Banks Family Cruise 2014

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I can’t even begin to describe how much fun we had on our cruise to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.  It was so fun to have those 11 grandkids together.  They ate up every minute of “cousin time” with the older ones loving the independence they had on the ship, and the little ones having a great time in kids club while us moms and dads soaked up the sun and enjoyed some kid-free dinners.  Heaven! The kids LOVED all the ice cream  Rusty did a great job describing the trip in his journal, so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  Excuse the grammatical errors and incomplete sentences. 🙂 Take it away Rust:

Writing this from the airplane.  No, not the airplane back from the cruise unfortunately.  We got back Saturday afternoon and now it’s Monday afternoon and I’m turned around on a plane, this time headed to the east coast.  Never a dull moment that’s for sure 🙂
It was a pretty amazing week. We arrived Saturday afternoon and had a blast exploring the ship with the kids.  We were the first ones of our group on the ship and it was so exciting as each family member would get there. We had a big hallway practically to ourselves.  We were spoiled rotten with each couple having a balcony room and the kids sharing interior rooms right across the hall.

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day – I got lots of reading and some journaling done. We all hung out at the pools for most of the day. That evening we went to dinner without the kids (they went to kids club) which was definitely a good call.  The kids actually really liked kids club, so it was fun.  

Monday morning we woke up and worked out again. We went to a yoga class.  It was fun to do with family, but definitely not the best yoga class ever.  It was ANOTHER day at sea.  I was actually a little surprised that we got on the boat saturday at 12:30 and had another two full days at sea.  Tara took better notes on exactly what each day was.  The days at sea sort of blend together for me.  
One of the most interesting parts of the cruise was not being able to communicate with each other via phones and texting.  It made it tricky to find out where people were or to plan because nobody was in the same place at the same time and you actually spent a fair amount of time looking for each other.  It was a blow back to the 90’s or early 2000’s when not everybody had a cell phone and you just couldn’t get in touch with anyone at anytime (how did we do that?). 

Monday night was the formal night.  It was fun to see everyone dressed up.  The cruise was the best for the kids, but especially Halle. She absolutely loved running around with her cousins and having independence to check herself in and out of kids club at will and decide what/when to eat, and all the other independent moves she got to make.
We landed in Puerto Vallarta Tuesday morning about 11:30.  19 of us walked off the ship into the craziness that is the port.  Immediately there were lots of people asking us for taxis.  We found a van that was a good price and for $20 he took us to the office of Los Veranos, which is the zipline company we had looked up online that we thought was fun.  Luckily the bus was ready to go as soon as we negotiated price.  The scenery on the ride up was beautiful – through the rain forest.  It reminded me of Costa Rica or the yucatan penninsula.  
We arrived at the base camp, they trained us on the use of pulley’s and we were off.  Zip-lining from tree to tree until eventually you go across the entire valley that had a beautiful river running down the middle of it.  The guides were funny as you would expect – something like a river rafting group.  They jumped out of the trees and played “Jaguar” and scared me and Cory but probably Cory the worst.  The kids had a blast.  They would send them down in trains.  We went upside down.  Tons of fun.  It was awesome to see that Halle and Josh, were not even scared.  
Afterward there was the perfect little “beach” next to the river where Sharon had been watching the tiny ones (Blake, Kali, Carson, and Cohen) and they had been having a blast.  Complete with little boats and waterslide.  Sharon had ordered lunch and made themselves comfortable.  After, we all dived into the river and played with the kayaks and went down the waterslides.  Josh even went down the waterslide that had a 5 foot drop – and bellyflop!  Poor guy, I think he hurt his stomach pretty bad.      
We rode down the mountain.  Having a few minutes left on shore, Tara and I did not want to go back to the boat just yet so we got off at The Crystal Hotel with some of the other guests.  They walked us back to their beach and we watched the sunset and played in the surf.  Just our little 5 person family.  That was one of my favorite experiences of the trip.  I remember just loving them so much, feeling so lucky to be alive and to get to spend my life with that amazing family.  Crazy to believe that we were on the same beach that Tara and I spent our honeymoon.  We were just a few doors down from the Crown Paradise (we would run by the exact room where we stayed the next day).  That was a blast.  Afterwards we went back up to the Crystal to change and of course they had an amazing pool so Blake and Josh just HAD to jump in, to wash the sand off of course.  Then we wanted to find some real Mexican food so we walked across the street and had Huacheros and orange fantas – which were a kind of hard / soft taco.  Then we walked back and of course because the kids insisted that they each have their own Fanta they all had to go to the bathroom and we had to stop at the Mexican 7-11!  Went back and went to bed.  Tired!

