Monday, February 22, 2010

Please Hold Your Applause Until the End of the Performance

If you didn't read my Mexico post, well, go read it. Then come back, this will make more sense if you do.

Well, I couldn't figure out how to put the DVD I got from the cruise line into my computer and post only the portion with me singing, so here is the video that C took while I sang. It's not great quality, and it dark, and the singer kinda sucks, but you get the idea.

Please no making fun of me.

What happens in Mexico.......

video

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Happens in Mexico Stays in Mexico

Do you ever wonder which phrase came first? What happens in Mexico...or what happens in Vegas? Hmmm......

Anywho....
last Sunday C and I, among friends, coworkers and customers, boarded the Carnival Splendor, and headed out to sea on our way to sunny Mexico!
Here we are at port before boarding the ship. That is the infamous Queen Mary behind us.

This is our ship.

This is my Hollywood paparazzi pose. It started feeling that way after awhile with all the annoying photographers on the ship.

Actually this was at dinner on the "Cruise Elegant" night.

These are our friends, N & N. He and C have been friends since Jr. High, and were roommates while C and I were dating. N now works for C's company, and his wife and I are good friends.

I may or may not have spent a lot of time in the karaoke bar.

I had a little too much fun there, I guess.

Our first port was Puerto Vallarta. We decided to just walk around, check out the town, and see if we could find a beach access. We walked through a hotel on the main street, trying to find a beach, but liked their pool, so we decided to trespass and stay there all day.

If anyone asks, we're with the Underhills.

See? It's pretty nice.
This photo was cropped to protect your innocence.

Me and N. I love this girl!

And the boys.



Our 2nd stop was in Mazatlan. This is what I saw when I looked out my window from the ship that morning.
Beautiful!

We took a taxi into town, and to the beach. The taxi ride was probably my favorite part of the day. I took a million pictures of the town.

This one was my favorite.

We spent the rest of the day shopping, and playing at the beach, but mostly just getting harassed continuously by the street vendors.
Finally, I just wanted to start screaming !No Vende! ! No Vende!
I did cave, and buy a henna tramp stamp. What happens in Mexico.....

Sorry in advance, but since it fades, I had to remember it somehow....
I still like my Heater Ho tat from the last time we visited Mexico a few years ago. It's just more topical.

Yikes! Who put that picture in here?

Us and a group of folks from work:
J & J, some of C's customers; C and me; J & D, C's bro and SIL; and N & N (D & N are both salesmen with C's company)

Our last stop was in Cabo San Lucas. This lovely scene was again right outside my window, first thing in the morning.


C & me on the boat ride over to shore.


And again on the water taxi


I took a lot of Pelican pictures. I found them fascinating.


Scenes from outside my balcony on the ship. This was actually three whales. I didn't quite capture the third one, but at one point one of the whales completely breached right by the boat. I wish I'd captured it with my camera.

Almost Sunset
Ok, this was the highlight of my week. You know I partied it up in the karaoke bar. But what I didn't tell you was that I won a contest! Each night they had guest audition to play different parts in the finale program on the ship. It was pretty stiff competition for me, since there was NO ONE else auditioning for the part of Gloria Estefan. So, here I am on stage, in full costume. I even have back up dancers. How cool is that?!

I sang "Rhythm is Gonna Getcha" which I didn't know at all before, but now I know it better than I ever wanted to. It was so much fun! I'll have to post the video one of these days, so you can all know for a fact that I am NOT a singer, but still one hell of an entertainer.
Me and C after the show. Like my wig?

Sunrise in Long Beach at the end of the cruise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Miami


It's been a long and exciting two weeks.

As you can tell from my amazingly creative title, I am feeling very...uh...creative. Or not.
On January 31st, C and I hopped a plane to Miami, FL for a work meeting we attend every year. Sunday night, we went to the Pro Bowl. It was fun. I forgot to bring my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
It was a little different than NFL games I've been to in the past, because, being an exhibition game, nobody really cares who wins or loses. It was fun watching the red dudes score, then the blue dudes, and back and forth.
We did find out that the hotel we stayed at was THE happenin' place to be with the Superbowl arriving the following week. The Saints team was actually staying there, and it made for some good people watching. We did see quite a few football players, but none that I recognized. We decided they should've been walking around with their helmets and jerseys, complete with name and # on the back, so we could identify them.

