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2010 Puerto Vallarta Trip 2

 My tan is already fading. Despite the unseasonably warm April we're having – which means t-shirts and even tank tops being worn to worship our slightly-watery Minnesota sun – my lovely Puerto Vallarta bronzed glaze is, alas, slip-sliding away.

In my opinion, 7 days in PV is never long enough...but it WAS a fun week! Penny, John, Clint and I basked in the sun, swam in the ocean, ate great food, drank our fair share of margaritas and laughed an awful lot. In spite of also getting sick – yup, all four of us – I'd say this definitely makes my elite list of favorite trips down there.

The First Day
Clint & I arrived at the PV airport almost 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Coupled with our first-class tickets (upgraded at the airport, so much cheaper than it sounds) and being on the first flight of the day in PVR, we zipped right through (even surprised all the vendors) and in less than 5 minutes were in a cab, on our way to the condo. Since Penny & John wouldn't be arriving for another 3 hours at least, we headed right to the beach and proceeded to tie one on.

This led to me entirely missing the time frame for meeting those two out in front of the condo, but they made it just the same and promptly joined us in our revelry. The rest of the day was given over to margaritas, Piña coladas, sun and salt water. Of course, some of us were more aware of the strong tropical sun than others and didn't burn...but there's always one wise guy (ahem, CLINT). Said wise guy was approximately fluorescent pink for the next 3 days.

Even though we'd all been there before, all were in agreement we wanted to head to Yelapa at least once during the week, if not twice. We planned the first trip on Monday (2 days after arriving) and by Thursday we were back.

For those of you who've never been to Yelapa, it's best described as...well, Shangri-La. While definitely a third-world town, the utter peace, laid-back atmosphere and sheer beauty of Yelapa give it the air of an expensive, exclusive resort.

When you first round the corner of the small bay in which it's nestled – while you can get to Yelapa by road, the main way to travel there is still water taxi – you're struck by the simplicity of it. The pier to the south gives direct access to the town itself: houses and stores built right into the hillside jungle. The north-side pier sits at the end of the row of palapas denoting the hotel's rooms. In between the two piers lies the pristine crescent-shaped, white-sanded beach with a few restaurants lazily vying for vacationing patrons.

Of course the first trip we took the "tour" up through the town to visit the waterfall (woefully small this time of year, but still bigger than normal; they received a lot of rain this winter). While we didn't have a human guide this year, we did manage to pick up a smaller local willing to escort us to and from. (In fact, he was so enamored with us we had to drop him off at the end of our jaunt, since he showed no signs of abandoning us.)

Speaking of dogs, Penny & I definitely got our "fix" that day, since in addition to our Yo Quiero Tour Guide, we were also adopted by two friendly beach-bum dogs who decided we were not only worth hanging out with, but protecting. Yes. A pregnant – we think – female and a male puppy decided to bark incessantly at anyone who came too close to our little beach camp. Quite cute.

Our second trip was strictly for relaxation – the boat dropped us off at 10:30, and we didn't move from our claimed plot of beach until the 4pm taxi back to PV.

No walking to the waterfall, no parasailing, no pictures taken with Peter the Iguana. Of course, his owner did head into the bar for a refreshment and left him lying in the sand quite near us so we had to steal a few portraits.

It was lovely day: virtually no vendors, hardly any gringos, flowing margaritas, high-end guacamole and a picture-perfect ocean for cooling off. And of course, each others' company :)

Much to the chagrin of our parents, we decided to go zip-lining – commonly referred to down there as a "canopy tour" – over the set of the movie "Predator" in Mismaloya. In order to obtain said tickets, we agreed to sit in on a "75-minute presentation of a new hotel." I.e., a timeshare pitch. But, with a free breakfast and FREE zipping tickets, who cared? Ah, but that's a whole 'nother story...PLUS, the entire cab ride to the place, John, Penny & I played "slug bug" ("Das Auto" style, i.e., "red one!" SMACK), much to the chagrin of Clint (in the front seat) and I'm sure, the cab driver. Note to self: Do NOT engage in a game of slug bug in Mexico unless you're fully prepared to be bruised and battered.

I digress. Since John and I are both afraid of heights (my fear is really of falling; heights obviously heighten that phobia...yes, pun intended) we were each wondering how exactly that would pan out. On our bus ride into the jungle, I learned the two kids –  aged 10 and 13 – seated in front of us were not only a) going zip-lining and b) not afraid of it, but c) they'd both gone two years previously. That sealed it: if an EIGHT-YEAR-OLD could zip-line and return later for a sequel, then by God, I was going and that was that.

