Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Just Joined Twitter

(posted by Kerry)

So I just did something I have been resisting ... 


I have been the person who has always been like, "I don't Tweet, that's stupid, I don't get it."  I don't Facebook either.  I was trying to be the one person in the world who could resist all of this social media craziness.  But I broke.

And ya know what led me to do it?  Another social media juggernaut - Pinterest.  Apparently to be able to enjoy the wonderment that is Pinterest you have to have a Facebook or Twitter.  What is that about?  I think Pinterest sounds so awesome.  As the girl who spent countless hours pinning stuff to her bulletin board in her youth (seriously, I loved doing that kind of stuff), this sounded right up my alley.  So I go to and try to sign up and - boom - you, a) have to be invited (what?) and b) have to have a Facebook or Twitter - things I did not have.  BAH!

And then I got to thinking about it and thought, "hey maybe if I was on Twitter, I might get more readers, or comments, or something on the ol' blog," so I thought what the heck, let's do it.  I also had two experts sitting next to me to explain what @ and RT and # meant - Hubs and J.  So at their urging, I did it.  So here I am!  

My "handle" (seriously, what's up with the lingo?  Breaker break one nine!) is "halfhealthyker", this is because "halfhealthyhalfnuts" was too long (WTF Twitter?).  So follow me.  Or whatever it is you have to do to read what I "tweet."  I will learn, eventually.  Shoot, I'm still trying to get the hang of this blog thing.

Another thing I have been trying to resist with all my might ... The X Factor.  I broke on that too tonight.  But only because J wanted to watch it.  And watching it just confirms what I already thought about the show ... it sucks.  

Oh, and PS, I didn't workout when I got home like I said I was going to.  Boo.  By the time I got home all I wanted to do was just chill.  So mark today has my rest day.  Tomorrow 3.5 miles, as planned!  

Have a wonderful night - and go follow me on Twitter, if you do that sort of thing!   :)

Pizza, I Hate You

(posted by Kerry)

Good morning!  It’s a cool one here in Central Florida – 50s!  I know some of you are hating on me for saying 50 is cold, but 50 is cold here! 

Anyway, it was so cool and cozy this morning that I forgot to get up and go to the gym.  GAH!  Well, it was that, paired with the fact that we ate pizza last night and I was not feeling good enough to be running.  Ugh - why, pizza, why?  I broke up with you, remember? 

Why must you be so damn good?
Last night J had a singing thing at a local pizza place, so we went.  My goal was to NOT eat pizza, and to actually eat dinner before we went to the pizza place so I would not be tempted by yummy delicious pizza.  But, that’s not possible for me.  If there is pizza in the vicinity, I am eating it.  #fail

And I did.  And I felt sick after.  Why, oh why, do I do this?  I know I’m going to eat too much and then I am going to feel like crap, so why do I even go there?  Whatever.  Anyway, so that’s another reason why I didn’t work out this morning. 

The good news is, I am planning on working out this evening.  Planning on it.  I don’t think I’ll do the scheduled run I was gonna do (for some reason I only have the desire to run in the morning, and running at night just makes me sad), but I will do the workout that was scheduled for tomorrow/Friday – INSANITY.  Tonight will be Cardio Power and Resistance.  Wooha, fun evening ahead.  And then I’ll get to the gym tomorrow to complete my 3.5 miler on the treadmill.  Or, if I’m feeling feisty I’ll do it outside.  Although, it’s supposed to be in the 40s tonight, so I’m not sure I want to go there. 

Can you sense my indecisiveness today?

I just got myself all excited for my upcoming half marathon.  I just took a survey about the Wine and Dine Half Marathon (relay) that I did in October (you can read about that here and here), and it got me all pumped up for my next race.  Silly, yes?  And reading about how everyone is going out to Vegas this weekend to do the Rock n Roll Half or Full Marathon has me green with envy.  Next year I want to do it.  Amanda and I are already contemplating a "run-cation."  :)

OK, this post is going nowhere fast, so I should get going.  Have an awesome day!

