Sunday, September 22, 2013

Did I mention... Thank You!

Runners joke and say it takes a village to support a marathoner; I guess I just didn't know how true this was until now. 

This will be a long note, so please go get some wine, sit and relax, and let me ramble because I need to get this out.  Or if you are a skimmer.... hunt your name down, it's in there somewhere!


On this training journey I have shared runs with: Celeste, Steve, Kate, Lynn, Sarah D., Jill, Claudine, Nicole, Amy, Diane, Liam, Barb, Karen, Claudette, and my 10 year old son Kaiden.  Wow... that is amazing.  You guys have kept my feet moving and made those long runs seem possible and certainly more enjoyable.  To Kaiden who on my 13 mi training run during vacation joined me for the first 2 miles to Nubble Light to see the sun rise and the last mile along the beach.  Not to mention, that was his third time that week doing a sunrise run with me.  To all of you and your supportive legs, thank you.

To my extra cheerleaders: my mom, dad, Andy, Rose, Kristen, Darci, Jodi, Liz, Dan, Pete, Sarah B., Rhya, and Sean.   Many of you always seem to have some "likes" on my endless posts on facebook about running.  Dan for sending me a tweet of acknowledgment of my hard work.  To my cousin Pete and Sarah B. for coming by at my miserably hot half marathon in July at mile 11 when I was just about to die... you might not realize how seeing familiar faces rooting for you, lifts up your legs and lets you realize "I can do this".  To Kristen, her daughter, and their cat who cheered me on in their driveway on a long training run.  To Rhya and Sean for coming up from Maryland to join me for my first marathon.  To my mom for being at the finish line of my half marathon as well as spotting her little red Prius along mile 9 and 10 and hearing her in the distance... "Go Amy!".  To all of you cheering, thank you.

To my  coworkers: Gloria, Jeff, Carolyn, and Ken, who check in with me practically every Monday morning to see how my weekend long run went.  It is nice to re-live those moments of triumph... and defeat.  And just knowing that you might ask me, makes it easier to get out of bed and just do it.  To all of you nerds... thank you.

To those that have watched my kids while I ran: Juliana, Stephanie, Kris and Maria, mom... what would I ever do without depending on you all?!!!   Juliana and Kris and Maria for watching my kids for almost an hour more than anticipated because I just couldn't get my feet moving that day.  And to my mom who not only came up from 3 1/2 hours away to watch my kids but she also brought them to the parking lot to cheer me on, where I was finishing my 20th mile.  To all of you with open doors... thank you.

To my expert running advisors: Celeste, Rhya, Darci, Nancy, Ken, and my See Jane Run girls (Amy, Diane, Barb, Claudette)... Celeste for telling me about Body Guard and Runner's Alley!, Rhya who introduced me to Hal Higdon, to Darci who gave me blister prevention tips, to Nancy for talking me out of over training, to Ken (who in his running days would run 30+ miles at a time!) who's words of wisdom about pacing myself led to an unexpected PR... thank you.  And my full time advisors from See Jane Run... you ladies are phenomenal.  You are a wealth of information from tips like dressing for 20 degrees warmer than it is, using a Jeff Galloway beeper, eating and drinking the right things, taking Imodium AD for those unmentionable problems , and the list could go on for pages.  Our headlight runs, our 5ks, 12ks, 10ks, Color Run next weekend, our St. Paul's runs, you name it we are there for each other.  That is priceless.  A tear on marathon day will be for all of you but especially Amy who is my mini-me.  We have the same name, the same pace, the same non-stop chatter, and she has this drive that is infectious.  I couldn't ask for a better advisory team.  To all of you know-it-alls, thank you.

