Monday, April 30, 2012

Puerto Vallarta - Port 2

After a couple of "at sea" days, our second port city was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  You may remember that we actually spent a week there last year with some good friends.  (See here, here, here & here)

Since we've already kind of explored this city before we decided to do a special excursion here, more on that a little later in the post.
We still had to take a walk down the Malecon for memory's sake.  It's just a must when you are there.  It even changed since we were last there.  They now have blocked it off so that cars can't drive down the main drag anymore.  I think it made it so much nicer!

Such a  beautiful clear day.  The weather in Mexico was perfect while we were there.

I always love checking out the sand art that artist create new everyday.

I don't know what this yellow flowering tree is called but it's so beautiful I had to capture it on film!

And now for our special excursion.  Some of you have already seen the pictures because I posted them on Facebook but here they are again.  I've always wanted to swim with the dolphins for as long as I can remember.  Let me just say that it lived up to all my expectations and more!  I want to do it again soon.
I think Ryan was just as excited as me to do this.  The dolphins were so friendly and kept swimming all around us so we could pet them.

The famous "riding on the fins of a dolphin" shot.  I had just let go in this picture but it was so much fun!

This was Ryan dancing with it while the dolphin also sang.  It was so cute.

The picture everyone has to have when swimming with the dolphins.  :)

This was a lot of fun.  They called this riding motorcycles.  This picture cracks me up because it looks like Ryan is dragging that dolphin under.  Ha!  They were so freaking fast though!  Oh my gosh, this was by far the most favorite thing we've done.  There is just something so amazing about these animals.  I loved watched them do all their tricks and also interacting with them.  This is something I have to do again and something everybody has to experience at least once in their life!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Catalina Island

I found two videos that I wanted to share with you from San Fran before I move on to our first port on the cruise.  The first one was shot from Angel Island of the city, Alcatraz and the bridge.

This one was a cool video of a tiny crab that my camera blew up to look huge.  It was so funny watching him eat.  From where we were standing you couldn't really tell what he was doing because he's only a couple of inches big.

Our first stop on our cruise was Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles.  I heard it's the west coast Hampton's.
It is breath taking.  I loved how most people drove golf carts around the island as their mode of transportation.  I think a big reason was due to the fact that gas costs almost $8 a gallon!!

We ported in Avalon (a city of Catalina) and the first thing that stood out was this huge building called the Casino.  We found out that despite it's name it's not actually a casino.  It's a theatre, ballroom and museum.

Our excursion on this island was a glass bottom boat tour and a canyon drive.

Ryan & I about to get our boat ride on.  (I loved that old man next to us.  He slept for almost all of it even with a really loud 90 year old woman screaming at every fish she saw. Ha!)

Ryan looking at a list of potential fish we might see.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't say Catalina would be the best place to do a glass bottom boat tour.  Their water isn't very clear and the fish were pretty much all the same.  It was still fun though.

Another view of the port as we wait for our tour bus to pick us up.

Hands down the canyon drive was my favorite thing about this stop.  I loved learning about the history of the island and seeing these gorgeous views.  We learned that Mr. Wrigley (of Wrigley's gum and owner of the Cubs) used to own this island and still has a big influence over it.  Mrs. Wrigley planted a ton of Eucalyptus trees all over the island.  You can see one on the left side of this picture. 

Stopping point to snap pics of the views.

We would definitely come back here!

We saw lots of wild life including Buffalo!  Apparently, 6 (or 9?) were brought here for a movie but the film directors ran out of money and were not able to take them off the island.  So they stayed put and multiplied and are now a staple of the island.  Another funny fact is they were actually cut from the movie!
(Sorry for the white glare on this picture.  It was shot through a window.)

At the very top of the canyon was their little airport that commercial plans used to fly into.  They decided to quit doing that when they realized it took 45 minutes to drive down the canyon to the city and you could basically fly into LA and take a boat over a lot faster!

I believe private plans still fly into it though.  It was super cute and had a great little shop there that we enjoyed.  (You know I bought a little trinket!)

Their cactus garden.

