Monday, June 28, 2010

Baseball, Birthday, Barbecue, and Bone Marrow

(Okay, I'm taking a little liberty with the title of this post, but I wanted it to be cohesive)!  This past weekend was jam-packed with activities, so there's a lot to cover.  On Saturday, Jer and I watched the US v. Ghana soccer match with our friends Brian, Sharon, Justin, and Stari.  I'm still a little bitter about our loss, so I won't spend a lot of time on this topic!  I will say that my favorite part of the situation was making jokes about our opposition's name by incorporating them into existing song lyrics.  "Make 'em say Uhhh....Uhhhh.  Gha-na-na-na."  Or "Never Ghana give you up.  Never Ghana let you down."  Yeah, we're corny like that.  After the soccer match, we headed out to Frisco to watch the Heroes Celebrity Baseball Event.  The Foundation that sponsored this game "is a non-profit initiative providing Dallas inner-city youth the opportunity to participate in team baseball, basketball educational and cultural curriculum, all while building self-confidence."  Some of the celebrities/famous athletes in attendance were Mike Modano, Warren Sapp, Jason Kidd, Mark Cuban, Donald Faison, Demarcus Ware, Daryl Johnston, Mike Hamlin, and Drew Pearson.  I love these types of events because they are for a good cause, and the participants have time to sign autographs and take pictures with their fans since it's not a professional game.  The heat was ridonkulous, of course, but we still managed to have a great time!  I garnered a few autographs and took a picture with Mark Cuban.

 He smelled like money

Jason Kidd

Mike Hamlin, Mark Cuban, and Jason Kidd

On Sunday, we headed over to our friends John & Jenn's new place to have a housewarming/barbecue/pool party.  It was great to soak up some sun and enjoy a couple hours with old friends.  There were six of us there who were Bishop Dunne alumni, so I guess we had a mini-reunion of sorts!  I love those guys and enjoy every opportunity I get to see them.  We also spent part of Sunday with my sister and her family since it was my brother-in-law Trey's birthday.  Trey is easy to shop for.  What was our gift to him?  A case of Sugar Free Rockstar...and he was thrilled about it.  Haha.  Of course that also meant we spent some time with my niece, Olivia.  That kid is growing up way. too. fast.  It still amazes me each time she makes a complete sentence, but I guess I should get used to it!  She's a cutie pie. 


Very happy about her daddy's birthday!

We had to call it an early night on Sunday since I had to be at the hospital at 7am on Monday morning.  I underwent apheresis in order to extract white blood cells for donation to a boy with leukemia.  I previously donated bone marrow to him earlier this year, but apparently it didn't fully graft and he needed a boost to fight the remaining cancer cells.  After filling out paperwork and drawing a few more blood samples, I was finally hooked in and ready to go at 7:40.  I was having blood extracted from one arm, which was going into a machine to separate out what they needed from me, and then the remaining blood transfused back through my other arm.  My right arm was the extraction one, and I wasn't allowed to move it.  The left arm was the return one, and I was free to use it the whole time.  It was a little nerve-wracking since I'm not even comfortable donating blood like Jer does regularly, but everything went well.  The arm they were extracting from started to get pretty sore and uncomfortable, but nothing unmanageable.  Apparently the pressure in my right arm wasn't remaining strong, though, so I had to squeeze a little stress ball every few minutes to increase it.  That wasn't fun.  There was already pain in my arm, and that just amplified it with each squeeze.  Finally at 11:40, the process was over and the needles were removed.  Since I hadn't moved my right arm for four straight hours, and had endured the stress of the needle and extraction for that long, it felt like a ton of bricks were laying on it.  I didn't even want to pick it up off the bed!  It's still pretty sore now, 5+ hours later, but I think that will subside soon.  It's a very small price to pay compared to the benefits it might have for that young boy!  I encourage everyone to join the National Marrow Donor Program if you haven't already.  You could save a life!

My arch-enemy, the red stress ball


Friday, June 25, 2010

Angry Beavers!

