Saturday, August 29, 2009

Canyoning, Whales, Fish and Tubes!

The last four days have been quite is a rundown of our adventures....

Canyoning=AWESOME! There are only good things to say about it...except for maybe the blister I got, which is actually quite painful. The two guides we had were very patient and definitely inspired confidence. We repelled down waterfalls and jumped in pools of water and the views were gorgeous!!

Whale Watch = tons of fun! I really wanted to go on a whale watch. At one time we went every year in Bar Harbor, but we haven't done that in years, even though we always say we want to. We only went 3 miles of the coast and saw a pod of 7 sperm whales and tons of dolphins...It was amazing and so worth the trip!

Thursday I had my shining moment, scuba diving. I freaked out when we initially went down, in fact I just got my head underwater before I came up, so we went to a more shallow area and I went in just fine and spent the whole 45 minutes underwater. Matt had a more difficult time adjusting to the change in pressure and spent a good portion of the time at the surface. Underwater was amazing though. The deepest we could go was 30 feet and it was incredible. There was so much to see!

Yesterday we went river tubing which was quite frankly my least favorite thing to do. The river was too low and the tubes had no padding on the bottom of them so my tailbone hit every rock there was...and let me tell you there are plenty of LARGE rocks in the river. It was actually pretty scary since they just put you in a tube and let you go. I ended up holding on to Matt's tube and we went down together. I wouldn't do it again, but I can say I did it right?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Abort! ABORT!!

Today we left from Antigua for Dominica. Let me start by saying that I am a really good flyer. I've been to Africa twice, Thailand and various short flights here and there. I am a good flyer. This flight however gave me a bad feeling. I was fine going through customs and getting on the plane. Then as we were getting ready to leave as the flight attendant was reading the emergency instructions the lights on the plane started flickering. One side would go off and then come back on and the other side would go off. This happened a number of times and quite frankly screamed electrical problem to me. But I blew it off, even though I was nervous. Then we are going faster and ready to get into the air and I could feel the brakes come on. Apparently one of the check engine lights came on. At this point I'm seeing it as a sign and thinking that I need to get off this plane. When we came to a hault I asked the flight attendent about it and she didn't seem concerned and Matt saw no problem and the problem seemed to be fixed by the mechanics, who were there for less than 5 minutes, so I stayed. Thankfully our plane did not crash and it was an uneventful 30 minutes.

I did not realize that once we landed there would be another hour and a half of driving to get to the city on one lane roads. Crazy! It was well worth it however because our hotel is beautiful!! We rested for a while and then rented some snorkeling equipment and went to a beach about 15 minutes away. SO much fun!! I expected the fish to be deeper in the water but they were actually very shallow. This freaked me out and I have video of me yelling underwater trying to get the fish away from me. I got over it though and stayed a little deeper than they were.

We got back and made a trip to the pool for some reading and then to a BBQ dinner at the hotel with a live steel drum band. So much fun! Tomorrow we'll go canyoning (repelling down waterfalls). I don't like heights...this will be interesting!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Dirty Truth About Travel...Sometimes It Sucks

Traveling requires one to be flexible, a virtue I tend not to embrace. I try to be go with the flow, but as Matt can attest, that is difficult for me under the best circumstances and realistically my flexibility is proportional to the amount of sleep I have under my belt.

This vacation, although it only officially started today, is trying my patience and pushing my flexibility to the brink. Last night we stayed at the Sheraton in Revere Ma, so we could leave our car for the week and catch our 5am flight to Dominica. Well, lucky for us, the management of the hotel decided to put the honeymooners in the room next door. So, all night we heard yelling from multiple people (they were playing drinking games) and the lights on the wall actually moved around. That is how loud they were. This does not bode well for me when I need to be up at 2am to make my flight. The people did get kicked out of the room, unfortunately they were kicked out at the same time we were leaving. Awesome for us. Then there is a shuttle that takes you to the airport every half hour. So, we haul ass to get down there for the 2:30 shuttle. The driver was kicking out the honeymooners so he was late and then we realized that we forgot our battery charger in our room. So, Matt goes up to get it and they tell him that they can't bring us to the airport until 3 now because the driver wouldn't have enough time to get back. Great. So, we wait another half hour, finally leave and the driver gets a call on his radio that there are people there that want a ride. So, he tells the front desk girl he is turning around. I have a problem with this and proceed to tell the driver that no he can not turn around because I am not going to miss my flight. They were late, they can wait until the next shuttle.

