Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last Day in Cayman

Things have been nuts between decorating my classroom, signing my contract and just life in general, so I apologize for how long it has taken me to get our vacation recap wrapped up. After this I will try and lump our trip to Punta Cana into one or two posts. I am actually out of commission on the couch for a little while, so I hope to have plenty of time to hash it all out.

Our last day in Cayman may have been my favorite. At least a tie with our scuba day. We got started semi early and hopped in a van to head to our boat. For some reason, boat days are always my favorite! We recently got a boat and I could live on the lake. Ben tells me I look like a natural "lake rat." I hope that's a compliment!

First stop of the trip was Stingray City. I'm sure most of you have heard about Stingray City and if you've never been to Cayman you HAVE to visit. It's a little intimidating getting into the water, but once you're in, it's absolutely incredible. Being in the ocean this trip, scuba diving and at Stingray City left me in awe of God's creation.

My stud of a husband

7 years good luck! 

After makin' besties with the stingrays, we headed further out to sea for some snorkeling and jumping off the boat. I wasn't that into snorkeling, but did enjoy jumping off the boat and some time in the sun on the boat. 

Our third and last destination was Starfish Point. We set anchor in a place where we could all stand and hold the starfish or swim to shore. 

On our way back in we saw tons of iguanas up close and personal. They're totally creepy but awesome at the same time! 

We ended a fabulous day with a beautiful night and delicious dinner at Casanova, a little old school Italian restaurant with incredible food. I highly recommend Casanova if you're visiting Grand Cayman. 

We were serenaded by this harp player who we saw EVERYWHERE we went and who also had a total crush on Haley!! 

No complaints about this trip to Cayman....next stop, Punta Cana! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grand Cayman, Day 3

Have I made you fall in love with Grand Cayman yet?! It is seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I would highly recommend it for any vacations, especially scuba-diving vacations. There is lots to do, lots to see, but on day 3 of our vacation I was happy to finally have a day to simply relax.

Ben and some of the other boys played golf in the morning, so the women ate homemade omelets and hit the beach. The beach is always better in the morning because it seems to be hotter on the beach than at the pool. We save the pool for the afternoon heat. We had the same guy from the Ritz as two years ago helping us get chairs and all set-up on the beach. We ended up talking to him for a very long time and learned tons about him. He actually has a law degree in his country and came to Grand Cayman to save up before working for himself. How cool is that?!

Anywho, we spent all morning on the beach before taking a lunch break and then hitting up the pool for the remainder of the day. I generally aim for a shaded spot at the pool at least for a little while. I don't want to get crunchy!

I am horrible at sitting down at home and reading or just doing nothing, but by the pool or on the beach, I could read all day long! I finished Still Missing by Chevy Stevens on the first day and read Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner for the remainder of the trip. I absolutely loved both of these books. Still Missing was very interesting, semi-disturbing plot-line and story, but still a very good page turner. I adored Little Earthquakes! After my first read, it was such a fun, sweet, cute read with such fun characters. I definitely recommend both. 

Our 3rd day was actually the only day that I worked out on my 8 day trip. Surprised?! You should be! I usually try to cram a workout in everyday, but I decided that this trip I would be active everyday in some way and just enjoy the trip. It was glorious! After doing this in Vail and on this vacation, I think this will be my philosophy for every vacation. I was always walking, swimming, scuba-diving, etc., but I never had to schedule a workout. Since we didn't have dinner planned until 7:30, I went to the gym around 5:30 and ran a fabulous 4.5 miles. It felt so good to get my heart rate up, although I barely sweat. It was so weird...I don't know if it was because of how much I sweat all day or what, but I barely had any sweat on me after this run...a miracle! 

We had a special private dinner planned in one of the suites for tonight. We were celebrating a lot of things and tonight was also Brittany's birthday. 

The birthday girl and her family!

Dinner was delicious but absolutely ginormous. I think the chefs thought we wanted a whole serving of everything, when we said we just wanted a little bit of everything (tastes or choices) because we had a very eclectic group of people who don't all like the same things. We ended up with everything for everyone! I paced myself and didn't eat everything, so I was pretty satisfied by the end, but some people were definitely hurting by the end of dinner! 

Do you see that spread?? Holy Moly! I'll just highlight my favorite parts of the meal. If I showed you everything you might fall asleep! 

Crab Cake

Salads - I'm not a fan of Caesar Salad, but the Strawberry Spinach and Cayman Coleslaw were delicious

My dessert! - I opted out of the cake and am so glad I did after hearing how uncomfortable some people were

Happy Birthday Brittany!! 

No, you did not see much meat because for some reason it's just not all that appetizing right now. I enjoyed the smaller, more unique parts of the meal rather than the meat options. I did have a few bites of Ben's steak and it was amazing. Maybe I just like red meat and should start having little pieces of it rather than chicken. Chicken kind of grosses me out! I am always a fan of fish though! 

Our night and dinner was amazing! We shared lots of laughs and obviously tons of good food. There is nothing better than time spent with friends and family! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grand Cayman, Day 2

I got a pretty interesting start on day 2. Haley and I forgot to check in on our first day for our scuba certification course, so we needed to be up a little earlier to make sure all the paper work was filled out. Well, I just assumed that my phone was on the right time...little did I know that it was an hour ahead. Keep in mind that I woke up at 3:00 AM the previous morning and didn't get in bed until close to midnight. So, I was waiting by the stairs for Haley at 6:45 AM thinking that it was 7:45. Whoops! After calling her room and the front desk and being told that I was on the wrong time, I went back up to my room and took a 30 minute cat nap in a chair (Ben looked far too comfortable to get back in bed). 

