Sunday, March 22, 2015

Punta Cana

Suitcases are unpacked, laundry is done, and 800 pictures are downloaded and sorted.  We have been home for two weeks now, so I suppose it's time to get this post done!

Last year Adam and I traveled to Mexico without the boys.  Everyday we missed them and agreed how much fun it would be for them to start experiencing our travels with us.  This was the year to take them.  We got them their passports last Fall and since then, they have talked about "Punta Cana" not even knowing what to expect.  This year marked a special occasion and a once in a lifetime opportunity for a trip.  We knew we wanted to travel with the boys, we knew we wanted to invite family since the last time we traveled together was7 years ago to Jamaica, and Mikayla is a senior.

Adam and I have been to Mexico quite a few times in the past years and we knew we wanted to go back to an island.  I can't say enough about Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic.  It was beautiful, the resort was amazing, and the water was to die for.  Besides the 5 hour flight down / 7 hour flight back and running into a couple obnoxious spring breakers at the resort, it was short of amazing and the best trip ever.

Enough talking... the pictures will speak for themselves!  Way too many pictures... but great memories I have to share.
The boys' first time flying... they were good little travelers.  We started our morning out at 5:00 a.m.
 Meeting the pilots... whom now look like twins after looking at the picture.  Who knows!
 Nap time... for a bit.

But then up and ready to rock.
 Van Selfie... boys thought it was cool to have no car seats.  I thought it was scary!
We immediately had our room moved when we first arrived.  We were smack dab in the middle of college/high school central.  The music was pounding and there were drunk kids EVERYWHERE.  Our resort was huge and there were three pools.  The one pool that was the college hangout happened to be right outside our poolside room.  NOT HAPPENING!  We were moved to the quieter side of the resort for a 800 dollar upgrade (at no charge) but this was our view.
 Oh well... 50% of our party was happy with the view.  Who goes on vacation to watch excavators and dump trucks?
 You could kind of, sort of see the ocean...
I did no editing of the pictures...
Besides cropping.  The water was beautiful.
 Adam made a funny face when I said a bag of sand toys was going to be my carry on.  Who goes to the beach for 7 days with no toys?  The boys LOVED the beach.
 Happy Graduation present Mikayla!
 Uncle Nate and Price helped keep the boys busy.
 With all the sun, sand and exercise... bedtime came early!
It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere...
 The boys went through pina colada withdrawals when we got home...  That and they discovered Sprite.  Too bad they only sell it in the DR and it doesn't taste the same in the US... right!  We don't buy pop for our house.  ;)

 One of the reasons we picked the Barcelo Premium was for the kid friendly activities and the kid pool.  The boys loved the slides and were brave going down all of them.

The quiet pool we hung out at everyday.  WE stayed far away from the party pool.  So peaceful!
 Ashton crashed a couple times in a lounger or on the beach under a palm tree.
 1st time at the ocean.
 HUGE Castle.  Thanks Uncle Nate!
 I apologize for the scenery shots. 
 We body surfed everyday.
 Uncle Nate showing us how it's done.
 Dad too!
 My first time in, just standing, three waves took me under.  I lost my Oakleys.  Who cares about my sunglasses, I was worried about my life!
 Mikayla caught a wave.

 I liked going out and just floating.
 The boys were BRAVE!  They tried everything we did.
 Checking out the waves...
 Ready... set... send them!
 1st and only try.
 We rented a boat and went snorkeling on the Caribbean side.  The waves were bigger by our resort because we were on the Atlantic side.  The Caribbean side was calmer, but the beaches had a lot of seaweed.  We rented the boat all for ourselves and so glad we did it this way.  We also had our own photographer so the following pictures came from him.  We got a disc with over 200 of our day trip!
 Catching some rays... riding the waves.
 Getting ready to snorkel!
 Again, SO BRAVE.  We are so proud of the boys that they tried everything!  We had been practicing in the tub since their birthdays.
 Ashton said he saw some coral ;)
 Daddy finding some fish.
A full day of hanging on the boat was the best day.

 The best part of the day... I didn't have to be strapped to my camera!

