Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cruise Round Up: Jan 7 Fun Day at Sea

Man, we took a long vacation... I'm still recapping it and the month is almost over. (Also- totally ready to go on another cruise now!)

This was our 2nd sea day, and it was a very nice day. My favorite sea day was the non-sea day before San Juan, but this day was a good one too.

We started the day by going to the Lido deck for breakfast. They have a good variety, and were never very crowded when we were up there. Then we headed to our first trivia of the day: "Earth Trivia", which Kevin played while I knitted. I finally got used to the boat well enough that reading charts was not a problem, and so I made good progress knitting during this sea day.

After Earth Trivia, we stayed in the Victoriana lounge for a towel folding class, where I continued to knit, and Kevin made animals. (I also ran back to the room to grab the camera. For "lido deck people" a high cabin is probably convenient, but for us the Riviera deck worked out great- easy disembarkation at ports, super easy coming back home for the night, and really close to all the places we went during the day.)

Towel folding went very well, about the same as it was on spirit, except Kevin got to sit up on the stage where there was a lot of space, rather than sit in the seats where it was tough to fold the towels. Only negative- the Victoriana smelled of sewage. No where else did, though, so it wasn't a problem for the rest of the day.

After towel folding there was a bingo game that was absolutely packed. I knitted through it, but Rachel played. Sadly, she was not the winner.

From there we went to Comedy trivia, which was all quotes, and as usual Kevin did really well. (Missed 3, he thinks. But the guy who won got them all.)

After that we went to see a little magician show, which seemed to be designed to appeal to kids, but he didn't seem to be some one who was used to performing for kids. Just the way he spoke to them- I think one kid went running to her Mom when he told her to shut up!

Next was lunch on the Lido. Anyone following along with the blogs will not be shocked to hear I ate Indian again. Still too salty... Kevin had something from Fish and Chips, and then I went through the chocolate buffet, which I actually wasn't that impressed with :(

Since we decided to go to lunch, we missed name that tune trivia :( and then we went to Turbo Trivia. We got there as the first question was being asked, but the host let Kevin go up on stage to play- I stayed in the chairs and knit. The adults did very badly on turbo trivia and it was soon down to a large group of Canadian children, who pretty much just traveled as a pack for all the question-! Turbo Trivia doesn't work as well when no one will go out on their own!

After Turbo trivia we had planned to go to the Napkin folding demo but there was a dance class, and I wanted to be able to say that I had done one of the dance classes. This one was Austin Powers, which is not my favorite at all, but it was still fun to do. It was neat to try to dance on the stage- and difficult to do so in my shoes, which were very sticky. The choreography was simple and cute. It was kind of fun. I think I'd do a different style next time.

Then we went up near the casino bar to prepare for trivia and I knit for a while. The other half of TEAM AWESOME! showed up and we played Super Duper Trivia. We did quite awesomely, and came in third overall- for having missed the first day, we kicked ass, placing over people who played all 3 days. If only we had known our teammates the first day!

After that, there was Beatles trivia, which I opted out of to knit. Thank goodness I did, because I only knew one answer (The Ed Sullivan show). The second 10 questions were teeny tiny clips of Beatles covers, and you had to name the song. Not only did I not recognize any of the covers, I hadn't even heard of most of the songs!

Then Kevin and I went back to the room and watched Animaniacs on the DVD. yeah- not a cruise activity, but we always get new cartoons to watch on vacation. I'm pretty sure I ended up taking a nap around here too. We got all ready for for formal night, poured some drinks and got ready to go out.

Then we went to the International Lounge and played Quiddler (would you be shocked to know that I knitted) and saw the family friendly comedy act. It was mostly funny, he spent A LOT of the time picking on a lady whose date left to answer a telephone call. I don't really remember any of the jokes... or even the general topic. So he didn't leave much of an impression on me.

This was the second formal night and once again dinner was very very slow. Very slow. What a bummer- we loved our waiters the first cruise, but this one was a disappointment.

For the appetizer, we wanted 2 escargot to share among the table, and this was lost in translation. I asked for "2 escargot for us to share" and the waiter looked confused. So I said "2 for the table", and he said "oh yes, 2 for everybody", which I thought meant he understood...but we all weren't too sure what would come out. We each ordered another appetizer (and we had previously only ever gotten 1 thing each- so surely the concept of sharing was understood?), and our meals.