So zip we did. Our "tour" was a total of 12 zip-lines. The first three were 'easy,' to break us in and let us practice braking, etc. Then the fourth was the longest – at a ¼ mile long and I-don't-know-how-many-scary-feet over the Mismaloya river, it was quite a shock. I might've screamed something along the lines of "HOLY SH*T!" as I careened overhead at 50 miles per hour. Hey, at least I didn't pee.

We all did really well. It was super-fun, exciting, and the crew we had was entertaining and had a great sense of humor. It was fun watching Penny nearly jump out of her skin each time the "Predator" launched out of the jungle at her! Equally – if not more – funny was watching Clint get fitted for his large helmet (the rest of us had "normal" ones; when Clint got his turn to get fitted the gal exclaimed in Spanish, "whoa, we need a big one for you!"). That of course got us joking about our equipment (and war paint, for which John and I opted) and of course I had to do the whole, "does this harness make my butt look big???" joke. Good times.

A fun experience, and definitely worth the "Mexican Massage" bus ride it took to get there. Plus we stopped at a tequila factory – Tequila Don Crispin – on the way back, so that eased the aches and pains of the day.

Every morning when I'm in Puerto Vallarta, I rise before the sun (technically it's 'Pacific time,' being on the west coast, though the actual time doesn't differ from Central) and eagerly await the dawn so I can journey out for my morning beach-walk along the Malecón. Historically (i.e., beginning on my first trip, when I was 11) I'd RUN that route...but let's be honest. I haven't run for years so now I power-walk.

In the last few years, I've discovered/decided I want to add the PV Stairs to my regimen. What's the big deal? After walking north until the end/start of the Malecón (the "boardwalk") and walking back to the condo, I continue south of the pier, walk through the sand and end up (after approximately 40 minutes) at The Stairs.

The Stairs are a common workout site in Old Town PV, with Mexicans and US-ians alike gathering to trek the bajillion steps up to the street and then tredge all the way back down to the beach to rinse-and-repeat. I've never counted the steps, but since it takes me at least a couple minutes to reach the top, going two-at-a-time, I'm thinking there are a LOT of steps. Definitely a good workout when coupled with almost an hour of walking – especially at Olympian pace, and through sand, too  – when one plans to spend the rest of the day copping a squat on the beach with a constant drink in attendance. Oh, and lots of guacamole, too.


We didn't "go sightseeing," per se, but we did see a lot of sights. (And sites, technically.) From the death-defying heights of zip-lining and the gorgeous colors of the sarongs to the loading of appliances into a wave-washed boat and colorful seaside sunsets, we experienced a lot of visual stimulation.

No matter how many times I've been to Puerto Vallarta, each setting of the sun is unique. I've always been a sunset-lover, and having grown up on a lake I'm "used" to seeing the sun set across the water. But here, with the ocean so vast and the slightest change in cloud cover painting a different picture, I find myself craning to see every last vestige of every sunset I can. Our last night didn't disappoint :)

The Last Night
It's always hard leaving Puerto Vallarta. No matter how many times I've been there, or how long I've been there (last year we were there for a total of 2 weeks for our weddingmoon), I always feel a pang of sadness for having to leave it all behind. Our last night there, Clint & I went to Marazul for dinner and were graced with not only a great meal but a gorgeous sunset. A great ending to a great vacation.

Naymz Account Reinstated

"Welcome Sarah."

Such a simple greeting, yet sweeter words were ne'er seen (this morning, anyway). For those of you not in the know, the other day I found myself mysteriously sans Naymz Account. Without warning.

One minute I was neck-deep in keyword research at work, the next instant my husband was asking me why I didn't want to be part of his reputation network on Naymz anymore. (Jokingly he asked, "are you trying to divorce me or something?") That's right. Through no fault of my own (I later found out), I found myself instantly and completely Naymz-less. 

What is Naymz, anyway?, you might ask. Well, you might ask that if you a) know nothing about what's going on online; b) don't know anything about online networking; c) don't work in the SEM/web industry or d) all of the above. (Or e) you're my sister. Which technically would also be d.)

Anyway. Naymz is an online networking and reputation management service. Much like LinkedIn, it's of a professional nature (not air-your-dirty-laundry-everywhere like Facebook) and has become quite the authority with search engines. I.e., for a proper name search, someone's Naymz profile is much more likely to come up first (or at least at the top) in SERPs over any other social media profile. (Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule; my own Naymz account has historically been the first result for my own name search.)

