Knowing my family loves to travel, our favorite spot is the beach. We have been to several beaches in the U.S. and some out of the country. Every time we plan a vacation, usually a beach is involved. Especially on spring break, my family likes to get the heck out of snowy, miserable Iowa and vacation somewhere warm and sandy.
The warm sand in-between my toes is one of the best feelings to me. As my mom and I walk along every beach looking for sea shells or just to enjoy the moment, we always “rate” the beach. One of the beaches making our list of top three is the North Shore beach in Oahu, Hawaii. Second is Ocracoke beach located on the Otter Banks of North Carolina. Lastly, my very favorite beach of all time is Honeymoon beach on the island of St. John.
None of the other beaches I’ve been to even compare to how beautiful Honeymoon beach is. Before I ever visited Honeymoon beach I had no idea what to except. I think I just kind of thought “Oh It will be nice like all the other beaches I’ve been on.” Incorrect, It was gorgeous. The beach had the smoothest, creamy sand I have ever picked up. As your hands would grasp the sand It was so fine, the particles would gently fall through your fingers. Also, the beach had clear, glossy water in which the sun shown right through. There was nothing in the world to complain about while relaxing on this beach.
My family and I came across this beach from one of Frommer’s recommendations. We were traveling on a cruise ship in which ported on St. Thomas and decided to take a snorkeling excursion bringing us to St. John. The excursion even gave us a chance to look at the coral and colorful fish beneath the surface of the gentle water. I even swam over a sting ray that was all flustered up in the sand. When I got to shore to lay out on the beach I told my mom I never wanted to leave and since then I have always wanted to vacation back to St. John’s Honeymoon beach. Our tour guides even said If you’re lucky enough you may hear or even see a wild donkey roaming around the trees.
While opening gifts on Christmas Eve I found out I was vacationing to Playa Del Carmen for spring break in March 2014. I can still remember how excited I was as I texted my friend, Karlynn that was also going on the trip.
The week was here, our flight flew out at 9am on Saturday morning. My family arrived at 8pm that night at our resort. Our resort was the Iberostar Quetzal having a jungle, beach, entertainment, food, and more. The jungle was my family and I’s least favorite part. Included with the jungle came wild monkeys, peacocks, Mexican rats, and other critters that I couldn’t even describe. Out of all these wild creatures, the peacocks were definitely the worst. Waking up at 5am to the sound of mad peacock noises was not the type of vacation my mom and I were looking for. We like to sleep in and be relaxed when on a trip at the beach. Not only did the noises bug us but every time you would walk past one or encounter a peacock they would flare their feathers. Anyways Karlynn and I met up everyday, we would layout on the hot, soft sand for hours. Other activities we found was parasailing, kayaking, jet skiing, beach “photo shoots,” and of course playing in the ocean. I will never forget the time we went kayaking though, we thought It would be fun to go out in the ocean, lay down, and enjoy the sun. Yeah, bad idea as we didn’t even think the tide would take us down the coast. When Karlynn and I sat up we were a good four miles away from our resort. Quickly, we kayaked to shore and drug the kayak all the way back four miles. Let me tell you, It was awful.
My family and I were in Playa Del Carmen for five days. On one of the days, my mom and I went to downtown Playa and went shopping. The shops were little and limited. I got a tank top, a long sleeve shirt and some key chains for my friends back home. Other then downtown Playa, we never left the resort. I think If my family and I were to go back we would go to a place in Mexico with more variety because doing the same thing day after day got kind of boring. Five days was enough and we were all ready to fly back home, well except we didn’t want to leave 85 degree weather. Coming home from spring break is always hard due to Iowa winter being cold for another month. The trip to Playa Del Carmen was fun but my family concluded we would rather go to a destination with more options of things to do and see.
