Friday, September 18, 2009

Warning: These posts can get very lengthy

Just read the post I wrote about our trip to the Caribbean, and realized that no one in their right mind would take the time to read it. So, scroll down and see the few pics I posted, and just know that we had a wonderful time! :)

Tourists of the Caribbean

I'm so proud of myself for not waiting a year between posts this time. I thought I would post some pictures of the Caribbean cruise David and I went on recently. It was the first cruise for both of us. David's brother, Joe, and his wife, Angie, are responsible for us going in the first place. They had already booked their tickets, and really wanted us to come along, so we thought, "the best time to do this is before we have kids....what the heck."

We flew into Miami on Friday, August 21st, and spent the night in the Hilton Hotel, right by the pier. The next morning we boarded the largest cruise ship in the world, the Liberty of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. This ship is larger than the Empire State building! It is amazing that it can still float. It has an ice-skating rink, a rock climbing wall, basketball court, surf simulator, five pools, several restaurants, a casino, art galleries, a huge theatre, arcades, dance clubs, bars, several retail shops, plus rooms for over 4,000 guests and 1,200 crew members.

We left Miami and cruised all night and the next day until we reached Labadee, Haiti. While we were at sea, there were endless activities and shows for us to see. The first night we saw an ice show with skaters as good as what you see in the olympics. It was awesome. The second night the cover band, Beatle Mania played and it was really fun. Once in Labadee, Haiti, we found a great beach and went snorkeling. Angie (my sister in law) stepped on a sea urchin and got many spines in her foot. So we had to be very careful because they were everywhere, but we had a lot of fun.....especially David. This was the first time he had ever stepped foot in the ocean. He got such a kick out of the waves (even though they were really small). We swam across this large coral reef and climbed on some rocks that jetted out and once on the rocks I hear David let out a small scream. This was when he discovered that he had left my cell phone and his wallet in the pocket of his swim trunks. His wallet with all his money, etc, was able to be dried out, but my cell phone was ruined. He had left his cell phone in Miami, so we were at last totally free from all distractions! We spent the whole time in Haiti at the beach.

The next day we landed in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. We decided to hire a taxi van to take us to Bob Marley's tomb, an hour away up through the jungles of Jamaica. We were glad we did because the country side and jungle were amazing. We really got to see how the people lived, too. Most of them in extreme poverty, unfortunately. We couldn't believe what some people were calling their home. We bought some fruit that we thought were grapes from a bunch of kids on the side of the road. They had a rind that had to be peeled and a fruit that was the exact consistency of snot. So we started to call them snot berries. They were not good. We made it to Bob Marley's home town, 9 mile, up in the mountains. Once inside the grounds, we were informed that anybody who wanted to, could smoke a joint for free. They were passing them out to all visitors. When our tour guide came around to tell us the tour would start in a few minutes, we could tell he was very high. The tour was very difficult after that because several people took them up on their offer for some free pot.
It was interesting, to say the least. It was neat to see the tomb, etc, but we were so sick by then that we just wanted to leave. I even was looking forward to getting back into the taxi van, even though we had some near death experiences around every turn the way he drove. We then went to Dunn's River Falls, a large waterfall that you can climb up. You are actually climbing right on the rocks totally covered by water, so you get completely soaked. It was so fun. The guides that helped us would sometimes push us down in the water when they knew of good swimming spots.
After hiking the falls, we had a little time to do some shopping before having to board the ship, but shopping is no easy task in these places where people try to shove things down your throat whilst saying, "No pressure." It felt more like an attack that you really can't take a good look at anything they are selling. You just want to get away. I wondered how my Mom would handle the situation. She might be too nice to tell them no and end up with $5,000 worth of wooden carved figurines and tee shirts saying "JaMa, no problem." Joe actually got really upset and insulted one man, telling him they were just like the people in Africa who would try to force them to buy their crap. The guy seemed stunned at first, his national pride being hurt, then started yelling at Joe, "This is Jamaica! This is Jamaica! THIS IS
JAMAICA!" He kept yelling it at him over and over as Joe walked away. Joe has been to many third world countries with the army, and he says it is the same everywhere. He says in Africa they will grab your arm and try not to let you go until you buy something.

Our next stop was in Grand Cayman. Here we decided to walk around the town a bit before going on a speedboat to feed and play with the sting rays. This was probably the favorite part of the trip for all of us. The speedboat took us out to the middle of the ocean where there was a sandbar about three feet deep. Hundreds of wild stingrays were swimming around, hoping for some food. At first we were all apprehensive about getting out of the boat, but soon we were grabbing onto the stingrays and playing with them like everyone else. They are slimy and will brush past your leg and freak you out. I got to hold a very large female and give her a kiss. David and Joe were having way to much fun with them, and I'm glad we had to go when we did, because they were starting to experiment. These are still wild creatures and are the same thing that killed the crocodile hunter, Steve Erwin. It was so cool.