The escargot comes out and we each get one. (So that's 4) and then we all started cracking up wondering whether we'd all be getting a second escargot ( "two for everybody!") as well as our normal appetizer. Thankfully, we did not. The escargot were not as good as I remembered them (and I've had them since in Omaha too...) I actually liked the stuff mushrooms more (they taste very similar) and usually I'm not a mushroom fan. I really enjoyed my penne appetizer.

For my meal I ordered the Chateaubriand and really did not care for it- I barely ate any, if I recall correctly. For dessert I got the baked Alaska and it's definitely overrated. I'd rather just get a scoop of ice cream.

That night was the Ticket to Ride show. I guess the show is okay, but it really just showed me I'm not a Beatles fan (as if trivia didn't tell me that...) There were neat effects, but mostly it was just really long. And the band was WAY too loud. And some of the "acts" to it were a bit too non-sequitur for me. Not my favorite show. The dancing was pretty good though.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pointelle done!

I started these socks last month and they knit up fast- but I got distracted and kept knitting other things...

This is another sock from Cookie A's Knit.Sock.Love. That book is fabulous and every knitter should own it.

In other knitting news, I started a striped scarf with 2 colors of knitpicks Chroma yarn. This is the kind of scarf where 2 different self-striping yarns will make the scarf look like I put a lot of effort into the pattern, but really it's nothing at all. Also- worsted weight yarn is amazing. I've done like a foot of knitting in an evening. That's just not possible with the yarn I normally use. And size 8 needles just feel HUGE.

In other craft news, I got 2 sewing books today: One Yard Wonders (not too impressed) and The Bag Making Bible (looks interesting). I need to just find some time to sit down and use up some fabric- but I keep getting distracted by knitting.

Oh, and the yarn I overdyed looks fantastic. Dad's socks are next on the docket- though if the sock club subscription comes in I'll get distracted for sure!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baby Quilt...

My friend Sarah had her baby earlier this month. I was a bit late on the baby quilt, but it is finished and in the mail. I really like this one!

The binding is wavy- I can't seem to get it perfect, but I figure an imperfect quilt is more likely to be used.

And the back- I did stitch in/by the ditch for the design, it is pretty subtle on the back due to white thread.

Just thought this one was kind of cute- getting it folded for shipping...

Happy Birthday to ME!

Today is my 29th birthday (the first of many, I'm sure).

It was a pretty low key day- just work so far.
I had intended to take a ballet class, but I still haven't heard back from the ballet studio about pricing (grr, btw) so I'm not going to pay the walk-in rate again. Since ballet doesn't seem to be working out this semester, I think I'm going to try to go skating tomorrow. I hope skating will work out again. I miss skating.

For my birthday, Kevin got me a subscription to CookieA's sock club, so I will be receiving yarn and patterns throughout the year. I adore Cookie A socks, so this is a majorly good present. (And one I kind of thought I'd be getting because I strongly worded the suggestion in December that it was a not to be missed sort of deal).

I also treated myself to some soap last week, and it arrived today.
Aren't those fabulous! They are from Chagrin Valley Soap. I ordered once before and loved everything I got so I got all different things this time, except a small sample bar of Cafe Moreno shampoo- I adored it the first time and wanted more. I was sad I couldn't get the large size bar, but they have a price limit for the flat rate envelope (although they say it fits 7 bars...) so it would have put me over the limit. Still 6 bars + a sample had it stuffed to the brim, so maybe 7 wouldn't have fit.

Here is what I got (I put the weight in so you can compare the price to other soapers, she has LARGE bars, so they are actually well priced, even though they seem more expensive than alot of etsy prices) Her website lists benefits of each type but in my opinion, it's that they are all moisturizing and smell great!

Dead Sea Spa (6.5 ounces)
I got this one because of the supposed benefits of the salt in the soap. It has a pleasant smell that is tough to describe- citrusy? It has lime in it, so that makes sense.

Bananas and Cream (7.0 ounces)
I got this one because it was described as a complexion soap. I don't care for my skin as well as I should, so I thought a fun new facewash would be a good thing. It apparently has a very light scent, because I can't distinguish it from those it was wrapped with.

Eggnog Spice (7.0 ounces)
I'm an eggnog lover so this was a must have. It smells of cloves and nutmeg. I'm using this one first! I hope the eggnog scent comes out. (It is made with real organic eggnog in it!)

