Monday, January 16, 2017

Picture of the Day: January 9th to January 15th

January 9th: I laid around like a slug for most of the day after the mid. We did manage to get most of the Christmas decorations put away, though, so we celebrated by making quesadillas with tater tots in them and watching some Bob's Burgers. 

January 10th: I was doing something at the table in my office and heard a quiet little 'thump thump thump'. This is what I saw when I looked under the table.  :) 

January 11th: The weather was crummy again, so I spent a little time putting together some of the Legos I got for Christmas. That turned into spending the entire day putting together Legos. Mark even brought me dinner upstairs. I regret nothing.

January 12th: Back to work...of course the rain stopped! It was really windy, though. I didn't get to fly in the morning, but I did at least get to walk the track at work on a couple breaks. 

January 13th: Mark called me outside after work to see the moon; it had a really neat rainbow halo around it. I couldn't get the halo to show up well on camera, so I decided to try out some zoom shots instead. I especially like how you can see the craters so well along the edges.  :) 

 January 14th: A close up of one of the paintings in our living room.

January 15th: The clouds looked really cool in the afternoon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Picture of the Day: December 31st to January 8th

Over the past couple months I've realized that aside from trips, I've barely been taking any pictures and my photography skills were starting to slide. Time to fix that! I'll be doing my Picture of the Day project through 2017 to get my skills back up to speed.

Dec 31st: Mark and I both had to work day shifts that day, then get up at 4am the next morning, so we had Jeff and Caeli over earlier in the day instead of trying to stay up until midnight. We had some snacks, played some pool, live-streamed fireworks from countries that were hours ahead of us, and Jeff passed out in the chair in the corner. Nice to see nothing's changed there.  :)

Jan 1st: I spent the new year working day/mid. 3am's as good a time as any to get my logbook up to date while watching the weather push through the airspace.

Jan 2nd: Mark picked up some sort of Christmas cooties (again), so he spent the day on the couch with the doggies.

Jan 3rd: The weather was still kind of gross, so I decided to try the puzzle my parents got me. It's definitely one of the coolest puzzles I've done in a while; the pieces were really neat.

Jan 4th: Finally, some better weather! Though as soon as I pulled the plane out of the hangar, it started raining. I took Abby up for a little while once the showers passed; we did a little sightseeing and I was able to get some more pictures for a friend's project. The skies really started to clear out after we landed, though the winds certainly were fun!

Jan 5th: Abby and I went up again before I had to go to work, and this time I was finally able to get my ADS-B evaluation to pass! My new transponder is finally good to go.

Jan 6th: My snack after the eve shift at work. Some days you work the traffic, and some days the traffic works you...I went down in FLAMES on one of the scopes right before the end of my shift. I haven't been that far down the tubes in a long time. Part of it was the winds, part of it was too much traffic all at once, and part of it was a real jerk of a pilot. It's always fun trying to fall asleep coming down off of something like that when you have to be back at work in less than 9 hours, hence the tiny bit of whiskey.

Jan 7th: Our first kind of real snow for the winter! It was just starting to fall when I left for work at 6am, and this was how it looked when I got home a little before 5pm. 

Jan 8th: Another day/mid. Mark left a sheet on the couch for the doggies to hang out on while we were at work overnight...they were pretty happy.

Friday, January 6, 2017

December 2nd: Beach and Home

We didn't sleep in too late the next morning...we wanted to make the most of our last few hours in Mexico!

We went back to Mar y Tierra for breakfast by the beach. Everything was really good again... was the view.

Check out wasn't until noon, so we spent as much of the morning as we could hanging out on the beach.

 I'm definitely going to miss this view!

We hung out as long as we could before eventually making our way back toward the room.

I poked my head outside to get one last look at our yard...this iguana was hanging out near our chairs.

We got a ride up to the lobby, checked out, and left our luggage in the storage area near the front. We still had some free time before we needed to head to the airport, so we wandered around a bit to check out more of the Christmas decorations...

...before wandering back to the pool. They were doing an aerobics class in the far end; it was pretty funny. We wound up grabbing burgers and hanging out for a little while...

