such a nice relaxing Sunday.

So you know how some people say that their kids are their punishment for being a really stubborn kid or a really out of hand kid or for never sleeping when they were little? I think Dublin is my punishment for hating the cold. He loathes it. Yesterday when I got home from work, I went to let him out. He rang the bell like a good puppy and at that moment it started to snow outside. I opened the door for him to go out and he looked at me like I was crazy. I tried to get him to go out, I even tried to push him but when a 75 pound pit bull doesn’t want to go outside, I’m not going to get him to go outside. Luckily it stopped snowing and he happily went out after that. I’m going to have to buy him a sweater.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Birthdays?

Now that I’m done blogging about the cruise, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. Last week was a super busy week for us. It was Shad’s birthday and our first anniversary and I had gotten us tickets to see The Get Up Kids. Good week.

Wednesday night was The Get Up Kids show. I had mixed feelings about the whole concert on a weeknight after having some exhausting days at work post vacation. Sometimes I think it’s not worth going on vacation to face the mess at work you have to come back to. But, we had the tickets so we went. We tried to go to CafĂ© Niche for dinner, apparently they only do dinner Friday and Saturday nights. I hear their brunch is to die for though so check it out sometime. Instead we ended up at Faustina, it was amazing as usual. It’s Dine O Round time in SLC so I was excited to see what they were offering; turns out they’ve changed their entire menu to work like Dine O Round – all year long! Ideal!

After dinner we trekked over to At the Venue for the show. While listening to the first two bands, I got bored and started to wonder if I was getting too old to go to shows still, it kept getting later and later and I kept on thinking about the 6:30 morning meeting the next morning and started thinking more and more about just going home without seeing The Get Up Kids at all. Luckily we toughed it out and made it to their set, and it was amazing. I think taking a few years off did a world of good for this band. I saw them a few years ago and they put on a good show but this time around, they were relaxed, they joked around, the strayed from the set list. It was great, all the reasons why I love their type of music in the first place. I hope they make plans to do another CD together and tour again but a few years off again wouldn’t be so bad either.

Thursday was Shad’s birthday. Because I tutor on Thursday nights, we planned to celebrate it on Saturday but Shad did get to open his present from me, the latest season of The Office and some new clothes. I feel like anytime I give Shad presents I give him clothes, I can’t help it that he tends to ruin clothes quickly (at least by my standards – maybe not his). Friday was our first anniversary. Shad had asked if he could plan a surprise for me, unfortunately the spa called me the day before to remind me about our couples massage. Someday he will be able to plan a surprise I won’t find out about. I wasn’t even trying this time! The massage was wonderful and after we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant right next door to the spa in Layton. I miss living right across the street from that place. For my present, Shad has stolen my Martha Stuart craft book earlier in the week and made some paper flowers at our friend Jen’s house. That’s right one year later and I have the man crafting for me.
They say that the first year is the worst and I’m willing to believe it in a heartbeat. Shad really could have used a sister growing up. Hopefully our next year won’t be so life changing either, we went from working 100 miles apart and seeing each other on Tuesdays (even though we were married and lived in the same apartment), to new a job, to buying a house and moving to Ogden, to various house projects (we do not paint well together), to getting a new puppy. It’s been a fun adventure so far and I’m looking forward to the fun years to come.

Saturday, I went tutoring and came home to start Shad’s birthday celebration. Shad had said for his birthday he wanted to take Dublin swimming somewhere and then go up to Huntsville for a lone star burger. We took Dublin Swimming at Willard Bay and he did surprisingly well. I was worried he would get to where he couldn’t touch and freak out, no instead he started trying to chase a boat that went by where we were. Luckily Shad was in the water to stop him and point him back towards shore. Too bad he’s not bred to be a water dog though. After 30 minutes in the water, he was shivering so we called it a day. I was such a proud Mom to see him actually swimming. With some more practice, he’ll be a champ.






After that, instead of going up to Huntsville, we had Jen and Jared over for a BBQ and to watch the Ute game. It was a fun night despite the game being pretty terrible.
Sunday we went down to my parents to celebrate our birthdays with them, dinner was delicious and it’s always great to see my family and hang out with them.
This weekend Shad gets to go camping with the 11 year old scouts so hopefully I will get a quiet night at home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's all about comparisons

So, in my last blog post I ended our cruise summary by telling you I will probably not go on a cruise ever again. You curious to hear why? Tuff, you’re going to hear it anyway through my list of pros and cons.

Pro: Cheap transportation to many different destinations – it seriously would have cost $6000 in airfare each to visit each spot. Not worth it.

Con: We only got to spend a few hours at each destination. Shad and I are engineers and thus very good at setting a very ambitious schedule and accomplishing it, that’s just not the way I like my vacations. I like to take my time and have less of a plan and more time just exploring. On the plus side, the spots we didn’t really love, we only were there for a few hours.

