Mar 21, 2016

Bring On The Beach...

... to Grammie's backyard!

Fiona, like her Mama, is very tactile and loves to play in the *soft sand* or dirt. Since Grammie just spread 2 yards (read- 2 Fernando loads) of rich, black compost on ALL of her flowerbeds she [I] needed to provide a less dirty play area for the Bitties!

Enter beach sand! I've seen DIY recipes for play sand on Pinterest so this morning I did a quick search on what ingredients I'd need- other than two eager Bitties! We made a couple of stops to get beach toys and sand.

The table from last night's 3rd Sunday Grammie dinner was still on the deck so I used it to corral the Liam so he didn't topple of the edge.

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We mixed the 50 lbs of play sand with 1 lb of cornstarch stirred into 6 cups of water. It made for wonderful beach sand. I plopped Liam right down in the large, somewhat portable (man, is it ever heavy!) repurposed plastic gift wrap container. (Yeah, the gift wrap is hangin' in the dungeon on the floor!)

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Miss Bitty unpacked the toys and tried each of them out!

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We enjoyed almost 2 hours playing in the sand. Liam finally got tired so I stripped him down to shake out the sand and he was ready for a bottle and a nap.

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As Grampy finished the nap routine of putting Liam down Grammie and Fiona cleaned up. I stripped and dusted her off too but then the call of the sand was just too much...

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She climbed right in and laid down to have a true beach experience.

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Good thing Grammie knows how to strip and dust babies!

Feb 22, 2016

Cancún- Chichén Itzá

This is my last Cancún post. It has been so enjoyable for me to comb through all of my photos choosing those that I wanted to share.

Our last outing was a full day trip to Chichén Itzá. As soon as Erik invited us to Cancún I knew that I wanted to include Chichén Itzá. Even though I knew that this civilization was much later (600-900AD) than the Book of Mormon time (600BC-400AD, plus the brother of Jared flashback 2600BC-600 BC) I was still excited to learn more about these Lamanite descendants.

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GORDON AND JOANIE AT Chichén Itzá

Somehow I'd forgotten this verse of scripture from Mormon 8:8
And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it [caused the destruction of the wicked Nephite people]. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.
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We went on a tour bus with wonderful Mayan-descendant guides who taught us about the Mayan civilization. But I was still a bit startled with the savage and brutal warring that went on. This wall depicts decapitated enemies heads stacked up on poles.

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It was mean to intimidate enemies.

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Even this Mesoamerican ballgame, that oddly reminded be of quidditch, ended badly.

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This Stone Ring is located 9 m (30 ft) above the floor of the Great Ballcourt; the players could only use their hips, elbows and shoulders to get the ball through the hoop.

The captain of the winning team decapitated the loser captain,

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whose blood spurting out turned into seven snakes.

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The ruins of Chichén Itzá are quite extensive including this building, referred to as the nunnery, with elephant trunks on each corner. (Now that isn't me making this up... this is what our guide told us.) This evidence seems to support the Book of Mormon prophet who spoke of the beasts of burden used to help them in their work, including the elephant.

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Another startling aspect of this National Park was the presence of vendors set up pell-mell throughout. I can't even imagine something like this in Yosemite or Zions!

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Our guide warned us against purchasing from these vendors. These carved masks, depicting the Mayan Yin and Yang, smell heavily of petrol and would not be allowed back through customs!

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After a short bus trip from Chichén Itzá we stopped for lunch at an *Mayan-approved* cluster of shops.  Then on to one of the many cenotes (sinkholes) found on the Yucatan peninsula.

The plan was to swim there, I'd even brought my suit. But all I could hear ringing in my ears was the advice *don't swim within two hours of eating*! So I left my cute new *babing-suit* to languish on the bus while I took the 95 stairs down to the bottom to check things out.

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VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE CENOTES

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VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM

Notice the tiny white speck at the end of the red arrow? Yup, that's Gordon!

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I was pleased with my physical stamina as I cooked back up those same 95 stairs. Sure makes a difference when I'm used to walking at 4800' elevation and now I'm in oxygen-rich sea level air!