A couple months ago my friend, Todd, asked me to sub on his coed flag football team.  I jumped at the opportunity because I loved playing on intramural teams in college and could use the extra exercise now.  That quickly turned into subbing on an additional flag football team, part of the same "franchise" as the first, but played on a different night with a few of the same players.  I was flattered that I kept being asked back, and enjoyed playing on teams with really talented athletes (especially the girls - damn, it's refreshing to see girls that can hold their own on the football field).  Both teams were very successful, and last night was the last round of playoffs for the Thursday night team.  (We won the first playoff game 27-0 last week).  We dominated in the second round game, winning 20-0, which brought us to the championship game.  It was a really great battle back and forth, full of great defense.  We ended up victorious, 13-6.  It was a pretty exciting win, especially for it being my first season with the team, and I look forward to playing on these teams again next season!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Has it Been Four Already?

Today my hubby and I celebrate four years of wedded bliss.  I can't believe it's been four years since that wonderful day!  The time has truly flown.  Considering we've been together for almost 8.5 years now, and it's been an incredibly fun and fulfilling experience since day one, I'd say we have quite a lot of pleasant memories to reflect on.  To keep this post from becoming a novel, however, I'll focus my attention on just the married years! 

As Jer and I exchanged vows, I knew we had a wonderful future in store for us.  I honestly couldn't have imagined we'd be where we are today, though, after just four short years.  It's been a crazy ride to get us here!

2006 - After spending an amazing honeymoon in Alaska, we settled into our new house in Amarillo.  We were so proud of our little house and our huge backyard!  Jer and I loved being close to his family, because it meant weekly family dinners, game nights, and relatives that doubled as great friends!

2007 - We both started out happy with our jobs in Amarillo, but began to lose interest as the months passed.  I traveled frequently and missed just being at home, and Jer felt stunted in his career advancement.  He realized the opportunities in software development that awaited him in a bigger city, so he started applying for jobs in Dallas.  I held off on my job search, because we weren't dead-set on moving unless a great opportunity presented itself.  Not surprisingly, Jer started receiving appealing offers immediately.  He accepted one and broke the news to the family that we'd be moving to Dallas.  It was really sad, but I think everyone understood that Jer is a brilliant guy, and he wasn't able to realize his full potential in the current situation.  The new company wanted him to start immediately, so he moved into an extended stay hotel near their office in Hurst, while I packed up all our stuff in Amarillo and started looking for a new job and house in DFW.  Luckily all those things went smoothly, and in March 2007 we moved into our new house in Lewisville the weekend before I would begin my new job.

2008 - Since Jer's company was in Hurst, and mine was in Addison, our house in Lewisville was our attempt to make our commutes as manageable as possible.  Both of us were driving at least 20 miles and 45 minutes each way, though, just in opposite directions.  I absolutely loved my job, and Jer was pleased with his.  My family was nearby, which was an added bonus.  My friends from high school were also in the DFW area, and lots of our friends from college were here too.  We started going to professional sporting events, joining athletic leagues, and hanging out at the lake.  Life was good!  Soon, a new career opportunity presented itself to Jer, which would give him more responsibility and leadership roles.  It was very enticing for those reasons, but also because it would mean his office would be 2 miles away from mine.  We started carpooling whenever possible.  Since our schedules differed, we weren't able to do this as often as we would have liked to, though.  After we realized we were both still driving 20 miles each way through ridiculous traffic, to practically the same location, we knew a move was in order.  Pack it up, again!  In July 2008, we moved into our new house in Carrollton.

2009 - This year we vowed to not move!  LOL.  We finally felt like we were in the house we wanted and at the jobs we wanted.  Since we didn't have the stress of those things weighing on our minds, we spent more time focusing on things that made us happy.  We spent a lot of time with our families, we traveled whenever possible, we increased our charitable pursuits, we made new friends, and we had fun experiences with old friends.  We even hosted a foreign exchange student!  This is what married life should be like.  I feel like the first few years were the (necessary) build-up to this amazing year.

2010 - This year could probably be dubbed "The Year of the Vacation."  If we didn't fully learn it in 2009, by now we know that life is too short not to do what you love.  Jer and I have a desire for traveling and experiencing new things, and we have vowed to do just that as often as possible.  We've been to St. Louis, Las Vegas, and Puerto Aventuras so far this year.  We're off to Europe next month.  I have a suspicion that we'll sneak in another trip later this year.  It's my hope that we'll continue this trend of living life to the fullest.

