Many months ago, Crystal and I decided that come January we would want to get out of the coldness of Utah and go somewhere warm. We came up with going on a cruise. Both of us had been on cruises before, but never together. One day, we were using a computer at Jordan's parents house to look at all our cruisey possibilities and Jordan's sisters, Elisabeth and Christina came up behind us to see what we were doing. We excitedly told them, and then invited them to come along. They accepted and the rest is now on this blog.
We left Sunday Jan. 20 right after Jordan's brother, Michael, gave his "I'm-back-from-a-mission-but-this-isn't-a-homecoming" talk, driving on clear roads south to Las Vegas, Nevada. In Las Vegas, we spent the night with Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Tom (Jordan's mom's best friend and her husband, who are pretty much family) and they gave us warm chili for dinner, warm hospitality and warm weather. (Well, at least to us the 40s felt warm!) After spending way too much time hanging out and chatting, we fell asleep with visions of sugar plums or somesuch in our heads.
After a delicious oatmeal breakfast (Aunt Cheryl said she didn't really like oatmeal as a kid, but once Uncle Tom taught her it was OK to put yummy stuff on it, that made her like it. She still loves the yummy stuff, which means Jordan got to have sugar, marshmallows and chocolate chips in his! It was dessert for breakfast!) we hit the road for sunny San Diego. About four hours later, we arrived at Sun Diego, sans sun, but with 60-degree weather. Crystal's sister, Maren, graciously allowed us to park the car at her home and then she drove us to the boat, by way of In-N-Out Burger and Golden Spoon (where she and her husband, Rick, treated us to all the frozen yogurt we could handle, since they own the shop).
At the San Diego pier, we spied our giant, bigger-than-the-Titanic, white Carnival Elation cruise ship. It had 12 decks and offered accommodations for more than 2,000 people and about 900 crew members. After settling in to our luxurious staterooms, we went up on deck to explore and watch San Diego float into the distance.
That evening we went to dinner and experienced what was only the beginning of a wonderful culinary relationship with the cruise. Meal highlights included filet mignon, lobster tail, jumbo tiger prawns, Caesar salad, made-to-order omelettes, Beef Wellington, Chocolate Melting Cake (which Elisabeth ate five nights in a row!) and, I forget the name, but Crystal had a delicious veggie pot pie-type thing with lots of puff pastry and cheesy sauce. Our waiter, Ronnie from the Phillipines, had a great way of simply saying, "Yes," as we ordered each thing. He didn't react at all when Jordan ordered two entrees one night (veal parmesan -- to which Elisabeth said, "Wow, veal tastes way different when it doesn't come from a Banquet frozen dinner," and the Beef Wellington), or when Christina, Elisabeth and Crystal all ordered about two desserts each every night. That's what's so great about cruises, lots of food and then you don't have any dishes!
Of our four full days on the cruise, two were spend on board the ship. Both were overcast and a bit chilly, which kept us away from lounging on the deck chairs and getting really tan. Instead, this allowed us to participate in Carnival's "FunShip" activities, such as an "Amazing Race"-type scavenger hunt (Jordan and Christina won a trophy on that one), various trivia games, presentations and Water Wars! Water Wars consisted of two platforms facing each other on top of the ship, near the pool and water slide (yes, we had a waterslide!). Each platform has a cup attached to surgical tubing which allows you to shoot water balloons at the other side. Since it was a little chilly and cloudy, Christina, Elisabeth and Jordan were the only ones who showed up to play. Christina and Elisabeth battled first, with Elisabeth winning partly because Christina would run away when balloons were coming, instead of standing there to take it like a man. Jordan soundly defeated Elisabeth and then squeaked out another victory when he challenged both girls at the same time. To celebrate, we all went down the water slide into the pool!
Another great diversion on-board was the miniature golf course built on the very top of the ship. It was cold and windy, but that could be the way golf is supposed to be played, at least that's what the courses in Ireland and Scotland always look like. Jordan sank two holes-in-one and the girls had several more than that, because the chilly air forced them to help each other make things go quickly and one would putt while the other two hovered near the hole ready to tap the ball into the cup, but not add any strokes.
The two days were were in port, in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, were perfect: sunny and about 75 degrees. In Cabo San Lucas, we chartered a local boat to take us out of the harbor to Lover's Cove, a beautiful beach surrounded by sea cliffs. Near this beach there is a colony of sea lions, as well as many birds and fish. Our boatman showed us the sights, then dropped us off at Lover's Cove for a couple hours to sunbathe and snorkel. We saw some beautiful tropical fish in the water, including some angelfish and a big (like three feet long) aquamarine fish of an unknown, to us, name. After a wonderful time on the beach, we went back to town and our boatman told us where to get some great fish tacos, which are a Baja California specialty. We went to Tacos Claro, and all enjoyed a lunch of delicious, and deliciously cheap, seafood tacos and quesadillas.
In Ensenada we decided to go to The Bufadora (blowhole), a place where the waves blast into and cavern on the sea cliffs and spray water up to 80 feet in the air. The cruise ship offered trips there for $25 a person and a taxi company in town offered trips for $10 per person. We eschewed both options and took local buses for $4 per person. We had a much more mellow ride, enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with the locals and saved lots of cash. That cash allowed us to eat a delicious lunch at Tio Papa's, a place that specializes in huge, stuffed baked potatoes. The house specialty is a potato filled with cheese, bacon, beef, chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, gravy and butter. It was delcious!
When we boarded the ship in Ensenada, we knew our long, warm, adventure was coming to an end. So to celebrate, we all got smoothies and stood on the deck as we sailed out of port. That night we had another delicious meal and watched the sun set. Saturday morning brought us into San Diego, where Maren picked us up, took us back to Golden Spoon for more yogurt, then took us to her home, where we got in the car and headed home. The most noteworthy thing about the drive home was seeing the burned-out top floors of the Monte Carlo casino in Las Vegas. Oh, and having more In-N-Out burgers. Our drive ended as it began, with clear roads. A pair of snow storms blew through while we were gone, but we were blessed to have clear roads both ways.
Now, we are all home, being cold, dreaming of going back and trying to work off our double-entree, triple-dessert meals.