Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unbelizable Holt Family Vacation 2011, part 1

It was a wonderful family vacation, filled with fun, adventure, and lots of sun!
There is so much to do in Belize and San Pedro island is absolutely gorgeous!
The best part of the vacation was spending time with each other.
Everyone agreed that it was one of their favorite family vacations.
Ashley and I wanted to give everyone a souvenir or something that they could use during the vacation, 
take home with them and actually use it again.
The "use it again" part immediately eliminated a Holt Family reunion/vacation T-shirt.  
Let's be honest, no one wears those t-shirts once the vacation is over.
So Ash and I came up with a fun idea for our family vacation souvenir.  
We had beach towels embroidered with our favorite "believe" songs and
 replaced "believe" with "belize" such as:
"Do You Belize in Magic?"
"I'm a Belizer!"
"Don't Stop Belizing!"
and our personal favorite catchy phrase, "You better Belize it!"
 This is our crew, boarding the little hopper plane to take us to the island of San Pedro.
 Ashley got to sit up front and be the co-pilot.
 It was a tight fit on board.
Dad and Mom are excited about the plane ride.
 The girls sitting in the back row of the plane.
 Our first look at island of San Pedro.
 The girls waiting on the dock for our watertaxi.
The view from where we are sitting on the dock.
The kids waiting for the watertaxi to take us to our resort.
Our resort, the Belizean Cove Estates.
Brooke loves the beach and the view at our resort.
After dropping off our suitcases in our rooms, we are ready for some lunch 
so we are walking along the beach to Captain Morgan's.
Once are tummies are full, we head for the pool, 
which is located right outside our back door.
While they are swimming, Allie relaxes with a good book.
The view from our patio.  Gorgeous!
 Ashley is ready on her bicycle to join Brooke on her run.
 Tyler and Justin are ready too.
 And of course, Dad wouldn't miss a work out. 
What started out as a leisurely bike ride alongside Brooke as she ran,
soon turned into a stressful mountain bike ride, where we had to
dodge the rocks, ditch the potholes, swat the bugs 
AND try to keep up with Brooke!
Brooke, running without any fear down this unfamiliar road in a foreign country,
with her large entourage chasing her. 
We were so focused on avoiding the bumps in the road and 
at the same time trying desperately to not to lose Brooke.
Trust me, it's harder than it sounds.
I thought that once we got into town that it would be smooth sailing... 
or should I say, smooth bike riding on the paved road. 
But instead of dodging potholes, we were dodging golf carts, bicycles, pedestrians and stray dogs.
At one point, Brooke turned and ran the wrong way on a one way street.
Of course, we had to follow her.  Five bicycling tourists riding against all the golf cart traffic must have been quite a scene.
All the locals were yelling at us, telling us that we were going the wrong way.
But we had to ignore their warnings, because if we turned around
 and rode the right way, we would for sure lose Brooke.
She just keeps going and getting further and further away from us me. 
At this point, we put Justin and Tyler in charge of monitoring Brooke's workout
and make sure that she eventually makes it back to our resort.
 In the meantime, Dad and I stop at the local CayeMart (Kmart) to buy a diet coke or should I say, Coke light.  
After that bike riding rendezvue, we definitely deserved a cold refreshment!

Dinner and a Drive into Town
San Pedro is such a small island with very few paved roads.
The main mode of transportation is golf carts and bicycles.
So we rented a couple of carts, loaded up our gang and headed to town for dinner that night.
I love this picture of the girls in the backseat, ready to go to town 
with Brett and Justin in the front seat looking for gas pedal, trying to figure out how to drive the cart.
We put the two most responsible in charge of driving,
 so of course Brett drove one of the carts, while Justin was in charge of navigating.
The funny thing is that the Crandalls live in NYC and they don't even own a car anymore.
He may be one of the most responsible but definitely has had the least amount of driving experience in the last 4 years.
But we are happy to report that he did a fine job maneuvering his golf cart through the rough roads of San Pedro.
And trust me, that isn't an easy thing to do!
After enjoying an adventurous ride into town, we made our way to Fido's for a delicious dinner!
Everyone seems to be happy that they serve Coca-cola light!
And Tyler and Sonya are pretty happy about their Orange Fanta.
After a yummy dinner, we are loading up the golf carts,
 ready for another adventure on the road going back to our resort.
The boys took over the driving and navigating responsibilities in the front seat of the cart, 
while the girls enjoyed (?) the ride from the back.
Brett relinquished the driving to Justin on the way home.
Thank goodness for responsible in-laws!