Avocado Oats, and Shea (6.7 ounces)
This one sounded like a good moisturizing bar for the winter, so I thought I'd give it a try. It has a fresh scent, likely the ylang ylang and lemon that I'm smelling.

Butter Bar Conditioner Shampoo Bar (6.6 ounces)
I chose this one for it's conditioning properties. Usually with a shampoo bar I don't need a conditioner, but it still seemed like a good one to try. It also doesn't have much of a scent. I can't distinguish it from the others it was packaged near.

Mud and Clay Shampoo Bar (7.6 ounces)

This one was described as being a great treatment for the hair. It smells strongly of lavender, which is what my current soap smells like (my homemade- boy is it ugly!) so this will be a good match. This scent is stronger than my soap- I must not have used enough oil!

Cafe Moreno Shampoo Bar Sample (1.9 ounces)

My favorite from last time, but I got a sample since I've used it before. This is a spice smell, I just love it.

(You may remember last time, or perhaps you clicked the link, or perhaps you don't care at all, that I weighed all the soaps and was a bit disappointed they were all on the low end- happily, these are all on the high end, although the range is now 6.2-7.2 ounces, I think last time it started at 6.6... interesting.)

After I got home from work and opened my soap (smells so good!) I started a dye bath to over dye some Knitpicks Stroll in Carbon Twist- I made my Dad a pair of socks with this last year, and want to make him another pair this year, but not the same color. So hopefully this pair will be blue... we'll see how the over dye works!

(Me at the dye pot, NOT cooking!)

And Kevin is making me spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. (I'm still full from lunch, my friend Matt took me out for Mexican food!) Yummy yummy day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cruise Round Up: January 6: Tortola

My apologies for the delay. I've been putting this entry off, not because we didn't enjoy the day (it was one of my favorites) but because I only typed one-word, list style notes and because I don't have many good pictures. So it won't be the best entry. But it should be shorter- that's a plus. As always, click the picture for a larger one.

We docked in Tortola and walked out to find a taxi. At this port, there was a long line of taxi's, like all the others, but it seemed like there was one person who was responsible for the whole line and every driver more or less waited his turn to be assigned passengers. The man in front of us asked for a fare to Cane Garden Bay and was quoted $8, which he refused, and the man laughed at him and said that's fine but you won't find any cheaper!

As such, we waited our turn and Gene would be driving us for $8pp to Cane Garden Bay. Unlike many of the cars in the line, Gene had a van, not a safari style truck. I was pleased with this, as the drive was even scarier than St. Thomas, and having sides and air conditioning was a plus.

The drive to Cane Garden Bay is adventurous to say the least. Like driving through the Rocky Mountains, but with even more gorgeous scenary due to the views of the ocean. In Tortola, they drive on the opposite side of the road from the US, but really, they just drive in the middle until someone is coming, which made most every encounter seem like a game of chicken. But the sides of the roads weren't really in good shape, so driving in the middle is probably essential to keeping your tires intact. The roads were winding and steep, but the drive wasn't too long- maybe just half an hour. Gene would slow down, and occasionally pause so that anyone who wanted to could take views looking down from the tops of the mountains.

So we arrived at Cane Garden Bay and were immediately greeted by women selling chairs. I hadn't planned on getting a chair, preferring to lay in the sand, but upon seeing the set up of the beach realized this wasn't possible. A chair is essential- not only is the beach so packed with them that you can't lay in the sand, every 10th or so wave crashed onto the beach and would run towards the back of the beach- laying in the sand, you'd just be soaked! We had water pool under our chairs quite a few times, and we were quite a few rows back from the beach. (Can you find Kevin in this picture? Crowded beach... but really, it never felt like people were in our way, at least I didn't ever feel that way- more just a people watching opportunity.)

So the 4 of us got chairs ($5) each, and set off to enjoy the day. The water here wasn't clear, so we didn't try to snorkel, but many other people did. Still, this was my preferred beach to St. Thomas (i'm not the snorkeler!) because the waves were a bit more active, but still calm enough to stand in, the water was warmer, and the view looking back at the beach was AMAZING. It's a fairly narrow beach, with mountains on 3 sides. WOW. Unfortunately, none of our pictures truly captured it.

