Sunday, June 1, 2014

Caribbean Crusin'

I'm back to blogging. Our fun vacation to the Caribbean seemed like the perfect excuse. We spent many Minnesota winter months planning and looking forward to this tropical escape and it turned out to be exactly what we needed.

Our cruise didn't depart until Sunday, so I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to fulfill a teenage fantasy by going to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios on Saturday. I was so giddy to drink butterbeer and explore Ollivanders Wand Shop! Chad was a good sport, and secretly I think he enjoyed it too.






We boarded our ship on Sunday and enjoyed a few days of relaxing, reading, swimming, and lots of eating.




Unfortunately, we missed our port of call at CocoCay in the Bahamas due to safety concerns. The winds and waves were too unstable for us to tender into the island. We were really sad, because we had been looking forward to a day of snorkeling, but safety is obviously more important.

They tried to make it up to us by getting into St. Thomas earlier than initially planned. It was great to have a whole day to enjoy that beautiful island. In true Hyland style, we walked straight past all of the cruise excursions and found our own, less crowded way to explore the island -- a local taxi driver. We loaded on the back of the taxi truck and then were treated to some beautiful overlooks. Our last stop was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, Magens Bay beach, where we decided to spend the rest of the day. 






We rented some lounge chairs and found the perfect spot on the beach, under a tree, away from most of the crowd.






Our next port of call was St. Maarten where we had planned a scuba diving trip with a local company, Octopus Diving. They were fantastic, especially with it being my first time. We highly recommend them. After getting past the initial fear and mental block of breathing underwater, I had the most amazing time. My dive instructor said I was the best exploratory diver he had ever taken out and that I ought to get certified. I definitely will. Chad's a certified diver and has been on over 14 dives, so I'll have to get certified so we can continue to dive together.










We did two dives while in St. Maarten. The first was at Creole Rock (30 feet for 48 minutes) and the second at Turtle Reef (30 feet for 52 minutes). We saw and experienced some amazing things. Our favorites were the nurse shark, the turtles, and the schools of fish.













Here's an example of why I absolutely love traveling with Chad. Instead of heading back to the cruise ship for lunch like the other couple from our dive, he asked the locals where the best place was to eat. We weren't disappointed and enjoyed some fantastic, local cuisine. We spent that lunch discussing how our next trip to the Caribbean will involve island hopping at our leisure. We will make very minimal plans prior to arriving and simply explore each of the islands for as long as we want. We're accepting applications for travel companions, so let us know if you are interested! 




We then had a few more days on board to enjoy simply being together--getting a massage, attending the evening shows, reading, mini-golfing, and we even picked up shuffleboard. The ocean was so calm on these last few days, it was crazy. The biggest ripples were coming from our ship.






We had a fantastic time exploring our beautiful world and reconnecting with each other away from the busyness of life.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lots to Celebrate!

We've had so much to celebrate since we moved to Minneapolis: my 23rd Birthday in February, our ONE YEAR Anniversary and Easter in March....And, you better believe I celebrated when it finally started to look like Spring around here! We had two days at the end of April where I thought it might, then it snowed again. Oh, Minnesota. But, the past two weeks have been blissful!

Here's a brief re-cap of all of those fun celebrations, and Part Two of my blog "catch-up:"

MY GOLDEN BIRTHDAY

It was my golden birthday this year.Chad planned a lovely evening for us. We went to dinner at Bar La Grassa, my new favorite restaurant in Minneapolis. The flavors of their food is simply incredible! Honestly, if that was all we did for my birthday, I would have been satisfied. The food and atmosphere were perfect.


The fun didn't stop there though. After dinner, we went to the Mall of America for some mini-golfing. It was a lot of fun and we had our own little competition.


Last but not least, Chad spoiled me with a new Chi hair straightener, the new Maroon 5 and Fun CDs, and a new pair of shoes. I'm a lucky girl!

OUR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

It seemed pretty surreal to celebrate our one year anniversary. It went by so quickly and I definitely didn't imagine we would be living in Minneapolis. Life is an adventure, but it's so great when you take that adventure hand in hand with your best friend.

We started our celebration a few weeks early by going to the musical Spamalot. It was only in town for a few days and we loved it! It was hilarious.


On our actual anniversary we went to Murray's steakhouse and shared their famous silver butter knife steak for two. It's a 28 ounce strip sirloin that they carve tableside. I think my jaw dropped when they brought out the massive block of meat and began serving me my "portion." It was absolutely delicious though! I had so much fun getting dressed up and enjoying the famous Murray's experience with my sweetheart.


We also had a good laugh about a few things that happened on our wedding day. Here's a few of the laughable moments:

1. As we sat holding hands in the celestial room, excitedly waiting for our turn to be sealed, the temple worker telling us how some couples have made it all the way to the celestial room before deciding they couldn't go through with the sealing and "it's not too late yet." I think she thought she was funny.

2. Our temple sealer calling us "Chandace," then quickly correcting himself as the Hyland clan had a little laugh because that's what they called us after we were engaged.

3. Me looking at my mother in-law when the sealer referred to me as "Sister Hyland." One year later and I'm still quite sure that "Sister Hyland" is my mother in-law.

4. Chad's friends keeping him hydrated throughout the day with a Camelback full of Mountain Dew.

5. My sister, Natalie, running through the tables at our reception, grabbing Chad's brother Cody's plate, setting it on the table, and pulling him to the dance floor. He still had his breadsticks in his shirt pocket.

6. Chad's very *creative* friends re-arranging our reception sign because I wouldn't let them decorate our get-away car.

EASTER

Easter was our first big holiday away from family. We would have loved to have been with our families, but we are so grateful for such good friends here that invited us to their Easter Dinner. It was absolutely delicious! I even channeled my Aunt Julianne and made some homemade croissant rolls.

We gave each other Easter baskets. My Easter basket contained the new Les Mis DVD and some yummy candy, most importantly being my favorite Easter candy, Cadbury Mini Eggs. I filled Chad's Easter basket with candy and a pass for us to go do some glass blowing. I'm so anxious to get that scheduled and go do it!


SPRING

We celebrated on the two days that it got above 70 degrees, along with the rest of Minnesota, by going to the lake and enjoying the sun--some of us more than others. As you can see below, people were out on the "beach," in their swimwear, laying out on their beach towels...with the ice still on the lake. I repeat my prior sentiment, "Oh, Minnesota." It snowed again after this.



I'm so glad it really is Spring now. I may admit to having teared up at the sight of blossoms. We've been able to go on bike rides and to the Farmers Market. I'm in heaven. These pictures are from our bike ride to the Mississippi.



We're now excited to celebrate our Memorial Day Weekend in Duluth!