I tried to get a blog post written here a few days ago, but I had to restart my computer, and while I though I had saved the draft post I had written, it appears to have disappeared. Whoops! So here's a quick update of what's transpired in the past little while.

  • Our stuff arrived! Earlier this week, a truck pulled up at our place and delivered a pile of boxes that we had shipped from Canada. Some things we were missing a lot were our box of board games, the kitchen knives we got as wedding presents, and my computer. We haven't really gotten unpacked yet, but that should happen in the next few weeks.
  • Last Saturday, we attended an end-of-the-world themed party. Aaron and Christine threw a really great party at their place. The original theme was based on the LHC warming up to create mini black holes, but it seems it was mistimed for that purpose as the LHC ran into trouble last week delaying the end of the world.
  • Darse and Xan are moving, so Diane and I have been helping them a bit with the move. Truth be told, Diane's been much more helpful than I. All I did was help Darse with a couple of large heavy items.
  • Work has been progressing well. I'm slowly getting more comfortable with parts of the codebase, although it's going to take awhile to get fully immersed. It's been fun so far, and quite a challenge, but I feel it's been pretty rewarding and I'm pretty excited about a couple of the coming projects I've got to work on.
  • The weather here has been gorgeous the past few days. Lots of clear sky and sunshine. It's starting to cool off at nights though -- down to 5 degrees celcius or so at nights.

That's all I can think of for now. It feels like we've been busier than that.

I hope everyone back home is doing well!


We're in Ireland!

That's right, Diane and I had a safe, if slightly stressful, trip over here. Let me tell you the story of our day(s). The goaway party was fantastic. Despite the fact that I didn't get the word out very well (sorry to the people who I didn't let know about it ... I really was too distracted to make sure everyone knew about it), we had more than 60 people show up for it. I'm sure glad the weather held out so that we had enough room for people to hang out. Anyways, it was great fun, and I hope everyone had a good time. I sure did!

After the go-away party, Diane and I returned to the Condo to get ourselves in a better packed state. We got there at about 1:45am, and packed until well after 3:30am before falling into bed exhausted -- but we were up again early the next morning to continue packing and cleaning up our place. We then went out to Dim Sum with our parents which was a nice way to spend our last brunch in Edmonton. After that, we went back to the Condo and met up with Megan. The four of us -- Megan, Mom, Diane, and I spent a couple hours working on making the condo cleaner and tying up the loose ends. We, and in particular my mom and Megan worked a miracle of a job in there -- with the condo almost back in a liveable state. Which is good since Megan will want to live there soon enough.

We then trekked out to get my dad and we got a ride out to the airport where we bid farewell to my parents and Megan there. And we were off on our grand adventure!

After waiting for an hour or so, we boarded our Air Canada 767. It was a pretty nice aircraft, and we were quickly glad to find out that we had the first row of economy class seats -- which meant we had tons of leg room! Sweeeet! Not only that, the airplane must've been newer than the last two air canada flights we'd taken between Edmonton and London because each seat had its own tv screen. We happily were able to watch our choice of several movies. I love those things.

The flight itself was pretty standard. They fed us, I watched the movies Fool's Gold and Flawless, and also managed to get 2 hours of sleep or so! That's like a record for me on these long haul flights!

We arrived in Dublin, and found out that we had to go through UK customs to get our bags and then take an outside route to terminal 1 to get on our aer lingus flight. Turns out this is because air canada and aer lingus don't have a baggage agreement. Boourns. So our layover time quickly became panic time when we had to wait for our luggage, run to terminal 1, check our luggage, and then run to the boarding gate. Thankfully, the aer lingus people graciously let us check our bags (despite being overweight) and told us to run to the gate. So we did, and got there only to find out the plane was just in its initial boarding call. Whew! So I was pretty tired and stressed out, but we got on the plane and made it to Dublin.

Dublin was beautiful today. It was +21 degrees celcius, and wonderfully sunny. From the airport, we caught a shuttle bus called aircoach for €7 each that took us within a couple blocks of our temporary apartments. When we arrived, we were just in time to get our keys before the office closed at 5:00pm. Whew! Not only that, but Darse pulled up in his car before we even had a chance to go up and see our place! So him and Xan helped us find our apartment suite and got us all setup there. We caught up for a bit and then went out to see Dundrum Mall which is a huge shopping mall here in Dublin. We had dinner at a grill type restaurant -- Diane and I were too tired to really make a strong decision on a restaurant so we kinda floated until we found a place that looked decent.