Next we went to another part of the ocean, about five minutes away, where the coral reefs were alive with sea life. We got to go snorkeling and see some amazing things. Joe pointed out a fish that looks just like the coral (we couldn't see him at first) but then Joe touched him with his fin and he swam into a cave. Joe told us that this fish would kill you if you touched it with your bare hand. He cautioned David, "Everything in the ocean stings. Don't touch anything." I'm glad Joe was there because I'm sure David would have tried to grab something otherwise. The best part for me was watching how excited David was about everything. He was like a kid in a candy store. That made it really fun.

The last place we got to visit was Cozumel, Mexico. We decided to take a tour of the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, which is on mainland Mexico (part of the Yucatan Peninsula). So before our ship even made port, we had to be waiting to get off first so we could have time to go there and back. It was a 45 minute ferry ride to the mainland from Cozumel, then a 45 minute bus ride to the city of Tulum. Our tour guide was Mayan and told us that 80% of the people on the Yucatan peninsula still speak the Mayan language and are genuine Mayans. Spanish is the official language only because of the Spanish inquisition. Mayan
is actually an asian-sounding language, nothing like Spanish. The common last names for Mayans are things like Chen, Chow, Chang, etc. It was very interesting to learn about their culture and developments. However, David and I were both sort of disappointed once we got to the ruins, because they were all roped off and you couldn't get anywhere near them. You used to be able to explore them and go inside and wander about as you wished. Not anymore. The main temple was roped off over
100 feet away and that was as close as you got. It was cool to see, but still felt more like you were just looking at a postcard instead of being there.

Right down from the ruins is the beautiful beach. Those Mayans sure knew how to pick a good spot to build their temples. This was probably the most beautiful beach I had seen. We didn't have time to go swimming, but we went down and walked through the water a bit. David had the video camera and was filming the ocean and beach when we saw this little naked boy, about 5 or 6, playing in the water. We joked around that he was a Mayan because they are known for being very short and not wearing much clothing. Then David saw another little kid (fully clothed) running around and filmed him, saying we'd found another native Mayan. What he didn't know was that right behind the kid was a lady sun bathing without her top on! I thought David was filming the lady and I yelled at him, but he honestly didn't see her and felt super embarrassed. We hope she didn't see us with our video camera. We haven't checked the film yet to see if she shows up. :)

The next day was spent at sea and we arrived back in Miami (a.k.a. Cuba) at 7 in the morning. Each night of the cruise we had a fantastic gourmet meal and amazing entertainment. Each show was like going to a $300 per ticket show on Broadway. The quality was superb. One night they even had a flying show like Cirque de Solei with performers doing trapeze stunts and things like that. Every night was something different and would have been a treat by itself. We heard that Royal Caribbean is the best cruise line out there by the other people on the ship with us, who had cruised many times with different companies. I think we got the best of the best and are spoiled now. Not that we'll get to go on another cruise any time soon, but we probably wouldn't want to settle for anything less than the one we got to go on.

I wish my camera was better. I didn't get many pictures and many of them didn't turn out well. Angie took a lot more pictures, and hopefully we can get some of hers. She has pics of us holding and kissing the sting rays. Well, that pretty much sums up our trip! We are so glad we got to go!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

378 days between posts

Before I got married, I used to think how I wouldn't become one of those people who drop off the face of the earth once they tie the knot.  I used to think how easy it would be to stay in touch with all my single friends and how, of course, I would stay current on such important matters like updating my blog.  Oh, how naive I was. Truth be told, I think I have done a fairly good job at staying in touch with my single friends, but keeping current on this thing was just too much.  Rather than trying to back-track on the last year, I will begin with what is happening now.  David and I will be celebrating 10 months of marriage next week, June 2nd.  For those of you who don't do math, that means we were married on August 2nd, 2008.  It has been a wonderful 10 months.  People kept telling us that the first year was the hardest.  Unless it gets really bad in June and July, I would have to disagree.  I think David and I went through a lot of our "rough patches" before we ever got married, so there haven't been that many surprises or adjustments, for me at least.  I think David will tell you that the only surprise is how weird I could get.  Yes, it is true, I am becoming increasingly weirder by the moment, but for those of you who know David, you must admit it is because of his influence.  By weird, I mean (mostly) fun.  We have a lot of fun together, and it is often our goal to creep each other out, in a very loving way.  Like how David put his laptop in the dark hallway with an image of killer spider eyes pulled up from a national geographic website, waiting for me to turn the corner and scream bloody murder and trip into the next room, knocking down my instruments and falling on the floor.  Or how he thinks that impersonating "salad fingers" will put me in the mood for romance.  That sort of thing.  I won't mention all the weird things I do, except you could ask David about "robot arms."

