Friday, September 25, 2009


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


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.


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.