To Shannon, who I met early on in my life changing journey.  Who came in my life just the right time to let me know how it was ok to take care of myself.  To give me the self confidence to be me.  To let me know that it is ok to just take a compliment and not brush it off with a sarcastic remark toward myself.  She may not know this but I know that she is a big part of my weight loss journey being successful.  We also did a 5k on a cruise (she named it: Buffet to 5K... still love that name!), I think we had to go around the track on the cruise ship 31 times to complete it.  Thank you cruise queen, thank you.
To Shari... oh my Shari.  To the person that makes time to ask me almost on a daily basis how my day is.  Who knows my running schedule inside and out.  To the person who knows exactly how many miles I will be running and when.  I owe so much to Shari.  Not only for her friendship but someone who is there to support me not only in my running but continued effort to keep the weight off and continue to meet my weight loss goal.  Thank you Shari for being willing to do mud runs with me, willing to suffer through bikram with me, for trusting me enough to run a 5k with me, and for just your sick sense of fun, like the day we walked 8-10 miles on the treadmill side by side for our "girls night out".  Thank you crazy girl, thank you.

To Celeste, who inspired me one day.  It was October 3, 2010 when Celeste completed her marathon.  She ran the Smuttynose Marathon and it is no coincidence why this is this marathon I chose to run. 

The ah-ha moment:
Celeste ran amazing that day.  I had never been to a race before and never run before.  I was about 50# heavier then and it had never occurred to me that running was an option for someone like me.  I looked for Celeste at mile 17... I waited and waited and waited.  Soon I knew she was either having a really bad day or maybe I just missed her.  It turns out that she was on a PR pace and I didn't just miss her, I missed her by a lot!  I got in my car and drove to mile 24 or so and that is where I spotted her.  I was holding back tears when I saw her.  And she was strong. 

What I took from that day was forever in my mind.  It was not only the inspiration drawn from the crowd cheering on thousands of people that were out of their mind to run that far, and it didn't just come from watching my amazing friend be strong and impressive (I already knew she was those things), it came from those that were suffering.  Those that came across that line way after she did.   It was from this big guy that was chugging up the hill that looked like he was mentally and physically exhausted.  It was from the people in the back that didn't fit the skinny mold of a runner that I thought I knew.  It was from the drooped shoulders, the clunky legs barely moving one foot in front of the other... it was from the people who I could relate to. 

The following day I ran.  I ran 1 mi on the treadmill in the gym. I tried to run 1 mile at Celeste's pace.  Just one.  In honor of her accomplishment.  I tried.  I did not succeed but I did run.  I ran a mile and I can close my eyes and see 0.7... 0.78... 0.89... 0.91... 0.94.... 0.97.. 0.99.... 1.00 ticking by on the treadmill screen like it was yesterday.  It was slow, it was painful, it was like that 1 mile was never going to end.  But I did it and when it was over it made me look at myself different.  Made me start to believe that I might not be the person I thought I was but rather the person that I wanted to be.  

Celeste then went on to encourage me to run.  She talked to me like she knew I could do it.  To Celeste, thank you for thinking of *me*, clunky me, as a runner.

OK so this is pretty deep stuff here but hang in there with me (if you are still reading, that is)...

The biggest thank you is to the 3 people that are impacted most by my decision to run this thing.  Yes... "this thing".  Some days saying "marathon" is like saying Voldemort.   This big thank you is of course to Ian, Kaiden, and Kael.  Most days I try to run before they are awake but as training becomes more time consuming it runs into family time.  I think they couldn't be more happier for me though.  I can't count how many times I would walk through the door and the kids would say "Good job mumma!" or "Did you have to walk?" or "How fast did you go?" I could not ask for a more supportive family.  Ian, who covets his sleep in time, hasn't made a peep of a complaint!  He even asks how it went and when I tell him I ran a 9:53 PR or a 8 min split or finished a 20 just under 12.... he just looks at me and says "Good job hun". It's the same "Good job hun" that I give him when he scores new D&D rule books from the bargain bin at Double Midnight.  It's all just words to him but what he takes from it, is that it is important to me and that it makes me happy.  Thanks Ian.  Thank you for not needing to understand to still be happy for me.  Thanks Kaiden for thinking I can do anything.  Thanks Kael for the joy you bring me when you give me a hug when I get home from a run.  I love you three more than all the stars.

