Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Elation Vacation - Day 4

When we woke up on the second morning on the ship, we were still cruising.  My cousin Nicole said normally they get to the port early in the morning, but you can't get off the ship until a certain time.  We were so far behind, that we weren't going to be able to get off the ship until 11:00 (which ultimately turned into 11:30), but we didn't have to be back until 7:00.  We went up to the buffet for breakfast as usual and then Rachel and I laid out for a while.

Since we were near Cozumel, it was very nice outside, so Rachel, Nicole, and I were finally able to lay out for a few hours.  Rachel was trying to finish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I was trying to finish The Help.  What better place to read than under the Mexican sun?

We watched the boat port, which was pretty cool.  We pulled up right next to a ship we decided was from Denmark.  There were some guys in banana hammocks and even a woman without a top!  Those Europeans... 

Rachel, Mom, and I decided not to have lunch on the ship again, but try out a restaurant that my aunt and uncle had recommended called Pancho's Backyard.  We got ready to go out to Mexico and then headed off the boat.  It was so crowded while everyone made their way to their shore excursions or just to walk around.  We headed down the main street and found out just how crazy it is to walk around.  People were constantly talking to us and trying to sell us the same type of tourist stuff.  We had to walk probably a mile before we got to the restaurant.

When we finally found it, it was like an oasis in a desert.  It was so nice and so beautiful.  We decided to just get margaritas and chips and guacamole.  The chips and guac...and even the salsa (and I never say that) were delicious.  Our original plan was to head down to a different restaurant for a full meal, but Rachel wanted to stop at a jewelry store to look at wedding bands.

Our plans got changed when we got to the jewelry store.  The manager ended up giving us a few gifts (rings and shots of tequila).  By the time Rachel had settled on a band, had her engagement ring cleaned and resized (free of charge), we were all exhausted and decided the best option was to make the long trek back to the ship.  They were celebrating Mardi Gras that night, so it was starting to get crowded as they prepared for the parade.  We also had to be back for our dinner time at 6:00!

When we got back to the ship, my mom wasn't feeling to well, so she decided to skip dinner and order room service.  Rachel and I both got ready for dinner and then headed up to meet the rest of the group in the dining room and hear all about their stories from Cozumel.

The nightly dinner menu wasn't that great, so I just ended up getting the same thing I had on the first night, but that was delicious nonetheless!  That night after we finished eating, Jayson, our waiter, showed us some tricks and brainteasers.  I made him promise he would show me how to do them all the next night, our final night on the ship.  The wait staff danced to "Low" by Flo Rida that night, and Jayson dragged me up to dance with him.  I'm not sure what made me do it, because usually I'm too embarrassed, but I did anyway.

I can't remember what exactly we did that night.  I don't think there were many activities on the boat that night because we ported that day.  I do remember walking around outside to the front of the boat with Rachel.  We couldn't get as close as they did on the Titanic, but it was neat watching the cities in Mexico get smaller and smaller.

Later, we met up with everyone again--we actually stumbled upon them in the atrium--and just hung out and talked while McKenzie entertained us.  Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Joy, Rachel, and I went to see a piano player.  But I got tired really early, so I went to bed.  I guess they went up to the lido deck for a celebration and a Mexican buffet.  It sounded fun; I wish I hadn't been so tired!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Elation Vacation - Day 3

We awoke on our first morning on the ship relatively early considering it was an inside room that was completely dark without any lights on.  We headed up to breakfast at the buffet on the lido deck and met up with the rest of our group.  We were sad to discover it was cloudy, windy, and drizzling.  Not ideal weather for laying out.

After breakfast, we all went down to the main stage for morning trivia.  My mom ended up winning, so she got a plastic gold ship on a stick.  (Her first of many.)  After trivia, we hung out around the ship some more doing different activities and seeing more of the ship.  Rachel and I went up to the very top of the ship and practically blew away!

We had a yummy lunch in our dining room with our usual waiters.  I just can't get enough of cruise meals.  You can order whatever you want and as much as you want!  We got to eat a lot of sushi on our cruise.