We arrive at the airport and the ticket counter isn't open yet. So we wait...and wait...finally it opens up and then we wait for security to open up. My bag apparently has problems because they keep it under the xray machine for a good 5 minutes trying to figure out the contents (it doesn't zip so I'm not sure why they didn't just empty it out and be done with it) and then put it through the machine once again. We get through that and go and sit at our gate and its 4:45 and they still aren't boarding. Finally someone from the airline comes down and tells us that they changed gates and are now boarding. Wonderful...good to know.

We make it onto the plane and endure the frigid temperatures for 2 hours. Seriously, it was sub zero in there. I had on a tank top, heavy sweater and jeans and I still had goose bumps. Thankfully even though our flight was late we made our connecting flight from Charlotte to Puerto Rico. That flight would have been perfect. We had an extra seat in our row so I tried to catch some sleep, but just as I was nodding off, Matt spills a can of coke in his lap with some of it landing in my it looked like he peed himself and that pretty much woke me up.

We were supposed to have a 2 hour layover there so we got some lunch (I spent $10 on lettuce...seriously, the salad was ONLY lettuce and was literally $10). We finally found our gate and it turns out that our flight is delayed an hour. So we sit and wait. And then they say our flight is delayed another we wait. Finally we get on the plane and it stops in Antigua before going to Dominica. We are told that we will need to go to the transit area so we go and find out that our flight left without us because the plane that was supposed to originally take us from Puerto Rico to Antigua had mechanical trouble. So, trying to be flexible I try to let it roll off my back. They are going to give us a hotel and feed us and get us to and from the hotel and there are worse places to be stuck than Antigua right? Well, maybe Iraq but really after being here, Antigua isn't at the top of my list of places to visit again. We fill out paperwork, go through customs and then we pick up our luggage. Now everywhere else I've flown, that is it. You can just take off at that point. Not in Antigua. They go through ALL of your luggage. We stood there and watched customs people open everyone's luggage and go through everything in it. They were going through the pockets of all the pants in the luggage. Yeah. I really have nothing to hide, but I'd prefer some stranger didn't go through my underwear in front of a room full of fellow travelers. After about 45 minutes of standing and watching other people have their stuff gone though, we get the go ahead to leave, without having our stuff checked. I don't know why...but I'm not complaining.

We then go over to the cab station where the LIAT (the airline we were on) agent got us a cab. I was taking pictures because the grounds were nice, but then I got yelled at and told to put my camera away because I was taking pictures of the airport...yeah. Welcome to Antigua....I did a vlog in Laguardia! Seriously. Oh, and I'm pretty sure that our cab driver may have been drunk. Fantastic!

We get to our hotel and get to our room, after the chaos of getting rooms straightened out for half a dozen stranded people, and see that there are little ants crawling all over our bed. So, we get another room. We then go to dinner which takes an hour and a half...which of course bothers me. I'm an American. I want my food fast. Once I sit down, I want to be out of there in 30-45 minutes. I'm impatient. I can't help it...I blame my culture.

I'm reserving the right to be grumpy tonight and tomorrow after I get to Dominica I will fix my attitude...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pushing Through

My directed research over the summer is finally ending...or should I say slowing down. Monday marks the date I need to have a final paper written for my class. Granted I've been working on writing this for the past month or so, but it is still in less than ideal condition. I have the data, I know what I want to say, however it just isn't coming out on paper. My adviser is fantastic and incredibly helpful and when I meet with him I'm always energized and excited to talk about and work on my project. But the next day when it's time to actually sit down and write all the ideas and everything we talked about the day before all information is lost!

It's not perfect, but this morning I finished up the paper and sent it off for the final grade in the class. I'm not worried about the grade, he knows I've been spending incredible hours on this project and I'm certain to get an A, however I'm more worried that I'm not going to have the paper close enough to its final stage to get it into a conference. While my adviser is sure we'll get it in, I'm concerned about the time it will take to get it to the point where it is ready. Come Tuesday I start school back up again and will have two difficult classes. So, my time will be limited and I'm not sure how much I'll have to give to this project. Add in work and I'll be moving back to the point of overwhelming stress I was at last year. I want to be able to go out with friends and not spend every minute reading/writing, but I don't see anyway around it once school starts. Granted I tend to be type A and very hard on myself when it comes to school, but no matter what it is going to be a hard road.

