Monday, July 16, 2012

Aruba: The Finale

And now, to wrap up the infamous first family vacation to Aruba.

We had received a few recommendations for restaurants to try while visiting Aruba, so one night we ended up at the Flying Fishbone where we got to eat sitting in the sand.
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They had little metal stands next to each table which you could hang your shoes and purses on. Well, not the diaper bag, but standard smaller purses. Unfortunately, the tide came in during dinner…
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No, I’m just kidding. The restaurant had about 5 tables placed in the water for 2 (and only 2, Brielle made us a party of 3). The water is warm, so it looked like a neat experience for those fortunate parties of 2 and no small babies. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring the idea to the North West, but I’m thinking having your feet in the snow while you eat just won’t give you the same experience.

Here’s Brielle and I checking out the water lapping the beach. A very relaxing atmosphere really.
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And here’s the three of us half way through dinner.
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She’s preoccupied with chewing on the awesome headphones she got from United Airlines. Best toy we’ve ever received from United! Hours of entertainment logged so far.

Yet another Ashlyn hand me down bathing suit. Ashlyn rocks!
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And here is what happens when you leave the baby and the dad alone to use the restroom.
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Good thing I came back, he may have buried her up to her neck if I hadn’t!

This was the second time on this trip that she experienced sand, but the difference here is we got a video of it this time.

Since this was our last day here (or so we thought), we wanted to make sure we got another shot at the lazy river. Here’s mama and Bri as close to the waterfall as she was willing to go.
Here’s Brielle playing with a water spout.
Steve had previously seen a water park in Aruba that he wanted to try out, but being ever the over cautious mom that I am, I had to talk him out of it. It didn’t quite meet my safety standards. What do you guys think?
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Um yeah.

But I did see a slide at the other side of the pool at our hotel that he could take Brielle down. Oh boy, did she have fun.
I had to give it a try too.

And here’s a video from the 50’s of Brielle walking out of the pool. (I have not idea why the picture quality is so weird on this video.)

The last night was also Steve and mine’s 7th anniversary, so per my request, we had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the casino next door. After the meal, they made us a fancy dessert to share.
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Such a great trip, even despite the 2 bad things. At breakfast the day we were leaving, we had to take some final Aruba pictures. This is not a postcard, this is the view from our breakfast table.
Whoops, I meant this one.

And here’s one I’m not sure if it’s Steve or Brielle taking the picture. My money’s on Brielle. She’s pretty advanced.
After breakfast, we packed up, turned the car we rented back in and proceeded to check into our 12:15pm flight…

Welcome to BAD THING #3.

Turns out our flight was cancelled due to some hurricane outside of Florida. Bummer. Steve then explained to me that since it was an “Act of God” that cancelled our flight, we would be responsible for paying for our own room and board for the night. Double bummer.

Our whole flight was redirected to another line so they could rebook us (one group at a time) for the flight the next day. As you can imagine this took a looooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggg time. But, while we were all patiently ;) waiting, turns out the storm was going to peter out and they were going to be able to get us all out on a flight at 10pm that night. Whew. Crisis averted. Of course, Steve and I had been planning on staying with my High School friend Nick in Washington D.C. after our flight, and that was not going to happen anymore since we’d have to be back at the airport at 6am (after getting in at 2am) the next morning for our new flight to WA. I was kind of bummed about that. But hey, United provided us with $20 vouchers for food in the airport which paid for our lunch and dinner while we waited for the flight.

Hanging out in an airport in Aruba, what could be more exciting than that? Oh wait, this is:

Yep, Brielle learned how to crawl on the dirty airport floor in Aruba. And again I learned a lesson about leaving Brielle and Steve alone. I was gone briefly only to return to Brielle have crawled her way over to something on the dirty airport floor to give it a little taste test. I decided I wasn’t too excited about her eating things off the airport floor and proceeded to remove said item… a toe nail! Ewwwww.