Some highlights:

·         Entering a porta potty on an empty construction site early one morning to find the contractor outside waiting to use it when I was done;

·         Accidentally running in a parade, which lead to giving all the shriner guys in their mini cars high fives;

·         Completing a 12k in memory of my Aunt Sarah and up a hill that I later learned is appropriately nicknamed "vomit hill";

·         On several occasions, waiting for turkeys and deer to cross the road;

·         Running toward the full moon some early morning runs;

·         Completing a sunrise run at Nubble Light with Kaiden;

·         Taking a wrong turn that put me about 4 miles out of my way; and

·         Putting more than 500 miles on the road. 

I am one lucky gal.

And if I could ask you to do one more thing for me....

In honor of ALL of you, I would like you each to name a song you like.  I want to play this music while I am out on the course for 5 +/- hours.  It can be any song, except for the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey, that's just mean.  Pick a song that you like, perhaps your favorite song!  I listen to all genres of music, fast and slow.  If possible, could you pick your song this week so I can get to downloading! 

And did I mention.... Thank you?

Thank you!!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

My First Half Marathon with Rocky's Rescues on My Mind

Hey family and friends,
As probably you all know I have been working my butt off at training for a half marathon. My run is in 2 weeks!!!! yey!

I am dedicating my run, all 13.1 miles, to an awesome animal rescue called Rocky’s Rescues... who recently was in the paper for their animal rescue/education efforts:

They are an amazing rescue organization where I have found another love of my life, Sadie.

Our new dog Sadie was is terrible condition, pregnant, sick, heartworm, emaciated, and probably worst of all, without anyone to love. She was rescued by a man named Tom English (a rescuer) and a woman named Sarah Mann (a foster mom). These people dedicate their lives to saving animals, spreading the work about spaying and neutering, spending thier own money on treatment, nurturing them back to health and to an adoptable condition, and then finally finding these desperate animals a safe and loving home. I have come to know these people through phone conversations and emails.

Becaused we rescued Sadie, Sarah now had room to rescue another dog they named Babe. Her story is very similar to Sadie’s. Pregnant, no food or shelter, emaciated, heartworm, and no love. Yet they are the sweetest dogs around. I have copied an email and picture below of Sarah’s recent email to me. She was very attached to Sadie but let her go to me because she knew there was another Sadie around the corner to be rescued.

Anyway, by this time you are probably considering I am going to ask for a donation, and you are right. : )

And if you need more of a reason, check out this video made by Tom (video is not for kids). The first dog in the video is Sadie. :(

Please consider sponsoring me on my run. All the money I collect will go to Rocky’s Rescues. They are a non-profit organization; where no one gets paid, they are all volunteers, they do this in their spare time, and all the medical care is paid for by donations!

Seriously any bit helps, even $1. And I mean that with all my heart.

Thank you all! And thanks so much for your words of encouragment in my training. I am still amazed that I can run! : ) And a big big thanks to Celeste for inspiring me to run and for believing in me! I am so happy that you are going to be running by my side, even though you could be at the finish line by now!

If you want to donate, you can make a check out to me or directly to “Animal Alliance of Galveston County — Rocky’s Rescues Account”.

I thank you and dogs just like Sadie thank you!!!
And Saber thanks you for his new friend, which he is so happy to have now. Even the cats like her now!



Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 2:42 PM
Subject: I've got you - "Babe"

Hi Amy,
Thanks again for the sweet updates on Sadie girl. I miss her tremendously but I smile big every time I see her face in a photo!

Miss Sadie getting adopted allowed us the opportunity to go rescue another dog yesterday. We have named her "Babe".

A day in the life of a San Leon/Bacliff dog on Monday March 7, 2011.

The difference one can make by simply caring enough to stop & render help to the helpless.

Tom & Sarah -Pulling up to a house in San Leon/Bacliff on 10th street March 7, 2011 @ 4:00 PM

Living in dirt, no food, no water & tied up.


A beautiful female dog who recently had her 3rd or 4th litter of puppies found emaciated & full distention in tummy.

Tom approaches to make a new friend - Nice big thick chain around her skinny neck.

He assures her - everything will be alright.

Tom gives her Frontline flea prev.

Worms her & vaccinates her.

Tom checks her gums. They are white - she is anemic.
Most likely her bloated tummy is from heart failure to do heart worm disease

We just can't leave her behind for certain death to come.
We take her back to my house to help her.
( Owner admits he hasn't got enough money to feed Mama & puppies, but he himself looks like he hasn't missed a meal.)