In the afternoon, Rachel and I went to lie down for a while and we both fell asleep for a short amount of time.  Nicole woke us up to go up to the gym for a little while.  That was pretty awesome because it wasn't as crowded as you would think it would be and it was on the very top and the very front of the ship. All of the cardio machines faced the windows so it felt like you were running, biking, or rowing with the boat!

I think after that, Rachel and I went to the hot tub, which was packed.  You would think they would have bigger hot tubs on such a big boat.  This girl was practically sitting on my lap and Rachel was pretty worried that someone would step on her sprained ankle.  This other girl was totally out of control and poured her drink into the hot tub (on purpose, it looked like) and her top was literally about to bust open.  We got the heck out of there after that!

Since we were all sharing one shower and one outlet, we had to go down to our cabin to get ready for formal night.  I don't think it's ever taken so long for me to get ready.  (Except maybe prom.)  The hair dryer we had was so weak it took forever to dry all our hair.  It was crazy.

But formal night was awesome!  Everybody looked great and the food was amazing.  I had stuffed mushrooms, lobster, prime rib, a baked potato and my usual warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream.  That sounds like a lot of fun, and believe me it was, but it was so delicious!  After we finished eating, my grandma danced with our waiter for their nightly show.

We saw a comedy show after that (actually two)!  He was hilarious.  Rachel and I decided to get a drink for the first time on the ship.  I got an appletini which totally backfired.  It wasn't that great and I ended up spilling it all over my dress.  After that I went back to my usual Amaretto Sour, but I only had one!

We saw another show after that: the dancers and performers did a rock through the ages type show.  Then we saw our second comedy show.  At least some of us.  Rachel and I stuck around after everyone else went to bed, but we didn't find anything that interesting.  We went to bed after watching karaoke for a little while.  It was a little depressing that we were calling it a night when two (very) old women were walking into the club right then.  Ha!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Elation Vacation - Day 2

The second day of vacation started off with a little bit of miscommunication.  Rachel and I were still at our cousin's apartment in downtown Baton Rouge in the morning.  Our mom planned on picking us up around 11:00.  After getting a slow start to the morning, Rachel and I headed down to a coffee shop near Lucas's apartment for some breakfast and some chai.  It was the same coffee shop that I spent some time in while I was in Baton Rouge last March.  Something strange was afoot in the shop, so we didn't receive the best service.  By the time we got our food, our mom and grandparents had shown up (a little bit early) and were wanting to hit the road right away.  That's when I realized eggs and hash browns aren't that great without salt and pepper.  Bleh!

We had to drop off the rental car near the airport before heading down to the dock to catch the ship.  We got to see a little more of the Big Easy, which was awesome!  I wasn't sure what to expect getting onto the boat, but it was a lot like going through the airport.  They wouldn't let anyone bring through any food or liquids, especially if it was open.  Then we had to check in and show photo IDs (our new passports!).  We got onto the boat on the seventh floor, our floor, and right into the bottom of the atrium.

We went around to our room, which was about as big as I expected it to be.  We weren't sure if the other half of our party had arrived yet, and our bags certainly hadn't.  We went up to the buffet for some lunch.  I was amazed at how many options there were both inside and out.  Eventually the rest of our group found us and our bags even showed up.  Meanwhile, there were whispers of an oil spill on the dock.

While taking off the used oil, a hose came loose from the truck and sprayed hundreds of bags.  This happened a little before noon, I believe, and ended up taking hours to settle.  I felt so bad for the people who's bags were destroyed.  Some of them got it really bad.  We spent most of the afternoon exploring the ship and watching the oil spill clean up.

They were a little careless with some of the bags, knocking them over in oil, dragging them through oil, and even spilling the contents in oil.  The whole ordeal lasted the entire afternoon and well into the night.  I think they finally wrapped it up sometime after midnight, after slowly calling the guests down one-by-one to go through their bag with them.  We were supposed to leave the port at 4:00, but we didn't actually leave until sometime after midnight.

