Storybook Ranch

 

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One of the top things on Taylor’s summer to-do list was to go horseback riding. I know people think that everyone in Texas has a horse, but sadly this isn’t true. We only have the hats and the boots. There aren’t many places around Dallas to go horseback riding these days. Most of the stables just offer lessons. We took them to Storybook Ranch in McKinney. I just love this place. They have the cutest little Western town with real buildings that have been relocated from old towns across the country. You take an hour long ride through the town and through the trails. Besides the horseback riding, they also offer summer camps or riding lessons. You can also rent out the town for weddings, corporate events or parties.

The petting zoo….

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Megan’s horse…

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Part of the Western town…

 

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The trails…

IMG_0831Today’s Leopard Print Find:

Tahoe Tack Leopard Print Cross Western Horse Barrel Racing Saddle – How awesome is this?? Now I really need to get me a horse!

Leopard Scentsy Buddy

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Chankanaab Day Pass and Discover Mexico Excursion – Cozumel

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Of all of the excursions we’ve been on, this one was our least favorite. So disappointing because our two favorite excursions are out of the Cozumel port (Xcaret and The Amazing Secret RIver). Our day started out at Discover Mexico. It started with a short video about Mexico. Not very informational, but pretty pictures. Next was the Museum of Popular Arts. It was filled a wide variety of beautiful artwork. They even had a leopard…

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The main part of the park is replicas of pyramids, monuments, cathedrals, ruins, etc… I’m thinking I’d much rather see them in person. :/ But they did have some pretty good souvenirs and the food was great! The girls favorite part…having their picture made with Sophie the donkey. You could also pay to have your picture taken with an iguana or a python. We had to pay $25 for the pictures. They wouldn’t let you use your own camera. I have to say that our tour guide was awesome though!

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Not even sure what to say about Chankanaab… :/  There were lots of different things to do but it seemed like nothing was working right for us. It was really windy so we couldn’t enjoy the beach. We got there too late for the sea lion show, nothing else looked that exciting. So we ended up going to the restaurant. The food was great and the view was incredible. Luckily we ended up having just enough cash on hand to pay for it because they didn’t take credit cards.

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They had hammocks on the beach. Pretty cool!

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You can see how rough the water was…

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The girls got to hold a baby alligator.

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The lagoon was beautiful! Unfortunately you can only look at it from afar…

IMG_0121Today’s leopard print find: Zehui Kids Outfits Flowers Top+Skirt Set Leopard Tutu Dress 1-4 Years

Turtles, Turtles and More Turtles – Grand Cayman

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Our second port on our Carnival Magic Cruise was Grand Cayman. The last time we were there we did the turtles and the dolphins. We had so much fun at the Turtle Farm we decided to go again. Apparently everyone in Grand Cayman that day had read my raving review of the turtle farm too. It was so packed we couldn’t even hear our tour guide. The turtles were still adorable though. Once the tour part was over we were able to go off on our own and the crowds seemed much better.

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The difference between this excursion and the dolphin/turtle combo was that this one included lunch, you could swim with the turtles and you had access to their water park. Snorkeling with the turtles was Megan’s favorite part of the trip. I had to skip that part because Taylor refused to swim with fish. :/ The food was awful.

The water park…

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Megan in the water with the turtles…

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The girls favorite part of lunch…watching the chickens. They got a lot of food from us since we didn’t eat much of it.

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I didn’t think I was ever going to get Taylor away from the turtle pens.

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Snorkeling with the turtles….

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Iguanas were everywhere. On the ground, in the trees, on the buildings… This was a baby one.

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The bird aviary…

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Apparently this has been a problem in the past…

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Grand Cayman is a tender port. It was the most miserable tender ever. It was hot, humid, we were surrounded by drunk people, and there was a storm coming in. Those 4 things don’t go well together at all. The water was so rocky, they had trouble docking the tender boats to the ship. So we were stuck on the tender boat in the rocky water with drunk people throwing up all around us. One girl was so intoxicated she had to be brought on in a wheelchair after she collapsed. Fun, fun times!

Today’s Leopard Print Find…Star Vixen Women’s 3/4 Sleeve Faux Wrap Dress

Grand Palladium Resort – Montego Bay Jamaica

 

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Our first port on our Carnival Magic cruise was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Last time we just stayed on the ship because most of the excursions were so far away. This time we decided to venture out a little bit. The all-inclusive excursion at the Grand Palladium resort was only a 30 minute bus ride and it seemed pretty safe. The girls said the bus ride was their favorite part because they got to see goats, dogs and a donkey. Just taking a bus ride would have been a lot cheaper. This excursion was $114.99 per adult and $79.99 per child.

