Tag Archives: travel

One Year Ago…

So one year ago today I was aimlessly wandering around New Zealand. And today I have talked to a lot of my friends I met through that study abroad program and it had me missing the old times.

Here is my oh so personalized acceptance letter email. (Click picture for better view.)

Instead of writing a really emo post, I am going to put up some of my favorite pictures (mostly nature) I took on the trip. I have made so many friends through that trip and I never will take it for granted. I loved every minute of it and I really do wish I was there right now.

 

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Going to the Chapel…

Last weekend I, along with my mum, made the journey to North Carolina to see one of my best friends get married. Now, this best friend is a best friend from high school, the kind of best friend that still keeps in contact with more than two people from our graduating class (yes, I pretty much only care about three people I graduated with, one of whom is the one getting married). If you do the math, this means I had to see hell people I graduated with. I did not like this idea. But she really is one of my best friends so I said, “okay, sure, I’ll be in your wedding.” (Actually I think I said something like YES OF COURSE!!!!!! but that is not the point).

I should have known this was going to be a semi-awful weekend, because the six hour journey took almost eight and a half. By that point, I was singing highly off key (on purpose) because there was no where my mother could go. Because I’m a lovely daughter like that. Then I got the BRILLIANT idea to go to a coffee shop I used to work at. Only problem- they close at 9, we were still on I-95, and it was about 8:35. Let’s just say it is a miracle that my mother did not get a ticket. We got there with about ten or so minutes to spare. Because she is a lovely mother like that.

I got my coffee, then drove over to my friend’s house where I would be staying. Actually, we went to my mum’s hotel first, to check her in. After that we drove to the CORRECT hotel, and checked her in for realz. THEN we went to my friends house. We talked for ever and I finally got in bed around 1 or something and I was exhausted. Sitting in a car for what seems like eternity will do that to you.

The next morning we went to the bridesmaids luncheon. It was….fun. We stood around on a porch drinking lemonade (soooooo southern) and then got lunch at this place (I forget the name). I met the other bridesmaids there (one of which was a classmate of mine) and let’s just say the reception was not very warm. I tried to engage people in conversation but when you are considered a northern invader things don’t go so well.

My place setting at the luncheon.

The best thing about lunch was the “entertainment” where Morgan’s (the bride) aunt spoke about memories she had of babysitting Morgs. The she sang. I think she made up the song, but her voice was….. okay let’s just say it, rip the band-aid off. It was terrible. But bless her heart she was trying and it took everything within us not to laugh. I think I held it together pretty well.

That night was the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. It started at 5 something and it was dreadfully hot- just dreadful. And that was an hour after the wedding would be, meaning it would be even HOTTER for the wedding. YAY! The rehearsal went about as well as rehearsals go… nobody really cared for the woman running the show (Joan, I think was her name? Some friend of the bride’s mother) and eventually we all went to eat.

The rehearsal dinner was lovely; I got a delicious piece of tuna. Yummmmy. The groom’s cake was also quite adorable:

The next day was the WEDDING and we had to pretty much sweat and sweat and sweat because we had to be there early. I had my hair in hot rollers, and wore them to the wedding location, and got many odd stares and laughs along the way. It was quite hilarious. Then came the wedding, where we had to practically journey to Middle Earth to get to the “alter.”

First we had to hind behind bushes.

Then we had to walk around/behind the guests.

Then we had to walk down the isle.

Then we had to cross over gravel.

Then we had to climb porch steps.

Then we had to climb more porch steps.

Then we had to turn to face the audience.

Then once everyone had done that, the bride came. And she looked quite beautiful:

After she made it, we had to turn and face her. A little ways into the ceremony, I felt something wet start dripping on my arm. How horrified I was when I found out IT WAS MY OWN FREAKING SWEAT! EW! DOUBLE EW! Then…..I could feel it rolling down my back. *gag* It was DISGUSTING, Internet. Simply DISGUSTING.

Informing my mother that it was really, really, really hot. (But she already knew.)

After the ceremony we took more pictures and then went to the reception where the bridal party was introduced. The guy couldn’t read my last name and it was embarrassing and I really didn’t want to be there but I suffered through it and before long they were cutting the cake. Then it was time to toss the garter/bouquet.

