Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More and More Stuff About a Cruise Ship

Alternate Post Title: Pat's B-day Cruise, The Finale Episode

Are you sick of hearing about the frickin' cruise? You'll be glad to know that this is it - the last post about the cruise. It's actually four postings in one, but I want to be done blogging about this, so I've combined them into one extra-long post.

PART ONE - Travel Troupe's Competitive Spirit

There are a lot of contests and games on a cruise. We participated in most of them - probably not a surprise as many of my friends share my competitive-to-the-core gene. We won a lot of them, too. As already documented, we won the first Trivia Contest. Woo hoo! The next night our group won the title of Loudest/Rowdiest Team during the trivia game. Look at these nuts! Are you in any way surprised that they won?
On another night, Brian and Irene were chosen to participate in the Marriage Game, which was a version of the Newlywed game. Yet again, Travel Troupers were the victors!
We competed in a bunch of ping pong tournaments and won those, too. Ok, that's a lie. We sucked at them. So we hosted a TTOT (Travel Troupe Only Tournament) to get one of ours into the gold. Way to go, Jamie!
There was a water volleyball, too, but I don't think there were any actual winners announced. I'm pretty sure (with the exception of our 3 players) that the teams were too drunk to even care and I'm definitely sure that the cruise dude was too busy collecting room numbers from bikini-clad co-eds to notice.
There was also a Wii Mario Kart contest. I sucked at this.But Laura and the NFBF rocked and won first and second place!!! Go Travel Troupe! Woot Woot!
PART TWO - Travel Troupe and Games: Synonymous.

It's not surprising that we played a lot of games while on the cruise. It's what we do. Most vacations include an extra suitcase just for games. This one was no exception.

Mexican Train:
Quirkle at night:

Quirkle in the day:
Formal Clue:
Daytime House on the Hill:
Nighttime House on the Hill:
PART THREE - We Clean Up Well

Cruises always host formal nights. I think this is to make packing difficult and to increase the amount of luggage you have to bring. Or maybe because they know that it is kind of fun to dress up. And damn we look good dressed up!

The first formal night:

We didn't plan for it to be little black dress night - it just ended up that way. Poor Laura is new to Travel Troupe so she is not yet in the mind meld.

The second formal night (ah, there is Laura's little black dress!):

PART FOUR - Patrick Stevenson, the 40 Year Old Version

It's a pun. It's funny. Special thanks to Kiri for the shirt idea and the artwork creation. We wore these shirts on the last day at sea.

A closer look:
I don't think Pat liked these as much as the "I Heart Pat" ones. Plus he really likes dressing up for dinner, so he wore a suit instead of the Team Pat shirt.
Go Team Pat! (Christy put her shirt in her purse and at the last minute decided she didn't need her purse on the trip. Oops.)

And one final picture from Pat's B-Day Cruise. Pat is such a player! Wooooooo!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Frankie Refutes Doping Allegations - Tests Clean

Frankie has refuted all allegations of doping prior to agility trials. For today's trial, he tested clean. And better yet, he ran clean! Why is this dog smiling and why are his ears so big? I have no answer to the second question, but in answer to the first...it's because Frankie is the proud recipient of a brand new Beginner Jumpers Title!! Yee Haw! He Q'd and came in first in his jumpers run! He also Q'd in his standard run. He would have Q'd in the gamblers run if I didn't get all confrazzled and lose track of time. It was a stellar day.

Like in all sports, if there is not a doping scandal, then there must be a judging scandal. It's always something. I have some doubts that Frankie's standard run was clean. It looked to me like he jumped off the A-frame without touching the contact. The judge (obviously not a French judge) may have seen a toenail touch from her angle because no fault was called. On the other hand, Vickie's dog was faulted for a missed contact and she had no doubts that a paw was firmly on the yellow. We decided that she gifted me her contact and took my fault as a pay-it-forward kind of karma. Thanks, Vickie. Good karma is coming your way!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Adventures of I HATE KAYAKING

Ugh. Kayaking sucks.