After dinner we wandered a bit more, but found that most places had closed up shop by 8:00 on a Sunday. Oh well, Diane and I will have more than enough time to explore the immediate vicinity shops and services.

So now we're back to our place, and Diane has already gone to bed. She didn't get as much sleep as me on the plane, so she was pretty tired. I'm going to follow suit pretty quickly here. I hope that someday I'll get around to posting pictures, but no promises on it being anytime real soon. We'll have to see.


Honeymoon Cruise: Final Day

– note: this post was written while aboard the cruise ship on the 17th of July and posted on the 19th of July after arriving back – Well, Diane and I are now waiting for debarkation from the ship. It's awfully early -- 7:30 in the morning, and we've been up since 6 so that we could have breakfast. I don't have much else to do, so I figured I'd get caught up with the blog posting.

I left off before the second musical show called "Spin". This time around, the show was themed around a wheel with different destinations on it. After each song, they spun the wheel to get a new destination and they'd do a song around that theme. There was quite a few places they did, most of which were in the United States. We arrived a bit late, but caught songs themed around Texas, New York, New Orleans, Puerto Rico and a few others that I can't remember. It was pretty fun actually.

After the show, we headed off to dinner. By this point we'd started to get to know our dinner partners John and Dawnyelle. Our dinner conversation was pretty fun, and we had a pretty good time. There was escargo on the menu, which is something I've never tried. John mentioned that they were there, and then it became something we had to try. So the four of us split an order of escargo. It was sure buttery and garlicy ... and you really couldn't taste what the snail tasted like. It kind of had a texture similar to calimari, which I suppose makes sense. So, one thing off the list of things to try! For a main course, both Diane and I had some battered fish and shrimp. It was fairly tasty, although some of our other dinners were better.

After dinner, rather than going to see the "R-rated" hypnosis show, we decided to just head to bed. The next day would be our Ensenada excursion, so we didn't want to stay up too late for a show that maybe wasn't that exciting. I imagine if he standup guy was back, we might've stayed up for him.

We slept in a little more than we had when we hit Cabo, but that's partly because our excursion didn't leave until 10:45. This time, we went to have breakfast at Tiffany's (that's what the buffet restaurant is called) and then got off the ship well in advance of our tour. It was a nice day though, so we wandered around the little market, and sat in the shade for a little while before heading off on our tour.

The tour we had signed up for was a kayaking trip -- the first leg of which was a one hour bus ride to the site. The main tourist attraction in Ensenada is a natural blowhole called El Bufadora. This formation is a place where air pressure builds up in a natural pocket and every few seconds the blowhole sprays water up high into the air. Our kayaking would bring us within a few metres away fromwhere the water exits.

The bus ride was fairly nice. Our tour guide was very excited and talked almost all the way there. She told us about the city of Ensenada, about the state we were in, and about Mexico. She gave us shopping and bargaining advice. She did a pretty good job, and her English was really quite good so it was pretty informative.

After getting off the bus, we got a quick lesson in kayaking from a friendly guy named Carlos. From there, we walked a little ways down to the beach where a bunch of two-man kayaks were sitting. One by one, the kayak tour guides pushed each boat into the water where we paddled out a little ways. The water was beautifully clear, so we could see quite a ways down. The biggest feature in the water was by far the large kelp forests -- our kayaking took us through several patches of the stuff. It's pretty crazy how large these plants must be. We couldn't see the bottom of the ocean anywhere, but the kelp grows on the bottom and extends their branches to the top of the water and they extend across the water for quite a ways. A pretty incredible sight.

On the way out to the blowhole we spotted several dolphins. It's pretty cool to see them swimming along not really all that far away. The trip to the blowhole was pretty short, but we sat in the water for awhile to watch it. I risked bringing my little camera along so I took it out and took several photos and videos of the blowhole in action. It was pretty neat to see it from our vantage point, and I'm pretty sure that's the best way to see it. The vantage point from land really wasn't nearly as good since you don't get to see the bottom of the spray.

After the tour guides took anyone who wanted to closer to the blowhole, we started paddling back to the beach. On the way back, Diane and I spotted a seal! It was awfully cute. On our way back, we'd see it several times coming up for air, but we never managed to get a photo of it. We got surprisingly close to it, actually -- and every time he came up we paddled a little closer. I wonder if it thought we were stalking it.

