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Letting Kauai Happen

In October, the Mister and I went to Hawaii for our second honeymoon. And it was GLORIOUS.

After researching our trip to within an inch of its life (as I’m wont to do), we settled on visiting Kauai since all I wanted to do was sit on the beach and just relax. Kauai worked perfectly since there’s just enough to do but not worry about missing out if all you DID want to do was sit on the beach and just relax.

We went for a week and while it was the perfect amount of time to do most of the things we wanted, it wasn’t long enough because who wants their vacation to end?

We rented a condo in Poipu on the South Shore that was probably a 5 minute walk to Poipu State Beach and offered a great view of the ocean from the lanai.

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Here’s all the fun we got into:

Tuesday: Tuesday was our travel day. After a harried arrival at Oakland International (we’re working on leaving earlier for the airport), we just made our flight by a couple of minutes (mahalo to the Hawaiian Airlines staff for working hard to get us through check-in and security!). Thankfully the rest of the trip was delightfully uneventful but the service on Hawaiian was great; they even serve food on the first leg to the Islands! AND once you reach Hawaiian airspace, they gave us a free rum punch. Yes, we were definitely on vacation. Once on Kauai, we geeked out over our first wild chicken sighting at the airport (they are EVERYWHERE), had lunch at Tortilla Republic and lunch dessert at Lappert’s (because vacation) and then settled into our condo.

Wednesday: We woke up early and walked down to the beach to watch the sunrise, saw a monk seal napping on the beach, went hunting for Wailua Falls (my first real waterfall sighting!) and enjoyed the Farmers’ Market at the Shops at Kukui’ula where I sampled some of the most divine lilikoi curd ever.

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Thursday: Our big adventure for the day was ziplining! We ziplined with Skyline Zipline and were treated to a fantastic view of the South Shore while we zipped along 8 different lines. It was a little nerve-wrecking in the beginning knowing that we were pretty high up but the thrill of gliding through the air was amazing. Our guides recommended doing a running start and that certainly amped up the thrills! That night we had dinner at the Dolphin and was treated to a great sunset view and a little begging from a very polite stray cat who sit next to you after you were served your meal. Then I tasted nirvana: it takes of shave ice (I’d go on to have shave ice several more times during the week).

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Friday: We started the day checking out Spouting Horn and then part of the afternoon at Kiahuna Beach. The Mister hung out and read while I swam in the ocean. I didn’t have any snorkeling gear but I still was able to see a blue tang swim by! That evening we headed inland to go to Smith’s Family Luau for our traditional luau experience. I enjoyed the show and even figured out that I like poi! It’s pretty good on pulled pork.

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Saturday: Saturday was our big adventure: a helicopter tour! While we had to sell our figurative soul by going to a timeshare presentation, we did enjoy the discounted tour that we otherwise wouldn’t have taken. It was a great opportunity to see the ENTIRE island – though if you go, try to get a seat on the right side of the copter. I was on the left and except for our spin through Waimea Canyon, I had a fantastic view of the ocean.

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After our tour, we made our way to visit the North Shore and Hanalei Pier but it was kind of rainy and overcast so our trip was cut a bit short. That night we had a delightful dinner at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House and more shave ice.

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Sunday: After surviving the timeshare presentation (which we are not allowed to do ever again), we had brunch at La Spezia to fuel up for our trek up Waimea Canyon. While we did see the Canyon during our tour the day before (as the Mister so generously reminded me several times), it was still a treat to drive and pull off at almost every possible lookout point (much to the chagrin of the Mister) to see the Canyon from a different perspective. It was definitely worth the drive up! We push through to the literal end of the road for an amazing view of the ocean and part of the Na Pali coast.

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Monday: Monday was our final full day and since we had done all the bigger adventures, we kept it casual, with a morning trip to Poipu Beach (really? Swimming in the ocean on a Monday morning? Be still my heart), followed by lunch at Merriman’s Fish House (it’s so weird to be having lunch while listening to Monday Night Football), then dinner and free hula show at the Poipu Shopping Village and our final sunset in paradise.

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In all, it was an amazing trip and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen. It was a great way to celebrate a second honeymoon and it was such a treat to get away with the Mister. I’m looking forward to coming back and discovering a new island (though Kauai will always be my favorite). Maui, you’re next!

Aloha Kauai. Until we meet again.

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Beautiful – even somewhere in the middle

After spending the winter break in Michigan with my in-laws (without snow! In December! I felt kind of ripped off), the husband and I headed back home in a new-to-us car. That’s right; we DROVE from Michigan to California.

3 days, 2,363 miles and 8 states later, we made it home in one piece AND still married. It was quite the feat.

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While this wasn’t my first cross-country trip (that occurred way earlier in life when my family moved from Georgia to California), I had a lot more appreciation for the views along I-80, especially coupled with the small portion of the Oregon Trail we travelled along (why else would anyone be excited (or even know about) stopping in Laramie? Or seeing a roadside sign for Chimney Rock?