Questions for you …
- Have you ever traveled anywhere fun to do a race?
The furthest I have gone is California (which is pretty freakin far from Florida) to do the Disneyland Half Marathon (of course, a Disney race).  I have done this twice (2007 and 2008).  Not sure I will do it again (didn't love the race course).  Although, now they have the Tinkerbell Half I might have to do that one.  Why am I such a Disney race nerd?
- What’s your favorite type of pizza (place and/or toppings)?
Currently my favorite pizza is at a place called NYPD Pizza.  It's New York style deliciousness.  I am also liking a place called Marcos.  Can you tell I've done extensive research on pizza in the area?  And I'm a sausage and pepperoni type of girl.  Veggies, ew.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Part Deux

(posted by Kerry)

Before I get into today's activities, let's talk about the meal I made last night.  Because it was good!

Thanksgiving Part Deux.  Since I didn't cook Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I forgot to take home leftover turkey from my parent's house, I had a huge hankering for turkey. Lucky for me I had a Jennie-O turkey tenderloin in the freezer. So I decided to make a mini Thanksgiving meal for two - turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. Yum yum and yum. And much healthier than the real Thanksgiving meal (where I ate 3 brown and serve rolls dipped in gravy and extra helpings of stuffing and multiple desserts).  

Healthy Thanksgiving-type meal you ask?  Yes. That Jennie-O turkey tenderloin is super lean and is only 100 calories per 4 oz serving.  That's crazy!  And I added nothing to my potatoes except a splash of milk (yes, boring I know) - no butter, no salt, no nothing.  And the gravy was just a powder packet made with water and heat.  And the green beans, well, they're green beans, they're always healthy.  This time I steamed them instead of roasting them.  The whole meal was delicious.  The only thing missing was the stuffing.  I did have some Stove Top in the pantry, but decided against it.

After dinner I had a date with my TV and my toenails (ew). I gave myself a pedi while watching the finale of The Sing Off.  My beloved Dartmouth Aires did not take the crown, but I am OK with that.  Pentatonix, the group who won, was AMAZING all season and very deserving of the prize.  So I am OK with the outcome.  Though I still love my Dartmouth boys!  

Oh, and can I just say that I would LOVE to be Amy Lynn Whitcomb from Delilah for a day?  For just one day I would love to have a singing voice like hers.  (heck, I'd love to just be able to carry a tune!)  Her voice is ridiculous!!!  She is the girl who KILLED it on Delilah's version of Bruno Mars' "Grenade," and last night she set fire to "Natural Woman."  Wowee!  So yeah, if I had a wish today it would be to be able to sing like that.  That, and world peace.  And a million dollars.

Amy Lynn from Delilah - you can just tell she's a good singer from this picture
Yeah, I know a picture doesn't show you how crazy good she is, so check this out.

Her and Michael from the Dartmouth Aires should go on tour together.  How crazy good would that be?

(and PS, my toes look fabulous, if you were wondering - who needs to pay for a pedi?)

This morning was Insanity.  Literally.  I did the Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit workout. I can honestly tell you that I was not really looking forward to this workout today because I haven't done Insanity in over two weeks and it's always a shock to the system when I get back to it for the first time.   I was definitely huffing and puffing during the workout, but I got through it. 

I am so curious as to how many calories I burn during these workouts, because my heart rate is through the roof every time I do it, no matter how many times I do it.  The stats say you can burn anywhere from 500-750 calories in a workout, but I dunno if I believe that.  I will have to check it out when I get my new Garmin with heart rate monitor in the mail! 

And now it's time to get workin'!  Have a wonderful day! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Cruise - Days 6 and 7 - At Sea and Bahamas

(posted by Kerry)

Here we are, Days 6 and 7 of the cruise.  The final days of a restful and relaxing vacation, and those last two days were just that – restful and relaxing! 

Day 6 – At Sea

Day 6 we were at sea, making the long trek back from St. Maarten up to the Bahamas.  The plans for this day were simple:  lay in a lounge chair, tan, read book, eat.  Oh, and do a 5K at sea.


