Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Random woman on the street talking to her niece (about 4 or 5 years old): "I can't hold you. Once you weigh more than a bag of my dog food, I can't pick you up anymore."

Same random woman telling her niece why she couldn't have a soda: "If you are thirsty, you can't have soda. You will still be thirsty. Because soda has sugar in it and it's like a sponge in your mouth and soaks up all the spit and makes your mouth dry because you don't have any spit. If you're thirsty, you can only drink water and juice."

In Mexico, this sign just made Dave and I want to touch the bird!

The dining room on the cruise ship was called "The Golden Pearl".  I just couldn't see pearls, I could only see fried eggs everywhere:

This liquor store in Avalon is apparently only open from 9am until noon.

I like the addition of the wording "common decency" requires . . . 

A text I got while riding in Suzanne's birthday limousine:
from Roxanne: "Remember girls, have a good time, don't be a good time!"
and from Rachel: "Make smart choices!"
Suzanne planned a picnic  . . . in the middle of the lake.  She rented a pontoon boat and invited a handful of friends and off we went to Lake Pleasant. It was a perfectly pleasant day on Lake Pleasant.

Cameras come out as we eased out of the Marina.
"This may be the last photo we ever take"

"Is this the map? Ok, we are here." (circling finger generally over the whole map) "We are going to go in an general eastern western direction to about here." (still circling finger generally over the whole entire map)

We found out there was an actual recorded song about a Pontoon Boat. Who knew?

"Sorry I put my elbow in your salad."
"That's ok, I've found worse things in my lunch."

"Don't eat so much that you don't have room for the cake."
"How about we wait a while before we break out the dessert."
"Because sitting around leisurely on a boat is bound to work up an appetite!"

Outside the gate of the boat - walking on water!

There were conversations involving words that went right over my head. Did you know there is such a thing as a Dendrologist? (the science and study of wooded plants . . . I had to look it up)

There was also a conversation about the pronunciation of the word "Marina".

"I heard some friends were going to Las Vegas to see the Eagles. I couldn't figure out why there would be eagles in Las Vegas!"

"Oh, I look like 'Gilbert'. . . . no, wait . . . 'Gilligan'!"

"I look like I'm wearing a bonnet!"

"Do you want to drive? or do you want to sit?"
"I think I'm going to sit whether I drive or not."

"When do you usually see the wild mules out here?"
"Probably more like dawn and dusk. And they are usually by the shore."
"Hmmm, where else would we be looking for them, swimming alongside our boat?"

"This is a good day to get a little tan on my legs."
"What? your tan Mexican legs need to get some sun?"
"Oh, sorry, am I talking to the wrong people?"

cruise to Mexico

Dave and I have been on several cruises over the years, but never by ourselves. We have gone with business groups, with friends and with family.  I think a cruise is a perfect activity for a group, there are lots of things for everyone to do so you can stay as busy or relaxed as you want to and then come in the evenings for a nice dinner together. This was a different dynamic to just have the week to ourselves.   We had lots of time for sleeping in, for reading, for playing cards, for walking, for watching movies, for just about anything we wanted to do.
 I had a fascinating book I was reading, 'Gone Girl'. I think Dave got tired of me talking about it because every time I thought I had the plot figured out, it changed and I had to tell Dave all about my new hypothesis.
We took advantage of all the ship had to offer, games, buffet menus, evening programs, poolside movies, spa, gym, in-room movies, laundry room, miniature golf, photographers, etc etc.  Since it was January, we didn't plan on doing any swimming but I wish we had planned enough to enjoy the jacuzzis in the evenings. We couldn't decide what to wear each day. It was very warm in the days, then we'd run back for our jackets later in the day. Half way through the week, Dave discovered the free Hot Chocolate Machine! He was a happy boy.

