Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mr. Eko

Tony has wanted a dog for as long as we have been married, but since we lived it apartments it just wasn't logical.

Well about a month ago, not very long after we moved into the new house, we saw an ad on the internet for a Beagle puppy. Tony went to check the little guy out, and instantly fell in love. We picked him up the next day. The puppy was kind of scared on the car ride home, and was a little anxious for the first day, but once he got used to us, he decided the house was his throne.

The previous owners had just been calling him Spiderman, which we didn't really like, so after a few days Tony came up with the name "Mr. Eko". I thought he meant Echo, but I guess it comes from a TV character. Any way, Eko is making himself at home. He likes all types of food, including any unattended cat food and especially puppy popsicles, because in Phoenix, even the dogs need something to cool them down.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My sister visited for the Weekend

We have started doing away with the yellow paint in our kitchen and family room. My sister and her family came for the weekend to help. Cameron did a great job edging and everyone worked hard with the painting.

Of course the girls had to swim at least twice a day. Our pool is much more fun with kids. They jump, dive and are much more fun to chase.

Friday, June 5, 2009

St Kitts May 23, 2009

Our last port of call was in Basseterre, St Kitts. For almost the entire cruise, we had practically perfect weather. It was never too hot or too cold, and there was just the right amount of sunshine, and hardly any rain.

In St Kitts the day started out kind of grey and cloudy. We had planned to go to the beach for one final day, but with the weather being temperamental, we decided to take a guided driving tour of the island. It's not really that large of an island, so you can see almost everything in a few hours.

After driving through some little villages along the coast, our first stop was kind of inland at an old sugar cane mill and mansion called Romney Manor. The old mills look like ancient castles that have been taken over by the jungle.

At the manor you can see Batik fabrics made, which are basically screen printed items, mostly clothes, with tropical prints.

The items are kind of expensive, but that's probably because they are made by hand and pedalled to tourists.

On top of a hill, with bird's eye views of any incoming threats, was a large fort called Brimstone Hill. Our van of people elected not to go into the fort, as there was an $8.00 per person charge, but you could imagine the work it would take to create such a place.

After that it was mostly driving, with a stop at a scenic overlook called Black Rocks and a quick peek at a beach called Frigate Bay. By then the sun had come out, and we thought about catching another taxi to the beach I had wanted to see, but ended up opting for relaxing back at the ship instead of rushing out to the beach and then having to turn around and rush back.

I liked St Kitts, although it wasn't the beach place I thought it would be. I couldn't picture myself moving there either, as it felt very remote. It seemed more like a place celebrities might go if they wanted to hide.

Black Rocks, St Kitts

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Antigua May 22, 2009

Antigua tourism is geared mainly around the more than 365 beaches, enough places to go to a different beach every day for a year! There were several that I wanted to go to, but we ended up going to Dickerson Bay Beach due to the close proximity to the cruise ship dock, and the recommendations of several people. What an absolutely gorgeous setting. Crystal clear turquoise water, white sand, colorful umbrellas, and perfect weather.

There were a lot of people around, but it didn’t seem loud or overcrowded. If you wanted even more privacy, you could swim or walk down to the far left end of the beach, around some small coral jetties and there was an almost completely private beach. Tony and I went over there for awhile, leaving our stuff under the umbrella by some friends from the cruise ship.

It’s hard to describe how the sea relaxes and rejuvenates my spirit. I feel more at home near the ocean, and find that I long to be near it when I’m away. I favor the colors of the sea, particularly the turquoise water. Maybe I’ll talk Tony into letting me paint our bedroom with ocean colors.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

St Lucia, May 21st, 2009

After spending the day before in Barbados, a lot of people had high hopes for the beaches of St Lucia. It seemed again, like such an uncommon place with all-inclusive resorts and hills covered in Caribbean foliage. How many people have you ever heard say they’ve been to St Lucia?

To be honest though, St. Lucia was a bit of a letdown. I can’t really say why, just that I heard that from several people. The common consensus just seemed to be that Barbados was hard to top.
Tony and I had decided to spend a day at the beach, since this vacation was about relaxing, so we shared a taxi with some other people to Reduit Beach. The water there was calmer than Barbados with more of a darker greenish color mixed here and there with patches of the blue and turquoise.