A couple of nights prior to our day at sea, we received mail in our mailbox (everyone gets a mailbox outside their cabin, it’s where they put the daily newsletter outlining what’s going on for that day on the cruise ship).  Anyway, we got a flyer that talked about how Holland America teamed up with the Susan G. Komen foundation to try and raise money and awareness on all of their cruises for breast cancer.  The promotion was called “On Deck for a Cure” and featured a 5K walk on Deck 3 for an entry fee/donation of $15.  And for that $15 you got a t-shirt, a bracelet and the chance to participate in the walk.  Not bad!  Since there were 7 women in our group, we all decided to do it.  Yes, this did cut into my day of laying around and eating, but it was for a good cause, so I had to do it.

So the beginning of my day consisted of eating a hearty buffet breakfast (I love breakfast buffets), laying in a lounge chair for a couple of hours, reading my book and then getting my sneaks on to go do the 5K. 

We got down to Deck 3 and there were probably 50 people down there donning their t-shirts ready to walk.  The Cruise Director started things off and told us that they started doing the “On Deck for a Cure” walk a couple of years ago and their goal was to raise $200,000 for the Susan G. Komen foundation.  To date, Holland America has raised over $2 million!!  Amazing!  And then we were off! 

I kept pace with my mom and we were walking at a really good pace – faster than I usually walk (or run, probably!).  They told us that 9 laps around the deck equaled a 5K.  I’m not sure I believe that, but whatever, we did our full 9 laps around the deck and worked up quite a sweat doing so.  Luckily at the finish line they had cookies and pink lemonade.  God forbid we be deprived of food while we exercise on the cruise. 

I am so glad we did this – we got a little bit of exercise and we contributed to a wonderful cause.  Here I am with my mom and my mom-in-law in our cool shirts.  

After our sweat session, we made our way back to our lounge chairs by the pool and resumed our day of doing nothing.  Ahh, cruises are the best. 

That night was our second formal night and we didn’t take any pictures.  Bummer.  But we did take some pictures of the CHOCOLATE BUFFET that occurred later that evening.  Now, chocolate buffets might excite some people, but I don’t like chocolate, so I wasn’t too excited about going.  I was however, hoping they had some form of white chocolate so that I could partake in something at the buffet. 

And let me tell you, this buffet delivered.  They not only had chocolate but they had white chocolate, candy apples, cotton candy, a fruit buffet (did I tell you about my fruit obsession on this cruise?), it was awesome! 

Yes, that is a cake in the shape of our cruise ship

Ohh, fruit galore!
As soon as they opened up the buffet I made a beeline for the fruit table – because really, at a chocolate buffet the FRUIT table is the last place people would go.  I made a beeline over here for two reasons:  1) they had pretty fruit skewers of delicious looking fruit; and 2) they had a white chocolate (and milk chocolate) fountain that you could dip your fruit skewer into.  OMG!  Heavenly!  After the fruit table I made a beeline for another fruit treat – the candy apple station! 

I am pretty sure I cut about 100 people in line to get my candy apple, but I didn’t want to stand in the 7 mile chocolate line just to get an apple which was easily accessible at the end of the line.  So grabbed me a white chocolate covered apple and made my way to our table.

My white chocolate covered apple

Me and my fruit skewer covered with white chocolate

Me and my candle apple, which was really hard to eat

My desecrated apple
Yum yum yum.

Day 7 – Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Day 7 we were on the private island of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and when I say this was a tropical paradise, I mean it.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  The water was "swimming pool blue/green," the sand was white, and there was nothing to do there except lounge and relax.

However, before we could relax, Hubs and I decided to take a walk down the beach and explore.  Our little walk turned into a very long, very far walk all the way to the end of the island.  As in, we walked as far as we could go!  

OK, it probably wasn't two miles, but it was far.  At least a mile.  Anyway, I am glad we did that.  It was a nice way to see the island.  We even saw horses.  No they weren't wild, they were part of an excursion.  

Anyway, after that walk, we lounged.  My goal was to finish my book, which I did.  And my other goal was to get in that pristine blue water, which I did (it was COLD).  And then my last goal was to get through the day without getting a sunburn, which I did.  Go me on all of my goals!  The day was perfect though, we couldn't have asked for better weather or a prettier day.  


We had to be back on the ship by 3:30, so we begrudgingly made our way back to the ship, got cleaned up and then I had a hot date with my parents for a game of Scrabble!  There was a beautiful library on our ship, and we scoped it out and they had a Scrabble game.  Since my family is full of Scrabble fiends, we knew we had to play at least one game on the cruise, so we did!  I got smoked both times.  