We had a fun day of people watching (lots to watch- the beach was crowded), swimming, and lounging. Michael and Rachel grabbed some lunch (lots of choices, but they went for the one right behind us- they said it was good, but service was SLOW. "Island Time" for sure.) Painkillers were super cheap (2 for $6?), so Kevin grabbed 2, thinking I might enjoy one, but they were poured so heavy it was like drinking straight rum, I sure couldn't do it (the picture- that's before I took a sip!). I think Kevin actually only drank 1.5, and Michael got 2.5 (Rachel turned hers down too, after loving a painkiller in St. Thomas).

After maybe 3 hours of beach time, we headed back to the ship. Wonderful day. I am sad I didn't get to go to the Baths, but I worried with a short port time it would have been a tight timeline, and I get anxious very easily, so it didn't seem like a good idea. Carnival said it was their 2nd most popular excursion of the week, so being hustled through quickly with a crowded cruise group also didn't sound fun to me. I think if we were back in Tortola again on a cruise, I'd go back to Cane Garden Bay again, unless it was a longer port.

Oddly specific sign:(But I wasn't sitting on a bollard, I don't even know what a bollard is...)

We got back to the ship quite early, so we headed to the Lido for lunch. I decided to try Mongolian, and was disappointed. First- even with a quite short line (the shortest I'd seen), the wait was huge. After waiting with me for quite awhile, Kevin went back and got a Calzone, ate a calzone and came back and met me- just as I was getting my food. Then, it didn't really taste very good- very soupy and not much flavor. I'll save my Mongolian for places like HuHot, I guess. I asked Kevin to get me some Naan and he did, but only after waiting for the woman in front of him to take 8 (they come out 2 at a time, so it's a LONG wait when someone does this...) Then of course, we had frozen yogurt- yum!

We were told the view pulling out from Tortola is one of the best, so we planned to meet Michael and Rachel on the top Serenity deck so Kevin could take pictures (but oddly, he didn't take many....) They weren't up there, but we did find the holy grail- a free Hammock! We laid down and waited for sail away. The views were gorgeous as you back away from the island but the downside to the hammock- right by the horn. It was the first time we had heard it, and it was LOUD. We also found out why we didn't meet up with Michael and Rachel- they had scored Rachel's holy grail- a clamshell one deck down (though not one with a top...the quest would continue). They stayed in it almost till dinner I think, but Kevin and I only hung out in the hammock for a little bit (the deck is just too windy for me) and headed back into the ship.

Once inside, we played funship trivia, went and looked at the shops (no purchases) and listened to the tail end of the match game. (We didn't play though.) Then we went to our room and watched Rocky and Bullwinkle on the computer (odd, but I need some down time).

Then, we got ready for the past guest party. The party was held in the Victoriana Lounge and wasn't nearly as crowded as I expected. They held two, one for each dinner seating. Waiters came around with canapes (there were maybe 5 types?- the BEST was a crostini with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and pesto- I ate a TON) and a variety of drinks. Kevin had a blue curacao margarita and I asked for a Shirley Temple, but took a punch. After food and drinks were passed for awhile (the woman next to me seemed to be collecting drinks- she had at least 6, white wine, red wine, a few different colored things...) they started a video about the history of the fleet, and had everyone cheer for the ships they had been on. (With a cute joke about how they'd be watching, and if you didn't cheer they'd know you snuck into the party uninvited!) The waiter came back with a Shirley Temple for me (aww!) and gave Kevin another Margarita (he actually said he wanted something different the second time around, but it was just handed to him- no big complaint, that's good service, kind of...)

After the party we had just a short amount of time until dinner. Tonight my appetizer was Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato- basically the canape I LOVED, but no bread. LOL- but mmmm...more mozzarella and Tomato, I can't have enough. I had the Penne Vodka for my meal, and it was excellent. Tonight I didn't have dessert, nothing on the menu appealed to me, and while I could have gotten ice cream just to have something, I didn't feel the need to add extra calories just for the sake of eating!

After dinner, I just went straight to bed, it had been a long day. (I turned quite tan after this day, so I think the sun must have tired me out. I managed to ward it off the past two daytime ports!) The rest of the group went to the Talent Show, which they said was an interesting mix, and provided some fodder to talk about for the rest of the cruise...enough so that I'm almost sad I missed it!