So, in order to get ready for the stress that is lined up to hit September 1st...I am getting ready to have a relaxing week in Dominica. Okay, so I have my laptop and told my adviser that if he has changes I'll make them while I'm gone...and yes I'll check my work email while I'm away because I'm anal and afraid that I left something undone when I left. BUT, I only brought four journal articles with me (which I consider to be progress since I brought them all to Savannah a couple of weeks ago). Instead of all school articles, I added in a touch of good old fashioned girl smut...aka Cosmo and two romance novels. Because what's better for relaxation than sitting on the beach reading about sex! Granted I'm not a beach person and typically need to be doing something at all times, but they'll be good to read in airports and at night. Wish me luck on the stress relief and let's hope I can relax on vacation and NOT worry about the things I'm not doing for work/school etc!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How I Spent My Birthday

My birthday weekend was wonderful, my actual birthday however pretty much sucked once I left Savannah. We arrived 2 hours early for our flight and score...found out that we had free wifi in the airport, but then it all went down hill. Our flight was delayed by two hours or so. I entertained myself by playing bejeweled, my new obsession. Then we arrived at Laguardia only to find that our flight that was supposed to be delayed by 45 minutes was actually canceled. We had also been booked on the 8:30 flight however that flight had been delayed to 10:30. This was problematic since we also had a 2 hour drive home once we got to the airport. So, we ended up with a fair amount of time at the airport, during which time I played bejeweled.

I tried to score some free stuff at the airport by telling them it was my birthday...which was totally true, but it didn't work. I was turned down. I did however receive a happy birthday song...

We ended up getting home at 3:20am and being the good worker I am, I was up at 4:30 to get to work at 6:30am!

Overall FABULOUS weekend...FANTASTIC trip!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Savannah, Day Two

Our Savannah trip was very short by nature, so that meant we would need to take full advantage of our one complete day there. We woke up and were out of our hotel around 8:30am and headed down to see some of the squares we had missed. We ended up getting as far as Forsythe park, which is absolutely beautiful! And then over to the Mercer Williams house, which really is the reason I wanted to go to Savannah to begin with! After seeing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil I was sold! So, as you can imagine one of the highlights of my Savannah trip would be seeing the house where the movie was filmed.

The tour of the house was fun although we couldn't go upstairs because of the safety issue of there only being one staircase. And there was no picture taking which sucks, however the tour was worth it. The house was amazing!

We ran over to the Moon River Brewing Company for lunch, which is supposedly haunted. Ghost Hunters actually did an episode there. We saw nothing. We hurried through our lunch to catch our dolphin tour on the Savannah River. We almost went on the river boat tour and I'm so glad we did this one instead. The weather was fantastic, high 80's to low 90's and extremely humid. Great day to be on the water! We saw a ton of dolphins and my body saw a ton of sun! Unfortunately as we were heading back we hit some rain, or the rain hit us. It actually pelted us! Those of us on the front deck were soaked and while the rain hitting actually did hurt, it was well worth it!

We walked around the riverfront and had some fried green tomato's, which actually just taste like fried anything really. I don't eat a lot of fried foods, but this wasn't bad. And now I can say that I had some real southern food.

And then the highlight of the night....Ghost tour at the Sorrel-Weed house. We did a quick walk through the squares that were close by and then also went back into the house for some more information about the house. It was a lot of fun and we took a ton of pictures (to be uploaded later!). Perhaps we caught a ghost (there was one picture that had a squiggly in it). Definitely worth going.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Savannah, Day One

Our first day started out with a 3:30 am wake up call. We left our hotel 4:30am for the airport. Surprisingly enough our flight from Portland to Dulles left on time and actually got in early! This was especially important since we only had an hour layover in Dulles before our flight for Savannah left, and anyone who travels knows that so much can happen to make you miss a flight! We actually had to go to another concourse so we had to take a bus to another part of the airport. But all the flights went shockingly well and in total we probably spent 3 hours in the air. This is so refreshing for people who are used to spending 24 hours in the air. These were probably the shortest flights ever for us!! We even did a vlog in the air :)

We ended up getting into Savannah around 11:30 am or so and hit the visitors area of the airport and got some brochures of things to do, caught a cab and made it to our hotel. That afternoon we decided to walk around town and get ourselves acquainted with the area. We walked around and saw a ton of the squares in the area, which was amazing! I envisioned Savannah with old Greek Gothic type houses and spanish moss and I wasn't disappointed!

Late afternoon it was looking like hte weather wasn't going to cooperate so we headed back to our hotel room. Good thing we did since it started raining heavily and thundering and lightning out. We stuck around the hotel until we had our ghost tour at 9:30 that night. The tour was fun, we walked around to a number of squares and heard the ghost stories of Savannah, which is apparently quite haunted. Sadly, I didn't see any ghosts, and I think the heat, humidity and being overtired got to me since I felt like passing out most of the time we were out walking. We got home around midnight and were completely exhausted by all of the excitement of the day! I fell asleep for a little bit in the afternoon and promptly fell asleep again when my head hit the pillow.