Archive for December, 2008

4-year Anniversary & Caribbean Cruise

December 17, 2008

Day 1 – Carnival Victory Sets Sail!
We flew down to San Juan, Puerto Rico using Erik’s miles (a free flight is a great way to start any trip). Two points of interest: the entertainment system/computers on Delta’s 767 run RedHat, and you can play Insanaquarium which will annoy the person in front of you because you have to poke the touch-screen in the head rest a lot.
Our ship, the Carnival Victory, set sail at 10:00pm for a week of adventures. One of the couples we met last year, Susie and Rick (who happened to win a free cruise in a raffle), decided to come with us this year and it was great getting to see them again.

One of the professional portraits we had taken on the ship. We look so grown up!
Day 2 – St. Thomas
We decided to take it easy on our first day since we didn’t have any “relaxing day-at-sea”s on the itinerary this year. We rode the skyride to Paradise Point on St. Thomas and walked around the nature trails on the top of the island. Took some pictures, enjoyed the spectacular views and sunshine, and played with cool tropical birds. We didn’t really do much, but it was a very nice, very low-key way to start the trip.

A view of our ship, the Carnival Victory, from Paradise Point on top of St. Thomas
Day 3 – Dominica
Our original excursion had gotten canceled, so we decided to do a river tubing one instead. We wound up meeting a fabulous couple (Amber and Tony) at the tubing place and instantly hit it off with them (we actually wound up spending the whole week hanging out with them. The crazy part is that they won the free cruise this year, just like Susie & Rick did last year while sitting in the exact same seats that Susie and Rick did in the theatre during the raffle!).
The tubing was fun – D
ominica has 365 rivers and we got to see quite a few on our perilous trip across the island on crazy roads with steep drops off the sides on top of mountains. The river we tubed (is that a word?) down was clear and somewhat shallow and had a few rapids that kept things interesting. At one point we all stopped for a swim break and our guides (who were awesome at helping me get un-stuck from rocks and the banks and other “road”blocks) climbed a palm tree to retrieve a coconut for us. Erik used a huge rock to break the outer part and I used a smaller rock to open the actual coconut itself. I’ve never had fresher coconut. It was a pretty cool experience – I made “food” for the entire group!
After tubing they drove us over to a little thatched hut on the banks of yet another river where we had a traditional Dominican lunch (which was delicious) and were entertained by a tribe of true Carib Indians. Tony and I got up on stage (after being invited, of course) to participate in a ritual dance with them and we made total fools of our tourist-selves. Still fun, though!
Before we went back to the ship we stopped off on the side of the road for a 20 minute hike through the rain forest. When we came to a clearing, it was because we had reached a gorgeous 200-foot waterfall. It was dark and kinda cold because the trees were so dense, but we went for a swim in the clear pool that was below the fal
ls. It was like being in a movie it was so gorgeous and picturesque.

Erik and I tubing down a river in Dominica
Day 4 – Barbados
Ah, Barbados… This was definitely a good island to do some fun stuff on!
The first part of our excursion was to go snorkeling with sea turtles! We had bought our own snorkels and masks before the cruise and I was *so* glad for this because I didn’t get one single drop of water in my eyes (which usually happens and hurts like hell) and was able to enjoy every moment of the swim. The turtles were really cool, and huge! Our guy was feeding them so they came up real close and we got to touch them. This is something I’d love to do again, for sure.
After the turtles we went to another snorkel spot where there were a few sunken ships for us to explore. Susie and Rick had come with us and we brought croissants so that we could feed the fish. To say I was surrounded by thousands of brightly-colored, beautiful tropical fish is an understatement. The shipwreck itself was really neat, and it made me wish I knew how to sc
uba so I could poke around better.
Last stop for the day was a beach. We sailed over (on our ship, The Thriller!) to a local, secluded beach where we hung out for about an hour, drinking rumpunch from the swim-up bar on our boat.
When we got back to the pier, Erik and I went to Diamonds International to “just look”. I fell in love with Tanzanite when we went on our cruise last year and so I headed over to that section immediately. I saw a beautiful ring which the friendly salesguy let me try on “just for fun”. Then I found another I loved even more. The next thing I know, the salesguy and Erik had shook hands and I was crying happy tears because I am the luckiest girl in the world – he bought me an unbelievably gorgeous .45ct Tanzanite ring with .35ct tw of diamond accents. The perfect end to the perfect (and sparkly!) day.

I like turtles! Swimming with awesome sea turtles in Barbados.
Day 5 – Antigua
I have wanted to go horseback riding in Antigua since I was a littl
e kid and read Walter Farley’s “The Island Stallion”. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember, and luckily enough, we went horseback riding in Antigua! I found the Spring Hill Riding Club online several months ago and had booked Erik and I a private trail ride. We took a cab to the stable where we met our FEI dressage trained “trail horses” (Bilbo and Gandolf – yes, I laughed when I heard that, too). We wound up getting a 1.5 hour tour of the island, through palm tree forests and across hills with beautiful overlooks of English Harbour among many other places. Then we went back to the barn where we stripped the saddles off the horses and changed into our bathing suits to head back out to the beach for a swim.
Let me first say that riding a horse, bareback, barefoot and in only a bikini is WEIRD. I totally felt like I should be wearing jeans and boots or *something*! Anyway, so we headed to a private cove where we convinced our horses that plunging into the water would be fun. It was. I’ve never had the chance to ride a horse while it swims and I think I will always remember that “wtf?!” feeling, because when they swim it is unlike any other “on land” gait I have ever felt. We rode, er, swam for about 30 minutes and then headed back to the stable. On the way we got caught in a
tropical rain shower which was warm and beautiful and a very nice finishing touch to the ride.
Our awesome trail guide, Terri-Lee, gave us a ride back to English Harbour after wards where we walked around and eventually hopped the local #17 bus (for $2USD each) which took us back to the other side of the island to the cruise terminal.
This day just also happened to be December 11th, our 4-year anniversary (and the reason I got the ring, which is NOT an engagement ring so don’t ask, k?).