Cruise Round Up: January 5: Antigua

(Click to make any of the photos larger! Some are just drop dead gorgeous, so they are worth opening!)

This morning we arrive to yet another view of the Celebrity Summit, we seem to be following them around. Today is the day I’ve been most excited about- I’ve wanted to go to Antigua since 10th grade when we had to read so much Jamaica Kincaid. The sky is clear, and we are greated by a steel drum band (first we’ve seen), it’s going to be a good day. We have booked an excursion with Adventure Antigua (the Eco Tour) and they are going to meet us at 9:50 local time. At 8:30 ships time we head to the meeting spot, and they are already there, they just don’t have a space to pull up to the dock yet. We are on the ship, with a few other cruise passengers (I think all from Celebrity, no one else mentioned Carnival, or had towels) at about 8:45- seems everyone is ready to go early! Then we pull out, but instead of heading out, we pull up to a spot where they can tie the ship up and we wait until about 10:05 local time. This time is spent with the crew on cell phones, and looking around, but unless they snuck on, I didn’t see anyone else get on here- so hopefully no one was left… you could tell the crew was stressed to be leaving late though- we had another pick up scheduled shortly, at Beaches resort. After the Beaches pick up, there were just under 30 on the catamaran (which was quite large), there was plenty of room for everyone- the front was full, but the back we all had space, and I saw plenty of places you could squeeze another person, so this was not a packed boat.

The start of our tour was just a bit of a drive around the island. The water was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen- crystal blue, aqua, azure, everything you think of when you think of the most beautiful water in the world. WOW. The crew talked a bit about the history of the island (colonized by the British, mostly for sugar production. When the British found they could grow the sugar beat at home, the sugar cane production stopped in Antigua, and now they have to import their sugar… tourism is the number on industry, but there is a small industrial area where they brew a few beers, bottle soft drinks, and ave started recycling on the island). Some of the wild life was pointed out, and one of the crew spoke about a turtle tracking project.

(After cruise edit: Well this is where I ran out of energy on the cruise to write anything. Everything else is based on one or two word notes! But I am still managing to write a novel...oops)

We drove around a bit more, splashing those in the front, but relatively calm for those of us in the middle (for those who want to bring nice cameras, there were three people with expensive DSLRs and for the most part, they stayed dry- just a few splashes, but my husband put his away at the end of the tour- and was glad he did…we got very wet then- there is a compartment to store all your things in) and were told about the reef systems, and the sand flats- as well as a story of one island that a very rich man bought, decided he hated the reef and had it pulled up,
which of course, caused the beach to completely erode away, so he had to spend a ton of money on an aritifical reef system, which has now grown enough that it has a good fish/coral population and is nice for snorkeling. (We even saw someone snorkeling there…)

At some point we were offered juice- I believe there was tamarin juice (described as tasting of ice tea and apples, which I heard as "ice tea and tacos" odd flavor!), passion fruit juice (I had this- yummy but with a bitter after taste), and "sky juice" aka water.

The first stop to get off the island was at Bird Island. We walked down the ladder on the front of the boat, into the water and then up on the beach. Bird Island is covered in white butterflies, something that apparently doesn't happen except for a few weeks each year. We hike along a very narrow path in the tall grass, then up some rocks (don't wear flip flops!) to get to the top of the hill. There we learn about the birds that nest here, as well as a snake that only lives here and Antigua is trying to repopulate into the rest of the islands. It's amazing the contrast between the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Carribean Sea on the other side. The views at the top of the hill are amazing. But we don't stay long and hike back down, go back to the beach and swim awhile. I actually do real swimming, not just to my knees like St. Thomas. The waves are a bit higher, but it's amazing how the salt water makes you so boyant that you pretty much float without having to tread water at all. Which is a good thing, because out with Kevin, I can't reach the ground! Snorkeling lessons were offered, here but I don't think there were any takers.

Also on bird Island was the group with Creole Cruises, they seemed to spend a very long time here, as they were still at the Island when we came back nearby for snorkeling, after Hell's gate.

After a bit of swimming, we ate lunch on the boat. It was cold BBQ chicken (the sauce was great, but I'm not really a fan of BBQ chicken), cold pasta salad, regular salad with Italian dressing (I also put some on the pasta salad, sweet fried plantains (sadly, they were the kind you make after the plantain ripens, but before, which are more savory. But these were still very good), and in addition to the juices before there was also Coke and Diet Coke. After lunch there was banana bread for dessert. There was more than enough for seconds for everyone, and thirds for some. It was an excellent lunch.