After Scrabble, it was time for dinner.  More food!  Since this was our last night on the cruise, we made reservations at the super duper fancy schmancy restaurant on the boat called Pinnacle Grill.  It was synonymous to the nicest steakhouse you've ever been to (think Ruth's Chris, Flemings, Mortons, that kind of place).  Yikes!  Four course meal, best steaks of the week, best service of the week, and by far the best dessert of the week (vanilla souffle with Grand Marnier sauce, OMG).  What a wonderful way to cap off our wonderful cruise!  

The gang

After that we rolled ourselves over to the casino to give it one last shot, and then it was time to call it a night, pack and get ready for our departure in the morning.  Booo.  I always hate when a vacation ends, but at the same time I'm always secretly a little bit ready to get back to real life and a normal routine.  

But at the end of this cruise I was a little sad.  We had such a wonderful time traveling with our parents and our family friends.  It was such a blast.  We had some great times and great laughs and made some great memories (as you have seen in these last few posts).  :)  

OK, gotta go, time for The Sing-Off!!!

Guess What?

(posted by Kerry)

Guess who just scored a Garmin Forerunner 405CX for $149.99 on Amazon??? 

This girl!

Although, I did go through some craziness to get it.  This morning when I was looking, it was $209.99 on the Amazon site and that was the absolute cheapest I could find it anywhere.  So I sat on it a while, thinking it might go down at some point during the day. 

After lunch, I went back to Amazon to buy it and the price changed … to $212.05.  WTF, Amazon?  It’s Cyber Monday and you’re raising the prices?!  So, I jumped on it, because I didn’t know how much higher it would go throughout the day. 

About 2 hours later, Jade logged on to Amazon and said, “Um, Kerry, did you buy your Garmin for $212?  It’s now $149.99.”  WHAT!?!?!?!  I had Amazon on the phone faster than you could say “Garmin” to cancel that ordered.  What is that crap?  The guy on the phone who worked at Amazon was even like “wow, that’s a huge price difference!”  Yeah, no kidding.  So he cancelled my order and I promptly bought it again for $149.99.

YAY!!!  That's a STEAL!!!  Thank you, Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday

(posted by Kerry)

Happy Cyber Monday!

I am currently trolling the internet to see if I can get a bargain basement price on a new Garmin Forerunner 405CX.  The lowest I have seen is $209 on Amazon, which is pretty darn cheap for the CX.  After 5 years of loyalty to my antique Garmin – I purchased my Garmin 201 in 2006 on eBay for $85 – I am ready to replace it.  A) Because it’s been acting a bit funky lately; B) I really want a pedometer with a heart rate monitor so I know how many calories I’m burning; C) I’d like to have a pedometer that looks more like a watch and less like some sort of space contraption hooked to my arm;

and D) I’m ready for a change.  So, as a Merry Christmas to myself, I am looking to buy myself one.  I love new toys. 

Anywho … Today started on a good foot.  Actually two good feet, running on a treadmill.  Yes, I finally got back to the gym.  YAY!   Surprisingly the gym was not crowded today.  I figured everyone would be there trying to right themselves from all of the wrongs they committed this weekend (ahem, like me), but it was shockingly empty.  My goal today was 3 miles on the treadmill and them some upper body stuff.  Done and done.

My run was OK.  I read something on Janae’s blog yesterday where she said that every third run of hers is a good run.  Amen sister.  My last run was a great run, today’s run was just so-so.  It felt clunky and odd, like I couldn’t get my groove, probably because I haven’t run on a treadmill in weeks?  And I wasn’t really running any faster than I normally do, but I was so winded.  That’s what excessive food and no exercise will do to a person, I guess.  Anyway, I made it through the 3 miles at 3/1 intervals.  Yeah, I had to drop that down.  Just for today though, I am hoping and praying that for Wednesday’s run I will be back to my 4/1’s.  I blame it on Monday.  And Thanksgiving. 