I should leave it at that. But since I'm overly verbose and I've given up on reigning that in, I'm going to elaborate. This weekend was the Desert Rage adventure race in Camp Verde - kayaking, mountain biking, trekking and orienteering. I mentioned before that I was nervous about the kayaking portion of the race since I have never piloted a solo-kayak and I've only ever been in a kayak once before. Who signs up for a kayaking race without having done it before? The answer is...stupid people, that's who!! If I had known that the kayak portion of this race was 9 and a half miles (!!) I might have reconsidered this race. But I did not know this and I sent in the check for Storming the Castle and we showed up on Saturday for a day full of torture.

Irene and I went up the night before to camp at the transition area. We got there after dark, unloaded the Element and set about getting ready for the morning. One important task - inflating our kayaks. My first time in a solo kayak: Too bad this didn't actually count as practice! And I only have half the oar. Inexperience shining brighter than my super-cool headlamp!

Brrr! It is cold up north in March. Really cold. As in cold, like all of our water freezing overnight and all of our gear being covered with a thick layer of frost when we woke up, cold. Brrr! We slept in the Element, but it was still so cold, that the sleeping part didn't really happen.

Our torture started at 5:30 a.m. I hate cold. I hate dark and cold even more. I hate dark and cold and the prospect of dumping my kayak into a river of snow-melt. The night before we were told that we could expect to dump at least five times. I was so freaked out! At 6 a.m. we loaded the kayaks and drove them to the boat drop. We were so outclassed and inexperienced - it was humiliating just carrying the kayaks. We talked to a lot of people and every conversation we had just hit home the fact that we were in over our heads. (Just a metaphor there - thankfully the river was so low that drowning was not one of our fears. Just freezing to death.)

I was so nervous I was almost physically ill. I was 75% scared that I'd completely suck at it and 25% scared that I'd tip over. My first fear became reality, but my second didn't. I guess I have that to hold on to. But Holy God, am I terrible at kayaking! You'd think that TWO HOURS AND 40 MINUTES would be enough time for me to get the hang of paddling, back-paddling, turning, etc. But no... I ran full force into the trees with the same lack of skill on the last set of rapids that I did on the first set of rapids. I sucked. This picture was from last year's race. See those low-hanging branches on the right? That is where I would be - facing perpendicular to the shore, every damn time.Yes, some of it had to do with the fact that our paddles were way too big for us and that our kayaks were made for stability instead of speed. But there is only so much blame you can place on your equipment before you have to admit that lack of coordination is really the major factor in your utter suckiness! Almost immediately we were all by ourselves, not even in sight of the closest teams. I was so defeated within the first 10 minutes that I would have quit if there had been a way off the river. But my only option was to paddle, paddle, (want to cry), paddle, paddle (complain) until it was over. Irene commented that she has never seen me so dejected ever. It was horrible. By the time we finally got out of the river, we were almost an hour behind most of the teams.

After the kayak, I got to do my second least-favorite thing - mountain biking. Why did I sign up for this race?? We rode 4 miles uphill. Ok, I rode maybe 2 miles and walked the bike 2 miles. At this point, it was Irene's turn to feel dejected because her endurance wasn't where she wanted it to be and because she was stressed about the 400 foot steep incline hike we had ahead of us. I was very much looking forward to hiking. At the bike drop, we finally caught up with some other teams...or at least we saw a lot of bikes there so we knew there were other people in the race besides us. That was moderately encouraging.

And then, the hiking was awesome!! The trail took us up a river bed. We got to boulder our way up a dry waterfall. It was beautiful. Poor Irene - the hiking made me so cheerful that she was ready to punch me or maybe shove some Prozac down my throat to control my extreme bi-polarness of the day. She said that I was like Snow White singing to all the little forest creatures. I'm lucky she didn't push me back down the waterfall. :) But really - it was the coolest hike EVER! And we rocked at finding all our checkpoints on the hike, so my mood remained elevated. We even ran into some other teams doing the rec course! We rode our bikes back down the mountain. I actually rode the bike 95% of the way, too. I'm getting better!

