Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Key West and More

Well, Scott and I had the opportunity to taking a little vaca before his internship started and before I got too big to enjoy it. We had a blast. After going back and forth between a cruise, Mexico, Dominican Republic, we decided that we live in a state where people travel from all over the world to visit...why not explore a little ourselves. So, we roadtripped it down to Miami, then to the Florida Keys. We had a blast.This is Miami Beach. Everyone was really dressed up so I felt a little silly walking around wearing my swim suit. Oh well. is a prego shot. I felt a Little self conscious in my swim suit. Its not the belly that I felt embarrassed about, it was the bum and thighs that have seemed to grow right along with the belly!! Butt (no pun intended..hehe)...I am coming to accept the fact that everything grows along with the belly! :)

Miami Beach. We got there around 3:00 and stayed for awhile. It was awesome actually going to a beach where there were waves (ok...waves compared to the Gulf). Scott was cracking me up. He was "tackling" the waves sideways and told me to "hit" it hard and it would knock my feet out from underneath me. Well, not only did my feet get knocked out from underneath me, I had a little swimsuit malfunction as I popped back up for breath! Whoops...Then I started laughing so hard, I gulped up the salt water. No more "tackling" after that one.

Scott hates it when I ask random people to take our picture...BUT, we need to document!! After the beach, we walked around Miami Beach and went to TGI Fridays. Neither of us were starving, but baby needed to eat. We had a lot of fun. We were both getting tired and I was getting slap happy! Miami was super cool, but I felt a little foolish walking around in my swimsuit in my pregoness. Everyone was totally dressed up and ready to party as we were headed back to our hotel.

Key West. Sunday Morning, we woke up, went to Sacrament Meeting, then drove down the Keys. The water was so beautiful and clear. We are at an AIDS Memorial dock. Apparently Key West is known for their gay population. We even saw a drag queen on Duval Street. Crazy site I had never seen before.

We tried Alligator tail. After watching Bear from "Man VS Wild" eat Alligator tail, Scott wanted to try some too. Neither of us loved it and I never have to eat it again, and probably won't. It had kind of a fishy/chicken taste with a stringy texture.

Our original plan was to rent scooters and take them around Key West BUT, because of the pregoness, they would not allow it. So, we did the next best thing...rented the most ghetto bikes. It was really fun, but I swear, these things were such crap. Scott didn't even have grips, and our tires were both low on air. BUT, minus getting lost for the first 30-45min, it was awesome. We biked for a few hours and it even saved us the hassle and expense of parking around the city. We would just see something we liked, found either a bike rack or fence, would lock the suckers up and go explore. What we DID NOT do is put enough sun screen on. Who would of thought the tops of your hands could burn so badly! Both of us got pretty fried...

The Southern Most Point of the Continental US. Look how blue the water is. SO inviting and warm too..
We wanted to Kayak AND Snorkel, so we found a tour that did both. This is before we started. Snorkeling was pretty cool. We saw a lot of Lobsters and even a couple of Stingrays. I ALMOST tried to touch the Stingrays a couple of times, but freaked out each time. Good thing I did, because our guide told us that they have a very painful sting as their defense mechanism...

This is right after we Kayaked. Kayaking was pretty cool. Our guide took us around a Mangrove (type of tree) island and we saw some cool birds, even a bald eagle. It was absolutely beautiful. The water was like glass and there were awesome storm clouds all around us. The calmness of the water reminded me of the movie "White Squal" and if you have ever seen that movie, you know that there was the calm before the storm. Shortly after this picture was taken, the winds picked up and rains started pouring down! We could no longer see the Keys. It was kind of an adventure.

This picture does not give the storm any justice. It was coming to an end, but you can't see the rain pelting us in our face. We were soaked!! It was really funny. I just kept laughing.

The awesome sunset after the storm. We made it home alive. The thing that kind of sucked though is we biked to the dock where we left, and had quite the ride back to our hotel. We got lost once again going home, but not for too long.