Well, around 8pm that night, the airport was pretty empty, actually, it was completely empty except for our flight. But no worries, our flight would be boarding in a little over an hour. But wait, what is this? An announcement? Yep, the plane coming from Chicago had been diverted to Miami due to a mechanical malfunction? Miami, where the supposed hurricane was?? Turns out there never was a hurricane, so we aren’t really sure why the first flight was delayed. But who cares about that now, because this most recent flight is not officially cancelled and we’ve just spent our last day in Aruba in an airport with the beach a half mile away! Grrrr.

Amazingly, United was able to bus all of us to a hotel in Aruba’s downtown, and luckily it was a hotel that Steve had status at, so we got bumped up to a suite. Sweet! The room was much nicer than the one we had been staying at all week and had a patio that walked out to the pool. But no lazy river, so Brielle wasn’t impressed. Brielle did like the fountain they had out front, and I let her play in it a bit before going to our room.
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The lighting isn’t good here, but Steve took a picture of us from the other side of the fountain.
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We were also provided with food vouchers for the hotel, but lucky us, we had just eaten hotdogs for the second time that day at the airport. If we had only known…

Well, the next day comes, we all get back on the provided buses, and we again try to get back to the states. Steve and I get checked in, but the lady only checks us through to Dulles (Washington D.C.), which I was fine with because we were back in the states. But Steve being the savvy traveler he is, made her look into it further which caused her to talk to a supervisor who then advised us they could get us to Dulles, but not back to WA until the next day. Wow, we’re on a roll! They worked on our options for a bit, and finally bumped us from their 12:15pm flight and put us on a flight through American Airlines leaving at 3:15pm to Miami. Yet another long day at the airport for the Teodoro clan (and one crawling now!).

We decided to hang out in the outside restaurant since they had comfy seats, it was quiet, and most importantly, had free wifi and we could tell family and friends what was going on. We boarded our flight that afternoon and landed in Miami at 7ish with no problems. We boarded our 9pm flight that night and left that gate, got Brielle to sleep and settled in for our flight home, only to have the captain come over the loudspeaker to inform us that some idiot light was on in the cockpit and we had to return to the gate to have the mechanics check it out! Seriously?!? Oh, and Brielle woke up. Great.

An hour later, everything was fixed and we were truly on our way again. I was miraculously able to get Brielle down again and she and Steve slept the whole flight home.

Here she is sleeping under the cover. And look, I still have a smile on my face!
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We got in after 1am, and home safe and sound around 3am.

Although we had a pretty rough start, a bump in the middle and a horrible end, the trip as a whole was really good.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Aruba (Part 2)

Let’s start with some sightseeing pics, throw in some fun swimming pics and end with… bad thing #2. Here we go.

We drove up to the the north part of the island to check out the California Lighthouse. Bri fell asleep in the car, so she missed this point of interest.

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Bri woke up and we decided to check out the nearby dunes and shoreline.

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Oh, here’s Brielle trying to get in the picture too.

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Here’s Brielle… whoops, how did this picture get in here…

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Bad girl.

We visited the oldest building in Aruba, Fort Zoutman, built in 1798.

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It was originally built for protection against pirates, so of course they had old canons out front for display. If you ever want to avoid cannon fire, do not ask us where to stand.

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At least Steve is kind enough to take the brunt of the blow.

At Fort Zoutman, they had a demonstration of the different Arubian celebration dances for the different months of the year. Oh yes, they’ve come up with a reason to party for each month in a year, no wonder it’s called “One Happy Island.” It was too dark to get a picture of the girls on stage with their elaborate costumes, but here’s a picture of Brielle in complete awe of the performance.

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On our way back to the car that night, we passed by this large and in charge I “heart” Aruba sign. Check out the shadow on the heart of the sign. Steve rocks!

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Here’s a taste of the lazy river Brielle loved so much. But first, another cute bathing suite (Thanks Ashlyn!).