Wednesday.  Went running with Tara and Kami at 6:30 on the beach.   We wanted to run along the sand but it was high tide so there was no “hard sand” and it made it really tough.  We ran right by where we stayed on our honeymoon.  We all got soaked at one point when we got pinned against a cement wall by an incoming wave.  On the way back I fell behind and Tara and Kami talked about life, the church, etc. I think it was really good.  
We met up with the family after breakfast and all walked to the beach.  We found a cool place by The Crystal where we had watched the sunset before.  The waves were POUNDING and the kids were getting slammed.  The water was really warm so if you swam out past the break it was really nice.  We played on the beach for hours.  Then I haggled for 2 paddleboards for 45 minutes.  It was hard!  Kept falling over – spent as much time in the water as I did up on the board. Tara did great and didn’t have any problem standing up. Then we switched with Lindsey and Cory and let them have a turn.  We walked back along the beach to the boat.  We had a couple minutes so we stopped at the flea market right there by the cruise ship. I went in search of food.  I found the guy who was feeding the workers and bought some tacos (or were they empanadas?) out of his black bag.  They were pretty good, not great.  Got back on the boat.  

Thursday: Woke up in Cabo!  This day was Brynn’s birthday. It was a pain trying to get everyone off the boat.  We had to take “tenders” in, so it was hard organizing everybody.  Eventually we got off the boat and were swarmed by water taxis – they want to take you to Lovers Beach which is the tourist trap everyone goes to.  Instead I had read about Chilleno beach, so we took another huge van about 15 minutes and $50 to Chilleno beach. 

The beach was fantastic.  A semi-secluded beach that had big shade stations, perfect sized waves, blue water (the water in Puerto was too turbulent to be blue), and good snorkeling.  I ran up to the parking lot to get some masks.  I snorkeled the entire two hours.  My favorite thing was taking the kids out.  My favorite memory was holding Halle’s hand while she snorkled for the first time, taking her out amongst the rocks into the deep.  At the end I saw an eel which was really cool.  I even took Blake out, he would hang on my back and when I would tell him he would poke his  eyes and mask into the water to look at the fish.  We had to be back on the ship by 3:30 – so we packed up and were supposed to meet Jose at 12:45.  He was supposed to come back and get us, he didn’t.  Tara says it was because we were condescending, I’m not so sure.  Back in Cabo we shopped.  Tara was tired, and took Josh back to the ship.  I found some tacos.  Given we were dropped off in a completely different part of the marina, we were 15 minutes later than the supposed “last tender”.  But luckily they were running behind.  Back on the boat it was the 2nd formal night.  It was also Brynn’s birthday.  So this was the night where we had everyone come to the formal night with us.  It was a good time.  Everybody looked so sharp.  The kids were good for the most part, we had the big kids sitting on a table by themselves and the little kids by us.  The little kids are crazy!  We sang to Brynn.  Tara made the kids try escargot.  Some gagged.  Some said it wasn’t so bad. After was the Beatles show which was really good and clever.

Friday: Last full day at sea. I booked a massage for my mom and Tara and they had a great time.   We sent the kids to kids club for dinner and had one last adult night out.  This was my favorite meal – we toasted Phyllis and Willis, gave Alan and Sharon a cute picture of the grandkids that we had taken on formal night, and had a great time together.  Picked up the kids, put them to bed and tried to go to the “legends” show.  It was dumb, and Lindsey came and said that Josh had thrown up in bed.  Luckily it seemed to be just motion sickness because he was fine the next day.  

Saturday:  Had a quick breakfast as we landed in LA.  Said goodbye and waited in line to get off the ship. Sweet miss Halle had tears in her eyes at the thought of leaving her cousins and grandma and grandpa. We hung out on the peer for a little because we didn’t want to be too early to the airport.  Got to the airport, checked some bags, and then had to keep Blake in check because he was a wild animal due to 7 days of limited supervision and discipline.  Eventually we told him and Halle to go look at the toy store, but they were in a back of a different store so it was really hard to find them. Tara and Josh boarded the plane while I ran around the airport looking for them.  After a bumpy plane ride home we landed and met Carlie at the airport (she came to visit while Danny in China) and then drove home.  Saturday evening it felt like the whole world was spinning.  We ate some soup and went to bed. We were all exhausted, but at the same time feeling rejuvenated and feeling so lucky to be part of such an amazing family.   

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