Excited and nervous at the same time is what you feel in the morning on the last day. The last day of camp is super exciting because your parents come to watch you perform the new dances you’ve learned and you get to go home. For me, I get to travel to Chicago after camp. I also get the feeling of nervousness too due to having to remember my routines and perform them for ribbons. There are three types of ribbons, a blue one is first place, a red is second place and a white is third place. Ultimately, the goal Is to achieve all blue ribbons. The Kennedy Dance Team is known for getting blue ribbons. Speaking from experience, no one has ever got under a blue ribbon at camp in the past three years. Other than competing for a blue ribbon, performing is fun because the UDA staff will watch you and complement your abilities. To start off the day, the team wakes up and has their last team meal in the cafeteria. Then we walk over to the gym while many parents have already arrived. My parents of course like to get their sleep and show up just in time to watch my last performance. Doesn’t bother me though, we start stretching and warm-up as a group and then all the dancers will sit down to start watching the different routines. After the “B” and “C” routines are completed, awards start. Awards are fun, the Kennedy Dance Team will make a big circle and hold hands as our division for our “Home” routine is being announced. At camp this last summer our team won. What a great way to end camp, right? We were all so excited, and on top of winning we all received blue ribbons. These two achievements qualified the Kennedy Dance Team to get invited to Nationals down in Orlando, Florida. Although we got invited, our coach just recently decided we will not be attending Nationals. Nothing to get down about, we still have a winning routine to show off at the upcoming competitions. Camp is always an awesome time with the team, but It definitely feels good to leave and relax your legs. Every year after camp I sleep for a whole day because of how exhausted I become.
Felling tired and aching all over, I had to get out of bed for another long day of dancing. Day two of camp is definitely the hardest of the four days. The team wakes up and goes to breakfast at 7:30 and then is expected to be in the gym ready to learn and stretch at 8:30. First, the instructors will start the day off with a daily stretch leading to some warm-up activities. Then we will split off and go to the area where we learned our “Team” routine the previous day. The staff will give us dancers about 40 minutes working and trying to remember what we learned on day one. Shortly after, we split off from our teammates and go into our “B” routines. “B” routines can be jazz, lyrical, hip hop, or pom. I was in a hip hop dance last summer for my “B” routine while meeting dancers from other schools. Universal Dance Association also known as UDA staff will then gather everyone up and send them off to their “C” routines which is the same concept of a “B” routine, you are just learning a different style of dance. Last summer for my “C” routine I was in a pom dance to the song, Up Town Funk. About an hour has past and the staff is calling us to meet and do some drill downs before our meal. Quickly, we make squad lines and complete the drills and head to the cafeteria for some refreshing food. Lunch doesn’t take too long and then we get a little down time to work on our “warm fuzzy” books as explained in the last post. Although down time seems nice, It Is already time to go back and dance for the rest of the afternoon. In the afternoon we go to a “technique” class and practice our “Team” routine. Doing both these takes up a couple hours and as soon as we know it UDA staff is telling us to make some squad lines. Dinner is ready for us and we can hardly wait to dig in and fill up two tall glasses of chocolate milk. At least that’s what I do and then get three plates full of salad and chicken fingers with fries. You might think, wow now they get to go up to the dorms. Incorrect, dancers are required to be back on the floor at 6:30 for a little bit of practice time. Then to conclude the night we have a relaxing cool down which consists of long stretches, slow music, and silence. I would say the cool down Is my favorite part of camp, just being relaxed and knowing you’ve worked hard that whole day Is great.
Summer has started, this means lay back, relax and enjoy the sun. Not all the time though, dance season has kicked into gear and the Kennedy Dance Team is learning their pom routine and getting ready for camp. Camp for our dance team is at the end of July at the University of Northern Illinois. During this camp we don’t only compete but also learn many new routines and tricks. Since camp is super important and fun our coach makes sure we have a set plan. We arrive at Kennedy to leave at 6:30 in the morning on a Monday. Then our “spirit committee” gives us our camp gifts and we take many “send off to camp” pictures. Eventually we will leave and arrive to camp around 10:30 to get settled into our rooms. After setting up our rooms and opening our roommates gifts we take a walk to Subway before our big day of dancing. Before we know it, 1:30 has come and we are required to be on the dance floor ready to learn some sidelines and our team routine. While learning at camp you have to be super focused and motivated because there are many other teams sharing the gym with you and Its hard to hear and see the instructor. Suddenly our stomachs are hungry and our legs are ready for a break. Dinner isn’t served until drill downs are completed though. At camp everyday before a meal we will make squad lines and do military drill downs as shown in the image below. Drill downs are competitive, seeing if you are good enough to get a ribbon. Dinner on the first night is always rushed because you have to allow time for yourself to get ready to compete “home” routine. Home routine is always nerve raking considering It is the first competition of the year. So we venture on up to the dorms to put on our uniforms and do each others hair and makeup. The time has now become 6:30pm and we are waiting to take the floor. Finally, our performance is over and we are back to more dancing until 9:00. Practice areas close at 9:00 and we are forced to go back to the dorms to shower and team bond. Our team always stay up pretty late team bonding which makes It for some longer days ahead of us. But what’s camp without a little team bonding and fun? Everyone receives a notebook from our coach to share around and let teammates right a little message to you. These messages are “warm fuzzys” as we call them. Meaning nice notes about being on a team together, our dancing abilities and whatever else you may want to share. Writing gets to be a late night activity which makes you sleepy. You would then go back to your room and rest up before another early morning of dance.