All in all, it has been a very great year.  I got a job working for the Art Institute of Salt Lake City, teaching interior design classes, and I like it.  Don't want to do it forever (too many student behavioral issues I didn't expect I'd have to deal this college or elementary school?) but it is good for now.  David is still working at Digis Internet, and he has been really successful with it.  He is now the Team Lead over all the Salt Lake City installers.  I'm so glad he has a great job and enjoys it.  We have been considering taking advantage of this great housing market and interest rates, so perhaps we will be in our own house shortly.  We rent a great place on Foothill drive, and really like our family ward and neighbors.  I am the Mia Maids advisor and David is the Sunday School President.  They put us right to work when we moved in.  

There is so much more I could say about the past year, but I will leave that up to your imagination.  Hopefully, I will get better at  keeping my blog updated.  I'm sure everyone who used to read it doesn't anymore because they figured I got lost.  Well, now I am found.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm Getting Hitched!

Miracles Never Cease.  Yes, folks, I've gone and gotten myself engaged to be married.  Do you want the full story?  Sure, you do!  On Saturday, May 10, 2008, David and I went to Glenwood to "see my mom for Mother's Day."  It was his suggestion we go to Glenwood that weekend, which I thought was a little suspect, so I thought he might be wanting to ask my Dad a very specific question or something.  Sure enough, after dinner on Saturday, my Dad went outside and David left me and my mother at the kitchen table to follow him.  They both came in the house a little later, but not acting strange or anything out of the ordinary, so I wasn't sure what had gone down.

Then, the next day (mother's day) after going to church with my family in Glenwood, and after our nice mother's day dinner, David suggested we take a ride up in the mountains by my house on the four-wheeler.  We had gone on a very lengthy ride the day before, and I figured he just liked the four-wheeler since we had so much fun on Saturday.  We drove up this little canyon to a place where an old dance hall used to be where my parents used to go dancing back in the 50's.  Only the foundation was left and a bunch of sheep had made it their home.  We even saw a little fox going into his hole!

After deciding to go the rest of the way on foot, we hiked up to the top of the mountain that overlooked all of the town of Glenwood.  It was so beautiful!  The wind was blowing so hard it nearly knocked me down a couple of times, but it made the grass on the hillside look like waves on the ocean.  There were cacti all around, but on the very top of the hill, one of them was in full bloom with bright red flowers.  We started seeing more and more cacti in bloom and they were so beautiful amidst and desert sagebrush and red dirt.  David stopped at one of them for a closer look.  We hiked around some more, then on our way back David said to me, "Loralee, look at that cactus flower; that is a really pretty one!"  As I approached it, I noticed something very sparkly sitting inside the bloom!  You guessed it; it was a ring!  And not just any ring, but a gorgeous vintage art-deco ring made in the 1920's!  I love it!  
David got down on his knees and proposed to me right there.  I was on my knees, too (I had gotten down to look at the cactus flower) and unfortunately, that darn cactus was right in between us, so it made for an awkward embrace after he asked me to marry him.  It was funny!  We laughed as we tried to pick the flower as a souvenir.  Cactus flowers are not that easy to pick and we both got poked by the sharp needles!  I said, "Oh, I hope this is not a symbol of our marriage.....really pretty on the outside, but very prickly underneath!"  It has been quite the prickly process for us.  We've had a lot of drama over the years, but we've learned so much and grown so much through it all that it has definitely been worth it!  As David put it, I am the flower and he is the cactus!  I am very happy and excited that we finally made it!  David is such a good man with a heart of pure gold.  I'm excited to have him for a husband!  Imagine it....I will soon be going by the name of Mrs. Loralee Nicolay.  YEAH!!!!! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Betty Crocker?

Who ever said I couldn't bake?  Okay, it was me.  But I admit I was impressed with myself for making this birthday cake for David.  I have been inspired by my roommate, Cassie.  She has been taking cake decorating classes and has made some beautiful cakes lately, so I thought I would try my hand at it since she already has all the nifty tools.  My cake wasn't as professh as hers, but it tasted good.  (As good as can be expected for chocolate, my least favorite).  The night of David's birthday we were too stuffed from eating at The Garden restaurant where they gave him a free dessert, so we didn't enjoy the cake until the next night.  I was afraid it was getting stale so I insisted we eat it then, even though there was something else going on, and I'm glad we did, for when we uncovered it, I found one of the strawberries on the top was going moldy!  Eeewww.  I removed all the strawberries (just in case) and we ate just the cake.  It was still good, thankfully.  I guess that is the problem when you make a cake that looks too good to eat!  (I flatter myself.) :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

