Friday, December 24, 2010

Cruising...a much needed Vacation!

Steve is one that really likes to take great vacations. So after Courtney annouced that she was going on a mission we realized we would be down to one kid at home for the holidays. So Steve had a great idea, let's take a cruise for Christmas! LOVED it! We called our good friend's the Cooper's to see if they wanted to join us, and before we knew it everything fell into place and it was time to take a much needed VACATION! We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico at noon on Sunday, after taking the redeye flight out of Las Vegas. Matt and Margaret picked us up from the airport and the week long party began. Here we are in the Rainforest. We took a picture at this same spot about five years ago with the kids.
Just some of the beautiful scenery we viewed on our hike.
We ended up hiking for a couple of hours. Soo fun. Then we had to return car and we headed to the ship.

Here we are leaving the port. Old San Juan is behind us.
Our first stop on the cruise was St. Thomas. Steve had researched and found out that we should take a ferry over to St. Johns then go to Trunk Bay for snorkling. This is Steve and Matt on the Ferry ride over.
Here we are in St. Johns.
Our first view of St. John's....and it got better from here.
The snorkling was AWESOME. This is Matt and Steve snorkling. Margaret and I saw a Barriacuda. We looked at each other and pointed and kept snorkling. There was a snorkling trail that had cement blocks with signs of what you were seeing. It identified the different fish and coral. Soo cool!
Here we all are on the beach at Trunk Bay. The water was so warm and clear, we spent hours enjoying ourselves.
Steve and me at Trunk Bay.
Tuesday was a day on the ship. We found many ways to keep ourselves busy, starting with sleeping in. We were pretty wiped out from taking the redeye, playing all day in San Juan, then snorkling all day in St. Johns. Sleep was a must. We all met around noon for lunch on deck.
Then we all watched the ICE SCULPTING. This is always a fun thing to watch. I could not figure out what he was making, but Matt could tell. Once he stood it up like this we could all tell it was an Indian Chief.
Mininature golfing on the top of the ship. Margaret kicked BOOTAE! Her golf lessons really paid off. It was very intersting trying to golf in the wind!
Here I am with my handsome hubby at formal night. We always enjoy the fabulous food and a chance to dress up.
Wednesday we had planned on spending the day Jetskiing. This is our taxi driver, 81 Hesban. He dropped us off where we were suppose to spend the day. There was a misunderstanding over the price for jetskiing. Let's just say we couldn't afford to spend a month of missionary payment for a few hours of jetskiing. So we called our taxi driver and he came and got us and took us to a great beach by the Hilton in Barbados. We were able to rent a jetski then play in the ocean, walk along the beach and see lots of sites. It actually was a blessing in disguise that we didn't stay at the first place, we had so much more fun on the beach that our cute "Hesban" took us to . What a fun day in Barbados.
Matt and Margaret jetskiing.
Us on the beach waiting our turn to jetski. The ocean was so choppy and rough, we kept saying we were so glad we didn't have to jetski all day.
Me and Steve at a cool fort we walked to in Barbados.
Steve at the fort.
As we were leaving the beach, there was a steel drum player playing Christmas songs. Steve stopped and checked out the drum and how it made different notes. The guy stopped playing and let Steve play for a minute. Let's just say the real player has no competition. But it was fun to watch.

The next day was an island tour of St. Lucia. What a treat this was. We spent the day seeing the whole island, and we even got to stop at one of the locals house and sample all the island food.
Steve, me, Margaret and Matt at the stop to sample the local food. There was an amazing view here.

The PITONS on St. Lucia.
Us, looking over the PITONS. On the drive here we passed though an area that was hit hard when Hurricane Thomas hit the island in October. A huge chunk of the mountain slid down and took out several homes, and a family is stll missing from the slide. As we looked at the devastation caused by the hurricane just two short months ago we were amazing at all the work done to open the roads again so that we could see the beauty of the island.
St. Lucia has an active volcano. Our tour took us to the sulfa springs. All I can say is Pee U! It was soo stinky. I was glad I had just put on lotion and could sniff it. I must say it was intersting to learn about.
Next we took a water taxi over to get a closer look at the Pitons. The tour included snorkling and beach time, but we didn't know, so we just took he ride.
The water is so clear and a deep blue color. Our guide said this is some of he deepest waters in the Caribbean.