We returned to the transition area and were given a new map. We had to find 5 orienteering checkpoints on foot. Irene, as usual, is the goddess of all things map. We finished quickly enough to beat the last place team by a whopping minute and a half! We did NOT come in last - which is what it's all about. (An email from earlier in the week with Irene: There will probably only be 7 or 8 teams in the rec course division. I'm thinking that our track record of not finishing last could be threatened with this low turnout plus my kayak steering shortcomings. Good thing I've been biking and you've been running - we're gonna need to make up ground somewhere! Because really....is this about having fun? NO WAY! Is it about winning? NO WAY! What's it about, then? NOT COMING IN LAST!!)

So, a little tiny woo-hoo for Storming the Castle. We lived through another race!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Funniest Place on a Cruise Ship

Alternate Post Title: Pat's B-Day Cruise, Part VI

It turns out that the funniest place on the Sapphire Princess was the hallway on the Caribe Deck outside room #237 right about midnight. Maybe this can be chalked up to late night slap-happiness. I prefer to think it's because I have the most hilarious friends ever!

(Caveat: I understand that many times humor is situational and this is probably one of those times. But this blog is my diary and I want to remember how much fun the Caribe Deck hallway was, so please excuse me if the humor does not translate. I know...you probably had to be there.)

Pat's wasn't the only birthday we celebrated while on the cruise. Irene's birthday was on March 11th. NFBF, Christy and I undertook the mandatory task of decorating her door the night before her birthday, late after she had already gone to bed. We met in the NFBF's room to strategize. There aren't too many things to do when you only have leis (given to us by the cruise staff) and hockey tape (why did NFBF bring hockey tape on a cruise?) to work with. We decided to spell out Irene's name on the door. We layed (lei'd) everything out on the bed first so we wouldn't have to do any talking in the hallway. The doors were decidedly NOT soundproof!

When we were all set, we very, very quietly went into the hallway and started decorating. NFBF handed me leis, Christy cut the tape and I silently taped them in place. Doing anything clandestine in the middle of the night always brings about the giggles, but we were being quite successful at giggling silently. Taping. Giggling. Cutting. Taping. I lean in to tape another lei and the door opens! Irene is standing there with dirty plates to set out in the hall. I scare the shit out of her, she scares the shit out of me. We look at each other - mirror images of surprise, her holding plates, me holding a taped lei high in the air. I quickly shut the door. NFBF then just as quickly reopens the door, takes the plates out of her hand and shuts the door, leaving her still standing in her entryway in shock.

And this is all it takes for us to break down in hysterics. I would like to apologize to the Fabigs and anyone else with rooms in our hall that night who may have been trying to sleep. I'm sure our uncontrollable laughter was very annoying.

We were almost under control when an older lady came by. She LOVED our work! SO creative! Where did we get the materials? She would LOVE to do this for her travel companions. To this NFBF replied "It's not as easy at it looks. We are trained professionals!" which started us in again with the hysterics. We laughed until we cried and then laughed some more. (Like I said, you probably had to be there.) Trained professionals! Ha! More like punch-drunk goofballs with an unusually high thumb to finger ratio! Yeah, it's not as easy at it looks to create this artistic masterpiece!

We gave the inhabitants of the hall a night off, but the following evening the giggles again hit the Caribe hall around midnight. It started out with the giggles hitting in Jamie and Laura's room. I don't know how exactly it started, but it looked like this:
After we figured out how much stuff we could stack on a game board balanced on our noggins while sitting on the bed, we tried to stand up and walk.

Laura was the best stacker.
It was impossible to do this without laughing.
Frick! I laughed too hard and lost it all right before I made it out the door. For some reason the chivalry of Jamie holding the door for me while I balanced deodorant on my head struck me as incredibly funny.
Turns out that Jamie's bald head was the best for balancing. He made it out the door....

And down the hallway. Some frat boys walked by and were VERY impressed. Then one of us commented that Jamie could work as a room service delivery guy. Knock, knock. "Pardon me sir, but did you order some sunblock?" And next thing you know, we are again laughing like lunatics outside room #237, this time with the added bonus of crashing deodorants and lotions. Again, my apologies to those of you who were trying to sleep!

After that, the kids had nothing left with which to entertain me (and really what could top that?), so it was time to pack up all my toys and walk back to my room...

More Funny....though it didn't happen in our hallway in the middle of the night, it was pretty funny to come across a sleeping Pat and Steven and take pictures of them without them waking up.These boys sure know how to relax!