Now in what seems like odd planning, right after lunch we took the boat out again, this time in to the open Atlantic waters. This was some ROUGH waves, and I remember thinking that if this was the "eco" tour, what the heck must the "extreme" tour do? The driver was excellent, but this was quite a ride. (Nothing like the taxi's we experienced the previous, or would experience the next day though!)

But the ride was completely worth it, as this trip took us to Hell's Gate. Hell's Gate was amazing. First, this wasn't a down the ladder into water to your calves walk onto a beach. This was jump into the ocean and swim to the island! They did offer buoyancy belts, but only a few people took them...

There were 4 choices related to the island.
1) Stay on the boat (I think someone did, actually)
2) Snorkel around the island (no one did)
3) Stay at the landing which is a natural whirlpool, the water from the waves crashes into it, circles around and drains out. (Quite a few people chose this)
4) Hike to the top of the rocks. (Most chose this)

The guide told us he was sure we could all make the climb because last week he had a guy on the boat who was 96. Someone said "and he did it?" The guide laughed and said "No! Of course not. He was 96". It was quite funny, but made a few people feel more at ease about the climb ahead.

Into hell's gate we went. There is a little cave to the side that you climb up in (duck and suck that tummy in! It's low and very narrow. We were cautioned not to watch our feet too much, as you want to watch your head!), the most difficult part is that the rocks are so sharp. Then once we were all grouped together inside the cave, we climbed out of it onto the top of the rocks. This part had one tough part for me, because I can't lift my weight with only my left leg, but I had a place where I had no way of shifting my weight. In the end, I tried to use my arms to lift myself as much as possible.

Once on the top of Hell's Gate we were cautioned only to stand on rocks, not grass- as you didn't know if the grass was on solid rock, or in a hole. Then we walked across the top of the arch (seeing the atlantic crashing into the island, with almost an invisible line separating it from the calm Carribean Sea- so that's the difference between a sea and an ocean!) and down into the whirl pool that we started in. This was the slowest part, as the crashing waves meant you couldn't see where you were stepping, so the guide had to talk each person through the steps one by one as they went around the rocks.

It didn't take that long, but it was an amazing little hike. Then we swam back to the boat. Well, kind of. No matter how much I tried to swim, I didn't seem to get anywhere, so Kevin kind of pushed me while he swam!

Then, we got back into the boat and parked nearby Bird Island, but still quite far out in the open water (“Welcome to here” as the crew put it). There were 3 groups here- those who wanted to snorkel in the advanced group (Kevin and Michael did- they went quite far out) those who wanted to snorkel with the beginners, and those who wanted to stay on the boat. I tried to snorkel with the beginners, and actually got a mask and snorkel on and looked into the water (amazing!) but in the end, if I would surface I'd have panic attacks over not being able to breathe, coupled with not being able to propel myself well in the open waters, so I chose not to go out with the snorkel group either. (Wish I had done some off the beach snorkeling, as in the end, I really didn't do any at all). So I made my own group. While some ladies hung their feet off the edge of the boat, I grabbed a buoyancy belt and just floated in the water, as the waves crashed the boat back towards me. It was quite fun- I had to keep kicking off the ladder to get a little further away!

Then we had a wild ride back to Sandalls to drop some of the guests off and a calmer one to drop off the cruise passangers. Kevin was VERY glad he had put the good camera in the hull, as we were all completely soaked. This was an INSANE powerboat style ride- not something you expect from a catamaran. (Seriously? What must the extreme tour do?)

After what I was sure was the best excursion I'd ever go on ended we still had some time to go around Antigua port, but we chose to skip the shopping and went back home.

Kevin wasn't feeling well, so he took a nap, and I went to the pre-dinner show with Michael and Rachel (I have a feeling that as soon as we got back I had enough time to run to the Lido deck and get Indian food as they were closing, but I don't remember clearly, and I didn't write it in my notes...). The show tonight was "Jump, Jive and Wail" and had some really good singing and dancing. It was more impressive than the welcome aboard show for sure.