Tom gives some much needed reassurance- Help is here. Tom names her "Babe"

Tom draws blood for panel screening & hw test -
He knows she is hw pos. before the results have even come back.

Look at this mug - Beautiful girl will now receive love & medical care.
She will leave her old life behind for good.

She say's thank you Sarah - "Got some food ?" I'm hungry!

She is in a warm comfortable bed.
Eating boiled chicken breast & rice to put over delicious kibble, she eats it all up &
say's Thank you. We are waiting for all blood work to come back to see the plan of action to get her health back.

Thank you sister Sadie for making room for me to get help, soon I will be dancing & wagging my tail.

P.S We rescued all her puppies also. The owners of this dog should be in jail.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DAY 5 – St. Lucia

So I consider myself pretty good at directions, following a map, knowing which way is north, etc. (although I am pretty sure after this trip, Dave might not share that same confidence). But really people… no street signs outside the city… really???

The day started with a long wait for our car rental agent to show up Costless (I now know how they get their name). We finally meet up with our Costless agent and she informs us that the car we rented is not a 4x4 like we requested, rather it is a small sedan. They do give us a $2 cost break. Wow, aren’t we lucky. We stand out in the parking lot for about 20 minutes filling out paper work (which I had filled out online, per their request to make things go faster). None of that information was transferred to our paperwork. Not impressed.

So we finally head out of the pier area. Our goal for the day was to see the pitons located in the southwestern side of the island. We think we are heading out of the city but instead we make our way down a narrow road (btw, all the roads are narrow) to a dead end, looking straight at a parade. In hindsight, I wish we had parked and watched but we were Piton bound. So it is all kind of a blur but I do remember that I was so excited to finally find a street sign, still too far away to read, but as we get closer to the sign, I am anticipating the excitement as I can finally pint point us on the map. Approaching the sign the rest of the gang erupt in laughter as they read the “street” sign. It says “Shine for Jesus”. Damn it I say.

Forgoing the detail of getting out of this mess, the next half hour involves, Dave (the hero driver in this story) backing up a narrow road, hitting another car with his side mirror (which must happen a lot there), lots of honking (not the St. Thomas kind of honking), following a guy in a van (who leads us out of the chaos), pulling up his whole vehicle on a city sidewalk, Dave doing the same, getting directions from this guy who is going well out of his way to help us and even declines money from Dave,
St. Lucia

following a taxi full of tourists who look like they are going south on the only main road in St. Lucia, realizing we are likely not going to where we though, finding ourselves on some sort of school campus,

St. Lucia

not seeing any road signs… until 2 hours later a sign!!!
St. Lucia
We are located about 10 minutes north of the pier. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!

Deep breath.

I am not sure why we still decided to pursue the Pitons. In hindsight, I wish we stayed at Gros Islet. I hear they have nice beaches. But this time through the city we are pretty sure we can stay on the one main road (which is not named) that heads south to Soufriere. So we go back by the pier and back by the sidewalk we parked on. This time, we head south… as best we can.

On our 2 hour very winding steep narrow drive, we don’t get lost but we do meet… Dr. Twist, Rescue, and Bird Man. All who are trying to sell us something. Some art, some jewelry, some birds, and some other “things” that will make us feel better.

I did buy a turtle from Dr. Twist and Ian did buy a coconut carved bird for $1 (I refused to pay the $5 that he thought it was worth) and Ian talked Rescue down to $5 for a necklace. In hindsight… maybe we should have reconsidered the other item he had for sale.

We finally made it to the Pitons.
St. Lucia

We are starving (American style). We grabbed lunch at a local place with a beautiful view of the Pitons. We all wanted to try local food so we each ordered a Roti… ugh. It is basically a burrito filled with potatoes and some yellow sauce.
St. Lucia
Not a big fan. The fried plantains were good as well as the tamarind juice.
St. Lucia
The waitress came out with a fresh tamarind for us to try. It is a sour thing for sure.
St. Lucia

After lunch we had all of 20 minutes for us to enjoy the pitons. Ideally we would have taken a water taxi to view them and in between the pitons there is a beach to enjoy. But we did not have time. On the way back there were either controlled burns going on or the island was on fire.
St. Lucia
Either way, the smoke was a bit bothersome but Dave did an amazing job driving. He was definitely in some kind of zone.