I was completely unaware that the styles in Miami were so...minimal..for lack of a better word. I always felt completely over dressed, meaning I was totally covered. I saw a little more of the Miami residents than I cared to.



It was fun to catch up with some of the folks we meet every year at the meeting. C's company is associated with 7 (I think) other companies across UT, and I usually don't get to see these girls except for at the meetings, so it was fun to catch up with everyone.


Despite survivng torrential rainfall, I did manage to sit by the pool for 20 minutes before having to escape to the confines of my dry hotel room.


Oh and the food! We went to this restaurant that was so good, I wasn't the only one taking pictures of my meal.





Yes, that's a giant cotton candy for dessert!



Oh, and let's not forget to mention the invention (hee hee that rhymed) of my new favorite drink Albert Miller! (I guess I can fill you in on the secret recipe--but that's only because I don't want everyone thinking I'm a lush).

The Albert Miller (invented in August 2009 because everyone around me was ordering Arnold Palmers, and I was trying to find a nonalcoholic something to drink and I kept getting the name Arnold Palmer wrong)

Ginger Ale
Grenadine (my staple)
And a lime

But the highlight of the trip for me was on the way home. We had a layover in Atlanta, and my best friend from 5th grade lives there. She is also a friend of C's from before he met me, and we haven't seen her since our wedding reception almost ten years ago. She met us at the airport and we had lunch and caught up. It was so great to see her!


We got home on Wednesday, the 3rd, celebrated C's birthday, did laundry, and packed for the next week.

Stay tuned for reports on my cruise!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Talk Back Sunday: Special SuperBowl Edition!

It's SuperBowl Sunday! C and I are boarding our Cruise ship as we speak, hoping to find a Superbowl party, once we're on board.
But, if you recall, we actually went to the Superbowl last year. And I think everyone needs to hear the story of our trip at least once...or twice. So, I'm reposting it. (It may be long, because I originally posted the story in two separate posts, but I'm just doing it all on one this time. Enjoy~
GO COLTS!
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This is the sexy mermaid statue outside our "hotel"

First, let me start by telling about the luxurious accommodations we were so privileged to be given upon arrival in Florida. Words cannot describe the luxury and class of our experience that first night.
Thursday started out perfectly. The flights were uneventful, and I didn't feel motion sickness at all, nor did I completely lose my appetite. The other couple traveling with us didn't lose their car keys in the Denver airport, and the airline didn't lose one of their bags in Denver, either.
Upon arrival in Tampa, we thought it would be more cost effective to use public transportation around town, and opted not to get a rental car. So we paid $80 for the airport shuttle to drive us to our hotel.
Ah, this lovely hotel. The Oasis Palms Resort. Just across the street from St. Pete beach, situated deep in the heart of the lovely Treasure Island, which is about a 30 minutes drive from downtown Tampa.

Don't be fooled by the "open" sign. As you can in the window it is completely dark, no one is inside.

The shuttle drove us out of town, towards St. Petersburg, and over the bridge (across the bay) to Treasure Island. I just knew we were going to be staying in the lap of luxury. As we were escorted further into town, the street lined with hotels kept getting darker and dirtier. The hotels slowly shrunk into motels. When finally, at around 9:00 p.m., we stopped in front of this tiny dirty dingy yellow motel, with the blinking neon sign saying "Oasis Palms Resort." I thought this can't be it.
We got our bags, walked to the office door, which was locked. No life inside. The sign on the door said "Office hours M-F 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m." It was after 9 p.m. Then we saw a sign next to a germ infested courtesy phone saying to call if arriving after hours and someone will come check you in. We called that number probably 20 times, and got nothing but a voicemail. After leaving a dozen messages, we decided to walk up the street to find some shelter and food (since it was pouring rain). We were stranded outside our hotel with all of our luggage for an hour and a half. The ONLY restaurant open was the Waffle house, about a mile down the rode from the motel. A tiny empty sorry excuse of a diner, that happened to be out of everything, except waffles. After eating day old waffles, we trekked back to the motel, and found someone in the office. We checked in, were directed to our rooms and this is what we found.


The room was no bigger than a small child's bedroom. Including the bathroom. The double bed took up most of the space with its wicker headboard and dingy faded dolphin bedspread.


I was standing against the opposite wall/entry door while taking this picture.

The child-sized shower was so small we had to walk in sideways to fit through the doorway. The shower head was installed about chest level on me, so even lower for C. Dust and mold populated the corners of the tiny shower.