I didn't come anywhere close to fully detailing our journey over the last four years, but you get the idea.  On this day, our fourth wedding anniversary, we are the happiest we've ever been.  We're more in love than ever before.  Some days I have to pinch myself that I was lucky enough to find this guy.  By no means do I think I have the monopoly on these feelings or this experience.  The more people that feel like I do about their partner, the better.  But just because other people have it, doesn't mean I still can't smile and be grateful that I've got it too.  Jer and I are on this crazy ride called life, side-by-side, with our eyes always looking forward and our hands clenched tightly together.  Here's to 70 more years just like these 4.   

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who's Chopping Onions In Here?

Yesterday morning started off with a bang.  I had emailed the ticket exchange yesterday where we bought our Wimbledon tickets, and asked how we would arrange delivery.  I was a little concerned that our credit card hadn't been charged yet, but I figured it might not happen until shipment was made.  I get an email back this morning saying, "There was a problem with your payment. Could you call us at your earliest convenience so we can resolve this?"  Umm, okay.  Thanks for waiting until I contact you before you tell me this.  I called their international support number and asked them what the problem was.  The guy who answers sounds like he's in a wind tunnel, and asks me for the order number.  I can hear him just muffle the phone instead of putting me on hold while he looks it up.  He comes back and says, "We are having problems with our credit card processing.  We don't receive funds from credit cards until 28 days after they're charged, and Wimbledon will be over by then.  We've been having issues with fraudulent charges, especially from overseas, so we're going to need you to make alternate arrangements for payment."  I ask what the alternatives are and he says, "You can either wire us the money or pay cash when you get here."  Yeah, not happening.  Is anyone else seeing a big ass red flag?  I tell him "no thanks" and hang up.

I'm a little flustered because I had been searching for tickets for weeks and finally decided on buying them from this place because they were the cheapest.  Now I had to begin my search again and we're only 11 days out from the event.  I find what I guess is a good seller and swallow my anger that the price is now $250 higher.  Whatever.  I place the order online with my American Express card and I get a confirmation email from the site.  Two minutes later I get a call from American Express, trying to verify the validity of my charge.  That's cool; I appreciate my credit card companies calling me when large purchases are attempted.  I tell them that I did, in fact, want to make that purchase, so please approve it.  The lady tells me, "That charge was denied so we could verify its validity, but I've cleared that from your account, so you may now attempt the charge again."    Exqueeze me?  I'm telling you that the charge is valid, so let it post.  "No, ma'am.  That's not possible.  We denied it and you'll have to try it again."  Are.You. Kidding. Me.  What kind of policy is that?  I asked if this was going to happen every time I tried to make a large purchase, because if so, I will be canceling that card immediately.  She said that it doesn't necessarily happen all the time, but it did in this instance.  I was livid.  I yelled at her for a couple minutes about how I didn't appreciate them making me look bad by denying this charge when I had adequate credit available and I'm an excellent customer.  I told her that it's ridiculous to deny what should be a valid charge automatically and THEN ask questions.  I told her that this was a ticket exchange, and I'm not just going to "try it again" by purchasing two more freakin tickets to the Wimbledon Final.  If I could have punched her through the phone, I would have.  I can't believe that they couldn't have just put a hold on that charge until they got confirmation from me, instead of just outright denying it first.  Discover calls and checks with me, and then approves it, so I know it's possible.  (Believe me, if the site would've accepted Discover, I would've used it).  I hung up on the lady because my voice kept getting louder and louder and I knew I needed to calm down.  I got in touch with the new company I had bought the tickets from, explained the situation to them, and asked them to run the card again.  I love when American Express makes me feel like a douche.  I'm on Team Discover.  And by the way, who's chopping onions in here?        

