Saturday, April 11, 2015

Adventures in Puerto Vallarta

This was my first time to Mexico - what a beautiful country it is filled with wonderful people, terrific food and gorgeous sights!

On the night before the wedding we went out salsa dancing to a Cuban restaurant with some of Alex & Aline's friends - the band was terrific as were the mojitos.
Paola, Mary, Alex, Aline and Pablo at La Bodeguita Del Medio
The day of the wedding we took the bus into town where we met up with Colleen, Peter, Nancy and Chris and did some exploring.

Mom, Ellen and baby Julian in the backpack with the Mountains in the distance
Audrey enjoying a swim in the river with Nancy and Chris
 The Malecon is the main boardwalk of Puerto Vallarta and it is covered with bronze statues along the way. We enjoyed a self-guided art tour of the sculptures.

Dancing Statues on the Malecon
 We also visited the most photographed church of Puerto Vallarta - it has an ornate crown on top. The original crown fell off in 1995 and was destroyed by an earthquake.
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
 Below is one of the more peculiar statues "The Boy on the Seahorse" by Rafael Zamarripa Castaneda who was only 18 when he sculpted this work.
The Dans in front of their favorite statue
 We also enjoyed a sand carving competition:
An Ornate Sand Sculpture 
We decided that one church visit was not enough:

The Dans and Erin climbing the steps to Our Lady of Refuge Church
 After the wedding we had fantastic days of exploring the beaches, waterfall hikes, dolphin spotting, snorkeling, para-sailing (for Alex and Aline) and boat rides through the ocean with our boat captains Alberto and Mariachi Mario.

We went to Los Arcos - a natural outcropping with several caves and reefs - while we were snorkeling around Aline spotted a twenty dollar bill on the ocean floor and Alex swam down and retrieved it! Who says there's not buried treasure? The snorkeling here was spectacular - all varieties and colors of fish. Luckily we didn't spot any sharks, although Durango Dan did spot a whale tail as we were zipping around in our boat.
Los Arcos
 We did two excellent waterfall hikes - Mom and Audrey had the good fun of riding a horse up to the falls. At the first waterfall we explored Erin went in first to tell us how the temperature of the water was and she took a mis-step and fell right in to the waterfall pool - quite the explorer she is!
SO MUCH FUN - when are we going back?!?!

Puerto Vallarta

Last month we traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for Alex and Aline's wedding. The wedding day was spectacular - we had picture perfect weather, a beautiful ceremony, terrific music, delicious food and a night filled with dancing.
Mary and Dan enjoying a drink before the ceremony

View of the reception area

Alex and Mom before the ceremony
  The ceremony was incredibly sweet we heard about how Alex and Aline met for the first time and their personal vows were incredibly thoughtful and touching. Alex's friend Ivan translated the ceremony into English and Alex said his vows in English while Aline did hers in Spanish.

Alex and Aline Exchanging Vows
 After the bride and groom kissed in marched a 9 piece mariachi band! They were fantastic - incredible musicians.
Mariachi Band

The Newlyweds dancing to the Mariachi music

El Senor belting out a solo

Alex's New Family
Dan and Chris shooting the breeze

Audrey was happy to find some stray roses from the bouquet Aunt Nancy caught

Julian observing the wedding festivities
 The food at the wedding was outstanding we had appetizers of all variety, ceviche, a Costa Rican tangerine salad and fish as our main course. The desserts were apple pie or Mexican wedding cake - a corn cake.
Aline and Alex cutting the special Mexican corn wedding cake
 Alex and Aline kicked off the night of dancing by performing their choreographed barchata wedding dance - their instructor was at the wedding and he agreed that their dance was awesome!
Alex and Aline dancing their bachata dance 
The newlywed also ended the night of partying and dancing by taking a leap into the pool! Poor Nelson, Aline's brother, was pushed in as he was trying to get a photo of them - he had two smart phones ruined . . . all part of the show!
Nelson, Alex and Aline ended up in the pool
What an amazing day it was - Felicidades a Aline y Alex!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weekend Getaway

The final weekend before school started up for Dan we got out of town for a little adventure. Dan planned some fun for us in NW Arkansas as a Christmas gift to me. We dropped Annie off at Happy Tails and had a nice drive down to Fayetteville where we stayed at the Dickson Street Inn, an adorable B&B right on the main street.
Dickson Street Inn
After checking in we strolled through downtown, dropped in a used bookstore where Dan couldn't help but buy some history books and walked over to the University of Arkansas campus where we enjoyed some beautiful Native American art.