The beautiful Tanzanite and Diamond ring that Erik bought me for our 4-year anniversary.
Day 6 – St. Lucia
When I say I have a wonderful boyfriend, I really mean it. Erik jumped at the chance to go riding not only once in Antigua, but two days in a row in St. Lucia too!
We rode at a local stable with a bunch of other Carnival Victory-ians. They asked who the experienced riders were so Erik and I raised our hands. We told them we rode English, and they pulled out the “good” horses for us (ie: the ones that had the least amount of bad habits and vices. It was,
after all, a typical hack barn). I wound up riding one of the owner’s private horses who had just been gelded recently, named Jeepers. He was a real sweetie and a very fun ride.
When we got to the beach they tied up the horses, untacked three and asked “who wants to go for a swim?” Of course, Erik and I were the first ones mounted. I rode a nice little bay who made the funniest noise I’ve ever heard a horse make the entire time we were in the water. It was like riding a horse that thought he was a foghorn – every 3 seconds or so he’d go “HHHHYYUUUUUHHHHH” as loud as he could and we were all cracking up. Awesome 😀
The ride back consisted of a flat-out gallop down the entire length of the beach (woo!) and a relaxing trip back to the barn.

Swimming with ponies on a beach in St. Lucia.
Day 7 – St. Kitts
Our last real day! We signed up for an excursion called the “Catamaran Fan-Ta-Sea”, and that’s a pretty fitting description if you ask me.
We boarded a lovely catamaran around 9:00am and sailed
for 45 minutes to a snorkel spot where we jumped off the back of the boat and watched all the pretty fishies swim around. It was like floating on your belly in a tropical fish tank!
Spent about an hour snorkeling, then we got back on the boat for a fabulous lunch and rumpunch that was mostly rum and very little punch. We headed over to a local beach called Reggae Beach where we hung out until the sun started to get low. There was this ginormous 600lb big black boar that was super friendly and you could go up to it and hug it and play with it and a baby monkey who loved attention and also a baby goat who gave kisses to anyone and everyone.

Hanging out with Wilbur, the friendly pig, at Reggae Beach in St. Kitts.
Day 8 – Back in Puerto Rico, Home to Atlanta
Not much to say here, except that we got off the ship and spent the day hanging out in the airport with our new friends who we had met on the cruise (Amber & Tony, Mr. Jeff & Terry, etc.) while we all waited for our flights.
Overall, this cruise wasn’t as fabulous as last year’s (mostly due
to the crappy service by some of the on-ship staff and the terrible people a few staterooms down from us who woke us up at 2:30am on three separate nights screaming Puerto Rican music and playing fuggin bongo drums whom had to call security on, seriously) but we met a lot of great people, ate a disgusting amount of food and had a ton of fun going on incredible excursions. We’re thinking Panama next year, maybe.

Rick & Susie, me & Erik, Amber & Tony, Terry & Mr. Jeff – 2008 Cruise WOO HOO!
My riding lesson on Tuesday at Huntcliff went well; I rode a nice 5 year old named Jag who Miriam (my trainer) said I did “amazing” on and she is convinced that I will be showing (successfully, even) this spring. Eep.
Now it’s back to work as usual, trying to play catch up and get Riding Resource ready for our official public launch on January 1st, 2009.

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Thanksgiving craziness in NY

December 1, 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their loved ones – I know I sure did!
Erik and I flew up to NY Wednesday night for the holiday. We did Thanksgiving at his mom’s on Thursday which was low-key and relaxing. Friday was the “real” dinner at his Aunt Tema’s in NJ and it was lovely as ever (also his 28th birthday!). Tema cooked a ton of stuff and it was all unbelievably delicious (that woman can cook her butt off!). Got back to Long Island pretty late and went right to bed to sleep off the nice Turkey Hangover.
Saturday we slept in a bit and then went to Indian Head Ranch in Huntington which our great friends Lia & Wayne own. It was wonderful to see them both and I ran into a few old friends who I hadn’t seen in ages. I also rode this wonderful horse (Stewart, lol) for a bit who was an absolute dream. After riding we went home and got un-horse-ified before heading out for Erik’s 10-year high school reunion.
We drove to Astoria with some of his old
HS buddies and grabbed dinner at a diner (I miss NY diners *so* much) before heading into the City for the actual reunion itself. We got to the Sixth Ward, a bar off of Houston, around 11pm and were immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people there. Erik had a great time catching up with old friends and laughing about old stories. We left late and didn’t get home until about 4:30am.
Had to get up at 6:30am for our flight on Sunday (ugh) and we both were a mess from the sub-2 hour sleep we had gotten. We snoozed a bit in the airport and on the plane (which had a transfer in Ohio, which got delayed…) and finally got home around 5pm.
All in all, it was a great weekend with the perfect mixture of relaxation and exhaustion. He’s headed to Boston for work for the week and then we leave on Sunday for our cruise.
I can’t wait to go home and go to bed…