There were no extra plugs in the room. We had to unplug lamps and clocks to charge our phones and dry our hair. And there was No phone in the room. I was afraid to take my socks off in the room. That's how dirty it was. I was afraid to sleep under the sheets because I was sure they weren't changed or washed after the last guest. The dish towels they gave us to shower with were stained with brown streaked that I can only guess was one thing. And on the wall opposite the bed was hung and brand new fancy 36" plasma TV, complete with DVD player. It appears that the stories are true, that "certain types of people" will spend a fortune on electronics, and nothing on housekeeping.
After C got out of the shower, he walked the 2 feet from the shower to the bed and sat down to get dressed, and noticed that his feet were completely black. I'm glad I didn't take off my socks.
I lay awake in the bed comparing this place to the Bates motel, and just waiting for some psycho killer to barge into the flimsy door and stab us to death.

Oh, and if you look up this hotel's website, you will find a photo of the slightly less disgusting hotel on the opposite side of the street.

Needless to say, we called the company that booked us into that shit hole (sorry, but there is just no other way to describe the place, and forever thereafter during the trip the place was dubbed "the shit hole") and complained. We were upgraded to a much nicer hotel, and the rest of the stay went somewhat splendidly.

Consider the fact that we have no rental car, and have now established that there are no businesses for miles on this street other than cheap crack-whore motels, and of course, the Waffle house.

More stories to come.......




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Us. And some cow statues.

Sorry to get all your hopes up about some crazy story about the rest of my trip. The rest of the trip was uneventful. It was good. The end.

Ugh....AS IF!!!

Actually, the best part of the story, is the crack-whore motel story, but it's still pretty good. What else could possibly go wrong?

Friday morning, we got up, and started walking to catch the trolley. When it didn't come after 20 minutes we decided to start walking down the street toward "town" We'd walked maybe 1/2 mile when finally the bus shows up, we get on, and find out that we are on the wrong bus. We needed to cross the street and catch the one going the other direction. So, we hopped off, walked to the nearest stop, and waited. And waited, and waited and waited. Once again, it's just painful to just sit there, so we started walking again. This time we probably walked about 2 1/2 miles. At a walking pace, I'd guess about 30-40 minutes went by. Finally, the bus shows up. Drives us about 1/2 mile to the end of the line, where we are told to catch, yet, another bus, to get into town. After changing buses about 4 more times, we finally made it to a little park in downtown St. Petersburg. The park is right next to the homeless shelter. There were definitely some classy people on the bus, and at the stop.

Let me tell you, people, I was feeling really pretty at that moment. At least I had all my teeth, and they'd been brushed that morning.


We got off the bus, walked around 1/2 mile or so, til we found a bar to eat lunch at, and a movie theater.

We saw "Taken." With Liam Neeson. Definitely worth your while. I loved it!


After walking back to the homeless shelter bus stop, we hopped on yet another bus to take us to the mall. (There really wasn't much else to do in St. Pete)
I bought a $4 hat, because the rain was making my naturally curly hair crazy.
C & Me (and my hair) on the beach behind our new hotel

We decided to head back to check into our new hotel (yeah!!!), and went to get on the bus, and were told by the bus driver that this is the only bus back into town, but only sit in the front few seats, because the homeless dude in the back just spewed allover the place. There was chunky vomit making its way up the aisle from the rear all the way to the front of the bus. Again, so classy, and luxurious.

Eventually we made it back, and happily, checked into our new hotel, in which we actually had a door that locks, a king size bed, bath towels, and clean sheets and clean floors. This is more like it.



Saturday, we decided we'd had enough of public transportation, and called a taxi and paid $80 to drive into Tampa. We were dropped off at the stadium, where there was a pre-game Expo going on. However, after paying for the car, the other couple we were with didn't want to pay $20 to get into the Expo, so we decided to see what else there was to do. We walked around the block, through a park, down a busy highway, probably about 3 miles, when we came across a car rental place. I thought, we should at least check out how much it would be. Sadly, though, it was closed for the weekend. So, we trekked up the street to a Burger King to buy some water, and use the facilities. I told C, let's just google car rental place in the area, so we found a place that was open, were told it would be $100 for the weekend, and they came to pick us up.

We made it back to the hotel just in time to soak out sore tired feet in the hot tub. We were amazed that it only took us 20 minutes to drive to our hotel, instead of 3 hours.

