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Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy 100 Days to go!!


As of today, there are only 100 more days until I am boarding a plane to London! You know what that means? Only 99 until the Justin Bieber concert. Guess which one I'm more excited about?


Justin Bieber!! Of course!

.........

Just kidding. I'm way more excited about London.


In honor of 100 days, last night, my family and I made fish and chips. The best part was that in my recipe book, the fish was called fish fingers.

  • You know you're a Whovian when even though you live in America, you call fish sticks fish fingers after seeing The Doctor eat them.

I told my dad all we needed was custard, but he didn't understand.
In honor of 100 days to go, I shall today, tell you 100 things I have to do before I leave. Or less. I'll stop when I can't think of anymore without them just being fluff.

  1. I must go on a huge shopping spree. I got a lot of gift cards for my birthday last week.
  2. I must get a new suitcase. Mine isn't big enough to pack for more than a week.
  3. I must go to Mission Arlington with my church and work a VBS. It's about two weeks before I leave for London, so it'll be fun.
  4. I must make a shirt to wear to the Justin Bieber concert with my sisters.
  5. I must finish P90X. Four days down, 86 to go.
  6. I must find simple, cheap recipes I can make while in London.
  7. I must find a substitute for my classroom at church. You can't leave kindergartners with no teacher.
  8. I must have a going away party.
  9. I must start making a list of all my "must-see" places. I feel more organized when I make lists. 
  10. I must start walking because I don't know if I can walk five miles in one day. Apparently that will be a common occurrence while we're there.
That's all I can think of...

I was going to bake a cake in my Pyrex tonight and write "Happy 100 Days" on it, but I won't have time, so I might do that tomorrow. When I do, I'll post a picture and I'll make sure the cake has the correct days on it.

I do, though, have a really good idea for when I hit 70 days to go, aka 10 weeks. I won't tell you until then though. I had math wrong and thought it was today, but then I realized that there are seven days a week, not ten. I'm not taking a math class in London, so whatevs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh My Gato: Take Me Back to Puerto Vallarta

I'm home from Spring Break. I have been in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the past week with about 21 other people we know. It's a tradition. Last year we were there for nine nights. This time, five. Next year, we need to find a happy medium because it wasn't long enough this time, although I did make it to a friend's dance for the first time ever. Even though it was kind of short, boy did we make memories.

From our resort, we could see both ends of the bay. Apparently it's 26 miles from one end to the other. We almost went to the other side to go surfing, but we didn't.

Day 1
The Arrival

I'm always nervous when I return to a place I've been. I'm afraid things might have changed, which they did, but not much.

Our plane ended up getting delayed about a half hour and then because of air traffic, we sat on the tarmac for another half hour.

We took pictures while we waited.
The time is confusing because we flew out on Sunday, aka daylight savings time. Mexico has no daylight savings. We woke up Sunday, moved our watches an hour forward, got on the airplane and when we took off, moved them back an hour. By the time we landed, it was around 3:30ish.

We were waiting for our taxi to take us to the hotel. It was kind of cold outside.
The first thing we see when we walk up the stairs in front of the hotel. Home sweet home.
Since dinner reservations were at 6 that night, our family didn't go to the beach. We stayed in, took showers and unpacked. Then we got ready for dinner.

Dinner that night was at my favorite restaurant, La Pergola. It's considered the international restaurant at our resort, Marival. I always have the Parmesan chicken when I'm there.


Two different views from our first room. Yes, I said first. Remember that.

Day 2
The Day of the Sunburn


The reason for the first day of vacation is to show you where you need to apply the sunscreen better on the second day. -My mother
This was our first day on the beach. After today, everyone realizes that they do in fact get sunburned. I got off the easiest, just a little spot on my arms and ears. Some people were in agony just wearing a t-shirt.

There were nine little kids with our group. That's sophomore and under. They aren't really little kids anymore. The age keeps increasing at they get older. They'll never be able to move to the big kid table. I imagine us all 30 years old with our own kids still sitting at the big kid table. The kids boogie board and swim all day. I read.