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The description was a little misleading. It said there were 4 pools – there were, but they were all connected together so it was really just one giant pool. It also said there was a lazy river. There was no lazy river. The swim-up bar was nice but it was way too crowded, so we just took advantage of the much less crowded land bar. The beach was really pretty, but it was so rocky we decided to just stay at the pool. The information on the website also said that they had many water sport rentals available. We never saw any and someone finally told us that it was about a 20 minute walk on the other side of the resort. We also didn’t see any of the other activities that were mentioned (mini golf, archery, tennis, etc…) They did have some fun activities around the pool though. We got to see a belly flop contest. The lunch buffet was traditional Jamaican food on one side or American food on the other side. We weren’t big fans of the food.

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This was one of the four jacuzzi’s in the pool….

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So to recap, the place was gorgeous. I spoke to a few people while we were eating lunch and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. I probably would have preferred it as an actual place to stay than as a quick pit stop on our cruise.

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Today’s Leopard Print Find: Lucky Women’s Emmie Ballet Flat

Carnival Magic Cruise Round 2

It has been so long since I blogged that I forgot where to go, how to log in and what to do. :/ But  I finally figured it out and I’m back!! I have so many things to share that I didn’t know where to start. I just dropped the girls off for their first real camp. :/ I only cried a little. So they were only slightly embarrassed. Between the two of them they had 2 huge stuffed trunks, a Costco size pack of water bottles, 2 carry ons, a blanket and 10 pieces of “mail”. That was quite an ordeal. Now they are gone for 3 days, so I’m starting with where I’d rather be right now. On a cruise….

After our great cruise on the Carnival Magic for our 20th Anniversary, we decided to take the girls back with us. We had a great time. The girls only complaint….they absolutely hate Camp Carnival. They tried it once before when we were on the Conquest but they were younger so I thought maybe now it would be better. Not so much…. There were kids just waiting by the door praying their parents were about to pick them up. The counselors didn’t seem very fun and the activities weren’t enticing at all. That program needs a lot of work. But they were fine hanging out with us. Most of the time that was okay, minus the girl we saw that decided to hula hoop topless and the 78 year old man that won the Hairy Chest Competition that gave out his room number and said he had his Viagra. :/ On the positive side….

We played miniature golf…

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Megan was more than thrilled to have bunk beds…

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Our favorite hangout…the RedFrog Pub

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Shuffleboard… (really need one of these at home)

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Movies by the pool…

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Dodgeball…

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Met the captain…

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Went to towel animal class…

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Met a live towel animal…

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Walked the Skycourse…

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Made our way around copying all the poses….

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Loved the Family Comedy shows…

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Played lots of Skip-Bo…

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Got our daily towel animal…

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Exercised on the deck…

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Laser tag…

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and had an awesome waiter…

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I’ll recap the excursions for y’all later. Not our favorites, but lots of good learnings.

Oh how I’ve missed these….

Today’s Leopard Print find….Rockland Luggage 4 Piece Luggage Set

G.W. Exotic Animal Park

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During Spring Break we decided to take a quick trip to Oklahoma to go the G.W. Exotic Animal Park. Of all of the choices we gave the girls, Taylor said this was the only thing she HAD to do. Great choice! She is already asking when we can go again.

It only took us 2 hours from Frisco. The park is located in Wynnewood, Ok. The staff was great. Very knowledgeable and friendly. They are currently working on a reality show. I was worried when we got there and saw the sign that said you could possibly be on tv. Megan was ecstatic, I was thinking why in the heck did I wear my yoga pants.

We chose to do one of the behind the scene tours. It was 2 hours long and gave you all day admission to the park as well.

First stop was the miniature donkey and ponies. We had our picture with the donkey.

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Next stop was Chester the kissing camel. I can scratch that off my bucket list now. :/ (if you are wondering they taste kind of salty) He was actually one of my favorites. He has a goat that lives with him. I couldn’t focus on the donkey and ponies because I was watching Chester play with the goat. They were so cute together! Turns out they raised them together and now if they separate them, Chester cries the whole time. :)

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We saw a leopard! :)

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A black leopard! :)

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Held a baby alligator. (Don’t ask me about Megan’s “glasses” because I have no idea)

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Played with a pack of hybrid wolves.

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Held a python. Taylor wasn’t thrilled with this one but I told her she couldn’t play with the tigers if she chickened out. She survived. (and even managed to smile!) – Speaking of chickens, there was a tiger that is terrified of chickens. That cracked me up.

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Played with Irwin the Kangaroo. He likes to watch Sponge Bob and he posts on Facebook in his spare time.

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We held an albino skunk. He likes to be held like a baby.

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A baby bear!!! He was precious.