A lot of people were at this beach, including some people playing their music loudly and a few pushy vendors. Most of the vendors would leave you alone as long as you said no firmly or acted like you were sleeping. If you wanted more privacy, and did not need an umbrella or chair, than you could head to the end of the beach, which was almost empty.

I spent almost the whole time combing the shallow water for bits of sea glass and other treasures. I found a Caribbean 5 cent piece and several small blue tiles that probably blue off of some building or table. They were all around the beach. A couple of people commented on the fact that I was brave to wander down the beach all by myself, but it didn’t feel unsafe at all. In fact most of the hotels or resorts along the beach had guards posted just outside, mostly to prevent people from coming into the resort that did not belong, but I’m sure if you needed help they would have been there. Plus most people just left you alone, which was fine by me. I liked the solitude of walking in the sand and listening to the sounds of the tropics.

Dinner that night was again a cruise elegant affair. Our elegant attire was pretty casual compared to some, but I think we looked pretty good. Tony was starting to sport a bit of a tan, which made him look handsome in his linen shirt.
We sat with our show friends for one of the late night comic acts, which was funny, although a little raunchy. I heard from some other people that the midnight showing was really “R” rated, so I was glad we hadn’t stayed for that one.
Once again, we had a great day, but it was just not as memorable as some of the others. If I were to go back, I think I’d go on an excursion and maybe see more of the island.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beautiful Barbados!!! May 20th, 2009

Barbados has always held a sort of exotic allure for me. I can remember wanting to visit there as early as 7th grade. I imagined it to be a place where people dressed in brilliant colors, ate tropical and spicy food, and where you could walk on a powder white sand beach. Let's just say that the island did not disappoint.

The port where our ship was docked could be misleading, as it looks rather ordinary. From our balcony we could not really make out much of the island, but I knew we were in for a good day when I spied a rainbow cresting over a ship out the window.
We had an excursion through the cruise line for noon, so I wanted to get out early to explore the island before we had to be back. Tony and I walked into town a ways, took a few pictures, and of course did a little shopping. There were some beautiful carved wood items, particularly these gorgeous mahogany turtles, but they were quite pricey, with one life sized one running over $400 US dollars, so we settled on an oddly curved spoon made by an older guy selling stuff out of his workshop. I tried to buy souvenir items on this trip that would have some decorative purpose in our new house, and not just be complete junk.

On the way back to the cruise ship, Tony stopped to look at some shirts that a street vendor was selling. He bought one, and the lady ended up talking him into having MY hair braided. The lady thought she was going to braid all of my hair, but after awhile I was kind of tired of sitting there, and we were getting short on time so we left.

Our excursion was on a Tiami catamaran painted yellow, white and blue and crewed by a friendly bunch who seemed to truly enjoy what they do. (Who wouldn't?) The ship moves at a leisurely pace along the coast, making it's first stop in waters where sea turtles are known to inhabit.

Every willing person off loads into the water, vying for space near the crew member holding the bait, since he seemed to give you the best chance to see the turtles. It didn't seem to take more than a minute or two before we had beautiful sea turtles swimming in and out amongst the thrilled tourists. I expected them to be skittish, but the turtles would come right up to you, weaving in and out of swimmers legs. It was amazing to be in turquoise water, with the sun shining and turtles making your acquaintance.

After swimming with the turtles, the crew took us to another location, where we were able to swim from the boat to the beach. It was an absolutely beautiful location. Turquoise and indigo blue water, fine powdery sand, flowers, and sailboats in the water. I could have stayed there for the rest of the trip. In fact I was the last person on the beach and one of the last people to board the catamaran. I was collecting sea glass and a few little shells from the water. (Sea glass, for those who don’t know is just regular bits of glass that have been polished down by the waves and sand. I love the turquoise glass, but it is the hardest to find. Green is a lot easier.) I really would have liked another hour, but we had a ship to catch. I would definitely go back to Barbados and spend a week.

That night were just too worn out to go to the main dining room and wait to be served our meal, so instead we had the buffet on the Lido deck. After eating and relaxing a bit in our room, we went to the theater and played a marriage game with our cruise director, “Wee Jimmy.” He’s a short, somewhat portly Scottish guy, who spent have the cruise in a kilt, and the other half putting up with people trying to correct his pronunciations of English words. He was pretty funny, and took everything in stride. We also watched a magic act and a comedian, rounding out a practically perfect day.