The tour guides helped us get up on the beach from our kayaks and we walked back to the bus to wash off the sand and dry off a bit. The bus tour guide was very excited to take us to the market leading towards the blowhole -- so even though it wasn't officially part of our tour, we got an extra hour to wander through the market. It was quite interesting ... the people there were quite eager to sell us stuff. At times they were quite pushy. In preparation for our kayaking, Diane and I forgot to pack some money with us, so we actually couldn't buy anything. It was kind of amusing being hassled into someone's store to look at their stained glass, but not having money to purchase anything. Of course, the guy there didn't know that ... but we did. Some of the stuff on sale was pretty odd. There were several drug stores down the stretch selling all kinds of spam-subject drugs like viagra and cialis. One guy went so far as to touch my arm and say something along the lines of "you could go all-night baby". I was a little creeped out to say the least. Makes a good story though.

We wandered through the market for a little ways, taking some free samples of churros, and homemade bread. It helped us last until we got back to the ship. We got back to the bus well before our 3:00 meetup time, and waited around for the rest of our tour people to come back from the market. There was a group of four that were late, and we came very close to leaving them behind but thankfully they got back just in time. The bus ride back was kind of relaxing and I had a very quick nap.

Arriving back at the ship, we cleaned up and then wandered around the ship for a bit. There was supposed to be ball room dance music playing in one of the lounges, but when we showed up there was nobody there. I guess nobody showed up, so they stopped (or never started?). So we hung around for a little bit. Diane had a nap, before we went off to dinner. Our last dinner with John and Dawnyelle was fun. We exchanged pictures and email addresses. Maybe they'll come visit us in Ireland some day. I had veal parmigiani for dinner, and Diane had the salmon. Both were pretty tasty. We chatted for awhile after dinner and then wandered back to our room where we stayed for a little while before the 10:30 show that evening. The neat thing about the last show was they had been doing auditions at karaoke for some well known artists like Garth Brooks, Brittany Spears, Madonna, Elton John, Elvis, Ricky Martin, etc. The best ones were picked and they put on a show where these people got to get up on stage dressed up like the artists they were impersonating. It was actually pretty fun. The guy who did Garth Brooks sounded almost exactly like him which was pretty awesome. The rest of them ranged in quality a bit, and some definately looked a bit nervous which is totally understandable. It was a neat idea that worked pretty well I think.

After the show was over, Diane and I went off to collapse. In order to get up in time for breakfast, we had to get up pretty early so we set an early wakeup call at 6am. It came too fast, but both of us woke up pretty quickly. We showered, packed ourselves up, and moved out of our room in pretty short order and made it to breakfast a little before 7:00. Breakfast was rather nice -- we went for the dining room where we got full service. It didn't take too long for us to get our croissants, eggs benedict, fruit juice, and coffee. It was pretty tasty, but by the time we were finished and sat around for a bit, it was only 7:45.

So now we're sitting in one of the lounges waiting for our debarkation number to be called. They've gone through numbers 1-9 so far, and we're number 16. Once we get called we can head off the ship and head to the airport where we'll wait until 3:20 to leave San Diego. It's gonna be a bit of a long day methinks. Still, it's a bit hard to believe our honeymoon is almost over. In some ways it'd be nice to stick around a bit longer, but it'll be nice to be back home too.


Honeymoon Cruise: Day 1-2

-- note: this post was written while aboard the cruise ship on the 13th of July and posted on the 19th of July after arriving back -- Diane and I are on a cruise ship waiting for the captain's reception and formal dinner. This is the 2nd night of our honeymoon cruise, and I've disconnected myself from the interwebs for the duration of the trip. While internet is available, I don't really like paying the premium for it at this point so I'll just check email when I get home.

So yesterday was our first cruise day. We hung out in our hotel room in the morning for a little while and had breakfast before checking out right before noon and wandering over to the dock where the Elation was sitting there waiting to be boarded. After a surprisingly smooth check-in process, we boarded the ship and the first thing we did was pursue food. Our room wasn't going to be ready for another 45 minutes or so, so we needed to pass some time which we did by finding a table in Tiffany's restaurant.

There was a lot of people there for lunch, so we just kind of hung out and took food from the short lineup areas which included a fruit and salad bar and the 24 hour soft ice cream bar. That was pretty fun. After relaxing a bit, we went down to check out our cozy little room. It's nothing particularly special, but it's certainly comfortable. There's even a fake window with curtains to make it look like a hotel room (I'm not sure it's really all that necessary).