This ties in this post with London. I got travel books as well. I am prepping! We're almost to 100 days to go!
Dinner was at my least favorite that night. The Mexican place, Las Palomas. It's good, but there are only four restaurants so one has to be at the bottom of the list. I had reallllly good soup that I'd never tried before. It was lime-y.


We all had that color dress to wear on the same night, but Daryl decided to break it out early. 

Day 3
Switcharoo

So, it turned out that my dad hadn't been able to sleep the entire trip. There was apparently a screeching noise that wouldn't stop all through the night. We had to switch rooms. Of course this would be the first trip I ever unpack during. I think I packed up my entire room in about 15 minutes. 


The view right before the sunset.
The view from our new room. It was an ocean front. It was the only room available so we got it.


On a better note, a beach vendor walked by us today with jewelry. He had some cute bracelets that the day before, another man had been selling for $10 each. This guy was selling the exact same. He sold them to us for 5 for $20. 

Day 4
Oh Yea, Pipi's Yea

Several things happened on this day, some of which I won't tell because "what happens at Pipi's stays at Pipi's."

I learnt that I quite enjoy cappuccinos, for one.

The main thing we did this day was walk the malecon to our dinner reservations in downton PV. We all had loud, blue t-shirts that said Puerto Vallarta, so no one was getting lost. We took a cab from the hotel to the end of the malecon and walked.

The ride there was peaceful. The ride back, not so much.
We walked over a scary hanging bridge to get to the artisan market. I don't have any pictures there because I was too busy looking around at all the stuff.

We stopped in several stores along the way and bought stuff, but mainly we just looked. One stop we had to make was the church.

It's a Catholic church and every year, we get there right as the bells are ringing to start Mass. There is a real bell ringer. It's really cool to watch.

Looking up
We ate dinner at Pipi's that night. I won't go in to what happened there because I could type pages and pages about it. 

LOVE this picture of a sea of blue shirts walking into Pipi's. The shirts were great on the malecon. No one could go too far without being seen.
All I'll say is that our group made the restaurant's Facebook page. We like mariachi music.  #sorrynotsorry
The cab ride home was...scary? We were probably about halfway home when a car in front of us started break-checking the cab. The driver tried to go around the car, but the car sped up and swerved over like he was going to hit us. The cabs in Mexico don't have seat belts so our hearts were pounding. Our driver rolled down his window, yelled at the guy, and we thought it was over. Nope. Five minutes later, the car comes speeding back and zooms around us and we never see him again.

Imagine this:
You're sitting, unseatbelted, in the back of a taxi. There are ten other people with you. Everyone is laughing and singing along to the Macarena and Achy-Breaky Heart in Spanish. All of a sudden, the driver hits his breaks and silence falls. We look ahead and see a small red car driving ahead of us. We continue driving and stop again. The red car was break-checking the taxi. The taxi switches lanes and attempts to pass the red car, but the car doesn't like that. The taxi has overtaken half of the small car when all of a sudden, the van swerves to the right. You look out your window and see the red car narrowly miss hitting the corner of the taxi on purpose. The driver opens his window and converses in angry Spanish with the red car driver. You can make out a few curse words. The taxi speeds back up and the red car disappears behind it. A few minutes pass and you're starting to laugh about the incident. You know when you get back to the hotel, karaoke is waiting for you and the group. Everyone thought the ordeal was over. It wasn't. All of a sudden, a loud engine roar is heard throughout the cab. You look next to the van and catch the small red car zooming down the road and cutting us off. After that, you never see him again.

Day 5
To Surf or Not to Surf

Today, we were going to go to Sayulita for surfing lessons, but it was really cold outside and they told us that there was coral under the waves that would cut us all up. Instead, a lot of the group took lessons on the smaller waves at the hotel so next year, we can go to Sayulita and be pros.

