Saturday, December 14, 2013

A hunting we will go!

So this year for the Christmas season a few totally genius ideas started rolling around in my brain: Idea A- go cut down our own Christmas tree out in the forest. We weren't going to do the little Christmas tree farm fake experience, either. We were going to go drive up to the Uncompaghre National Forest and get our dang tree, all wilderness family style. Idea 2- Finally get family Christmas pictures taken, and I would do it myself. I've got a great camera, after all, and a tripod! What more could I need? Sadly, we have never had an actual professional family picture done, EVER! Unfortunately, for my ideas, I decided to try and do both at the same time! Ugh! We got up the mountain all dressed up in our fancy get-ups and I soon realized after slipping and falling on my face in the snow how horrible of an idea this was.

We started on our little journey later in the afternoon than we had hoped for; on the way there, all the boys fell asleep! Fail one! They were going to be so grumpy when I woke them up to get out of the truck and jump into the freezing cold snow to take some pictures!

Fail #2 happened soon after finding "the spot," which ended up not really being worth anything. About 5 minutes of being up there, I fell on my face in the snow, the boys fell like ten times, and Nathan was the only one in good enough shoes to actually get some traction and get up the hill to find a tree. That's okay. We had fun playing around in the snow waiting for him to try and find something useable! 
"Mom! My hands are soooo cold!" Yeah, Fail #3. I did not bring gloves for my children!
Dad, I need a tissue!
He's got the eye (Alicia H. This is for you!)
It was foggy and amazing up on the mountain!
Nathan found a couple little trees which we decided to use in the planters on the front porch, but unfortunately, those were all we could find. After about 20 more minutes at another attempt of trying to hike in our fancy pants, the kids were quickly got all fun-ed out and we decided to try our luck at another spot. We ended up driving for another hour or so trying to find a place that looked promising!
We found one spot that looked hopeful, but of course, it was not! So, we decided to give up and go get a Christmas tree the sane people way!
BAM! Thank you Lowes for making me eat my words and thanks for the 9 foot Christmas tree that sits crookedly in our living room! Overall, I'd consider our afternoon adventure a success!

And as for the Christmas pictures, well, we tried!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Puerto Rico: Days 6-8

View from our room at El Conquistador
Rice and beans are probably my most favorite Puerto Rican cuisine EVER!
Monday morning we woke up bright and early and left the Double Tree San Juan, our home away from home, to our new home away from home, the El Conquistador! I was pretty darn excited to check into this resort. I'd heard so many great things about it. It took about an hour to get there, surprise; Puerto Rico is some kind of geological oddity, as Everett from Oh Brother Where Art Though would put it; everything is an hour away! The view from the hotel was absolutely stunning and the resort itself was quite magestic. Honestly though, I missed our little room at the Double Tree back in San Juan once we got settled into the El Conquistador. We're just not resort folk. We would rather be in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, walking through the streets, and experiencing the culture! The most boring vacation ever to me would be sitting at a beach or resort, just relaxing in the sun! No thank you!

That day we just kept it kind of easy. Nathan lived his dream of golfing in Puerto Rico, and I took the boys to the water park at the resort, which: 1- Cost EXTRA on top of all the resort crap and 2- SUCKED. Oh well! We learned a lot about resorts from this and know what to do and not to do next time around.

That evening we ventured about .5 seconds into Fajardo before seeing a neat little restaurant, which we had also read about on Trip Advisor, just down the road. We decided to try it. Boy, that was the BEST decision we have ever made! Seriously, I was dying over how great their mofongo was. I had it topped with Guava BBQ chicken! I would go back to Puerto Rico just for this meal again! HEAVEN! It had such a fun environment as well. I loved it there.

The next day was our last day! So sad! We headed over to my parents and packed up the vehicles to start our journey to El Yunque rain forest. My parents just did a quick drive up to one of the waterfalls to show the boys, Andrew, and Christy. Then they left Nathan and I to hike down to another waterfall. I had my heart set on hiking to the top of the highest peak in the rain forest, but we just didn't have time. I was pretty darn disappointed, but like Nathan said, we have to save something for next time!