As Flat as a Pancake

Burnett's Mound is just that....a mound. But it is the highest point in all of Topeka, Kansas. And I admit, you could see for miles, even if the thing you could see was just more flatness. David and I have been back from our trip there for a couple of weeks now, but I figured it wasn't too late to post something about it. The entire time we were there, we played a little game called "Total home-state domination" where we compared and contrasted the lovely features of Kansas and Utah, respectively. I think the consenses at the end was that Utah was, in deed, cooler all around, but I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in Kansas none the less. We left the morning of Thursday, March 6th, and came back to Salt Lake City four days later, Sunday night. The highlight and main purpose of the trip was to go to the Winter Quarters Temple in Omaha, Nebraska. It was David's first time to go to the temple, and he wanted to go with his Father who lives in Topeka (about 3 hours from Omaha). Despite having a high temperature of 9 degrees that day (no wonder the saints didn't survive the winter) the temple trip was wonderful. It was so great to see David all cleaned up, literally and figuratively, and dressed in his white temple clothes. The experience for him was good, I think, and we enjoyed talking about lots of cool stuff in the celestial room afterwards with his dad, brother, and stepmom. In fact, we spent much of the entire weekend talking about neat temple stuff. I learned a lot, even though I've been going now for years. Aside from the temple excursion, David and I spent much of the time visiting his old stomping grounds where he grew up. We went to the house he was raised in and treked through the "woods" where he and his brothers would spend their days building forts and caves. David also showed me his elementary and high schools, and many of his old friends' homes. I really enjoyed getting the visual image of many of these places he's told me a lot about. I felt like I learned more about who he is and where he came from. And of course, there were the burned-out warehouses to explore. :) David has an obsession with the old, run-down, decrepid, abandoned, mysterious, and creepy. Perhaps that is why he likes me. It became a joke to us that he took me all the way to his home town and spent most of his time taking me to condemed and haunted buildings, including the old insane assylum where over 1200 patients are buried in unmarked graves surrounding the buildings. It was, admittedly, cool. And very creepy. I mostly enjoyed seeing David's face light up. Take him to a burned-out warehouse, and he is like a kid in a candy store. Too bad they can't capture the scent of that and put it into a perfume.
During our trip, we also visited some of his old friends. We went to lunch with some women he worked with in Topeka, and spent an evening with one of his best friends, his wife, and their son. I've heard so much about these people and it was great to put a face with a name. I felt a little under the microscope, but I think most of his friends approved of me. :) I know his Dad did. He called me his "daughter-in-law" at one point, which was funny. He even gave me a foot massage with scented lotion at one point (freaky, yet endearing) and David told me that was old-hat for him and meant he must think of me as one of his kids because he's always doing that sort of thing for them. Good to know. My own father wouldn't do that sort of thing in a million years. So, in short, it was nice to see where David gets his affection.
The vacation was just what I needed, and it was wonderful how David insisted on taking such good care of me. He wouldn't let me pay for anything, including the plane tickets. I'm really glad I got to go with him!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You know how I take "dares"

It is Sunday evening and I am going through the photos my sister sent me via email.  What did we do without email, again?  The pics are from our excursion to Beaver, Utah, for my niece Kale's baby blessing.  The funniest thing happened while we were there, after the lunch party was dying down.  I sat at the kitchen table, eating spaghetti.  My mother was leaning up against the kitchen sink.  The snow outside was coming down something fierce.  I said to my mother, "I double-dog dare you to go outside right now and make a snow-angel."  Before we even had the chance to blink, my mom was on her way out; no coat, wearing a knee-length skirt, nylons, dress pumps, and approaching 70 years old.  We ran for the cameras.  I ran for the door.  I wasn't going to miss out on this.  My sister Melanie followed right behind.  The three of us, Mom as the lead, trudged out into the back yard where at least a foot and a half of snow had just fallen, and was presently falling.  We fell straight back, almost in unison, collapsed into the snow and began our construction of the most beautiful snow angels you've ever seen.  It was wonderful.  When we came back inside, we discovered we weren't even wet.  The snow brushed off us like powder and we were warmer now than before because of the rigorous exercise of arm and leg waggling.  So why not do it again and get some really good pictures, eh?  And that is exactly what we did.  The second time, we all held hands and made pretty for the camera.  Though there is nothing really pretty about it, except for the memories that were made with the coolest mother in the world.  Later, I overheard her talking to another daughter on the phone, sharing in the joy.  "You know how I take dares,"  she said.  I never really knew she did take dares, but boy, how I will remember that in the future!  I love my mom. :)