Our Caribbean vacation was all that I'd hoped for. It was wonderfully restful and diverting. I'm so grateful to our Erik for making this possible. Thank you again son! 

Feb 20, 2016

Cancún- Out and About!

One day Erik took us into Playa del Carmen and then on a ferry to Cozumel. He wanted to show us around. We walked down the main boulevard for quite a few blocks, just taking in the sights. I love all the color! When it was time to return to the ferry landing we came via the beach. I've never seen so many old, tanned, wrinkled folks in my life!! (And sunburns... don't even get me started on the sunburns!)


OLD NOT-SO-TAN-FOLKS

The brilliant bands of ocean blue delight my heart. I've never seen water this color. I know the grey of the Atlantic and the deep blue-green of the Pacific but the Caribbean is a wonder to behold.


You can see a pirate ship on the right side of this photo. (Arrr, me matey!) It was a windy day, which made the ocean choppy... one of the cute attendants on the ferry came around passing out barf-bags; I readily took one! And, fortunately, didn't need it!


About the time I turned 50 I stopped feeling so nervous to go to the dentist AND stopped being so susceptible to motion sickness! That all ended as soon as we started the first leg of our trip on the flight from SLC to LAX. Even with Dramamine I still had a medicinal need for Coke. I drank more soda on this trip than I have in the previous 12 months!! (4)


It answered in my mind whether I ever want to go on a cruise.

I didn't get too many photos over on Cozumel since I was still feeling pretty green. Erik was very excited that we caught some of Carnival prior to Ash Wednesday. (You can see his photos here.) When it was time for lunch I found that even the sight of food was dangerous so I went and sat in the sunshine on the quay whist they partook.

Just as we returned from Cozumel we found we were just in time for a performance of the Voladores or the flying pole dancers. They were very interesting. They worked hand-beading their costumes between performances.


First they march/dance around the pole while one voladore plays a drum and another plays a *hooter-flute*.


Then *hooter-flute* dude takes the drum and climbs to the top of this pole with 4 other dudes voladores. They wind the ropes around and around the top like a fishing reel. All the while *hooter-flute* dude keeps piping and drumming away.


After much more *hooter-fluting* and drumming the four fall backwards off the top and gracefully fly round and round as their ropes unwind. It gave me a headache just looking at them.


And no post would ever be complete without a pix of the local wildlife. I absolutely love pelicans! I'm not sure why but they just make me happy. This fine fellow let me come up quite close on the quay and capture his likeness.

Feb 18, 2016

Cancún- Having a Great Time. Wish You Were Here!

Doesn't this just look like it should be a postcard with the above inscription? I have to admit that I am having Cancún withdrawals. I would have told you I wasn't feeling any light deprivation this winter but after my brief stint in the sun I find that, yes, I do like the sunshine quite well! And I'm quite pleased with my slightly suntanned arms and legs!

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I didn't talk much about our room in my last post... I was still reveling in the fantastic food (I failed to mention that my breakfast favorite was their hot porridge! Oh, I do love my porridge! And all who know me will attest to that!)

THIS... is the view from our balcony! Oh, be still my heart! We love the differing bands of colors that make up the Caribbean.

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I realize that I'm the little girl who grew up in an 800 square foot house who's fanciest stay heretofore is Holiday Inn (Hmmm, maybe I'm forgetting the Claremont Hotel in Oakland on our wedding night!) But you will have to admit this is pretty wonderful. This greets the eye when you open the door.

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The view looking back at the door. There is a 3/4 bath to the left of the desk. The mini bar was fully stocked with drinks and snacks and the complimentary bottle of champagne that languished on the table for our entire visit.

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And the bath area.

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Somehow I forgot to get photos of the king-size bed [and bedroom] with TV and chaise lounge, the closet/dressing area, the second huge shower and private toilet area. But all of that took up an equal amount of area as the living area.

Our room is the one right in the center of the picture. The funny thatched umbrella is pointing right at the balcony, one floor down from the top. The bedroom is to the left, the living area on the right.

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The first day I hung this pool towel over the railing so I could make sure which room was ours.

