August 23, 2010

Lost Luggage

Once upon a time I did something to offend the luggage gods. I'm not exactly sure what my offense was, but I've been paying the price ever since. If you are ever traveling with me, know this: a suitcase belonging to me, or any bag checked under my name is liable to have issues, so plan ahead accordingly.


 I can't exactly say when I first started having problems with luggage... I'm sure I was frustrated when my bag didn't come off the carousel like normal, but after we were reunited all was well, and I moved on with my life. If only I had known it would happen again, and again, and again over the coming years....

Here is a brief run down of my poor track record when it comes to lost luggage:
  • Hawaii 2006 - my bag somehow got on a different plane, but at least it was the return trip. You don't miss your stuff as much when you're at your house with your own closet.
  • North Carolina 2007 - this was the worst. It took our bags three days to catch up with us. Dave wore some of his brother's clothes and I had to borrow stuff from Dave's aunt and his mom. Grandma Betty was also king enough to lend me her swimsuit - blue and sparkly with a gold belt and a ruffle bum skirt. Grandpa Clark offered his swim trunks to Dave, but there was no way that was going to happen. I'm pretty sure the waist was the size of just one of Dave's legs.
  • Christmas in Texas 2007 - both our bags are lost again, but somehow the third suitcase with the presents made it there! We may not have had our clothes on Christmas morning, but at least we had gifts! (We actually opened a few presents early so we could have something fresh to change into)
  • Seattle  2008 - another bag lost on the way home 
Here there is a break when airlines started charging for check bags so we only traveled with carry-ons. For two wonderful years we never lost a suitcase. Then we took a trip on Southwest (where bags fly free!) and ran into trouble again.
  • Mexico 2010, flight to LAX - Dave's suitcase, which was checked under my name, came off the ramp completely smashed. We took it to the claims office where they gave us a choice: exchange for a new bag, or fill out a form for reimbursement. Since the suitcase was pretty much destroyed and we hadn't even got to the cruise ship yet, we went with the exchange.
  • Mexico 2010, getting on the boat - when you go on a cruise, you leave your luggage with a porter and board only with what you'll need for the immediate future. The bags are then delivered to your cabin in about 3-4 hours. Well, 3-4 hours later all the suitcases had arrived but mine. It came time for dinner and everyone changed into nicer clothes (except me) and we left to eat. When we got back my bag still wasn't there. We checked the "luggage holding pen" and it was empty - all bags had been delivered to our deck. The steward directed us down to security to look at the unmarked bags - mine wasn't there. It also was not with the bags that had been confiscated for bringing liquor on board (no surprises there). Security told us if it didn't turn up in an hour, they'd start a deck-by-deck sweep, so we left for the evening show. After the show, and 8 hours after getting on board, my bag finally arrived! I have no idea where it was hanging out, but it was probably one of the last ones delivered.
My advice - always pack a change of clothes, including underwear :) in your day bag, along with any toiletries you might need because you never know what's going to happen!

* Photo is from Google Images, http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/baggage-handling.htm

August 22, 2010

Start of Something(s) New

Well, we're done with summer vacations and ready to start real life again. It was a busy, busy week for us!

Dave
Dave began MBA orientation on Tuesday and will be orienting himself until next week. He will officially start classes on the 30th. So far he's been busy getting to know tons of new people, meeting recruiters, tearing apart and reconstructing his resume, and studying more than I thought possible.

 Although Dave's younger than most people in the program, he's feeling pretty good because his job at CH Robinson gave him great experience in the field he is planning to emphasize in - the supply chain/operations track. He's already started exploring different careers in this field and started to compile a list of companies he'd like to intern with this summer. Exciting times ahead!

Dave's  "first day of school" picture - he needed a head shot for his profile, so that's what we got.

 

Mel
I also unexpectedly started something new this week - a job! One of the hardest parts about leaving WA was heading off to Utah without a plan for myself. Dave was leaving to go back to school, but I didn't really know what I was going to be doing for the next two years....

Turns out I didn't have to wonder for very long. On Monday night I was browsing Craigslist and saw an opening in the front office of an elementary school in Orem. I applied Tuesday morning, interviewed on Tuesday afternoon, went in for a second interview on Wednesday where I received a formal offer 10 minutes after getting home, and then started work on Thursday. Phew!