Pro: Copious amounts of food all the time. Now this is the number one thing people raved about while talking about their previous cruise experiences. I don’t know where these people eat normally but the food was not of good quality, even in the fancy dining room. Seriously it is convenient to go get pizza whenever the thought occurs to you, but is it really that hard to get pizza on a daily basis outside of a cruise? For me it is not. I guess for other people it is.

Con: Eating with strangers for dinner every night. On cruises typically when you eat in the dining room you have an assigned table with your fellow cruise passengers. I pictured a large round table when I thought about this situation. Not a cozy booth with one other couple we had never seen before in our lives. It’s much harder to ignore the others at the table and talk amongst yourselves when you are staring directly at two strangers two feet away from you. This was our situation. Enter Hannah and Christian from Chicago (originally Poland). Chicago is rising fast on my least favorite places ever – it will never replace Wyoming but it might come close. Hannah and Christian both work in the financial sector in securities or something. They both hate cruising yet have been on several. They hate the food on the cruise ship, they hate the cheesy activities, they don’t go swimming in the pool and go to bed by 9:00. On our days at sea, we had to hear how bored they were the entire day. We had to hear about all the things the cruise line used to do but have cut back on. During the days we stopped at places, we got to hear about their scuba diving trip (that’s all they did at every port) and then the annoying things that happened to them while on land and then lastly, the told us what we did wrong on our excursions for the day. Seriously best night of the cruise was the night we got back from port too late and opted to shower instead of rushing to dinner.

Pro: Towel animals. Who doesn’t love a good towel animal with turndown service?

Con: It’s loud. I didn’t get a good night sleep the entire time on the cruise. The walls are thin and with people walking and stewards rolling carts up and down the hall all hours of the night, it was my worst nightmare. I was so happy to get home to our silent house to actually sleep.

Pro: We made new Australian friends. On our way to the port on the shuttle from the hotel we bonded with a cute couple over the less than fancy hotel we stayed in the night before. Throughout the check in day, we kept on running into them. They’re names were Matt and Bella and we had a blast hanging out with them for a lot of the time on the ship. It was nice to share our time with a young couple that didn’t hate cruising. They even had a few incidents that required medical attention and that still didn’t get them down. (Bella twisted her ankle on the water slide at Margaritaville in Grand Cayman and Matt cut his head and had to get stitches in Roatan after a shop awning fell on it.)

Con: People everywhere. I don’t really like people and on the ship beside you’re really loud stateroom, you have no option but to be surrounded by them. I couldn’t help to think back to our honeymoon in Cabo where we saw a maximum of 5 people in our resort the entire week. That was bliss.

There you go. There are a ton of other places in the world Shad and I are dying to see and chances are good we won’t be seeing them anytime soon from a cruise ship.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crusin'

Okay, I couldn't help myself. Here's what we brought Dublin back from our cruise, doesn't he look ready to go to Mexico? Maybe next time pup.
In my usual vacation style, most of this post will be pictures. I'm sure there will be other posts to follow. I have a lot to cover.

Here's Miami as the ship was leaving. It was our first time in Miami, I don't think I would go back just for a vacation but it was fun to stay for the night.

Here we are on our first formal night. Don't we look lovely?

Our first stop was Grand Cayman. Here's a picture in Hell (yes that's the town's name, you can see why).
Here we are, looking happy in Hell.

Next stop in Grand Cayman was the Turtle Farm, I was pretty excited for this activity. We got to actually pick up the turtles. They raise turtles here to eat. These are just babies, the other ones were so big! None of my pictures of them turned out so great though. We learned there's no limit to how big a turtle can grow, it's only limited by how much food it can find. They feed there's like 10 times a day no joke so they grow to be 100's of pounds.

Turtle!

Our next stop was Isla Roatan. It's an island Honduras owns. It was easily our favorite stop on the cruise. We did some ocean kayaking and snorkeling here. So fun. After snorkeling we got a tour on the nature park they have there. Unfortunately while snorkeling, my camera battery died (I forgot to charge it before the cruise, and I forgot the charger, my bad). Luckily for us, Shad had the disposable one left from our honeymoon with him so the pictures of us with monkeys and parrots will have to wait a bit. Also luckily for us when the 20 pictures on the disposable ran out, I still had my phone. (How many times has this thing saved my life? I've lost count!)

Pretty reef in Roatan.

This was my first time snorkeling ever (Shad's first time when there was something worth seeing) and I loved it! I definitely would do it again (and did!).
Our next cruise stop was Belize, it's the country that borders the south part of Mexico and Guatemala. Here we opted to go visit some Mayan ruins called Altun Ha. It very cool to hear the history of the specific buildings and see the amazing things the people were able to build with such primitive means.

On our way to the ruins, we also got to have a little city tour. If you're looking for cheap land, Belize is the place for you, the government gives it out (to anyone!) all you have to do is build something on it, you don't even have to finish that something.
There's only a Coke plant in Belize so no Pepsi or Dr. Pepper for them but they do get to have Coke made with real sugar and in glass bottles. So delicious.