The rainforest was AMAZING!!! Oh my goodness. The weather was cloudy and the forest was misty. The weather was perfect for a hike and the damp earth made the forest look ethereal! The hike down to La Mina waterfall was super easy. We absolutely could have taken the kids along with us. Once down there, there was a surprising number of people playing in the water and checking out the waterfall! We took a different trail back up, which I didn't realize would bring us out over a mile away from our parking lot. Oops! Ha ha! It was an amazing walk, though!

We headed back down the mountains and stopped at a little restaurant at the entrance of the forest. My mom said we had to try the pinono! We tried that, and like twelve other things, which were all delicious. I'm actually surprised we didn't get poisoned though because the place was a total dive. What is it about going to another country/culture that makes it okay to eat at dives? In the US, we'd report them to the health department, abroad, it's like a bragging right to eat there and survive! We also tried some fresh out of the coconut coconut milk. Nathan took the first sip, looked at me, and said "WOW!" I've been married to the man for 8 1/2 years and that was his, "Oh my gosh this is amazing," look! I hurried and grabbed it out of his hands and took a sip. It was probably the most DISGUSTING thing I have ever tasted. It tasted fermented or like something had crawled into it and died! Nathan just started laughing and said he thought is was awful as well! Tricky trickster! Of course we brought it back to my parents' condo to play the same prank on everyone there!

Okay, so we drove back down to Fajardo and to my parents'. We had to hustle because there were going over to the Bio Bay. We got to the house, parents left, and we took a swim in the pool with the kids at their condo! That was soooo much fun! Grant really did great swimming and had a blast "racing" Nathan! Carter, who is totally terrified of water, in his little life jacket, yelled every 3 seconds, "LOOK AT ME! I'm not holding on to the edge (of the pool)." "Great job, buddy." 3 seconds later, "Look at me..."

On with the story. We waited for my family to get back so we could take Grant and go to the Bio Bay. We started getting a little anxious when they didn't show up in time. So, I jumped in the car with Grant and drove over while Nathan waited with the other kids and would just meet us over there, hopefully! Luckily he made it just in time!

The Bio Bay! Where to start. It sounded so not exciting, but I was sooooo wrong! After I regained my vision from my father spraying me in the eyes with bug spray (he dropped Nathan at because I had our car), we get all ready to get into the kayak and start our adventure. It took us a minute or two to get the kayaking down! Some of the other members of the group never really got it down and we had some good laughs at them! I would liken the first few minutes to bumper cars, but in a kayak! Anyway...we started rowing and headed over to this freaking amazing mangrove; it was a giant tunnel of trees. Did I mention it was pitch black outside? The only light was from a glow stick on each of the kayaks. After rowing for a mile up stream, it seriously felt like 10, we emerged into this bay, but not just any bay, a bioluminscent bay. What does that mean? It means the bay glows in the freaking dark! You stick your hand in and it glows! We would see fish shoot across the bay and it looked like lightning streaking through the water. The guides, who were hilarious and so much fun and kept making jokes about La Chupacabra, gave us a little science lesson on why the water glowed and bla bla bla! It was actually extremely fascinating. We spent probably half an hour in the bay and then headed back!

What an amazing way to end our journey! That Bio Bay blew my mind! We ran back to the parents', grabbed the sleeping kiddlets, and then headed back to El Conquistador. We checked out bright and early, found a little "panaderia" on the side of the road while we were driving, grabbed some breakfast for only $4, see picture of the pastries above, headed to the rental car place in San Juan to drop off our vehicle, jumped on the shuttle to the airport, said our goodbyes, and walked into our terminals, and that was it! Our amazing vacation was over just like that! The flights home were interesting....Quincy was worse than the trip there. In fact, he was so bad, the people next to me left and sat in the back of the plane to get away from the screaming, hitting, drink spilling beast next to them! He finally fell asleep on the last flight segment after about 2 hours. I wanted desperately to sleep, but the dang flight was so turbulent and I thought for sure we were going down, that it made getting a little shut eye kind of hard! Seriously, that was the bumpiest, altitude losingest flight EVER! Ugh! I hate flying.

I arrived in Denver about 5 minutes before Nathan, the boys, and the rest of my fam. We headed out to the parking lot, where the truck was dead, found out airport parking has a free battery jumping service, called them, jumped the truck, contemplated getting a hotel, but drove home anyway. The weather was yucky and the roads through Vail sucked. We finally made it home at about 2:30 am and that was it! Now to get all our plans hammered out for our trip to Europe in March!