 This job is pretty much better than anything I could of hope for and here's why:
  • Location about 5 minutes from our apartment
  • Pay not what I was making before, but competitive by Provo standards
  • Hours - allow me to drop Dave off in the morning and pick him up from campus in the evening - he is thrilled to not have to walk both ways
  • Schedule I'll get the same holidays Dave has in the MBA program so we'll be able to enjoy our breaks together -  a long Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, time off in the summer, etc...
  • Benefits included, no BYU student insurance
  • Responsibilities I really like the school and am going to enjoy working in the office!

August 18, 2010

Mexico!

After a week spent with the Howes, we were able to go on another trip with the Lamberts - what a treat to have such fun families!

This trip was a week long cruise to Mexico - we had four days at sea and three ports, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.

On the Ship

Cruising is probably my favorite way to travel! I always love the days at port, but the days at sea are just as fun. There are so many things to do on board and it's great to have nothing but leisure time to spend with family.

One fun thing about our ship was the climbing wall. The lines would get ridiculously long later in the day, but if you went right when it opened in the morning no one was there. We took advantage of this and each climbed 3-4 routes every day. I love climbing because it's one of the few sports where being small and light isn't to your disadvantage and I am able to show up Dave :)



Another great part of a cruise is the food. I get so much enjoyment out of every meal, even breakfast. Knowing this, we made sure to spend some time each day in the fitness center. (Dave learned on his first cruise what no exercise and a plate of bacon a day can do to a body). In the fitness center there was a huge hot tub, the biggest I've ever seen. You could swim in it and it could easily hold 20 people, but was almost always empty. We took a dip at least 3 times a day.




Cabo San Lucas

Our first port was Cabo, which is very dry and desert-like - there were cool rock formations and the beaches were beautiful. We took a water taxi out to Lover's Beach where we explored a little cave and went swimming in the ocean.

One of the coolest things we saw here were stingrays that kept jumping straight out of the water, and then "belly flopping" on the surface. I'd never seen anything like it before!





Mazatlan

This probably our craziest stop. We took a shuttle from the boat to the port, then a truck from the port to a dock, then a water taxi across the bay, then a truck from the dock to a beach. All this travel was meant to get us somewhere we could ride ATVs. Only probably was when we got to the beach, there were no ATVs in sight so we were starting to wonder if it would ever happen...

 Luckily Jeremy speaks Spanish and was able to keep tabs on our guide to make sure he didn't ditch us. While our guide went about negotiating, we decided we may as well swim and had a great time in the ocean for about an hour.

Finally our guide came back to announce that there were some ATVs ready and we got back in the truck and drove to another beach.

This was probably the highlight of our trip and we had a blast!


Puerto Vallarta

After our experience in Mazatlan, we decided to travel by foot in Puerto Vallarta. We found some awesome shopping and a great beach where we could relax and read. At this beach we also went parasailing! Dave and I had never been and both thought it was awesome - plus I had a perfect landing :)





Adios!

August 7, 2010

Camping at Turner Falls

 During our trip to Texas last week, the Howe family went on a camping trip to Turner Falls in Oklahoma. It was very hot - walking up to the tent felt like a death trip (Dave's words) - but as long as you kept wet it was actually very pleasant. We set up camp right near the river and except for a trip to the swimming hole, we didn't move from this spot.

The Howe Family

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but that is actually water we are sitting in - not a giant mud pit. The water where we were was very shallow and mom and dad had the idea to move their chairs out into the river.

 
Eventually we brought the card table in the water as well. Soon one of the picnic tables followed so we could start eating our meals in the river. The grand feat, however, was when Dave and his brothers built a stone platform so we could have our campfire out in the water!

 
That evening Dave set up a croquet course for the family. If you've never played on a Dave croquet course then you haven't played croquet. When Dave is the architect, it's more like an obstacle course and you need to be prepared to hit over rock fields, up or down hills, over ditches, and not get frustrated should your ball end up under a tent. There was one section where we were in super long grass and it took us probably 8 hits to get from one wicket to the next, even though they weren't that far apart.

If the camping trip ended here, we would have had only good things to say. Unfortunately, that night we learned the consequences of free-range camping with minimal regulations. Right on cue, as we were getting ready to turn in around 11:00, the music started blasting and did not stop for several hours. Other campers appeared out of nowhere and set up their tents where common courtesy says you never should - like only a couple feet from some of our tents. It was a rough night in "Little Mexico" and when morning came we packed up quickly and hit the road before breakfast.

Overall, between the good and the bad, let's just say it's a camping trip we'll remember!