The point is, is a free service (with an upgrade to Premium if one so chooses) wherein a person can list previous and current jobs, resume, qualities/talents, links to related sites (i.e., blogs, managed sites, etc.) and even even endorsements from colleagues.

Of course, upon figuring out my lovely account – complete with endorsements/references, lots of contacts, and complete professional information – was, indeed, AWOL, I panicked and filled out a frantic plea to the Naymz customer support to please reinstate my account (and also what I could do in the future to avoid this very problem.)

Within 24 hours, those handy Naymz folks had indeed brought back my account – albeit missing a lot of information – and offered up an explanation as to what happened. It seemed some OTHER Sarah Bernier (they said it was "someone with a similar name as you") wanted a Naymz account deleted, and proper steps weren't taken to ensure WHICH account was actually being terminated. Of course, they apologized profusely and said with "over 2 million profiles, this is the first time something like this has happened in our 4 years of business..."

They also were gracious enough to offer me some comps for the mistake, which I gladly took. While it wasn't a big deal to have to fill in my employment history again, it IS a bummer to have to start all over with my network. I also had to bite the bullet and ask my references if they'd be willing to re-reference me! But, all's well that ends well and at least I've got my Naymz account back.

A heartfelt 'thanks' to the Naymz tech team for helping me out so quickly and fingers crossed it doesn't happen again...though I highly doubt it will. Live and learn!

Oh What's In A Naymz Profile

My husband thought I divorced him today. Via social media.

Okay, not really, but he DID ask me earlier if I deleted my Naymz account. Of course I responded with an emphatic "NO" and then replied, "but why do you ask?"

Says he, "well, I got an email notifying me you're no longer one of my contacts."

WTH? Surprised but not concerned, I quickly Googled my name – sure as shootin', there's my Naymz profile, #1 in results per usual.

To further pacify my inner flutterings, I decided to click through to see my profile. Imagine my utter consternation when, instead of my profile, I received this page:

Starting to panic, I hastily attempt to login, only to find out this sad little (big) fact:

 (And yes, I have the correct login information.)

 I ask of you, Naymz: WHAT. THE. HELL. I receive profile views all the time, and while I don't necessarily log in all the time (no information has changed recently) I'm very aware of how my profile performs and am (was?) quite fond of you, Naymz. What'm I now, Naymz-less? I'm hoping your support team responds extremely quickly to my hastily-composed, dripping-with-emotion email about how on earth to get my Naymz account back up and running.

The bigger mystery is how did this even happen? It seems the only way to delete an account is to log in, select "My Account," then "Edit," then choose to delete the entire account. Since I never had any wish to do this (and haven't been logged in for a while) I know it wasn't me.

Which begs the question – am I being punished for not having logged in within a certain time frame??? Or, more likely – did some OTHER Sarah Bernier attempt to login and inadvertently deleted MY account? Which seems odd, since the accounts are attached to emails. Either way. I'm NOT happy.

Oh, Naymz, I'm begging you. Please reinstate my lovely profile.



Never underestimate the power of a blog. Especially when said blog happens to be run by Google. Obsessed by the loss of one of my social media limbs, and still trying to find out WHY my Naymz profile would get deleted without my consent, in my researching I ran across this SERP:

HOWEVER, it more than likely won't remain there. Just ONE MORE REASON not to worry about rankings, people. It's (somewhat) out of your hands. The sooner you learn that, the quicker we all can get along with our lives.

I still want Naymz to reinstate my profile, however.

Pre-Vacation Rush

Tomorrow morning at this time, The Hubby and I will be comfortably ensconced within our faux-leather seats on a Sun Country flight to Puerto Vallarta. *Sigh* Until we head to bed tonight, tho''s an all-out effort to make sure everything's done before leaving.

Now, some of you might be thinking, "but wait, didn't you just go down there?" Indeed I did. The 2010 PV Trip #1 was short but fun. My friend and I zipped down for a long weekend to 'crash' at the condo during my mom's "Girls' Week." Pretty fun, especially since it was said friend's first time to a tropical beach. Quite the experience!

This trip, however, will be less supervised. I.e., no parental units will be onsite. For this trip – 2010 PV Trip #2 – it'll be Clint, his sister, her husband, and I for an entire week of sun, beach, relaxation and in all probability more than Dos Equis.