This is at one of the Key's on our way back. I told Scott that if I saw "picture worthy" scenery, we needed to stop and take some footage...

I told Scott to cheese it up on this one...

You can't really see how bad my burn is. It hurt pretty bad! You can almost see the line across my wrist where my key chain was.

On our way back home yesterday, we stopped at an alligator farm in the Everglades. I really wanted to take Scott on an airboat ride (I went on one years ago). Not only did we get to go on an airboat, but we got to see TONS of Alligators at this stop. This guy was nuts and was "Wrestling" the poor alligator.

Not the most flattering picture. This is on the airboat. They get really loud so we had to wear protective covering. It was so fun though. Our driver got us going pretty fast, then when we woud get to an opening in the Everglades, he would crank the "wheel" and do a 360. We did get a little wet on this trip. It was kind of scary, but awesome at the same time. We saw some more alligators while in the boat. The weather was starting to get really stormy so I think that our tour was cut a little short.

Below is some footage from the alligator farm.
We got home at around 9:30 and rented a movie (Bride Wars). I decided to work for a few hours today, but it is always hard to go back when you have been vacationing for a few days. I am so glad that we got away. Scott came home to one of his grades (kind of) for school. He got a 3.5 on his Legal Research and Writing paper, which is totally awesome! It was a nice "Welcome Back." for us, especially him!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

5 Years Ago I Was in Ukraine...

Im in a very nostalgic mood and Scott is at the library studying SOOO...I will blog. It will be a very long post, so beware...
At this time 5 years ago, I boarded a plane to Kiev, Ukraine to live for 6 weeks! I know, crazy eh? I was in the health program at BYU and I signed up to go help change the world out there (or at least spread the word about the dangers of tobacco). I did not speak any Russian, Ukranian, OR Ukrussion (a mixture of the two), but thank goodness for all the RM's in our group of 20 that did. Above is home sweet home for the next 5 weeks. We lived on the 5th floor and yes, it almost WAS as scary as it looks. The elevator smelled of urine and mold, was rickety and small. The halls were dimly lit with cracked tile everywhere. It's really like what you would see in the movies...a couple of times I really thought someone would be waiting for me on the other side of the dark hall when I got off the elevator. cute right? The beloved puppies that lived with us that stayed cute for only 5 minutes. They became a constant terror in my life! Picking out the dog hair in our food became a daily ritual, Im not even gonna tell you what our clothes looked like, one "puppy" snuck right under my foot one day, and let's not forget the pooh/pee that was so frequently found on the kitchen floor. I think this experience is what turned me off completely to indoor pets (no offense anyone). The little girl was my host sister who was cute at first, but things got weird with her and she soon became the little "sister" from hell. The lady and boy were visitors one night. I think the boy loved his life.

My favorite building that we got to walk past everyday. I bought a water color of it at the end of my trip.

Some of the group. We got to attend the first stake conference held in all of the former Soviet Union. It was the coolest experience. Elder Nelson and Callister were there and promised that there would be temples...but there was still a lot of work to be done.

We visited some Catacombs and got to see mummified Monks. All the girls had to cover their heads because it was disrespectful to have an uncovered heads in the sight of God. Here my roommie, Nicki and I decided to make fools of ourselves. The Monks believed that they should live life as uncomfortable as possible. To truly sacrifice, one must live a life of pain. We were on a hill, and thought it would be funny to act like we were in total discomfort, but the people behind us didn't think we were so funny!

Awww...the crazy host mom. At first I thought I was just being ultra sensitive to her not really taking care of us, or having scantily prepared meals (mind you, she was paid very well to be a hostess and that was her job to take really good care of us) or none at all, but the guys in our group that served in Ukraine pretty much affirmed what we already thought...that she was just plain crazy. She would boil these nasty chicken heads, and give them to her "puppies" to shred, BUT would use the broth to make us soup. When I figured that out one day, I stopped eating dead in my tracks and just said I w as full. I continued letting my poor roommie eat the soup and would laugh quietly as she gulped it down. She was gonna kill me when I disclosed to her my little discovery! Haha...I still laugh about it.