I am amazed at how huge the ship is. It was larger than any building that I could see in Puerto Vallarta. It seems weird that we can stand on the 12th floor deck and look down at the city we pulled into.
We met some fun people at dinner each evening - a woman that enjoyed yearly cruises with her husband and even went on a cruise with him the first year they were divorced (for the kids' sake I suppose? She finally gave him up as a traveling companion and was traveling with a co-worker this year.) A couple that traveled from Turkey to visit Cabo ( that's a heck of a long trip to visit a couple of short stops in Mexico, and they had an expensive mess to deal with when the ship was delayed and they missed their flights back to Europe), and a young couple who saved their money and wanted to do all the fun excursions that were offered so they took the cheapest room on the ship (they had a tiny room with bunk beds! I didn't even know the ship had a bunk bed option!)
Each evening, there were photographers all over the place offering to take your portrait.  We were determined to get one good picture.  I am not particularly photogenic so we stopped at all the photo stops each evening - sure that if we took enough, we would get one decent picture that we both could agree on. There is an entire deck devoted to displaying all the photos that the staff takes during the week.  After dinner each night, we strolled through the displays of thousands of photos of the ship's guests looking for ours. We finally got a couple that we didn't hate:

Dave was quite sick the day before we left, but was able to get some medical intervention at the last minute that saved him from being miserable all week.  He actually felt quite good by the time we got on the ship.  The day we got off, I came down with whatever he had the previous week. So we both were sick, but luckily not on the ship.  I was so germ conscience all week, I would wash my hands in our room before dinner and walk all the way to the dining room like a freshly scrubbed surgeon. I saw the staff washing and disinfecting the handrails and the elevator buttons all week, but I still was worried about all the germs in the contained space of the ship.  And I'm not generally a germ-a-phobe.
We got a good price on the cruise, but if you're not careful, you can quickly increase your ship account.
 Prices - $11 to watch a pay per view, $42 a day unlimited drinks (I assume that included alcohol?), $15 for laundry service ($7 per load for self service), $2 a minute for phone calls from your cabin, 85cents a minute internet,  very pricey spa services, I was surprised the gym was free, it was pretty nice. $22 for an 8x10 photo, $18 t-shirts at the gift shop. So we went cheap - only drinks that were included on the dinner menu, minimal internet package, 1 load of self service laundry, and then one very pricey "deep tissue massage" at the spa. Dave needs work on his back all the time. He almost always lives with discomfort in his back.  It was a very enticing service. He's never had a massage and I warned him he would be creeped out with a strange woman working on his backside. He is ultra conservative about things like that.  He came back feeling better, but also exhausted - "There is NOTHING sensual about that! That was painful, but great at the same time."
 Anyway, it was a fun week, the bonus day in Mexico was nice, but put us behind schedule when we got home, we were off and running with our business the minute we walked in the door at home (well actually on the phone all the way home from California too).

Sunday, February 17, 2013


 Dave and I decided to try a zip line cruise excursion in Cabo San Lucas while we were in Mexico last month.  I have no idea why we chose to do this, as we had no idea what is involved. I heard that my mom had done it a few years ago. I figured if she could, I could.  In my head, I thought it was one cable ride. . . hook up to the cable at the top and take a ride down the mountain. We signed up and paid for this particular tour before we realized what was involved. It was a course all over the mountain - on and off the cable about a dozen times, significant hiking between the platforms, a 90 foot rappel, rock climbing, a cable bridge crossing, a wobbly bridge crossing, and a whole lot of fun. We rode a jeep up to the top of the mountain, zipped across the canyon over and over again until we got to the bottom. That top picture of Dave is my favorite. That blurry background is what if felt like flying through the canyon. It was awesome!  

 We had so much fun in Cabo, we found another course in Puerto Vallarta at our next stop on our cruise.
 I got a "swag" shirt at girls camp last summer. I was standing on the platform about to fly across the canyon, and one of the guides asked, "What does SWAG mean?" I am not sure I can describe what swag means in English, for sure I can't describe it to someone in Spanish.

  The last line was at the bottom of the course and dipped low over the river.  They warned Dave they might not be able to keep him out of the water. He tried dipping his hand in, but got a little more than he bargained for.

 I fared a little better. A little splash, but not soaked.
 We had mules to ride back up to the top of the hill. I got in the saddle, and they asked if I knew how to ride a horse. I told them I basically knew all you could learn by watching people on TV ride horses. Their response was to say "Good, don't fall out of the saddle!" and sent me on my way. There was a big gap between me and the people in front of me who had already gone around the corner so I was alone. I hollered back over my shoulder "Does he know the way? Because I don't!" Apparently they trusted the mule to get me back without my help.
Definitely an adventure to remember.  When Suzanne and I went to Catalina Island last week, I talked her into going on a new zip line they have in Avalon. She wrote about our adventure here .  So three zip lining adventures in 30 days!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

a walk around town (in mexico)

