Family Vacation

The Outdoor Adventure

I’ve been meaning to get this last post up on our family trip to Neuvo Vallarta, Mexico, it just seems that life keeps getting in the way.

Jill saw the brochure on the outdoor adventure and really wanted to go.  Interestingly MJ did not want to do it.  So on Thursday, Aug 25th Jill and I had a father-daughter day.


The Outdoor Adventure consisted of zip-lines, rappelling and water slides.  To get the starting place, we had to endure a 30min trip in a 4×4 and then a 45min trip by mule to the top of the mountain.  4×4 and mule ride was an adventure in its self.  By the time we arrived at the top of the mountain we were well shaken and stirred!

The first zip line was about 1500′ long.  It took you over a canyon about 200′ in the air.  Jill was quite funny. She want to go first in the group.  The guide had another gentleman go first and then let Jill go second.  When it was Jill’s turn all of a sudden there was anxiety and trepidation.   The second zip line was about 1000′ long and took you over the tree tops.  The scenery was amazing.

At the top of the 3rd zip line we were standing on a small platform about 30′ in the air.  This zip line had a twist.  It was 75′ long and dropped at a 45 degree angle down into a valley.  The guides used the figure 8’s on our harnesses to control the descent. With the way we arrived on the platform, Jill had to go first. Amazing how fast she changed her mind and no longer wanted to go first.  But she had no choice.  The platform was to small to maneuver around.

I was the third person to go down the 3rd zip line.  When I got to the next platform I could hear Jill telling the other gentleman, “No way, I’m not going first!”.  The next challenge was a 100′ rappel next to a waterfall.  I hooked into the rappel lines.  I turned to Jill and pointed out that there was no other trails around.  The only way was to go down the cliff.  I went down, figuring that if I left her and the guides were encouraging her, she would attempt it.  And she did!

After a few more ziplines and water slides, we came to the second rappel.  It was a 110′ rappel off of a floating platform.  Amazing to see the confidence in Jill at the second rappel, now that she knew what to expect.  She had no problems at all in coming down.  About 15′ from the water the guides had us stop on the rappel lines.  They took up the slack in the safety lines and told us to place our hands on our heads.  As I put my hands on my head, I realized I’m about to be dropped into the pool of water below.  Before I could react, I was swimming in the pool.

The next zipline was a dueling race with a twist.  We were inverted and going backwards.  It was interesting to watch the ground drop away upside down.  Jill laughed the whole way.


The last zipline was a surfboard.  Jill and I had to ride the board together. The challenge was stepping onto the surfboard.  Everything moved in every direction!  Once to board started moving, the ride was actually fun!


The final challenge was a waterslide.  This was no ordinary waterslide and in fact I am positive this waterslide would not meet any safety regulations in the US.  We had to ditch our climbing harnesses and helmets.  They gave us full face hockey helmets and massive elbow pads.  We had no idea what this water slide looked like.  It was all hidden in the foliage.  The first thing was a sheer 50′ drop, then we went into a 360 degree turn, another drop and then into the water pool at the bottom.  As I went through the turn, I found out why the full face hockey helmets were necessary.  My head was slammed from side to side the whole time.  Jill lost an earring somewhere on the slide.  I was thankful that was the only issue!

What an awesome day of adventure!!

Family Vacation

Rhythms of the Night

Wednesday night we went to “Rhythms of the Night” dance performance. It was a very colorful, theatrical show reflecting the rich Mexican culture and folklore.

Originally all four of us were going to go.  However Cathy fell ill and couldn’t leave the room.  So MJ, Jill and I went on the adventure.

The dance performance was spectacular.  The costumes, the music, the stage were extremely professional.

After the performance, they served a very nice candle lit dinner. It would have been a perfect date for just Cathy and I. If only she didn’t fall ill. The food, wine and dessert were excellent.

Diving Family Vacation

Scuba Diving in Nuevo Vallarta

On Wednesday MJ and I went on a 2-tank dive trip.  We dove with Scuba Steve out of Nuevo Vallarta.  Scuba Steve is a PADI certified shop running out of the Paradise Villa Hotel.  We went out to the Los Arcos dive site, just south of Puerto Vallarta.  Both dives were reef dives.