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Love to splash


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Not loving to float


Another rockin’ family photo


And now we begin the adventure that leads to BAD THING #2.

It was recommended to us to rent a jeep and check out the windward (or east side, or windy side) of the island. If you all know Steve, this was not something he was going to pass up. So we rented a jeep and took off to the less inhabited, therefore unpaved side of the island with unofficial trails to follow. Pre-Bri, I would have been all over the adventure, but I must admit, the bumpy road, and I can’t even begin to explain to you how bumpy the road was, was not my favorite with our baby girl strapped in the back where I could not see or reach her easily. I think she did better on the trip than I did (despite her car seat being jostled to an upright position a few times and moved at least 5 inches from side to side). Although, she did sleep most of the time which I suspect may have been a defense mechanism.

On this journey, we saw a bunch of vacant “houses” right next to the water. I can only speculate what they are for, but for our trip, they were a nice hiding spot for a restroom stop. I know you can see an outhouse on the left side of this picture, but when I went in there, it was just a bucket on the ground with a mop to clean up but no cleanser. I’ll stop the details here except to say I did not use the bucket.

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Ahhhh, look at the nice jeep all intact. But more on that later…

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We decided to stop for lunch and concluded that we were indeed on the windward side of the island.

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After lunch, we continued our trip and came upon one of the two famous natural bridges. Since this one is only accessed via crazy jeep drivers, horses or crazy 4-wheelers, there was not a lot of people here. Actually, by the time I made it to the top of the bridge, there was only one couple left besides us.

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Although the guy kind of ruined our last two pictures, his wife was kind enough to take a picture of the three of us under the bridge.

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We did drive by the second famous natural bridge but had a hard time finding it from the trail.

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I looked it up when we got home, turns out it collapsed in 2005! Bummer considering that natural bridge is the one the tour buses can access. If you click on the picture, you can see how busy the area was when we drove by.

Our next destination on our trip was the natural pool. You can see it near the upper left side of this picture.

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As you can see by all the whitewash around the pool, the water was a little rough, so I decided not to take baby girl for a swim.

Here she is with daddy.

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Wait, did you see it. Look at this next picture and focus on the tire Brielle in next to.

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No, that tire is not in a hole, the tire HAS a hole. In the sidewall actually. BAD THING #2 has arrived. So Brielle and I sat in a little hut while Daddy fixed a tire in the sand. No fun for all. You with think with our surroundings it wouldn’t be that bad, but keep in mind, this is about 4 hours into our trip, the last hour we were lost trying to find the pool, and mama’s been tense the whole time wondering if Brielle’s too hot or too shaken up from Mr. Steve’s Wild Ride.

Here’s Steve doing his magic to fix the tire. Abra Cadabra, fixo!

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Nope, still flat

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I didn’t take an after picture but Steve was able to fix it, and it didn’t take him too long actually. The spare tire was not as big as the original though, so we decided to call it a day and head home (if we could find our way out of there). I learned a funny thing while Steve was changing the tire. I told you we were not driving on paved roads, but we had been following “trails” for most of the trip that all the off-roading jeeps use. For the last hour or so, we had lost our “trail” and had been trying to find our way to the pool. We found it, but on the way, popped the tire. Well, I was talking to some other people while Steve was changing the tire and they asked me where our wrist bands were. I didn’t know what they were talking about. They told me we were in the Arikok National Park which cost $8 per person to enter, and you had to have a wrist bracelet to prove it. We had inadvertently missed the guard booth by not staying on the unofficial trails! Whoops! That is also why there are no other jeeps parked where we were, yet other groups of people. All the other jeeps are parked at the top of the hill, where the official trail led them. Hee hee. We did find the official trail on our way out, and when we went by the guard booth, kept our wrists out of sight. What horrible tourists we are!

Next time, I’ll wrap it up with BAD THING #3. So exciting!