Oh. My. Gosh. Awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it. First, the groom was forced to be handcuffed and blindfolded and had to get the garter off with his teeth. I mean, whatever, gross, I don’t need to see some man sticking his face up my best friend’s dress. Then the guy who caught the garter had to put it on the girl who caught the bouquet. I did not know this. I am very, very, very, very, VERY, VERY, VERY glad I did not get the bouquet. Why you ask? Because the guy who got the garter put it on the girl who got the bouquet’s leg, and then pulled something out of his sleeve. And what was that, you may be asking? A THONG.

…..

Awkward to the EXTREME. Then it was time to leave.

Overall, it was an okay weekend. I got to see two of my three really good friends. I had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing other people from my high school, some of which didn’t acknowledge my existence, and tried not to even when I talked to them. And that is okay. I wish them all the luck in their lives.

I’m glad my friend is happy, I’m glad I got to see her, but I’m really glad to be home.

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CRUISE VACATION: DAY NINE

Welcome back to the (not so) exciting continuation of Lauren’s travels via cruise ship! Without further ado, here is the rest of the intoxicating story:

Once we woke up we got ready for the day and basically all I did was talk to people via aim, uploaded pictures to facebook, and watched my cousin’s band recital where we learned all the gossip about her classmates. After that we went and visited my aunt’s flag business, a shop I haven’t seen in EVER. And I don’t mean that in my usual over dramatic meaning, I mean I have never seen her flag business. From there we were just going to head over to the airport, as it was about fifteen minutes away.

Well, before we left I my aunt couldn’t find her phone so we just left without it (she is really laid back and casual, so she didn’t really care). So we went to the flag business, looked around and took a few pics, then we made our way to the airport where she dropped us off. We checked our luggage got our stuff together and made our way to security. I then pulled out my father’s phone from my pocket and said, “Father, since we are about to get to security I thought I would give this back to you. You left it on the counter and I grabbed it!” He then said things like “you creep” , “give it back” , etc, when he looked at the phone and made a face as if he had missed the most important call of his life. I said, “what is wrong???” and that is when we realized WE had my AUNT’S phone!!! They both have iPhones and both have the same black cover on these phones so when I grabbed it I thought it was his, when really it wasn’t.

Whoops.

So then my uncle came back to get the phone, luckily the airport is a fifteen or so minute drive away!!! We are still laughing about it. Anywho, we got on the plane where we had an amazing stewardess who sang to us. Then we got off the plane, got our luggage, drove an hour and ten minutes, got to the house, hugged my other grandmother, went to see the decorations at my sister’s apartment, came back home, and FINALLY went to bed!

In case that wasn’t totally clear, my other grandmother has been at the house the entire time we were on the cruise, decorating my sister’s apartment. Pictures below!

My aunt's flag shop! (Obviously a behind-the-scenes shot.)

My aunt's flag shop! (Obviously a behind-the-scenes shot.)

The front of the shop!

The front of the shop!

So sad.

So sad.

The correct way to live your life.

The correct way to live your life.

At the airport, waiting for our car!

At the airport, waiting for our car!

Very sleepy, but the Bard is happy. Yes, I took him along. HE NEEDS TO SEE THE WORLD!

Very sleepy, but the Bard is happy. Yes, I took him along. HE NEEDS TO SEE THE WORLD!

Kitchen area

Kitchen area

The bird cage thing on the wall

The bird cage thing on the wall

Main room

Main room

Curtains, courtsey of your's truly.

Curtains, courtsey of your's truly.

Headwig!

Headwig!

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about my vacation! If you missed any of the days you can EASILY catch up here. Buh-byes for now.

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CRUISE VACATION: DAY EIGHT

I’m so glad you were concerned enough about evil robots that you HAD to come back to see if it was true or not. Well let us continue with the story to find out…

It was so early when my mum woke me up to get ready to leave. But I got up and got ready and we got our behinds off of that ship! It was an exciting trip home. One that was only supposed to last for three hours ended up taking four or five! (Sound familiar Gilligan?) First there was traffic, which was ridiculous considering it was for roadwork. The kind of roadwork where there were all of these signs and things, and yet no actual roadwork going on. Then we took a wrong exit. Then we stopped for food, where crazily enough we ran into some people from the cruise that we met on the way to Cozumel! That was really fun.

Then we made it back to Birmingham, unloaded the cars and even though we were DEAD tired, we went and saw HARRY POTTER!!!! because we are hard core Harry Potter fans. EEEP! You can read my review of it HERE. After the movie we had a small dinner and then it was most definitely time for sleeps.