 We stopped at a enclosed place in the ocean to swim with a shark and sting ray.  I was disappointed that they were in cages.  When Adam and I did it in the Cayman Islands it was more ethical and the sting rays came in naturally when fed, not in a cage.  ;(
 We stood on a platform while they brought them up to us, then we got to go to the other side and swim freely with them.
 Too funny... the guys tried ducking under water to hide out from the picture... too bad you can still see them in the clear water!!!
 Elly and Price held the shark.  Now a little disclaimer... it was a sucker shark.  Not a great white.  You'll see it's mouth in the next picture.  BUT nevertheless, the boys WILL tell you they swam with a shark.  ;)
 We just touched it...
 and kind of held it.  It felt slimy and like sand paper if that is a possible way to describe it.
 Mikayla kissed it!
 Then we got to swim with them...
 Captain Ashton
 Captain Aiden
 We stopped at a natural pool.  It was basically a sand bar.
 So glad we brought the boys' own swim tubes and life jackets.  I think that helped them with their confidence.  Aiden just forgot that if you raise your arms... you slip out of the tube!  ;)  Good thing Nana saved him!
 Paying extra to have the boat all to ourselves was worth it.  We talked to some that had drunk college groups with their families and it ruined it.  *Helpful hint.
 So much fun.
 Trying to be Victoria's Secret Models for the day... maybe the rum punch helped with the confidence.
 Elly's hair is so long, it pulled her backwards!
 Mikayla is probably the most model-ish.
 Hanging out...
 Family pictures in the middle of the ocean.

You can see out floating table/cooler in the top picture... A float with a tray of drinks.  ;)
 Selfie.  Thank goodness Elly had two pairs of sunglasses, seeing I lost mine the first day!

The boys love their Kayla.
 More pictures from around the resort.  We always started at the beach and worked our way to the pool after lunch...
 Aiden found a coconut.
 Pretty Proud.  He doesn't know that it didn't come home with us...
 We went on treasure hunts everyday.

 "Take my picture mom!"
 Celebrating St. Patty's Day.  *Thanks for the shirts Aunt Debbie (2 years ago)... they finally fit ;)

 Mid day loungers... you will find us here!
 or here!

 We ate at the Japanese restaurant, Mexican, and Italian.  It was nice getting ready for dinner most nights.
Nana and her kids...
 Nana and her Grand kids.
 Real Live Leprechauns!!!
 One morning, Adam stayed with the boys so Nate, Elly, Price, Kayla and I could go zip-lining.  It was a hour drive through some small towns to the mountains.  It reminded us we were in a third world country, but great to see the diversity, countryside and culture.  Mikayla wore the go-pro on her helmet and we have some awesome video... but no pictures.  No way was I going to carry my camera!
 A house.
 The mountains in the distance.
 A store.
 Many stray dogs.

 A food stand.
 The Crew.  Minus me.
 A temple in some city... wasn't really listening.  I need to do more research!
 A Spanish soccer team wanted their picture with the boys... many people actually wanted the boys in a picture.  Many were curious about "the twins".  A couple then put their drinks down to play some soccer with the boys.

The main language was Spanish.  The boys watched cartoons nightly that we in Spanish and only commented once that the Curious George song "was different".  Adam watched it for a half hour before realizing it was in Spanish.  Maybe he was resting or the drinks were getting to him ;)
More beach time.  Daily.


They loved running in the waves.


 Our Resort.
 Mid day hang out... follow the sun!
The quiet pool.  I didn't even sneak over to the college pool to get a picture of that madness.
No one tried the trapeze behind it!!!
 The bubble tub was in the middle.  Ashton called it "oatmeal water."
 Aiden insisting I take his picture.
Little model.
One of the last beach days... sad.
 Father and Daughter.
 Relaxing for a minute.
 Literally... a minute.
 We found a crab that needed to be helped away from the pool!  Price was the brave one.
 All week there were photographers taking pictures around the resort.  They yelled at me if I tried to take some pictures with my own camera... so of course we had to buy some...
 Love the colors!  Again, so BRAVE.  Not sure if Ashton would have held a bird when I asked him to before?!?!
 The cutest little monkey with little ears and a white Mohawk!
I think this one should be Kayla's senior picture in the yearbook!  ;)
Sad... the day we headed home.  Happy to get home in our own beds though!
*Ashton trying to look sad.
 Boarding the plane for home.
So long Punta Cana.  
Ashton said to me the other night...
"Mom, I love our home... But when do we go back to Punta Cana?"

Soon... I hope.  Very Soon.