So, after two days in Florida, we had watched a movie, eaten at a couple of restaurants, And walked, and walked and walked. What's that song about Pioneer Children?

Outside a restaurant in Tampa. Like my new $4 hat? Cute, huh?!
Hours upon hours of our time were wasted trying walk, and find transportation. Not to mention the cost of buses and taxis totally outweighed the cost of a rental car. What. were. we. THINKING?!!!
So, Sunday.

Did you want to hear about the game? I figure you probably watched it, you don't need a play by play.
We got the tickets by the skin of our teeth. The dude who lined up the trip for us decided to keep the tickets, instead of keeping them at will call, and it took several dozen phone calls, and C dropping his title, and threatening never to advertise with them even again to get him to finally deliver the tickets. At 9:30 am. On Sunday.

Ok, alright. Sunday, we drove (yeah!!) our rental car into Tampa, found out it costs $80 to park anyway in the vicinity of the stadium, and decided to park at a mall about 2-3 miles away and walk. What?!! More walking? I'm thinking I sure better have lost weight from this trip!!
I can't believe how many Steelers fans there were. Yellow and black jerseys, and "terrible towels" being flung EVERYWHERE! People trash talking on the street.

Attack of the Terrible Towels!

Since I decided to root for the underdog, I was wearing a red shirt. Not official Cardinals paraphernalia, but just a regular red shirt. I even got trash talked. Wow!

The line just to get into the stadium was long. I was amazed at how many people there were standing along the line, preaching. We were handed many pamphlets about God, and how Jesus saves, and I even got my very own ticket into heaven!

And for the first time all weekend, the weather was actually sunny and nice. Probably about 65 degrees. After all the walking, I was actually hot.

There was a big expo outside the stadium. Games, museums, hall of fame, shopping, food. The energy in the air was incredible.

Here's a little plug for the Redskins. C's favorite team. They had dudes like this for every NFL team.

Comparing my muscles to Troy Aikman's. I think mine are bigger.

This is a ticket stub from the very first Superbowl in 1967. Look at the face value price. $10. Our tickets said $800. Amazing how it's changed.

The Vince Lombardi Superbowl Trophy

We bought to souvenirs for the kids, then went to this pre-game beach party where they had food and drinks before and after the game.

We found our seats, which were about 20 rows up in the Steelers end zone. Not bad. There were several seats next to us that were empty almost all the way to kick off, so we were hopeful, but right before the game a group of people came.


Us, and the Randels

We watched Faith Hill sing "America the Beautiful", Jennifer Hudson sing the "National Anthem" and Bruce Springsteen sing a bunch of song I don't know at half time.
I took these picture of the Jumbo tron. Otherwise you wouldn't believe it was actually them.

I didn't get a good pic of Bruce, but this is the crowd. They gave everyone in the stadium a little flashlight. It was pretty awesome.

The dude sitting next to C was a gem. (Sorry, I didn't get a picture) Nicci kept saying there is no way he bought his tickets. He must've stolen them. Ha ha! He was so "friendly." C knew his whole life story by the end of the first quarter. And was pretty sure he was be sitting on his lap by half time. Of course, we had to stand up and let him out about every 15 minutes for his smoke break. Then around the 3rd quarter, somehow a fight broke out between the dude (a Cardinals fan), and a Steelers fan (who looked amazingly like he could be the dude's brother) two rows up. There were some words, it got heated, then luckily they both found their heads, put them back on, and apologized. But then, the girl sitting two rows down from the Steeler fan started calling C out. I was thinking what do you and him have to do with any of this? So C (always keeping is cool) said, I'm just trying to watch the game.

Gotta love the redneck football drama.

I won't go into the game details because I'm sure you all watched it, but at one point, the Cardinals were up, and I thought they might have a chance at winning. It literally went down to the last minute. As much as I hate watching football in TV, I truly enjoy watching a good game live.

The final scoreboard

It was a great game, the energy in the stadium was palpable. It was a truly amazing experience, one I wouldn't trade for anything. (Even though, we were severely tempted to see how much money we could've sold our tickets for. If we'd been offered 10k on the street, we probably would've taken it).



p.s. I also want to make mention of my wonderful husband. Today is his 34th birthday. So, I'm totally counting the Superbowl as his birthday present. C, I just want to tell you how much I love and appreciate you!
Happy Birthday!


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