Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daytrip to Logan

2 Saturdays ago we spent the day with my sister and her husband in Logan. They took us to a place in Idaho that Heather knows as the "Treehouse". Some guy built a series of walkways and treehouses all over his property and apparently doesn't care if you go visit. The tree bridges were pretty sketchy and reminded you of the movies where it could tumble to the ground or you would fall through, if you stepped in the wrong spot.

Dan and Cody wobbled their way through it while Heather and I watched with the kids. The walkways followed a stream that the kids thought was awesome. Stick throwing was had by all.
There was a rope swing that Cody tested out for us and we all took a turn swinging over the stream. Tucker was even brave enough to do it by himself.

We had a great time with Heather and Dan watching Basketball, buying Girl Scout Cookies, eating, riding bikes and playing games. Until next time!
Oh and I can't forget to post a picture of the turkeys that live by us on River Road. 2 male turkeys were strutting their stuff and chasing the females.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle...

Tucker has been asking us for a couple weeks to take the training wheels off his bike. The weather has finally been warming up (can't you tell by the all the snow we still have - actually had, it's almost gone : ), so Cody took the extra wheels off on Friday and taught Tucker how to ride. Tucker amazed us by basically just taking off down the street. You'd think he'd been riding without training wheels for a couple months now by how good he is.
Aubrey used to try and ride Tucker's bike with the training wheels and since that option was gone, she only had a little tricycle to ride, so Cody brought her home a new pink bike on Tuesday after work. She loves it and is having fun playing outside with her brother. (It's sort of an early birthday present.)

Tucker loves his new found freedom. He can't wait until he's good enough to ride his bike to his friends house. We just need to work on some street safety.

Check out the smile on her face.

Just a random video of Cole. I don't really know what he was doing, but he was happy and seemed to be singing to himself.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mexico Day 1

We had a blast in Cancun this past weekend. It's amazing how something you've been looking forward to for so long can come and go so quickly. But, we enjoyed every moment of our first vacation w/o kids since before we've had kids. We love 'em, but we've needed a break from them, the practice, and the goings on of life for awhile. All the stress of the past year was released as we relaxed on the white sandy beaches, toured ancient ruins, drank our free virgin daiquiri's and margaritas and snorkeled with the fish. My sister, Heather, and her husband, Dan, came with us and it was fun to show them around and have Cody be our official Spanish speaking tour guide.

We took the red eye flight out of Utah at 12:50AM, had a layover in Atlanta and continued our journey into Cancun Thursday morning. We arrived at 10:30, picked up our rental car and with our 2 hours of airplane sleep drove down to Playa Del Carmen for some authentic Mexican lunch. Afterward, we continued our drive southward to Tulum. Cody and I went to a town called Akumal on our honeymoon, which is between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. We were able to take a brief drive through the town and found our hotel still kicking and standing.  It was fun to revisit our honeymoon site again after 7 years.

Cody and I went to Tulum previously and had a Mormon tour guide.  We asked for one again and a lady named Ruth became our friend for the next couple hours. It was neat to hear the parallels and her perspective on the ruins in relation to Book of Mormon culture. She has a Master's in symboligy, so we did think she stretched things a bit in her explanations, but oh well, it was still educational and worth our time and money. We started out with a short train ride down to the ruins.

I'm not great at remembering details about places and history, but here are some pictures from our afternoon.

This was pretty cool. Every time the planet Venus completes its rotation (something like every 300 days I think) it lines up exactly through this window on the horizon.
and is visible and perfectly lined up when one stands next to this stone on the opposite side of the temple grounds (the large flat stone in the wall). Pretty spectacular if you ask me. It's amazing what great architects the Mayans were.  There is a similar set up on the South side of the temple grounds that does the same thing for the planet Mars (once every 700 days or so).

And one of the coolest things about Tulum, is that it sits right on the edge of the beautiful Caribbean water.

Day 2

First of all, I need to make you all jealous of the hotel we stayed in. Cody got us hooked up with a free stay because of his perks from his business credit card. We stayed at the Westin at the end of the hotel zone in Cancun, where the beaches are the widest. It was nice because it wasn't crowded or loud and we had a bunch of perks by upgrading to the Royal Beach Club tower (compliments of Cody's membership). The rooms were huge and had these vaulted ceilings that were about 14 feet high. It felt like our own private villa. We received an awesome free hot, buffet breakfast (not merely continental) every morning and every evening we received free drinks and hot hors d'oeuvres - which were super filling and great because we ate there for dinner every night but one. Plus this is the view from our room looking out.
And this is the view looking in.

And this is what we saw every day.

And aren't I super sexy?!