Dave and I took a cruise down the coast of Mexico last month. We made a stop in Puerto Vallarta for a couple days. We planned a few activities, a zip line, hanging out on the beach, shopping etc. We were supposed to leave at the end of the 2nd day at 11 pm. We were docked in a small area and I was a bit curious to watch the huge ship maneuver out of the bay. So at 11 pm, we went out to the deck to watch it take off into the Pacific. We waited and waited and waited and waited and we never left. We pulled up some chairs and got out our books and just relaxed on the deck waiting for the engines to start up. After midnight, we realized they were running late and we went to bed.  As we were waking up the next morning, there was an announcement that said something like 'Hey, did you notice we haven't left yet? Well, we are broken down, and we are still trying to fix the engine, so quit fussing, settle down and enjoy a bonus day in Mexico!" (Not really their words, but that was the gist of the message)
Unfortunately, we already spent our budget on excursions the previous 2 days and we had nothing else we were really looking forward to doing, so we just spent the day in a panic wondering if Dave should get off the ship and fly home (huge job in our business that was to start on Monday, and now we wouldn't be home until Monday night). We spent all morning trying to get through on the phone lines or e-mail to rearrange home and business problems, along with 3,000 other people that were also trying to get through on the same phone and internet networks. In the end, about 200 passengers got off the ship and headed to the airport. Lots of passengers had a huge mess having to rearrange flights back in Long Beach, and a few people were just screwed because they badly needed to get home on time, but didn't have a passport with them so had no option except to stay captive on a cruise ship in Mexico. We finally settled our lives at home and our business and still had half a day to relax.  Dave wanted to sit in the sun and read so I went for a walk around town. 

Here is my photo documentary of my walk through a beautiful Mexican town.

I could bore you with 20 other similar pictures. What the heck? I might as well have been in Phoenix.
Then I finally found a sight that you don't see in Phoenix. A river running into the ocean. At least they have that.

I finally found a store to wander through - a fabric store.  I didn't need fabric, but I always enjoy looking. I started to get overwhelmed with the signage because
a) Spanish
b) Measurements in metric
c) Pesos vs Dollars
My mind couldn't figure out if it was fantastically inexpensive, or if the fabric was over a hundred dollars a yard. 
On top of that confusion, there was a weird time difference. Our cruise ship was parked in the town, but was on a different time zone. There was ship time and land time - one hour difference. Don't ask, I have no idea why. So when we planned an activity in town, do we get there an hour earlier than what was on the ship's clocks? or an hour later? And did we need to hurry back an hour earlier than land time? or an hour later? Sometimes I think I'm a fairly smart woman, but I always seem to calculate time differences wrong.
There is just too much math in foreign travel!
My cell phone at sea was picking up all sorts of crazy times. I wanted to use my cell phone for an alarm clock, but it picked up a different international time about 3 times during the night and by morning, my phone clock was off by 9 hours.
The roads were confusing. The main street had 10 lanes - two lanes, then a curb, then 3 more lanes, then another divider, then 3 lanes the other direction, a divider, and 2 more lanes.  If you are traveling in the far right lane, cars could make a left turn across all the other lanes of traffic, but I couldn't follow the pattern on the traffic lights. I had absolutely no idea when to cross the street as a pedestrian. My system was to wait for a group of local people to gather at the corner, and just walk in the middle of them. On my way back to the ship, no one was at the corner, so I had to figure out the intersection all by myself. The closest traffic signal looked like this:
I made my way to the center of the intersection and waited on the divider.  When I snapped this picture, a policeman across the street realized I had no idea what I was doing and waved me across. He looked back to the traffic post I had taken a picture of and said "You like it? It's one of our newer ones!" I just laughed and said "haha, and Thanks, I have no idea how to cross a street!"
My favorite store was right outside the ship - waiting for 3000 customers to finish their breakfast in the buffet lines on the ship and come out to buy a bunch of junk at the Flea Market. And yes, we fully participated in this ancient tradition.

In the end, we got an 8 day cruise for the price of  7 . I just felt bad for the people who were supposed to be boarding the ship on Sunday afternoon and there was no ship to board. I'm wondering how they handled 3000 disappointed/angry cruise passengers who were stuck in California waiting for a tardy ship.