Finally, at 7:45 AM, Haley and I headed over to the Westin for our certification course. We both took the same one 2 years ago and I think we're both ready to get for real certified. We did two back-to-back dives and it made me feel a lot more comfortable in the water. We passed with flying colors, but we didn't leave without some excitement. I was attacked by a bird!! I HATE BIRDS!! Apparently there is an angry bird at the Westin in Grand Cayman. First, he attacked my head. Then, he came back for more and dive bombed my back while I was turned the other way. Later, while we were being instructed he attacked another girl in our class. Eventually, one of the workers took a broom and threatened the bird and I guess he got the picture, because he didn't come back. 

Right after we finished, Haley and I hurried back to the Ritz to catch our boat with the rest of our party for two dives.

Haley and I walking to our boat 
Headed out to sea

Our first dive was at Kittyhawk, a sunken submarine rescue boat. It was amazing! I was in awe of how big everything was on the boat. It was so cool getting to go through a couple of the rooms and see where people got ready, where the captain stood, etc. Haley and I were only out on one thing...the baracuda! Apparently, it hangs out by the boat all the time and I wanted nothing to do with it! I kind of confused it with a piranha and thought it would eat me, but our guides cleared that up for me when we got back on our boat. Whoops!! Our second dive was at Burger Reef and we swam with lots and lots of Tarpon. Who knew they were so pretty!

About to go under! The scariest part of the first dive was getting in the water because the water was so rough. 

After dive #1

Before dive #2 - our guide hit Haley in the face with one of the tubes on my tank and I could not stop laughing!

And...I'm off! 

My hunny and me after our dives! 

After a fabulous day of diving, we laid by the pool for the rest of the afternoon before heading to dinner at The Wharf. I don't think most people really enjoyed The Wharf this time around (we went 2 years ago too), but I always love it. The menu is a little sophisticated/slightly limited, but I adore all things seafood, so I absolutely loved my dinner. I ordered the Pistachio Crusted Sea Bass and it was amazing! 

Day 2 was a fabulous day! It ended with me badgering Ben and telling him he acts way too old and we needed to go do something. He prefers to go to bed when we get back to the hotel. We compromised and went to our friend's room for drinks and lots of fun conversation! Day 3 up next! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hello Stranger!

We've been back from the islands for over a week now, so I figure it's about time I update you on our fabulous vacation! Our trip was split into two parts. First, we went to Grand Cayman with Ben's family along with a few other families. For the second part, Ben and I left for some time on our own in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic! Lets start with Grand Cayman, shall we?!?!

Welcome to the Ritz in Grand Cayman! We woke up bright and early for our 5:45 flight to Miami and arrived in Grand Cayman around 11:30. As hard as it was to get up at 3:00 AM, I will always choose an early flight over a later one, because I love having the day to enjoy our destination! 

Last time we were in Grand Cayman, two years ago, we discovered Sunshine Grill. It is this amazing little restaurant off of a hotel/motel, Sunshine Suites. The owner is from the states and has perfected his menu! About half of us immediately headed over to grab some lunch before soaking up some sun. I had to go with my favorite lunch, the Asian Chicken Wrap with fruit. 

We laid out on the beach for the rest of the day and were even guests at a beach wedding early in the evening. Ok, so we weren't really guests, but they don't clear the beach for weddings, so we decided (about 8 of us) to continue laying out on our beach chairs, only about 10 feet away from the ceremony and take pictures and enjoy the love! It was pretty comical to see the people that would float behind the wedding in the ocean and couples walking on the beach that would walk right behind the altar. 

There was another wedding the next day, but we left that one alone!

We finally headed up to the room about 6:30 PM and got all freshened up for dinner. The first night in Grand Cayman is always one of my very favorites! We go to one of the restaurants at the Ritz called Seven and it is so so good! Plus, it's a dress up night and there is absolutely nothing better in my book than laying out on the beach all day and getting dressed up at night for a nice dinner. 

The Clark Family
My Scuba Buddy, Haley

I can't go to Seven without getting their tuna...it is absolutely amazing! Ben and I haven't had the best luck with tuna lately, so this was one of our favorite dinners ever! We were so happy to find a perfect filet of tuna. I think the key is to ask for it to be "rare plus" instead of medium rare. I like my tuna to be pretty pink, just a little more cooked than rare. We also enjoyed wine, many sides (I'm not much of a side person, so I only had the sweet potato wedges) and many toasts. All in all it was an amazing dinner!! 

Yummy Sweet Potato Wedges

One of the very best parts to this dinner was the people we shared it with. I adore Ben's family and all of the other families that came with us on the trip, the Pattersons, Keys and Ansels. We were celebrating a lot of amazing things, one of them being that....DRUM ROLL PLEASE....

I GOT A JOB!!!!!!

The Thursday before we left, I received an email from Lewisville ISD offering me the 7th grade English position at Lamar Middle School. I will also be coaching volleyball, track and soccer. I cannot even tell you how beyond thrilled I am!! I went up to the school on Tuesday and got to see my classroom, my office and meet my head coach and a few other 7th grade teachers! I have already purchased my planner, my grade book and some posters for my room. Who knew that middle school classrooms were so cute?!?! My classes in junior high were not decorated at all, but the classrooms at Lamar are adorable. I have lots of work to do, but I am so excited! 

Vacation day one was a success! Stay tuned for more vacation posts!