Native American Sculpture on Arkansas' campu

For lunch we went to the funkiest restaurant in town, Hammontree's Grilled Cheese. It was packed! We waited about 30 minutes for a table and then each ordered a delicious sammy that we shared with each other - mine filled with brie, gouda, apple, carmelized onions and fig jam. Dan's was stuffed with wild mushroom goat cheese, asiago, sauteed mushrooms and sun-dried tomato spread. I'd go back to Fayetteville just for more of these incredible sandwiches! After exploring downtown a little more we went to Therapods Spa where we indulged in a float tank experience - it was extremely relaxing! After a stroll around Fayetteville's square where we picked up some music we went back to Dickson Street where we enjoyed a fantastic meal and then we bar-hopped and enjoyed some live music.

On Sunday we had a terrific breakfast at the Inn then drove up to Bentonville where we visited the amazing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The collection of works was really outstanding and the museum itself is, architecturally, stunning.   

Roxy Paine's sculpture "Yield"

View of the West Wing from the Center of the Museum 
We were lucky to get really nice weather so we had a nice hike on the grounds of the museum and got to enjoy the museum from the vantage point of the surrounding forests. We hope to go back again in the spring when the flowering trees are in bloom.

After the museum we went to downtown Bentonville where we enjoyed crepes from a crepe food truck - YUM! When we returned to Springfield to pick up Annie the gentleman working there said that she was "a very sweet dog" and that she had made friends with a miniature doberman pinscher. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

More fun in Ann Arbor

In addition to all our fun with Mom and Dad we were also lucky enough to have them "babysit" Annie while we met up with old friends, Jenn and Darrin in Tecumseh for dinner and met our good friend Diana downtown for dinner then saw her awesome new house.

We even got out to see an exciting Michigan - Illinois basketball game in which Michigan had a great comeback win in overtime.
Michigan Stadium billboard welcoming home Coach Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh, the new coach of the Michigan football team made an appearance and brief speech at halftime to a standing ovation from the fans.

Coach Harbaugh addresses the crowd
 On New Years Eve we hosted a terrific dinner of tofu jambalaya, black eyed peas & rice and a delicious pear walnut salad. Adrienne and Becky brought delicious bubblies. Afterwards Mom and Dad watched Annie while Dan and I went to Becky's house then a party downtown.

Happy New Year!
On New Year's Day Mom and Dad sent us off in style with a delicious breakfast then off we drove to Missouri. Hope your New Year is off to a fantastic start!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Christmas Adventures in Ann Arbor

After the excitement of opening presents we settled in to some Christmas dinner preparations. Dad made his famous vegan eggplant moussaka. Mom made pumpkin pie and Dan and I made a tempeh pate featuring nocino!
Mary showing off the Vegan Pate Dan and she made for the Christmas Feast
 Before the feast we got in a few good games of Jenga - Dad and I both lost. Dan remains undefeated in Jenga!
Dad trying hard not to knock over the Jenga tower

Dan (aka the Jenga Champion) skillfully pulling out a Jenga Block
 We toasted to a terrific 2014 and recalled some favorite memories from the year including Julian's 1st birthday at the Kelly Family Reunion, Halloween in Steamboat Springs, great hikes in Jackson Hole and celebrating Alex and Aline's engagement.
Dan and Mary toast a very Merry Christmas with Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad model their Christmas crowns

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve ice skating
A rather fit Santa on Ice

Dan speeding around the rink

Christmas breakfast after mass at St. Mary's.
Dad says Christmas cheers with fancy coffee and frothed milk

We were spoiled with lots of presents and now off to prepare Christmas dinner!
Annie trying on Dan's new pillow for size

Monday, December 22, 2014

Visiting Ann Arbor

Dan, Annie and I arrived safely in Ann Arbor this past weekend. Annie was great on the car ride up to Michigan and was SO excited to see Mom and Dad. She ran around the house squeaking and happily wagging her tail upon arrival.

On Sunday to get in the Christmas spirit we went to see a matinee of "It's a Wonderful Life" playing at the Michigan Theater.

Dan in front of the Marquee
 Then we went to a holiday happy hour at the Wolverine Brew Company tap room where we met up with friends for beer, hot cocoa and a meeting with Santa!

Mom and Dad sat on Santa's lap
 We continued our good cheer by putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it which listening to Johnny Mathis' Christmas record and Joe Cocker (RIP).

Mom and Dan add the finishing touches to the Tree