After stowing our carry on luggage in our room, we wandered out to explore the ship a little. This is our first cruise so we needed to check out how the ship was organized and what it had to offer. I don't know how the Elation compares to other ships, but it has a pretty wide array of rooms and conveniences. The cabins are down low, with our cabin on the Upper Deck (3rd floor from the bottom of the passenger cabins, with one above ours). On the Empress Deck, there's a bar in the middle in a wide open room where you can see all the floors higher than it. A couple floors up is the promenade deck which is the only floor where you can walk from one length of the ship to the other without going through cabin areas. Most of the action goes on either on the promenade deck or up or down one floor. The restaurants are one floor below on the Atlantic deck, and the pool and buffet (with the 24 hour pizza and ice cream bar) one floor up on the Lido deck.

We found out most of the information by joining a whirlwind tour starting at 2:45. After the tour, we had a few moments before joining the people for the mandatory safety drill. That was a whole lot of boring-ness, but I imagine it's a good idea so people know what to do if something goes wrong. Not that that's high on the expectation list.

We were supposed to leave at 4:00, but we didn't quite get going right away. Eventually though, we did set off and Diane and I watched the depart on the top deck at the rear of the ship with a good view of the rock/blues band that played for us while we set off. We watched the ship negotiate the bay outside San Diego and after a little while we were cruising down the west coast.

After awhile we returned to our room to get unpacked and do a bit of laundry so we could make it through the remaining days with enough clean clothes. We have the late dinner session at 8:15, so there was lots of time to fit in laundry and we basically relaxed for awhile while waiting for the clothes to be ready.

We headed up for dinner a little early and found our assigned table. There was a nice couple already seated when we got in so we chatted a bit. Another couple came by not too much later and they basically took over the conversation. Actually, it was the woman who took over the conversation. She chatted, loudly, throughout just about the entire dinner which wasn't all that pleasant. My poor right ear :(.

Dinner was actually pretty good. I got Fried shrimp for an appetizer and pan-seared fish (Starts with a T, white fish) for my main course. It was quite tasty! Diane got portobello mushroom for an appetizer and steak for her main course. The steak was okay, but it was no Alberta beef. Dessert was also pretty good. Diane got some cheesecake, and I got some sort of black forest concoction. Both were pretty good, although I think Diane won with the better dessert this go around.

Immediately after dinner there was a welcome aboard show, so we went there after a quick stop at the Piano Bar. In that room there literally is a piano bar - a bar with a bunch of keys on it. Diane and I both enjoyed that a lot.

The welcome show was interesting. There was some rather high energy dancing, and singing, and then a comedian came on. He wasn't too shabby -- he got a few laughs out of us, though we've seen better. Tonight he's going to do an R-rated show ... we'll see how that goes.

After the welcome show, we came back to our cabin to collapse and get a bit of rest before the next full day at sea.

This morning we woke up and went to have a little bit of breakfast from the buffet. I started out with a slice of pizza, and then a bowl of fruit from the buffet. Next, we consulted our list of stuff to do and ended up going to the shore excursion talk. We got some tips on what to expect on the excursions and some descriptions of some of the excursions. We'd already chosen ours, so we just went to listen and see if there was any good advice for us to check out.

After that we ended up heading to the dining room for lunch. I didn't realize that we'd have a formal dining option for lunch, but it turns out there was, and I'm glad we checked that out. It was rather good! I had some more pan seared fish (a different one this time), with some california rolls for an appetizer and creme caramel for dessert. Mmm, tasty. Although the california rolls were strangely sweet.

Unfortunately, lunch made us miss the Bar Mixology session. Whoops. But we did go on to a wine tasting seminar which was rather cool. We tried 5 different types of wines. Two whites, a white zinfandel, and two reds. I learned a little bit, but still have a lot to learn about wine.

We hung out for a bit before heading to high tea back at the piano bar. We got some tea and several little tea snacks. Lots of little tasty things including cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon on toast, and a bunch of sweets. After tea, we went up and played some win, lose, or draw -- pretty much pictionary. Our team won. Both Diane and I contributed a bunch to our cause by stealing a point from the other team with "Jockey", and drawing birdhouse (me), walking the dog (diane), and sandcastles (also diane). That was pretty fun.

So now it's just about time for the captain's reception and I need to change into my formal clothes (just a nice shirt and pants). It's been a fun couple days and we're both excited to hit Cabo San Lucas in the morning to do our zipline and rapelling session. It should be lots of fun!