A Lazy day in Belize
The sisters hung out on the beach and looked cute!
This is Ashley's favorite picture from the trip.
Justin heads to the beach to fly his kite.
Justin shows us all how to fly a kite, 
while Allie shows her little sisters how to be an adoring and supportive wife. 
 Ashley and Brooke look on with so much love and adoration for the newlyweds
 and ask themselves, "How do they always look so cute and in love?"
And while Justin focused on his kite flying skills, Allie waves to the camera.
The cute Oklahomans walked out on the pier and looked cute, as usual!
Brett decides to join Justin and get in on the kite flying fun!
Tyler and Sonya continue to look cute on the beach.
Time to load up the carts again, head into town for some ice cream.
The view from the back seat of the golf cart of the bridge and the toll booth on the left.
The local movie theater was showing the Harry Potter movie.
We thought about going to see it until we realized that it was the Harry Potter 6.
We loved to look at the signs on our drive into town.
The local CayeMart (Kmart) where we bought most of our groceries.
Tyler is just a little excited to have some brothers to join him on family vacation.
We made it into town and took a minute to look around downtown San Pedro.
We admired the beautiful mural on the outside wall of the Town Council building.
Allie and Justin with the favorite frozen custard.
Ashley ordered chocolate and Brooke ordered my personal favorite, cookie dough.
Our favorite ice cream stop was actually a frozen custard shop called DandE's in San Pedro.  
We quickly became fans of frozen custard!
The roads were full of puddles and pot holes 
and getting to DandE's proved to take it's toll on some of the girls that were sitting in the backseat
as evidenced in the pictures of the back of the girls legs.
But we decided that it was well worth the muddy legs for the yummy treats.
This guy seems to be enjoying the view on his balcony.
I loved his patio furniture and wish I could get my hands 
on a couple of chairs like that for our backyard!  So colorful and cute!
Crossing the bridge and heading home.
Justin is trying to avoid the puddles.
Tyler is trying to help navigate.
But sometimes, it's just unavoidable and you just have to bite your lip
 and take the puddle straight on.
On a smoother road, almost back to our side of the island 
and the view on either side of the road is gorgeous!
As hard as the boys worked on avoiding the puddles, the girls still got a little muddy. 
 They didn't seem to mind too much because it was all part of the adventure!
After our exciting first day of bike riding, we turned that chore, assignment, favor, duty over to dad.
Every day Brooke and Dad headed out to workout together on the beach.
Their workout consisted of Brooke running and Dad riding his bike alongside her.
Brooke had to run 60 miles that week so sometimes they got to workout twice a day, 
early in the morning and again in the afternoon.
Since the island is only 5-6 miles long, they got to know the island really well.
I love this picture of the two of them, heading out on Brooke's run.
She is such a dedicated runner and doesn't miss a workout, 
and he is such a devoted dad, right by her side every single workout.
Did I mention that they are supposed to be on vacation?!
We hired our own personal chefs to come to our villa and cook dinner for us.
We had Fried Plantains, Belizean chicken, Parmesan grouper (a local fish), 
coconut rice, tropical fruit salad and key lime pie.
It was absolutely delicious!

The newlywed couple.
The happy couple from Oklahoma.
The sophisticated New Yorkers.
And the unrestricted couple, AKA "the little girls!"
Sitting at the dinner table, enjoying a typical Belizean meal.
The Key Lime pie was amazing!