Mini Updates

  • This Saturday is the Desert Rage Adventure Race. Storming the Castle will be just me and Irene this time. The race includes kayaking. My experience with personal watercraft is pretty limited - ocean kayaks in Hawaii in 1999 where I let Pat do all the work and the scary canoe experience from the last Desert Rage where we came within a fraction of an inch of tipping. This time we have individual kayaks, so somehow I am going to have to figure out how to steer that puppy to the finish line. I can barely steer a bike and a bike has handlebars!! Irene, please have patience and please don't kill me (which assumes that I don't kill myself in the river).
  • Mo has been sick. She's had a relapse of the terrible tummy issues she suffered right before the cruise. It was so yucky that she was banished to the backyard and became an outside-only dog for a few days. I don't do outside-only dogs. So for two nights in a row, I brought my pillow and blankets and slept on the porch swing in the backyard so I could be with her. She was awesome. She slept right next to me on her little bed, calm as could be. Frankie and Georgie...not so much on the awesome. They didn't know what to make of sleeping outside. They would snuggle in on the swing with me and be almost asleep and then, what's that?! Is it a bird?! A cat?! An imaginary nothing?! They'd leap off the bed and run around like crazy. I was ready to give them both some Valium so we all could get some sleep. Mo is on antibiotics now and feeling much better.
  • I rode my bike (Jamie's bike) to work again this week and last week. I really enjoy it. Now I'm in the market for a road bike of my own.
  • I've got two more cruise postings to go and I'll finally be done.
  • It looks like Hockey Troupe is going on a reunion tour. We are gathering the gang and signing up for a Thursday night roller league. A big fat "URGHHH!" to the fact that I gave away all my roller gear a few years ago.
  • I've seen three movies recently! Whoa...I might top my 2008 tally. I've seen Twilight, Tom Cruise In An Eyepatch and Bride Wars. I hope you can tell by the movie selections that we are taking advantage of $1.50 Tuesdays at the cheap-o theater.
  • Another book club happy hour = another fabulous quote: "I would never date a guy who believes that midgets live in colonies!" Seriously. Of course...in all honesty, neither would I and I would hope that you wouldn't either.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Best Part of a Cruise Ship is Getting Off a Cruise Ship - Cabo San Lucas

Alternate Post Title: Pat's B-Day Cruise, Part V

Our last stop was Cabo San Lucas. So pretty. I've been to Cabo a few times, but I've never gotten out to this beach. The cruise ship doesn't dock in Cabo- you have to take little boats to get to shore. It makes things a lot more difficult and there is a lot more waiting. We had to be back on board the cruise by 2:00 pm (last shuttle left at 1:00), so it was a very short day. Therefore there wasn't time to do my excursion and go the beach. Sad.

On the shuttle boat on our way to our excursions:Elaine, Jamie, Laura and I were off to swim with the dolphins (on my list of things to do before I die) and NFBF, Christy and Pat were off to learn to sail aboard an America's Cup yacht. Steven was supposed to do that one, too, but he was ill and in bed, poor guy.

The excursions involved a whole lot of hurry up and wait. We were rushed onto a shuttle, cutting in front of lots of waiting people, to make sure we didn't miss our activities. But when we got ashore we were forced to wait a long time before our groups left.

Waiting... Waiting...
Waiting...(It looks like Craig might have some competition for the coveted position of Pat's boyfriend)Finally our groups were taken to the dolphins and the yachts at Cabo Adventures. They offered us wetsuits. They told us it was optional, in case we might get cold. It's a good thing we chose the wetsuit option as the water was super chilly! Or maybe it's a bad thing we chose the wetsuit option because it led to this picture:

Our dolphin group:
Our introduction to our dolphin, Risho. He splashed us and squeaked hello.

After the introduction, we all got to pet Risho. Dolphins feel very much like a rubber spatula - a VERY muscular rubber spatula.
Dolphin kisses (awww, he loves me!):
Dolphin poses (isn't Risho a sweetie??):
Dolphin rides (this was actually kind of strange and not as fun as it looks):

Then we took turns dancing with Risho. When you spin in a circle, he spins in a circle, too.
Yay for swimming with dolphins! I am now one step closer to dying happy!