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For $10 you got to take your pictures with the mascots. The $10 goes towards saving the rhinos.

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The white tiger cub.

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He was so cute.

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The other tiger. Look at that little tiger butt!! So cute!

The photographer followed us around the entire time and took all the pictures since you can’t take your camera. All of the pictures were on a cd for just $24.99. My only complaint is that the pictures weren’t the best. Bad lighting, bad angles, lots of shadows. But for $24.99 it was worth it. We will definitely be back many times I’m sure.

Today’s leopard print find: Yellow Box Women’s Leopard Parker Flip Flop

The Amazing Secret River Excursion – Cozumel

 

The third stop on our cruise….Cozumel! This was our second time to visit the port at Cozumel. It’s one of the prettier ports. Although we haven’t gotten to spend any time here yet because we are always rushing to and from the “ferry” (which apparently is another word for really, really fast, motion sickness inducing speed boat) to Playa for our excursions. Last time in case you missed it, we went to Xcaret. We enjoyed it so much we started to do it again but decided to do something new instead. This time we did The Amazing Secret River. Apparently that’s just what Carnival calls it, the people there call it Rio Secreto. Carnival is right though, it’s AMAZING! It was discovered in 2006 by the man who owns the property. He was chasing an iguana and the iguana ran down into a pile of rocks. One of the rocks fell and the man heard the sound of splashing water. This is what he found…..

It was breathtakingly beautiful.

After the “ferry” we took a 15 minute van ride to Rio Secreto. Once there we got a “Mayan Massage” (a.k.a. a 20 minute van ride on a very bumpy road) to the site. They got us suited up in wetsuits, water shoes, life vest and a beautiful helmet with a lamp. We spent an hour and a half walking and swimming through the cave. It’s not an easy trip. Lots of bending, walking on rocks, ducking, etc… Several people in our group had trouble. They do offer walking sticks at the beginning. They should probably strongly encourage that you take one if you have any issues.

You aren’t allowed to take a camera into the caves but they had a photographer follow us. You can buy all of the pictures on a CD for $69.99. Afterwards they fed us the most amazing true Mexican meal I’ve ever had. I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of that. We also had about 45 minutes of free time to shop in Playa. It was a great day!!

This adorable puppy greeted us at the port. I thought he was a drug dog but no, turns out he was looking for food. There are pretty hefty fines for bringing food into Mexico. He walked up and sniffed everyone. When he found food on people he would sit down beside them. Next time I’ll put a sandwich in my pocket so I can pet the cute little guy.

Today’s Leopard Find: Nail Polish Stick-On Strips …

Belize Land Rover and Cave Expedition Excursion

 

The 2nd stop on our Carnival Magic cruise…Belize! This is a Tender Port. Just my luck, as we are on the tender and headed to the port we suddenly notice that the ship seemed to have disappeared. Then we realized that it was behind the rain. Nothing like being out in the middle of the ocean on an open boat and seeing a storm quickly approaching you. We got drenched. The Carnival description for the Land Rover and Cave Expedition excursion must be out of date. We had a great time, it just wasn’t what we were expecting and Belize is not anything like I had pictured. The river was my favorite part of the port.

First we took a boat ride up the river. They said we might see some wildlife. All we got were 2 iguanas and some termite nests. The group before us did get to see a crocodile though.

The boat took us to the farm where we picked up our Land Rover. The Land Rover’s hold 8 people and only 2 people get to drive. They are all manual transmission vehicles and you have to have your driver’s license with you. The Carnival website had this description of the excursion… “You’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you traverse through raw jungle trails in a rugged 4×4 Land Rover and trek through ancient Mayan caves.” I didn’t have an Indiana Jones hat and we drove on roads more than we did jungle.

Part of the roads were really dusty too.

 

We did get a little muddy but that was from just one small part of our drive.

The cave was okay but not real exciting. There were rocks and bats. I might have appreciated it more if it wasn’t for the excursion I’m going to post tomorrow.

This was the river we had to cross to get to and from the cave. You have to cross a long, swaying suspension bridge so if you are scared of heights this might not be the excursion for you.

After we finished exploring the cave, they took us back to “camp”. They had fruit, rum punch and sodas. There were also a couple of vendors there that you could buy things from. Hindsight, I wish I would have gotten something from one of them because the shopping at this port was awful! One of the vendors was selling food. It looked delicious but we didn’t get any. When we got on the bus to return back to the port, one of the workers asked if any of us had gotten the food and asked what we had. When they told him that they had chicken, beans & rice and banana bread he said “are you sure that’s what you had?” They all said yes and he said “are you sure that was chicken?” Which is why I prefer to not eat when I’m not in Texas. He told us the story of the Queen of England coming to Belize and wanting to eat one of their traditional meals. They fed her and then afterwards she asked what it was. They told her it was “Paca” which is apparently another word for big, hairy rat. So the Paca is now referred to as the Royal Rat in Belize. Apparently she wasn’t happy about being fed rat. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be seeing any Paca recipes on my blog.