The Xunatunich Ruins and Ziplining in the Jungle
On Monday, we loaded up on our golf carts, and braved a thunderstorm on the drive into town.
Once we were in town, we boarded a plane, flew back to the mainland, where we piled into a van
 and drove through the jungle, ready to experience some Belizean fun. 
 First stop on our excursion, the Xunantunich ruins, located near the border of Belize and Guatamala.  
Here is a picture of our van boarding the ferry that crosses a river near the ruins.
Now that our van is secured on the ferry, we can board.
The girls enjoying the view of their surroundings.
The view of the river.
A view of one of the sacrificial sites.
Our tour guide, Clarence, found a tarantula and asked our group, who wanted to hold it.
We are all a bunch of chickens, so we offered up Brett... that's right, "Brave Brett", 
who earned that title on our trip 3 years ago in the Amazon jungle of Brazil.
So Brett took a step forward, was very brave and held the tarantula and even smiled.
So Justin decided that he was brave too and took a turn holding the tarantula.
And of course, Dad couldn't resist a good Facebook post 
and decided that if his son-in-laws could hold the tarantula, he could be brave too.
We passed a huge iguana on our climb up the ruins.
The view of the Xunantunich ruins, which means "Stone Woman."
Our group, ready to climb the Xunantunich ruins,
 which means "Stone Woman" and see the view from the top.
It was a pretty steep hike.
Some of the views of the ruins along our way.
Gorgeous, huh?!
Still hiking up.  It was quite a few steps.  And they seemed to get a little steeper with every step.
Tyler and Sonya made it up to the top.
Allie and Justin with the view of Guatamala in the background.
Kimber and Brett with the ruins behind them.
More gorgeous pictures of the ruins.
We were very fortunate and had the whole place to ourselves, 
which made the photos even more spectacular.
After we carefully descended from the pyramid, this is the view from one of the sides.
Then we took the back roads to the Caves Branch Outpost to do a little ziplining.
  I'm a little afraid of heights, so I decided for my 50th,
 I needed to overcome my fears and try to zipline in Belize.  
It was raining when we arrived at the Outpost, 
which made the ziplining even more adventuresome, but not so good for photos.
As a result of the rain, we didn't get any action shots of us ziplining.
You will just have to take my word for it that I did it even though I was scared to death.  
Ask the kids how funny I looked when I had them count to three to help get my courage up to jump
 and then I jumped... kind of, but not really and almost fell off the platform
 but barely caught myself so I didn't fall and pulled myself back to safety.  Phew!
  It was at that moment that I was glad that we didn't have the camera to document the ziplining excursion.
Once I got the hang of it, I fell in love with it and couldn't get enough it.
What a great feeling, flying through the jungle from tree to tree!
It was one of my favorite activities in Belize!
Because it was raining, the cave tubing was closed.
I guess we will save this for the next trip.
We are going back, right:)?!!!
After our drive back through the jungle, a plane ride back to San Pedro, 
we were hungry and stopped in at Blue Water Grill and enjoyed a scrumptious meal.
Here is Tyler with the Crispy Coconut Shrimp.
Justin and Allie with their yummy entree.
Brett ordered same entree and it looks fabulous!
The girls insisted that the boys take a turn in the back seat of the golf cart.
And guess who takes charge at the wheel?!!
Brooke is all smiles as she is barreling down the streets of Belize.
And yes, that is a bright pink children's swimsuit from Walmart that she is wearing!
The expression on her face reminds me of the way she looked when she used to
 drive her Barbie car all over the sports court in the backyard!
Ashley looks a wee bit nervous in this photo.
But not to worry, Brooke drove safely and everyone arrived back at the resort in one piece!

Kayaking
Our resort had kayaks on site to use anytime. 
So the kids took them out and paddled to the reef to see some ocean wildlife.
The "besties" took a kayak out.  Ash wants you to notice who is doing all the paddling?
Tyler and Sonya head out in the kayak.
While the kids are kayaking, Brooke and I are lounging by the pool and relaxing.

Picture Night
This is always one of the highlights of any Holt Family vacation.
This activity always seems to include lots of preparation, anticipation, drama, 
a few wardrobe changes and hopefully not too many tears.
There are always challenges and obstacles to overcome and
 this year was no different than the rest, with the wind being the main problem.
We did our best and fortunately, we have Kimber, our favorite photographer,
 who actually packed a tripod to take care of the ever constant problem of
 "who is going to take the photo?" dilemma.
Thank you, Kimber.  Now if you could figure out who to take care of the wind!
Don't worry, we managed to take lots of photos and came up with some good ones.
Here are some of our favorites.
 Thanks to the tripod and Kimber's photo skills
 (and ability to point, shot, run and pose perfectly in 10 seconds)
we got a family picture that everyone agreed was a winner!
The newlyweds.
Mom and Dad.
Brett and Kimber.
Tyler and Sonya.
I couldn't decide which one was my favorite of these two, so included both and I'll let you decide.
Click on "Older Posts" to view Part 2 of the Unbelizable Vacation.

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