...before going back to the beach-side bar for one last drink. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we at least enjoyed the time we had!

Our ride to the airport was fine, check-in and security were fine, and since I had upgraded us to first class again (haha oops), boarding was a piece of cake. We got settled in, they pushed us back, and we were off.

Goodbye, Mexico...we'll be back again (soon, hopefully!)!

The flight back was really nice. I spent most of the flight watching a movie and eating everything they put in front of us, including a full dinner with wine. We made it back to Dulles right on time, zipped through customs with our Global Entry, picked up my bag, and were out of there really fast. It was really nice to get back from a trip and NOT be horribly jet-lagged. Overall, the trip was great, and Valentin Imperial Maya was easily one of the nicest all-inclusives I've ever visited. It was a really nice way to spend my birthday, and a great last trip for 2016. Here's hoping next year's travel goes just as well!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

December 1st: Lazy Beach Day

The next day was our last full day in Mexico, and it was also my birthday! We started out by sleeping in, then made a quick stop at the beach to grab some beach chairs before heading over to breakfast.

 I had a mimosa with mine, just because I could.  :)

 After breakfast we made a quick stop back at the room. This giant iguana was right outside when we walked up, but slid into the bushes as we got closer.

We had also seen a bunch of coatis wandering around the trees and bushes, too. These two were on the side of the path as we walked by. The big one came right up to Mark, made a noise, and when he didn't really react, raised up on its hind legs at him! Turns out it was probably the mommy coati and must have been telling Mark that he was too close to the baby. It was pretty funny.  :)

We walked back down to the beach and spent almost the entire morning there. I had a drink and read a flying magazine, then joined Mark in the water for a bit.

There were dozens of the fish we'd seen earlier, They would swim right up to you, and if they thought you might feed them, they'd bunch up and wait for you to throw something. It was fun to watch them swim around and surf the waves.

After a little while we were getting hungry, so we walked back to the room...

...and got some snacks to eat on our back porch. We kept meaning to go in the lazy river pool, but the beach was so nice that it was hard to go anywhere else!

We finished our snacks, stopped to confirm our airport transfer for the next day, then went back to the beach for the afternoon.

After a little while, people started leaving, so we moved up to one of the umbrellas in the front row.

We hung out, drinking and reading and swimming, until the sun started to set, then walked around a bit.

I somehow remembered how to do the fancy HDR thing with my camera.

We played around with some panorama shots on my phone, too.

We walked all the way down the beach again...

...before taking the path back toward the room. It had been really nice to have a full day to just be lazy on the beach!

There was a surprise waiting when we got back to the room...they left me a little cake! I ate it with one of the beers from the mini fridge because I'm classy like that.  :)

We had originally planned to have dinner at the Thai restaurant so I could get some curry, but the Mexican restaurant was so good that we went back there instead. We were able to get a table outside, which was really nice. Mark ordered the fajitas and got to watch the waiter accidentally set a little bit of the table on fire when he served them.

The mariachi guys were there again, and after playing at the tables inside for a while, they made their way outside. Mark told them it was my birthday as soon as they walked up, and they played a really neat song that changed into 'Happy Birthday' at the end. Everyone clapped and the people at the next table over told me happy birthday, was really cool.   :)

We had been on the fence about getting dessert, but before we could decide if we wanted anything, they brought over another surprise cake! It was really good, and a fun way to end the meal.

We ended the night by wandering through some of the shops near the lobby. They were almost done decorating for Christmas. We stopped at one of the fancier bars near the lobby for one last drink before heading back to the room for the night. It had been a really nice low-key day!

Monday, January 2, 2017

November 30th: Chichen Itza

One of the things we'd paid for ahead of time when we booked our trip was a day-long excursion to Chichen Itza. The pickup time for the trip was so early that we didn't think we'd have time to go to one of the restaurants for breakfast, so we had ordered a room service breakfast the night before. Shortly before 7am...

...a whole bunch of tasty food showed up at our door. Nom!

We made our pickup time with no problem, and after transferring from a little van to a full size bus, we were on our way toward Chichen Itza. It took a couple hours to get there, but the bus was comfy, they gave us snacks, and our guides were great and spent a good chunk of time teaching us about Mayan culture.