We made it back to the pier area and decided to stop at some local shops.

And finally it happens… a meltdown. It is not from Dave who has been driving all day, or Shannon who is car sick in general not to mention the 6 hours of winding steep smoky driving, or even me who is frustrated that I still haven’t seen a freakin’ street sign all day, but it is Ian.

The heat was slowly putting him over the edge all day. Signs of it came early in the day when he had enough of being lost and when we drove by the boat the second time was debating whether to jump car or not. But he waits for the day to be over when Dave pulls the car over for shopping which it is clear Dave, Shannon and I all want to do.

But Ian shouts, to Dave’s somewhat rhetorical question of “Does anyone want to shop?”, “No, I emphatically do NOT want to shop!” This is worth blogging about because this story comes up several times throughout the rest of our cruise. Probably on average 5 times per remaining day. The Farrs got a big kick out of Ian’s fit. I kindly remind Ian that he can wait in the car and he responds: “I am not waiting in the fucking car in the 97 degree Caribbean heat!” I kindly let him know we have AC and he can rest there but Ian is on a mission. A mission to get on the f’n boat. So he, in tantrum form, shouts “No! I want my backpack and I am walking back to the boat!” And off he goes. He doesn’t look back. He probably had a 15 minute hike in the Caribbean heat back to the boat but it was his mission and he is now the one in the zone. When we left the shopping, we did keep our eyes open for his dehydrated body which we half expected to be slumped over on a park bench or something but upon return to the cruise ship he was spread out like a towel animal on our bed. Safe, sound, showered, rested and no longer grumpy.

And here are some random boat pictures I took throughout the day:

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

Costless -
Recommendation, spend more, don’t rent from these guys. 5.
St. Lucia Department of Transportation – lack of road signs. -10.

Overall score for the day: 7 still a decent day, but only for the stories.
Ian’s tantrum bumped it up from a 6 to a 7.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DAY 4 – Barbados

Shasa is her name and a beautiful catamaran she is.

We spent a day at sea on a catamaran captained by Jason O'Neal. Because we booked a tour with Shasa Catamaran Cruises, we didn’t see much of the island but whomever was our taxi driver, he sure did pack a lot of history in one short drive. Great guy, wish I knew his name to give him a shout out, but he made our land portion very informative.

When we arrived at Shasa we met Jason and his sea partner, who apparently has only been sailing with Jason for a week, but you would never know it. Already on board were two other very friendly New York couples that were staying together on the island.

We headed out immediately to hopefully snorkel with some turtles… and sure there were no disappointments there. There was another boat already there with a few other folks snorkeling and there were sea turtles every where. This was one of my highlights of the whole trip. Just knowing that these turtles are wild (although they certainly love the treats the captains are tossing them) made my day. Thanks to Shannon I have some great turtle shots to share.





Then we headed to snorkel a reef, but this is where my fun ended. I was sea sick. I think Dave and Shannon felt like me. Not terribly sea sick, but enough to make me focus on not throwing up at sea. I couldn’t tell what was worse, being on the boat moving up and down or swimming on the swells themselves. I tried both. Both made me nauseous. Ian tells me the snorkeling was pretty good.

The day ended with some shopping at some cute shops near the port. That night Shannon and I enjoy the hot tub and later that evening… the infamous late night Mexican Buffet. Which was basically eating in the middle of the night when you are not hungry. I am not sure why I participated but really…. Why can Carnival serve my favorite food at lunch time! J

Services: Shasa Catamaran Cruises, good day, aside from being sea sick. Score: 8+

The captain, Jason, was a really nice guy, fun and professional. I actually would have liked to get to know him better. I bet he was full of more information about Barbados, the turtles, etc. Drinks were great, if only I could have enjoyed them!