The days went by fast, and we had eventually made it to our last day. Sad to see the trip coming to an end but also exciting to be done with walking 25,000 steps a day. On the last day It was kind of up to everyone on what they desired to see last minute. My mom and I decided we had wanted to take the double-decker city bus tour. This tour was quite a ride, we got to see all of Manhattan which is the island New York City is located on. Although we got to see all of Manhattan, we just saw areas south of our hotel because we didn’t have time to stay along route for the northern areas. First we started in Times Square as the bus took us through the Garment District and next we rode by the New York Public Library. Many great views to observe and take pictures of. Past the Empire State Building we trailed into the Flat Iron District and union square. In the Flat Iron District my mom and I got to spot Madison Square Park. Madison Square Park is a huge area with green grass filled with people for concerts and many other events. Coming up was Noho and Soho, the two best places for shopping in New York City. At this point my mom and I hopped off to go look around and get a sense of New York style. Then we realized time was getting away from us and we needed to hop back on the tour. As we boarded the tour we headed into little Italy and china town, neat to see the differences upon each. After those towns, we swooped back up and around to see the Highline. The Highline was so significant because we got to view a park with trees and seating areas on an old railroad. I nudged my mom and said “next time we come to NYC we have got to experience the Highline.” As the clock kept ticking we were nervous we weren’t going to make it back in time for dinner with my dad and brother. Lastly, we rolled by Madison Square Garden where big named artists come to perform. Quickly, we were back to where we started and hiked back to our hotel. Fortunately, we had just made It in time to get ready for dinner. Riding the double-decker bus in New York City was a good decision because we saw basically the whole city in a couple hours. I recommend for you to take up the opportunity If you ever visit New York.
Many interesting events take place at night. You are never bored because there is always something to do or to watch or to see. During nighttime in the big city of New York, my family and I went to two Broadway shows, Top Of the Rockefeller center, and walked through Timesquare. First, the two shows were amazing. I usually don’t like musicals and plays but these two Broadway productions caught my attention! The two we saw were Aladdin and Mama Mia. Two completely different shows, both really cute. Aladdin I would say was my favorite out of the two due to the creative sets and the great costuming selections. Some of the costumes were said to be from Africa and contained lots of beads, jewels, and funky fabrics. The sets on the other hand were really entertaining, especially when Aladdin and Jasmine all of a sudden are literally flying around the stage on a “magic carpet.” Mama Mia was fantastic as well, we sat in the box seats for this show and I got to kick back and relax. Another opportunity we had at night was to view the whole city from the Top Of The Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Center isn’t quite as tall as the Empire State building but after reading reviews, It was said to be mostly the same view for $10 cheaper so why not. Still, It was amazing to be on an observatory deck 70 floors above ground overlooking all the city lights. Being so high up was a little frightening but with all the distractions from the beautiful view I got my mind off it. Lastly, thousands of people, bright lights, different advertisement screens, may noises and lots of entertainment would describe Timesquare. Walking into Timesquare at night Is like walking into the school cafeteria when there is no smart lunch. Crowded, packed, busy and impossible to move. But don’t get the wrong idea Timesquare was really neat, we went to the top of the TKTS ticket booth to take several pictures. My dad and I got lots of good panoramas while we blocked 50 other peoples view. Other then the TKTS ticket booth we went to the grand M&M store, Hershey’s store, and Recess Store to check out all the sweets. My dad and I both have a sweet tooth and could eat chocolate for days. All these activities pretty much sums up ours night life in the city. I would love to go back someday and maybe experience a comedy club or more Broadway productions. Big cities are my favorite and I would like to go back but before then I want to see a different city.