Dinner was slow, but the dining room had stopped vibrating! So that was a huge plus. For dinner I had fried mozzarella, black bean enchilada, and vanilla ice cream. I didn't eat much of the entree at all, once again it was good, just not my favorite. I know I'm a picky eater, so it doesn't surprise me when there is nothing I want on the menu, but I think overall Carnival does a pretty good job of keeping me fed!

I think it's time to admit...

...that I have second sock syndrome.

This is an affliction that affects knitters for various reasons. I think I get it just because there are so many patterns out there I want to try.

But I do have some excuses.

Cusp, the blue sock, I knit on the cruise. I just finished it today, so I haven't had time to knit a second sock yet.

Wedge, the multicolored sock, I actually did knit the second sock, but forgot to refer to my Ravelry notes and made it too big (it bunched on my ankles). Turns out the first sock I switched to smaller needles after the 3rd repeat, not on the heel... so I ripped out the second sock.

Pointelle, the aqua sock, I meant to knit on vacation, but also didn't bring my notes with me, so I was unsure about a detail. Not wanting to have to totally reknit it, I set it aside. I'm now working on the heel flap of the second sock.

The rainbow sock I have no record of starting. I remember doing it, but don't remember when I did it... I don't have notes for this one, so the second will have to be knit while following this one pretty carefully.

The red sock (lace rib?) I did quite some time ago. I took careful notes of how many repeats to do at each point. Then Kevin threw them away... It will be tough to match it, so I've been putting it off.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cruise Round Up: January 4: St. Thomas

(Lots of photos today- click to enlarge, I kept them a bit smaller...sorry if the formatting looks crazy. It looked fine before I clicked "publish" but who knows what Blogger will do to it!)

This morning we woke up and had breakfast in the Posh Dining Room at 8:30, this time I had the pancakes, and they were very good. I love that they have pineapple juice- it’s excellent.

After breakfast we left the ship and went first to the Paradise Point sky ride which we bought tickets for through the ship (I believe the ships tickets were actually $1 less than if you bought when you were there.) At 9:15ish there was not much of a line, just a couple minute wait for the sky tram to come back down the mountain to pick us up. I’m not really a fan of these things, but this one wasn’t scary- it didn’t really shake or rock much. The views were nice, but it was a bit overcast. We go to the top and walked around a bit (there is not a bird show right now), there is a nice hike set up, but when the excursion booklet says “a few steps” they really mean a TON. There were optional steps (and clearly built for someone MUCH taller then me- they were tough- and eventually ran out and got into just ground… it would be smart to not be wearing flip flops…), but the “few” you had to do were strenuous for one party member. We looked in a few shops, and I thought about buying a gorgeous sundress "$25, but she’ll give it to me for $20" (same price as the one I looked at in Target, but a heck of a lot prettier- wish I had bought it) and a travelmate bought a floppy sunhat ($20, no haggle store). Then we looked into the bar, but decided against bushwhackers so early in the morning, and decided to descend the mountain. We again had to wait about 5 minutes, and there was a bit of a queue to get down the mountain, however, when we got all the way down we found out that going early was smart. There was a huge line- and at 24 people every 6 minutes, it would be a very very long wait- I’m not sure it would be worth it, really. Already, the price was a bit high ($20), I think it would be better at half of that.

The view from Paradise Point: (The Carnival ship is the Dream. Our ship is in front of the Celebrity Ship.)

Anyhow we went back to the ship to change and came out and found a cab (David’s sightseeing taxi) to take us to Sapphire Beach. Originally, it looked like we lost the cab lottery- a second group joined us, and unbeknownst to us the 30 minute drive through the shops was not on the way- they wanted to drop off a ring at a store to have a stone reset!!! So we waited a few minutes for him to drop the ring off, and get back in the cab, and then we headed to the beach. Except they were going to a different one. I bet myself we’d go to their beach first, and sure enough we did- and on the complete opposite side of the island. Lose the taxi lottery indeed. I was a bit annoyed as we asked specifically for the beach and were directed to this taxi because the one in front of him was headed to Magen’s Bay. Anyhow he drops this group off and then comes back and tells us that he has gotten a call that Sapphire Beach is awful today- winds are super high, and the waves are rough. We ask him if the place we are at now has good snorkeling and he tells us we should just stay with this group. So we decided to take the chance and stay at Secret Harbor Beach Resort. Turns out we won the taxi lottery, as I later met people that day who had come across the island to this beach because Sapphire was so rough- so David saved us some time and fare to find a new beach when the first one didn’t work out!