After the run, which went by surprisingly quickly despite it being just so-so, I did some arms and some abs.  GOOD workout.  Here’s what I did…

Bicep Curl with Twist10 lbs102
Front Shoulder Raises10 lbs102
Dead Lifts10 lbs102
Hammer Curls10 lbs102
Mac Lifts7.5 lbs102
Shoulder Press10 lbs102
Upright Rows10 lbs102
Abs on the Balln/aLost track of reps 
Crunchesn/aLost track of reps 

I only did two sets through because my arms were so tired afterwards.  This was a good one though, definitely a keeper.  And now I feel good again after feeling icky and lazy for the last couple of days.  Phew.

I am super excited for tonight.  Tonight is the finale of The Sing-Off!  I cannot wait to see if my incessant voting has paid off.  I really really really want the Dartmouth Aires to win.  I voted for them like 67 times, so here’s hoping they take the crown.  Check out their rendition of R. Kelly's "Ignition" below - it's AWESOME!!!

I love the guy with the big hair in front.  He makes me smile.

And on that note, I’m outta here.  Gotta go find my Garmin!  Later!

Questions for you ...
- Are you looking to buy anything on Cyber Monday?
- Did you workout this morning?
- Are you a Dartmouth Aires fan?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ambitious Week Ahead

(posted by Kerry)

So, as you know, I have been off the rails when it comes to eating and working out since the cruise.  I was doing GREAT before the cruise with the half marathon training and just coming off of the 24 Day Challenge with the eating.  And then the cruise just swooped in and took over.  And then we got home, and I kept acting like I was on the cruise, eating whatever and not working out as much as I should be (hey, it was Thanksgiving week, it happens).

Today, I am in a place that I'm not liking.  I feel full, I feel lethargic, I feel I have lost a whole lot of momentum (and muscle tone) with my workouts.  I just feel BLAH.  

I feel like this guy
Tomorrow is Monday and tomorrow is the day I get back on track, and I can't wait for it to get here.  I am professing it now to everyone who reads this, because I am a true testament that if you write it down (or in this case, type it) and you tell people, you're more apt to DO IT.  (thank you blog!)  So here we go, the week ahead...

Monday - BACK TO THE GYM!  3 miles treadmill, upper body workout
Tuesday - Insanity, Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Wednesday - 3.5 miles outside or treadmill, lower body workout
Thursday - Rest or Insanity, Cardio Power and Resistance
Friday - Whatever I didn't do on Thursday - so if I rest on Thur, Fri I'll do Insanity
Saturday - 7 miles outside
Sunday - Rest

This differs slightly from the half marathon training schedule I revamped last week, but I'm not sure about jumping into 3.5 miles on Monday and then 4.5 miles on Wednesday after being so out of running for the last couple of weeks.  So tomorrow will be an easy 3, and then I'll up it a half mile.  7 miles is ambitious for Saturday, but I am running out of weeks for long runs.  The Disney Half is only 6 weeks away.  Eee!

As far as eating goes, we're going clean again.  Like 24 Day Challenge clean.  But I am going to keep bread in for one meal per day.  Before, there was NO bread, no dairy, no nuthin'.  So that meal will either be breakfast (mmm, egg sandwiches) or lunch (wrap).  But that's it.  I'm still sticking to lean proteins, fruits and veggies galore and good complex carbs.  And no sweets or anything really fun.  I felt SO much better when I was eating well, so I really want to get back there.  

And of course, NO Diet Coke.  I had a can yesterday because I was bored, and it just looked lonely in the fridge by itself.  So that clocks starts tomorrow again as well.  I'm going for a streak of 45 days again, since that's how long I went last time before I broke and had one on the cruise.  

Ambitious week ahead!!  I cannot wait to dive in!!  

Questions for you ...
- Are you ready to get back on the "good" after eating bad this Thanksgiving weekend?
- What are your workout goals this week?

The Weekend

(posted by Kerry)

What day is it?  It's been a busy last couple of days!  

The last time we talked it was Black Friday.  Oy.  There was lots of shopping on Black Friday. Lots.  Like I mentioned the other day, we don't do the whole middle of the night Black Friday shopping, but we hit the stores on Black Friday, and this year we hit in a big way.  Hubs had a mission to hit all of the outlet malls (and subsequently all of the Nike outlet stores) and all of the Walmarts and Targets in the area.  Not sure why, they all have the same stuff.  But, we had it all mapped out and we were ready to rumble.  I was only in agreement to tag along if I could go to Macy's, so that was our first stop.  I got a pair of sheets for $45 (normal price, $170 - SCORE!) and a pair of pants, so I felt that Macy's was a good stop.  Little did I know I'd continue to shop throughout the day and weekend.  For myself.  Sheesh.  

