Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in Portlandia

I arrived home the day after originally planned, due to a delayed flight or 2, spent a night in a hotel in Houston and landed just in time for mom and I to swing by the store and head home to meet the family for Christmas.

The Hilton Christmas Tree

When we stopped in Fred Meyer on the way home, it literally took my breath away the moment the doors opened and the flurry of American 'civilization' came blasting out.  The produce department was unbelievable.  The cheese counter had more varieties and blocks of cheese than all of Roatan's stores combined.  The wine selection went on and on and on, shelf after shelf after shelf.  I was in complete shock I hadn't anticipated so early on.  My mental state was on sensory overload.  Too many people and shoppers and options for my little island mind to process.  I wasn't ready for this at all.

I was happy that our only destination for the day was home, to stay inside and be with our family.  Grandma and Grandpa drove over the mountain from Central Oregon, Dad & Barb drove up from Salem and Josh flew up from his new place in Santa Barbara.  We had an excellent time cooking, eating, drinking and sharing our presents and laughs.  I'm so happy, and blessed, that our family has decided to combine as one, and celebrate the holiday all together, instead of separate.  It's really been a blast, this is the 3rd year we've combined the parents.

Grandma and Josh

Mom n Josh

Dad, Barb, Me, Josh

Since Christmas, I've spent all of my time with loved ones, dining and drinking mostly.  It's a social activity most people do when they want to meet someone or sit down and catch up.  So that's what I'm doing while I'm here; eating/drinking my way through Portland.  It's a real treat, there are no micrbrews on the island; and limited options for food, both dining out and in.

McMenamins Reunion

Shanyn and Dustin prepared a turkey (because I complained I missed out on Thanksgiving) and all the fixins for a get together with almost all of my girlfriends and their significants.  We had a blast, chatting, singing, laughing, eating and drinking.  I never tire of this great group of people.  We are a rich, fortunate bunch.

The Loveliest Ladies

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December in the Tropics

I can't believe it's already December!  This excited me for a number of reasons.  In exactly one week, I will be flying home to visit friends and family for a couple of weeks.  I feel very fortunate to be able to stay that long, it's a bit of a strange concept that I have the ability to leave 'home' and stay more than a week without losing vacation time or have to rush back to work!  I'll be working while I'm home of course, just in a slightly chillier office...

I'm also house sitting/cat sitting this last week before I leave, which never would have thrilled me back home, like it does here.  You see, the house I'm staying in is an actual HOUSE, with amenities like Living room furniture, TV, Oven, Washer & Dryer and air conditioning.  You know, that sort of thing ;)  Although I've already begun to realize I've outgrown my little apartment, this should pretty much solidify that realization.  After the new year, I plan to start looking for something a little more 'homey'.

This last week, I got to do some pretty neat things.  On Monday, I met up with 2 brothers, John and Ted, who I actually met here last time I came to visit.  They are from DC, and are visiting for the week.  It was fun to be able to reunite, and catch up.  The 2 of them, myself and my friend Dane rented dunebuggys for the afternoon and went on a mud-filled, puddle stompin, beach racing, sheep hearding helluva good time! We got to see a lot of the island, from mountain tops to little villages, some jungle and some sand.  We had a blast and can't wait to do it again!!

On Friday, Alex and I FINALLY got to dive together.  Our schedules are a bit opposite, so it's difficult to coordinate all of this at times.  As is anything on the island, tricky to plan too far in advance.  We were both really excited to learn that they had scheduled a dive to the wreck on the reef, El Aguila.  You can learn more about the ship here El Aguila is a 200 foot long cargo ship that sunk in 1997.  At the time, is stood nearly on end in the 110 feet of water.  In 1998, during Hurricane Mitch, the boat settling further to the bottom. 

So this was our dive, descending 110 feet to explore the ship.  The feeling of descending 110 feet is really cool.  Unless you are watching the earth (or shipwreck) down below, it's difficult to get a feel for how quickly you are falling.  It's kinda cool, and kinda strange at the same time.  Most of the time, you aren't falling that fast, but it feels like it!  It's important that everyone descend together, as the deeper you dive, the faster your oxygen consumption.  A deep dive such as this doesn't last nearly as long as a typical 40'-60' dive would.  Each diver begins every dive with 3000 psi in their tank.  However, this does not mean that each diver will consume at the same rate.  When I got on the boat, I had around 500 psi remaining.  Alex had 1400.  There are a lot of factors that play into your air consumption, specifically your breathing pattern, and how active you are in the water.  The more you use your arms and legs, the more quicker your heart rate, and breathing, hence the faster consumprion of air.  It's one of those skills you refine the more you dive.  I've come a long way, but am still learning!

We had a great time playing with the giant 'Goliath' Groupers and little Arrow Crabs.  I missed the eel that lives under part of the ship, darn.  I'm ok with that, eel are probably my least favorite underwater creatures I think.  They're just so ugly and vicious looking!  Anyway, our dive was fantastic, we had a good time hanging in the back of the group, taking our time, and screwing around with the GoPro.  I will post the video as soon as I'm finished editing. 

I'm scared to go home to the cold, but cannot WAIT to see my family and friends, and my little Ray Ray.  Other things I'm looking forward to; christmas with all of the family, mom's birthday, spending time at the park with Ray, hanging out in downtown P town, good coffee, a few micro brews, the blazer game, dinner party with all my friends, a little beach getaway and... hair dye.