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Day for Dads

This year we decided to travel to Amarillo for Father's Day.  My dad lives in Dallas, and we get to see him often, but Jer's dad is in Amarillo and we thought it would be nice to make the trip for this special occasion.  We had dinner with him and Jer's grandmother, and the rest of Jer's siblings and significant others, and it was really nice.  For his dad's gift, Jer picked out a DVD about Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen (yeah, no clue here either).  Apparently they grew up watching wrestling with their dad, especially those guys, so Jer thought it would be a cool way to reminisce.  It went over really well, so bravo to Jer.  The next day we had lunch with Jer's grandparents on his mom's side.  His grandfather is a hoot, and there's never a dull moment in conversation with him.  We actually sat around for a while and he asked me about my family's history, my job, our plans for our Europe trip, etc. I don't think we've ever really sat down one-on-one and talked for an extended period of time, so it was cool.  When it was time to leave, he told me that he really enjoyed talking with me.  I thought that was sweet.  :)  Here's a pic of Granddad with little KC on Father's Day:

And little man, being his usual cute self:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Need Some Sunshine Today

There's been some recent news about a family friend and it's hard for me to process.  It's not my own family member, but I can't help but think about what it must feel like for hers.  When something bad happens to someone you know, it forces you to face your own mortality, and your loved ones' mortality.  No one in my immediate family has been stricken with cancer, but man, I sure do feel like I'm in the minority.  I know too many people (around my age) that personally had cancer, have siblings with cancer, or have parents with cancer.  Open that up to include grandparents and extended family, and the number affected grows exponentially.  It's so morbid to say, but it really just feels like a matter of time before I or someone very close to me gets diagnosed.  I hate cancer.

On a somewhat related note, I received a call from the National Marrow Donor Program regarding the recipient of my bone marrow donation back in January.  He is still fighting, and now needs a white blood cell donation.  This is much less intensive than the procedure I underwent in January, but it still worries me just a little bit.  They'll need to extract the cells over a period of 3-4 hours, where I'll be hooked up to a machine and effectively "giving blood" for that long.  They'll separate the cells from the blood extracted from one arm, and then the remainder will be pumped back into my body through the other arm.  Considering my history of fainting and the low blood pressure problems I experienced during the last donation, I'm not 100% confident about doing this.  There's no way I could say no to helping this boy, though, so I'm just hoping for a smooth procedure.  I have it scheduled for next week.

"Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul." - Jim Valvano          

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wimbledon, Here We Come!

We finally pulled the trigger!  Jer and I just bought tickets to the Wimbledon Ladies Final match next month.  I had no idea how hard it was to get tickets to Wimbledon! The majority of Center, Court No. 1 and Court No. 2 tickets are sold in advance through a public ballot.  There are always more entries into the ballot than tickets available, and successful applicants are just chosen at random.  You don't even get to choose which day/match you want to apply for; that is also chosen at random.  And the even bigger kicker?  The ballot is open from August to December of the preceding year!  Sweet jeez.  I definitely did not have all my plans finalized last year to know that I would have wanted to apply.  The other way to get tickets is to participate in the Debenture process every five years.  With a debenture, you get a Center Court ticket for every day of the championship for the five year period.  The cost is about $34,000 USD.  Debenture holders can use the tickets themselves, or sell them in the secondary market, if they so desire.  This is where I came in!  We had to search for debentures in ticket exchanges.  There really aren't that many available, and they are super pricey.  Tickets to the Men's Semifinal and Final matches are astronomical.  They run about $3300 - $5000 apiece.  APIECE!  We quickly abandoned our hope of seeing one of those matches and instead opted for the Ladies.  Might as well use the gender inequality to our advantage, right?  It's not "cheap" to watch the Ladies either, but at least it's not as much as the Men's.  Besides, this is a once in a lifetime experience.  I think we can make the sacrifice. 

I'm beyond excited about the prospect of watching this match live.  I've been watching Wimbledon (and all the Grand Slams, for that matter) on TV since I was a kid.  My hubby is THE BEST for agreeing to buy these tickets, considering it's a much bigger deal to me than it is to him.  I think he'll still have a great time though.  It's kinda crazy since I don't even know who will be playing in the Finals at this point, but I will definitely be following intently when the tournament starts on June 21.  Luckily Wimbledon doesn't have camera restrictions, so I will be taking about a bazillion pictures while I'm there.  I can't wait!!         

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Okay, so it was a lucky goal, thanks to the English goalie making a terrible mistake.  But, hey, it still counted!  Even though the American team didn't end up winning the game, I think they can probably be happy with the tie.  The German team won convincingly on Sunday (I have to root for them now b/c of all my German friends!), and I'm hoping for a Dutch win on Monday morning.  Since individual teams don't play very often this early in the World Cup, it's nice to have multiple teams to root for, so that I stay interested!  Hup Holland!

