Saturday, September 30, 2006


I made a quick trip out to San Jose, CA, last weekend to see my good friend from high school, Kathy.  She is working for City Year (kind of like AmeriCorps) and will be there for a year.  It was a BIG weekend for me!  Not only was it my first time in California, but it was also my first time using public transportation -- first time on a bus, train, trolley, and subway!!

Kathy had to work the first day I was there, so I decided to walk around San Jose a little bit to explore.  (Random side note: there was a very strong Vietnamese population there!  Either that, or I just wandered around the one part of town that they lived/worked/had shops in.)

After meeting up with Kathy at work, I managed to buy a bus ticket and get on a bus headed for Santa Cruz.  I've never been there before and really wanted to see the beach and boardwalk.

Aaaaand I took way too many pictures:

There weren't may people on the beach.  I guess it was early afternoon on a weekday...  

I walked all the way out to the end of the boardwalk, watched the seals for awhile, and was so pumped to get my toes in the ocean!

Of course I had to do a little shopping in that cool little town!  I actually ended up buying to super cool pairs of shoes:  some bright purple Saucony tennis shoes (perfect for K-State football games!) and some white/green/turquoise other shoes...that just looked cool.  They are my 'souvenirs' from Santa Cruz! ;)

I hopped on the bus back to San Jose and met up with Kathy and her friends (and roommates) for dinner that night.

The next day Kathy and I and some of her friends from City Year took the CalTrain from San Jose up to San Francisco for the day/night. 

I was SO excited to ride a train!

(I don't even remember that guys name, of Kathy's friends I think.)
This picture                           ...                                quickly turned in to THIS picture 
Pulling in to San Francisco!    (Just a little blury...yikes!)

 We walked...and walked...and walked in that city!  From the train station all the way through China Town and down to Pier 39...and all over some more.  San Francisco is SO HILLY and I had on flip-flops the whole time!  It's a wonder I don't have blisters! 

Golden Gate Bridge


Needless to say, I was exhausted by the evening!  We took BART (subway) to a different part of town where our ghetto hotel was.  Most of the people went out for the night, but I crashed.  Too tired for that business! 

All 6 of us managed to fit in to two beds.  We're cheap, what can we say! 

We took the train back to San Jose the next day (Sunday), and I had to fly back to KC that evening.  

Looking rough the next day - and still wearing the exact same clothes!

It was SUCH a fun trip to California!  Thanks for all my firsts, Kathy! :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Cancun, Mexico

I got sold.  I really did.  You know those annoying sales people who call you trying to sell you vacation packages?  Yea, I actually did it.  I bought one.

An all-inclusive resort on the beach in Cancun for less than $20/night?  I couldn't say no...  A little early 23rd birthday present to myself!

We took an early morning non-stop flight from MCI down to Cancun, and hopped on a shuttle bus that would drop us off right at our resort.  Everyone else on the bus was getting dropped off at really nice places.  Our excitement was growing to see ours... 

We were the last ones to be dropped off - the farthest away from Cancun - and our excitment turned to skepticism when we pulled up to this:

It didn't look quite as nice as the brochure they sent me...and the check-in lobby was locked mid-morning.  

We eventually found a security guy and got to our room -- which wasn't a whole lot better.  The thin mattress was about as uncomfortable as they come, and the bathroom was gross. (I just kept telling myself, "It's only $20/night.  It's only $20/night.")

I mean, come on, when THIS is right outside your back door, you can't complain TOO much!

The resort wasn't that bad.  Okay, it was pretty bad, but I just wanted to get out of the city and down to the beach!  I hadn't ever been to Mexico before, and this was about as cheap as I think you could ever stay there!

Here are some other pics of the "resort" - if you want to call it that:

This is our room (on the left).  At least we got a ground level room with a view!


The first day, we did a lot of this:

..laying on the beach and enjoying the sounds of the ocean. 

We also walked around in Cancun that first day and booked an excursion for day 2.  We hit the ground running and rented a catamaran for the day to take us snorkeling and to a nearby island, Isla de Mujeres.

 Just got on the boat.  Feeling great!

Now, I get motion sickness pretty easily.  I've always known that.  But for some reason I thought I would be fine on a boat all day... swaying back and forth in the ocean waves.  Ugh - makes me sick again just to think about it!

So yep, I got sick.  REALLY sick.  When we finally stopped to snorkel, I thought maybe getting off the boat and in to the water would help.  So I grabbed my snorkeling gear and jumped in with everyone else. 

Bad decision.  I didn't even get the gear on before I felt it coming.

I threw up.  In the beautiful blue ocean water of Mexico.  And - wait, it gets better - right as I threw up, a wave came and splashed all the puke right back in to my face.  No joke.  I couldn't even make that up.  Gag. 

I swam back to the boat and just laid there motionless for most of the afternoon.  Which in turn resulted in the worst sunburn of my life -- on my front-half only, of course, because I was too sick to even roll over.  The view from the side was hilarious.  Crispy-red on the front half, and Kansas-white on the back half.

Needless to say, the rest of that day was shot...

Day 3:  We booked another excursion.  A FULL day of activities, and I still wasn't feeling so hot from the day before.  Turns out a sun-burn that bad can physically make you sick.  Awesome.

I went along for the trip anyways.  After all, how often are you in Cancun!?  (For me, hopefully never again.) ;) 

We took a long ride in a van (more motion sickness) to some spot in the middle of nowhere, and then hiked to a cave with an underwater river.  Yes, please, to anything with my feet on the ground.  I loved this part!

 Our starting point (left) and me right on the guides heels (right)

 Some cool jungle vegetation on the hike

Entrance to the cave (right)

We couldn't go down in to the cave until we had a prayer ceremony by some local tribe or something.  I don't know what exactly it was, but they were chanting and singing and covering us with smoke...

Once we were cleared to enter, we had to crawl through the little opening from above ground, and then maneuver down some slippery, not-so-sturdy wooden steps.  We were kind of high up, so I was a little wobbly, but once I got the river / water, it was awesome!  Definitely a new experience for me!

We had a full day of activities, so swimming in the cave didn't last long.  We hiked to another spot and then kayaked down some streams and across a lake.  

Yes, I am picking a wedgie...

We fought the whole time about how to kayak and who was right and who should follow who...

Thank goodness that part (the kayaking) didn't take too long, or we would have killed each other.  No joke.  It was brutal.  

Up next was a traditional lunch in a little village.  Food was okay - edible, anyways - but the fresh fruit juice was fantastic!

The real fun began after lunch:  repelling over a cliff and zip lining over the jungle!  My favorite, by far!

As if that wasn't a full enough day, we then took the van to the ancient Mayan ruins of Coba.  I'm not too in to history, but this place was pretty cool.  We skipped out on most of the guided tour and went exploring ourselves.  We made it all the way to the top of Coba!

Needless to say, we were pretty dead that night, and I didn't feel well.  I had a quiet night to myself in the hotel room...very near the bathroom.   

The next day wasn't better.  It was actually much worse.  And I was too cheap to pay for a cab in to town, so we tried to walk - and walk and walk and walk.  I was so sick and weak I literally couldn't go anymore.  I found a pharmacy and tried to get some drugs - anything.  Except they spoke Spanish and I didn't.  It was rough.  It got so bad I at one point (not being dramatic at all ;) ) thought I was going to die in Mexico!  I was one sick girl.  Which kind of ruined the rest of the trip.

We did manage to make it down to the beach one more time on the last day, but that was about it.

Farewell, Mexico.  I'm okay if we don't meet again.