Be SURE to come back tomorrow for the finale of Lauren’s exciting week of travel! You WON’T want to miss it!!
Sadly, no pictures to show today, however you can read all about the first seven days of my vacation here.

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CRUISE VACATION: DAY SEVEN

If you are reading this, then that means you came back despite the lack of yesterday’s cliffhanger. Or you could have just stumbled upon this website and found yourself reading this and wondering just what the heck I am talking about with all this “lack of cliffhanger stuff.” FEAR NOT oh weary traveler of the Interweb, for I bring you great tidings of good blogs. If you click right HERE you can have the opportunity to read all about the last six days of my vacation at sea. Or you can continue reading this post and just sort of piece together my journey. Whatever you prefer.

So last night ended with me completely wiped out, falling asleep in no time. Today began with me not ever wanting to get out of bed. EVER. And I wasn’t planning on waking up for a while until the mention of BREAKFAST, which I normally don’t eat but today not only was I extremely tired, but I was extremely hungry for PANCAKES, nectar of the breakfast Gods. So off we (my mum, sister, and I) went to The Seven Seas dining room, without a stitch of makeup, straight out of bed. Gross, I know.

Once we got there we were seated with two other girls who were very nice! Our waiter flirted with my grandmother (danced with her, kissed her on the cheek, cut up her meal and fed her a few bites… you know, real hard core stuff). After breakfast I baked in the sun and got quite burnt. I put on suntan lotion on my shoulders, I think it was like 400 SPF, and they STILL got burnt to a crisp.  That was all that burned actually. Just my shoulders. So weird.

After that fun it was time for lunch! I got the most amazing sandwich- absolutely divine. Then came time for another RIVITING game of BINGO, and let me just go ahead and say I have some of the worst luck. It was seven game progressive BINGO where you keep the same card and each game goes up ten dollars. We are sitting at 140 or so dollars and I am one away from BINGO. Well when you are one away from BINGO you are supposed to stand up, so I did. Rick the BINGO guy was all “Oh I see you standin up young lady. Just what do you need to get BINGO?” To which I replied G58. Not so hard right? Well he called G56, he called G59 he called G57 and every number EXCEPT G58. And another person got BINGO. This little predicament happened TWICE! Can you even believe it?!??!? I am still so sad.

Then it was time for The Liars Club, which consisted of a panel of three people who worked on the cruise and three members of the audience. TORY, our cruise director, was the “announcer” type lady who mediated between the panels. What happens is TORY would say a word, and the cruise panel would each give a unique definition of what they believed it meant. Then the audience panel would say whom they agree with, and the correct person would stand up. This was similar to the game show To Tell the Truth, or two lies and a truth. I must say that this was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The cruise panel consisted of a European named Laura, a southern guy from Alabama named Rick, and a real dry humored, sarcastic gal named Rachel. Laura started each definition off with a different country in Eruope that the word originated in, Rick would start it off with a different wife (my first wife, my third wife, when my fifth wife left me…) and Rachel would begin every definition with “Well, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m from Portland Oregon…”

The game lasted for about thirty minutes and after every definition three different audience members were called up. I really loved this game, it was probably one of my favorite “on the ship” things we did. After The Liars Club came an animal towel folding class where we learned how to make two of the animals that were on our bed every night. We made a dog and an elephant, and the results were very interesting.

After towel folding came packing to go home and getting ready for dinner. Dinner was great- I had the most AMAZING salmon of my LIFE. Seriously, I could have eaten nine million plates of that stuff.

After dinner we didn’t really do much. Finished packing and I read a little, but now it is time for sleeps! See you tomorrow bright and early to disembark the ship!!

What happened after this? Did Lauren and her family make it back safely? Did they even make it off the ship? DID AN EVIL ROBOT TAKE OVER HER COMPUTER AND TYPE UP THIS BLOG? I suppose you will just have to return tomorrow to find out!

These are supposed to be dogs.

These are supposed to be dogs.

These are supposed to be elephants.

These are supposed to be elephants.

Martini bus!!

Martini bus!!

Laying out! ALMOST FELL OFF THE BOAT. Not really though.

Laying out! ALMOST FELL OFF THE BOAT. Not really though.

My cousin doesn't look too happy with life.

My cousin doesn't look too happy with life.

Once again you can view all previous cruise vacation blogs HERE!