Our dinner time was scheduled for 6:00 and we had a whole table to ourselves since there were ten of us.  I think it's pretty cool how they mix up the big tables so you get to know other people.  We found out just how awesome our two waiters--Jayson and Ronnie--were.  They were so much fun!  For dinner each night, they had an everyday menu and a special menu.  The first night I just got a steak off the everyday menu, but it was so delicious!

After dinner, we watched the oil spill clean up some more, played corn hole on the lido deck, went to a game show, and saw some karaoke before most of the group decided to call it a night.  My aunt Joy and I went to see the Welcome Aboard show late that night, the only two that could stay up!  We were asked to dance on stage, but I didn't have the guts.  After the show, we both went to bed.  We were stationary when I fell asleep, but I slept really well that night and every night on the cruise, probably from the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) rocking of the ship.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Elation Vacation - Day 1

Our trip started at 3:45AM on Wednesday morning.  Well, for me anyway.  I finally fell asleep around 1:45AM and my alarm went off 2 hours later.  It was lovely.  By 4:30, we were on our way to the airport.  It was still dark out.

We forgot to print the boarding passes, so we had to go to the check-in counter.  That's when we discovered Continental is now United.  Bleh!  They were a few hiccups at the ticket counter, but there was hardly any security, so we breezed right through.  When we were waiting for the train at DIA, we saw a woman that used to work at the day care center with us in Rachel's room.  She was flying home to Canada that morning and just happened to be about five minutes ahead of us in security.  It was fun to catch up for a little while before we boarded.

My mom left her library book on the train, so she went to get another book at a bookstore, but luckily her other book turned up!  Some people are so nice, but quite frankly she was lucky she left her boarding passes in the book otherwise it would have been gone for good!

I fell asleep on the flight to Houston, which was just under two hours.  It was nice to take another two-hour nap before the day really got going.  We had a pretty long layover in Houston, so we had second breakfast at Einstein's.  That's when my mom told us she heard on NPR that 2% of Americans think Mitt Romney's real name is Mittens!  How can you not laugh for days at that?!  The rest of the layover we spent reading and people watching.  I started the first Gossip Girl book while we were waiting for the second flight.  Actually, while we were on the plane waiting for it to take off.  We sat on the runway for like 50 minutes before taking off.  It doubled the 45 minute flight time.  And we were right by the bathrooms.  Super fun.

When we got to New Orleans, we got a rental car--a Kia Sol, Rachel's choice--and then drove up to Baton Rouge.  My mom dropped Rachel and me off at my cousin's apartment for the night.

Lucas took us to a famous pizza place Fleur de Lis in Baton Rouge.  They only accept cash and still use the same equipment from 1946 when they opened, but the pizza was delicious!  We had the Around the World without anchovies and it was so good!  We finished two larges between the three of us!

After that, we went up to a sushi restaurant downtown called Tsunami just to see the roof top.  We got to see the river and all the cool historical and architectural sites around it.  It was beautiful up there!  Then we went across the street to Happy's Irish Pub for another beer.

We had a blast, as usual with Lucas.  When we got home, he wanted to watch Troll 2.  He had recently watched a documentary on "the best worst movie ever" and apparently this was it.  Because I was running on probably less than 4 hours of sleep, I fell asleep about 30 minutes into the movie but it was crazy!  You should check it out sometime.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures on day one.  Even though half of the day was traveling, we did some fun stuff in the evening.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten on Ten :: February 2012

I'm off to a good start for 2012 since now I'm 2 for 2!  Today was the first of many Fridays I'll have off, so it was basically a to-do list day.  I started the day with a very long list and now it's down a little bit, but I got some big stuff done.  I was a little slow on starting Ten on Ten this morning (as you can see, I started at noon) and then I forgot to take my camera on my 11:00 lunch date.  My friend Nicole and I went for delicious (and beautiful) sushi.  Bummer.

As you can surely see, I have a bit of a black, white, and red theme going on my room and bathroom.  Although the walls in my room are blue!  More about that Monkey Man tomorrow...

You might be able to guess that I spent the evening with kids!  I did my first-ever overnight babysitting job, hence why I'm a teeny bit late on posting.  Hope you all enjoyed your 10th!