That night, we went back to the first restaurant. Once again, I had the chicken parmesan.

All the adults got flaming coffee. I love watching them make it, but I doubt I'll ever try it.
Day 6
The Farewell

Until next year Puerto Vallarta!

The last look out at the beach.
Going to the check out desk



















There was a crazy long line to check out. A
dance contest was starting that day.

The last breakfast
On the way home now :(

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Graduation Trip to NYC

Guess what!!

I'm in Mexico right now. I figured while I was there, I would get this posted. I've had it written for a while, but I've never posted it. When better than now?

This is a trip I took in July of 2012.

*********************************************************************************

As a graduation present, my mom and I went to New York to see Broadway shows. Along with shows, we also did ALL of the touristy stuff. If you can name it, we probably did it. Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Broadway, Wall Street and MORE.

Times Square, only about a block from our hotel!

The only thing I said we HAD to do, was make the trek to Hoboken, NJ. 

And we did.

Hoboken was a lovely town that reminded me a lot of Wichita Falls.

There was hardly a line at all! We went right in and ordered.  Buddy wasn't there, they said he was at the factory more now. The funny thing about the bakery is that you never see the shop on the store's right. It's a super modern Verizon store. The TV show never lets viewers see it. Smart if you ask me.
Mauro came out to get a pastry and I got a picture with him! It was the best day ever. He was the only Cake Boss person we saw. 
We saw a show a night, giving us a total of five shows. Lion King, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Chicago and Newsies. I found out that if you wait outside the stage door after shows, you can get the cast members' autographs, which of course I, being a theatre aficionado, had to do.

Mufasa, Simba, Scar, Young Simba and Young Nala signed it. I also saw this show in Las Vegas and they were very comparable. AMAZING. I had a slight awkward moment with Scar. My fingernails were painted "Easter Egg Blue," according to him. I said "My shoes match!" We both looked down and I realized I had switched shoes. They were my Cozumel flip flops that in no way match "Easter Egg Blue."
Glinda, Elphaba (and her undertudy), Madame Morrible, Boq, the Wizard and Nessarose signed it.
I saw this show in Dallas with the same Glinda and thought it was phenomenal. After seeing Broadway, I thought Dallas was just average.  Glinda had gotten SOOO much better, so many more effects in the show, just better.

Most of the main characters!

Nothing special, it was good, I don't think I want to see it again, but I'm glad I did go. The set was really cool. The walls were on remote controlled wheels.

Most of the mains again.
Roxie was played by a Japanese theatre/pop star named Ryoko Yonekura. It was her first time performing the role in English. She was great! The set was NOTHING. There was a chair for each cast member that was all that was used. When the chairs weren't in use, they were sitting along the side of the stage and the chorus and minor leads sat in them the whole time. The orchestra was on stage as well. From what I read, the show tried to make it with an elaborate set and failed. They tried again ten or so years later with a minimalist set and scored big.



I got nearly every cast member!
This was the best show I'd ever seen! I also caught a newspaper that they threw into the audience.

Now I have to watch Smash,  because next season, the guy who played Jack Kelly, Jeremy Jordan is going to be on it.

The set was amazing, the singing was amazing, the acting was amazing. I would see this show every night for the rest of my life if I could. 

A few months later, I've tweeted and gotten replies from several of the cast as well as sending off and receiving three fan mail replies. They actually wrote me a letter back.

Now, it's time to vomit some photos up.

Macy's original escalators made of wood! I almost fell down them because I was watching them instead of where I was stepping.
The sphere from the World Trade Center with the new tower being build in the back. I love this photo.
Alexander Hamilton's tombstone in the Trinity Church.

Central Park from the top of the Rockerfeller Center
A driving range on a pier. Had the Titanic made it to New York, that is where it would have docked. 