On an interesting note: He stated that he ignores online reviews, and I don’t blame him, but what Shannon and I thought was funny was that in one breath he said: You just give people what you tell them and don’t worry about reviews. And in the other breath he mentions that we are not going to do the shipwreck stop since it will be crowed and it is a bit corny anyhow. Hummm…. interesting. I actually believe him that it was probably not the greatest stop but why advertise a place that is really nothing worth seeing. Frankly, I didn’t really care. But I did find the comment or tactic an interesting one.

Still, great boat, great captain, good drinks, and the turtles exceeded my expectations so I was happy… even if half my day was wishing I was on land (or on a really big cruise ship!).

Overall score for the day: 8+ (probably would have been a 9+ if I wasn’t sick)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DAY 3 – Dominica

The morning starts off with Shannon swearing that she shall never drink again, at least on the cruise. We have a hike to conquer today and it is not clear if Shannon will make it. But it only takes her the morning to shake it off.

Our tour was with Bumpiing (yes with two ii’s) Tours and our guide is Levi (aka: Bumpiing) himself. We are in a small group of 8 people.

We hiked Middleham Falls, explored Titou Gorge, and visited Trafalgar Falls… oh and a special stop for Shannon to the squished bus.

Middleham Falls was so worth the trek. There was a little (or maybe a lot!) of complaining the next day about calf muscles being sore but everyone agreed that it was so worth it. The flora was incredible and there was an incredible waterfall at the top We swam in the natural quarry like pool at the bottom of the falls and some adventurous people (Shannon and Dave) jumped from the cliffs into the pool. What a tour.



Titou Gorge was a relaxing spot.
It is also a spot where part of Pirates of the Caibbean 2 was filmed. This place was really neat. You essentially jump into this cold but fresh water and swim into these caves. The caves open up and in there you have this waterfall. If you have the strength (like Dave and Ian) you could climb up a cliff and see another waterfall around the bend. I was content to just float about in the cave.

Trafalgar Falls was an easy hike to view a couple of amazing waterfalls. And we ended the tour with a nice soak in a hot mineral bath… ahhhh.

Bumpiing Tours, arguably the best tour of the week, highly recommended. 10+

Levi is an awesome tour guide! Really this guy is awesome. Not only is he handsome, muscular, and fit, but friendly, supportive (to those that fell a little behind on the hike), and very informative. You learn a lot about the island and although I did not take the carnival version of this tour, we did see them on the hike and there were about 30 people! I prefer the small setting and there is no way Levi will let you miss the boat so there were no worries there.

Overall score for the day: 10+

Monday, March 8, 2010

DAY 2 – St. Thomas/St. John

Our first cruise stop is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. st thomas Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john
Our plans are to take a taxi to the ferry and head over to Trunk Bay in St. John for some snorkeling but when we wake, it is still rainy. Ian and I decided to get off the boat just the same. We sat under an awning at a restaurant while we decided if we really wanted to do this. It was raining pretty hard but not pouring. Rather than a $20 taxi ride to Red Hook for the ferry, we decided to try to catch a local bus which was only going to cost $2. After asking several friendly people, we finally figured out which direction we wanted to go and how to get on the bus. Should be easy, but there was no actually bus stop, you just wave at this safari looking truck that says taxi on it (go figure!) and it stops and picks you up. They have dedicated stops too but apparently you don’t actually need to be standing at one of them.

Anyhow, this was a great way to see St. Thomas, or at least the non-touristy places in St. Thomas, and I love the way they say good morning to everyone when they get on the bus and although it takes some getting used to, they give a friendly beep at everyone! Beep beep, hello. Beep beep, good morning. Beep beep, I am passing you. Beep beep, have a good day. Much different than the USA horn!

So we end up taking the ferry over and by this time, it is lightly raining and the sky is changing from gray to gray blue. I’ll take it. We met a really nice couple from NH on the ferry and the woman was co-workers with our cruise companion Shannon! Small world.

We made it to Trunk Bay.
Trunk bay Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

It is in a national park and although they let us enter, the snorkeling trail was closed.
Trunk bay Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john
Bummer but they at least didn’t charge us to enter the park. Although, now that I think of it, we should have donated some money just to support the park; but we didn’t. By this time, it had stopped raining and the sky was cloudy but blue. The weather was still warm and not one time during our stay in San Juan or in St. Thomas/John did the rain make me cold.