Cherynobyl. I can't remember the WHOLE story in it's entirety, but what I do remember is this. Some men were working in this highly radioactive plant and were doing some testing (which the tour guide said was very illegal and dangerous) when one of the generators exploded sending highly radioactive fallout in the surrounding areas. It was 400 times the amount of fallout at Hiroshima. So you can see how deadly and dangerous it was. Since we were from the US and a health group, we were given special permission to tour the plant and the city which was hit the hardest. What was sad is that it was kept quiet at the time of the explosion. There was a new carnival that was just built and people were out and about riding the Ferris wheel, pick nicking, riding the bumper cars, not knowing they were getting exposed to deadly radiation. Once the severity was realized, EVERYONE, except the old timers who wanted to die where they lived, were evacuated, never to return again. It was crazy being in the empty city, seeing only overgrowth and empty buildings. Kinda scary. We had to go through a radioactive detector after the tour to make sure we weren't over the limit (whatever that means). I hope my unborn children don't come out with deformities because of that tour...

We got to go on city tours (we really played more than worked) and this was to Lyviv. Absolutely beautiful, but cold, cold. I made the mistake of only bringing one jacket that happened to not be waterproof. No where would you find indoor heating so I was always freezing.

At the top of the Carpathian Mountains. Gorgeous, but the city tour that followed was torture for me. Not only was I hungry, I was FREEZING. So, needless to say, I turned into a raunch really fast and was not kind to the tour guide (only meaning I ignored her and rolled my eyes when she wanted to take us one more place before eating).

We got to "cruise" down the Dniper River and into the Black Sea. It was a tiny boat, not much to do. But we managed to have fun.
The night we entered the Black Sea was "Pirate Night" We decided to go all out for the "show." The old German people were amused by our spontaneity and energy.

Sunbathing at the "non" pool.

I still tried to get a morning jog in. We lived right by a "lake" that was probably 3/4 of a mile around the whole thing. It started sprinkling and I thought I could finish my rounds, when it started down pouring!

We called this statue "Big Mamma" I can't remember the significance behind her

We got to listen to this awesome Black Sea Choir and this HUGE man (around 6'7") tried to get me to come on stage to kiss him during the show. He was singing to me in Russian. I was too embarrassed and wouldnt. SO he came and found me after the show. Went to kiss my lips and I turned my cheek.

Sweet hat that I decided not to get cause I would never wear.

Babi Yar Massacre. An estimated 200,000 people were gunned down at this ravine in 1941, mostly of Jewish descent. The Nazi's told the Jews to pack their bags and if they did not do as they said, they would be shot. So, they marched all of these Jewish people down this long road to a huge ravine. The most courageous thing ever is there were villagers who knew what was going to happen and they were calling for the Jewish Mother's to let go of their children and have them run to the villagers. The brave Jewish mothers let their children escape to be raised by these villagers, while the rest were lined up at a ravine and gunned down. Their belongings were then sorted out and given to the Nazis.

Our small kitchen for 5 weeks

For the last 5 days of our trip, we traveled to Poland and Prague. Here I am in Krakow Poland. It was pretty nasty. We bought seeds to put in our hands and the flying rats had no fear and would land in our hands to eat out of them. I felt pretty gross after that event. But I LOVED Poland!

Probably a fairly dangerous outing to take in an area where people drive like mad mans, but we had an absolute blast riding bikes around Poland! awesome place

Picture is out of order. While in Poland, we visited Auschwitz, the deadliest concentration camp for the Jews during World War II. I could be wrong on my numbers, but I believe that 3 million Jews (among others, Traders, spies, etc) were gassed, starved to death, shot, etc. It was a very somber place. Too hard to describe the feelings we experienced.

The last day of Prague and our trip...let's end it with a nice big blob of bird poop in my nice, clean hair.
I had an amazing experience. I don't expect many to have read this whole post. It was more for me, to re live a little my time and learning experience in Ukraine.