Our last stop on the cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. We didn't really do anything exciting here, we took a Taxi to a beach with all sorts of water toys and relaxed there all day. It was fun but it felt exactly like all the other Mexican cities I've been to.

While snorkeling at the beach, we found Patrick Star next to his rock. And yes, I took this picture underwater with my iphone using the bag my camera previously used for snorkeling. More on that later.
All and all it was a good vacation. Would I cruise again? Honestly, probably not. We can get into those reasons in another post for now, just imagine yourself on a warm beach listening to the waves.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

9 Months

Our sweet puppy turns nine months old today. Here's your obligatory picture with the monkey to show how much he's grown. I'm still amazed.
3 months
6 months9 months

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where is it?

Another weekend, another weekend adventure down for our End of Summer Vacation Bonanza. I just came up with that name on the fly, pretty sweet.


Last weekend Shad, Jen, Danielle and I drove to Great Basin National Park. Now if you’re like 99% of the other people I’ve told this to, your next question is where is it? I will tell you my friend. Head south on I-15 until you see the signs for one of my favorite towns – Delta, UT. Head West until you reach Nevada. It’s that simple and surprisingly close.

On another happy note, this is the first time I’ve been on a vacation with Jen that something terrible didn’t happen on our way to our destination. Let’s review just for fun –


The Grand Canyon – we got lost driving to Kanab to spend the night. It was dark and there were signs saying we were in Arizona already. How can we be in Arizona without passing through Kanab? Danielle’s Iphone saved our lives, I fell in love with a phone that night…

Moab – This trip was full of unfortunate events – Hitting a deer in Rex, Jared being hit on by a 70 year old man, Jen kneeing Jared in the face. That vacay really sucked for Jared.


Zion Narrows – We ran out of gas 5 miles outside of Panguitch, UT and my hips decided to stop working about 3 miles into our 14 mile water hike.

Now for Great Basin, NV. For some reason you can’t reserve campsites in the park in advance so I reserved us a spot at the campground in Baker, NV. It was across the street from one of the parks visitor centers. Why the visitor center is not in the actual park, I do not know. Now I knew this campsite would be fun, it was advertised not only as a campsite but a Motel, RV Park, Showers and Bar. Sweet. I kind of wish I had taken pictures but the thought didn’t cross my mind when we were living it.


We arrived late Thursday night only to find we had reserved a campsite for three consecutive weekends. Pretty amazing considering I had called on Monday and managed to reserve a site for the weekend before that Monday, I’m just that good. We told them we wouldn’t be back the next weekend.

We set up camp and realized there was nothing to do and it was too early to go to bed. What did we do? We went and played pool in the bar, we know how to camp in style. It was the most depressing bar I have ever seen, not saying a lot I know. Danielle made me promise her if she ended up as a regular in a bar like that anywhere in the world, I would come get her and remind her to get a life.


Friday we got up and headed to the visitor center in the park for the Lehman cave tour. The cave was actually really cool, I had never been in a real cave before. I took lots of pictures. Our wonderful tour guide, Travis did a wonderful job taking us back in time to the year the cave was discovered. We did our best not to snicker at the fact he couldn’t say the works Monument, document or electricity. It was more like monament, docament and alectricity. They were used quite frequently throughout the tour considering we were in a national monament, where the scientist was docamenting lots of things and the year was 1800 something when there was no alectricity. Good times.

Another favorite cave experience was when another tour group member volunteered to take a picture of all four of us, while the entire rest of the tour group awkwardly stared at us in silence. Have you ever had an awkward pause with 20 people simultaneously? We have. Here’s the picture.

And some cave pictures.






After the tour it was time to do some hiking. We did a mountain lake hike and then headed to the glacier – it’s the only glacier in Nevada!

I found a friend.
Here's lake Stella. It was fun.
Great Basin is known for it's Bristle cone Pines. Here's one we passed on our way to the glacier.

Jen made a snow angel.

We all helped make a snowman.

Saturday we picked for the long hike we wanted to do in the park. The Wheeler peak hike gains about 3,000 feet of elevation in its short 4 mile distance. As we started out on the hike and two easy miles into it, we realized that with only two miles left to go to the peak, it was going to go straight up the side of the mountain. Here are pictures of us at the peak.


It was not easy and I don’t think at the end of the day any of us thought the hike was fun (maybe Shad, he wasn’t even winded). I don’t think I’ll do a summit hike again anytime soon.
After the hike we stopped at the other visitor center for Jen to get her magnet. Then it was off for a much needed shower and to one of the two restaurants in Baker, NV. We picked the one not attached to a motel. It actually turned out to be very delicious. I would highly recommend it next time you're in Baker.
After dinner we could barely move so what did we do, headed down the street to play on the school playground. It was quite fun.
Sunday morning we packed up and headed home. I was so excited to get home and see my puppy. He's so cute. We promised him next time we went camping he could come with us for sure.