Ok, back to day 2. We ate early and headed out on the 2 hour drive to Chichen Itza. We are so glad we rented a car. 2 hours was already long enough and we were super speeding (Cody averaged 87 mph or 140 kmh). I can't imagine how long it would have taken in a bus with tons of tourists. Instead of paying for a guide here, Cody bought a book on the place for $5 in the bookstore. It was great because we saw everything, could take our time and we received better descriptions.
We arrived around 10am and were able to take in the magnificent views of El Castillo- large temple, without a thousand people in our picture.  The cruise ships dock in the morning at Cancun and Playa del Carmen and the thousands of tourists from those ships usually arrive around noon.  We felt fortunate to beat the rush. 

This place was definitely magnificent and had a lot of crazy culture and dark, violent history. They had a ball court where people would come to watch and the winner would be sacrificed. I know I would be doing my best to lose the game. They would chop the winners heads off and place it in this building thing that was covered in skeleton heads. It's a Toltec structure called the Tzompantli, and in Aztec stands for Temple of the Skulls. They would also toss the heads of the warriors from conquered villages in here. Creepy? I think yes.

It's amazing how some of the buildings have retained the structures and carvings in the stone after several hundred years.

I don't know if you can see it, but in this stone there is a picture of a bearded man, which was kind of unheard of. Pre-columbian peoples (Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs, Incas, etc.) didn't have any facial hair. Stories say that it is the great God -Kukulcan (perhaps Christ) - after he visited the Americas.
A cenote (deep water hole) where people were sacrificed to the Toltec Gods and thrown in. I really am glad I didn't live in this time period!

More cool glyphs. This warrior has the decapitated head of his victim in his left hand.

Cody being eaten by the great serpent.

The observatory. Archaeologists have discovered that the four openings in the observatory correlate perfectly with the 4 cardinal points. And they believe this was the most important structure in all of Chichen Itza. Again, their understanding of astronomy is unbelievable.

There was so much to see here in Chichen Itza. This is already a completely overloaded picture post, so I'll save you from more pictures from this ruin. Onto the next site. We drove to Ek Balam, a short distance north of Chichen Itza. It's more off the beaten path, but still quite amazing and well worth the time and money to visit it. It's one of the few ruins sites that still allows you to climb up the temples. The popular ones like Tulum and Chichen Itza are completely roped off and off limits to the public.

Little Mexican boys ran up to our car as we pulled in asking if they could wash our car. They will do anything for money. When we were done a lady even tried to open and close our car doors for us in hopes of a tip. Sorry, I can do that myself. If we gave money to everyone that tried to "help" us we would be broke. Onto the ruins.

The above and below picture show how many steps this building had. And they were steep and narrow. Cody ran to the top of course and I came along behind. You can kind of see Cody with his arms up in the air at the very top. My thighs were feeling it the next 2 days.

They put stucco over some of the figures and carvings on this building to represent what it would have looked like back in the day (While Tulum and Chichen Itza were designed with carved limestone, this site along with others from the earlier Classic Maya period had stucco covering the limestone base).

And this was right after the entryway into the fort.

On our way in and out of Ek Balam we passed this familiar landmark. An LDS chapel.

After our Ek Balam tour we headed back to Cancun to go out to dinner. We ate at Carlos 'n Charlie's. It was right in the thick of the fun atmosphere and we had a great time.

Day 3

This was supposed to be one of our relaxing beach days, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. It was windy and cloudy all day. Cody and Dan returned our rental car to the airport in the morning and Heather and I tried to layout for as long as possible. It turned out to be a good day to return the car as the weather wasn't as conducive to lounging on the beach. It took the guys over two hours to return from the airport by local bus even though the airport is a mere 10 minutes away by car. At least they saved $30 by not taking a taxi and Cody was able to show Dan parts of Cancun most people don't get to see. It was just too cold for much lounging- relatively speaking. We played some card games and when the guys finally returned we hopped on a bus and ate lunch at El Shrimp Bucket. The sun began to peak through a bit while we were eating so when we got back to the hotel, we grabbed our snorkeling gear and walked to a reef 5 minutes from our hotel. The only coral reef located along the hotel zone strip of Cancun is at the southern most tip, which is where we were staying. The reef is located off of Punta Nizuc.

Snorkeling was one of the main things Cody was looking forward to on this trip, so he was going in no matter what. I, being the faithful follower, jumped in after him. Heather and Dan had never been before, and they kind of had crappy equipment, so I don't think they enjoyed their first try so much.

Cody and I saw a bunch of fish, sea urchins and cool coral reefs on our little excursion.

It definitely wasn't pleasant and warm when we emerged from the water but we enjoyed our hot showers when we got back to the hotel.

We ate at the hotel again that night and played a fun game of Phase 10.