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CRUISE VACATION: DAY SIX

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for- the EXCITING continuation of Lauren’s travels!

Let’s see… where did we leave off? I believe it was dinnertime. Our waiters did a hilarious dance, which I just so happened to catch on tape for YOU Internet. I do it all for YOU. After we finished dinner we headed back to the room for some sleeps. You see, we had to get up bright and early the next day for Calica (Cal-eek-a), where we would be seeing the Mayan Ruins.

Fast forward to 6:30 when I woke up. Now, usually I skip on the details of getting up and just go straight into the day. But something special happened this morning. Something special as in MY 21st BIRTHDAY! So I think that every detail of today is important. Okay, not really, but you could at least humor me. Once we were ready to go, my entire family went to the docks and met up with our tour guide, who was one of the sweetest people ever. We then took an hour or so long bus ride to the Mayan Ruins, stopping along the way to see how they made many of the souvenirs sold to tourists.

Once we got to the ruins we walked around with our tour guide who told us many interesting facts about the place, a lot of which I have sadly forgotten, although some of the more interesting ones have stayed with me. For instance, the Mayans were some of the most brilliant people, but knowledge is power so the elders kept it to themselves instead of educating the people (and more importantly the kids). They didn’t share this knowledge because they wanted the power all to themselves. Another interesting fact (although somewhat grotesque) is how they did human sacrifices. They would take a man (usually a prisoner of war) and lay him on a rock. Then two people would hold his arms above his head while two other people held his feet. They would pull the man, stretching him, and someone would make an incision under his ribcage. They would then PULL OUT HIS BEATING HEART, thus ending the sacrifice. These people and their sacrifices…

After the tour ended I was just absolutely sick to my stomach. I think it is from the poison of TEN THOUSAND mosquitoes bites on my back and legs. Horseback riding comes at a price people. (My mum said it looks as though I have the measles! My sister also has thousands up her legs. Insanity.) So anywho, I was sick and there were two options. Option #1- go shop in the boiling heat or option #2- go swim in the beach. We had about an hour to kill before our bus headed back to the cruise ship so I went with option #2 and swam the heck out of that beach. I haven’t been to the beach in ages and now I remember why. I detest, I mean absolutely DETEST salt water and I got a good eye, nose, and mouthful of the stuff. After swimming for about thirty or so minutes I went back to the shops to get a present for some friends.

Before I knew it the bus was here and it was time to go back to the beloved cruise ship. I then came back and stopped at one more store where I saw really beautiful earrings. I asked how much they were and the man said 400 pesos, or 40 USD, so I politely declined. He then tried to offer then to me for 30 dollars but since I was shopping for a friend I said no. Well he didn’t like that AT ALL and got kind of mean. The bad thing was I picked up a shot glass to get my friend and I think he bumped up the price of the shot glass because I didn’t get the earrings. I mean, I love my friends but if I am going to spend 30 dollars on earrings, those will be on MY ears.

So I got back to the ship, showered, changed and then it was MOVIE time! Now they don’t have a movie theater on this ship (I know, the horrors) so I am forced to catch a movie on the T.V. in my room. The thing is, they show movies every three hours, instead of continuously. How absurd is that? I had about ten minutes until the next movie came on and I was desperately trying to find things in the room to do until then. I fixed my hair, picked out my clothes for dinner, repacked my suitcase, loaded my pictures up and then FINALLY the movie came on. Now I just found out there are three movie channels. Before I had only known about the one, and all it played was Return to Witch Mountain (or whatever it is called… the one with The Rock) and I have to admit it was pretty good! But I had seen it twice (well I missed the first ten or so minutes each time) and I wanted something different. So the movie started and I thought to myself, “Self, this cannot be what I think it is. No. No. NO NO NO NO NO!!!” For it was none other than Paul Blart: Mall Cop. A movie so awful that I cannot put into words how much I dislike it.  So I changed it and happily watched Slumdog Millionaire. And may I just say again that those are the most adorable children IN THE WORLD!