There were ‘fording the river’ jokes a plenty.

America is beautiful. From the farm lands in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska to the snowy mountains of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Northern California, there was so much to see and enjoy; views that I normally fly over so it was a joy to be able to actually see them this time. While I took a lot of photos (follow me on Instagram to check them out at #thehalifeCATrail) there were so many more sights I didn’t capture and instead, just enjoyed in the moment.

We were blessed with clear weather after waiting out Winter Storm Goliath the entire way through, which was a major concern given the time of year. While it was interesting to sleep in a different state each night of the trip, boy are we glad to be home in our own bed without the threat of another 6-9 hour drive ahead of us.

That said, I’d totally be up for another road trip; the husband…not so much. But maybe I can start small and work things up. There’s always a mini roadtrip up (or down) the PCH!

That one time in the woods

So remember way back when when I talked about being a tourist in my own state? I finally was able to cross off one of those places!

This past August, my company held its annual retreat in Oakhurst, which is in the middle of nowhere California but also a mere hour and a half from…dun dun dun…Yosemite National Park!

The house was lovely and we had a great time (even after I abandoned the mister with my coworkers for half a day so I could play golf with a few other coworkers). But I was so excited to take a side trip to Yosemite and I was only slightly disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong; the park is absolutely gorgeous. I just couldn’t get around how beautiful everything was and I kept remarking about how I just wanted to take pictures of everything. The entire park is postcard-worthy. But you can’t live behind the view finder so I eventually packed the camera away so I could actually enjoy the park.

We walked around for a bit and then rented bikes and rode from one end of the park to the other. I made jokes about the bears, we saw a mountain lion run across our path a safe distance away from us, I marveled at how the wild squirrels were so much smaller than their Ann Arbor cousins, and I tried to lobby the mister into trusting the general public to not steal our rental bikes so we could hike towards Mirror Lake and get a peek at Half Dome. It didn’t work.

So what could possibly be so disappointing? There were no waterfalls. When we got to the park, we found a ranger who informed us that due to the dry winter, the waterfalls were not falling. And if there were any water, it would only be a trickle.

Cue sad panda.

So instead of seeing this:

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We had this:

Beautiful but still, no waterfall. Granted, Yosemite Falls is usually dry during the summer anyway, but the others were supposed to be somewhat active but were not due to the dry winter. While I did not get to see the waterfalls I always wanted to see, I’m very glad we still made the trip out to the park just for the sake of being at the park. Definitely an experience I am grateful to have had.

Besides, now I have the perfect excuse for a return trip!

WEverb11: #7 Travel

Travel

Where did you travel this year? What was your favorite part? If you didn’t get to travel, where do you want to go next year?

When I first read this prompt, I thought I would skip it, seeing how I didn’t travel anywhere. But then I realized that I did go places. While they were modest trips, they were still trips that required packing.

First, I had an overnight trip to Monterey with the bf in January. It was his first time there and I was more than happy to show him around. The weather was absolutely beautiful, sunny and in the 60s, which made for perfect walking around and sitting outside enjoying the ocean moments. My favorite part was our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is quite possibly one of my favorite places in this entire world. Since we went during the off-season, we were able to take our time and really explore the aquarium without dealing with the massive crowds that are typical during the warmer summer months. We got some face time with the sea otters, played “Is it dead or sleeping?” with the seahorses, touched the rays in the tide pool, and watched some penguins get it on. Very awkward for all involved.

In June, I roadtripped with my mom, older sister, nephew and aunt to Los Angeles to see my younger sister graduate from UCLA. The trip started out bumpy (I forgot the clothes we were going to wear to her graduation and didn’t realize until we had gotten to the airport to pick up the rental car. We debated heading to LA without them or going back home to pick them up. We went back home and added another hour to our trip) but it was a lot of fun. My favorite moment was hanging out with my older sister at the hotel lounge sipping on drinks and chatting like we were old girlfriends. Especially the part where we giggled at the couple we suspected to be swingers looking to pick up a partner.

July brought me back to the Pacific Northwest. My first trip to Seattle was a whirlwind filled with food, delicious food. This one was for a wedding, and while I had a fantastic time celebrating with the couple and being included with the family (seeing how I’ve known them since Junior High, that should be a given by now) my favorite moment came the Sunday morning following the wedding. I woke up early and decided to head out to Pike’s Market on my own to get my hands on a piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky. After munching on my potato and cheese piroshky, I settled down on a bench at the middle of a hill overlooking the market and water. It was a quiet morning and after spending my entire weekend surrounded by people, it was a joy having a moment to myself. I took my time enjoying my breakfast dessert (a cinnamon cardamon braid – yum!) and simply relished the moment.

