Sunday, January 13, 2008

Huh. Land Sick. Who knew?

Two months of crazy traveling finished up the year of 2007. Since the beginning of last November, Doug and I only spent one weekend in Indianapolis. We started our travels in Costa Rica, briefly back to Indy then off to Chicago for Thanksgiving with a little side trip up to Toronto for Karen's wedding. Back for another few days in Indianapolis, then a flight to LA to catch our boat to the Mexican Riviera. After spending an astoundingly long 11 days in Indianapolis, I was off to Chicago for the holidays (and Doug was in Florida with his family). We wanted to finish off the final day of the year dancing at the Cincinnati New Year's dance, but we made a side trip to visit Valerie and Darren in Louisville before heading over to Cincy. I find it pretty amazing that we only spent 30 full days in Indianapolis for the months of November and December. Whew!

But, this post is really supposed to be a about the cruise to the Mexican Riviera! For the first week of December, Doug and I joined our infamous friends Valerie and Darren in LA for a few days of sight-seeing before our cruise. We stayed in a quirky hotel in Chinatown. Did some of the usual sight-seeing stuff, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Wax Museum and Guiness Book of World Records. OOOOO! And the La Brea Tar Pits. Very cool. Can you imagine living somewhere where your sump pumping asphalt ooze instead of water out of your basement? We also went on a doomed nighttime search for a view of the HOLLYWOOD sign, only to find out that the recent wildfires had damaged it and it was probably unlit. Sigh. That search, however led us to a rather odd "Festival of Lights" that entertained us in many ways. After a quick visit to the LA zoo on Sunday morning, we headed down to the Port of LA (after a trip to try In-and-Out burgers and animal-style fries. Yum!) to board Royal Carribean's "Vision of the Seas".

We spent 7 days cruising down the Mexican Riviera stopping in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. After boarding the ship on the first day, we did the required safety drill--terrifying the other guests around us all we practiced our sinking-ship expressions! Then we started our reputation at "those dancers" as we all got up and swing danced in the aisles during the the "Welcome to the Cruise" show. :)

Day 2 was all at sea, so we played around the ship. While I lazed in the sun on the solarium pool deck, Val and the boys climbed the rock wall at the back of the ship in preparation for the speed climbing contest that night. This was no mean feat for Valerie, who hates heights, but managed to make it to the top of the wall for the first time ever during the contest. Go Val! That night, we had our first fancy dress dinner, drank champagne and danced at the Captain's party.

Day 3 had us anchored at Cabo San Lucas. After we fought through the swarms of hawkers at the dock, we finally made it to the beach. Doug and I immediately dove into the waves and spent ages playing in the surf. Luckily for us, Valerie and Darren haggled a fabulous deal for parasailing while we played. This was a FABULOUS ride. We took off and landed from a speed boat, so it was an amazingly gentle way to parasail. We also hunted around for some tasty food, wandering the streets while drinking from giant Mexican beer bottles. :) We spent a little more time playing in the waves and then headed back to the boat.

On Day 4 we docked at Mazatlan and made our way to the old town center and wandered through the big city market. When we finally managed to drag Val away from the cow heads and miscellaneous meats, we hopped on a bus on a fruitless search for a brewpub (sadly it was closed for remodeling) and spent the rest of the day on the beach. The waves in Mazatlan were wonderful! We ended up renting some boogie boards and played in the surf until we were exhausted.

Day 5 was our last port, Puerto Vallarta. While Valerie and Darren were off scuba diving, Doug and I were on a giant catamaran that took us to Marietas Island to go snorkeling. It was a beautiful day, but the seas were fairly rough so the water was pretty cloudy. Not the ideal conditions for snorkeling or scuba diving, but we still had some fun. After the snorkeling, the rest of our day on the this excursion was supposed to take place hiking and sunning ourselves on a private beach, but sadly the ocean had other ideas. Beach number one was inaccessible due to the rough waves, so our catamaran headed out to another scenic beach. It looked like we'd be able to land on this one, so Doug and I were in the first motor boat that was ferrying us to the beach. We managed to get on land without too much excitement and stood at the edge of the surf amazed at the ferocity of the waves. As the 2nd motor boat ferried another batch of folks to the beach, a huge wave crashed over their boat as they tried to land. Although these folks got pretty wet, everyone was okay...and at that point the skipper decided that the beach was a bad idea that day. With a little more excitement we managed to get the motor boat back off the beach without getting totally mushed by waves, and ended up swimming off the back of the catamaran instead.

Day 6 was our last full day at sea, steaming back up towards LA. The seas continued to be pretty rough, and seasick bags had been thoughtfully displayed through out the boat. Luckily, none of our little party succumbed to seasickness on the big boat. Instead, we ran around like fools doing all sorts of silly on-board activities. Early on, we'd discovered that we could win "fit-dollars" for completing all sorts of fitness activities--dance classes, 1-mile walk in the morning, stretching, aqua-aerobics, bean bag toss---and then cash them in for prizes at the end of the 6th day. It might be said that Valerie and I were a little obsessed by this, and the last day had all sorts of activities, and we hit most of them. Aqua-aerobics was especially fun that day due to the rough seas!

Day 7 was pretty uneventful. We got back to port in LA. Valerie and Darren continued to further adventures in Las Vegas and Doug and I headed off to spend the rest of the day in airports and airplanes.

Needless to say, we had a great time. This was a first cruise for Doug and Valerie and a second for Darren and I. We ate lots of tasty food, played games, made tasty drinks with our bootleg hooch, danced like maniacs a few times a day, swam, hot-tubbed and generally ran around like crazy people. It was way fun! And although none of us got seasick on the cruise, I was horribly land sick for about a week after we were home. Yep, land sick. Still felt like I was feeling the waves. Very dizzy, rather grumpy. :) Thankfully it finally wore off.

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