After the movie it was time to PARTY. Not really because there wasn’t much going on, so my mum and I played cards with my aunt, cousins, and grandmother. At first we played SPADES, which was fun because I have never played that before. Then we played “Items from the purse” which was really spoons, but seeing as we had no spoons we played with items from our purses. Then we played Tongues, which sounds weird but it is just like spoons. However, instead of grabbing spoons you stick out your tongue. This is a lot harder than spoons because you have to look at your cards, pass them, AND look at peoples faces to see if they have their tongues out. After those thrilling games we got ready for dinner where the waiters sang to me and we had wine! Woot! For dinner I had lamb, which was really good, but at this point I think the majority of our family was sick from the EXTREME rocking of the boat. On the Disney cruise I went on a couple of years back I never felt the ship rock, except maybe once. I have felt it A LOT this time, which is really weird. But back to the important things like how our waiters danced for us YET AGAIN! I haz the video for you, because once again I say, I do it ALL for YOU.

And after dinner my brother and I went and played BINGO to which we lost. Sad, I know. Then it was time for the TALENT SHOW! How exciting! I was really hoping for some interesting acts, but sadly they were all singing. One old guy named SKEET played the piano and sang, and he my least favorite. He turned a three-minute song into a ninety-minute song. I thought I was going to meet my maker by the time he was done. Other than him, the rest of the people did great! The show was good but by then we were so exhausted it was time for sleeps. I fell asleep in no time, which is rare. And this is where today’s travels end.

Wow, that was an amazing story! And a happy Birthday to you Lauren! Since she decided to go ahead and fill you in on her entire day leaving you NO cliffhanger for tomorrow, I leave you with no witty comment other than just come on back and read how her LAST day at sea went! I promise you, you will NOT want to miss this.

The long walk to the ruins. My brother was the only person next to me the enitre way.

The long walk to the ruins. My brother was the only person next to me the enitre way.

Smile!!

Smile!!

My cousin making faces!

My cousin making faces!

My baby brother!

My baby brother!

My brother the giant!

My brother the giant!

A small part of the Ruins

A small part of the Ruins

The place where they would cut out the prisioner's heart!

The place where they would cut out the prisioner's heart!

More of the Ruins

More of the Ruins

The amazing beach where we went swimming!

The amazing beach where we went swimming!

Decorations!

Decorations!

Decorations all on the ceiling!

Decorations all on the ceiling!

YUMMMM! :D

YUMMMM! 😀

You can read all about my vacation by clicking HERE!

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CRUISE VACATION: DAY FOUR

And now we join Lauren for the continuation of her journey:

After dinner last night my brother, sister, and I sort of hit a wall. My mum and I were planning on playing BINGO then join my brother and sister to see the comedian. Well after a wonderful dinner we realized just how tired we actually were. Getting up at 5am and no nap will do that to you. We all went to sleeps anticipating DAY FOUR!

Today we woke up and I had a lovely breakfast with my dad, mum, and uncle. Then I went back to my brother’s STATEROOM and spent the next ten minutes getting him out of bed and convincing him to go lay out in the sunny sunshine with me. FINALLY he gave in to my constant begging and away we went. It was rather warm but very nice. About two hours later we met up with the cousins and grandmother to play an exciting game of “movie quote trivia.” At the end of the game there was a four-way tie between my sister, two random ladies, and myself. One random lady got eliminated and it was down to the three of us. Now these last four questions were NOT movie quotes, but rather very, very RANDOM movie facts about movies that happened to be made before 1995. I don’t even really remember what they were but all in all I lost. My sister and I tied for second place. But the good news is that I got The Goonies quote correct even though I have never actually seen the movie.

After that my mum, sister and I went to the “marriage game” where we ran into my dad and grandfather. This game was absolutely hysterical! They took a couple married for 50 years, 10 years, and newlyweds. They were seated back to back and asked a series of ten questions. At the end of the game they read out the answers to see if they matched up. Out of the three couples the oldest were the funniest. The host just “HAPPENED” to forget to keep score and all couples won champagne and a trophy. Woot!

After the game my mum, sister and I finally played our RIVETING ROUND of BINGO. We lost (I was two spaces away) when we played Bingo, but my sister did win a French Bottle of Champagne during a raffle! We were very excited for her!!

After Bingo we walked around the ship and got the special drink of the day- a GOOMBAY SMASH. But now it is time for dinner, where we are celebrating my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary!

Lauren has no idea what is in store after dinner, but do be sure to check in tomorrow for the NEW and EXCITING details of her life at sea.

Sara and her bottle of champagne!

Sara and her bottle of champagne!

The random chess set found whilst walking around.

The random chess set found whilst walking around.

The pool area.

The pool area.

Read about day one here, day two here, and day three here!

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