Our guide took this picture of all of us, then went to start the motor again, and the engine just sputtered. We ran out of gas. We sat there for a while, then our guide saw another boat coming and hailed him to come help us. The other little boat was full of fresh fruit, so we were happy to know that if we were stuck we wouldn't starve to death. They drained some gas into a water bottle and just when they were trying to start the motor another water taxi arrived. Our tour was wondering what happened to us. We had to change water taxi's in the middle of the ocean. How crazy is that? Another adventure that we all chuckled about later.
After the water taxi incident, our tour supplied us with fresh cheddar cheese and hot homebaked rolls. I thought they looked like a turkey drum stick. They were yummy.
The end of our tour in St. Lucia. This picture has our ship in the background.
This was a store on St. Kitts. I had to take this picture for Courtney. The guys had arranged a dive this day, so Margaret and I had to entertain ourselves. We decided we wanted to rent bikes and ride around the island. We asked several people where we could rent bikes and they all gave us different directions, but we did finally arrive at the bike shop only to find it was closed and had moved to another location. So we walked back to town and just found a tour guide and ask how much for a tour. We were able to find a 3 hour tour of St. Kitts for only $20.00.
St. Kitts has some Britsh influnce. Margaret at a cool phone booth.
Children were lined up on the street playing drums and dancing. It is Carnival this week on the island. It was fun to see. As we pulled off this road and onto the next road which was a bumpy dirt road we all heard a loud pop. I thought a gun had gone off, but our driver ran over a sharp rock. He told us to walk around while he changed the tire. Margaret and I laughed, because of what happened to us the day before. When we told the guys about this, they said they weren't sure if they wanted us to be on any more tours with them. Funny! the driver got the tire changed and we were back on track for the tour.
This is our driver and tour guide. He is showing us the"Lipstick" bush at the botanical gardens. This was so interesting.
Handcrafted textiles at the boanical garden.
Margaret and me in the Botanical Gardens at St. Kitts.
Here we are at the Lava Cliffs in St. Kitts.
The Lava Cliffs.
And we ran into "BLUE BEARD" a the Lava Cliffs...hee...hee.
The Caribbean Ocean is on the left and the Atlantic Ocean is on the right. We were almost in two places at the same time!
Margaret wanted to take a picture with one of the green spider monkeys. We found out that there are more of these monkeys on the island than people.
My with my island friend!
The last day of the cruise we were in St. Maarten. We rented "Rhino Riders" basically jetskis with a big rubber raft on them. It was so fun and our guide gave us alot of infomaton about the island. We got to stop and snorkle, but the snorkling was a disappointment after St. Johns. It was fun though. Steve drove most of the way, but his knees were hurting, so I told him I could drive. Holy cow, Driving was soo much easier than trying to hang on in the back. It was too fun. We have a picture, but had to buy if from the tour, so it wasn't on my camera. Sorry.
Walking the beach in St. Maarten.
The last night on the ship Margaret and I went to the "Towel Demonstration" and learned how to make the cute creatures that had been left on our bed each night. This is Margaret twisting a towel for her creation.
Ta Da....Margaret and her elephant.
Me and my bunny.
And this is our last night on the cruise with our new friends from New Jersey, the Miller's and our waiters. We had such a great time, and hated coming home to the snow. We are already planning a trip to Cancun to dive and play next year. But we also want to go to the Philippines to pick up Cameron too.

Vegas Baby!

Hard to believe that it has already been two weeks since week drove to Las Vegas for Lexi's wedding and Cheryl's surprise party. It was wonderful to be back in Vegas for a couple of days and warm up. Here are the pictures from our Vegas trip. Mr. and Mrs. Elvis Ramirez!
We snapped a few pictures outside the temple while we were waiting for the happy couple to come out.
Me, Life size Bridget and Tasha, my other girls!
All my girls! (Courtney is missing) Lexi's looked soo beautiful and happy. Such a wonderful day and so glad we could be there to share it with her.
More of Tasha and Bridget outside the temple.
Enjoying the SUN!!! We loved being able to warm up. After all the wedding festivities, we ran back to Grandpa Leavitt's house and changed to go to Auntie Cheryl's Surprise party. But Auntie Cheryl was at Grandpa's house when we got there. She wanted to see us for a minute. We had told her we were going to be busy all day with wedding stuff. Which wasn't a lie, we just didn't go to the reception so we could go to Cheryl's surprise party.
This is me with one of my cute "Great Nephew's" Luke. We have been so busy we haven't been able to get to Vegas to meet this cutie. He came right to me and hung out with me until his Granny Cheryl arrived.
Brother's....hanging out waiting for Cheryl to arrive so they could "SURPRISE" her!
Kandace and Derek with Auntie Cheryl. She thought she was picking up Ashley and Jon to go to dinner, she walked in and we all yelled "SURPRISE", I think she was totally surprised to see all of us.
Steve and his sister Cheryl, the birthday girl.
Cheryl with her brothers Carlin, Steve and Tyler and daughter Ashley. Ashley made us all a fabulous dinner and Austin brought a "nothing but Bundt" cake. Such a fun night with family! We left directly from the party to board our plane for our cruise. Hang tight...I will try and get these pictures posted next. I hate being so behind on my blogging.