CONEY ISLAND!!! I don't know why I insisted we go here since all the island has to offer are hotdogs, but I knew I had to see it even though I don't even eat hotdogs. I got to walk in the Pacific Ocean though and that was cool. I liked the boardwalk too. We also went to the aquarium there.
It was the best trip I'd ever gone on! I am ready to go back, even if I got blisters on my feet from EACH pair of shoes I had (including the new pair I bought.) I still have a scar from my ratty blue Vans on my foot. Eventually, I ended up getting a pair of Nike's from Macy's. 

Thankfully we waited until I got my new shoes to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We took a subway across, ate at Grimaldi's underneath the bridge and then walked it back to our hotel.

We also saw Jimmy Fallon practice his monologue in his studio and would have caught a glimpse of Angela Lansbury if my mom would have waited until her show finished.

By far, my favorite thing was just seeing.

I got to see things that I've never seen before and might not ever see again.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Wichita Falls

I grew up in a town called Wichita Falls. There are about 100,000 people here and no one leaves. People travel of course, but the majority of people have only gone to Dallas and back. It's a black hole. It's impossible to leave this town.

Honestly, I'm scared to leave this town. I want to spend my entire life here. It's comfortable. That's part of the reason I'm going to London. While I don't think it will change my mind about staying in Fallz Town, I want to know I could leave if I wanted to.

This blog post will be about Wichita Falls. I figure if I'm going to blog about London, I need to first blog about where I'm from. Maybe when I get to London, knowing this will help explain why it's so cool.

Wichita Falls is known for a few things, including the fake waterfall, Hotter-N-Hell, celebrities and the World's Smallest Skyscraper.

The fake falls

At one point, there was a real waterfall, but in 1886, a flood destroyed it. People wanted to see the falls that the town was named after and since there weren't any, the city decided to rebuild them. Most of the time they're turned off because we're in a drought. The other times, the water is brown because the water here is gross.
***

Hotter-N-Hell

The Hotter-N-Hell is a century bike ride. It's the largest in the country. It's name is a triple entendre. It's 100 miles in 100 degree weather and was initially started as a 100 year anniversary event. I've never done it, but it always closes half of the streets in town.

***

Dr. Phil went to the college here. He opened his own practice and was run out of town, according to my grandmother.
Mia Hamm also went to school here. She played soccer for Notre Dame Catholic School.
Bowling for Soup started here.
Tim Tebow was in town for three hours. He touched me.

That's Tebow touching my shoulder.
***

World's Smallest Skyscraper
There is actually a really funny store behind this.

According to local legend, when McMahon announced in 1919 that he would build a highrise annex to the Newby Building as a solution to the newly wealthy city's urgent need for office space, investors were eager to seize the opportunity to become even wealthier. McMahon collected $200,000 in investment capital from this group of naïve investors, promising to construct a highrise office building across the street from the St. James Hotel. The proposed skyscraper depicted in the blueprints that he distributed was clearly labelled as being 480" tall and consisting of four floors. McMahon is said to have neglected to mention that the scale of his blueprints was in inches rather than feet.

It's an antique store now.

***

In the summers, there is a small waterpark with three slides we can go to. In the winters, we could probably still go if it was open. It usually hits 80 at least once a month. It did today (March 4.) 

In Wichita Falls, everyone knows everyone. I had friends in elementary school that I would tell my parents about. I would then find out that I'd really known the person since I was a baby because our parents had been friends for forever. It was the only reason I could go to sleepovers. My parents already knew the parents. 

***

Mushroom cloud during a nuclear attack
Oooh, almost forgot the scariest fact about Wichita Falls. If there was a nuclear attack, the town would be one of the first towns destroyed.
 
This is because of both Sheppard Air Force Base outside of the Falls, and it's Army counterpart, Ft. Sill, just to the north in Lawton, even though it is a secondary target. Unfortunately, Sheppard is a primary target in the state of Texas so there's really no hope for the Falls if the unimaginable happened. 
Yup. I'm dead if there is ever an all-out nuclear attack.