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This wonderful resort got it right! The zig-zag building layout maximizes the number of rooms with an ocean view. There are 8 swimming pools and one feels totally secluded even though the resort was above 90% occupancy! (You can see my Google marker on this screen shot taken while on the balcony.)

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I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the beach! One day I spent several hours in this little cabana just chillin', readin', and sippin' cool drinks! Gordon joined me after a bit and we had the nicest time enjoying the view.

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This, yes, I could get very used to this!!

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So long Paradise...

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Feb 12, 2016

Cancún- A Vacation in Paradise

We've just returned from a one-in-a-lifetime wonderful vacation to Cancún. Our oldest son, Erik, hosted us at one of the resorts that he manages (he is head of HR over several companies). It was a marvelous, wonderful, rejuvenating, relaxing and luxurious 5 days in the sun; made all the sweeter because we left 18" of snow at home. We left 20°F in Springville and found 20°C (68°F) in Cancún. Since we didn't want to leave our house at 0-dark-thirty we spent all day Friday traveling. Erik and a private car (Suburban) with driver picked us up at the airport. We were welcomed into the vehicle with cool, damp, scented washclothes and cold bottled water.

The next morning when I opened the curtains I was greeted with paradise! This is the view we enjoyed each day. Ahhhh...

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SECRETS SILVERSANDS MAYA RIVIERA RESORT 

Erik is quite adventurous in his eating and recommended the octopus for dinner the night we arrived. I've eaten octopus before, but nothing like this. It was tasty and the ends of the tentacles were wonderfully crispy!

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Saturday was our day to see the markets in downtown Cancún. We stopped at the the famous Cancún sign, and since there was quite a line to take a photo in front of the sign, we opted to go down on the beach to get our photo op. (And, yes, I used some creative editing to get Cancún facing the right way!)

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It is winter in Cancún so the days were cool, never above 23°C (73.4°F) and the nights were cooler, 18°C (65°F) Frankly it was cooler than I had planned on. Next time I will bring a couple of jackets or sweaters.

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THE BEACH BY THE CANCUN SIGN

There was a little playground on the beach and Gordon wanted to get a couple of cute shots...

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Who knew? This takes me back to the days of our honeymoon 34+ years ago when we ended up falling down laughing in the aisle while trying on tennie-runners at K-Mart!

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The markets were interesting. One of my favorites were these *chicken-dance* pollos! Bwahahaha! Can't you just hear the chicken dance music?

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I found a pretty white blouse at a cute little shop that Megan likes and bought it to be my Provo City Center Temple blouse. It makes me happy just thinking about it!

Erik was in search of some little embroidered purses to take back for Megan. We eventually found them, but not before we found this guy who was serving mangos on a stick. He expertly peeled and cut it to look like a flower. Then he added some non-spicy red sauce, lime juice, salt and, for the brave, a hot chili powder (I passed on the spicy!) It was delicious and I was glad there were the aforementioned damp cloths in the Suburban with which to clean my face, between slurpey, juicy bites and eventually my hands.

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And although we'd eaten a sumptuous breakfast Erik had a hankering for food from one of his favorite restaurants. I was still quite full so only ordered a tomato-avocado salad. Yummy!

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This was Erik's quest... chapulines (grasshopper tacos)! I HAD to try them and they were actually quite tasty with a crunchiness from the legs. But the best part was the freshly made masa tortillas being cooked right there in a corner of the restaurant! I could have eaten a dozen... but used my willpower!

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Dinner that night was at the Bordeaux restaurant at the resort. When we'd made a reservation earlier in the day I asked the manager what he would recommend. My meal started with escargot, continuing with French onion soup, grouper fish and ending with crème brûlée. It was wonderfully delicious from beginning to end. (So much so that the next night I went back alone, while Gordon watched the Super Bowl, in Spanish, and had it all again substituting a salad for the grouper fish)

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There was ample time to wander the resort, soak up the sun, take photos and relax.

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EGRET IN THE LITTLE LAGOON AT RESORT

I will be back over the next few days with more posts about each day in paradise.