Today’s Leopard Find: Sperry Top-Sider Hiking Boot

Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan Canopy Tour and Tabyana Beach Excursion

 

We just got back from our 20 year Anniversary cruise. Sad for it to be over and even sadder that I have Mal de Debarquement Syndrome again! I had never heard of this until I started researching it after my cruise last year. It is a specific type of vertigo that occurs after departing a cruise. Upon returning to land, a person with MDD develops a swaying sensation and dizziness that can last for many days to many years. Luckily last time mine only lasted 3 weeks. Today mine hit when we were halfway home in the Dairy Queen bathroom. Everything started swaying and it hasn’t stopped since. As they say on the Carnival ship…fun, fun, fun!!

The cruise and the ship were both wonderful. We were on the Carnival Magic. First stop…Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan…. The port was really nice. Lots of shopping spots and the usual port bar.

We did the Canopy Tour and Tabyana Beach excursion. It was $89.99 a person. This excursion had a 4.8 star rating. I would totally agree with that. The zip-lining at Gumbalimba Park was awesome! The people were very friendly and helpful. There were a total of 10 zip lines that we got to zip down. There was a photographer there that took 10 pictures of you coming down the final zip line. You were able to purchase them on a disc for just $10. Not a bad deal. Although zip-lining isn’t the most flattering position and the helmet doesn’t help either….

Afterwards, they drove us to Tabyana Beach. The beach was beautiful. There was a gift shop, restaurant, bar, showers, beach chairs and lots and lots of vendors. They had security guards there to help keep the vendors away. The only complaint I have about the excursion is that the vendors wouldn’t leave you alone. The security did the best they could but they were outnumbered. Some of them even came out into the ocean to offer you a massage or braid your hair. They also like to tell you that they don’t have change for anything so come prepared with ones and fives. They did have good deals on jewelry, dresses, shells, hammocks, etc…

The people at the bar took great care of everyone. They would even come out to the water to deliver your drinks. The food was great too. We got a huge plate of beans and rice for $3. It was delicious. I need to work on recreating that one soon.

My favorite vendor….Cookie the Monkey. Only $5 for unlimited pictures. I could have played with him all day. Taylor and Megan aren’t real happy with me though. They didn’t want us to do any excursions that involved animals since they weren’t with us. But since Cookie wasn’t really part of the excursion he doesn’t count.

Coming soon….Belize and Cozumel.
Today’s Leopard Find: Toiletry Travel Bag

The Port at Cozumel, Mexico

Our Carnival Conquest excursions, Part III – Cozumel, Mexico For our day in Cozumel we did the Xcaret excursion. It was awesome!!! By far my favorite. We were a little worried when we went to the excursion room on the ship and we were the only ones going to Xcaret. It turned out perfect. We had our own personal tour guide. He offered to stay with us all day and we took him up on it. He made sure we saw the most important things and he was knowledgable about everything. We learned so much. They had replicas of Mayan Ruins, Mexican Folk Art, tons of history, places to shop. I can’t even begin to list everything on here. First we had to take a ferry ride over to Playa del Carmen. If you don’t handle boats well, you may want to skip this excursion. That was one fast and bumpy ferry. It didn’t bother me at all, but some looked a little green. This was our wonderful tour guide. Sure wish I could remember his name!!! He was awesome! Here he was teaching the girls about butterflies. You could watch them coming out of their cocoons.The underground river was my favorite. It was freezing for the first 5 seconds but after that it was just fine. You just floated through. There were several places for you to get out if you didn’t want to go all the way around.Of course I loved holding the parrots. They liked to be held like babies. How cute are they?? Wish our birds here were that sweet. Tomorrow I’m going to go try to hold a mockingbird like a baby and see what happens.The lagoon was beautiful. It was connected to the ocean so there were even fish in there with you. I’m guessing some of you might not take that as a positive…There were animals everywhere. Tons of birds, ranch animals, zoo animals, marine animals, reptiles…. We didn’t make it over to the sea life section since we had done dolphins and turtles the day before, but they had tons of things to do over there. There’s no way you could see everything in a day.A baby parrot. So ugly it’s cute! We got to see quail hatching. The girls could have stayed at that part all day and been happy.There is something here for everyone. I’d give it 5 stars.In case you missed it….Part I – JamaicaPart II – Grand CaymanToday’s Leopard Find: Bathroom accessories set …