Ian enjoyed our stay at Trunk Bay.
trunk bay Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

It was still beautiful, not crowded whatsoever because of the weather, and a pelican landed right next to us while we were swimming and searched for fish. Very neat.

We left before noon and grabbed a bite to eat at some place near the ferry at Cruz Bay. Can’t remember the name of it but it wasn’t that great, pricy, and took a long time to get our food. But we were seated outside and the sun was fully out by then and it was a nice to be enjoying the outside. We poked around a few shops while waiting for the ferry back.

These beautiful flowers were everywhere. I love them!
Flowers Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

Our return to the boat was easy, as well as grabbing the bus back.
Amy Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

Ian Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

That evening… drinks. Lots and lots of drinks! You know what they say about Vegas… well this isn’t Vegas so here is my photo journal of the night. Fun times!
shannon Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john
amy shannon Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john
ian dave Cruise 2010 Victory st thomas st john

There was also a dance contest that Shannon should have won with her fancy slide move, an elderly man who we danced with (some of us remember him, some of us don't!), a piano bar, and a friendly couple from Texas (Melanie and Chris).

Fun night!!!

St. Thomas Local Bus: 10, take this over a taxi if you can. Much more enjoyable.

St. John taxi service: it is all government regulated, so no hassling over prices… that I am aware of.

Red Hook to Cruz bay (and back) Ferries: I think this is too standard to grade. But sure it was nice, no complaints.

Overall score for the day: 8+, nice day but with better weather, I am sure there is so much more here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

DAY 1 – Victory leaves San Juan

The following morning was still rainy, which apparently is not normal Puerto Rico weather. We had planned on visiting El Yunque, a rain forest in the Caribbean National Forest. But it was raining and we decided not to go. Actually, we were just tired, tired of driving in circles, and at this point we just wanted on the boat. So we wandered into Old San Juan for lunch, ended up at La Bombonera, which apparently was featured on one of Rachael Ray’s shows. The food was good, not super great, but definitely good. I did order a half a pineapple and it was so fresh… mmmm!
Cruise 2010 victory san juan day 1 pineapple

Dave & Shannon enjoying their La Bombonera lunch:
Cruise 2010 victory san juan day 1 dave shannon

We also did some window shopping and enjoyed a free trolley ride around the “town”. That was enough for us, by 1pm we were on the boat.

Embarkation was very fast, smooth, and had some nice cocktail taste testing we enjoyed. Mmmm… Apple Rum. I also love that you are greeted with that Carnival friendliness. Just love that first smile and welcome. You have that feeling of… ahhhh…. I am on vacation and these people are going to take care of me for a whole week.

Dinner on the boat:
Cruise 2010 victory san juan day 1 amy ian

Ian and I practicing our Muster cry that evening...
Cruise 2010 victory san juan day 1 amy ian muster

See you San Juan:
Cruise 2010 victory san juan day 1

United Airlines: smooth flight, no issues. 7 (airlines can’t possibly score any higher, so this is actually a decent rating).

Charlie’s Car Rental: 9…. The people weren’t overly friendly but nice enough. The service was prompt, car was as expected, would have been nice to be given a map and directions to our drop off place, but the perks were that you could pick up at the airport and then drop off near the port. They then gave you a free shuttle to the pier. I would rent again from them and I would recommend them to others.

Howard Johnson’s Cardiovascular Center Hotel: 7 --> 7+. Decent room actually. Desk guy was nice. But finding the place sucked, it is not marked, there is limited parking, and the fire alarm apparently goes off frequently. I moved it up to a 7+ because if you suffer a heart attack during your stay, there is really no better place to be.

El Morro: 10+. This place is a MUST see. Incredible. If it weren’t dreary out, I imagine the views are stunning. The staff was very friendly. And be sure to use the bathrooms there, because you will not get a better view from a bathroom… no seriously.

Overall score for the two days in Puerto Rico: 8 (this is all relative… the day was still good, I mean “It’s Puerto Rico” for goodness sake!).