Secret Harbor was a nice, very very quiet beach. It had a place to eat, and a bar. There were chairs and hammocks (for guest or for rent) but we just set our towels down in the sand. I’m not much of a swimmer, so I went out in the water about chest deep and it was so clear you could see your feet. The boys in our group went snorkeling off the beach and were both very impressed with the fish and the coral- lots to see! As the day went on the beach got more crowded, but I would never describe it as being crowded- an excellent day.

After about 3 hours we were just about done with our beach day, and had another 30 minutes until the driver came back for us. So we went up to the bar where he was there early! But in no rush to leave, so while the other group did more pictures, we had some drinks (pina coladas and painkillers- I just had a few sips of the pina colada, very good but I could taste the rum, and I don't like that) and then were ready to go. I didn’t describe the ride in, so let me describe the ride out- it was a complete mad house. Another taxi tried to poach us from David as we were leaving (David wasn’t having any of that!) but I wasn’t switching cars! David’s truck had proved the power of his brakes on the way in. Giant hills that we would fly down, and then stop fast to avoid hitting cars in front of us. And I really don’t think it was a case of him being a bad driver, but everyone being a bad driver! There were only a few truly scary parts- when we were on the
edge of cliffs… but for the most part I just reminded myself that these people would surely lose their taxi licenses if they were in the habit of dumping tourists of cliffs! It was an open safari style truck, and if we chose to play “corners”, Michael would have been a goner- completely open on his side.

So we came back to the cruiseship with about an hour until we left port. I immediately odered room service, expecting a wait, but it came quickly. A BLT, a chicken fajita wrap, some fruit, and a chocolate cake. Kevin said he didn’t want anything and went off to go on the slide. (He said our next cabin neighbor’s boy was there and told him he went to slow and did it wrong, so he made him go again…) When Kevin got back it turnd out he DID want food, so he had half of each sandwich, and I had half of each sandwich. The chocolate cake wasn’t to my liking (but the mousse on the side was!) so Kevin had that too.

Then we went to the pre-dinner show, a juggler. He told a lot of bad jokes, but did some pretty cool juggling- it was a good show. Something I was surprised about is that the entire ship seemed to be very dressed up. I was exhausted so I decided I’d wear jeans and a nice shirt (with sequins! That makes it dressy…) and almost felt like I should change my jeans.

Then it was time for dinner. I took my watch off, and that completely improved the dinner experience. (I think Nabil was also in a better mood too. He still isn’t a chatty waiter, but really, other than on cruise ships, where do you expect that?) Dinner was still slow, but without a time to compare it to, I just enjoyed it. Tonight I broke my “no sign and sail charges” promise and ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri. Our bar waitress Dunja is just so nice, we all hate disappointing her by not ordering anything (she tells us it’s even worse to bring our own drinks then to not order them- lol). So while our waiter might not be quick to serve (do they have fist fights down in the galley to get the food out? The table next to ours often has dessert before we have main course), our bar waitress is exactly what you expect from a Carnival server. Tonight for dinner, I had the quesadilla appetizer (yummy), the polenta plate (not to my liking, I didn't touch it after the initial bite. I think Kevin ate it) and the cheesecake (better than room service, but not too good). After dinner, we pretty much just went right to bed- I’m loving all the ports, but this cruise is exhausting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fun with lights...

No cruise recap post tonight as instead of typing it up and getting all the pictures ready I went to Knit and Wine at Crazy Girl Yarn Shop (tons of fun).

I do have 3 pictures for you, from our St. Thomas day, but when we were back in port. They are all taken using a cool technique Kevin learned about that deals with covering the lense with a black circle with a tiny picture cut out of the center, then the picture is slightly out of focus (or something) and all the lights in the background (and sometimes glares off your teeth!) show up as that shape.

Me sitting in the porthole window. The lights of St. Thomas's coast in the background.
Can you tell all the lights are hearts? Click for a larger picture.

We moved up to the Lobby Deck hoping for a better view of the lights. We got one!

And the lights of the Carnival Dream are longhorn fans.
Maybe Kevin will chime in and tell you what lense he used and such. It's a fun technique for sure!