The first dive was along an underwater wall.  The top of the wall was around 70-80 feet.  The wall dropped to a depth of 1600 feet.  Our max depth was 80 feet with a total duration of 35 minutes.  We saw a bunch of moray eels, zebra eels, angel fish, puffer fish and many of the typical reef fish.  Due to the max depth we reached, we did a 3 minute safety stop at 20 feet to help our bodies off gas excess nitrogen.  I believe this dive was one of MJ’s deepest dives to date.

I used a GoPro Hero4 to capture the video and pictures.  On the first dive I used a red color correcting filter to compensate for the loss of light underwater.  During the first dive I realized that there was considerable green in the water.  So on the second dive I used a magenta color correcting filter which compensates for both the loss of reds and the excess green color.

First Dive Video:

The second dive went to a max depth of 60 feet and a duration of 45 minutes.  We came across a pipe fish, a spotted eagle ray, and an octopus.  While we were at a depth of 50 feet and motor boat passed directly over our heads.  The octopus was a rather large one, about 12 inches across.

Second Dive Video:

Family Vacation


On this trip I am realizing my daughter is really fearless when it comes to activities.  Instead of waiting for the guy to approach us with the Iguana, she approached him  to hold it.  I blinked my eyes and she has the animal on her shoulder.

Family Vacation

Cruise to Yelapa

On Tuesday we took a power catamaran to Yelapa. Yelapa is a small village that can be accessed only by boat.  The two main jobs that support the village is the daytime tourism and fishing.

Along the way to Yelapa we stopped in a cove just south of Vallarta to snorkel and kayak.  The water was beautiful.  Jill and I took full advantage of the snorkelling and kayaking.

Yelapa is in a cove off the main bay of Vallarta. The town is built into the hillside.  The roads are way to small for cars.  The principle means for transporting bulk items through town is with mules or ATV’s.  The 2 modern conveniences that were noticeable was electricity and satellite dishes.

We walked through the town, up the hill to a waterfall.  The water was cold and fresh.  After walking through town it was a welcomed relief!

Down by the water, the golden sand beach was pristine.  Although with the temperature being in the upper 80’s, the sand was very hot to walk on.  Walking in the surf zone was a must.

Family Vacation


Mucho Mojitos Bad!

Enough said.

Family Vacation


Last year Jill really wanted to learn to surf however she got sun poisoning and could not be out in the sun the last few days of vacation.

On Monday she finally got her chance to learn to surf. The resort had surf boards and lessons available.

The water conditions were perfect for learning. The waves in the afternoon tend to be 3 to 4 feet high and break easy.



After 2 hours of lessons and an hour of practice she started to get the hang of surfing. At the end Jill was able to paddle start and get up on the board and ride the waves into the beach

Family Vacation


On Sunday, literally 30 feet from our beach chairs there was para-sailing. We watched a few people take off and land.  I had the thought of having Jill and MJ go para-sailing.  Before I could say anything Cathy turned to me and asked about Jill going.

Ten minutes later Jill was in the harness getting ready to go up.

As Jill took the sky, I went to find MJ in another private cabana.  I pointed to the para-sail and said “That’s your sister. How would you like to go para-sailing?”. “Oh cool, Sure I like to go!” was his response.

Right after Jill landed, MJ took off.

The whole thing was so caviler and nonchalant that it took MJ by surprise.

Family Vacation

Crowded Beaches

The beaches at Nuevo Vallarta are unbelievably crowded. NOT!.

I took these pictures on Sunday, when according to the staff was expected to be the most crowded for the week.  Monday the schools in Mexico began for the year.  This week we practically had the beach to ourselves with the resort staff waiting on us.  The kids are completely spoiled with the service.

The water is 80F with morning waves being 1 to 2 feet in height.  In the afternoon the waves would be 3 to 4 feet with a very nice breeze blowing in off the water.

With the beaches to ourselves, we always had chairs with an umbrella to keep most of the sun off of us.  Being in Mexico, the sun is very strong.  Everyone is lathering up with sunscreen.  The daily temperatures have been in the mid to high 80’s all week.

Family Vacation

King of Siam

So it took MJ all of one day to relax into vacation mode.

“I’m heading down to the pool” is what he said as he walked out the door.  Cathy and I found him in his own private cabana by the pool with a cheese plate and a Mojito in his hand.

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