On Saturday morning, I participated in the Plano Komen Race for the Cure.  It was awesome because there were so many of us!  My mom and dad were there, along with my sister Jill and 3 of her children, my sister Jo and her family, our friends Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca and their families, and Jo's friend Emily and her family.  We were all sporting our black Team Komen shirts.  I decided to try and run the 5K even though I haven't been training at all lately.  I ran the first two miles straight through, then walked for about a minute.  Then I ran the last mile.  I was hoping to run the entire thing, but the ridiculous muggy weather and lack of preparation held me back a little bit.  At least it was only for a minute though!  After I finished, I walked back from the finish line until I found my friends and family.  I crossed the finish line again with them, and then we checked out all the great booths and hung out for a while.  It was a wonderful way to spend my morning.

 Opa, with his grandsons

Rachel, Sarah, and Rebecca, who walk for their mom (currently fighting Stage IV breast cancer)

Sarah's son, Ryan, at his second Komen event!
Jo and Livy (who is becoming a Komen veteran already!)

Emily and Emerson

Team Komen!

We spent Sunday relaxing in the pool at Jo's house before enjoying Supper Club - southern style!  I've learned to eat as little as possible for breakfast and lunch on Supper Club days.  The food is guaranteed to be delicious and plentiful, and this was no exception.  We had some yummy ribs, pork, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried okra, cornbread, and bean salad.  Dessert was peach cobbler with homemade ice cream.  Damn, that food was good!  I look forward to the next one.  Have a great week, everybody.   

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Preparation!

I made a couple more steps forward this past weekend in the preparations for our Europe trip.  We met with our housesitter on Saturday so she could get acquainted with our house and meet our doggles.  I was a little nervous that Juneau wouldn't be on her best behavior and might scare the lady away, but she was perfect!  You could tell this lady was comfortable around dogs of all sizes and temperaments, so I'm sure that helped the situation.  I'll let you know how it worked out with her after we get back from our trip.   

I also bought a couple bags I deemed "essential" for traveling to Europe.  (Getting a 20% off coupon to Coach might've helped that designation).  Our trip to Mexico last weekend made me realize I needed a padded tote bag of some sort to carry around our camera and lenses while we're sight-seeing.  It also would be nice if that bag was big enough to double as my carry-on bag and hold my laptop and other assorted things I'll need on the long flight.  Problem solved!  The one I found below is very roomy, has tons of compartments and zipper pockets on the interior, and even a few on the exterior.  It has two shorter straps for wearing on my shoulder, or a longer strap if I prefer to drape it across my body.  And did I mention it's pink on the inside?  Adorable.  No one needs to know that this is technically a diaper bag.  Once I remove the changing pad, no one will be able to tell.  ;)

There will be some times when I don't want to lug around the big bag though, or we'll be going to places where I don't want to have my expensive camera, or going to places where I don't feel comfortable just having my passport and money in my back pocket, so I bought another, much smaller, bag for those occasions.  I just wanted something compact and thin, that can sling across my body (to help prevent theft!), but that can hold my passport, money, and point and shoot camera.  This guy filled that need for me:

Last thing - I also bought these adorable personalized, polka dot luggage tags.  I need my bag to stand out since it's the standard black color!

With these recent purchases, and since Jer bought me some awesome luggage this past Christmas, I think I am set.  Hurry up, Europe!  I'm ready to go!

Friday, June 4, 2010

If the Universe Calls, Take a Message

Is the universe trying to tell us something?  Jer has been out of commission for over a month now, thanks to a hamstring injury and then torn ligaments in his ankle.  He's finally feeling better, but is taking it slow because he doesn't want to be injured on our Europe trip.  My troubles started with a strained quad, then a strained hamstring, and now a nasty jam of the lower knuckle in my right pinky finger.  Playing softball, volleyball, and football every week definitely increases my chance of injury, but c'mon!  It's summertime!  I'm supposed to be outside, doing active things.

This current injury is unfortunately the most troubling to me.  Not being able to hold any weight or put any pressure on my right hand kinda precludes me from EVERY sport I play.  I'm hoping it's very temporary and I can get back to action quickly.  Getting ready this morning was interesting though.  Try doing everything with your non-dominant hand.  Frustrating!  Typing with 1.5 hands is hard too (I'm avoiding using the pinky and ring finger).  Hopefully ice and lack of use will speed the recovery process.  If the universe is trying to tell me and Jer to stop playing so many sports, it's not working.  We're too stubborn for that.

