For Christmas 2015 Mamma and Papa Bagley gifted all of the children with a family cruise. Initially, I was hesitant about accepting the offer because the determined date for departure was conveniently placed in the middle of my semester-- but thanks to the little "rule to live by" that Taylor and I established within our first few weeks of marriage (never say no to opportunities to adventure) we accepted! (Even though I may or may not have been a little negligent to begin with...)
All things said and done, I'm 100% grateful that we took advantage of that opportunity! It was a much-needed break from school, and winter, and stress. Thankfully I had time to plan ahead and get everything with school taken care of before we left for California.
We left early and spent the weekend in LA before boarding the ship. I can't even begin to express how spiritually healing it was to spend a few days in sunny, eighty degree weather. Seasonal depression is such a real thing! Heck, I didn't even know how much of a difference it would make to get some vitamin D into my system, but let me tell you, it warmed up my whole soul.
On our first night in California we ended up out on the beach to soak up the last few rays of sun before it disappeared behind the horizon. Everyone else was packing up to leave, considering the fact that the setting sun took the eighty degree weather with it, but even with the sun down it was a solid sixty-something degrees (approximately six times warmer than the weather we left behind in Utah). The Cali natives had on jackets and long sleeves and we were prancing about in swimsuits, t-shirts, and shorts. It was glorious.
Taylor and I (aside from my older sister and her hubby) were the only first-time cruisers in our party. Which made things interesting because we had no idea what to expect. It was really exciting to walk across the giant bridge leading up to the ship and to dream about all the adventures that lay in store. We set sail Monday morning and spent all of Tuesday on the Catalina Island, just off the shore of California. The atmosphere there was so contagious-- by the time we left Tay and I were scheming up a way to stay there permanently. The relaxed atmosphere, the year-round warm weather, and small-time living that made up the community there was too appealing to not fall in love with. We cruised around the island on golf carts for a couple of hours (my brother may or may not have treated it like bumper-cars. Whoop?) and finished off our visit by roaming the shops that lined the beach. Hands down, it was my favorite part of the whole cruise.
We spent the next day in Ensenada, Mexico. That was quite the adventure. I forgot my camera on the ship so I neglected to take many pictures, but I can sum up the experience in a collection of words. We rented a fifteen-passenger van to tow us around to all of the places we wanted to go in order to participate in all of the activities we desired to accomplish before we had to get back on the boat. We started off the morning with this amazing (and seriously inexpensive) ropes course and zip line tour. It consisted of five different zip lines and crazy bridges we had to navigate across huge gorges in order to get to continue on to the next zip line. We had no idea that it was going to be so intense, but we were pleasantly surprised. The last two ziplines spanned longer than any other zipline I have seen before. It was amazing!
Following the zipline course, we headed to this gorgeous blowhole, where the water from the sea shot up against these gorgeous rocks and spurted into the air. Just looking out across the ocean as the sun kissed its surface and the waves rocked against the shoreline was a magical experience. On the road that lead up to the blowhole, there were countless shops lined up, one after the other, and with each shop came a determine shop-keeper who would offer you either a shot of tequila or a cigar in attempts to get you to stop long enough to buy something from them. Obviously, we rejected the many offers, but that didn't stop the shop keepers from relentlessly taunting us and beckoning for us to "be nice to the mexican" (literal words from one of the guys we bought something from) and purchase their merchandise. It was so hard for me to keep from bursting into a fit of hysterics every time someone attempted to stop us on the street, "HEY. Honeymooners! Come to my shop. I have just what you need. Buy something pretty for your pretty wife..."
Something I learned about my husband from this experience: he's a master at bartering. The number of times he'd get fantastic deals on the items we purchased and leave the owner of the shop scowling was rather impressive. I, on the other hand, am a total push over and would have likely not survived the experience had I not been side-by-side with Taylor Dale. He's a life saver. And a money saver...
Favorite parts of the cruise: sitting on the deck of a ship, overlooking the ocean, and reading book after book because there was nothing I had to worry about and nothing that I needed to get done for an entire week. The endless amount of really, really good food was also a bonus (I ate so many tacos and burritos). Being with my family and getting to play all week long. Going out of the country for the first time with my lover. New experiences, new friends, and new adventures. And last but certainly not least, BEING WARM.
It's good to be home again. Even though it's cold and foggy and gross in Utah right now. And even though I have to go back to school on Tuesday. And do homework and slave away over textbooks and stuff. It's good to be home. Our puppy missed us and he's been showering us in puppy kisses since the moment he saw us. It's warmer than it was when we left. And I can ALMOST feel spring in the air. So life is good and home is good and it's fun to have another adventure tucked beneath our belts.
If you're looking into going on an affordable, fun, and awesome trip, I'd suggest going on a cruise. It's basically effortless, once you've packed your bags. You don't cook, you don't clean, and you definitely don't worry about a gosh-darn thing. Try it out, it's good for the soul.