We made a quick stop at a collection of Mayan shops for some souvenirs, then piled back on the bus. A short ride later...

...we were standing among Mayan ruins!

It was pretty cool to see how much stuff there was.

We started out at the base of the big pyramid, and our guide told us all sorts of stuff about the culture and what the buildings were used for. This pyramid apparently has another smaller pyramid inside, and if you stand near the base of it and clap your hands, it sounds kind of like a weird bird call and echoes back at you. We spent a little while here, then our guide gave us a few minutes of free time to wander around.

It was neat to see how part of the pyramid (on the right side of the picture) hadn't been fully restored yet.

Our guide took us over to the ball field, where they used to play a crazy sacrificial ball game. This hoop thing is pretty far up the wall, and they'd have to somehow get the ball through the hoop without using their hands. If I remember it correctly, I think he said the captain of the winning team would be sacrificed at the end of the game.

There were carvings along the bottom of the wall; you can just make out one of the players holding the captain's severed head.

We wandered away from the ball field and hung out in some shade while the guide told us a bit more about Mayan culture. The view over the wall was pretty neat.

After a little while, we went back to the main courtyard area and got a little more time to wander around. This building was my favorite; it's where they would sacrifice children. It was considered an honor to be sacrificed, and one child would be specifically chosen for the honor (I think the guide said it was usually the child of a great warrior, or something along those lines). There was a special statue/table thing on the top of the platform where it would take place, and it was still there, which was just bananas.

Even without knowing the background to it, the building was pretty impressive.

One of Mark's favorite things was this open area near the big pyramid. You could see that they were still finding things in the area, and he liked the idea that there was so much out there that they hadn't found yet.

We only had a few more minutes to wander around, so we started making our way back to the guides.

We did take a closer look at the big pyramid along the way. These snakes run down the side of the pyramid, and on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun casts a shadow that makes it look like the snake runs all the way down the side of the pyramid.

Mark pointed out that there was a small lizard hanging out on the snake's head when we were there.  :)

We met up with our guide and the rest of the group, then walked a few minutes to the Observatory.

It was pretty neat. Our guide talked for a few minutes, then gave us some more time to wander around.

There were some pretty fancy buildings off to one side. I'm not sure what they were for, but it was really cool to see how well the carvings have lasted over time.

We slowly made our way back to our guide, then walked back to the bus. It had been really cool to get to see so much!

We drove back to the Mayan shops, had a buffet lunch, then hopped back in the bus for a short drive to our last stop. We passed through a really neat city along the way; I forget the name of it, but the buildings looked really cool and there were all sorts of people hanging out in the park.

The last stop of the day was a cenote. It's an underground swimming hole in a deep sinkhole. We only had about an hour here and there were a ton of people, so I decided to check out the view while Mark took a quick dip.

The cenote is really deep, so most people seemed to either hang out near the ropes on the sides or would jump in from the platforms, then get right back out.

I spent at least 15 minutes trying to find Mark with no luck. There were so many people!

Mark and I eventually tracked each other down and made our way back to the bus for the drive back. It took a little while and we both dozed most of the way, but we lucked out and our resort was one of the first stops. It was getting a little late, but we did have enough time to grab quick showers before heading to one of the outdoor restaurants for dinner.

The band from the night before was back in the Plaza, so we hung out and watched them for a little while, There didn't seem to be as many crazy dancers as the night before, though, so we went back to the room to hang out in the backyard instead.

We had been out there for a little while when I saw some reflecty eyes appear from behind the bush. "Oh look," I said to Mark. "Kitties."


Turns out they were little raccoons. Very curious raccoons. I tried to shoo them away with my sandal, but didn't want to be too crazy since I didn't know if they would jump up at me. The raccoons apparently thought I was trying to hand them my sandal and started reaching out with their creepy little raccoon hands. Mark was dying laughing at me. At any rate, the raccoons eventually moved on and we eventually went inside and went to bed. (And Mark still won't let me forget about how bad I was at getting rid of the raccoons.)