And I will leave you with one last shot of a herd of Buffalo we past.  It was just too cool to see them all out in the wild like that.

I would definitely recommend visiting Catalina!  I want to go back and drive a golf cart through the town.  :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

San Francisco Part 2

Ok, where did I leave off?  I think we were on our second day of San Fran and had just drove over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Once we got cleaned up Evan drove us to Salsalito which I think is one of the first towns (if not the first town) you come to over the bridge.  It was such a cute area and had lots of fun restaurants ans shops along the water.
Here we are posing with a statue of a seal (I think?) with San Francisco in the background.

After spending some time in Salsalito we headed a little further down the highway to Muir Woods.
A gorgeous redwood forest that's definitely worth visiting.  We could have spent all day exploring the trails but we didn't have time.

Evan & Ryan
We still got to experience a lot of the beauty though.  Joannie had to work during the day so she missed out on some of the fun.

Evan, Me & Ryan

I definitely want to go back and explore some more next time we visit.
We made it back into town in time to meet up with Joannie and have take in & relax.  It was a good evening.

On Monday Ryan & I decided to do the Alcatraz & Angel Island tour since Evan & Joannie had to work.  It was an awesome tour and I'm glad we signed up for it 4 or 5 days in advance because apparently it sells out very fast even during the week.
Ryan in front of one of the tiny cells.  He would have to duck to go in!

It was an audio tour so that made it a lot of fun.  Ryan really enjoys stuff like that or he would get bored easily.  Anything to entertain the hubs in a museum of sorts.  Ha!

Cells on top of cells.

Apparently this was the posh end of the jail because of the windows.

This is where they put the inmates that acted out in solitary confinement.  It was tiny and pitch black!

And this is what a typical cell would look like if an inmate lived in this one.  Apparently a lot of the guys got into knitting.  See the pink yarn and knitted blanket in the left bottom corner?  Too funny.

A lot of the island was dilapidated due to the sea salt and high winds.  They are starting to try and restore some of it because there was quit a bit of construction going on while we were there.  This was the old Warden house, what's left of it anyway.

The island had gorgeous views of the city.  Here you can see just how crazy hilly the city really is!

After spending half the day there we took another boat over to Angel Island, the biggest island in the bay.  The only people that live there are the workers that maintain the island.  I believe it's a national park as well.
A picture in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We took a guided tram tour around the island.  I love doing stuff like that so we can learn the history and fun facts.

Ryan in front of his favorite flower.  I'm not sure what it is but we saw them everywhere.  They are gorgeous and Ryan kept saying he wanted to plant one in our yard.

It was hard to take pictures of the island because it was so big.  These were some old buildings from back when it used to be an army base.  Now you can come anytime you want to have a picnic or even get married there.

Another view of Alcatraz on our boat ride back to San Fran.

Later that day Evan & Joannie drove us around town again to see a few more sights.
I really wanted to see the Painted Ladies and here they are!  Super cute!

Can you tell it was kind of cool while we were there?  We are always in the same jackets in every picture.  Ha!
That night they took us to a great restaurant to check out the great views of San Francisco called Top of the Mark located in the InterContinental hotel.  I would recommend going here for a nice dinner and great views of the city.

On our last day in the city, the day we boarded our cruise, Ryan & I took one last walk through San Fran.
We stopped in Mel's Drive-in Diner that was super cute.  I would eat here again the food was so good!


Afterwards we hit the street of Lombardi to find the famous windiest road.  Evan had drove us down it a few days prior but we wanted to walk down it and get some pictures.
So steep!

Apparently, there are gorgeous hydrangeas that bloom and I can imagine how beautiful that would be.  It was a lot of work climbing back up that!

While climbing back up the road look what we spotted!

Our cruise ship we were going to be boarding in just a few short hours.

More to come!!

Sorry if this post was a little scatter brained.  That's just the state my mind is in currently.  We are in the process of trying to get our house listed and will be going on our house hunting trip this week.  I just want to fast forward through all of this and be settled again but at the same time I want to soak up KC and all our friends & family.  It's stretching us pretty thin but so totally worth it.