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of our shopping excursion, but I will say that we probably walked about 19 miles on Friday.  Since the outlet malls were so stinkin' crowded, we decided to park in lots across the street, down the road and as far away from the mall as possible so that we didn't have to deal with the traffic.  Smart, yes.  Thank God I had my walking shoes on.  But seriously, miles and miles.  

Saturday I had a run planned, however, plans changed.  I had to attend a funeral on Saturday morning.  :(  So the run got bumped to a later day ... a day that is still yet to be determined at this point.  Oops.  The rest of Saturday was spent cleaning the house (it's amazing how messy a house gets when you're not really home for 2 days) and catching up on stuff like Thank You cards from my birthday (yeah, I'm a little late on those) and blog reading and catching up on the DVR and fun stuff like that.  It was a nice relaxing Saturday. 

Today we had plans ... fun plans ... plans that didn't include running.  Doh!  No, we had plans to go to COSTCO!!!!!  For my birthday, Hubs got me a membership to Costco because I have always really really wanted one.  I mean, how fun is it to walk around Costco and look at everything and get samples of really yummy food and buy mass quantities of meat?  It's awesome!  And that's exactly what we did.  We walked around Costco for almost 2 hours just perusing the aisles and checking it out.  What did I end up with?  Enough chicken and pork tenderloin and bottled water to last me til the end of the year.  And I am fully stocked on allergy medicine now for 2012.  Sweet.  Post Costco, we went to Home Depot for hot dogs (what, you don't eat hot dogs at Home Depot?  They're Sabrett!  And they're delicious!)  We looked at Christmas stuff for our front yard, but ended up empty handed - though I have some ideas.  

After that, it was time to decorate the house for Christmas!!!  One of my favorite days of the year for sure.  I love transforming our house into a Christmas wonderland.  OK, it doesn't really look like a Christmas wonderland, but it does look darn good.  See?

Still sorting through the boxes

Laying out all of the ornaments

The (almost) finished room

The tree
For those wondering about our assortment of ornaments, we are a "smorgasbord of ornaments" kind of family.  I don't stick with one color or one style, we are all over the place.  This is how my family has always done it, and it's carried over into our traditions as well.  Our ornaments are from all over.  On all of our vacations we buy an ornament from the place we went, so every year we can reminisce about that place.  And Disney.  If you look closely, it kind of looks like Disney threw up on our tree a little bit.  I buy a Disney ornament (or ornamentS) every year.  A tradition I started in college.  So we have a sh-- load of Disney on the tree, which always makes me smile.  

You're welcome, I also spend exorbitant amounts of money on your half marathons.
Can't keep doing both Mickey.  Something's gotta give.

We don't do tinsel or garland or anything like that, mainly because the cat eats it and then throws it up.  Not cool.  So that's our tree.  I have about 100 other ornaments that didn't make the cut because our tree is a tad on the dinky side.  Next year (or whenever they go on deep discount sale) we're getting an 8 or 9 footer for sure.

Having the tree up and the decor up just makes it feel so Christmas-y - even if it is like 80 degrees and we have all of the sliding glass doors open.  Listening to Christmas music really helps this.  Pandora's "R&B/Pop Holiday Radio" station, it's so good!!  

Now that the decor is up, I'm tired and ready to wind down the day and get ready for a full week of work.  Ugggh.  I  haven't worked a full week since ... October!  Yikes.  Next week also marks "a new beginning" - getting back to eating right and exercising regularly after what feels like weeks of vacation from both.  I'll get into that a little later.  

For now, enjoy the rest of the night!!  

Questions for you ...
- How was your Black Friday?
- Did you decorate your house for Christmas yet?  
- Do you have a "color scheme" for your tree, or are your ornaments random like ours?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Cruise - Day 5 - St. Maarten

(posted by Kerry) 

So it's been a couple of days since my last cruise post.  Sorry about that.  I like to relive my vacations for multiple days and weeks.  So where were we?  