  Swollen and currently useless

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When in Rome

Last weekend in Mexico, Jer and I tried our best to use as much Spanish as possible.  I can pretty much understand most things I read in Spanish, and a lot of things spoken to me (if done slowly), but responding in Spanish has never been my strong suit.  I'm usually not very comfortable speaking it, but I decided to give it a shot this trip.  I was pleasantly surprised that Jer had the same attitude as well.  We were so proud of ourselves for trying to speak the native language, but quickly had to laugh when we saw the response.  Almost every single time we would say something in Spanish, the person would respond to us in English.  It was hilarious.  I walked up to the bar and asked, "Que hora es?"  The bartender's response, "Two thirty."  We'd say "gracias" every time something was brought to us, and the response would be, "You're welcome."  Haha.  Can't say we didn't try!  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Left My White Skin in Puerto Aventuras

Note to self: Remember to reapply sunscreen after a couple hours.  Ouchie!

Jer and I vacationed in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, this past weekend.  We arrived early in the afternoon on Friday and went straight to the beach!  Our hotel, Omni Puerto Aventuras Hotel Beach Resort, only had 30 guest rooms, so we were expecting a pretty laid back and relaxed atmosphere.  Boy, were we right!  We were practically the only people on the beach!  That meant we could lay out wherever we wanted, get drinks and food delivered to us expediently, and enjoy the quiet serenity.  It was amazing. 

Our room was very nice and spacious, but the coolest part was the private balcony.  It had a seating area, a hammock, and a jacuzzi.  The balcony overlooked the adjacent lagoon and marina.  This is where dolphin activities were held, so there were about 30 trained dolphins there.  I was hooked!  Those animals are freakin' smart, not to mention adorable.  I took about a million pictures of them.  You could go right up to the water to get a closer look.

On Saturday morning, we headed out on a snorkeling expedition.  We visited three different areas.  The first part took us out to the open water, where we got to see some sting rays.  There were tons of other, smaller, fish in those parts, but nothing too exciting.  The second area we went to was more like a fun, adventurous break from snorkeling.  There was a place to snorkel, but Jer and I just spent our time riding the zip line and doing some cliff jumping.

The third part of the snorkeling trip was definitely the coolest.  We visited a cave, complete with stalactites, bats, and dark waters!  It was a little creepy snorkeling in such dark water, but it was worth it.


On Sunday morning, Jer and I chartered a boat for some deep sea fishing.  You could do a shared trip, with people you didn't know, and with whom you'd have to share time on the equipment, or you could pay extra and get a private boat.  We opted for the more private experience!  That way if there were only a couple of bites, we would be assured it happened to us and not someone else on the boat.  We embarked on our trip with the captain and the first mate, who would prepare all the rods and bait for us, and help us get any catches into the boat.  We started to get anxious when we went an hour without any bites, but then things quickly started popping!  Jer hauled in the first catch, a beautiful bright yellow and green Mahi Mahi.

Next it was my turn.  I hooked something and started to battle it, and I seriously had trouble!  I turned over the rod to Jer because I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to reel it in.  It's a good thing I did, because Jer ended up battling it for quite a long time and it turned out to be a whopper of a fish!  Check out this pic below...look closely and you'll see that I snapped it right as the Mahi Mahi was jumping out of the water.  It was a huge fish!

Jer's arms were worn down after that, so I knew I had to step it up when the next one hit.  My turn came along again, and this time it was a "normal" sized one.  It wasn't easy by any means, but it was manageable!  Here are our catches:


We had the first mate cut up one of the Mahi Mahis so we could eat it for dinner.  We took it to a local restaurant and they prepared it for us in three different ways.  I could not believe how much food came from that one fish!!  We didn't get anywhere close to finishing it all.

Since Puerto Aventuras is a private, gated, self-sufficient community, we merely had to walk a few feet to get anything we needed.  There were numerous restaurants and shops within a stone's throw of our hotel.  Nothing was ever crowded.  The prices were typical of a tourist town, but the portion sizes were generous.  It was really nice to be in such a care-free atmosphere for a few days.  It was hard to leave!