It'll actually be a working vacation for Clint and I. Him because of work he'll be doing for ThinkSEM clientele; me because my mom wants new photos for the condo website – she had some painting done and updated the décor of a couple rooms – and she also wants video footage to show prospective renters. So, a valid reason to bring down not only our new HD video camera but also some fun lenses for my SLR.

Anyway, while we're both scrambling around today trying to get everything in its place before the vacation, we know tomorrow all worries will melt away...nothing says "relaxation" like comfy flip-flops on the feet, hot sun on your shoulders and a cold drink in each hand!

If Tweren't for Bon Jovi I'd be in Mexico

Yes, you heard me right. If JBJ didn't exist, I'd be sipping Mexican coffee on the beach with the sand between my toes RIGHT NOW. For those of you 'not in the know,' Mexican coffee is the ultimate after-dinner-drink-and-a-show: as witnessed by The Husband for the first time in this dazzling display. Okay, so it's a bit dark, but the highlights are definitely visible. That's also the end of the 'show.'

But I digress.

When we originally planned our late-but-better-than-never year anniversary, The Hubby and I decided on this week for our Puerto Vallarta vacation. Thing is, I sort of forgot about that in my excitement to buy my sister's birthday gift – (2) tickets to Jon Bon Jovi. That's right. This will be our third time seeing JBJ perform, and it's becoming somewhat of a tradition for us. Hey, at least it gives us the chance to head out together (no kids, no husbands, just sisters!) and drink some brewskies while watching our favorite 80s-and-beyond singer. And, this time said sister won't be pregnant. Hence, I won't have to worry about rushing her to the ER every time Jovi shakes his heinie onstage. Whew.

The point? It's my life, and it's now or ever. What I mean is, if it were up to me, I'd lay my hands all over Jon (I'd be livin' on a prayer). Well, metaphorically speaking. If I meant it for real, that'd mean they'd want me dead or alive. 'Cause, love ain't nothing but a four-letter word, even tho' I'm shot through the heart and it's only a two-story town.

Long story short? If there were no such person as Jon Bon Jovi, I'd be sitting on a Mexican beach right now. Sigh. Lesson? Never say die, baby.

The Velocity of an Unladen Swallow

An African or European swallow, you might ask? I don't know – and in this case, Google didn't deign to offer the choice. But that's okay. I remain a faithful service to Them. It. Whatever.

This year for April Fools' Day, Google not only changed their name to "Topeka," they're also offering search times in 'geek speak,' which I found out from @mattcutts. Intrigued, slightly bored and trying to keep my mind off the gorgeous day happening beyond reach outside the nearest window, I started Googling random (or maybe, not so random) things to determine the reach of the geekiness. Here are a few of my results:

I happen to work for an ad agency in Minneapolis. I also wanted to see if the7-pack would show up (which it obviously didn't...tho' it did last week):

For this year's family Easter lunch, I was promoted from bread rolls. Now I have to find a good recipe for:

Guess which book series I became absolutely consumed with? Guess which movie I just saw last night and contributed to my supreme crush on a vampire? (Sigh. Don't worry, The Husband knows.):

I just tried this one out for kicks:

This one was partially triggered because Matt's the reason I started looking into this. Also, in his tweet he said his results were 1-10 out of 600,000 (for his name). Yet ANOTHER reason not to worry about rankings, positioning in SERPs, etc. etc. etc. – results may vary! (Notice the number of results for my search were 602,000. Of course, the only stat you need for analytics tracking is hits, anyway):

Since Clint and I run our own PPC advertising company, I figured this was a good search:

The boss had just said he was ordering lunch for the office:

I sip herbal green tea at work all day long and needed a refill. PS: This one's my favorite as I'm a HUGE fan of Monty Python & the Holy Grail:

Ever the dog lover, I'm always up for learning new tricks. Dog training tricks, that is. Plus, I wrote my dog trainer's ads...:

My ADD took me to thinking about our upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta (where we'll stay at my parents' beachfront condo):

Thinking of the trip got me to thinking about my I typed in "can i get a passport" and Google so nicely suggested this search:

In case you live under a rock, it's April Fools' Day:

This was an actual, real search. Yes, I'm actually looking for where on earth to find one of these stores. Only because my niece wants a basket for her bike and my sister found the winner. At Kmart:

Thus ends my random searching experiment. I think there were a few more geeky time definers but these were the main ones I found.

Oh, Google, you do keep it fun.