We're on Day 5 - St. Maarten, my favorite day of the trip.  Why?  Because we did one of the coolest shore excursions I have ever done on a cruise.  I've always wanted to hike.  Or rather, I've always wanted to say "I've been hiking," because that just makes you sound rugged and cool.  So I figured, what better place to go hiking than a tropical island?  One of the shore excursions offered by the cruise ship was something called the Mountaintop Downhill Trek.  Downhill?  Sign me up!  I don't think Hubs was too keen on having to hike on vacation, but he didn't have a choice, we were going!  

So the excursion started at 8am where we met up with our tour guide and a giant rain cloud.  While we were on our way to the bus to take us to our hiking start, we got stuck in a little downpour.  Really, St. Maarten?  You couldn't wait until we got on the bus to downpour?  Because of this, I had to deal with fro hair all day - again!  I was destined to not look good on this cruise.  

So we took a 30 minute drive to Loterie Farm, which was on the French side of St. Maarten, and it was gorgeous!  Nestled at the base of the mountain (or "foothill" as the natives call it), this was the starting spot of our tour.  

We all boarded an open air safari type bus (there were about 14 of us on the tour) and we made our way up, up, up the 1500 feet to the top of the mountain.  When we got up there, the view was gorgeous!  

And then it was time to make our way down the mountain.  We were guided by a wonderful woman named Claudette who did one or two hikes per day 6 days a week.  After taking this 2.5 mile, 3 hour hike, I truly respect her and her awesome abilities to navigate through the rainforest down the mountain, it was tough stuff!  

Before we started making our downhill trek, we had time to pause and take pictures and enjoy the scenery.

We were all given walking sticks for the hike.  I was thinking, "yeah, do we really need these?"  Omigod yes!!!  My life depended on that walking stick for those 3 hours.  I honestly don't know what I would have done without that thing.  Walking sticks are cool, I might have to invest in one.  

Anyway, after the picture taking fun, it was time for work.  And when I say work, I mean work.  Trekking downhill in a rainforest is no joke!  The ground was slick from the early morning rain shower, the rocks were slippery and the downgrade of the mountain was crazy!  And into the woods we went...

The whole trek was stressful.  Foot placement was so very important.  If you stepped wrong anywhere, you were in trouble (or on your butt).  I am so impressed that I didn't wipeout at any time, but I came close.  The trek was so peaceful.  The trees provided cool shade to us and everything was so still and quiet, it was really nice.   Our guide stopped every once in a while to point out trees or landmarks that had washed their way into the foothills over time.  It was really neat.  We hit several lookout spots during the tour, which provided us wonderful views of the island.  

After about 3 hours, we were back at Loterie Farm.  What a sense of accomplishment it was to look up and see how far we had come.  

Half way through our trek, I told myself that if I made it down the hill without killing myself, I would allow myself a Diet Coke with lunch.  What!?!?!  It was day 45 of soda soberness, and I figured, "today is the day" - I really had a hankering for one.  I know, bad, but I really really wanted one, and I was on vacation, and had drank gallons upon gallons of water all week on the cruise so I was ready for something different.  

After the trek, Claudette took us back to downtown Phillipsburg where supposedly there was shopping.  We got there and looked around.  It looked OK.

And then we turned the corner...

We found the Boardwalk and the beach and where everyone was hanging out in St. Maarten!  It was like the Riviera of the Caribbean.  We even found our parents at the Hard Rock Cafe!

And I was reunited with Diet Coke...

And ya know what, it was just "eh."  It wasn't the greatest Diet Coke I have ever had, which was disappointing.  I was really hoping it would knock my socks off and make me remember why I loved it so much.  I'm glad it didn't though, otherwise I might tend to go back to it.  

Anywho, we spent more time at Hard Rock, eating and enjoying the scenery.

After that, it was back to the ship.  For the rest of the day we lounged by the pool and relaxed after our hard day of hiking.  Tough life, I know.

And that's it for day 5.  I will cover days 6 and 7 in the next post.  Highlights include a 5K at sea, a chocolate buffet and a private island in the Bahamas!!  So come back and read more!!  :)