My last trip of the year saw me flying back to Michigan to spend time with the bf. Trips to visit him are always special since they don’t happen nearly as often as we’d like. We didn’t do anything special, this time opting to hang out around town and took a side trip to Ann Arbor, but my favorite moment actually spawned from a sad one. We were discussing my job search and my subsequent frustration with it, and the questioning turned tense and I broke from the pressure I had been feeling but never spoke up until that moment. And as I cried and hiccuped my way through rambling claims of being a failure at life and how I’m not even marriage material (yeah, it was a rough moment), he held me and let me cry, listening to everything I was saying and reassuring me that I wasn’t a failure and that it would all work out. This is why I love him.

I have a list of places I want to go and hope I can cross at some of them of them off the list next year, but if I can cross off only one of them, then I hope it’s Jamaica. It’s where we plan on honeymooning.

Want to know what this #WEverb11 thing is all about? Are you interested in participating? Find out more here!

Rescue Me

This year has already shaped up to be a fairly memorable year, what with my exploits in Indoor Skydiving, graduating, white water rafting, and then my “Birth Month Celebrations” that included turning 30, running a 10k [did I talk about that epic adventure yet? I’ll have to fill you in soon], and watching a borderline inappropriate puppet improv show [I’ll let you try to wrap your head around that one], and one of my favorite moments to date: riding along with the San Francisco Fire Department.

Firelady has been inviting me to visit her at work for several years now, but since I was always working, I just couldn’t get our schedules to match up (because it seemed kind of weird to take off work to hang out at someone else’s job) but since I’m out on “sabbatical” I figured why not now? I finally got around to scheduling my ride-along at the end of August and I’m kind of bummed that I hadn’t done it sooner.

Sidebar: I will admit that I’ve always had this thing about firefighters since I was in preschool after we had a fire engine visit and I got to hold the hose, which later blew up while I was in elementary school. Well, really it was because I had this thing about Prince Charming from Cinderella. Wait! I have a point. I promise! So I was obsessed with the movie and while I was at my friend’s house one day, his sister was having a slumber party and they were watching Cinderella and their dad popped in and made some joke about being Prince Charming in real life. Well, in my six year old mind, that made him the most awesome person in the world coupled with the fact that he was a fireman. Oh my poor six year mind was blown. Prince Charming AND a fireman? Mr. Baker, when you walked me home that night, you cemented your place in my six-year old heart.

And we digress. I took the little six-year old me and spent a lovely Friday with Battalion 3, which is made up of four stations: Stations 1, 8, 35 [which includes two fire boats!] and 48. Upon my arrival, Firelady filled me in about the “Ride Along Curse” where those were typically the days that were quiet. While I was hoping to see some kind of action that day, I did feel pretty weird about hoping for it. I mean, I didn’t want someone’s house to catch on fire. But I do feel that the “curse” is actually a good thing because it sets the record straight on what actually happens on a daily basis. We always think firefighters are rushing out to fight fires all day, every day. Sometimes they do, most times they don’t. It’s a lot of rushing to the scene to find out it’s only a false alarm, or someone burned a pan while cooking, or someone thought they smelled gas but it turned out to be some neighboring building was having its roof re-tarred, or even getting called off at the last minute, things like that.

Sure there are fires to fight, but for the most part, it’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” going on. We had a fair amount of downtime to attend to the daily duties that she has to do, like checking on her other stations, meetings, fire inspections and the like. But what I really enjoyed was being able to spend time with Firelady and get a better idea of what she experiences every day. She’s a really fascinating person [outside of being a firefighter] and I’m really honored that she invited me to share a small tastes of her life away from church.

So what did I get to see that day [I can’t disclose specifics here due to a NDA]? A few false alarms, one including a very eye-opening conversation with a “concerned neighbor” who doesn’t know the meaning of too much information [I had a great laugh with the tillerman [that’s the guy that steers the back of the fire truck] about that], a naked man riding a bicycle during Critical Mass, how crazy a Battalion Chief’s vehicle gets on calls [there’s a monitor that lists the pertinent info, a radio that’s connected to dispatch, and then a personal radio so they can talk to the dispatched stations and all of them are going at once…while they’re driving!], and how to navigate to calls that require going over the Bay Bridge. In traffic. But the highlight of the day? Riding the fire boat!

Station 35 has two fire boats and after our morning rounds, invited me back for a ride on the boat before they headed out to test out a new foam hose they just had installed. I have always wanted to ride on one of these boats so I was really excited about the chance to finally check it out. They took me and a couple of police officers out for a quick spin on the bay along the Embarcadero. The weather was perfect and I really enjoyed the view of the Ferry Building, Golden Gate, Treasure Island and the Bay Bridge. I think the trip lasted about 15 or so minutes but it was a wonderful experience that few have actually had the pleasure of having.

I absolutely would love to join Firelady again on another ride along but even if I never get that chance, I’m most certainly grateful for this one. Thanks again to Battalion 3, Stations 1, 8, 35 and 48 for welcoming me into your houses and a special shot out to Stations 8 for housing and feeding me [and for making sure the bathrooms were especially clean] and Station 35 for the epic boat ride. Stay safe guys.